This article analyzes the impact on transatlantic relations of the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war, focusing on the discrepancy between U.S. and British views of Middle Eastern security before and during the conflict. Despite the institutional factors shaping the U.S.-British “special relationship” and the much greater power of the United States compared to Britain, British policy during the 1973 war was sharply at odds with U.S. policy. This article shows that British policy toward the Middle East was shaped not only by economic concerns (namely the importance of Arab oil to the UK economy) but also by the strategic requirement to undermine Soviet influence in the region and strengthen ties between the Western powers and the Arab states.
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© 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology