Myth: America did not support Britain during the Falklands War
Fact: To the frustration of Margaret Thatcher, the Reagan Administration was divided between the ‘Atlanticists’ who favoured Britain and the ‘Latinistas’ who opposed America coming out in support. But Thatcher succeeded in persuading President Reagan that backing Britain had greater value than supporting the existential, geographical pull of Argentina. US Defence Secretary Casper Weinberger led America’s effort to support Britain and supplied the UK military with much needed equipment such as submarine detectors, missiles and aircraft fuel. That Britain was able to win this argument when there were divisions within the US Government is evidence of British influence not impotence.
Myth: There is no economic special relationship
Fact: It is difficult to overstate how heavily the UK is invested in the United States and vice versa. The US is Britain’s top destination for overseas investment, with $303 billion invested as of 2006 - 16.9 percent of the $1.8 trillion of foreign direct investment (FDI) in America. Equally, the UK is America’s biggest trading partner in services, and the top destination for its foreign direct investment. Over the past decade, the UK has accounted for around a third of America’s entire overseas investments in the EU. It is telling that Britain’s export markets inside the EU are shrinking but its export markets outside the EU, especially to the US, are growing. Tourism is also a major source of economic revenue between Britain and America, aided enormously by Britain’s membership of the visa waiver program whereby UK visitors are allowed to enter the United States for up to ninety days without a visa. British tourists top the list of international visitors to U.S. (other than countries with contiguous borders) with nearly 4.5million visitors in 2007. Equally, the UK remains the top European destination for American tourists, as well as for American visitor spending.
Myth: American and British security services do not really share
Fact: Since the relationship was formalised during the Second World War by the British-United States Agreement (May 1943) and confirmed by the United Kingdom-United States of America Security Agreement (March, 1946), there is a strong history of intelligence sharing between Britain and America. As members of NATO, Britain and America share intelligence multilaterally as well as bilaterally. America is Britain’s chief intelligence sharing partner, and Britain has been criticised by her European partners for having a deeper relationship with the United States than Europe, with Britain answering that this is made necessary in part by European intelligence leaks. A recent example of the importance of this relationship was the foiling of the plots to detonate liquid explosives on up to ten transatlantic flights in Summer 2006, plots foiled because of intelligence-sharing between the UK and US.
Myth: America and Britain disregard the international community and act
Fact: The United States and the United Kingdom are two of the founding members of the United Nations, two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and founders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In addition, Britain is a leading member of the European Union. Inclusion in these institutions naturally constrains them to act with the international community rather than against it. With regard to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, neither America nor Britain acted alone, and in each case were part of broad coalitions of countries. Forty nations are active in Afghanistan under NATO command, and thirty-two nations from Asia, Europe, North America and Australasia were part of the initial invasion of Iraq. In dealing with Iran, Britain and American are working within the European Union and the United Nations to implement global economic sanctions. Far from acting ‘unilaterally’, the UK and US tend to lead many other nations in international interventions.
Myth: The United Kingdom has long been a slavish ally of the United
Fact: Harold Wilson declined President Johnson’s request that British troops be sent to Vietnam. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan conflicted over the latter’s willingness to consider nuclear disarmament, and over the US invasion of Grenada. Thatcher also famously warned President George H. W. Bush not to “go wobbly” over his refusal to sink Saddam Hussein’s convoys. Several opinion leaders in Britain were critical of the post-War planning following the liberation of in Iraq, such as army chief, General Sir Mike Jackson. There has also been some disagreement over the eradication of opium poppy crops in Afghanistan. Emerging sources indicate the degree of influence Tony Blair had over American policies towards the EU Rapid Reaction Force, the United Nations, Israel/Palestine and Northern Ireland. However, disagreements over policy or strategy do tend to play out in private, and frequently give way – on both sides – to the common interests, values and goals that bind British and American foreign policy.
Myth: Britain fights America’s wars
Fact: Since America and Britain fought together in the Second World War, both countries have supported one other in military theatres across the globe, from Kuwait to Kosovo, Afghanistan to Iraq. But Britain has also found conflicts and conducted operations independently of America, as during the Falklands War of 1982 and the 2000 intervention in Sierra Leone. Overall, in the past sixty years global warfare has been in decline. The end of the Cold War enabled international organizations such as the United Nations, rather than individual states, to handle global conflict prevention. The total number of global armed conflicts has decreased by more than 40% since 1990s.
Myth: America would not come to Britain’s defence if they needed
Fact: The 2007 Iranian seizure of fifteen Royal Navy personnel illustrates the value of the Special Relationship. In response, the United States gave Britain an unequivocal demonstration of its support, conducting its largest naval exercise in the Gulf since 2003 which included 12 ships, 100 aircraft, and 12,000 personnel. Through its deployment of aircraft and warships, America effectively gave Britain a security guarantee that it would stand shoulder-to-shoulder during this major international incident.
Myth: Anti-Americanism is not a problem in Britain
Fact: Favourable opinion toward the United States in Britain dropped from 83% in 1999/2000 to just 56% in 2006. In a November 2006 poll, President Bush was ranked as a more dangerous man than the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah. This level of anti-American sentiment in Britain poses a major long-term threat to the Special Relationship, and leaders on both sides of the Atlantic must do more to answer and debunk the myths and misinformation that feeds it.
 “America’s Role during the Falklands,” http://britainandamerica.typepad.com/britain_and_america/2007/04/americas_role_d.html (accessed 8/11/08)
 “Sterling Assets: British Investment Creating U.S. Jobs” (Confederation of British Industry, CBI), available at: http://www.cbi.org.uk/pdf/SterlingAssetsReport.pdf
 U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, “International Visitation to the United States: A Statistical Summary of U.S. Arrivals,” (2007) Pg. 9, at: http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/outreachpages/download_data_table/2007_International_Visitation.pdf
 Peter Woodman, “UK STILL FAVOURITE WITH US VISITORS,” Press Association News-file, August 10, 2008
 “MI5 chief warns on increasing intelligence sharing” Stephen Filder, The Financial Times (September 9, 2005), http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/195eeee6-2151-11da-a603-00000e2511c8.html (accessed 8/11/08)
 “Foiled transatlantic bomb plot 'was ready to go in days',” by Stewart Tendler, Jenny Booth, and Adam Fresco, The Times – London (August 10, 2006), http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article605120.ece (accessed 8/10/08)
 International Security and Assistance force, June 10, 2008, NATO, at:
 Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., “The Myth of U.S. Isolation: Why America Is Not Alone in the War on Terror,” September 7, 2004 at: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Europe/wm558.cfm#_ftn1
 “Gen Sir Mike Jackson attacks US over Iraq,” Con Coughlin and Neil Tweedie, The Daily Telegraph (London) (September 2, 2007), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1561891/Gen-Sir-Mike-Jackson-attacks-US-over-Iraq.html (accessed 8/10/08)
 “Karzai rejects US demand to spray opium crop this year, ” Michael Evans, The Times, 26 January 2007), http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article1296146.ece (accessed 8/11/08); and “International Security Assistance Force,” available http://www.nato.int/isaf/docu/epub/pdf/isaf_placemat.pdf (accessed 8/11/08)
 “War and Peace in the 21st Century,” available at http://humansecurityreport.info/HSR2005_HTML/Overview/index.htm
 “Talks start over release of British sailors,” David Blair, The Daily Telegraph (April 5, 2007), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1547630/Talks-start-over-release-of-British-sailors.html (accessed 8/11/08).
 Pew Global Attitudes Project, "America's Image Slips, But Allies Share U.S. Concerns over Iran, Hamas: No Global Warming Alarm in the U.S., China," June 13, 2006, at http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=252
 Julian Glover, “British believe Bush is more dangerous than Kim Jong-il,” The Guardian, November 3, 2006 at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/nov/03/terrorism.northkorea