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Harold Wilson, Lyndon B. Johnson and Anglo-American relations ‘at the summit’, 1964–68

This book is based mainly on government sources, namely material from the White House, State Department, Foreign Office (FO), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Prime Minister's Office (PREM) and Cabinet (CAB). Private papers consulted include those of Harold Wilson, Foreign Secretary George Brown and Undersecretary of State George Ball. The book explores a period of the Wilson-Johnson relationship. It considers the seven weeks from Wilson's election until he went to see Lyndon B. Johnson on 7-9 December, a formative period in which Britain cultivated American financial support and which saw pre-summit diplomacy over the NATO Multilateral Force (MLF). The book covers the summit in detail, examining the diplomatic exchanges over the Vietnam War, the British commitment East of Suez and the MLF, as well as the interplay of personality between Wilson and Johnson. By exploring the relationship of the two leaders in the years 1964-1968, it seeks to examine their respective attitudes to the Anglo-American relationship. The book then assesses the significance of an alleged Anglo-American strategic-economic 'deal', Wilson's 'Commonwealth Peace Mission' to Vietnam, and another Wilson visit to Washington. It also considers why the personal relationship between Johnson and Wilson suffered such strain when the Labour government 'dissociated' the UK from the latest American measures in Vietnam. Next, the book addresses the period from August 1966-September 1967, during which Wilson launched an intense but abortive effort to initiate peace negotiations over Vietnam, and London announced plans to withdraw from military bases East of Suez.

opportunity to incorporate the area into a ‘New World Order’ in which the struggle for power would be superseded by the features of the pluralist model – complex interdependence, democratic peace. The defeat and discrediting of Iraq’s militaristic Arab nationalism, the beginnings of the Arab–Israeli peace negotiations, and a Washington-imposed Pax Americana were to facilitate creation of the co-operative security arrangements needed to tame the power struggle. The consequent dilution of insecurity, together with the exhaustion of economies from arms races, would allow

in The international politics of the Middle East

go-ahead to investigate the possibility of peace negotiations with North Vietnam. In these months, then, Wilson was notably compliant with American wishes and willing to tolerate poor treatment from Washington. A ‘close’ or ‘special’ Anglo-American relationship remained of great importance to him, both personally and as a means of trying to magnify Britain’s influence in the world. Wilson’s telephone call to Washington, 11

in A ‘special relationship’?

representative’ to provide a ‘full and frank’ briefing on Vietnam and the Administration’s attitude towards peace negotiations. 9 Johnson sent Chester Cooper of the National Security Council to brief the British. On 30 January, he advised Wilson and Brown that Washington’s ‘direct contact with the North Vietnamese … was low-level and fragile’, but the Americans were ‘trying to keep it alive’. 10 Cooper

in A ‘special relationship’?
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period from August 1966–September 1967, during which Wilson launched an intense but abortive effort to initiate peace negotiations over Vietnam, and London announced plans to withdraw from military bases East of Suez. Both of these issues exerted a notable influence upon the ties between Wilson and Johnson. Finally, Chapter 7 explores the further impact on these ties of the devaluation of sterling in November 1967, the British announcement of an

in A ‘special relationship’?

for the UK of trying to initiate peace negotiations, Wilson rejected Johnson’s request. Britain’s participation or otherwise in the Multilateral Force (MLF) was the final key topic of the summit. The British maintained opposition to the scheme by putting forward the diluted version of the project known as the Atlantic Nuclear Force (ANF). Johnson, in order to avoid any impression of an Anglo-American ‘fix’ to kill the scheme

in A ‘special relationship’?

terrorism; Turkey, which acts firmly against anti-Israeli terrorism on its soil, is entitled to Israeli support against the PKK. Prime Minister Netanyahu, ruling out Israeli–Syrian peace that did not include a Syrian undertaking to halt support for the PKK, likewise conformed with Ankara’s views. Turkey displayed growing unease as it observed Israeli–Syrian peace negotiations, including the possibility of Israel lobbying in the United States for Syria’s removal from the lists of states that support terrorism or trade in drugs, without Syria

in Turkey: facing a new millennium
Explaining foreign policy variation

made a difference was in its effect on these deeper seated factors: while Nasser would probably have worked against pressures for a separate peace, Sadat’s power needs led him to push them forward. Moreover, as was seen in chapter 5 , Sadat’s wishful thinking, craving for Western approval and impulsive propensity to make concessions led him to play his cards poorly in the extended peace negotiations. By contrast Asad’s ‘realist’ view of international politics, which put no faith in the good intentions of either Israel or the US, his extreme wariness of being tricked

in The international politics of the Middle East
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between Damascus and Ankara. But before “the miracles,” a different atmosphere predominated over the two countries’ relations. Ankara was concerned lest Syria’s peace negotiations with Israel, started in Madrid in October 1991, let alone a peace agreement, would remove Damascus from the list of nations supporting terrorism without Syria first withdrawing its assistance from the PKK. 60 Moreover, Turkey feared that a Syrian–Israeli peace accord would make Damascus more powerful in its conflicts with Turkey: Damascus was probably interested in the peace talks with Israel

in Turkey: facing a new millennium

’ powers, legitimised a ‘comprehensive peace’ with Israel in return for its full withdrawal from the occupied territories and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. They also designated the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinians in peace negotiations. Arguably, the war gave the Arab states increased leverage to extract the settlement they wanted if they stuck together and played their cards right. Israel, for its part, still had the military upper hand at the end of the war and had an interest in a partial settlement, that is, one

in The international politics of the Middle East