Pentagon officials are said to have warned the British government that they had better not go through with plans to dramatically cut their military spending, insisting that any effort to do so could threaten the “special relationship” Britain enjoys with the United States.
In 2009 Britain spent over $69 billion on its military, the third largest expenditure on the planet. Yet with the nation facing a massive budget shortfall they are expected to dramatically reduce the size of the military, and are mulling the “merger” of parts of the Royal Navy with France to share expenses.
But a smaller British military will mean more reluctance in taking on the role of second banana in America’s military adventures. Britain’s military contribution to the NATO occupation of Afghanistan is the second largest, with only the US having contributed more.
This problem is perhaps compounded by the fact that the other major NATO powers, excluding only the US, are all looking to pare back military expenditure. For the US selling these wars as international and not unilateral endeavors is greatly dependent on having at least a modicum of international troops on the scene, and those troops seem destined to become fewer and fewer.
As the Obama Administration looks at record military expenditures and more conflicts going forward, Britain may find itself the de facto spoiler, frustrating the appearance of international support. In that sense Britain’s “special relationship” could well find itself in jeopardy.
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