One of the remarkable phenomena in post-Cold War world politics is the persistence
of the Anglo-American special relationship (AASR) in spite of recurrent
announcement of its death by pessimists. Current scholarship on Anglo-American
relations largely draws on interests and sentiments to explain the persistence of
the AASR, ignoring other important contributing factors such as institutionalization.
This article is the first to give serious consideration to the role of institutionalization
in influencing the persistence of the AASR. By using the concept
of path dependence, this article argues that the high-level institutionalization in
Anglo-American intelligence, nuclear and military relations plays a seminal role in
contributing to the persistence of the AASR in the post-Cold War era. The institutionalized
intelligence relationship is exemplified by the relationship between
the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the US’s
National Security Agency (NSA), which is underpinned by the UKUSA Agreement.
The institutionalized nuclear relationship is exemplified by a variety of Joint
Working Groups (JOWOGs), which is underpinned by the 1958 Mutual Defence
Agreement. The institutionalized military relationship is exemplified by routinized
military personnel exchange programmes, regular joint training exercises and
an extremely close defence trade partnership. The high-level institutionalization
embeds habits of cooperation, solidifies interdependence and consolidates mutual
trust between the UK and the US in their cooperation on intelligence, nuclear
and military issues.