British Foreign Policy Since 1945

This essay has a total of 2686 words and 12 pages.

British Foreign Policy Since 1945


Idil Un 12/13/05

Poli489

British Foreign Policy Since 1945

Britain used to be a great power for centuries controlling about a fifth of the earth’s land; such as India, Canada, Australasia, and South Africa. Britain was an oceanic power and was conductive to having a strong fleet; its strong navy provided Britain to be a very powerful empire. Britain was a stable country and this allowed it to advance religious reformation, and constitutional development. It was the world largest economy with having a drastic role in world trade. It was the first industrial nation had become the greatest power the world had ever seen, and of course a remarkable colonial power. The “Greatness of Britain” collapsed in the following centuries, due to many reasons; Germany’s aggressive continental power over Europe, the U.S had emerged as the new superpower, influences of communism, Cold War, declining economic and political power, losing its colonial power caused Britain to switch from a superpower, and thus the faith of Britain was not in its hands anymore. The globe was changing; old powers became powerless, new powers arose, regarding these the foreign policies of nations were to change and so was Britain’s.

By 1945, Britain’s economic, international, and empirical positions seriously undermined by the WW II. In July 1945, the British foreign policy indicated a shift in British foreign policy as the Labor Party was elected succeeding Winston Churchill. The struggle of Soviet Union over Nazism inspired admiration for a swing to the left. Clement Attlee became the new Prime Minister of the U.K. Ernest Bevin became Foreign Secretary at a time when Britain was almost bankrupt as a result of the war. Labor Party came to power committed to the creation of a welfare state and a wide-ranging plan of nationalization and wanted a “socialist foreign policy”. Bevin did not have colonial aims as the former foreign secretaries and was approving British withdrawal from the territories that Britain was hegemonic over, such as India. By 1947 Britain agrees to leave Pakistan and in the same year Britain left India. Labor party agreed on specific foreign policy conservatives to have a close relationship with the United States, de-colonilization, to protect Europe against the Soviets, and to reject communist model.

During Attlee’s role as the Prime Minister between the years 1945 to 1951; Britain left India thus forming East and West Pakistan, and India, later on East Pakistan became Bangladesh. The conflict between Israel and Palestine arose by the time Britain could no longer pacify the Israelis and Palestinians. Britain donated their A Bomb in 1948. In the same year Britain acquired four military bases which were a mid point of Britain’s Middle East interests. Attlee’s most persistent target was the British presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, of which Greece and Palestine were part. The war time Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden had insisted in 1945 that the defense of this area was a matter of life and death to the British Empire. Bevin as the Foreign Minister, facilitated the signing of an Anglo-French treaty of alliance at Dunkirk in March 4, 1947, it was a symbol of the two countries’ bitter parting of the ways in 1940. This treaty was to provide a basis for French security against a resurgent Germany and against any possible threat from Russia. Britain also pushed France to be a permanent member in the U.N.

In 1948 with The Brussels Treaty which was signed by France, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxemburg promised a mutual defense against any aggression. The principle British policy was about NATO. The reason for this was the crises occurred between 1947-50 in Europe. Britain during this period also helped to re-create the West German army. Britain received a momentous economic aid between the years 1948-50 via “The Marshall Plan” which was an European Recovery Program formulated to support Europe post WW II. This plan was the plan of the United States for the reconstruction of Europe. By the influence of the Cold War that began in 1945 right after the WW II, Korean War emerged. Britain sided with the U.S to fight aggression from North Korea. This war was symbolizing the conflict between communism and Democracy.

The genesis of the British bureaucracy was the Whitehall and it recruits from the upper class. The Bureaucracy in Britain was a good and was full of hardworking people but it actually failed to adapt to a changing world.

Attlee lost the elections and Churchill came into power as Prime Minster once again during the years 1951-55 until his resignation. Churchill established his foreign policy thesis by implementing three circles; Britain was an empire, mentioning its ties with its colonies, Britain should have close Atlantic relationship with the U.S, and Canada, and the third, was that Europe was an important arena for British diplomacy. “In their policy towards the other Western powers, in order to steer its much stronger partner in the direction in which it wanted it to go, British diplomacy has striven for the maximum degree of consultation at all levels and covering all braches of the British and American state machines, political, military, and economic, concerned directly or indirectly with international affairs”. In 1955 Anthony Eden replaced Churchill and became the Prime Minister of Britain.

In 1956 Suez Crises emerged. The Suez Canal was built in 1869 and it was sold to Britain and France to be given back to Egypt in 1969. Nasser nationalized the canal to build a dam to help develop the country; the U.S didn’t want to grant a fund so Nasser found the solution by nationalizing the canal. Eden feared that Nasser intended to form an Arab Alliance that would cut off oil supplies to Europe. Secret negotiations took place between Britain, France and Israel and it was agreed to make a joint attack on Egypt. These events presented a mortal danger to British international interest and to the peace of the World. In these circumstances the British and French governments decided on a swift and decisive intervention. Thus Britain and France invaded Egypt. The US feared a wider war after the Soviet Union threatened to intervene on the Egyptian side and launch attacks by "all types of modern weapons of destruction" on London and Paris. Thus, the Eisenhower administration forced a cease-fire on Britain and France, Eisenhower threatened to sell the United States reserves of the British pound and thereby precipitate a collapse of the British currency. The British government and the pound thus both came under pressure. Eden was forced to resign, he was accused of exaggerating Britain’s power and independence leading to Suez debacle, and the invading forces withdrew in March 1957. Harold Macmillan replaced Eden.

Macmillan’s primary concern was economic; he was thinking that the defense expenditure had broken Britain’s economy and he thought to get down the defense problem would have a drastic effect on the economy. On the side of foreign policy he tried to overcome the rift that occurred between the U.S. on Suez conflict. He also valued the entry to the European Economic Community (EEC). He continued to let go the territories that Britain had control over such as Nigeria gained its independence in 1960, Ghana in 1957, and Malaya again in 1957 due to communist insurgencies occurred in the area and Kenya in 1963. However in the Middle East Macmillan ensured Britain remained a force. In 1958 turmoil rises in Middle East as the Halhim thrones in Jordan and Iraq came into pressure they were pro British governments. In Iraq the king was killed and led Saddam Hussein to get into power. Jordan appealed to Britain for aid and Howard Macmillan sent troops to protect the king and maintain order, it was a successful attempt. In May 1960 South Africa decides to end its domination status and became independent; independence of South Africa led to racial segregation.

Britain at the time was trying to keep its domination over the territories that were still weaker economically, thus The Sterling Diplomacy came to existen

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