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

By Scott L. Bills | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
DISPATCH OF THE FOUR POWER COMMISSION OF INVESTIGATION

THE YEARS 1947 and 1948 were a breakpoint for the early cold war era. An indefinite U.S.-Soviet rivalry was anticipated. Long-range planning on both sides of the "Iron Curtain" assumed an unrepentant air, laced with caustic jibes, vehement public attacks, and provocative calls to arms. It was a system undergirded by an increased reliance on geopolitical thinking that effectively bonded the United States and Britain to common goals. Europe remained the defining big-power vortex, but the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean ranked a close second as vital flanking zones. For U.S. policymakers, the central assumptions that would guide American global cold war analysis for two decades were being set in stone, though a few variables had yet to be sorted out. For instance, disagreements lingered within the State Department concerning policy toward dependent areas. There were continuing efforts to square a rhetorical commitment to self- determination with the pragmatic belief that the colonial world could hardly produce the reliable, durable states the West needed as allies. Questions were raised as well about the character of non-Soviet (and especially non- European) communist movements. That is, did Asian or African leftists directly threaten American security? Were Arabs as a group more impervious than other peoples to Marxist-Leninist doctrines? The scales tipped back and forth as American analysts vacillated between their vision of an apocalyptic shootout with the USSR and a more manageable superpower relationship.

Seasoned observers felt the need to stress historical continuity as well as the new forces let loose by the war. "It is important, in order to preserve our perception," said State Department counselor Benjamin V. Cohen, "to recognize that the causes of today's unrest [in the world] are basically what they have been after every great war--one, fear of further changes in the power relationships of states affecting their security, and two, economic disorganization and distress." This discontent was aggravated, he added, by such factors as the war's vast physical destruction, the subsequent unequal

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps viii
  • Tables ix
  • Abbreviations x
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction "A Society of Victors" 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Spoils of War 26
  • Chapter 3 - Plans for Libyan Trusteeship 45
  • Chapter 4 - The British Working Party 63
  • Chapter 5 - Dispatch of The Four Power Commission Of Investigation 87
  • Chapter 6 - The Libyan Tour 108
  • Chapter 7 - The Might That Failed 133
  • Chapter 8 - Conclusion In the Libyan Arena 155
  • Notes 165
  • Select Bibliography 197
  • Index 205
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