Before 1945

  • David Sanders
Chapter

Abstract

In the mid-seventeenth century, when the emerging European states system was in its infancy, England was a relatively unimportant regional power with primarily European interests. Over the next 250 years, with the gradual extension of its imperial acquisitions, Great Britain was transformed into a major global power with significant economic and political interests widely dispersed throughout the world.1 How this transformation came about need not concern us here. It is none the less worth noting that both the growing strength of British sea power and the country’s early industrialisation were crucial to Britain’s nineteenth-century imperial pre-eminence. Indeed it is no coincidence that the ‘retreat from [global] power’ which characterised Britain’s foreign policy after 1945 should have had its origins in the relative decline of Britain’s industrial capacity and in the failure to sustain the prominent maritime position of the Royal Navy in the period after 1870.

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For a brief review see John P. Mackintosh, ‘Britain in Europe: historical perspective and contemporary reality’, International Affairs, vol. 45, no. 2 (1969) pp. 246–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Churchill’s first telegram as Prime Minister (15 May 1940) was to Roosevelt, urgently requesting 50 destroyers for Britain’s war effort. Cited in John Baylis, Anglo-American Defence Relations, 1939–1984, 2nd edn (London: Macmillan, 1984) p. 3.Google Scholar
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    This ‘public declaration of solidarity’ was signed 12 July 1941. See McNeill, ibid., p. 52.Google Scholar
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    Sir Henry Tizzard’s ‘Scientific and Technical Information Mission’ first went to Washington in August 1940. See Baylis, Anglo-American Defence, p. 5. Baylis also notes that British participation in nuclear research on the Manhattan project was euphemistically recorded officially as involvement in ‘Tube alloys’ research.Google Scholar
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  95. 82.
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  100. 87.
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  102. 89.
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  103. 90.
    This, of course, was precisely what the Treaty stipulated. For a discussion of the limitations of the General Treaty, see Swanwick, Collective Security, passim.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Sanders 1989

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  • David Sanders

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