Skip main navigation

Hurry, only 2 days left to get one year of Unlimited learning for £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Global Strategy

The Global Strategy Paper: Seb Cox is interviewed by Ross Mahoney.

The Global Strategy Paper: Interview with Seb Cox

Sebastian Cox is the Head of the Air Historical Branch of the RAF, and he is also a director of the Royal Air Force Centre for Air Power Studies.

Please add your thoughts to the comments section below.

Planning for the use of atomic weapons

In 1951, the Churchill Conservatives had been elected following the years of Clement Attlee’s Labour governments, 1945-51. It was felt that Britain’s defense policy needed reassessing, especially as anxieties over the British economy were growing. The main concerns were over the position of the economy, as increased spending on rearmament programmes by the Attlee government could not be sustained. Churchill on returning to office did comment that he could not believe how the Attlee government had squirreled away the huge sums required to develop the A-Bomb without this becoming a public matter. Beyond these commitments, Britain’s previous agreements to improve conventional forces in the February 1952 NATO meeting represented an over-extension of Britain’s state expenditure beyond what the economy could stand. Churchill in particular felt strongly that Britain’s nuclear weapons were not given enough significance in defense plans. Therefore, the British strategy was ordered for renewal and the Global Strategy Paper emerged as a result of this, with nuclear deterrents at the heart of it.

Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir John Cotesworth Slessor, served as Chief of the Air Staff from 1950 to 1952. He played an active role in World War I and II, as well as the interwar years, and went on to become one the strongest proponents of strategic bombing and the nuclear deterrent in the 1950s. It was Slessor who created the term ‘V- Force’ to represent the planned trio of strategic jet bombers, and was a contributor to the decision to build the three bombers. He also encouraged a rethinking of British strategy, which contributed towards the Global Strategy Paper, which Sebastian Cox discusses in the next video.

Sebastian also mentions ‘broken-backed warfare’ in the next step. This term describes a form of conflict that could potentially occur after a massive nuclear exchange. It suggests that after a nuclear exchange, if countries were not completely destroyed, they would carry on fighting until the enemy has been completely defeated. This theory transpired out of the British 1952 Global Strategy paper, yet the American ‘New Look’ nuclear strategy released in 1953/4 completely rejected this idea. As Sebastian suggests in the video, the idea in 1952 was put forward so that the Royal Navy could endorse the Global Strategy

This article is from the free online

From World War to White Heat: the RAF in the Cold War

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now