BBC News | David Cannadine | March 9, 2012


Winston Churchill coined the phrases "special relationship" and "Iron Curtain" on a lecture tour of American universities - and his words still resonate today, says historian David Cannadine.

In a few days' time, David Cameron will be journeying to Washington to visit Barack Obama, and according to a White House Statement, his visit will "highlight the fundamental importance of the US-UK special relationship and the depth of friendship between the American people and the people of the United Kingdom".

Perhaps it will, and I hope it does, but it's also likely to give rise to at least two challenging questions. Is America's relationship with Britain as special as it used to be? And is it genuinely more special than with any other country?

These matters have been much on my mind of late, because I've recently returned from lecturing at Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri, where in March 1946, Winston Churchill gave one of his most significant post-war speeches in which he launched the phrase "special relationship" into popular currency.

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“Leave the past to history especially as I propose to write that history myself.”

Winston S. Churchill