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British foreign policy in the era of American hegemony
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This book intends to fill an important gap in the body of research on the special relationship by exploring it from the perspective of post-war British governments, asking: how have they perceived the special relationship? How have they perceived and performed their foreign policy role within it? And have they viewed this role as being successful? Looking beyond the rhetoric of Churchill's Fulton speech and the innate cultural and historical ties between the British and Americans, the book demonstrates how the 'special relationship' that emerged between the two governments at this time was in fact the product of hard-nosed geopolitical brinkmanship, during a period of Anglo-American power struggles. It concludes that since its conception the special relationship has never quite been the alliance that the Churchill government hoped to create and that the tensions it caused between governments in Britain, America, Europe and the Commonwealth represent the genesis of themes that run as leitmotivs throughout post-war British foreign policy. This leads us onto the book's second aim, which is to show how at key moments of post-war international crisis successive British governments have attempted to perform the same active foreign policy role within the special relationship that Churchill's government defined in 1945. The book provides counterbalance to the prevailing view in academia that post-war British governments have accepted their declining status and influence in the special relationship since 1945, and that the rate of this decline accelerated markedly following the events of the Suez crisis in the late 1950s.

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Simon Tate

Rather than consigning events to history, we must assess whether it possible for future British foreign policy to really break with the chains of past foreign policy and begin to outline the opportunities and obstacles to doing so. This book sits within the corpus of research on critical geopolitics, which has introduced themes from poststructuralism into the study of international affairs. However, in this book the author takes an alternative track, illustrating how post-war British governments have perceived the idea of hegemony in an entirely different way and how by doing so they have perceived the imbalance of power within the special relationship to be less marked as well. Each of the case studies in this book represents a time during which the idea of the special relationship was in a process of flux or crisis in post-war British politics.

in A special relationship?
Simon Tate

This chapter reflects upon the operation of hegemony, power and influence in the special relationship and throws some light on the different approaches to world hegemony adopted by the British and American governments since 1945. It begins to explain how American administrations have concluded that they are hegemonic in the post-war world order, while successive British governments have concluded that they are in a hegemonic partnership with the US. The chapter critiques realism's lingering influence upon the way in which post-war US foreign policy has perceived America's globally hegemonic role. It uses the writings of Antonio Gramsci (1971) to explore the idea that British governments have viewed themselves as active participants in the hegemony of the post-war world order. The chapter concludes by extending the theoretical scope of existing research by reflecting further upon British governments' interpretation of their role in the special relationship.

in A special relationship?
The special relationship during Harold Macmillan’s premiership
Simon Tate

This chapter focuses upon the premiership of Harold Macmillan, who became Prime Minister in January 1957 following the resignation of Anthony Eden in the wake of the Suez crisis, and who himself subsequently resigned due to ill health in October 1963. It builds upon the work of Gorst and Johnman (1996) by focusing upon how Macmillan's government conceptualised its role in the special relationship, post-Suez, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A theme re-emerging throughout the chapter is that Macmillan's foreign policy aims were less independent of the US administration, seeming to focus mainly upon rebuilding the Anglo-American relationship post-Suez by supporting US strategic objectives. Indeed, there was an element of denial in the whole British government, which for too long maintained the pretence of British leadership and influence in the Commonwealth.

in A special relationship?
Simon Tate

This chapter provides a challenge to the dominant view within the existing literature, which has produced the idea that the US was the unchallenged hegemonic superpower from 1945 onwards. It therefore shows how the British government sought to shape international relations. The chapter also shows how since its conception the special relationship has never quite been the alliance that British governments hoped to create and how the tensions this caused between governments in Britain, America, Europe and the Commonwealth represent the genesis of themes that run as leitmotivs throughout post-war British foreign policy. While differing markedly in its conclusion, IT therefore adds to the corpus of revisionist interpretations of international relations which question the hegemony of the US in 1945, one of the recent being Michael Creswell's book, A Question of Balance: How France and the United States Created Cold War Europe.

in A special relationship?
Changing representations of the special relationship in British political discourse
Simon Tate

This chapter introduces an idea central to the argument running through the empirical chapters of the book: that historical and cultural ties between countries have been integral to post-war British governments' perceptions of the special relationship; to their attempts to remain geopolitical allies with all three spheres of their foreign policy model; to exercise influence over their foreign policies; and, to bind all three areas together in pursing Anglo-American strategic objectives. It focuses upon the cultural and historical ties and their influence on Anglo-American geopolitics. Firstly, examining the West as predominantly an ideological, political or cultural idea tends to oversimplify the complexities associated with defining it and to downplay the way in which these various lineages have been merged and used in different ways, at different times, to suit particular political moments.

in A special relationship?
Simon Tate

This chapter explores how the British government conceptualised its role in the special relationship in the context of the post-September 11th War on Terror. It begins by exploring the changing nature of geopolitical relations in the West between 2001-2003 and argues that, as the War on Terror developed, the British government attempted for the first time in the post-Cold War era to move beyond its three circles approach to foreign affairs. In attempting this, the chapter shows how the British government's plan to create a 'doctrine of international community' became opposed to the US administration's plan for creating 'coalitions of the willing'. Consequently, it demonstrates how Tony Blair's government fell into the same trap in 2001-2003 as Macmillan's government in the 1950s and 1960s. There remains a contemporary corpus of research which suggests that the US-European alliance can be made to endure.

in A special relationship?
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British foreign policy and the special relationship in the Cameron era and beyond
Simon Tate

One strand of rhetoric emanating from the government as it attempts to move beyond the ideas of the Cold War, international community and coalitions of the willing is to describe the world as 'networked with overlapping relationships where bilateral relations are still very, very important as well as of course multilateral organisations'. This has been presented as a new and significant foreign policy initiative, designed to engage with emerging economies and important new centres of geopolitical power. Within the other circle of foreign policy - the European Union - the British government seems intent not to fall into the trap of Macmillan's government: that of being outsiders looking in. While the signs are good, as we have also seen, the special relationship and maintaining the government's role within it has been an entrenched part of British foreign policy for many years.

in A special relationship?