If you thought Winston Churchill wouldn’t be mentioned until the second sentence of today’s "Obama-Cameron" op-ed in the Washington Post then, by gum, you’re a mug. Of course the old boy makes it into the first line. What else would you expect from a puff piece published on DC’s leading propaganda page? But the White House staffer responsible for this piece might still have done better:
Seven decades ago, as our forces began to turn the tide of World War II, Prime Minister Winston Churchill traveled to Washington to coordinate our joint efforts. Our victories on the battlefield proved “what can be achieved by British and Americans working together heart and hand,” he said. “In fact, one might almost feel that if they could keep it up, there is hardly anything they could not do, either in the field of war or in the not less tangled problems of peace.”
Keep it up we have — not only winning that war for our survival but also building the institutions that undergird international peace and security. The alliance between the United States and Great Britain is a partnership of the heart, bound by the history, traditions and values we share. But what makes our relationship special — a unique and essential asset — is that we join hands across so many endeavors. Put simply, we count on each other and the world counts on our alliance.
Perhaps so. But events in Afghanistan suggest there are in fact limits to what the United States and United Kingdom can achieve. In the circumstances, it might have been wiser to select a different Churchill quotation. Or just ignore the old fellow entirely.
Indeed, the whole piece has a whiff of a valedictory address. They were good and noble days but so long and thanks for the memories. One should not make too much of this: the USA will remain the world’s greatest power for some time yet and the UK will continue to play a decent-sized role in international affairs. Nevertheless, the relative trend is clear as the globe’s centre of political gravity shifts east. If the world "counts on" this alliance – a questionable proposition in the first place – it counts on it a little less than in the past. That’s just the way the wheel turns and not even the ritual invocation of St Winston is powerful enough to change that.