The Libyan Arena: The United States, Britain, and the Council of Foreign Ministers, 1945-1948

The Libyan Arena: The United States, Britain, and the Council of Foreign Ministers, 1945-1948

The Libyan Arena: The United States, Britain, and the Council of Foreign Ministers, 1945-1948

The Libyan Arena: The United States, Britain, and the Council of Foreign Ministers, 1945-1948

Synopsis

Following the Second World War, the disposition of Italy's former colonies, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, became the responsibility of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), a body of representatives from Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States. The controversies that evolved within this coalition over the settlement of these dependencies played a significant role in shaping U.S.-British relations - particularly their partnership in the Middle East - as cold war tensions intensified. The Libyan Arena examines Anglo-American plans for North African decolonization and focuses specifically on the events preceding the UN discussions that led to the creation of the modern Libyan state. Based primarily on sources at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and newly opened files at the Public Record Office in Kew, England, this study represents the most accurate and comprehensive account to date of the CFM's work in North Africa. Students of 20th-century U.S.-British diplomatic history, post-War II African and Middle Eastern history, transnational policymaking, decolonization, and the early cold war era will find much of interest here.

Excerpt

The image of history as a sprawling organic entity, periodically shedding its skin, has been given new impetus by the collapse of the Soviet Union and its ruling ideology. the resurgence of ethnic-religious feuds and the stubborn persistence of irredentist sentiment in Eastern Europe have pricked our pliant amnesia. Poignant revelations about the Katyn massacre have reminded us of the imminent and likely revision of our standard accounts of World War II and the early years of the cold war. Given enough time, history waylaid, ignored, or suppressed does indeed survive and emerge from the world's scattered archives and collective memory. Still, the reconstruction of the past is no easy task as ethos and mythos repeatedly collide and intermingle. It is in the spirit of this impending reevaluation of our recent history that I have produced the study that follows. It has been my contention through a decade of research and writing that the interaction of big powers and indigenous nationalism in the colonial rimlands provides a necessary corrective to Eurocentric accounts of postwar international affairs, especially with regard to the shape and scope of the cold war.

Reexamining the work of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) as it became entangled in African colonial questions can further our understanding of this important postwar forum. the controversy that evolved over the disposition of Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia (Italian Somaliland) between 1945 and 1948 played a significant role in shaping Anglo-American relations during that period. Such matters as Soviet control of Eastern Europe or East-West sparring over Germany have been well looked after, as have other crises that marked the emergence of the cold war. the Red Menace and Prostrate Europe are the bedrock of all our studies of the Western mobilization that led to the Marshall Plan, the North Atlantic Treaty, and beyond. More subtly but as important, the extensive CFM-sponsored discussions about the fate of the former Italian dependencies did much to cement U.S.-British . . .

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