• Lawrence Freedman


In the decade following Nassau the strategic environment changed. The Soviet Union caught up, at least quantitatively, in strategic arms with the United States. Defensive technology failed to live up to its early promise but offensive technology advanced on all fronts, leading to missiles of greater range, multiplying the warhead each could carry, allowing for targets to be reached through subtle in-flight manoeuvres and attacked with high accuracy. Moreover, the political environment had changed. The United States lost self-confidence and esteem in Vietnam. Britain’s relative decline, already evident in 1962, proceeded apace. While its relationship with the United States retained a number of distinctive features unlikely to be copied by others, it was patently no longer the leading European power. Furthermore by 1972 it was preparing at last to join the European Community, thus accepting that relations with its neighbours were in the future to be more ‘special’ than those with its old ally across the Atlantic.


Nuclear Weapon Nuclear Force Ballistic Missile Galosh System British Force 
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  1. 1.
    Edward Heath, Old World, New Horizon: Britain, the Common Market and the Atlantic Alliance (London: Oxford University Press, 1970) p. 73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    The most detailed discussion of this issue is Ian Smart, Future Conditional: The Prospect for Anglo-French Nuclear Cooperation, Adelphi Paper No. 78 (London: IISS, 1971).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Evidence to the Twelfth Report from the Expenditure Committee. For more calculations see Geoffrey Kemp, Nuclear Forces for Medium Powers, Part I, Targets and Weapons Systems, Parts II and III, Strategic Requirements and Options, Adelphi Papers 106 and 107 (London: IISS, 1974).Google Scholar

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© Royal Institute of International Affairs 1980

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  • Lawrence Freedman

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