For all the ritualistic tributes to the enduring nature of the special relationship, something has changed during the Obama years. That shift is a growing awareness in both Washington and London of the rise of Asia, which has made both the US and the UK reconsider their approaches to the world — and each other.
President Obama’s personal background does indeed matter here. But the significant point is not that he is the first African-American president, but that he is the first Pacific president. Mr Obama was brought up in Hawaii, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and spent several years of his childhood in Indonesia. Like no other president before him, he really grasps the vital and growing importance of the Asia-Pacific region.
The signature foreign policy initiative of the Obama years has been America’s “pivot to Asia”. Amid all the turmoil in the Middle East and Ukraine, the US president has remained grimly, stubbornly, determined to devote more of his country’s diplomatic, military and economic resources to Asia.