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Britain and the US: A Special Relationship

10 Apr 2017 12:37 PM | Anonymous

By Daniel Zuchegno

Discussions of the existence of a special relationship between the US and the UK has its origins in 1946 in Fulton, Missouri. In a speech given by Winston Churchill at Westminster College, Mr. Churchill addresses not only the role of newly created transnational institutions such as the United Nations but the role of free people to strive to maintain freedoms for everyone,

 “…All this means that the people of any country have the right, and should have the power by constitutional action, by free unfettered elections, with secret ballot, to choose or change the character or form of government under which they dwell; that freedom of speech and thought should reign; that courts of justice, independent of the executive, unbiased by any party, should administer laws which have received the broad assent of large majorities or are consecrated by time and custom. Here are the title deeds of freedom which should lie in every cottage home. Here is the message of the British and American peoples to mankind. Let us preach what we practice - let us practice - what we preach.”

“I have now stated the two great dangers which menace the homes of the people: War and Tyranny. I have not yet spoken of poverty and privation which are in many cases the prevailing anxiety. But if the dangers of war and tyranny are removed, there is no doubt that science and co-operation can bring in the next few years to the world, certainly in the next few decades newly taught in the sharpening school of war, an expansion of material well-being beyond anything that has yet occurred in human experience.”

“Now, while still pursuing the method of realizing our overall strategic concept, I come to the crux of what I have traveled here to say. Neither the sure prevention of war, nor the continuous rise of world organization will be gained without what I have called the fraternal association of the English-speaking peoples. This means a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States.”

Later in his Missouri speech,  Mr. Churchill muses: "Let no man underrate the abiding power of the British Empire and Commonwealth." Yet less than a year later, the US Secretary of State Edward Stettinius wrote to President Roosevelt and said: "Never underestimate the difficulty an Englishman faces in adjusting to a secondary role after so long seeing leadership as a national right."

What makes this special relationship dynamic is the subsequent interaction between the two nations. Whether it be a disagreement of how to partition Palestine in the post WWII period, or failure of the UK to inform the US of their military intentions at the Suez Canal, or the UK refusing US requests to send troops to Vietnam during the early stages of the Vietnam War, or any number of other disagreements, each nation will always have distinct and at times disparate views.  Regardless of the existence of often times divergent policy choices, the panelists agreed that there is a much stronger alignment of political, social, and economic views that will continue to dominate the relationship between the two countries.

It was pointed out by the panelists that despite the strong cultural bonds between the two nations, we must continually work  to maintain and expand our relationship.  The panelist’s pointed out that the UK-US relationship has pragmatic implications as the resources of each nation must be used to promote the common values of freedom and the role of government to protect and maintain the liberties Churchill described . 

It is this recognition of the pragmatic foundation of the UK-US relationship that was on display in a passionate discussion by the panelists in the WorldDenver event.  From the opening  discussion, the panelists reiterated the existence of a very strong and deep relationship between the US and the UK.  The consensus was that the unique relationship between the two nations wasn’t based in a historical narrative of our founding citizens. It wasn’t due to our connections on language or heritage. The relationship was based, as Churchill stated, on an overriding  consensus in our belief of individual freedom and the role of each nation in maintaining this freedom.

The panelists unanimously stated that this special relationship had several practical foundations. The key foundations or elements of this relationship were described as;

- Our long standing sharing of intelligence, the “5i’s”.  The Five Eyes alliance initiated in 1946  through a series of  bilateral agreements is a global surveillance arrangement of nations comprised of the United States National Security Agency (NSA), the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters(GCHQ), Canada’s Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), and New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). The Five Eyes alliance  share intelligence, military technology,  and military strategy and mission.

-A strong sense of political cooperation and respect. Both nations share core values in the specification of the role and limitation of government and a commitment to protect civil liberties for everyone. This cooperation is based on mutual trust and understanding among the two governments.

-All of the panelists agreed that a further pillar of this relationship can be attributed to several very interrelated issues, a commitment to education and a strong economic and business relationship between industries and companies in a variety of sectors.

It was stated repeatedly, that both nations value and promote education and recognize the value of education in building a strong economy and capable leaders in global business and commerce.  It was  pointed out that the UK is the single largest investor in the US and many US firms hire large numbers of UK citizens and vice versa. 

The issue that many in the audience wanted addressed was the impact that Brexit was going to have on both the US and the UK. It was pointed out that although the UK is leaving the EU it is not leaving Europe. The Brexit vote was  not anti-Europe but more of a populist vote for self-determination of UK concerns. The panelists agreed on two fronts, (1) the future birthed from this vote is to be determined as the UK must renegotiate trade and economic relationships with the rest of Europe and the US and (2)  these negotiations will provide  an opportunity to again place the UK in a key position in the world, holding not only a special relationship with the US but a special relationship with the rest of Europe.

For more information you can look into the following links.

http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/1946/s460305a_e.htm -The Sinews of Peace by Winston S. Churchill, 1946 in Fulton Missouri.




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