‘The Main Objectives of the United Kingdom’s Overseas and Strategic Policy’, January 1960

29Nov15

Cabinet Office, ‘Future Policy Study 1960-70: Part III: The Main Objectives of the United Kingdom’s Overseas and Strategic Policy’, January 1960

‘We have the capacity to play a world-wide role only if we are willing as a nation to devote our actions and resources to this purpose. There are many desirable ways of using our resources at home, especially the improvement of our standard of living through better social services and the increasing our of wealth through productive investment. But we cannot exert influence in the world unless we devote resources sufficient to underwrite our external responsibilities…

Our partnership with the United States is an existing source of power and is capable of still further development…We shall become increasingly dependent on their support, as perhaps they will on ours, and our status in the world will largely depend on their readiness to treat us as their closest ally…

Economically, though Commonwealth Preference will be a wasting asset, Commonwealth countries will be important to us because of the high proportion of our trade for which they account and the network of trading and financial interests based on past associations and on sterling. The Commonwealth association is a very important source of political influence which buttresses our standing as a Power with world-wide interests…

We must never allow ourselves to be put in the position where we have to make a final choice between the United States and Europe. It would not be compatible with our vital interests to reject either one… We must therefore work to ensure the continuation of the United States presence in Europe and the development of a wide economic and political community of interests embracing both the United States and Western Europe. In so far as the United Kingdom can help to keep Western Europe steady in the alliance we shall enhance our own standing in American eyes. This is the core of our policy and we must be prepared to adapt our plans and actions to it. If we can uphold it successfully, our influence on the United States will be considerable and we shall not need slavishly to follow their line, though we should always consider their susceptibilities before making policy decisions… the preservation of the Atlantic Alliance is, in the last resort, the most basic of all our interests…

To the extent that our position in the Persian Gulf area safeguards the supply of oil and preserves the political status quo, we are serving a general interest. In addition there is a particular United Kingdom interest at stake – the profits made by the United Kingdom oil companies from their operations in the area…  At present the United Kingdom is committed to the protection of the Ruler of Kuwait and other Persian Gulf Sheikh. It is quite certain that if we withdrew this protection or showed our intention of so doing, the local rulers would hasten to make the best terms they could with their larger neighbours… While we have at present no alternative to maintaining our political obligations to the Persian Gulf Rulers, and particularly to the Ruler of Kuwait, it should be the object of our policy over the next ten years to create a situation in which they can be terminated without undue damage to the security of our oil supplies and the general political stability of the area… In the meantime, to prevent revolutionary pressures from building up, we should continue to encourage the Persian Gulf rulers to modernise their regimes’.

National Archives, CAB 21/3847



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