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A Bridge Too Far: The United Kingdom and the Transatlantic Relationship

  • William Wallace
  • Tim Oliver
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    For the past fifty years, British foreign policy has attempted to act as a 'bridge' between the continental European governments and US administrators. The end of the Cold War did not change this stance. First by John Major and more significantly by Tony Blair, British Prime Ministers continued to declare Britain's intent to remain 'at the heart of Europe' while also maintaining its 'special relationship' with the US. The period from September 11th 2001 to the invasion of Iraq, however, has severely shaken this concept as the British government has given its strong support to American policy. The argument of this chapter is that Prime Minister Blair's firm support came more from his personal conviction that Saddam Hussein's regime was a threat to global security than from his commitment to transatlantic cooperation under all circumstances. His support also resulted from the British preference for seeking influence within Washington through offering public support while moderating the direction of American policy through private criticism. Blair's double commitment to Europe and America, however, has created a diplomatic dilemma by deepening the level of distrust among its European partners about Britain's real intentions in the EU while also leaving its foreign policy success dependent on Washington's willingness to work with its NATO partners.

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    Paper provided by European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS) in its series EUI-RSCAS Working Papers with number 22.

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    Date of creation: 15 Oct 2004
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    Handle: RePEc:erp:euirsc:p0138
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