Europe Versus the ‘Special Relationship’

  • John Baylis


Despite the continuing problem of achieving exactly the right balance between European and overseas security, the major dilemma over which should have priority has clearly been resolved in Europe’s favour. The debate about whether to emphasise closer defence collaboration with our European allies or whether to try to sustain a special defence relationship with the United States, however, remains largely unsettled in the late 1980s. Clearly the two areas are not mutually exclusive. It has been possible in the past (and remains so today) for Britain to forge close links with her continental allies while at the same time preserving a whole range of close ties in the defence field with the United States. As in other areas of defence policy, the key question has been one of priorities. Every government since 1945 has faced the problem of whether to emphasise ‘the European circle’ or ‘the American circle’. Successive governments, both Labour and Conservative, have had to decide what balance to strike between these two key areas of British concern.


Special Relationship Defence Policy Cruise Missile Strategic Defense Initiative British Policy 
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Notes and References

  1. 3.
    R. A. Best, Jr, ‘Co-operation with Like-Minded People’s’: British Influences on American Security Policy, 1945–49 ( New York: Greenwood Press, 1986 ).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    E. Barker, The British Between the Superpowers, 1949–50 ( London: Macmillan, 1983 ), p. 127.Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    H. Wilson, The Labour Government, 1964–70 ( London: Penguin, 1974 ), p. 80.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    H. A. Kissinger, The White House Years ( London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1979 ), pp. 933–4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Baylis 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Baylis
    • 1
  1. 1.University College of WalesAberystwythUK

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