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MONDAY, JUNE 28, 2010

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

DAMON WILSON:  Good morning, everyone.  My name is Damon Wilson.  I’m vice president of the Atlantic Council and director of the International Security Program.  Thank you for joining us for this program this morning. 

On the occasion of Liam Fox’s first visit to the United States as secretary of State for defense and in the wake of President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron’s talks on the margins of the G-8/G-20 summits in Canada, today is quite an opportune moment to examine the meaning of the special relationship.

We’ve gathered today three terrific analysts to debate the future of the relationship in the 21st century.  Adam Garfinkle, editor of The American Interest, will moderate a discussion between two individuals who have been at the heart of the special relationship for years, having spoken and written about the U.S.-U.K. bond quite eloquently.

I want to thank Eric Edelman and Phil Stephens for joining us today.  Eric Edelman is a former undersecretary of defense for policy and he’s currently an Atlantic Council board director who recently published a thought provoking piece in The American Interest, which I hope were able to pick up outside, “A Special Relationship in Jeopardy”. 

Eric also had a distinguished Foreign Service career, having served both as ambassador to Finland and as ambassador to Turkey.  He is currently a visiting scholar at SAIS as well as a distinguished fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis.

Phil Stephens is an associate editor of the Financial Times and a keen observer of the relationship who’s also written insightful columns on the relationship as Britons headed to the polls to bring to power a new government.  He also serves as the director of the Ditchley Foundation and we’re delighted to have him over here from London for this discussion today.

Following 60 years of cooperation and success, the political, economic and military pillars of the special relationship are stressed today.  So today we want to examine how can the special relationship adapt in the face of these challenges.  Will there even be an indispensible relationship in the 21st century?  Our mission at the Atlantic Council is to renew the trans-Atlantic community to face these very challenges.

So it’s our privilege and my personal pleasure to convene this panel of distinguished Atlanticists to discuss these pivotal questions today.  Before turning the program over to Adam, let me add a word about our moderator. 

As I mentioned, Adam Garfinkle is editor of The American Interest, a critically acclaimed magazine he co-founded in 2005; previously served as speechwriter for Secretary of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and as editor of The National Interest.  For more than 30 years, Adam has shaped high level discussions of international affairs, global economics and grand strategy as a professor, journalist and government official. 

Adam, thank you for moderating today’s discussion and thank you for your contribution to the Atlantic community.  Please, over to you.

    ADAM GARFINKLE:  Thank you.  Thank you and welcome everybody to this program, which is unusual just for the fact that it exists at all.  There aren’t that many programs in the summer in Washington.  So this is really quite special.  I think what we’d do to start off with is just ask Eric and Philip to say a few words, starting with Eric, who might want to just sort of go over very, very quickly the thesis of his essay in the magazine and then maybe bring it up to date a bit.

Stuff’s happened even since we went to press for the last issue and then we’ll see what sort of sparks we can create here between our two panelists.  So Eric, over to you.

ERIC EDELMAN:  Thank you, thank you, Damon.  It’s great to be here and great to see some friends, including some U.K. friends who know that I am a friend of the U.S.-U.K. special relationship. 

The article is actually based on a lecture I gave at SAIS last fall that had the title “The U.S.-U.K. Special Relationship:  The End of the Affair?”  And I did point out in the course of the lecture that I could have used a different literary allusion.  I could have called it “Goodbye to all That” and chose not to because I think that the relationship has still got some life in it and deserves to be preserved.

I think the session today is very timely and I thank the Atlantic Council for sponsoring it because it comes, of course, on the heels of President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron’s first bilateral meeting at the G-20 summit in Canada, a meeting that was notable first of all because unlike Prime Minister Brown’s attempts to arrange a bilateral last fall during the G-20 meetings in Pittsburgh, apparently Prime Minister Cameron did not have to chase the president around the summit site to get there.

In fact, he was ferried to the summit site on Marine One where the two also got to consummate their bet on the U.S.-U.K. soccer match, that luckily for both leaders ended in a nil-nil tie thereby allowing both of them to exchange the beers of their choice, or was it one-one?  Okay, I stand corrected.  But the bet, of course, involved the two exchanging beers.

And so President Obama is now the proud owner of a Hobgoblin beer and the prime minister I think has Goose Island 321, although I note that even in that exchange of beer, not to suggest that their relationship is now small beer, the president couldn’t quite help himself from making a slightly snarky remark to the prime minister that the beer needed to be consumed chilled, sort of reminding the prime minister that Americans and Brits are not only two peoples divided by a common language but also divided by their taste in the temperature at which one consumes beer.

The meeting, of course, comes on the heels of the foreign secretary, William Hague’s visit immediately after the coalition government was formed in May to meet with Secretary Clinton to proclaim that the special relationship was alive and well, which echoed the rhetoric that Secretary Clinton used with David Miliband when she went to the U.K. last October.

And when the two of them both proclaimed that the U.S.-U.K. special relationship was alive and well and my experience in life is that when two parties spend a lot of time talking about the health of their relationship  as opposed to the substantive agenda, it’s usually a pretty good indication that actually everything is not well in the relationship.

Now, I think it’s important to remember that this special relationship, which arguably was given its name by Winston Churchill in 1945-46, although Andrew Roberts, the historian and imminent Churchillian himself, has communicated to me by e-mail after reading the article, he believes that Churchill actually used the phrase even earlier in the ’30s. 

But that relationship, whenever it got its name from Churchill, has had serious ups and downs over the post-war years and we shouldn’t romanticize it.  It’s been through enormous crises.  There was a pretty big crisis over the U.S. cancellation of cooperation on nuclear weapons in the late ’40s. 

There was a huge crisis over Suez in the mid-’50s.  There was a crisis over the cancellation of Skybolt in the ’60s and there was a huge crisis over the wars in the Balkans in the ’90s.  So this is a relationship that has suffered through many crises in the past and therefore one shouldn’t get, I think, overly dramatic about whatever tempest it may be traversing at the moment.

And in each instance I would argue the relationship in some sense came out stronger after those crises than it did in the course of the crisis.  So for instance, even though there was this nasty spat over nuclear weapons in the ’40s, the U.K. makes bases available to the United States in the Korean War for what were meant to be nuclear-armed bombers, although they actually went to the U.K. without any nuclear weapons, but as part of the signaling to the Soviet Union at the time of the Korean War, and since we’ve just past the 50th anniversary of that event it’s probably worth recalling.

Similarly after Suez, Harold Macmillan became prime minister very determined to improve the relationship first with his own comrade-in-arms Dwight Eisenhower but then later with President Kennedy.  I mean, in some ways, that period up to Skybolt might have been the halcyon days of the U.S.-U.K. special relationship.  So it’s always emerged stronger from crises.

But I think it’s important if we’re going to try and preserve this relationship to also be clear about what it is that makes it distinctive and what is it about the relationship that makes it special and I would argue that it’s basically four things that make it special and I see all four of those elements or pillars of this relationship as being under fairly serious attack on both sides of the Atlantic, by the way.  I’m not trying to point fingers at one side or the other.  I think like any relationship it’s got to be a two-way street and it takes two sides to make it work.

The first is the notion that the English-speaking peoples, as Churchill might have said, have something special to bring the world; rule of law, democracy, free trade.  Those are the things I think that have been the traditional elements and the traditional elements really of the global system that Britain created really in the 19th century and before and bequeathed to the United States and I’ve actually had the opportunity since I wrote the piece to read Walter Russell Mead’s book “God and Gold” and I think it’s a wonderful sort of history that shows how this world system came to be and the role that the U.K. and the United States played in that.

The second element I think has been, particularly in the post-Cold War era, the willingness of the United Kingdom to be what Colin Gray calls the deputy sheriff in an era when the bipolar structure of international politics had broken down and the United States found itself playing a role of being the provider, as Michael Mandelbaum might have said, of global public goods and preserving order, the United Kingdom stepped up to be the deputy sheriff and not to just – I think a lot of the focus has been on the Blair era of course and the decision to go to war with the United States in both Afghanistan and Iraq. 

But I think it really actually goes beyond that.  I think it goes to the role that the United Kingdom played in the Blair era as opposed to the previous Tory era in Kosovo but also the British role in Sierra Leone and elsewhere in the world.

The third element, recurring back to something I said earlier, has been nuclear weapons because although there was a bit of an estrangement, a decade of estrangement over the nuclear issue, the nuclear weapons got their birth in joint Anglo-American effort.

And ultimately the United States became very important to Britain in the development of its independent nuclear deterrent and I think that is an important element in international politics for Britain in terms of punching above its weight but also for the United States because I fear that if the United Kingdom were to give up its nuclear deterrent, it would help singularize the United States ultimately in the West as the only country with nuclear weapons and put us under even more pressure than we’re already under to take down our nuclear infrastructure and our nuclear weapons force structure.

And finally, cooperation on intelligence matters and there as well, one can see a lot of difficulties in the relationship as a result of the Guantanamo issues, the McGray (ph) case, the book by Mr. Begg, who was released from Guantanamo, et cetera.  I think there’s an awful – and as well the release of classified material provided to the United Kingdom as part of the coroner’s inquests that have followed on from the Iraq and Afghanistan involvements.

All of those have contributed to stresses and strains in the intelligence relationship, which I think the other fourth key part of the special relationship.

What would be lost if the special relationship were to go away?  I think first of all we would lose a relationship from the U.S. side that has helped us find our way to a number of positive outcomes, both during the Cold War and in the post-Cold War period. 

Winston Churchill said that the United States always figures out the right thing to do after systematically eliminating every other option and I would argue that during the course of both the Cold War and post-Cold War, a lot of the time we’ve come to the right conclusion and the right decision because of the consultations we’ve had with our U.K. colleagues.

From the U.K. point of view, I think the special role that he United Kingdom continue to play to some degree turns on having some special relationship with the United Kingdom.  One of the people who was most ardent in denying that there was a special relationship was Dean Acheson, who famously said that the U.K. had lost an empire but not yet found a role for itself.

Btu it seems to me that in a unifying Europe, the U.K. has a special role to play both as a member of the European Union but also one that has a special trans-Atlantic link to the United States. 

That makes it very important for the U.S. but equally important I think for Europe and if it pitches too far in one direction or the other, I think it’ll make it difficult for Britain to play a role other than as a medium-sized power in Europe, and if that’s the aspiration then they can do that but it will be certainly a loss for the United States were that to happen.

Let me close by just making two modest suggestions about what might be done to help preserve the special relationship. 

First on the U.S. side, although there’s clearly some persistent consultation at the most senior levels, I think in the last 18 months what has been lost a little bit is the kind of persistent contact and consultation at the subcabinet and undersecretary levels across the range of institutions that are involved in our national security on both sides and from U.K. colleagues I occasionally hear the complaint that when there is consultation with the administration it’s more of a to-do list than an actual consultation.  So I think from the U.S. side, getting back into that habit would be a good thing.

On the U.K. side, and particularly because Liam Fox, the new secretary of state for defense is in town this week, I think it’s very important that as Britain goes into its strategic defense review, which is going to be, as Philip has argued I think very persuasively in his columns in The Financial Times, an extremely wrenching review given the fact that it’s likely to come against a very difficult fiscal backdrop with some people suggesting as much as a 20 percent cut in the British defense budget, a cut that will come in the face of ongoing, at least on the books, requirements for a second carrier, modernization of the nuclear deterrent, which involves both a new post-Vanguard submarine but also a new missile and potentially a new warhead, tornadoes, frigates, re-kitting the force that has had a lot of equipment chewed up in the Iraq and the Afghanistan deployments. 

There already were requirements that exceeded the resources for defense in the United Kingdom and squaring that all up with a 20 percent budget cut is going to be a tall order indeed.

As that goes forward, I would urge that our U.K. colleagues be mindful of what I argue are the pillars of the relationship, the importance of maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent, but also even in an atmosphere where future U.K. deployments with the United States may seem remote because of the unpopularity of the involvement first in Iraq and now increasingly in Afghanistan, I still think it’s important for the United Kingdom to maintain at least a suite of capabilities that will enable it to deploy with the U.S. in some fashion, even albeit perhaps reduced, in the future because undoubtedly there are going to be more military operations that both countries will need to consider in the turbulent years ahead as we face a very uncertain future both in terms of Islamic extremism but also emergent nuclear powers in Northeast Asia and the Middle East.

Why don’t I stop there?

MR. GARFINKLE:  Okay.  Philip Stephens?

PHILIP STEPHENS:  Thank you very much and I’m delighted to be here.  I thought – I hope I’m not wrong from your point of view since I come from the U.K. and I write about British politics as well as international affairs – it might be the most useful thing I could do would be try and explain what’s going on in the U.K. at the moment and what the British view of this relationship which has been strong but also turbulent over the last 10 years has been.

There are some areas I disagree with Eric on.  Britain’s role in Europe might be one of them.  But maybe we’ll leave those for the discussion afterwards and I’ll offer you sort of what I see as a description of what’s going on in the U.K. at the moment, which you can question, or challenge or whatever.

Now, I’m going to start with a quote from a confidential paper written by a senior Whitehall official just before in the months running up to the general election.  Now, as I remember it, I shouldn’t have had this and I think it was a U.K. eyes only memorandum.  So I’m assuming that everyone in this room for the next hour or so is a Brit.

This memorandum starts in the sort of – in that languid, laconic way so beloved of British civil servants and it starts, and I quote, the opening line, “It’s a harsh truth that Whitehall seems always to be reviewing the trans-Atlantic relationship and always reaching the same conclusions.”  The paper then lists the pros and cons of the relationship, going through in that very thorough Whitehall way what’s to be said for the relationship, where the weaknesses are and what’s irritating about it.

And it comes to the conclusion that there are a lot more pros than there are cons and I don’t know how many people in this room have ever watched “Yes, Minister”, which is a TV program which shows the effortless hegemony of civil servants over ministers in the British political system, but in a concluding paragraph really worthy of “Yes, Minister”, the official – the very senior official who wrote this paper concludes, “Yes, it will be fine for a new government to conduct another review of the special relationship.  But,” and this is the crucial point, “This,” the official says, “should be the traditional trans-Atlantic policy review, identifying alternatives but in the final analysis sticking to the status quo.”

So Whitehall has decided in advance of the direction what the new government should set in place and I cite this document because for two reasons; one, because however scratchy the relationship can seem from time to time and we’ve seen recently over BP, we’ve seen some language over Afghanistan which is to some people in Washington I think it’s felt to be a bit jarring, the overwhelming consensus on the British side is that the relationship with Washington is vital to Britain’s national interest.

And the official’s right.  Every good government I think probably for the last 50 years has conducted – every new government has conducted a review of the special relationship and reached more or less the same conclusion, with one or two odd exceptions.  Edward Heath’s government in the early ’70s I think was one those exceptions.

So when William Hague says, as he did the other day, that the relationship is an irreplaceable bond in the conduct of our foreign policy, he means it.  It is, and why?  Well, it’s because it’s in the British national interest and I’ll just cite a few of the reasons that it’s in our interest.

It’s the ultimate guarantor of our security.  The strategic deterrent, if you think about it, we shelter still under America’s nuclear umbrella.  We rely on the United States for our own strategic deterrent. 

The U.S. is still a necessary guarantor of European security, to European defense.  It’s the arbiter between the east and west of Europe in the European Union in terms of trying to provide a coherent view of our strategic interests, our relationship with Russia, which his vital.  It’s there in the Balkans.  I feel rather depressed about this but hopelessly we Europeans can’t yet do this stuff on our own.

As Eric said, the U.S. is for Britain an essential partner in the fight against terrorism.  We rely very much on U.S. intelligence.  I would say that I think the U.S. relies to a significant degree on our intelligence in terms of in trying to combat jihadi terrorism.  The U.S. is a key supplier to our defense forces.  We buy our high-tech equipment and we borrow our high-tech equipment from the U.S.

And the U.S., I think, is our best hope of a rules-based international system, which for a medium-sized power like the U.K. is absolutely vital.  If what I say to those colleagues who often sort of challenge the special relationship and challenge American power and what’s seen as sometimes American hegemony, the answer of course is if not the U.S., who?

So I think what this adds up to is when David Cameron says the relationship should be solid but not slavish he’s not suggesting any radical strategic shift.  Really he’s talking about the tone and texture of the relationship and he’s talking of course about domestic politics. 

It’s one of the sort of paradoxes of the present is that the U.S. administration of President Obama is immensely popular at the moment but the idea that we’re an American poodle, a hangover if you like from the Iraq war, Blair’s close relationship with George W. Bush, sort of lurks there in the atmosphere of politics.

So for Cameron, for Haig, it’s just local politics to say, look, we’re not going to mix a metaphor, kowtow to the Americans.

That said, and I think this is the important point and the interesting point here, to say that the relationship is incredibly important strategically to Britain is not to say it’s not changing and it is going to change.  It’s going to change largely I think for reasons which are outside the control of a British government but partly also politics.

I think it’s also going to change because of the view of the present administration that the 21st century is as much a Pacific century as an Atlantic century.  We’ve lived for this 200 years where power in the world has been concentrated in those countries on the borders of the Atlantic.  Much of the power in the future is going to be in those countries bordering the pacific.

Britain, the other point I think, is I think going to contribute less to the relationship because we’re going to be a less important power. 

On the immediate politics, I think it is worth saying that Cameron is not a Tory, is temperamentally a different sort of conservative to some we’ve seen, although to reference Eric’s introduction, he’s very much – and personally I find this sort of uncomfortable – a Tory in the tradition of those who think that Britain’s role or Britain’s capacity to go out and do good in the world is limited.

He’s a realist – I put that in inverted commas.  He’s doubtful of the efficacy of interventionism.  He’s distrustful of foreign entanglements and I think those sort of essential impulses in his political character are reinforced by the idea that it’s quite clever to distance yourself from Tony Blair in terms of the politics and I think we’ve seen this in terms of Afghanistan and the British view of Afghanistan. 

Cameron said the other say that we’re not going to be there in five years’ time.  In one sense, that’s no different from the present administration’s policy here.  I don’t think Mr. Obama wants American forces to be in Afghanistan in five years time in any large numbers, certainly not fighting.

But I think the willingness of the British to say we want to get out of this reflects the local politics is a very unpopular war.  Proportionately we’re taking heavier casualties than anyone else, including the United States, and as Eric said, we face a very, very serious economic and financial squeeze. 

The government has said that our deficit, which is 11 percent, about the size of the U.S. deficit proportionally to national income about 11 percent GDP, has to be eliminated by 2015.  That’s going to be very – I mean, very large cuts across the board.

And I think we’re going to be – as the government focuses on domestic policy, the resources, political as well as financial, for foreign policy are going to be less.  Our forces are already overstretched.  My own guess is that over a four to five year period, the defense budget will face cuts of perhaps 15 to 20 percent, real cuts, cumulative cuts over that period.

The Afghanistan budget is sort of a separate pot, as it were.  So I’m not talking about cutting spending there.  But if you, to my mind, and the government would disagree, this is going to be a shift as wrenching as anything that Britain has seen since 1968 when we withdrew from what was then called the east of Suez.  We pulled back.

And I think in terms of our military capability, what it’s going to mean is that we’re going to give up the idea that we can fight significant wars for long periods, that we can keep an army of 10,000, which for us is significant, or 15,000 in the field for long periods. 

We’re going to become, as Eric suggested, a niche player I think focusing on our capabilities in special forces, other military skills and we’ve had this pretense I think now for 20 years or so that we have full spectrum capacities, that we’re, quote, say a “pocket superpower” and I think actually we’re going to abandon that pretense.

That is going to mean a Britain with a more modest role; I don’t think necessarily an insignificant role in the world.  I think a Britain that’s probably going to be willing to play the role of deputy sheriff but on a more selective basis.  I think we have – we would argue, the British would argue – capabilities in the fields of intelligence that are still very important to the United States.  I think the British would claim quite a lot of the credit for the discovery of the second Iranian nuclear plant at Qom recently. 

I think some of our intelligence in Eastern Europe and Russia is quite strong.  But the natural, I think, course of the relationship over – if one’s looking out and trying to put aside sort of the squalls, the temporary squalls – is going to be a relationship which from the British side but I think also the American side, of mutual interest but one less relative to the world in which we all live and one that’s going to require both sides, I think, to work at it.  It’s going to be more a relationship of choice than one of necessity. 

I think useful and strategically vital for brain.  I think more useful to the United States than some in the present administration will sometimes acknowledge.  But it’s going to be different.  Britain is going to have a more modest role in the world. 

I would argue, and here I think I disagree with Eric, that the U.S. is going to have to accept a more modest role in the world, albeit one far more significant than the U.K. role and I think that in terms of our diplomacy and our capabilities, if we use them to mobilize Europe in a way that supports the values and the interests of, if you like, the old powers, are important to the U.S. 

But I’m going to end on that point in the hope of providing Eric that Britain’s utility to the U.S. will be greatly enhanced if the present government abandons some of its ideological euro skepticism and tries to mobilize other powers in Europe, particularly within NATO but also within other areas, to do more to look after our own neighborhood and actually to promote our values and interests beyond Europe.  Thank you.

MR. GARFINKLE:  Thank you.  Well, there’s a great deal on the table.  I’m glad you ended with this reference to Europe.  I do want to take that up and I’ll take the prerogative of being the moderator to ask the first question. 

When you think about the special relationship, if you wanted to sort of wax epistemological about it, you would ask what really makes it up and you could sort of sketch a spectrum where on the one hand, to one side, left or right doesn’t matter, that it’s largely a matter of culture.  America derives from British traditions, even though our democracies are differently shaped, we are nonetheless democracies, and old democracies.  My father used to joke that part of the affinity was that we were both chasing Indians throughout the 19th century, though different Indians.

    On the other hand, all the way on the other side, you could look at sort of tectonic issues like the idea that’s been often mentioned that the Anglo-American relationship allows Britain to punch above its weight, as it were, because it’s attached to American prestige and that gives it prerogatives in Europe and beyond that it otherwise might not have.  So this is a matter of geography and relative size.  But in the great middle, there are these sort of broadly political issues.

If we look at this triangle of continental Europe, Britain and the United States, everything seems to be in relative motion these days.  Everything seems to be shifting around.  Europe – by the way, just so you all know if you haven’t seen the magazine, the issue that’s current now has a section – the first section that’s just before Eric’s piece.  It’s about whatever happened to Europe and Ambassador Burt is one of the authors in that section.

    But that section clearly shows that there’s a lot of fluidity, a lot of doubt, a loss of general confidence about the idea, the model of Europe.  So in Britain, I think I read recently that the public share of GDP in Britain has now gone above 60 percent.  If that’s not accurate, either I’m not remembering right or the fellow didn’t say it right, but there has been more public spending in the period of new Labor.

    And in the United States, I think – I don’t know how to put it.  Maybe the sense of American exceptionalism isn’t quite what it was in a way that Britain’s – Britain also has a sense of exceptionalism, that whole decolonization process over many decades has changed. 

So if you were going to look at this anew, what’s different now from the Anglo-American relationship and its juxtaposition to Europe from the way it was let’s say in 1970 or 1963 or whatever?  Are these just changes of degree or has something fundamental changed here?

    MR. STEPHENS:  Well, I’d argue that the world’s different.  In 1970, Europe was the sort of, if you’d like, the contested place in the bipolar world.  So we as Europeans sheltered under the United States was what kept the Soviets out, as it were, we as West Europeans in that context and for the U.S., Europe was the place where the Soviets had to be held back.  So that’s why I said the relationship then was on both sides I think a relationship of choice.

    In the world now where the geopolitical center of gravity, if you want to call it, has shifted eastwards, I think both sides are saying, well, this is a good relationship to have if you talk about the trans-Atlantic one but it’s not so much a must-have. 

So I would say there’s sort of a core strategic shift along with the sort of cultural shifts and I think in terms of Europe, a united German and a more assertive Germany that’s changing a lot of equations as well.  But that would be my basic answer.  Eric?

    MR. EDELMAN:  Well, I agree with much of what Philip said.  I would just add though that I guess I see a lot shifting around right now.  There is the whole broader shift from kind of west to east, as it were, from Europe to Asia, from the Atlantic to the Pacific that Philip mentioned. 

But I think before everyone changes their summer vacation plans because of the NIC global trends 2025 report predicted a global multipolar world, I would suggest that what we’re really seeing is something, at least for the near term, a little bit more modest, which is that a very abnormal period of U.S. dominance which was the case after the collapse of the Soviet Union and I would argue maybe up to 2003, 2004, is coming to an end.

    I don’t think that means that the United states is going to have global peers anytime soon and I think the labor trouble that you see in China is just the tip of the iceberg of the sort of demographic wall that China is about to hit which is going to make the notion of its economic growth projecting out into the future in an unbroken path the way it has over the last 20 years a very unlikely proposition.

    What the United States is going to face is a much more contested primacy, if you will, than we’ve had in the past in regional terms.  In Northeast Asia by potentially a nuclear armed North Korea, in the western Pacific by the rise of China and particularly China’s naval power and its development of anti-ship cruise missiles and anti-ship ballistic missiles, which if left unaddressed will change the way the United States has operated since the Second World War in the pacific; in the Middle East, by potentially by a nuclear armed Iran; and in our own hemisphere perhaps by Hugo Chavez and maybe others.

So I think it’s one reason why I think the special relationship takes on, in my view, continued importance because it will be good to have allies, even those with niche capabilities, to help us deal with some of those problems. 

Europe itself, I think, though is sort of going through obviously huge turmoil.  I mean, five years ago I think if we’d been having this panel it would have been taking place in a period of what I call Euro-triumphalism in which people were writing books about how Europe is going to rule the 21st century and the United States ought to adopt the European model and it looks a lot different now obviously.

It seems to me that we’re going to be entering a period where Europe’s leaders are even more insular than normal, very focused on European institutions and trying to hang on to them or preserve them as best they can.  In the United States, there was some speculation after the onset of the Great Recession that this was going to mark the sort of discrediting of the U.S. economic model and all of that.

    What seems to me to be quite striking is that in Europe you have governments that are now moving towards austerity.  You have an American public  that, as measured by poll data, is reasserting one of the central themes of American history which is deep-seated public skepticism of concentrated economic and political power in the United States, a deep anti-statist tradition that has marked our political culture for several hundred years and you see governments in Europe being returned that are looking in some sense in a similar direction to cutting back government spending and perhaps reducing the role of government a bit, although I don’t think it’ll ever be quite as dramatic as it is here.

    So I think all of these things are in flux but to my way of thinking, they underscore the importance of a special Anglo-American relationship and to Philip’s point, and I’ll shut up, on whether the U.S. ought to encourage the U.K. government to be more or less Euro-skeptical, I mean, I think as I tried to suggest in my opening remarks, I think part of the utility of a special relationship with the United States is with a U.K. that is a part of Europe.  I think Europe might actually benefit from a little bit of skepticism about an overweening Brussels that if properly managed this government might just successfully pursue.

    MR. GARFINKLE:  Thanks.  Let’s open it up to the floor now.  Start over here please, say who you are.

    Q:  Hi, Andrew Michta, Wilson Center.  Excellent panel, thank you very much.  I’d like to ask a question, first a very quick comment.  There’s a tendency in this town to keep reasserting certain broad trends from the West to Asia, shifting of attention and on and on and on.  I always grow a little weary of this.  Trends need not become outcomes in the long term.  Things can change, what Eric said about the books that were written about Europe’s rise.

    And what I’d like to ask is to try to look beyond, and that’s the question to the panelists, of what are the issues where we can actually reconnect.  There’s a tradition to bemoan (ph), the Cold War is over, the Russians are gone.  We’re no longer driven by the same set of imperatives.  What are the points of contact for the next five or six years unless we get some of the Indian’s that Adam’s dad wanted to chase and I don’t think that’s going to happen.  Thank you.  Why should we care?  I mean, that’s basically –

    MR. STEPHENS:  Well, I would say as a Brit we should care because we have a shared interest in the rules-based system that was created after the Second World War surviving in a form that fits our interests and our value and our perception of the way the world should work. 

I don’t sort of think that China is going to rule the world or that, as you say, that history travels in straight lines and things.  But I do think it’s pretty clear, if you look at the sort of economics of the world, and power tends to follow economics in a very broad way, there’s going to be quite a lot of power, if you like, in Asia and that’s going to be contested.

    To use that sort of rather hackney now, it wasn’t at the time when Robert Zoellick coined it, phrase of sort of responsible stakeholders, I think the West has a shared interest in getting a lot of the rising powers to sign up to a global system.  So I was in Turkey the other day.  I think we have a big strategic – shared strategic interest as Americans and Europeans in making sure that turkey remains a country that’s democratic and signed on to a set of global rules that’s in their interest and in our interest.

    So that’s where I think the interest is shared.  I think the problem is that neither the United – and I agree with Eric – that the U.S. remains the sole superpower for as far as the eye can see.  Where we might disagree is I think it’s an insufficient power now. 

I think it’s the level of contestation, if you like, of American power is such that even if we Europeans or we Brits are pretty sort of weak and I think pretty hopeless at the moment in our view of our role in the world, we could be pretty useful to a U.S. whose power is contested.
    MR. EDELMAN:  I actually don’t disagree with Philip.  I think the issue with our primacy being much more contested in regions is that we need to rely on alliances more than ever to accomplish our ends. 

It’s something that frankly we stopped really thinking about very seriously in 1993 because we didn’t have to and that’s a bipartisan comment because I served in administrations of both parties in that period which I think were equally in many ways inattentive to what I would call real alliance management, and I’m not just saying this because I used to work for him, but the kind of alliance management that Rick Burt did when he was assistant secretary for European affairs during the Cold War.

    What’s very striking to me actually is that if you look at the sort of paradigm, the dominant paradigm in American strategic culture coming out of the Second World War which was a paradigm that based on the strategy that won the war and that which we then had to adapt for the Cold War, put Europe first and relied on power projection, that even though for more than 20 years now people have been saying power is shifting to the East from the West, we remain very focused on Europe.

    You look at the career patterns of people who populate senior levels of the government.  They’re by in large Europeanists and it’s very hard for us to shift our attention away.  Some of it’s geography because it’s just harder to get to Asia.  But if you look at the amount of time that the president f the United States, the secretary of State, the secretary of defense spend going to meetings in Europe as opposed to the amount of time they spend going to Asia, it’s actually quite disproportionate.

    And our ability to project power forward, both in Asia and the Middle East, is coming increasingly under challenge because of some developments in the military technical realm and yet it’s very difficult to shift away from that paradigm.  But I think we will rely, and need to rely, more heavily on allies than we have in the past. 

One thing that I find interesting is that when I became undersecretary of defense, one of the really big issues that divided the United States and Europe was whether or not the arms embargo on China should be lifted by the European Union and we spent a fair amount of time trying to make sure that we didn’t come a cropper with one another on that. 

It’s very interesting.  As time went on it became less and less of an issue and one of – I note with interest that some of my friends and colleagues in Europe have been looking at the China issue and looking at the question of whether China is becoming more responsible stakeholder, as Philip just said, and beginning to worry about whether the assumption that we have shared across the Atlantic, which was that by bringing China more and more into the international trading system and into the WTO and getting them socialized into the global institutions, they would become a responsible stakeholder. 

Whether that actually is going to come to pass, and I think my sense is many Europeans reading the book by Martin Jack that Philip was in essence alluding to when he spoke about China ruling the world have begun to take a look at what it would mean to have China rule the world as opposed to the system that the United States has maintained after inheriting it from Britain and beginning to worry that maybe that wouldn’t be such a great world to live in.
    MR. GARFINKLE:  Let me just add one thing before I recognize Ambassador Bird.  He’s already been mentioned three times I think.  When I think about what makes a country effective and make it powerful, it’s first of all human capital, second of all, social trust, and third of all, institutional coherence.

    And when you think about those three things and look around the world, it seems to me that the Atlantic world is still the strongest of all and I don’t think it’s obvious how anymore how affluence or wealth, especially in countries like China with very terrible Gini coefficients, how that wealth gets focused into political power. 

We do kind of assume that but I’m wondering whether that’s wise.  It seems to me that what we generically call the West, however troubled it is and whatever the demographic and the other issues that people point to, it still seems to me that we are liable to be a top echelon force in international politics for much longer than people think.  This goes back to your comment about these so-called trends being thrown around town.  I couldn’t agree more.  So with that, Ambassador Burt?

    Q:  Well, I guess I think first of all our two presenters have positioned this exactly the right way, which is to think about what the French like to call the Anglo-Saxons in a broader context which is I think the useful way to do that.  Now you want me to turn it on?

    MR. GARFINKLE:  I think it’s on.  I think it’s on.

    Q:  Okay, even though it’s not working.

    MR. GARFINKLE:  It’s working.

    Q:  Okay, good.  But I want to burrow in a little bit deeper on the issue of Europe because I think it is a critical question to think about the immediate future of the Angle-American relationship and what we have now is, to quote Richard Haass recently, Europe is getting interesting again and in particular you’re beginning to see at least some signs of maybe a renationalization of policy amongst the major European actors and the key one of course is Germany.

And I was in a conversation in Europe recently with what I’ll call a senior official of the European Central Bank who told me it is really critical at this stage that Washington stay in touch with Berlin because the Americans are the only people that Merkel and others will listen to on some of these big economic and monetary issues, which is by the way I think another item that I would put on my list for your Whitehall civil servant.

    But more broadly though, what kind of Europe does – if all of these issues are now reopened, we’re not talking about a kind of steady transition to a European super-state, but instead we’re thinking about maybe even a looser community with 27 members, despite the fact that you’ve created all this new infrastructure coming out of Lisbon, what kind of Europe should Britain want to kind of move towards to see emerge and in that case, is it in alignment with the kind of Europe that the United States would like to see?

    And I think there are two different arguments.  One here is on the strategic side the ledger the United States would of course like to see a more coherent Europe, a Europe that’s prepared to go beyond its own – think beyond its own interest, play a more constructive role in places like Ukraine or Turkey, for example, but on the other hand doesn’t want to see a Brussels machine that makes decisions without consultation, greater integration and the like.

    So is there a way that the United States and Britain could say, coordinate on this issue, and play a role in helping shape the EU at a time where there seem to be a lot of motion on the table?

    MR. GARFINKLE:  Either one to start?

    MR. STEPHENS:  As I mentioned earlier, I think what’s happening in Europe, in the European Union, is incredibly important.  I think there are two things going on at once.  One, the whole continent’s having a sort of nervous breakdown about partly its economics but also sort of what’s this for and had you said to me a year or two ago what would the European Union look like in 10 or 15 years time, my answer would have been pretty much the same but with some extra layers of integration.

    The forces were basically centripetal.  If you ask me now, I think it’s entirely plausible that the European Union – I don’t think it’s going to break up, but will be as you suggest in 15 years time a much looser confederation of states, that the fear now – and this is the great irony for Britain.  I mean, a lot of British politicians have spent the last 20, 30 years worrying about European integration, the super-state nightmare.

    I think the fear of British politicians at the moment should be European disintegration, the fact that the whole thing could actually pull apart.  You’re right again that at the center of this is Germany, that in a way we are – this is another part of the delayed reaction to the end of the Cold War. 

I mean, I spend a fair amount of time in Germany and the political – partly it’s a generational thing.  But sort of this sense that you had in Germany – Germany saw its interests and the European interests as self-reinforcing.  The Kohl Germany was not we’re going to pursue some nebular European interest because we’re altruistic or whatever.  But Germany’s interest is Europe’s interest.  You go to Germany now and people say actually no, there are two separate interests here.  There’s a German interest and a European interest and when they collide we are going to stand up and say we’re going to pursue the German interest.

    That to me is very dangerous because the political bargain in Europe for the past 50 years has been German economic leadership and French political leadership.  That’s breaking down.  There will have to be another bargain found but neither side quite knows.

    I think, just as it’s in Britain’s interest to have a cohesive Europe, if not, I’m not favor of United States, but cohesive Europe, it’s in the U.S. interest to have a cohesive Europe, a hopefully, although I despair of it sometimes, a Europe that can look after its own neighborhood, that can contribute to some public goods, the public security goods beyond its own neighborhood. 

If Europe fractures, it will be able to do nothing.  Germany I think is turning into a greater Switzerland, if you like.  It’s like psychologically Europe is turning into a greater Switzerland in some respects and that’s what I meant when I said I think it’s very important that Britain is not like that and France isn’t like that. 

Both countries have a sense of sort of global interests, if not of global power  it’s very much I think in the U.S. interest to push Britain a little bit further into Europe and to push France, if it can, or encourage or whatever, to promote more European defense along with the U.K. and to suggest to Germany that it’s ultimately its long term interest lies in a cohesive Europe, not in, if I’m being sort of – not in deals with Russia which serve its short term economic interest.
    MR. EDELMAN:  Well, Rick’s put the problem extremely well.  I’m not sure I have a great answer for it but it does put me in mind of the fact that be careful what you wish for because you might get it. 

Lord Ismay famously said that the role of NATO was to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down and the big German problem that we all wrestled with in the 20th century was the fear of renewed German power and now our biggest fear is that Germany is turning into Switzerland.  There’s sort of an incredible irony in all that.

    It seems to me that the turmoil that Europe is going through now, also in addition to all the things Philip said, is a function of the fact that in the post-Cold War era, certainly from Maastricht on, to, if I could coin a phrase, inconvenient truths were being papered over.  One was that the European project was an elite project with not very much connection to European publics.

    It was not driven by public opinion.  In fact, it almost had to be imposed on reluctant publics and if you look at the fate of various European treaties, the EU seem to in the face of repeated referenda defeating them, have the role of saying keep voting until you get it right because we are going to actually have this European – we’re going to build this European institution.
    The second was to develop the common currency on the basis purely of common monetary policy without having a common fiscal policy or the political unity to enforce it or frankly even the political will to enforce the actual rules of the monetary union.  The horror with which people have greeted the Greek financial crisis, or maybe mock horror, is a little bit hard to credit since at the time that they entered the EMU, everybody knew that Greece was cooking the books.

    Philip’s own newspaper repeatedly publicized the fact that Greece was cooking the books and we ought to remember that Greece I believe is the only case on record, even before the EMU, but when it entered the European Union of the leaders accepting the membership of a country that the commission had delivered an avie (ph) against admitting.  So all of this I think, all of these chickens now I think are coming home to roost and I’m not sure where it will settle out.

    But I agree with the premise of Rick’s question, which is it matters to the U.S. how it comes out and the U.S. and the U.K. ought to devote some time and attention to thinking through together what makes the most sense for both of them.

    Final comment, I may be heterodox here at the Atlantic Council.  I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that on security issues, we ought to because of the turmoil that Europe is in and also because of the demographic challenges that Europe faces and the budgetary challenges that they will face in terms of developing greater defense capabilities to scale down our ambitions for the role that Europe is going to play.

    I think Europe still and NATO have a hugely important role to play.  I think they have a very important role particularly in helping the United States with the legitimacy of maintaining and ordered international system.  But my experience on Afghanistan is such that we probably ought never again put ourselves in the position of demanding that European countries do things that they can’t do and don’t want to do because we’re setting ourselves up for a series of endless trans-Atlantic contingents, I think, if we do.

    I think right now given where Europe is headed, it would be enough for Europe to do what Philip was suggesting, which is maintain the security of Europe in its own area, focusing on maintaining those capacities that allow NATO to continue to maintain article five in a European context, to do some things on the periphery.  I would agree with Rick again on the role Europe can play both with regard to Turkey and Ukraine.

    But I think that if we think we’re ever going to get NATO to do something expeditionary again, we would be buying ourselves and Europe a lot of trouble.

    MR. GARFINKLE:  Yes sir?

    Q:  I’m Terry Brick (ph).  I’m a former junior officer of the United States Navy and with CSIS, et cetera.  I wear the handcuffs – the cufflinks of the great seal of the United States of America on my sleeve and in my lapel is the rosette of the Order of the British Empire. 

I’m the founding chairman of the 25-member group of the British American Business Council and was the former chairman of the British American Business Association here, et cetera, et cetera.  I’ve been in and out of more British government organizations than I want to think about.  Last Thursday night I chaired an event just like this at the home of the Belgian ambassador.  So I’ve been around the track. 

    I am struck by the comments first of all by Ambassador Edelman and then later by the dialogue pursued.  Ambassador Edelman, you issued a whole bunch of – or not issued, but you mentioned a whole bunch of crises.  You did not mention the Soviet gas pipeline crisis.  I was lead counsel to the British in the Soviet gas pipeline crisis and let me just give you two couple quick little quotes.
    On TV, MacNeil/Lehrer, Rodric Braithwaite, who went on to become ambassador to Russia, was the chief minister of commercial matters at the British Embassy here, after the British minister had commanded – I’ll use the word commanded – in the name of Her Majesty, the Queen, had commanded the British company, my client, to disregard and disobey the American sanctions.

    He commanded the British company to disobey and reject the American sanctions.  He was asked, are you saying the American company will not obey the American government.  Braithwaite said, I would think it more that he won’t disobey the British government.  So we’ve been down this road before. 

We’ve been down this road before.  When I was at the National Security Council in this particular issue with a number of interesting people who didn’t have cards or last names, the British minister from the embassy said, I could take exception to your remarks, he said to the United States government in the National Security Council.

    But I’m a commercial officer and I’m not permitted to discuss political issue with you and then he went on and discussed them with great candor and he said, and therefore I do not take exception to your remark.

    We’ve been through this before.

    MR. GARFINKLE:  Is there a question at the end?

    Q:  There isn’t a question.  I’ll stop in a minute.  But I think I urge calm.  I think we’ve been through these issues before.  I’m struck that there’s been almost no mention of the economic relationship except I think Ambassador Burt touched on it.  I think we’re talking only about the military bang-bang side.  I think you need to really broaden your respective and I think we’ll get through this.  That is a long marriage.  We’ll get through it.

    MR. GARFINKLE:  Any comment on –

    MR. STEPHENS:  No, I would agree.  A retired British diplomat told me only the other day that Henry Kissinger had told Edward Heath back in 1973 that you, Heath, have ruined the special relationship by joining – by taking Britain into the then common market and we survived.

    MR. EDELMAN:  I agree.  I mean, I could have added in addition to the pipeline issue, which there are others in the room sitting here more expert on it than I am, but Grenada was also actually a moment of incredibly tension in the relationship at which point Ms. Thatcher was moved to say that – one historian has said she was incandescent when the United States invaded Grenada and the then undersecretary of State Larry Eagleburger after she denounced us on the floor of Commons said that it would be a long time before any U.S. government would forget this terrible slight.

    There were the Falklands and there were any number of crises that we might have mentioned.  So we have all gotten over them ad have ended up with a strong relationship.  So I agree with that.

    And of course the economic relationship is huge and very important.  But I would argue, and there are some on the U.K. side who say, well, the special relationship is because of the economic side, because of our people-to-people relationships and tourism and everything else.  It’s always going to be special.  I would argue that special relationships usually are relationships that have a significant security component and dimension to them other – they can be important relationships otherwise but they’re really not special.

    MR. GARFINKLE:  Stanley?

    Q:  I’m Stanley Kober with the Cato Institute.  It seems to me that if you’re talking about a special relationship with democracies, what Lincoln said about the mystic courts of memory applies.  It can’t just be based on the national interest as defined by elites.  It has to reflect the emotions of the people themselves if it is going to be sustained over time.  Adam referred to sheer culture.  I think it’s also shared experience in war and some shared suffering.  That’s what the mystic courts of memory – World War I, especially World War II.

    But those memories fade over item as one generation succeeds another and now the memory will be Iraq, Afghanistan.  How will that affect the emotional bonds of the two peoples?

    MR. STEPHENS:  Well, this I think is – I think I mentioned this paradox.  If you look at British opinion polling, and actually I think it was reflected in a recent poll here that was released by Pew as well, that the Obama administration, or this administration, whatever, is very, very popular in Britain and in Europe.  There is, if you like, the level of ordinary people, people think the U.S. is sort of doing the right thing broadly around the world.

    Yet alongside this there is this post-Iraq – I don’t think it’s quite the same with Afghanistan.  I don’t think people feel we were pulled into Afghanistan in the way that they do think that we were pulled into Iraq.  There is this sense of we don’t want those Americans telling us what to do and the other paradox here is it was sort of like why would one be questioning the special relationship now when there’s a U.S. administration that’s doing all the things that the Europeans and the Brits said we wanted to do, like to be more modest, to be multilateralists, to be more rules-based.  So it’s sort of odd.

    So I think things are sitting side-by-side.  I think there is a danger in Afghanistan now in British opinion which, as I said, I don’t think it’s seen as an American way in which we were dragged in.  I think if it goes on for too long and British troops keep dying at the level that they’re dying, that could happen.

    But I’m not sure how permanent the scar left on the relationship by Iraq will be.  I’m not sure either how long the sort of present government can maintain this sort of early 1990s view of the world that actually we can’t put the world to right so let’s sort of pull back.  I think the thing that we haven’t predicted will pull us out again at some point. 

So I think we’ll go through a period where Britain looks inward, feels a sort of almost weaker country, will depend on whether the government’s prescriptions for the economy actually work.

    I mean, if we do come out of this fiscal mess then I think you’ll see a sort of self-confidence begin to come back.  So I’m not sure that there’s a threat to the sort of cultural historical bonds, although as you say, the memories of the Second World War and of others and of the Cold War fade.

    On the question of Grenada, of course the Queen was the big problem here because this was really lèse majesté, sort of invading a country, which was part of the Commonwealth.

    MR. EDELMAN:  Well, I agree with Philip’s comments and I think Stanley has made a very good point about the sort of cultural bonds.  I think though it’s very difficult to answer the question you posed, which is what’s the impact of Iraq and Afghanistan.  I think to some degree it will depend a little bit on the outcomes because I think that will shape retrospectively what people think about it.

    And one thing I do think is notwithstanding the scratchiness that occasionally manifests itself in the press, I do think that there are enormous bonds between the two fighting forces and I think there is a lot of respect from the folks who fought together, both in Iraq and Afghanistan.  There have been some moments on both sides where there was a little bit of scratchiness.

    There was an article that appeared in the Military Review early on when we were having troubles in Iraq by a British brigadier that basically said, you Americans are clumsy and don’t understand how to do counterinsurgency as well as we do because we had the Northern Ireland experience more recently in the British army review.  There have been some now retrospective looks on the U.K. side about how good a job did we actually do in Basra and should we be learning things from our U.K. colleagues.

    So I think a lot of all this is going to come out in the wash.  But the bonds between the two militaries I think are extraordinarily strong.

    MR. GARFINKLE:  It’s really quite interesting that, as Philip said, the Obama administration is very popular on the street in Britain and in Europe but the higher up you go into the halls of government, the more skepticism there is.  There are a lot of – in France in particular, I think it’s fair to say that the Sarkozy government is extremely irritated at the Obama administration.  A lot of them don’t think the president can find Europe on a map.  So it is kind of odd.

    But to go back to my muse before, there are lots of layers to the special relationship.  There’s sort of the strategic basis of it.  There’s the personalities.  There’s the culture.  There are the issues of the moment and it seems to me that Eric’s article I think bears this out, that whatever seems to hold it together or wants to pull it apart fluctuates over time.  It moves around and right now, you’re right, it would be nice to feel good about these wars, to actually win them.  That would certainly help solidify the relationship.

    But if we don’t win them, something else will come along and then we’ll see if the underpinning, sort of the tectonic interests and values that we share will bring us back together again and I think that’s very likely to be the case personally.  You’ve been very patient in the back.

    Q:  Nadia McConnell, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation. I guess I have two questions.  How can we talk about a European Union focused no security when on the key issues such as energy, each member state seems to be pursuing their own policy. 

That’s question number one and second, I was struck by your description of Germany becoming Switzerland.  Last week we had a visit from former Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. Yuri Scherbak and he talked about Germany in not those kinds of terms. 

I think one of his statements was that Merkel has a greater comfort zone in Moscow than she does in Brussels and he talked about the fact that there’s realignment between Germany and Russia to push out the U.S. from Europe.  Is this Ukrainian paranoia?

    MR. STEPHENS:  I don’t think it is and I don’t think the two things – just take your second point first.  I don’t think Germany is greater Switzerland and Germany aligning itself more closely with Moscow are necessarily contradictory. 

I mean, Eric would know this better than me, but the great fear during a lot of the Cold War, certainly the British fear if you read sort of the memoirs of officials and politicians throughout the time, was of German neutrality, of Germany trying to position itself as between the West and Moscow.

    So I think you can have a Germany that doesn’t really want to get engaged in defense, to spend any money on defense, to be active in NATO, with aligning itself more closely with Moscow or tilting towards Moscow.  I think those two things can be consistent and I think the gas, the energy policy thing is part of that.

    The reason Europe doesn’t have anything resembling either a common energy policy or a common Russia policy is because Germany doesn’t want one.  Germany wants its own energy policy and its own Russia policy.

    MR. EDELMAN:  Not much I can add to that other than the fact that certainly as a U.S. government official and now as a private citizen I continue to – I, as a government official, did wish and continue as a private citizen to wish that the European Commission and Europe in general would apply the same kind of interest with regard to monopoly policy that it does to Gazprom that it does to Microsoft. 

MR. GARFINKLE:  Well, that’s well-said.  I believe we are out of time.  Damon, would you like to come and thank everyone again and end this for us this morning?

MR. WILSON:  Absolutely, absolutely.  Thank you very much, Philip, Eric, Adam.  That was just a terrific discussion.  I think it’s an important discussion particularly for us to have here at the Atlantic Council where the trans-Atlantic relationship is really at the core of the work that we do here and the U.S.-U.K. special relationship is at the core of that relationship.

I think you’ve reminded us that this handwringing is not new.  This handwringing is something that’s been consistent whether it’s in the U.S.-U.K. relationship or the trans-Atlantic relationship.  But it is a reminder that you can’t take relationship like this for granted and it’s important that we invest in them, that we work to make them work and here at the Atlantic Council, we hope to play  a small part on the outside of government to do that.

So I want to thank you for your time, for your comments today.  That was just a terrific discussion.  I want to thank our British Embassy guests that have joined us today as well. 

Thank you for being here and particularly thank the Atlantic Council staff that helped pull this off, Jonathan Ruemlin, who took the lead.  Susan Parker, Jeff Lightfoot, Jason Harmala, thank you for your work.  We will have up on our website an event page for this particular event with the transcript if you want to come back and refer to it for any reason.  But thank you very much for joining us.

MR. GARFINKLE:  Thank you.