by Ray Fleming

A remarkable joint article by Barack Obama and David Cameron about the Anglo-American relationship was printed in the Washington Post yesterday and a report on it appears in the Bulletin's news pages today. As it happened, before I knew of the existence of the Washington Post article I had written one of my Behind the Headlines essays on the subject of the so-called “special relationship” between Britain and the United States and this is in today's schools supplement on page 18.

The Obama-Cameron article draws on Winston Churchill's observations of the strength of the US-UK alliance in wartime and includes this in its opening paragraph: “When Britain and the United States are working together there is hardly anything they cannot do, either in the field of war or in the not less tangled problems of peace.” Given what was achieved in World War Two Churchill was fully justified in making that claim. But the Obama-Cameron article goes on to adapt in a contemporary context, saying: “Put simply, with confidence in our cause and faith in each other, we still believe there is hardly anything we cannot do.” How could President and prime minister have written those words when a ten-year war in which they are both engaged in Afghanistan is going from bad to worse?