Anglo-American Relations

August 26, 1938

Report Outline
England and America in the Last Decade
World War and Anglo-American Relations
Period of Strain After Geneva Conference
New Era of Cordial Relations with Britain

England and America in the Last Decade

Relations between the United States and Great Britain during the last few years have reached a degree of cordiality hitherto attained, if at all, only in the brief period of America's active participation in the World War. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, addressing the House of Commons July 26, said he was “happy to think that our relations with the United States never have been better than they are at present.” This situation contrasts sharply with that of a decade ago when, during the Geneva naval conference and after its collapse, the two nations were at serious odds over methods of limiting the tonnage of auxiliary war craft. While Anglo-American relations improved somewhat in the Hoover administration, they again suffered a setback in 1933 when President Roosevelt's refusal to consider currency stabilization resulted in breaking up the World Monetary and Economic Conference at London. Since that time, how-ever, there has been a steady betterment in the relations between the two countries.

The drawing together of the two great English-speaking nations has been induced in part by the growing threat to their democratic ideals and their material interests which has seemed to be presented by the rising power of the totalitarian states in Europe and by Japan's aggression in the Par East. Although such vexing questions as the defaulted war debt and issues connected with the forthcoming trade agreement remain outstanding, the prospect that they can be settled to the satisfaction of both countries is believed to be enhanced by the desire, particularly in Great Britain, to clear up remaining differences so as further to solidify Anglo-American relations and provide a firm basis for a closer general understanding in the future.

Practical Cooperation vs. A Political Alliance

In the House of Commons July 26 Chamberlain went so far as to say that he regarded the negotiations for a trade agreement not merely as an attempt to come to a commercial agreement of benefit to both countries, but “as an effort demonstrating the possibility of these two great countries working together on a subject which, if they can come to terms upon it, may prove to be the forerunner of a policy of wider application.” It is unlikely that the Prime Minister meant to imply that his government had hopes of concluding a political alliance with the United States. British as well as American statement recognize that public opinion in this country would not support a formal alliance. There is nevertheless a field for cooperation in the form of consultation and parallel action in matters of foreign policy that may permit development of a closer understanding than now exists. At the same time, a section of American opinion warns against the fostering of too close relations, holding that the advantages of such cooperation would accrue to Great Britain alone.

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