The aim of the lecture is to determine whether there is really a special relationship between Britain and the US. It was only in the aftermath of the Second World War that the term of special relationship came to be used to describe the partnership between Britain and America. Indeed, despite the fact that the first colonizers in America had been the British, it could be said, that relations between the US and her mother country had previously been characterized by discord rather than harmony. The first major conflict between Britain and the US was of course the American War of Independence, which was first initiated in 1775, following King Georges III's refusal to respond to American grievances concerning issues of taxation, trade and land settlement. In 1812, America declared war on Britain, this time it was over royal navy violations of American territorial waters during the Napoleon age wars. Paradoxically, even in these times of conflict, the roots of a special relationship can be detected. The 1776 declaration of Independence was inspired and justified by the philosophy of 'contractual governance' promoted by John Locke. Also, its political and legal models closely resembled those of Britain. Also, it has been suggested that the capacity of the British and the Americans to successfully negotiate peace with each other after the 1812 war provided a model for future peaceful diplomatic negotiations between both sides. But nonetheless, relations between the two parts were not without any difficulties during this period, because both nations were competing with each other for power.
[...] Britain was keen to preserve important trade links with the country, and she needed her gold. In addition, Britain hoped to be able to rely on South Africa's military assistance should it ever be necessary to involve the African continent in the Cold War. Considerable controversy arose over the issue in the 1980ies, with Margaret Thatcher refusing to accede to the demands of other Commonwealth heads of State to prohibit British companies from investing in or trading with South Africa. [...]
[...] It does however, along with other members, play a central role in the global partnership which the Commonwealth seeks to represent. As a key member, it does seek to influence the Commonwealth's guiding principles. So for instance, when Tony Blair addressed the Commonwealth Business Forum, he sought to impose his vision of international commerce based on the principles of free trade. The Business Forum is an organization established in 1997, at the meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government, which seeks to encourage global trade specifically. [...]
[...] So the case for European integration had been constantly promoted by the USA since the end of 2WW. The Americans believed that a fully integrated Europe would contribute to economic civility and would also serve as an untied political force to the Eastern European bloc. A politically and economically united Europe built around the American model might also, it was hoped, be able to stand alone in ensuring the costing military defense of Europe. Yet, paradoxically, it was closer integration of Europe that was to weaken the special relationship with US (that is the British point of view). [...]
[...] For the British helicopter company Westland, the government had a choice; it was either allow the company to be bought by a European consortium or allow a takeover by the American dominated Sikorsky-Fiat. Thatcher chose the American solution. That has a symbolic importance. Of course, Thatcher's own Euro-skepticism was infamous John Major and William Clinton: The Anglo-American relationship cooled somehow under the leadership of John Major. Major and Clinton did not simply get on very well. The two men clashed notably over policy in Bosnia, Britain did not want to intervene, and America was in favor of military intervention. [...]
[...] Harold Macmillan and Eisenhower / John F. Kennedy: It is surely no coincidence that the close relationship enjoyed by McMillan and Eisenhower and then by McMillan and JF Kennedy, was matched by a revival in the special relationship. McMillan's personal background (he was half American) perhaps helped and it was under McMillan and Eisenhower that America agreed to share her nuclear defense plans with the British. The continued collaboration between McMillan and Kennedy in this field seems to have marked the high point of the ‘special relationship'. [...]
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