The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2020 37 Keeping the Relationship Special Patrick Davies was deputy head of mission at the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Washington, D.C., from 2013 to 2018. Over a 25-year career in the British Diplomatic Service, he also served in Morocco, Poland, Iran and the U.K. Currently on a career break, he is writing a book about the United States. Don’t underestimate the importance of continued U.S.-U.K. collaboration, a senior British diplomat says in reviewing his trans-Atlantic experience. BY PATR I CK DAV I ES W orking closely with the U.S. Foreign Service is the bread and butter of most British diplomats. My own experience was no different. Over almost 25 years in the British Diplomatic Ser- vice, I worked exten- sively with U.S. diplomats around the world. It’s fair to say that something would have been seriously wrong with the “special relationship” if that had not been the case. Working together as the ally of choice has been hardwired into British and American diplomacy for decades. But as both our countries face unprecedented political turmoil at home and growing challenges from abroad, the importance of continued U.S.-U.K. collaboration should not be underestimated or its inevitability assumed. A Working Relationship, and Much More During my first posting to Rabat as a junior political officer in the mid-1990s, I worked hand-in-glove with U.S. colleagues on a FOCUS HOW THEY SEE US concerted push to try to resolve the Western Sahara conflict—one of the United Nations’ longest-running peacekeeping missions. Former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker was heavily engaged as United Nations Special Envoy. As a close ally, the U.K. was doing everything it could to support his efforts against significant resis- tance fromMorocco, backed by France. I traveled with my U.S., German and U.N. colleagues to the Moroccan occupied territories of Western Sahara and to U.N.-supported refugee camps in the rebel-controlled desert of southern Algeria. We jointly lobbied the Moroccan and Algerian governments to cooperate more closely with the U.N. and encouraged other allies to get behind the efforts to resolve a conflict that felt like no one’s priority. Ultimately, James Baker’s efforts were unsuccessful. But it was impossible not to be impressed by the drive and hard work of those American diplomats who were trying to find a solution to a dispute that had blighted the lives of thousands of people over more than two decades. I learned a great deal from their ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/MARIANVEJCIK