The Residual Relationship 1970–1980
The erosion of Anglo-American relations which began in the 1960s continued into the 1970s despite initial attempts by the new Conservative government in Britain to resume a ‘close’, or as Edward Heath called it, a ‘natural’ relationship, with the US.1 As the pace of international change accelerated at the beginning of the decade, especially with the pursuit of détente, a number of the major areas of interest of the United States and Britain continued to diverge. In the early part of the decade, particularly, both countries were faced with international and domestic preoccupations which helped to distract attention from relations with each other. Apart from the task of withdrawing from Vietnam the United States became increasingly involved in the complex and delicate task of negotiating major arms control agreements with the Soviet Union2 while at the same time pursuing a policy of rapprochement with Russia’s major adversary, Communist China. At home growing economic difficulties and the trauma surrounding the Watergate scandal also absorbed the energy of policy-makers in Washington, leaving them little time to devote to European or British relations. At the same time Britain’s own perennial economic problems and the determination to play a more positive role in Europe likewise contributed to a weakening of relations with the United States. The changed political and strategic circumstances meant that some of the compelling pressures for the continuation of the bilateral relationship were increasingly disappearing. Despite these changes, however, a number of important links nevertheless remained between the two countries especially in the defence field, helping to qualify the growing tendency by the United States to treat Britain as just another European state.
KeywordsLabour Government Weapon System Defence Effort Cruise Missile Defence Establishment
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- 25.See D.C.R. Heyhoe, ‘The Alliance and Europe: Part VI, The European Programme Group’, Adelphi Paper, No.129 (London: the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1977 ), p. 2.Google Scholar