Checkmated Bilateralism: Efforts Towards an Apolitical Relationship
The return to the USA of Phillips, an otherwise pro-British diplomat, had an unpleasant effect on the Anglo-American relationship, although not one that was immediately obvious. Earlier, Louis Johnson’s mission had run into the same problem, with the British government strongly against him. No one heard from the Virginian again once he was back in the USA, in a state of frustration resulting from his abortive efforts to save the Cripps mission from total fiasco. His sympathies for the INC leadership and his frantic appeals for official American help in the reversal of the British Raj, did not cause any major concern in Washington. In exactly the same way, a year later, Phillips’ attempts to see Gandhi and Nehru met with a persistent British rebuff, while a non-committed FDR and a cautious Hull were hesitant to come forward more persuasively. Phillips’ visit to the subcontinent had coincided with Gandhi’s well-publicised fast during the Quit India Movement, and the appointment of such a career diplomat as the personal representative of the US president resulted in a great amount of speculation and high expectations in South Asian circles. His return in the wake of Linlithgow’s refusal to allow him to visit Gandhi brought him closer to the nationalist viewpoint in the subcontinent.
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