This is the first monograph length study that charts the coercive diplomacy of the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford as practiced against their British ally in order to persuade Edward Heath’s government to follow a more amenable course throughout the ‘Year of Europe’ and to convince Harold Wilson’s governments to lessen the severity of proposed defence cuts. Such diplomacy proved effective against Heath but rather less so against Wilson. It is argued that relations between the two sides were often strained, indeed, to the extent that the most ‘special’ elements of the relationship, that of intelligence and nuclear co-operation, were suspended. Yet, the relationship also witnessed considerable co-operation. This book offers new perspectives on US and UK policy towards British membership of the European Economic Community; demonstrates how US détente policies created strain in the ‘special relationship’; reveals the temporary shutdown of US-UK intelligence and nuclear co-operation; provides new insights in US-UK defence co-operation, and revaluates the US-UK relationship throughout the IMF Crisis.
A year of discord
No special relations. Correct. They’ll [Britain] have the relation
with the French.
President Nixon to HenryKissinger, 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 British foreign policy, which would involve the creation of
common political, foreign, monetary and energy policies within the EEC. The
American leaders saw it [to be] in their self-interest to obtain British
advice before taking major decisions. It was an extraordinary
relationship because it rested on no legal claim; it was formalized
by no document; it was carried forward by succeeding British
governments as if no alternatives were conceivable. Britain’s
influence was great precisely because it never insisted on it; the
‘special relationship’ demonstrated the value of intangibles.
HenryKissinger’s assessment of the US–UK ‘special relationship’1
The above quote
Re-assessing foreign policy
There could be no special partnership between Britain and the
United States, even if Britain wanted it.
Prime Minister Heath to President Pompidou, May 19711
The jilted lover
According to HenryKissinger, Edward Heath rejected a close working partnership with Richard Nixon, which left him feeling akin to that of a ‘jilted
lover’.2 Kissinger’s analysis has had an incredible impact upon the subsequent scholarly assessments of the US–UK relationship. As Heath’s official
biographer Philip Ziegler has claimed, ‘Certainly it was
You have to operate on the assumption that Great Britain is
HenryKissinger to President Ford, October 19741
Heath’s final months in office were dominated by economic and social problems. Continuing trouble with the trade union movement had resulted in
a three-day working week being enforced, and the ongoing oil embargo had
led to the British public having to restrict their energy use. This set of circumstances had led to what one popular British newspaper would term as Heath’s
‘Long agony in No. 10’.2 Following
As HenryKissinger noted in 2001, the contemporary strains in the transatlantic relationship mirrored those experienced throughout the Cold War.1 As
shown in the previous chapters, such an interpretation holds considerable
merit. Given the political, economic and social changes witnessed in this era,
perhaps scholars should not be surprised that the US–UK relationship was
fraught with difficulties. Nevertheless, the traditional interpretation that the
Nixon–Heath years were a period of constant acrimony for US–UK relations
, one of Callaghan’s private secretaries noted to him that he was
‘certain’ that the tactic of reaching out to Ford and Kissinger would get Britain
a ‘safety net’ prior to the conclusion of the IMF negotiations. Michael Palliser
wrote in a similar fashion to Callaghan’s principal private secretary, Kenneth
All out of money
Following such confident advice, Callaghan attempted to use his relationship with HenryKissinger as a means of ensuring the US would pressure the
IMF into providing
. It is
quite capable of defeating the threats to it that are apparent in the
REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
1 David Held, ‘Democracy: From City-states
to a Cosmopolitan Order’, Political Studies , 11 (1992), pp.
2 Apocryphal reference.
3 HenryKissinger, US Secretary
Dimitris N. Chryssochoou, Michael J. Tsinisizelis, Stelios Stavridis, and Kostas Ifantis
Studies, 42, 1994, pp. 26–7.
35 HenryKissinger, Diplomacy, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994, p. 805.
36 Ibid., p. 809.
37 Ibid., p. 833.
38 Linda B. Miller, ‘The Clinton Years: Reinventing US Foreign Policy?’, International
Affairs, 70:4, October 1994, p. 624.
39 Krasner, ‘Power, Polarity’, p. 29.
40 C. Layne and B. Schwartz, ‘American Hegemony – Without an Enemy’, Foreign Policy, 92,
Autumn 1993, p. 15.
41 G. John Ikenberry, ‘The Future of International Leadership’, in Demetrios James Caraley and Bonnie B. Hartman (eds), American Leadership, Ethnic Conflict, and the