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‘A Joint Controlling System’: Commonwealth Bases and the Special Relationship, 1945–1947

Barnes, Robert ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5064-7839 (2019) ‘A Joint Controlling System’: Commonwealth Bases and the Special Relationship, 1945–1947. International History Review. pp. 1-21.

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Abstract

Britain’s position in 1945 was precarious but London was not prepared to relinquish global power status. Most famously, Winston Churchill in March 1946 argued this goal could be achieved by nurturing an Anglo-American ‘special relationship’. Yet Britain also sought to utilise the British Commonwealth of Nations to prop up its position and facilitate closer bonds with the United States. Significantly, Churchill had also claimed that the joint use of military bases could provide the mechanism to bind this ‘English-speaking’ alliance. This vision was, crucially, shared by the Labour foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, who described the US-Commonwealth military partnership as ‘a joint controlling system’. Nevertheless, between 1945 and 1947, the Truman administration’s attempts to gain base rights in the Southwest Pacific, India and on Ascension Island proved one of the most controversial issues between Washington and the Commonwealth capitals during the immediate
post-war period. This article demonstrates that the Commonwealth members remained unwilling to sacrifice their partnership in favour of closer ties with the United States. At the same time, Washington sought
to negotiate separate agreements with each of its wartime allies and refused to enter into binding reciprocal regional defence arrangements with the Commonwealth.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2019.1642231
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain > DA566 20th century
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
D History General and Old World > DT Africa
E History America > E151 United States (General)
School/Department: School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/3965

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