The United Kingdom
Andrew M. Dorman
The issue of transatlantic relations has been a source of challenge for successive British governments ever since the founding of America and the first settlements at Plymouth Rock.1 The relationship is more than that between two governments, for Canada has always played an important part, as have British interests in the Caribbean and Latin America. In addition, much of the relationship has been defined in the last century by issues with other nations around the globe, for example Hitler’s Germany, the Soviet Union and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, these relations have also stretched far beyond the formal interaction between states to the personnel dynamics of the relationship between the Prime Minister and President, shared language and culture and ideas of the ‘English speaking people,’ and French fears about an Anglo-Saxon hegemony.2
With this as a backdrop there has been the question of what the United Kingdom is. For over half a century the United Kingdom has struggled to redefine itself. It is clearer what it was—one of the world’s greatest empires spanning the world and exerting power, patronage and influence to an unprecedented extent.3 However, that is no longer the case, and Dean Acheson’s often quoted comment that ‘Great Britain has lost an Empire and has not yet found a role’ continues to ring true for many.4 In this sense the United Kingdom is very similar to Russia today, in that it similarly wrestles with its own identity and its journey through history.