With UK visit, Trump the statesman emerges

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With President Trump’s European trip concluded, it is apparent that the traditional underpinnings of the “Special Relationship,” baptized as such by Winston Churchill, are as important as ever — though they are challenged by a new world order that is embarrassed by the history, values and achievements of Western civilization. These are the same values and achievements that the heroes of D-Day and World War II fought to preserve.   

Unlike what some U.S. media would have you believe, “more Britons were in favor of the visit than against” — 46 percent to 40 percent, according to a YouGov poll last month. And, in a Pew Research Center survey last year, 28 percent of Britons said they believed Trump would do the right thing in world affairs, more than double the 10 percent in Germany, 9 percent in Spain and 7 percent in France who felt that way.   

With the state visit, Queen Elizabeth honored not only the president and the United States, but also our shared value of exceptionalism, at a time when far-left protesters and many in the mainstream media yearn for the politically correct apologies for colonial sins pronounced by President Obama and Britain’s far-left opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn.  

For Trump — much to the chagrin of his detractors, especially those who care less about U.S. security and prosperity and more about denigrating him — the visit was a diplomatic success. Measured and inspirational in his words and gracious in manner, Trump gained stature on the world stage from the experience. Though his battle cry is American exceptionalism, he is rightfully proud, not only of his United Kingdom heritage (his mother was Scottish) but of what the two countries have forged together.

Britons could not fail to see this, and his visit stirred their patriotic spirit at a time when Brexit politics have left them deflated.  

To her great credit, against the hysterical chorus of protesters against Trump, Queen Elizabeth enthusiastically received the Trumps with an official visit. That speaks volumes about her wisdom and belief in shared values and the U.S.-U.K. shared ability to make the world more safe, stable and prosperous, as no other partnership can.   

Indeed, perhaps the queen herself is a great strategist and deal-maker, considering the goodwill earned from bestowing this honor on the U.S. At a time of instability regarding the U.K.’s future, the U.S. economy has become the envy of the world and European businesses are bending over backwards to develop U.S. business.  

The fact is, we are each other’s largest trading partners. British American Business, the leading U.S.-U.K. trade organization, reports that U.S. affiliates in Britain and U.K. affiliates in the U.S. each employ more than 1 million people. The U.S. and U.K. share the largest bilateral investment relationships (combined 1.1 trillion, as reported in 2013), and the United States is the United Kingdom’s largest single investor. While these positions are unlikely to change dramatically, in her role as head of state, the queen would like to shore up these figures no matter who steps into the prime minister’s role.   

Moreover, it is logical that the queen recognizes her nation needs more than a bit of what Trump embodies: belief in the exceptionalism of nation, rather than surrendering to the collectivism and loss of sovereignty inherent in Britain’s European Union membership and current limbo status.

Not all of Queen Elizabeth’s subjects emerged as winners during the visit. There is perhaps a pattern, in that the Trump critics — notably, Labour Leader Corbyn, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and House Speaker John Bercow, who refused to invite the president to address Parliament — all seem to be repelled by his philosophy of national exceptionalism. Though it is unclear if she officially protested, Meghan Markle, an expressed Trump critic, might fit in this category. The duchess is on maternity leave, but as the only American among the royal family, her absence was conspicuous.  

Conversely, Trump, who is known to not hold back criticism — or enthusiasm — endorsed emerging British leaders Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, who have the ability to inspire an independent, strong Britain that a majority had expressed interest in pursuing through the Brexit referendum vote.  

As Trump and other world leaders came together to honor the achievements of war heroes, the behavior of protestors and the antics of Corbyn, Khan and Bercow seemed out of touch with decency and reality. By contrast, Trump appeared to score high among British military regiments for speaking genuinely and individually with many servicemen.  

Queen Elizabeth knows her country is on the precipice of change. Honoring the Special Relationship with the friendship it deserves is part of the maintenance required to keep the bonds incorruptible. The queen and the president played their parts superbly.  

Lee Cohen is a historian, senior fellow of the Danube Institute in Budapest and the London Center for Policy Research, and the New York director of The Anglosphere Society. He formerly was director of the Congressional United Kingdom Caucus.

Tags Brexit Britain D-Day Donald Trump Meghan Markle Pew Queen Elizabeth Special Relationship

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