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.
enlisted ‘mercenaries’. Wilson always denied striking a deal
with Johnson, but in truth he did accept the link between Britain’s
defence posture and the ease of securing US support for sterling. On 17
June, Wilson initiated his ‘CommonwealthPeaceMission’ to try
to bring peace to Vietnam, essentially on American terms. He believed that
he had Johnson’s firm support, but the President was in fact hostile
towards the scheme, which
Harold Wilson and Lyndon B. Johnson: a ‘special relationship’?
in Britain, and would jeopardise the country’s
‘neutrality’ stemming from the Geneva Conference of 1954.
Moreover, the political controversy in Britain that would no doubt have
erupted had Wilson attempted to send British soldiers could well have
damaged the Anglo-American relationship more than did his rejection of the
American request. Wilson’s peacemaking efforts such as the
CommonwealthPeaceMission and the phase A
‘CommonwealthPeaceMission’ to Vietnam, and another Wilson
visit to Washington. Chapter 5 covers
January–July 1966, and 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, and seeks to explain why Johnson’s regard for the Prime
Minister rose so dramatically with the next summit. Chapter 6 addresses the