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Negotiating a unified Atlantic naval command: Anglo-American summit talks and the impact of domestic politics

Marsh, Steve ORCID: 2012. Negotiating a unified Atlantic naval command: Anglo-American summit talks and the impact of domestic politics. Journal for Maritime Research 14 (2) , pp. 95-109. 10.1080/21533369.2012.726426

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From Trafalgar in 1805 to the Battle of Jutland in 1916, the Royal Navy was in its prime. It symbolised Britain's early industrialisation, safeguarded British trade, protected strategically vital sea lanes around the British Isles and the empire, and projected British power to far-flung corners of the world. Despite British acceptance of naval parity with the United States under the terms of the Five-Power Naval Limitation Treaty signed in Washington in 1922 (and the gradual establishment of the US Navy as the world's most powerful and important naval force), within Britain the Royal Navy remained highly respected and was popularly seen as a yardstick of British greatness. When plans for a unified Supreme Allied Atlantic Naval Command (SACLANT) under an American admiral were leaked in February 1951, furious British popular and political protest ensued. The plans appeared to be a slight upon the Royal Navy, an affront to Britain's status and maritime history, and a damaging reflection of the state of the Anglo-American relationship. The Attlee government was pilloried for accepting SACLANT in principle and, once restored to power in October 1951, Churchill pledged to seek alternative arrangements with President Truman. This article casts new light upon the consequent negotiations about the Atlantic Command at an Anglo-American summit meeting in January 1952. Specifically, it argues that understanding the conduct of these talks and ultimate British acquiescence requires careful consideration of domestic political considerations in Britain and the United States – an explanatory factor hitherto missed in the (surprisingly few) existing analyses of the SACLANT issue.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
J Political Science > JZ International relations
V Naval Science > V Naval Science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anglo-American, Churchill, Royal Navy, SACLANT, summit, Truman
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 2153-3369
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 07:58

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