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.

: USGPO, 1998), p. 658. 12 Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives on the Presidency (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971 ), p. 252. 13 NARA, Subject-Numeric 1967–69, POL 27–14 Viet/Sunflower 2.21.67, 2.21.67, ‘Sunflower

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Harold Wilson and Lyndon B. Johnson: a ‘special relationship’?

This work has examined the question of Harold Wilson, Lyndon B. Johnson and Anglo-American relations ‘at the summit’, 1964–68. By exploring the mutual dealings of the two leaders, it seeks to examine their respective attitudes to the Anglo-American relationship and to one another; how they approached the matters of mutual interest and the extent to which their personal relationship was in any sense a

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In the years 1964–68, the Labour government of Harold Wilson coincided with the Democratic presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. David Bruce, US Ambassador to London 1961–69, regarded the relationship between Wilson and Johnson as an especially interesting one, because ‘seldom if ever have two heads of state been such long-time master politicians in the domestic sense as those two’. 1 Many writers have

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. 18 Alec Cairncross, The Wilson Years: A Treasury Diary (London: Historians’ Press, 1997 ), p. 244, entry for 13 November 1967. 19 Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives on the Presidency 1963–1969 (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971 ), p. 316. On post-devaluation Anglo

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Bundy to Johnson, 16 February 1965, FRUS 1964–1968 , vol. II, p. 293. 34 State to Embassy, 16 February 1965, ibid., pp. 294–5. 35 VHS, Diary of David K. E. Bruce, MSS 5:1B8303:51, Embassy to State, 5 March 1965. 36

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command structure. For the American response see Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe , pp. 92–140; H. W. Brands, The Wages of Globalism: Lyndon B. Johnson and the Limits of American Power (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 85–121. 97 Wilson also wanted American support for economic sanctions against Rhodesia, which had

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November 1964. 40 NARA, Subject-Numeric 1964–66, POL 7 UK, Visits and Meetings 11.1.64, ‘Tentative Arrangements for Visit of PM Wilson’, 25 November 1964; VHS, Diary of David K. E. Bruce, MSS 5:1B8303:50, entry for 7 December 1964. 41 Quoted in Philip Geyelin, Lyndon B. Johnson and

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. 2 For accounts of the MLF see Philip Geyelin, Lyndon B. Johnson and the World (London: Pall Mall, 1966 ), pp. 159–80; Helga Haftendorn, NATO and the Nuclear Revolution: A Crisis of Credibility (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996 ), pp. 115–23ff; Donette Murray, Kennedy, Macmillan and Nuclear Weapons (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000 ), pp. 122–43; and John D. Steinbruner

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In the months January–July 1966 there was particular strain in the relationship between Harold Wilson and Lyndon B. Johnson. The Labour government won the general election of 31 March with a comfortable majority of ninety-four, but this margin of victory gave rise to a vigorous ‘New Left’ within the Labour Party which would bedevil Wilson’s commitment to Washington. To placate this group, he

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