Report and Retort: The Special Relationship is Not Flat

Strategic Intelligentia

(The National Interest) – In “Designated Driver Diplomacy”, John C. Hulsman applies an ill-advised one-dimensional world-view to U.S.-British relations, writes Barak M. Seener.

In 1884 Edwin A. Abbott published his famous book Flatland, followed in 2001 by Ian Stewart’s Flatterland. The main message of these books is that persons thinking in terms of one or two dimensions are unable to comprehend “depth” and cannot grapple with multi-dimensional dynamics. Despite geo-strategy’s nuance and evasion of neat policy formulations, John Hulsman engages in “flat” thinking in his article “Designated Driver Diplomacy.” Hulsman suggests that the Macmillanite strategy-“The Americans are crazy; we must always agree with them strategically, and curb their excesses (and promote our national interest) tactically”-defines British policy towards the U.S. post-Suez.

It remains conjecture whether Macmillan disagreed with U.S. presidents in private. But by stating that Britain has aligned itself with the United States merely to curb the latter’s excesses, Hulsman paints a monochromatic picture of the geopolitical landscape. In fact, Britain has overtly opposed American leaders’ foreign policy without engaging in subtle Machiavellian strategies to “curb their excesses.”

Prime Minister Harold Wilson ignored Lyndon Johnson’s desperate pleas for even symbolic participation in Vietnam, while Australia obliged Washington’s requests.

Read Full Article: The National Interest

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.