Sterling-Dollar Diplomacy: Anglo-American Collaboration in the Reconstruction of Multilateral Trade

By Richard N. Gardner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
THE RISE AND FALL OF WAR-TIME COLLABORATION

NATIONAL policy is rarely influenced as much by impressive blueprints for future action as by daily expedients contrived to cope with current problems. The course of Anglo-American economic relations at the end of the Second World War provides an excellent illustration of this fact. Looking back from our present vantage point we can see that the measures adopted to bridge the transition from war to peace did more to influence the quest for multilateralism than all the planning in advance of permanent institutions for post-war collaboration. Our history would be incomplete, therefore, if it did not attempt to tell the story of the post-war transition period. This story properly begins with the system of war-time economic collaboration, the early planning for the post-war transition, and the disintegration of collaboration that accompanied the sudden end of the Second World War.


THE SYSTEM OF WAR-TIME ECONOMIC COLLABORATION

Less than a year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour The Economist observed with satisfaction that the British and American leaders had 'gone further to co-ordinate the nations' two war efforts and two economies than ever previously in the history of any international alliance?'.1 This was scarcely an overstatement. An impressive pyramid of collaboration had been constructed, beginning with Churchill's visit to Washington in December 1941. At the top of the pyramid were the Combined Chiefs of Staff working out joint military strategy under the general direction of the President and the Prime Minister. Next came the combined boards implementing the programme of the Combined Chiefs in the vital fields of war supply--the Combined Munitions Assignment Board, the Combined Raw Materials Board, and the Combined Shipping Adjustment Board.2 These boards did not involve the surrender of national decision-making to

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1
"The End of Isolation", cxliii ( 1942), p. 666.
2
Later supplemented by the Combined Food Board and the Combined Production and Resources Board.

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