Twentieth-Century Anglo-American Relations

Twentieth-Century Anglo-American Relations

Twentieth-Century Anglo-American Relations

Twentieth-Century Anglo-American Relations

Synopsis

New research by several leading political historians creates a detailed study of Anglo-American relations in the 20th century. Declassified documents provide a unique insight into the personal relationships between Eisenhower and Eden, and Lyndon Johnson and Harold Wilson. This volume offers a breadth of scholarship drawn from three continents and examines the diplomatic negotiations, powerful personalities, and political considerations at the heart of British-American affairs.

Excerpt

There is a central theme to Anglo-American relations in the twentieth century: the decline of Great Britain and the rise of the United States. This was not a smooth trajectory: rather, there were episodic rises and falls, but the primary direction was clear. This is not even a case of hindsight. It was clear at the time, perhaps even more clear to Great Britain than it was to the United States. The single most important reason for this was need. The fact that Great Britain was convinced that without the support of the United States she could not maintain her foreign policies — nor even, at one juncture, her independence — betrays this dependence. The United States, conversely, believed that she could afford to ignore the outside world, at least until she was attacked. But she did not fear attack beforehand, as did Great Britain.

It is well to point out that the fundamental basis of this dependence was economic. For much of the period, certainly until 1943, the military forces of Great Britain outstripped those of the United States. The crucial point, however, is that there was — and in theory, is — no limit to the amount which the United States could — and can — spend in order to achieve and maintain military dominance. In the early years of the century, Great Britain had the economic resources to contemplate spending what was in those days an impressive sum. This is no longer the case. If she cannot finance her foreign policies to the extent that she would like, she has to find another country to help. The only country outside the Commonwealth to which she could turn, and can turn, is the United States. The passing across of crude specie is no longer the issue; now it is shared foreign policy goals, and the willingness of the United States to contribute the greater share of the finance needed for joint technology: intelligence and nuclear weapons. The contributions of Great Britain are diplomatic and military prowess, and a willingness and ability to discuss, discreetly, foreign policy problems in the English language.

It is noticeable that the predominant amount of work now being done on Anglo-American relations concentrates on the post-1945 period. There may be several reasons for this. First of all, much work has already been done on the earlier period, and thus it is more difficult to find a truly fresh topic. Secondly, and connected, post-1945 is fresher territory . . .

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