By S. Thompson
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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. 27 The White Paper reflected government confidence that it could keep all of its defence commitments within the budget. Within the Asia-Pacific region, Britain had commitments to Malaysia and Fiji, and obligations to Australia and New Zealand.
In addition, American diplomats believed that if Britain decided to join the United States in developing military facilities in the Indian Ocean, they might be able to serve Britain’s current political and military interests in the Middle East and South East Asia. 38 Washington’s initial response to the defence review was for the United States to buy more products from Britain and to re-examine existing credit arrangements, with the aim of improving terms of repayment. This financial help was conditional on there being no change to Britain’s Long-Term Policy and Short-Term Problems, 1964–65 33 worldwide political commitments.
After all, a continued presence would not need to be at the current level. Wilson also said that his government might want to discuss with the United States the issue of collective arrangements in the region. Britain, Wilson posited, could do a lot more in South-East Asia within the context of a four-power defence arrangement involving Australia, New Zealand and the United States. 34 One idea that had emerged from various official committees to that point was that Britain would reduce its forces in South-East Asia to a minimal level but station them on the periphery of the region.