The Problem Stated

  • Lord Beloff


One feature of international relations, clear in retrospect, is that the participants in policy-making and negotiations often had quite different views of what their interlocutors meant or intended. The basic conceptions of the two sides in confrontation may be so wholly different that no meeting of minds is possible. The first encounters between the inhabitants of the American continent and their Spanish conquerors is an obvious example, given much salience by the outpouring of literature at the time of the Columbus quincentenary in 1992. Another example merely two hundred years ago is the British expedition to China in 1792–4 where the records show that what the British thought their mission had achieved and the way in which the Chinese looked at it were totally at variance with each other.1 Some might argue that such differences of interpretation of words and symbols still bedevil the relations of the West with China (perhaps also with Japan) in our own day.


Foreign Policy European Economic Community British People International Scene Original Member 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    See Alain Peyrefitte, L’Empire immobile ou le choc des mondes(Paris, 1989), translated by Jon Rothschild as The Collision of Two Civilizations(London, 1993).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See on this aspect of the problem the two books by Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution 1899–1919 (New York and London, 1990)Google Scholar
  3. and Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919–1924 (New York and London, 1994). The rather abundant literature on ‘fellow-travelling’ in the later period of the Soviet Union’s history has to be revised in the light of the increasing flow of new information on that period.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    The fact that this should be so justifies the attempt to classify Hider and Stalin together, as in Alan Bullock, Hitler and Stalin, Parallel Lives (London, 1991).Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    The basic argument will be found in my pamphlet, A Tale of Two Europes, published in May 1993 by the (London-based) Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    For the background to de Gaulle’s action, see Charles Williams, The Last Great Frenchman: A Life of General de Gaulle (London, 1993) pp. 408ff.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    An insight into the world of the Commission can be derived from Roy Jenkins, European Diary, 1977–1981 (London, 1989).Google Scholar
  8. But since that time, the pretensions of the Commission have notably advanced, particularly under the presidency of Jacques Delors from 1985 to January 1995. See Charles Grant, Delors: Inside the House that Jacques Built (London: Brealy, 1994).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Lord Beloff 1996

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  • Lord Beloff

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