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A Crisis Explained

  • Donette Murray
Part of the Cold War History Series book series (CWH)

Abstract

The Skybolt crisis arose out of a mẽlée of confusion, muddled perceptions, misunderstandings, overestimation of some elements and underestimation of others, compounded and exacerbated by feelings of mistrust, suspicion and betrayal. Much of the shock, it would seem, came from the fact that two close allies should so easily find themselves dramatically opposed. Perhaps, as Neustadt later remarked, no one bothers to take much notice when enemies fight, but when friends fall out everyone wants to know the reason why.

Keywords

Prime Minister Nuclear Weapon Weapon System Close Ally Nuclear Deterrent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

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    This is clearly appreciated in a brief for the Minister of Defence: ‘The Americans have the money and resources in research and development and production of modern weapons that we cannot match and it is clear we must rely more and more on them in this field. On our side, we can bargain only on our reliability as an ally and our geographical position …’. Brief for Minister of Defence, 1 February 1961, DEFE 13/11, PRO.Google Scholar
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    The Manchester Guardian, 10 December 1962.Google Scholar
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    For example, in early 1961, Zuckerman advised the Minister of Defence that Skybolt’s position was very tenuous and was currently surviving only because of the British factor. Zuckerman to Watkinson, 7 February 1961, DEFE 13/408, PRO.Google Scholar
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    Thorneycroft himself had long since set his sights and was against continuing to press the Americans for Skybolt. Thorneycroft, Oral History, p. 19, JFKL.Google Scholar
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    Gilpatric, Oral History, pp. 87–8, JFKL. The British liaison staff in Washington (and especially Fryer) must take some share in the blame. Fryer’s reports are consistently over-optimistic and misleading. For example, in his sixth progress report, Fryer mentions that while Skybolt would appear to be a prime candidate for cancellation, in his opinion (and according to his contacts) this would be ‘extremely unlikely’. Fryer Progress Report No. 6, 22 August 1962, DEFE 19/77, PRO.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Donette Murray 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donette Murray
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UlsterColeraineNorthern Ireland

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