Steering Committee of the Future Policy Group, ‘The future of Anglo-American relations’, Draft, October 1959

“For the last yeo [sic] years Anglo-American relations have been extremely good. We have succeeded in consolidating and extending our position as the first ally of the United States and the coordination of policy between the two governments has never been so far-reaching and satisfactory. As long as this situation continues, the basis of our position in international affairs will remain sound. Apart from economic considerations, our interests might not perhaps be seriously harmed if we remained on indifferent terms with France and outside the increasing intimacy of the Common market countries, provided that the Americans continued to attach paramount importance to their relations with us. But Anglo-American partnership is not a law of nature and our present position is one which we could lose. Unless we are careful to shore it up, it may run into danger over the next few years. There are several reasons for this”. First is Europe. “The Americans are basically unsympathetic to our attitude towards European integration…they blame us for standing aside”. Second, differences over the Far East on China’s representation at the UN.

Third, Middle East. “Most important of these is that American interest is overwhelmingly absorbed in the Communist threat and that the Americans tend to regard everything else as of subordinate importance in our thinking: radical nationalism, and the security of our oil supplies which is threatened both by Communist penetration and by radical nationalism. This difference is reflected in our attitudes [sic] towards Nasser and towards the new Iraq as it was towards the old”. There are other potential sources of differences in the Middle East but these need not cause fundamental policy divergences. Fourth, North Africa. ‘We have in the past found ourselves trying to persuade the Americans to temper their sympathy for local nationalism in North Africa with more understanding of French difficulties”. Fifth, Sub-Saharan Africa. “In Africa the Americans have come to respect our policies and to collaborate increasingly with us”.

“Possible Anglo-American differences… would matter less if the UK remained an indispensable partner because of her world-wide power and because the Americans could find no alternative. But, in at least three respects, this will not necessarily always be true”. First, West Germany is “rapidly becoming the main military power in Western Europe. She is the main economic power already. If, in addition, the US found German policies more to their liking than those of the UK, Western [sic] Germany might not impossibly take our place as first ally in Europe. Such a community of policy is quite likely… The future development of the ‘Six’ must also be taken into account. If political and economic integration really goes ahead, this group could become a major political power which would be a strong pull on the US away from the UK’.

Second, “partnership outside Europe”. “But a part at least of our present standing with the Americans derives from the fact that we are a world power, in the sense that we can bring military strength to bear in different parts of the world through our overseas bases, and are also responsible for ruling colonial territories in important places. Our status as a world power in this sense has dwindled during the past twelve years and will decrease further as, of deliberate policy, yet more territories reach independence. If, for instance, we were obliged to abandon our large base in Singapore, the value to the Americans of our contribution to the Alliance in Asia and the Far East might be sharply reduced. There is a therefore a danger that our influence on American policy will diminish with the extent of our territorial power, unless we can compensate for this by increasing our standing as technical and political experts helping the US to build up independent and viable countries in Africa and Asia”.

Third, “nuclear partnership”. UK has “considerable standing” with the US as the only Western power with nuclear capacity. But “the situation is unlikely to be permanent”. France and Germany could also do so. At same time, positive factors which “the UK should be able to exploit: first, position as manufacturer, trader, banker and investor. At present we are sharing with the US the main burden of providing the means for settling international debts and capital for under-developed countries. It would greatly help to buttress our position in American eyes if we can maintain an efficient and expanding economy, able to contribute its full share of capital to the rest of the world and to sustain sterling as one of the most important means of international payment”. Second, “the steadfastness of the UK’s opposition to communism”, which is in many ways is “the chief criterion by which the Americans judge other countries”. Third, other countries that could supplant the UK may make mistakes. “The importance of our relations with the US should not deter us from standing up to them when we disagree with them and have a good case – provided always that they have no cause to doubt the firmness of our opposition to the communist threat… If we are steadfast in our opposition to communism, maintain and improve the expansion of our economy and trading position and continue to produce people of the first quality in politics, science, industry and administration, the Americans will continue to believe in our ability to remain an indispensable ally”.


National Archives: DEFE23/67

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