British Foreign Policy Since 1945

Idil Un 12/13/05


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