Suez and Britain's decline as a world power


Peden G (2012) Suez and Britain's decline as a world power. Historical Journal, 55 (4), pp. 1073-1096.

The Suez crisis is widely believed to have contributed significantly to Britain's decline as a world power. Eden's miscalculation of American reaction to the attack on Egypt was damaging to Britain's reputation and fatal to his career. However, his actions were contrary to received wisdom in Whitehall. The crisis merely confirmed Britain's dependence on the United States and had no lasting impact on Anglo-American relations. Britain's relationship with its informal and formal empire was already changing before 1956, and the turn from the commonwealth to Europe owed little to Suez. Examination of policy reviews in Whitehall before and after the Suez crisis shows that the Foreign Office, Commonwealth Relations Office, and Colonial Office were slow to accept the need for change in Britain's world role. Insofar as they did from 1959 it was because of Treasury arguments about the effect of high defence expenditure on the economy, and slow growth of the United Kingdom's population compared with the United States, the European Economic Community, and the Soviet Union.

Historical Journal: Volume 55, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2012
Publication date online15/11/2012
PublisherCambridge University Press