What ‘special relationship'? How the state department's intervention in Northern Ireland 2003–2007 strained the Anglo-American alliance

Richard Hargy

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Abstract

The close bonds of cooperation between the US and UK are highly institutionalised and are exemplified across a range of closely aligned areas of mutual interests. These are namely intelligence, nuclear and military collaboration. The Anglo-American Special Relationship, however, has been severely strained by events over the last seventy years. This article will examine the validity of any special relationship that may exist between the US and UK. In doing so it will reveal how State Department-led intervention in Northern Ireland between 2003 and 2007 strained the workings of this alliance even as it enjoyed a resurgence under George W. Bush and Tony Blair during the Global War on Terror. It will also establish how the unusual organisational framework and decision-making process at the State Department, vis-à-vis Northern Ireland, exacerbated transatlantic relations. The autonomous freedom to direct US foreign policy in the region brought the George W. Bush administration’s Northern Ireland special envoys into direct diplomatic conflict with the most senior actors inside the British government. This article will expand on the extent of this fall-out and provide original first-hand accounts on how diplomatic relations between these old allies became so fraught.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-255
Number of pages25
JournalIrish Political Studies
Volume38
Issue number2
Early online date26 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • US-UK special relationship; Northern Ireland peace process

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