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Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 3, Supplement 1, pp 63–83 | Cite as

Many Times Doomed But Still Alive: An Attempt to Understand the Continuity of the Special Relationship

  • Jérôme B. Élie
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Notes

  1. 1.
    John Baylis, Anglo-American Defence Relations 1939–1984: The Special Relationship, London, Macmillan Press Ltd, 1984, p. xiv.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    See: John Baylis, ‘The ‘Special Relationship’ A Diverting Myth?’, in: Cyril Buffet and Beatrice Heuser, ed., Haunted by History: Myths in International Relations, Providence, Berghahn Books, 1998, pp. 118–134.Google Scholar
  3. 2a.
    For a development on the mythicality of the special relationship, see: Max Beloff, ‘The Special Relationship: an Anglo-American Myth’, in: Martin Gilbert, ed., A Century of Conflict, 1850–1950. Essays for A.J. P. Taylor, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1966, pp. 151–171.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Alex Danchev, On Specialness: Essays in Anglo-American Relations, London, Mac millan Press Ltd, 1998, p.3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 4.
    John Dickie, ‘Special’ No More. Anglo-American Relations: Rhetoric and Reality, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1994, p.xiv.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    H.C. Allen, The Anglo-American Relationship since 1783, London, Black, 1959, p.237Google Scholar
  7. 5a.
    quoted in: David Reynolds, ‘Rethinking Anglo-American Relations’, International Affairs, 65, 1 (1988/89), p.90.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    John Baylis, ed., Anglo-American Relations Since 1939: the Enduring Alliance, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1997Google Scholar
  9. 6a.
    Christopher Hitchens, Blood, Class and Empire: the Enduring Anglo-American Relationship, New York, Nation Books, 2004.Google Scholar
  10. 7.
    See for example: Stephen M. Walt, ‘Why Alliances Endure or Collapse’, Survival, 39, 1 (1997), pp.156–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    David Reynolds, ‘A ‘Special Relationship’? America, Britain and the International Order Since the Second World War’, International Affairs, 62, 1 (1985/86), pp.1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 9.
    Danchev, On Specialness …, pp.6–8.Google Scholar
  13. 10.
    Ibid., p.2.Google Scholar
  14. 11.
    A classic example of this approach is: Raymond Dawson and Richard Rosecrance, ‘Theory and Reality in the Anglo-American Alliance’, World Politics, 19, 1 (1966), pp.21–51.Google Scholar
  15. 12.
    It should be specified that the special relationship has actually never been an alliance per se. It did not rest on any specific treaty or casus foederis. At most, there was an aggregation of successive agreements relating to various aspects, which formed the basis of an informal alliance between the two Anglo-Saxon powers.Google Scholar
  16. 13.
    John Baylis, ‘The Anglo-American Relationship and Alliance Theory’, International Relations, 8, 4 (1985), pp.375–378.Google Scholar
  17. 14.
    See: David Reynolds, ‘Competitive Co-operation: Anglo-American Relations in World War Two’, The Historical Journal, 23, 1 (1980), pp.233–245 and The Creation of the Anglo-American Alliance, 1937–1941: a Study in Competitive Co-operation, London, Europa Publisher, 1981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Robert M. Hathaway, Ambiguous Partnership: Britain and America, 1944–1947, New York, Columbia University Press, 1981.Google Scholar
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    Baylis, ‘The Anglo-American Relationship and Alliance Theory’, p.373.Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    See: Donald Cameron Watt, Succeeding John Bull: America in Britain’s Place, 1900–1975: a Study of the Anglo-American Relationship and World Politics in the Context of British and American Foreign-Policy-Making in the Twentieth Century, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1984.Google Scholar
  21. 18.
    Reynolds, ‘Rethinking Anglo-American Relations’, pp.95–96.Google Scholar
  22. 19.
    Reynolds, ‘A ‘Special Relationship’?…’, p.2.Google Scholar
  23. 20.
    For arguments along this line, see: Beatrice Heuser, ‘“Punching Above Her Weight”: les Forces Militaires de la Grande-Bretagne dans l’Après-Guerre Froide’; Stratégique, 65, 1 (1997), pp.132–135 and ‘Undoing Britain? A Survey of Britain’, The Economist ,November 6, 1999, p.16.Google Scholar
  24. 21.
    David Reynolds, Britannia Overruled: British Policy and World Power in the Twentieth Century, London and New York, Longman, 1991, p. 178.Google Scholar
  25. 22.
    John Dumbrell, A Special Relationship: Anglo-American Relations in the Cold War and After, Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2001, pp.13–14.Google Scholar
  26. 23.
    Paul W. Schroeder, ‘Alliances, 1815–1945: Weapons of Power and Tools of Manage ment’ in: Klaus Knorr, ed., Historical Dimensions of Natiónal Security Problems, Lawrence, Kan., University of Kansas Press, 1976, pp.230–231.Google Scholar
  27. 23.
    See also: Christopher Gelpi, ‘Alliances as Instruments of Intra-Allied Control’, in: Helga Haftendorn, Robert O. Keohane, and Celeste A. Wallander, ed., Imperfect Unions: Security Institutions Over Time and Space, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 107–139.Google Scholar
  28. 24.
    Baylis, Anglo-American Defence Relations…, p.xiv.Google Scholar
  29. 25.
    French political analysts and journalists commonly use this phrase as a synonym of ‘special relationship’. One can also find an alternative form with the expression ‘relation privilégiée’ (privileged relation). For recent examples of their usage, see: ‘Angleterre et Amérique’, Les Echos, 28 juin 1995; Jean-Pierre Langellier, ‘Le vieux couple Londres-Washington’, Le Monde, 3 octobre 2001Google Scholar
  30. 25a.
    Jacques Duplouich, ‘La première visite d’Etat d’un président américain au Royaume-Uni’, Le Figaro, 18 novembre 2003Google Scholar
  31. 25b.
    Pauline Schnapper, ‘Mythes et réalité de la relation spéciale’, in: Agnès Alexandre-Collier, ed., La “relation spéciale” Royaume-Uni/Etats-Unis: entre mythe et réalité (1945–1990), Editions du Temps, Nantes, 2002, p.39.Google Scholar
  32. 26.
    For a recent example, see: Francis Beckett, ‘What Has America Ever Done For us?’, New Statesman, March 3, 2003, pp. 18–20.Google Scholar
  33. 27.
    Reynolds, ‘Rethinking Anglo-American Relations’, p.98 and p. 110.Google Scholar
  34. 28.
    Alex Danchev, ‘Greeks and Romans: Anglo-American Relations After 9/11’, RUSI Journal, 148, 2 (2003), p.17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 29.
    Michael Howard, ‘Victory that Exhausted the Nation’, The Times, May 28, 1994, quoted in: Baylis, “The ‘Special Relationship’ A Diverting Myth?’, p. 134.Google Scholar
  36. 30.
    See: Anne Deighton, ‘Britain and the Three Interlocking Circles’, in: Antonio Varsori, ed., Europe 1945–1990s: the End of an Era?, London and New York, St Martin’s Press and Macmillan Ltd, 1995, pp. 155–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 31.
    Baylis, ‘The ‘Special Relationship’ A Diverting Myth?’, p. 134.Google Scholar
  38. 32.
    Reynolds, Britannia Overruled…, p.298.Google Scholar
  39. 33.
    With the possible but short exception represented by the government of Edward Heath (1970–1974).Google Scholar
  40. 34.
    Stephen George, An Awkward Partner: Britain and the European Community, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 1994.Google Scholar
  41. 35.
    Peter Unwin, Where Britain Belongs, Occasional Paper No 9, The Davies Memorial institute of International Studies, March 1995.Google Scholar
  42. 36.
    See: Antonio Varsori, ‘Is Britain Part of Europe? The Myth of British ‘Difference”, in: Buffet and Heuser, Haunted by History…, pp. 135–156.Google Scholar
  43. 37.
    Baylis, ‘The ‘Special Relationship’ A Diverting Myth?’, p. 126; Reynolds, ‘Rethinking Anglo-American Relations’, p. 108.Google Scholar
  44. 38.
    Dumbrell, A Special Relationship…, p.222.Google Scholar
  45. 39.
    Beloff, ‘The Special Relationship: an Anglo-American Myth’, p. 167.Google Scholar
  46. 40.
    Pauline Schnapper, La Grande-Bretagne et l’Europe: le grand malentendu, Paris, Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 2000.Google Scholar
  47. 41.
    Here, one should add that the rejection of a united European continent (or a continental hegemony) and the preference for an intergovernmental co-operation goes back at least to the nineteenth century (as witnessed by the experience of the Concert of Europe). On Britain and Europe, see: David Baker and David Seawright, ed., Britain For and Against Europe: British Politics and the Question of European integration, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1998Google Scholar
  48. 41a.
    Jeremy Black, Convergence or divergence? Britain and the Continent, Basingstoke and London, Macmillan, 1994CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 41b.
    Roy Denman, Missed Chances: Britain and Europe in the Twentieth Century, London, Cassell Publisher, 1997Google Scholar
  50. 41c.
    Stephen George, ed., Britain and the European Community: the Politics of Semi-Detachment, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1992Google Scholar
  51. 41d.
    John W. Young, Britain and European Unity, 1945–1992, Basingstoke and London, Macmillan, 1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 42.
    Although Britain certainly adopted this approach later than the French.Google Scholar
  53. 43.
    Anand Menon, ‘Defence Policy and Integration in Western Europe’, Contemporary Security Policy, 17, 2 (1996), p.265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 44.
    Reynolds, ‘Rethinking Anglo-American Relations’, p.98.Google Scholar
  55. 45.
    Danchev, On Specialness…, pp.159–160.Google Scholar
  56. 46.
    Speech by the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, at a Luncheon to Mark the 150th Anni versary of the Associated Press, London, December 15,1998 (http://www.fco.gov.uk).
  57. 47.
    Reynolds, ‘Rethinking Anglo-American Relations’, p.97.Google Scholar
  58. 48.
    Danchev, On Specialness…, p. 158.Google Scholar
  59. 49.
    Baylis, ‘The Anglo-American Relationship and Alliance Theory’, pp.368–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 50.
    Robert Skidelsky, ‘Imbalance of Power’, Foreign Policy, 129 (March/April 2002), p.53. Skidelsky’s point was taken up by Geir Lundestad in his: The United States and Western Europe since 1945: From ‘Empire’ by Invitation to Transatlantic Drift, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2003, p.96.Google Scholar
  61. 51.
    See: Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, Power and Interdependence, New York, Harper Collins, 1989.Google Scholar
  62. 52.
    Dumbrell, A Special Relationship…, p.16.Google Scholar
  63. 53.
    Duncan Campbell, The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier: American Military Power in Britain, London, M. Joseph, 1984.Google Scholar
  64. 54.
    Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Bound to Lead: the Changing Nature of American Power, New York, Basic Books Inc., 1990, p.31.Google Scholar
  65. 55.
    To consider intelligence as a source of soft power might appear debatable to some people. It is true that Joseph S. Nye, Jr. has not dwelled on this issue. In his writings on soft power, he emphasizes the importance of ‘attraction’ of one’s ideas, culture and way of life, rather than coercion or even manipulation. Moreover, he insists that soft power is not created solely by governments but also by private actors or organizations. Nevertheless, he also points to the importance of information and information technology and refers to the US Information Agency as a source of soft power during the Cold War. Intelligence activities are certainly at the border between soft and hard power. The present author agrees that ‘dirty tricks’, covert operations and intelligence support for war activities do not qualify as sources or elements of soft power, but other activities such as propaganda do fit the definition. As mentioned above, various forms of espionage match the notion of ‘setting the agenda’ and the very definition of soft power (getting others to want what you want) no doubt includes a degree of manipulation.Google Scholar
  66. 56.
    For an excellent study of the intelligence special relationship in the early Cold War period, see: Richard J. Aldrich, The Hidden Hand: Britain, America and Cold War Secret Intelligence, London, John Murray, 2001.Google Scholar
  67. 57.
    Lundestad, The United States and Western Europe since 1945…, p.98.Google Scholar
  68. 58.
    Louise Richardson, When Allies Differ: Anglo-American Relations during the Suez and Falkland Crises, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1996, p.221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 59.
    One thinks of the Suez Crisis and the appeal of the United States in the Middle East, in the newly decolonised states and at the United Nations.Google Scholar
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    Obviously, the US policy was more successful in achieving the former objective (at least in the short to medium term) and less successful in achieving the latter.Google Scholar
  71. 61.
    Reynolds, ‘Rethinking Anglo-American Relations’, p. 110.Google Scholar
  72. 62.
    Robins Edmonds, Setting the Mould: the United States and Britain, 1945–1950, Oxford, Clarendon, 1986.Google Scholar
  73. 63.
    For an analysis of the impact of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US on the special relationship, see: Steve Marsh, ‘September 11 and Anglo-American Relations: Reaffirming the Special Relationship’, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, supplement on Transatlantic Views on the Impact of 11 September 2001 (Spring 2003), pp.56–75.Google Scholar
  74. 64.
    In 2003 and 2004, Katherine Gun (a translator for the British intelligence services) and Clare Short (Tony Blair’s Cabinet minister) revealed that the Americans and the British had co-operated in spying on key UN diplomats and the Secretary General in relations to the Security Council decisions on the war in Iraq. See: Ewen MacAskill, Richard Norton-Taylor and Julian Borger, ‘How a US Bugging Operation Was Exposed by One Lone Whistleblower: Spotlight on the Actions of British Spies and Legality of Iraq Invasion’, The Guardian, February 26, 2004; ‘Text of the Memorandum Detailing the US Plan to Bug the Phones and E-mails of Key Security Council Members’, The Observer, March 2, 2003Google Scholar
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    Jefferson Morley, ‘British Press Hails Wiretap Whistleblower: A Year Later, World Press Debates Allegation That U.S. Spied on U.N. Diplomats’, The Washington post, February 26, 2004Google Scholar
  76. 64b.
    Glenn Frankel, ‘Short Suggests Britain Eavesdropped on Annan: Former Cabinet Official Says British Intelligence Recorded U.N. Secretary General’s Conversations in Run-Up to War’, The Washington post, February 26, 2004; ‘Full Text of John Humphrys’ Interview with Clare Short on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme’, The Guardian, February 26, 2004.Google Scholar
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    For an interesting development on the French perception of Anglo-American ties, see: Beatrice Heuser, ‘Dunkirk, Diên Biên Phu, Suez or Why France Does Not Trust Allies and Has Learnt to Love the Bomb’, in: Buffet and Heuser, Haunted by History…, pp.157–174.Google Scholar
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    See: Interception Capabilities 2000: Report to the Director General for Research of the European Parliament (Scientific and Technical Options Assessment programme office) on the Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information. Author: Duncan Campbell, IPTV Ltd, Edinburgh, Scotland; Editor: Dick Holds worth (Head of STOA Unit), Luxembourg, October 1999, PE number: PE 168. 184 Vol.2/5. (Report available online at: http://www.europarl.eu.int/stoa/publi/pdf/98-14-01-2_en.pdf). In the press, see: Laurent Zecchini, ‘Comment les Etats-Unis espionnent l’Europe’, Le Monde, 23 Février 2000Google Scholar
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    Barry James, ‘Report to EU Says U.S. and U.K. Spied on Allies’, The International Herald Tribune, February 24, 2000Google Scholar
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    Richard Norton-Taylor and David Gow, ‘French anger at US-British global spying’, The Guardian, February 24, 2000Google Scholar
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    Martin Fletcher, ‘EU anger at ‘spy ring’’, The Times (London), March 31, 2000.Google Scholar
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    Compare for example the periodisations given in: Baylis, ed., Anglo-American Relations Since 1939… and Robert M. Hathaway, Great Britain and the United States: Special Relations since World War II, Boston, Twayne Publishers, 1990.Google Scholar
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    Baylis, ‘The Anglo-American Relationship and Alliance Theory’, p.378 and pp.269–370.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 155.Google Scholar
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    Reynolds, ‘Rethinking Anglo-American Relations’, p. 108.Google Scholar
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    Jérôme Élie, ‘La réunification allemande et les relations anglo-américaines: première crise d’après-guerre froide de la ‘Relation Spéciale”, Relations Internationales, No 120, forthcoming in 2004.Google Scholar
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    Danchev, On Specialness…, p. 154.Google Scholar
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    For an interesting study, which includes the impact of such links, see: Richardson, When Allies Differ….Google Scholar
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    Baylis, ‘The Anglo-American Relationship and Alliance Theory’, p.370.Google Scholar
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    Gideon Rachman, ‘Is the Anglo-American Relationship Still Special?’, The Washington Quarterly, 24, 2 (2001), p.9.Google Scholar
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    Beloff, ‘The Special Relationship: an Anglo-American Myth’, p. 170.Google Scholar
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    John Baylis, The ‘Special Relationship’ A Diverting Myth?’, p.123.Google Scholar
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    Therefore, the special relationship should certainly be studied in the framework developed by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger in their: The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge and New York, Cambridge University Press, 1983.Google Scholar
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    Danchev, On Specialness…., p.156.Google Scholar
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    Baylis, ‘The ‘Special Relationship’ A Diverting Myth?’, p. 129. Ball’s comments are quoted from: George W. Ball, The Discipline of Power: Essentials of a Modern World Structure, London, Bodley Head, 1968.Google Scholar
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    This last development is based on: Jérôme Élie, ‘La ‘relation spéciale’ anglo-américaine, le New Labour et la défense européenne, 1997–2000: une nouvelle politique stratégique pour le Royaume Uni?’, unpublished Master’s thesis, Graduate Institute of International Studies (Geneva), 2000.Google Scholar
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    In early 2001, these considerations ‘weighed heavily’ in the decision to produce a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report on ‘British-US Relations’. See: Second Report: British- US Relations; Report and Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evi dence and Appendices, HC 327, 18 December 2001 (Available at: http://www.parliatnent.uk).
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    See: Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, New York, Public Affairs, 2004.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Board of the Journal of Transatlantic Studies 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jérôme B. Élie
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate Institute of International StudiesGenevaSwitzerland

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