Separate agendas: Churchill, Eisenhower, and Anglo-American relations, 1953--1955

Date of Completion

January 2000


History, European|History, United States




In the years following the Second World War an economically exhausted United Kingdom struggled to maintain its position as a world power. Despite London's best efforts, Britain's pretensions to Great Power status largely ended with the Suez Crisis of 1956. Intense political and economic pressure from the Eisenhower Administration forced Britain to withdraw its invasion force from Egypt. This dissertation focuses on Anglo-American relations in the years immediately preceding the Suez Crisis, during the peacetime ministry of Winston Churchill. Overall, this study will attempt to determine how disputes between the two countries were handled during this period. An analysis of the case studies presented in this dissertation will address the ability of London to pursue goals at odds with American policy prior to Suez. In essence, was the outcome of the Suez Crisis an exception to a pattern of successful British independence when faced with American disapproval, or the inevitable result of clashing Anglo-American interests? ^ This dissertation presents four case studies in an attempt to answer the questions it raises. The first case explores Churchill's attempt to arrange a Summit meeting with the Soviet Union despite the opposition of Washington. The next two chapters deal with issues in the Middle East. In the first incident Britain successfully defended its position as sole arms supplier to the Iraqi government from American competition. In a dispute over the possibly oil-rich Buraimi Oasis on the Arabian Peninsula, London supported its Persian Gulf allies against the American allied Saudi government. Turning to East Asia, Britain resisted American pressure to support the Chinese Nationalist's claim to the small islands within sight of the coast of Mainland China. ^ In each case Churchill's government proved able to assert its independence and attempted to fulfill foreign policy aims separate from those of its more powerful ally. In spite of sharp disagreements with Whitehall, the Eisenhower Administration never forced the British to adhere to American policy. In the years before Suez, the British still acted on the assumption that they could revive their global power, and the Eisenhower Administration had not yet destroyed that assumption. ^