Shifting Alliances: Europe, America, and the Future of Britain's Global Strategy

In This Review

Shifting Alliances: Europe, America, and the Future of Britain's Global Strategy

By Patrick Diamond
Politico's Publishing, 2008
256 pp. $26.83

For the past 50 years, the United Kingdom's main foreign policy dilemma has been how to balance its special relationship with the United States with its growing involvement in Europe. Different prime ministers have represented different poles in the debate -- ranging from the Europhile Edward Heath to the Atlanticist Margaret Thatcher -- but the country as a whole has never been willing to make a clear strategic choice. Diamond, a former policy adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, argues that the time has come for a "radical break with the special-relationship illusions" and that the United Kingdom should make a priority of building bridges within Europe rather than across the Atlantic. He describes a British public dissatisfied with the Atlanticist course followed by his former boss (and not only because of the Iraq war) and suggests that a nuanced "shifting of alliances" would best suit the country today. He rightly points out that other British prime ministers will not have the political leeway that Blair did in supporting Bush. Yet this case is probably overstated. Diamond admits that "a significant section of the British political class will remain attached to the traditional idea of Britain as a pivotal power bridging Europe and America." Indeed, and 50 years from now the British debate about "shifting alliances" will probably still be going on.

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