Shortly after the Second World War, Winston Churchill observed that Britain’s primary overseas interests lay in three interlocking ‘circles’: in Europe, in the Empire and in the ‘special relationship’ across the Atlantic. For over two decades after 1945, successive British governments pursued a foreign policy strategy which sought to preserve their power and influence in all three of these ‘circles’. It was assumed — at least until 1968 — that Britain was still a Great Power with global interests and responsibilities, and that it should accordingly seek to maintain a world role in both the military and the economic spheres.
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Notes and References
- 1.Under the ‘30–year rule’ British official documents are not released for general viewing until 30 years after the events with which they are concerned. This rule applies to diplomatic correspondence, internal Departmental memoranda, Cabinet minutes and the minutes of Cabinet committees.Google Scholar
- 3.The definitive study of foreign policy making in Britain is William Wallace, The Foreign Policy Process in Britain (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1976).Google Scholar
- For an excellent ‘update’, see Michael Clarke, ‘The Policy-Making Process’, in Michael Smith, Steve Smith and Brian White (eds), British Foreign Policy: Tradition, Change and Transformation (London: Unwin Hyman, 1988) pp. 71–96.Google Scholar
- The two most authoritative texts covering the substance of Britain’s postwar foreign policy are F. S. Northedge, Descent From Power: British Foreign Policy 1945–1973 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1974)Google Scholar
- and Joseph Frankel, British Foreign Policy 1945–1973 (London: Oxford University Press, 1975).Google Scholar