This book is an effort to describe and analyse Britain’s changing international position since the Second World War, especially in the Atlantic region. Inevitably, it is a chronicle of decline. Reflecting the diminution of power which has occurred, it has been customary in a great deal of academic as well as more popular literature to criticise strongly the nation’s specific foreign policies and general approach to international affairs during this period. By contrast, a central thesis of the study which follows is that such attitudes should be balanced by more positive and optimistic considerations. British foreign policy over the last three decades has contained serious blunders and errors of judgement. At the same time, there have been equally striking examples of foresight, sensible flexibility, moderation and shrewd calculation. Viewed most generally, Britain’s decline has been an inevitable result of economic, geographical and military factors largely beyond her control. Faced with a dramatic reduction in power and influence, British leadership has adjusted to the new situation with a minimum of trauma and strain.


Foreign Policy International Affair European Economic Community International Position American Foreign Policy 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For a useful discussion of the development of the Anglo-American alliance, which argues that it has strong historical roots, see Coral Bell, The Debatable Alliance (London: Oxford University Press, 1964), passim and especially pp. 1–23.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Henry Kissinger, The Troubled Partnership (New York: Doubleday and Co., 1965), p. 77.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kenneth Waltz, Foreign Policy and Democratic Politics (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1967), p. 234.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See for example F. H. Hinsley, Power and the Pursuit of Peace (Cambridge: The University Press, 1963), pp. 256ff. In 1891, the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria and Italy was extended for twelve years, and the following year France and Russia agreed to continue their military alliance for the duration of the Triple Alliance. Before this, alliances had been made for shorter periods of three to five years. Britain resisted this trend, but found herself sucked in; in the 1887 Mediterranean Agreements, a long-term commitment was undertaken.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    In Walter Bagehot’s The English Constitution (London: Collins, 1963) see especially the contrast in chapter 1 between Cabinet and Presidential government.Google Scholar
  6. The American habit of praising British politics, often misunderstanding it in the process, is discussed by Evron Kirkpatrick, “Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System: Political Science, or Pseudo-Science?” American Political Science Review, Vol. LXV, No. 4 (December 1971), pp. 965–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 6.
    Concerning this contrast, see for example Hugh Heclo and Aaron Wildavsky, The Private Government of Public Money (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1974). pp. 9–10.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    Encounter, Vol. XXI (July 1963); also see for example Brian Chapman, British Government Observed (London: Allen and Co., 1963);Google Scholar
  9. John Osborne, The Entertainer (New York: Criterion Books, 1958);Google Scholar
  10. James Morris, The Outriders (London: Faber and Faber, 1963).Google Scholar
  11. 8.
    Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1948), p. 189.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    See Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948), chapter 4.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    On the changing structure of the international system, see Stanley Hoffmann, Gulliver’s Troubles (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968), p. 10 and chapter 2.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    Leon Epstein, Britain—Uneasy Ally (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1954), p. 9.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    F. S. Northedge, British Foreign Policy—The Process of Readjustment 1945–1961 (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1962), p. 32.Google Scholar
  16. 19.
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  17. 21.
    Richard Rosecrance, Defense of the Realm (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), p. 45.Google Scholar
  18. 23.
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  19. 26.
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  20. 28.
    Richard Neustadt, Alliance Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), pp. 30–55.Google Scholar
  21. 36.
    Phyllis Deana and W. A. Cole, British Economic Growth 1688–1959 (London: Cambridge University Press, 1962), Table 73.Google Scholar
  22. 38.
    Richard Caves and associates, Britain’s Economic Prospects (Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1968), p. 279.Google Scholar
  23. 40.
    Leon Epstein, “British Foreign Policy”, p. 51 in Roy Macridis (ed.), Foreign Policy in World Politics (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1962).Google Scholar
  24. 43.
    Samuel Beer, British Politics in the Collectivist Age (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1965), 205–7.Google Scholar
  25. 45.
    Samuel Beer, The British Political System (New York: Random House, 1974), pp. 71–2.Google Scholar

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© Arthur Cyr 1979

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  • Arthur Cyr

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