of other member states or a
These words of a senior Britishforeignpolicy-maker reflect the experience of foreign policy cooperation between
member states of the European Union for more than a quarter of a century. 1 Over the years, the level
of ambition to speak with ‘one voice’ in foreign affairs has
steadily increased to include even security and
relations. Likewise, for Henry Kissinger, ‘international relations cannot
be conducted without an awareness of power relationships’.37 Edward Heath
was equally frank in articulating that ‘realism’ had to be the bedrock of any
Britishforeignpolicy.38 The following chapters, therefore, provide an analysis
of the key political engagements between the two countries.
A strained partnership?
The context for US–UK relations
The Nixon presidency has long fascinated historians, political scientists, journalists and
-assessing foreign policy
such arguments. The Nixon administration’s indifference towards the special
relationship coupled with a Britishforeignpolicy pursuing a more European
path resulted in the special relationship becoming near redundant. It was only
once the consequences of the global economic and energy crisis of 1973–74
became apparent that the special relationship became prevalent again.6
Central in many of these accounts is the role played by certain individual
policy-makers. Henry Kissinger, in particular, is seen to have had a malevolent effect upon US
service. This strategy sufficed to maintain British naval
supremacy, since all Choiseul’s efforts to rebuild the French navy
foundered on lack of materials, manpower, and money, and so did the
Spanish attempt. At the time of the Falkland Islands Crisis of 1770
some eighty British ships were soon fit for action, and there was every
confidence Britain could defeat the combined enemy fleets.33
If the conduct of Britishforeignpolicy posed more problems than
could be anticipated in 1760, the attention of both government and
Parliament was increasingly taken up by imperial
, Macartney in Russia, pp. 13–33. Scott, BritishForeignPolicy,
15 Escott, Thesis, pp. 66–100. Scott, BritishForeignPolicy, pp. 91–5.
16 Powell, Thesis, p. 110.
17 Walpole, Memoirs, II, 144–5.
18 Thomas, British Politics and the Stamp Act Crisis, pp. 132–6.
19 Thomas, British Politics and the Stamp Act Crisis, pp. 137–8. This view is
confirmed by Lord Hardwicke’s later comment. BL Add. MSS. 35428, fo.
22. For a more literal interpretation, see Langford, First Rockingham
Administration, pp. 80–2.
20 Thomas, British Politics and the Stamp Act Crisis, pp. 138
relations between the Labour government and the United States,
characterised above all by Wilson’s determination to secure his ties
with the White House, in keeping with his personal inclinations and his view
that close cooperation with Washington was fundamental to Britishforeignpolicy.
The Labour victory
President Johnson had never feared a
Labour victory in Britain, but he felt it necessary to ease any
relationship with the USA
as part of the post-war settlement, arguing that Britain would be
unable to meet all its possible European and imperial commitments
without military support from the USA, particularly within the context
of an expansionist Soviet Union.
During the last few months of the war, Attlee and the Labour
ministers became increasingly involved in the development of the postwar international settlement. For Labour Party members, their expectations of change in both Britishforeignpolicy and in international
relations intensified as victory, and the prospect
A year of discord
No special relations. Correct. They’ll [Britain] have the relation
with the French.
President Nixon to Henry Kissinger, 9 August 19731
A year of discord
At the onset of 1973, the US–UK relationship was entering a new epoch. The
East of Suez withdrawal had lessened Britain’s global commitments and Britain
officially entered the EEC on 1 January 1973. Heath was determined to chart
a more Euro-centric Britishforeignpolicy, which would involve the creation of
common political, foreign, monetary and energy policies within the EEC. The
Austria would adhere
to her French alliance was not seen as a final rebuff, merely as a postponement of hopes cherished by many in Britain.
Unrealistic as the main thrust of Britishforeignpolicy may have
been, under Grenville it was nevertheless a success. Quite apart from
the 1765 coup in Sweden, which was to prove short-lived in the face
of French countermeasures, the Premier himself, continuing his hardline attitude already evident during the Bute ministry, resorted to
what in the next century came to be known as ‘gunboat diplomacy’.
Still resentful about the
without further orders. A Falkland Islands crisis was postponed only
by Spanish failure to find the British base before this dispute was in
1768 temporarily overshadowed on the international scene by the
Corsica question and the outbreak of a Russo-Turkish war.29
The failure of Britishforeignpolicy during the Chatham ministry
can be ascribed to internal factors as well as the unfavourable international scene, the distractions of party politics at home and the need
to devise measures for India and America. Yet when the new Parliamentary session began in