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Marsh, Steve (1998)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: JK, JN101, JA, JQ
The Anglo-Iranian oil crisis of 1950–4 provides an ideal case-study for those\ud interested in the postwar Anglo-American Special Relationship. This article investigates the\ud oil crisis with two purposes in mind: first, to demonstrate how Britain and the United States\ud struggled to adjust their bilateral relations in response to their changing postwar world\ud positions; second, to show just how crucial both countries perceived the Special Relationship\ud to be in the early 1950s. This is done by examining the American decision not to pursue a\ud policy in the Iranian oil crisis that would undermine Britain’s position, despite at times severe\ud Anglo-American tension. It is concluded that the problems created by the changing balance of\ud forces within the Special Relationship were mitigated in Iran by a combination of\ud consanguinity and, more important, the US need for British help in its policy of global\ud containment. In short, Anglo-American policy-makers perceived sufficient mutual need to\ud persuade them to actively preserve and develop the Special Relationship.
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    • 9 C. Bell, The Debatable Alliance: An Essay in Anglo-American Relations (London, 1964), p. 7.
    • 10 Extract from a Memorandum for the Permanent Under-Secretary's Committee, Anglo-American Relations: Present and Future, 22 Apr. 1950, in R. Bullen and M. Pelley (eds.), Documents on British Policy Overseas, Series 2, vol. 2: The London Conferences, Anglo-American Relations and Cold War Strategy January-June 1950 (London, 1987), p. 81.
    • 11 Harry S. Truman Library (HST), PSF, box 116, papers prepared for general information, Steering Group preparation for President and P.M. talks, 'Approach and objectives for the Churchill talks', u.d., p. 1.
    • 12 Dwight D. Eisenhower Library (DDE), Ann Whitman File, International Series, box 18, Churchill visit Jun. 1954 (3), memo. conv. 26 Jun. 1954, p. 2; box 16, President-Churchill (vol. i), 20 Jan. 1953-28 May 1953 (1), Churchill to Eisenhower, 9 Feb. 1953; folder President-Churchill (vol. ii), 28 May 1953-14 Oct. 1953 (3), Churchill to Eisenhower, 26 Jun. 1953.
    • 13 DDE, Ann Whitmann File, International Series, box 15, Great Britain (3), Eisenhower to Eden, 16 Mar. 1953.
    • 14 HST, Acheson Papers, box 75, folder 1, Princeton Seminar 11-13 Dec. 1953, reel 1, track 2, p. 12; PSF, box 116, Truman Churchill meetings, Papers prepared for general information, Steering Group preparation for Pres. and P.M. talks, 'Approach and objectives for the Churchill talks', u.d., p. 1. National Archives Washington (NA), RG 59, box 2769, memo. by R. B. Knight to Matthews, 'Conversations between President Truman and Mr Churchill-US objectives', 10 Dec. 1951.
    • 15 DDE, J. F. Dulles Papers 1951-59, box 10, Churchill Eden correspondence 1954 (3), memo. for the Sec. State from C. W. McCardle, 9 Jul. 1954, p. 2.
    • 16 Ibid., Subject Series, box 8, Classified, memo. by JFD to Eisenhower, 5 Jan. 1953.
    • 17 For details see J. A. DeNovo, 'The Culbertson Economic Mission and Anglo-American Tensions in the Middle East, 1944-1945', Journal of American History, 63 (1976-77), pp. 913-36; Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) 1947, vol. 5, memo. by Chief of Division of South Asian affairs, 5 Nov. 1947, p. 579.
    • 18 For a contemporary defence of the Sterling Area see H. Gaitskell, 'The Sterling Area', International Affairs, 28 (1952), pp. 170-6.
    • 19 The exchange between Attlee and Truman is quoted at length by W. R. Louis, The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-51: Arab Nationalism, the United States and Postwar Imperialism (Oxford, 1984), p. 442.
    • 20 HST, Papers of R. K. Davies, box 13, subject file, Anglo-American oil treaty 1945-47, folder 3, undated speech.
    • 21 Ibid., folder 5, 'Report of petroleum attaché containing recommendations for an oil policy for Africa and the Near East by Colonel J. H. Leavell', 4 Jun. 1945.
    • 22 NA, RG 59, box 2768, memo. by G. W. Perkins, 24 Jan. 1950, p. 2.
    • 23 Cited by M. G. Fry, 'The Special Relationship', Review of International Studies, 14 (1988), p. 241.
    • 24 For a typical expression of this sentiment see the attitude of Viscount Hinchingbrooke cited by L. D. Epstein, Britain-Uneasy Ally (Chicago, 1954), pp. 24-5.
    • 25 This effectively gave the British exclusive rights for a period of sixty years to develop, exploit, refine, transport, and sell natural gas, petroleum, asphalt, and ozocerite from a 500,000 square mile zone. In 1909 the Anglo-Persian Oil Company was formed to develop the concession; it was subsequently renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and then British Petroleum. For details of the concession see J. C. Hurewitz (ed.), Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East: A Documentary History, vol. 1 (Princeton, NJ, 1956), p. 209.
    • 26 H. Longhurst, Adventure in Oil: The Story of British Petroleum (London, 1959), p. 136.
    • 27 FRUS 1950, vol. 5, National Intelligence Report 14, p. 269.
    • 28 PRO, FO 371/75496, FO minute outlining possible courses of action for the Foreign Secretary, Apr. 1949.
    • 29 The Times, 21 Jun. 1951.
    • 30 J. Gallagher, The Decline, Revival and Fall of the British Empire (Cambridge, 1982), p. 125; A. C. Millspaugh, Americans in Persia (Washington, DC, 1946), p. 162; B. Rubin, Paved with Good Intentions: Iran and the American Experience (Oxford, 1980), p. 12.
    • 31 NA, LM 73, reel 44, memo. by William E. Warne to Ambassador Loy Henderson, 30 Jul. 1952. See also ibid., Henderson to Berry, 12 Jan. 1952; HST, Oral History, W. E. Warne, 21 May 1988, p. 98; HST, Papers of H. F. Grady, box 2, General File, Articles by Henry F. Grady, 'British American policy in Iran', 18 Mar. 1952, p. 4.
    • 32 HST, PSF, Intelligence Files, box 257, O.R.E. No. 76-89, O.R.E. 79, 'US Security and the British Dollar Problem', 31 Aug. 1949.
    • 33 For administrative problems see HST, Papers of H. F. Grady, box 2, Articles, 'How is American Foreign Policy Formulated?', 22 Oct. 1952, p. 6; B. Rubin, Secrets of State: The State Department and the Struggle over US Foreign Policy (New York and Oxford, 1987), p. 59. For details of the Alger Hiss perjury case see W. A. Jowitt, The Strange Case of Alger Hiss (London, 1953); A. Cooke, A Generation on Trial: U.S.A. v Alger Hiss (London, 1950).
    • 34 For details see esp. M. P. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford, CA, 1972); also J. L. Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy (Oxford, 1982), ch. 4.
    • 35 NA, RG 59, box 2768, memo by H. R. Labouisse Jr to Perkins, 27 Feb. 1950; background memo. by Dean Rusk in preparation for a meeting between Acheson, Ambassador Douglas and Sir Oliver Franks, 7 Mar. 1950, p. 2.
    • 36 This conclusion is supported by Watt who argues that the military implications of NSC 68 'reinforced the necessity of Britain to America'. Watt, Succeeding John Bull, p. 118.
    • 37 Eight per cent compared to 6.7 per cent. HST, PSF, Intelligence Files, box 257, CIA Report 'The possibility of Britain's abandonment of overseas commitments', 23 Dec. 1949, p. 1.
    • 38 D. Campbell, The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier: American Military Power in Britain (London, 1984).
    • 39 NA, RG 59, box 2768, H. R. Labouisse Jr to Perkins, 27 Feb. 1950, p. 4.
    • 40 Brief for the U.K. Delegation, 'The general approach in bipartite conversations with the American delegation', 21 Apr 1950, in Bullen and Pelley (eds.), Documents on British Policy Overseas, Series 2, vol. 2, p. 70.
    • 41 NA, RG 218, box 20 (US Jt. Chiefs of Staff), Geographical File 1951-53, memo. by the Chief of Staff US Army to Jt. Chiefs of Staff, 19 Apr. 1950, pp. 1-2.
    • 42 HST, PSF, box 116, Truman Churchill meetings, negotiating paper 'Nature of the U.S.-U.K. relationship', u.d.
    • 43 J. Gallagher, Decline, Revival and Fall, p. 149.
    • 44 DDE, Whitehouse Central Files, Confidential File, box 9, Subject Series, 21-23 Mar. 1957, Summary Briefing Paper, p. 3. For the resurrection of military cooperation see G. Wyn Rees, 'Brothers in Arms: Anglo-American Defence Co-operation in 1957', in A. Gorst, L. Johnman and W. Scott Lucas (eds.), Post-war Britain, 1945-64: Themes and Perspectives (London, 1989), pp. 203-20.
    • 45 For details of Anglo-American antipathy over China see Lanxin Xiang, 'The Recognition Controversy: Anglo-American Relations in China, 1949', Journal of Contemporary History, 27 (1992), pp. 319-43; also D. C. Wolf, '“To Secure a Convenience”: Britain Recognizes China-1950', Journal of Contemporary History, 18 (1983), pp. 299-326.
    • 46 HST, McGhee papers, box 1, File Dept. State, 'South Asian Regional Conference of U.S. Diplomats and Consular Offices', 26 Feb.-3 Mar. 1951, p. 6.
    • 47 HST, PSF, Intelligence file, box 253, NIE 26, 'Key problems affecting U.S. efforts to strengthen the Near East', 25 Apr. 1951, p. 7; box 258, Specific Estimates No. 21-35, 'Prospects for an inclusive Middle East Defense Organization', 17 Mar. 1952, p. 3.
    • 48 HST, Acheson papers, box 167, 'Commonwealth capabilities and intentions in the Middle East', 31 Dec. 1951; FRUS 1950, vol. 5, memo. by Ambassador at large (Jessup) to Sec. State, 25 Jul. 1950, p. 189.
    • 49 HST, Acheson papers, box 167, 'Circular airgram to certain missions in the Near East', 15 Aug. 1952; State Dept. to London Embassy, 6 Sep. 1952.
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