'Possession is nine tenths of the law': Britain and the boundaries of Eastern Europe since 1945

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Abstract

This article argues that British policy on boundaries in Eastern Europe after 1945 was based on hardheaded Realpolitik whereby the justice of any given border was of entirely secondary importance to wider policy imperatives. British disregard for the legal and moral merits (or demerits) of respective cases was justified by British policy makers on two counts: firstly, international relations could not assess boundary disputes on a case-by-case basis as such thinking had undermined international stability to the point of global conflagration after 1918; secondly, British policy makers declared that it was their aim to stabilize the international system by means of dtente. In reality, the proclaimed goal of universally beneficial goals by means of a “pragmatic” consolidation of the status quo hid a real desire to institutionalise a system that was seen as the best possible option for Britain given the harsh reality of its relative decline after 1945.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-747
Number of pages25
JournalDiplomacy and Statecraft
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 04 Dec 2005

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