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Open Access (free)
US–UK relations in the era of détente, 1969–77
Author: Thomas Robb

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.

Open Access (free)
Thomas Robb

Liberal Party, Jeremy Thorpe, about the possibility of forming a coalition government. Following the inability of the two sides to reach an agreement, Heath was forced to resign as prime minister, and for the third time in a decade Harold Wilson was in office.3 For scholars studying US−UK relations, three distinct interpretations of Wilson’s final governments have emerged. One interpretation suggests that the US−UK relationship continued to deteriorate in its relevance largely because 04_Strained_partnership_128-174.indd 128 06/11/2013 13:50 129 Wilson returns of

in A strained partnership?
Thomas Robb

US had also undergone a re-assessment of its global position and the Nixon administration had reconfigured US foreign policy with its détente agenda. The Paris Peace Accords (January 1973) officially ended the US’s involvement in Vietnam, and superpower détente had resulted in the opening to the PRC and the establishment of US–Soviet bilateral diplomacy. 1973, therefore, presented new circumstances in which US–UK relations would be conducted, and it was the adaptation to this that created a number of problems for US–UK relations.2 First, Britain’s membership of the

in A strained partnership?
Open Access (free)
Thomas Robb

6 Conclusion As Henry Kissinger 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 requires clarification

in A strained partnership?
Open Access (free)
Thomas Robb

Washington, or because of Washington’s pursuit of détente on a bilateral basis which resulted in the US−UK relationship being largely ignored. Regardless of how you attribute the cause of the difficulties in the relationship, all accounts agree that the Nixon−Heath years were largely antagonistic for US−UK relations.3 In opposition to this, it is suggested below that the Nixon–Heath years are better understood as having consisted of two distinct phases. The years between 1970 and 1972 saw a failure to address fundamental points of difference between London and Washington

in A strained partnership?
Thomas Robb

relations.7 As one leading scholar of US–UK relations declares, US–UK difficulties ‘certainly owed something to Kissinger’s ego’.8 This line of argument appears especially popular amongst former British officials.9 Certainly, as recent scholarship has demonstrated, Kissinger’s penchant for presenting himself as the archetypal proponent of realpolitik should be challenged, given that his actions could be dictated by anger, jealously and suspicion of his bureaucratic rivals.10 Personalities, and especially that of Kissinger, did have an impact, often a detrimental one, upon

in A strained partnership?
Thomas Robb

months of lengthy campaigning, Ford would eventually lose the general election in November 1976. The year 1976–77 was, on all fronts, a difficult one for the Ford White House.5 US–UK relations were not to be an exception to this. Following a summer of economic turmoil, which included speculative pressure on the UK currency (sterling), and the refusal of international markets to lend further credit to Britain to finance its spending, James Callaghan was forced to seek a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF insisted that a loan would only be provided

in A strained partnership?