By S. Thompson
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Additional resources for British Military Withdrawal and the Rise of Regional Cooperation in South-East Asia, 1964-73
However, Healey stressed that, in the longer term, Britain was not contemplating a complete withdrawal from its military role East of Suez. Rather, he was concerned about what the military role might be in the 1970s and to what extent it would depend on the cooperation of Britain’s allies. 37 American Embassy officials in London advised the State Department in Washington that ‘powerful domestic political considerations’ influenced the British Government’s decision to reduce the level of defence expenditure.
42 The Americans stressed that the Generals were preoccupied with their internal struggles and the covert links Washington had established with General Nasution could not yet be used as a channel for political exchange. Another problem was that Sukarno remained head of the Indonesian Government and the Americans argued that they must give the Generals time to establish themselves and develop their internal policies. When the Generals were ready, they would approach the West. The Australians and New Zealanders both supported the United States on delaying any initiatives.
However, most of the strategic concerns had not changed. The only difference was Britain’s ability to pay the bill. Britain 30 Regional Cooperation in South-East Asia, 1964–73 would continue its world role, but within the financial limitations now imposed. The Defence White Paper of February 1965 announced that, due to having inherited a seriously over-stretched defence force, the government had initiated a series of defence policy studies. Nevertheless, Britain would try to maintain its three current major roles: support for a strategic nuclear force, contributions to the defence of Western Europe and the provision of assistance for peacekeeping operations elsewhere overseas, while bearing in mind that the best way to secure world peace and security was to strengthen the UN’s efforts in this regard.
British Military Withdrawal and the Rise of Regional Cooperation in South-East Asia, 1964-73 by S. Thompson