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Keeping the Special Relationship Strong

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For decades, the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has been the cornerstone of leadership in the world.

President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill joined together to lead our two nations through the dark days of World War II. Our troops stood shoulder to shoulder as they stormed the beaches at Normandy, and our diplomats worked in concert to rebuild Europe with the Marshall Plan. President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher deepened that bond and fought Communism together to help win the Cold War. And in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President Bush's first phone call was across the Atlantic, to Prime Minister Blair.

Today, under President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron, our two nations are in lockstep on every major issue. Our servicemen and women are fighting alongside each other in Afghanistan, and we have a joint strategy to end the war in 2014. We have united the international community against the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and we worked together to protect the people of Libya from a brutal dictator. We have strengthened the NATO alliance, and reminded the world why our shared values are truly worth fighting for.

In Afghanistan, where brave British and American troops have been at war for over a decade, we are on track to end the war in 2014. And although it comes at some political cost back home, the British Government and the entire NATO alliance is united behind this timetable.

Britain and the United States also remain united in our opposition to a nuclear Iran. We have isolated the Iranian regime and brought together the international community to impose the most comprehensive, crippling sanctions in history. And last year, the United States, Britain, and other international partners led a NATO coalition to prevent a massacre and protect the Libyan people from Muammar Gaddafi's brutality.

Our friendship with Great Britain and close ties with the other NATO nations is a cornerstone of our national security policy. That is why I am concerned when I see actions by politicians that threaten the bipartisan relationship that we and our British friends have forged through all those years of shared sacrifice. We cannot afford to go back to the go-it-alone policy of the recent past. Nor can we adopt the isolationist tendencies that some now call for during this time of both global crisis and opportunity. We need our friends more than ever as we try to shape a future that is worthy of our historic past.

Elections often play to the lowest common denominator in the political debate and no more so than when talking about foreign policy. However, when you are an incumbent, particularly president, you don't have the luxury of talking without thinking or playing to the crowd. You have to act with responsibility because your words and, more importantly, your actions mean something.

Luckily, the United States has a president who understands this. He appreciates the importance of an alliance, particularly with a country like Great Britain. From intelligence sharing to political, military and economic cooperation, our two nations have become even closer under the Obama Administration. Both of our nations gain from this relationship.

Unfortunately, Governor Romney is taking a precarious path with respect to our relations with Great Britain and our other European allies. His rhetoric suggests that he would ignore the counsel of our friends around the world. On the key issues of our time, Gov. Romney would split the partnership that this administration, and others before it, worked so hard to build.

In January, he told supporters in New Hampshire that, "I want you to remember when our White House reflected the best of who we are, not the worst of what Europe has become." Gov. Romney has also called European militaries "second-tier," even though many of them have been fighting right beside us in Afghanistan since the beginning.

But it's not just what Governor Romney says; it's also what he promises to do as president. In the Governor's foreign policy proposals, he repeatedly diverges from the path that President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have forged together.

As Gov. Romney lands in London this week, he would be wise to realize that our European alliances are not something that holds us back. Our alliance helps to move our national security agenda forward. Using our European friends as political punching bags on the campaign trail, and ignoring the broad consensus we've forged with the British on key issues like Afghanistan is a dangerous course to pursue.

The threats we face are too great and the challenges too complicated for the United States to go it alone in the world. And, just as those that came before us, President Obama and our British friends have been confronting these tough issues together -- not with bullying and bluster -- but with the kind of respect that our closest friends deserve.

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