The Foreign Policy Discourse in the United Kingdom and the United States in the “New World Order”
Editor: Lori Maguire
Date Of Publication: Jan 2009
The goal of this book is to examine some of the major foreign policy debates in the United Kingdom and the United States in the period from 1992 to 2008: from the end of the Cold War and the aftermath of the first Gulf War to the 2008 American presidential election. The first President Bush spoke in 1991 of a “new world order” – which seemed to mean an American hegemony. The United States was now the world’s only superpower, although a superpower afflicted with weaknesses, especially economic ones. But by 2008 the “new world order” did not seem so new or so strongly American. The period saw the terrorist attacks against the U.S. of 11 September 2001, military problems for the superpower in Afghanistan and Iraq and, by the summer of 2008, near economic collapse. In all of these developments, Britain shared to a lesser or a greater extent. It is hoped that this book will shed an important light both on each nation and on the so-called “special relationship” between the two. Furthermore, this book is also not specifically concerned with policy or how policy is made but with the debate around policy and the rhetoric used to present different points of view.
“The ‘Special Relationship’ between the US and Britain remains an enigmatic, ever-changing, but still very powerful factor in world politics. As an examination of their foreign policy discourses reveals, from the perspective of culture and values, few Western countries are as different as the United Kingdom and the US. With very few exceptions – the foreign policies of Gladstone and Tony Blair, and Chruchillian rhetoric, unmatched by his supremely realpolitical politics – British governments abhor talking about values and ideals. The British cultural peculiarity is to dismiss ideology and values as packaging, only to be caught by surprise time and again that they cannot do “business with Herr Hitler”, or that people kill each other for their values, religions, constructed identities and ideologies. Most American governments, by contrast, have had ideological and moral crusades embroidered on their banners in their foreign policy. There is a convergence with Britain when both proclaim that all they are doing is in their self-interest, but the Americans unashamedly assume that what is good for America is good for the world, while the British discourse, with the UK’s decline since 1945, rarely goes that far. As an analysis of their discourses reveals, the ‘Special Relationship’ is thus clearly founded on something either deeper or more superficial than shared culture or values; this volume sheds light on this surprising fact in most illuminating ways, and Lori Maguire’s achievement in bringing together these examinations is praiseworthy indeed.”
—Prof. Beatrice Heuser, University of Reading
Lori Maguire is Professor of British and American Studies and chair of her department at the University of Paris VIII. She received her doctorate in Modern History at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. Her research interests include both British and American foreign policy. She is the author of Anglo-American Relations with the Free French (Macmillan, 1996) and Conservative Women: A History of Women and the Conservative Party (Macmillan, 1998) and co-author of La démocratie au XXe siècle (Atlande, 2000) as well as numerous articles.
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