President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron co-authored this commentary, published January 15 in the British newspaper, The Times. There are no republication restrictions.
We won’t let the voice of freedom be muzzled
by David Cameron and Barack Obama
Safeguarding our way of life depends on economic strength and standing up to terrorism and international aggression
Two hundred years ago this month, Britain and the United States fought each other at the Battle of New Orleans. It was the last major battle where our nations met as enemies. In modern times, our special relationship as allies and partners has been the firm foundation of our shared security and prosperity.
Together we defeated the Nazis and hunted down the core al-Qaeda leadership. Our scientists collaborate to transform our world, from discovering the double helix blueprint of life to creating the technologies that power our digital age. Our businesses, investors and entrepreneurs fuel the largest foreign direct investment relationship between any two countries in the world.
Over the past few years, our governments have worked closely to restore economic growth, improve our living standards and make sure families get the help they needed.
Yet we know that progress and prosperity are never guaranteed. As we meet today at the White House, we reaffirm our belief that our ability to defend our freedoms is rooted in our economic strength and the values that we cherish — freedom of expression, the rule of law and strong democratic institutions.
We face pressing challenges, from promoting global growth, including growth and job creation in Europe, to combating global climate change. And as we were reminded so tragically again in Paris last week, terrorism, conflict and instability threaten the values that define us as free peoples. Today we recommit ourselves to our enduring mission: protecting our peoples, safeguarding our economies and defending our values. Once more, Britain and America stand together. Once more, we need strong and determined leadership to meet the challenges of our time.
First, we must do all we can to bolster our economies against another global economic downturn. This means continuing our efforts to spur growth and support good jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
To start with, we must promote economic policies and reforms that will create jobs and promote growth that is sustainable and balanced.
We are working to conclude a comprehensive EU-US trade deal that would significantly expand trade between our nations and support new opportunities for millions of workers in both Europe and the United States. We also have to make sure prosperity is shared broadly.
For economic growth to be sustainable and meaningful, it must reach everyone, not just a few at the top. So we are working to help families to stake their claim to a better future and buy their first home. We are supporting small businesses, expanding apprenticeships, improving education for all, and backing increases in the minimum wage. And we are co-operating to promote clean energy, reduce our carbon emissions and build our resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Second, we will continue to stand together against those who threaten our values and our way of life. When the freedoms that we treasure came under a brutal attack in Paris, the world responded with one voice. Along with our French allies, we have made clear to those who think they can muzzle freedom of speech and expression with violence that our voices will only grow louder. Whether we are facing lone fanatics or terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIL) or Boko Haram we will not be cowed by extremists. We will defeat these barbaric killers and their distorted ideology, which tries to justify the murder of innocents, whether children attending school in Peshawar, or girls forced to become suicide bombers in northern Nigeria.
There are more than one billion Muslims in the world, the vast majority of whom are sickened by the evil these terrorists claim to perpetrate in the name of Islam. The United States and Britain will continue to work closely with all those who believe in peace and tolerance. The terrorists know only how to destroy, but together we can do something infinitely more powerful: build security, strengthen justice and advance peace.
Finally, we will continue to stand up to Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine. If we allow such fundamental breaches of international law to go unchecked, we will all suffer from the instability that would follow. Our strong and united response has sent an unmistakable message that the international community will not stand by as Russia attempts to destabilise Ukraine.
We will continue working in lockstep and putting pressure on Russia to resolve the crisis diplomatically. At the same time we will keep supporting Ukraine as it works to fulfil the economic and democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people.
Security and prosperity go hand in hand. By confronting the terrorists who threaten us, standing together against Russia’s aggressive acts and continuing our efforts to advance our economic growth, we will continue to advance the security and prosperity that our people deserve.