British Foreign Policy Since 1945: the Long Odyssey to Europe
Great Britain entered the Second World War in 1939 as one of six - or at most seven - great powers and the centre of an Empire and Commonwealth of world-wide dimensions. However 'troubled' by the extent to which commitments outran capabilities, Britain was then still a world power, and one of the first magnitude.! Yet only thirty years later the authors of the Duncan Report on Britain's Overseas Representation recorded their belief that Britain could only claim to be 'a major power of the second order'.2 Even that claim seemed to many good 'Europeans' to be pitched too high. Britain's future, they held, lay as a European power, not as a major world power; and, to become the former, she would have to eschew the latter. British foreign policy in the post-1945 period is, in large part, the story ofhow, reluctantly and painfully, she came to do so.