THE BLOG

Marshall Scholars Help Make the UK-US Relationship What It Is Today

07/07/2015 10:17 BST | Updated 06/07/2016 10:59 BST

This year marks seventy years since the end of the Second World War. While the number of people that can remember the devastation first-hand diminishes each year, this country's gratitude endures for the sacrifices made by the American people for peace in Europe and for the bold and enlightened Marshall Plan, which rebuilt our decimated economies.

In 1954 the architect of that plan, George Marshall - the man Churchill described as the 'organiser of victory' during the war - wrote that "a close accord" between Britain and America was "essential to the good of mankind in this turbulent world of today, and that [was] not possible without an intimate understanding of each other".

In 2015, the scholarship scheme for young Americans to study in Britain, established in his name by a grateful British Parliament, has grown from strength to strength. It is a programme we are very proud of in the UK, rooted firmly in Marshall's vision of developing an intimate understanding and strengthening the bonds between our two nations.

Today nearly 2,000 scholars have followed in the illustrious footsteps of Churchill, Roosevelt and Marshall himself. Within their number are Pulitzer Prize winners including Tom Friedman, Anne Applebaum and Dan Yergin; prominent lawyers like Stanford's Kathleen Sullivan and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Beyer; entrepreneurs such as the late musical pioneer Ray Dolby and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman; academics and scientists such as Nobel Prize winning chemist Roger Tsien; and groundbreaking stem cell researcher Doug Melton.

Each of our alumni has also become an Ambassador for UK-US relations, helping us work together for the mutual benefit of both countries.

Close partnership has become the norm, based on two simple truths: that we have fundamentally shared values; and that our nations benefit, our people benefit, and the world benefits, when we cooperate to protect them.

In the past two decades, the US and the UK have stood shoulder to shoulder: on the battlefield in Iraq (twice), Afghanistan, in Kosovo, Bosnia and Libya; as the world's top two donor countries in the fight to end poverty; and in setting the agenda on tax, transparency and human rights.

It is a relationship which helps keep our citizens safe through the deepest and most comprehensive defence and intelligence partnership in the world. But it's also one that brings them prosperity. Our trade and investment relationship has never been closer and our championing of free trade has never been stronger.

In a world now facing the perils of climate change, terrorism, poverty and threats to rules based order and the values we hold most dear, the "close accord" between our two nations is as important now as it has ever been. And although it has adapted over time, the basis of that "close accord" remains unchanged: rooted in events that took place 800 years ago, which are being celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic this year. The Magna Carta set the course for our two nations and laid the foundations for the shared values of individual liberties, rule of law and freedoms that are at the heart of our nations to this day.

And every minute of every day, Britons and the Americans, Marshall scholars often foremost amongst them, in government, in military, in business and in culture are working to advance these values further and are building a relationship that's special. Special, not because we label it as such, but because they make it so.