Post Imperial “Churchillian” Defence, and Economic British Foreign Policy

Post Imperial “Churchillian” Defence, and Economic British Foreign Policy

In respect of the E.E.C., Britain’s formal application for membership was made by MacMillan in August 1961. By December 1962 the negotiations for British membership of the E.E.C. were making progress. However, in mid-December, at a meeting in Rambouillet, just before the Nassau Conference of MacMillan and Kennedy, the French President, de Gaulle, has made his position clear by telling MacMillan that he did not consider Britain to European, and that he would veto British application to join the Community. MacMillan was afraid that the opposition in Washington to Britain obtaining Polaris and to the special nuclear relationship with Britain would be strengthened by such a set-back and force Kennedy to retreat from selling Polaris, and from the nuclear relationship in general; so he did not reveal the news in Nassau.

Nevertheless, against the background of the continuing post-war economic problems, and the frosty relationship between Britain and the U.S. after the Suez Canal crisis, MacMillan managed to re-establish the friendly relationship that had existed between Churchill and Truman and bring about the ‘special relationship’ that Churchill always wanted Britain to have with the United States. Consequently, MacMillan even managed to maintain an independent nuclear deterrent for Britain, which thus remained a member of the ‘nuclear club’. As has been pointed out, MacMillan’s policy is still operating today between the U.K. and the U.S.. Thus MacMillan secured Britain’s defence and managed to bring the old Empire to a New Commonwealth, and prevented the ex-colonies from falling into the Communist sphere of influence. As I have said, MacMillan, like Churchill and Eden, believed that Britain was not exclusively European, and that she should maintain her special link with the Commonwealth, the sterling area and the United States. Additionally, alliance with the United States was fundamental to Britain and her interests and security. However, the difference between MacMillan, Churchill and Eden was that MacMillan did not have Churchillian nostalgia, nor Eden’s overestimation of Britain – especially in the face of her weakened economy and the U.S.S.R./U.S.A’s superpower status. MacMillan was realistic and took the middle ground. Moreover, the Suez Crisis was a lesson that MacMillan took notice of; in other words the transatlantic relationship must be based on consultation and trust.

1. D.JUDD and P.SLINN, op. cit., p.107.
2. M.LEIFER, Constraints and Adjustments in British Foreign Policy. (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1972), p.192.
3. D.DIMBLEBY, BBC1 interview with Jock Colville 11.5.1988.
4. R.RHODES-JAMES (ed.), op. cit., p.880.
5. ibid.
6. ibid.
7. ibid.
8. CHURCHILL to Eisenhower, 5 April 1953, PREM 11/1074 (PRO), in D.DIMBLEY and D.REYNOLDS, op. cit., p.205.
9. ibid., p.204.
10. ibid., pp.213-214.
11. ibid., p.180.
12. ibid., p.204.
13. D.DIMBLEBY, BBC1 interview with General Andrew Goodpaster [Eisenhower’s Staff Secretary and closest foreign policy aide], 25.5.1988.
14. D.MCLEAN, op. cit., pp.138-139.
15. H.MACMILLAN, op. cit., p.118.
16. ibid.
17. ibid., pp118-119.
18. ibid., p.119.
19. ibid.
20. ibid.
21. ibid.
22. ibid., p.477.
23. CP (57) 6,5 Jan. 1957, CAB 129/84 (PRO), in D.DIMBLEBY and D.REYNOLDS, op. cit., p.220.
24. FO 371/97592, AU 1051/12 (PRO), D.DIMBLEBY and D.REYNOLDS, op. cit., p.223.
25. W.CHURCHILL’s speech in : N. MANSBERGH (ed.), Documents and speeches on Commonwealth Affairs 1952-1962. (London: issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Oxford University Press, 1963), p. 423
26. M.BELOF, The Future of British Foreign Policy. (London: Secker and Warburg, 1969), p.110.

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