Courting a Reluctant Ally: An Evaluation of U.S./UK Naval Intelligence Cooperation, 1935-1941   [open pdf - 3MB]

"Since World War II, the United States and the United Kingdom have mutually benefited from an unprecedented 'special relationship' with regard to intelligence sharing and cooperation. What were the origins of that relationship and what lessons can be derived from its development? While it may seem obvious that the common Axis threat drove both countries to increased levels of intelligence sharing, the extent of the cooperation eventually attained would have surprised many on both sides of the Atlantic prior to World War II. Despite a brief period as allies during World War I, the U.S. and the UK quickly reverted to their traditional roles as strategic competitors following the conclusion of the Great War. A highly visible aspect of that competition was in the area of naval forces, in which both countries invested considerable diplomatic, economic, and military resources. Notwithstanding this rivalry, their naval intelligence cooperation during World War II is often cited as one of the most successful in history. How did this 'special relationship' develop, given the contentiousness that existed between these two countries in the interwar period? An analysis of this period indicates one significant factor was the aggressive pursuit of naval intelligence cooperation by the British as part of their larger strategy to secure U.S. entry into the war. The tactics the British employed to secure this cooperation are of interest, as history has shown the British were able to overcome significant distrust on the part of American officials, who were extremely wary of British intentions."

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