Wilson Foreign Policy

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  • "Wilson failed to achieve any of his foreign policy aims between 1964 and 1970."
    • USA
      • Wilson's Aim
        • Maintain the special relationship and ensure that Communism is suppressed
      • Vietnam War 1964
        • Johnson wanted moral and military support in Vietnam
          • Wilson's action upset all parties involved
            • With hindsight, it was the best response to the dilemma.
        • This was a huge dilemma as military backing would lead to mass civil and parliamentary protest
          • In the end, he took a middle stance; giving US moral support but no military backing.
            • It is unfair to conclude Wilson's policy with the USA as unsuccessful.
    • Rhodesia
      • Wilson's Aim
        • Overturn Smith's decision of unilateral declaration of independence in 1965 with white minority rule
        • Whilst he did not achieve his aim and it created upset in parliament and in the commonwealth, the rigidity of Smith meant that no progress was viable.
      • Negotiations
        • Their meeting on HMS Tiger in December 1966 outlined the rigidity of Smith when he denounced everything he had said
        • Smith was more stern in 1968 on HMS Sheffield
        • Wilson imposed economic embargos and oil sanctions without much success
    • Europe
      • Divisions in Labour
        • Gaitskell had fought against the 1962 application
          • 'End of a thousand years of history'
          • Gaitskellites within the party were against it
        • Wilson View
          • Ambivalent but preferred the Commonwealth and the US
            • This ambivalence in the leader and the split in the party made the application half-hearted
              • Gaitskellites within the party were against it
        • Castle & Foot prominent Eurosceptics
        • Jenkins & Brown prominent Europhiles
      • Application 1967
        • Wilson & Brown successful meeting with De Gaulle and tour of the other 5 European states
        • In June 1967, De Gaulle demanded that Wilson detach itself from the US in order to be accepted
          • Wilson could not do this so De Gaulle vetoed Britain for the 2nd time
            • Therefore, Europe cannot be seen as a failure as the only reason why Britain was vetoed was bc of Wilson's preference of the US
    • Decolonisation
      • Process
        • Healey, Defence Minister, spending cuts in 1967 which would bring the defence budget below £2bn by 1970.
          • Process was accelerated after the devaluation crisis in Jenkins' 1968 budget
            • Troops to be completely withdrawn by 1971
            • This budget also retracted the commitment on upgrading the nuclear system made in 1967
              • High Tech plane TSR-2 abandoned
        • Troops from Borneo, Malaysia, Singapore, Persian Gulf all began withdrawal.
      • Reaction
        • US opposed this as Britain was needed  to occupy as much land as possible to deter Communism
        • Some people still believed Britain had the role of world policing
        • Largely approved, the economic and moral factors were concluding in the case for decolonisation

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