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Great Britain, the United States and the Commonwealth

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  1. Britain's special relationship with the USA
    1. Military and diplomatic rapprochement
    2. The relationship cools off: Britain loses ''third power'' status
    3. Economic and ideological rapprochement
    4. The importance of personalities
    5. Public opinion on the ''special relationship''
  2. Britain and the Commonwealth

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.

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