Ike understood that the relationship had to be steadfast, that it had to transcend personality clashes or political bumps along the way. It had to be bigger than that.
The artist who painted the watercolor of Montgomery understood this clearly. He left an inscription on the back: “To Monty, from your friend Ike. 1952.”
I’d barely unpacked my bags three and a half years ago in the beautiful Queen Anne mansion that is home to the U.K. ambassador in Washington when I was handed an article predicting the imminent demise of the partnership between the United States and Britain. I was given another such story today.
And I’m willing to bet that every one of the 23 ambassadors who unpacked their bags in the century before me had the same sort of article periodically delivered to them.
The stories always suggest that the U.K. no longer matters to the U.S., and that some other nation—Germany, or France, or whoever—is America’s new best friend.
And our response, every time, has been the same: to carry on with the day-to-day work of two countries united by shared goals, common values, and the tight ties between everyday Britons and Americans. It’s exactly what we’ve done since long before Winston Churchill coined the phrase special relationship in his Iron Curtain speech in Fulton, Missouri, in 1946.
There has not been a single time since I took office when either I or my staff hasn’t been able to secure support, counsel, or advice from one of our U.S. counterparts—from the grass roots to the top of the administration. When we’ve needed help, it’s been given. Whenever we’ve asked for a phone call with the president, it’s been given priority.
Cabinet secretaries are regularly at the British residence, and our ministers and secretaries of state visit their U.S. counterparts frequently. The president’s relationship with Prime Minister Theresa May—contrary to some reports—is also excellent. It is respectful, and on important issues, there is free, open dialogue.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in London that the special relationship “doesn’t simply endure,” but “thrives.” He added later: “Our partnership allows us to protect the values we hold dear and to stand together to address the challenges of our time—China, Russia, Iran, the Middle East … We must tend to it, we must expand it, and we must not forget how special it really is.”
This isn’t politician-speak—this is what I see every day. So when I pick up these gloomy articles, it’s with a wry smile and slight exasperation that I wish the authors could see it too.
I was national security adviser for four years in the British government before coming to D.C. I knew then that U.K.-U.S. defense cooperation forms the broadest, deepest, and most advanced partnership any two countries enjoy. We’re close allies in NATO, permanent members of the UN Security Council, and leading nuclear powers—our cooperation is vital to international peace and security. We are the U.S.’s only “Day One, Night One” partner, deployed around the globe and capable of operating from the outset of high-intensity conflicts.