- 一般財団法人 日本国際政治学会
- 国際政治 (ISSN:04542215)
- vol.2013, no.173, pp.173_1-173_14, 2013-06-30 (Released:2015-06-09)
This special issue is an attempt to analise transformation and features of postwar British foreign policy in various decades and to review the role it played in postwar international relations, taking perspectives of global history into account.
The 11 articles deal with a broad range of topics covering British policies towards Africa, Middle East, Europe, Asia including Japan, the US, the Eastern side of the Cold War, and the UN. They also focus on various fields of policies including decolonisation and cold war; trade, currency and aid policies; conflict resolution; propaganda and cultural relations; opium control; nationality and immigration control; and role of the queen. All these contributions are solid empirical studies based on multi-archival research.
The main objective of the postwar British foreign policy can be summarised as maintenance of her influence and prestige as a world power, despite her declining military and economic power of which the government was well aware. For this goal, the British government is observed to have pursued multi-layered pluralisation of its foreign policy as follows.
In terms of regional focus, Britain not only tried to balance her relations with ‘the three circles’ which Churchill had called, namely, Empire/Commonwealth, the English-speaking world (especially the US),and united Europe, but also grew to attach importance to further two circles, namely, wider Asia including non-Commonwealth countries, and the United Nations, with all of the five ‘circles’ having overlaps. The field of policy expanded to include keener development assistance, publicity and cultural relations, what can be named as ‘normative diplomacy’, and royal family’s foreign relations, with some utilisation of the experiences before and during WWII. The policy styles also diversified with more emphasis on multilateral relations, coordinating/guiding role as a third power with restraining influence on the US, informality and ‘personal approach’ to promote understanding, and ‘power-by-proxy’ policy not only with the US but also with other third actors such as the UN and Japan.
These new approaches seem to have enabled the British government to take a calmer and wider-angled position towards issues in the postwar global society. In addition, due to the history of accepting migrants from former colonies and having interests spread abroad, the British foreign policy has been ‘reflexive’ with domestic repercussions or pressures. In addition, the lasting ‘imperial mentality’ with closed perception of Britishness might prevent Britain from maintaining her global role.
As an editor, I hope this special issue sheds a new light on the role of Britain in the global society and will help to attract even more scholarly attention to limitations and possibilities of the British foreign policy.