British policy towards the United States, 1968

FCO draft paper, “Longer-term elements in Anglo/US relations”, August 1968

“Even if the United States is a giant in a world where the Soviet Union is the only other giant to talk to, it [the US] feels the need for friends and Britain is probably the best friend they have… We are still the best Boswell to the US Johnson… We need the US far more than they need us but on our own we shall become increasingly unimportant to the United States – hence the need to become part of a larger European grouping…Our objectives with regard to Anglo-US relations must be twofold: (i) to slow down as far as we can and without prejudice to our European policies the changes in the UK’s relations with the United States; (ii) to ensure that the longer-term relationship between Europe (including the UK) and the United States remains as close as possible. As regards the latter aim, a major cause of US dissatisfaction with their allies is their allies’ alleged unwillingness to play their proper role in maintaining world peace, contributing to development, supporting the UN etc. There is an element of special pleading in this. The Americans are gifted at representing American national interests as noble ideals which all should follow. Nevertheless it is very much in our and Europe’s interests to prevent the United States becoming a rogue elephant. We have to persuade all the Western Europeans, including in the long run France, that a close relationship with the United States is the only way of preventing this…. If we fail to become part of a more united Europe these links [with US] will not be enough to prevent us becoming increasingly peripheral to US concerns”.

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