By Steve Marsh (auth.)

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Sample text

However, it also attributed to the USSR a messianic desire for world domination that prevented peaceful coexistence and recognised Lippmann's argument that the US should not passively cede to it the Cold War initiative. 106 It also meant the ascendancy of the strategists and a new offensive character to US diplomacy. lOl The thinking behind NSC-68 moved the battle against communism from what had been primarily a European to a global confrontation, 108 NSC-68 itself finally being approved once the outbreak of the Korean war in 1950 apparently justified both its rationale and the immense costs it envisaged.

It still had 389,000 troops in the UK and a further 74,000 in The Special Relationship of 1950 3S the colonies. The Royal Air Force maintained some 582 aircraft in Britain and a further 429 in tactical units abroad; and the Royal Navy having at its disposal over 2300 aircraft of varying types bolstered this air power. The British fleet, despite heavy wartime losses, retained a substantial capability too - including 6 aircraft and 6 light aircraft carriers, 5 battleships, 115 destroyers and 63 submarines.

However, it would, and could, only do this if the US gave it financial assistance, tolerated its privileged trading status in the Middle East, and created the expectation that in a crisis Britain would receive its patronage. Were these not forthcoming, British economic weakness would encourage nationalist challenges to established interests and necessitate overseas retrenchment such that it could not perform the duties that the US needed it to. However, broad interdependence and rhetorical niceties about close cooperation only lightly veiled the Anglo-American competition and mutual suspicion that meant their relations were rarely as coordinated or harmonious as might be expected.

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