Abstract: Incorporating the Corporate: Anglo-U.S. Oil Diplomacy during the Second World War

Mark Seddon


Britain and the United States were allies in the Second World War and collaborated militarily to unprecedented levels. However, the politics of international oil were still able to create conflict between the two governments. Both British and U.S. policy-makers sought the support of private enterprise in order to protect their wartime, and postwar, access to overseas sources of oil. Conflicting oil policies created tension within Anglo-U.S. relations, which was exacerbated as both governments sought to gain the support of privately owned oil companies. An appreciation of the role played by multinational oil companies within Anglo-U.S. relations will go some way to furthering discussion on the mechanics of foreign relations. This paper expands our understanding of the methods used by states to exercise power by analyzing British and U.S. intervention in the international oil industry during the Second World War.