International

Making the special relationship great again

Donald Trump, David Cameron

America’s relationship with our staunchest ally, the United Kingdom, is like a huge battleship. It can be tossed and battered by stormy seas, as during the Obama presidency, but it always prevails and can be counted on in times of crisis. Enter stage right, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. While some rather vocal U.K. activists have sought to ban him from visiting, his rise to power could see a huge repairing of the bonds challenged by eight years of indifference, and even scorn for the U.K., on Obama’s watch.

{mosads}The Anglo-American friendship has been strained under Obama. Immediately upon moving into the Oval Office, Obama showed where he stands on the relationship by having a bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill removed. Throughout the course of his presidency, there has been assault after assault on the “special relationship.” From emphasis on the (only nominal) Britishness of BP during the Gulf oil spill, disdaining proper representation at former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, or the latest kerfuffle — preaching to Britain about “Brexit” and how the country could end up at the “back of the queue” for a bilateral trade agreement if it were to leave the EU — Obama has shown scorn to our staunchest ally. Even Prime Minister David Cameron at certain points has exclaimed frustration with Obama’s obsessive refusal to identify the greatest threat to global security: Islamic terrorism.

If Trump prevails in his electoral ambitions, he could not only repair the strain, but take the relationship to a new level of strength not seen since the Ronald Reagan years. But he needs to tread thoughtfully as many — mainly left-wing voices in the U.K. — have screeched hatred over his ambitions to assert greatness once again, as if that were a bad thing. “America first” must not mean isolationism, but should include reviving the alliances among our global friends.

Trump should make top priority among his foreign affairs policy a renewed and fortified emphasis of the special relationship. After all, history has proved that the world is a more secure and prosperous place when the English-speaking nations are in sync.

Specifically, Trump might consider the following.

On the potential of the U.K. leaving the European Union, Trump should learn from Obama’s blundering intervention of a few weeks ago. His approach should acknowledge that this is a decision for the British people. Moreover, he should underscore that the EU is an institution that runs on lines at odds with the traditions of representative democracy and common law that the U.S. and U.K. both share. In doing so, not only would he be completely accurate in his assessment of the burdens of EU membership, but he would gain more respect from Great Britain.

Furthermore, Trump should express interest in a fast-track trade agreement with our staunchest partner in the event that the British people vote to leave the EU in the June 23 referendum.

Regardless whether Brexit occurs, Trump should not slam the door but express a willingness to support the strongest possible Britain, whether in — or out — of the EU.

Beyond the Brexit issue, Trump could repair the damage of the past seven years by stressing all of the positive forces of stability and security that have been created over time, not only by the Anglo-American relationship, but by the greater Anglosphere family of nations that spans the globe — including as it does Canada, Australia and others. He should stress the benefits of prosperity and security and the positive effects on human rights that our common history and values have wrought, and he should highlight the demonstrated power of the special relationship to marshal the forces of good and allow them to prevail as they did during the two World Wars, the Cold War and other conflicts.

Furthermore, Trump should consider partnering with the U.K. to work for greater security cooperation and reforms across Europe, NATO and the U.N. His message should be that while the British and Americans are not solely responsible for the free world’s security, together they can make common purpose to push for much-needed reforms with our friends so that the forces of good are better able to withstand threats from wherever they come.

The points discussed fit perfectly into the context of candidate Trump’s clarion call to “make America great again.” A strong America needs strong allies. And a safe, secure and prosperous world needs a strong Anglosphere to lead it. Resetting and strengthening ties to our greatest, recently neglected allies might just allow Donald Trump not only to make America greater, but the world as well.

Cohen, head of the New York office of Off the Record Strategies and New York director of the Anglosphere Society, spent years advising the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Western European affairs, and was founding executive director of the House United Kingdom Caucus.

Tags Brexit Britain Donald Trump EU European Union Great Britain Referendum Special Relationship U.K. United Kingdom
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