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Other dimensions of the Anglo-American Alliance

A Centre for the Study of War, State and Society workshop
Date9 November 2016
PlaceForum Seminar Room 05

In this workshop, visiting speaker Thomas Bottelier (Departments of History and of War Studies, King's College London) and our own Dr Marc Palen (Exeter) explore the Anglo-American Alliance.


Thomas Bottelier (KCL), "International and Impartial": The Supranational Organisation of the Anglo-American Alliance, 1941-42

This paper is about the international organisation of war. It offers a new account of the Anglo-American alliance during the Second World War. Diplomatic historians have long seen the war as the apotheosis of the ‘special relationship,’ a narrowly bilateral affair limited to the North Atlantic basin. This concept of the alliance reflects post-war national concerns. It has put so much emphasis on the diplomatic and personal relationships between Churchill and Roosevelt and their generals, that the supranational institutions through which they achieved victory have simply been forgotten. Yet at the Washington Conference of December 1941-January 1942, the British and United States high commands were unified as the Combined Chiefs of Staff; five Combined Boards were set up in an attempt to integrate Allied production of arms, food, raw materials, and shipping; and the Allies established combined commands through which they fought in all theatres except the Pacific Ocean and the Eastern Front. This entire apparatus was dismantled after victory in 1945, making the post-war alliance a very different creature. At Washington these states broke open the hard cores of their sovereignty in an experiment in international integration that went beyond anything we know today. FDR baptised this global war combine the United Nations. The civilian and military experts who ran it preferred combination, a term conveying their belief that the war should be run (and won) ‘internationally and impartially,’ as one of them put it. Another, Jean Monnet, would apply this idea to post-war Europe. Combination was the means by which the U.S. rose to global superpower. By revisiting this moment of internationalism at war, this paper opens new perspectives on all of these key twentieth-century developments.

ProviderCentre for the Study of War, State and Society
Intended audienceAll welcome.
Registration informationNo registration required.

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