Roger’s Rules

Strengthening the Special Relationship

There are two planks to Obama’s foreign policy. One is the presumption that America is in the wrong. Hence Obama’s habit, as he travels around the world, of apologizing for America. The whole idea of “American exceptionalism,” he has explained, is wrong. If America is “exceptional,” it is only in the sense that every nation is exceptional — i.e., it is not exceptional at all.

The other plank of Obama’s foreign policy revolves around America’s “special relationship” with Britain. The phrase was coined by Winston Churchill in his famous “Sinews of Peace” speech in Fulton, Missouri, in 1946. (It was the same speech in which he foresaw an “iron curtain” descending over Eastern Europe.) For Barack Obama, however, there is no special relationship with Britain. Hence it is not surprising that one of his first acts as President of the United States was to pack up the bust of Winston Churchill that had enjoyed an honored place in the White House and send it back home to the Brits. Just in case they didn’t take the hint, he has repeatedly snubbed Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Fortunately, Obama’s policy of reflexive anti-Americanism and repudiation of a country with which we have the strongest social, moral, and political filiation is not going unchallenged. One of the bright spots on the current international scene is The Atlantic Bridge. Founded in the late 1990s with Margaret Thatcher as its honorary patron, the Atlantic Bridge is devoted to “strengthening the special relationship” between the U.S. and Great Britain. In 2007, Rudolph Guiliani delivered the inaugural Margaret Thatcher Lecture hosted by the Atlantic Bridge.

This year, in London, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger delivered delivered the Thatcher lecture and was awarded the Atlantic Bridge’s Medal of Freedom by Baroness Thatcher for “tireless dedication to academia, public service, and peace.” It was a moving event: despite her age and ailments, Margaret Thatcher radiated serene confidence and Dr. Kissinger delivered an inspiring if melancholy talk. He underscored the importance, to the world as well as to both countries, of the special relationship between Britain and America. He also underscored the importance of strong leadership: a talent expertly deployed by Margaret Thatcher but in short supply in Washington these days. The event took place on November 10, a day after the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. That world historical event was seen by many as a harbinger of a coming reign of peace and international comity. It hasn’t worked out that way, of course. Indeed, the world is a far more dangerous place now than in 1989. Henry Kissinger reminded us of what is at stake in the relationship between America and Great Britain. In the end, it is nothing less than the future of political liberty. The Atlantic Bridge is an important curator of that liberty. It is registered as a charity on both sides of the Atlantic. I hope you will consider making a donation to help it pursue its mission.