Special of the week; Issue 28-70 "Trans-Atlantic Forum"
The British Broadcasting Corporation in collaboration with the national educational radio network presents transatlantic form in this edition. Foreign policy conservative and Republican. The speakers are in Washington. James Anderson the State Department correspondent for Westinghouse Broadcasting Company in London. Leonard Beaton formerly of the Institute for Strategic Studies. And Peter Crouch a currency reader in international relations at Suffolk University. The program is introduced by Dr. Norman hunt with a new government in Britain. This naturally raises questions about British foreign policy. Will there be a new direction and new initiatives now that Mr. Heath's Conservative government has replaced Mr Wilson with Labor government. And since a crucial factor in British foreign policy is our relationship with the United States. We thought this was a particularly appropriate time therefore to consider whether the new government will produce any
changes in that relationship and what effect a new such changes may have on the different trouble spots in the world in the Far East and the Middle East and indeed prospects for world peace generally and to take up these themes we have on the line in Washington. James Anderson a State Department correspondent for Westinghouse Broadcasting Company. And here in the studio in London Leonard Beaton formerly of the Institute for Strategic Studies. And Peter Kalb a caress a reader in international relations at the University of Sussex and James Anderson I'd like to put the first point to you. It's been reported over here that President Nixon is delighted that there's been a change of government here in Britain now. And if it is why is he delighted. I would say that would be putting it so strongly as to be misleading if not incorrect. The people I've talked to over here have not cared very much because in almost Marxian terms Marxian for an American administration. Anyway the United States
administration believes that foreign policy and defense policy is determined by the economics of the situation and that situation and those possibilities roughly tain whether a Tory or a Labor prime minister is sitting at number 10 Downing Street. There might be a certain historic congeniality between a Tory prime minister and any American government that has always been so I'm not certain why I suppose this is especially so with a Republican administration in Washington. There would be several changes of degree which are envisioned here which do please the president and his foreign advisors. That would be the slightly more eager attitude of Mr hese toward the European Common Market and perhaps a slightly more. Single minded. Adherents to Britain's former role in some parts of the world in the defense of the thing. But I think the delight is wrong because there were no large complaints over here about Mr Wilson on his foreign policy and I don't think there is going to be any real ecstasy over Mr Heath
leaving out the question of delight. Would you expect Mr Nixon to be pleased about the changing government. But if this relates to the relationship between the two countries I don't think there's anybody much in it if it relates to his pleasure at seeing a rightwing swing in a country which is rather like you say and then I can see he would be glad. But I can't see that that's going to be any basic change in the relations between the two countries all the way in which they are conducted. I think there is a natural instinct for pleasure and I do not short of this is justified I think that the Americans are going to find that Edward Heath in particular not his foreign secretary but the prime minister has a very strong element in him collector of European resentment of American domination and this may be a source of considerable trouble in future political pressure you were just saying that there's some pleasure in Washington that's about the change in the way British foreign policy might be conducted.
Because in your view the conservative governments of different countries get on better with each other because a lot of the same political I think I can automate myself. I don't think that there's going to be any basic change in the way in which policy is conducted. The relationships between the countries whether at official level which is benefiting important more perhaps in between any two of the countries all at the ministerial level are the same whether you have. Labor ministers or conservative ministers in this country. This is what I want in Washington imagist comment on Mr. Beeton statement. I think he may be slightly misreading the United States administration's view. The Nixon administration the Nixon doctrine so-called in which the neighbors help each other also applies as it has recently been made clear to Europe. So I don't think any single any feeling of independence would be resented by Washington in fact I think it would rather be encouraged. I wonder if we could now get it down much more to specifics and look at the different parts of the world
and I'd like to start off by having a look at the far east. And I'd like to put this question to Leonard Beaton. What changes are you expecting in British foreign policy in British military policy in the Far East as a result of the change of government. Well since we're talking about Anglo-American relations I think I should refer first to Indochina. And there I would think there would be no significant change. The British would go nominally supporting whatever the Americans decide to do and hoping that things will improve as everybody else is. But clearly that will be important changes in the relationship with Southeast Asia and the general British readiness to maintain the kind of military commitment they have had in the area for over a very long period of time and this of course links straight into the extent of real relations there are with us trillion New Zealand and I think both of these are very important to Mr he's heavily committed on it and he's very anxious that Britain should remain a significant power in Asia and I think that will be a real change
from the doctrines laid down by the Labor government in my view unrealistic doctrine that there was that it was possible to make a complete and absolute withdrawal in 1971 from the whole area. Do you think that's a fair assessment. No I don't I think there might be some slight changes on timetable but I think the essence of the situation is that Britain has withdrawn from this part of the world and cannot now go back. You could have changes of two kinds of activity in a mall or less sympathy with the activity of the Americans. I cannot see. Significant increase but it's activity in that part of the wound. The chance to make this choice past many years ago when under a previous Conservative administration the government of this country might have chosen to make common cause with the Americans in Vietnam if they had done this they would be active and they would have had the right to criticize. Since they didn't do this they became inactive and they have had to fall. I think surely the right
to criticize. Well good night James Henderson can I bring you in here because there are two rather different views about British foreign policy and whether they'll be a change or not. And I wonder if you would like to comment first of all on what Leonard Beaton was saying because fundamentally what he was saying was that it was Mr. Heath's policy and the policy of this government to maintain a significant position in Southeast Asia I think is going to be important now if that is the policy how will this be viewed in Washington. I don't think that it would make a major difference because the contribution that Britain can put into Southeast Asia compared to what is going on there now I think would be relatively minor. I think the United States would like to see British forces remain in Singapore at least sort of a thin read trip line or something like that. But the situation in Asia as far as this administration is concerned is only one to be gotten out of that is to wind down the war get the American forces out and turn it all over to the
Asians I don't think anybody here would like to see you know United Kingdom get involved in the war or anything even close to the war because we're going to see is there anything in fact that Britain and it would help as Mr Anderson was putting it getting America out of Southeast Asia and out of Vietnam. Any initiative that we might expect from British foreign policy. I think not I mean we have a thetan standing on the course a second status as cochairman of the almost a functionary of our conference. But does it have a formal position we would be doing the same sort of things either we look a chairman or not. But let me bring the Soviet Union into this discussion. You were saying that it was Mr. Heath's intention to maintain a significant British position in Southeast Asia. I know it but that in fact turns out to be conservative policy. Won't this make it more difficult for Britain to take over. Perhaps Britain and Russia together as cochairman and helping to produce a settlement in Vietnam as cochairman of the Geneva conference.
If Britain is in fact following what might be thought to be a much more pro-American line in Southeast Asia. No I don't think that the issues are really related at all Britain Britain's position in the situation is as a cochairman and she as a cochairman on the western side. And this implies that she has close and trusted relations with the Americans. That's why she is a cochairman with the Soviet Union which has allegedly or in theory a close and intimate relations with the communist powers in Asia and North Vietnam was one of the reasons why in fact Russia has been reluctant to come to the conference table and agree with Britain to call a conference is because she's not really used to much in the pockets of the United States already. You know I don't think it was a matter important at all I think the problem is that when the Russians calculate that a settlement is possible the Russians and their friends and I don't think that's anything much to do with Britain. I would agree with that the main reason is that there is why should the Russians get mixed up in this sort of talk and how and why should they take space after saying to the Chinese by doing so.
James Anderson if you would comment on this. Yes I would think that the Russians now see the Vietnam War as a car the Indochinese war to give it its proper name now as a contest between them and the Chinese for the affections of the Southeast Asians and the North Vietnamese in particular and using that as a starting point I certainly don't see any advantage in them getting involved in any peacemaking attempt right now. But there was a hint at least during our election campaign that the Russians were inviting Mr. Wilson to Moscow. Did you see any significance in that as far as the Far East was concerned. Peter Galbraith No not in particular this is just one of the visits it happened on the automatic merry go round it was his time to go to Moscow to see bin Laden laid on for a long time it just came up now I think that's all I want to tell you the little bit and it seems to go after this invitation seems to have got a fairly dusty reception as one of the new Conservative government's concern seems to have been intimated that this invitation which was to Mr. Wilson isn't in fact going to be taken
up. See that is Britain moving more into the American orbit you know I don't I don't think Mr. Heath. But in general are particularly moving into the American or but I think his primary objective is to build a Western European policy. And you could say that he doesn't want to arouse suspicions in bone. But I don't think it's going to do with the Americans. James now you want to comment on that. No I think except to repeat or sort of wrap up what we had said I think compared to Britain's role or possible role in other parts of the world it's written his role in Asia is relatively minor I think the time for miraculous solutions to the Vietnam War are long past and there is nobody in this world anymore who can really play the role of a peacemaker. It is now a matter of just getting out as best can as best we can do. Well let's move from the Far East turn to the Middle East and here's a question I'd like
you to start on. What changes do you see that might be in British foreign policy as far as the Middle East is concerned. Like it's a state where I think are still questions and not one but two problems here which are quite distinct. Wanna see Arab-Israeli conflict the other's passion go on the Arab-Israeli conflict not the last government Krista you're going to say some fairly sensible things to do very little and to stick fairly close by the Americans. I think that the present government will do better much that there's been some discussion here about whether a Conservative government would be more Arab than a Labor government. This may be marginally true I don't think it's a very big point there is perhaps some uneasiness that conservatives might revert to a romantic attachment to the sort of Arabs who live in deserts. This is part of our culture but I don't think this is more than marginal little bit to introduce. I very much agree with Peter cover correctly I think that again we will have a significant effect
from our readiness to retain a strong position in the Persian Gulf similar to the retention of the strong position that Britain has in Southeast Asia and to the extent it will be very much reduced position from what existed. But there is a power position there which can be exploited in certain circumstances and that was being sold out it hadn't been sold out and it was being sold out by the Labor government and for domestic party reasons which I think were unsatisfactory and that is going to be exploited I think. I don't know how much lead to James Anderson talks about Britain's role in Asia being very unimportant. These things are. Look big at once they blow up. But the real game is to get results before they blow up and Britain's Got a lot of results in Asia before things blow up and I think she might go on getting some results in the Persian Gulf. James Anderson can I put the two points that have been raised to you and that is the fact that it does look as though the withdrawal withdrawal of British forces from the Persian Gulf won't in fact take place.
And Peter calculates he was thinking perhaps marginally that British policy is part of the Arab-Israeli conflict was concerned might he thought that perhaps not it might be slightly more pro-Arab. How will the United States government react if those are the two main changes in British foreign policy in this area. Well taking the Persian Gulf first I think that would definitely please the administration because whether those forces are pulled out or not there is no intention to try to cover that gap with American forces the American forces are simply don't stretch that far with the Vietnam war going on in the Arab Israeli conflict I think Britain has a role to play but it's not a military one. It is sort of a surrogate American role American peacemaker role in other words. The United States government I think has been sincerely trying to bring some sort of peaceful solution to the Mideast. The Arab Israeli war without any success. And if it
is going to have any success it is going to have to have several things it is going to have to have first some sort of a line of communication or not. I hate to use the word but it's one that comes to mind. A pipeline to some of the Arab capitals the United States communications with any of the Arab capitals is practically nonexistent nonexistent. And Britain still does have some sort of links there which can be used very valuable valuable also in the for power conference which has been going on sporadically in New York. Britain could have and I think personally think will have a role to play as sort of a counterbalance to. The Soviets and another counterbalance to the Soviets was just a party of Good Faith sitting around the table this for a power conference hasn't accomplished much now right now it's sort of an informal hotline in the sense that the powers which are involved can immediately communicate with each other as to their intentions or lack of intentions to get further involved. But I think someday Britain may as
well a party of good faith with pretty good credentials in the Middle East play a peacemaker role through that device if not another one. But you know because you've made no difficulty about Britain playing a peacemaker if you maintain troops in the Persian Gulf when I was about to go out because I didn't think it and I disagree with everything that's been said about the Gulf I think the decision about to withdraw from the Gulf was right ought to be maintained and would have to be maintained. Now a lot of happy that the conservatives don't want to move out of the dark and intimate not yet and he and Mr Modi have made visits to the Gulf in recent Yeah you know what they did was to say to the rulers of a home there are about a dozen who count more or less. Would you like us to say. Hoping the answer yes that we would like you to stay for a bit and or with one exception said we'd like you to go now and then face to face. I don't think this position can be off it would be to draw the conclusion that Britain's
peacemaking role in the Middle East acting as into media will be easier if Britain withdraws from the Gulf or is written. Yes I think it I think it to be fatally impeded. Britain stays in but I see a position of developing in the Middle East into parts of the Gulf being handled by the mix. But if diplomacy of the highest order and passion statement ship Iran and the agreement is the best we can get to put it no higher. James Anderson how do you react to that statement. Growing up in the Persian Gulf we would really have the interests of peace in the Middle East and in the peacemaking row rather than the reverse. I think it's an interesting theory one that hadn't occurred to me and I think it very well may be true. I. Would defer to your gentleman over there as to the effect of the British forces on the on the on the countries in that area do they really resent it or do they just want to get Britain out as a matter of. I am anti colonial principles let it be good we have a lot from you on the Middle East. Yes but I think the one thing that really could happen to British policy in the Middle
East would be a decision to go with the French on a strongly pro Arab policy not as a peacemaking operation but as an attempt to wrest the Arab world back from the Soviet Union or at any rate to compete with the Soviet Union. For the Arab world and to dress it up as a European problem. Well you mentioned European policy then. I'm going to withdraw you all from the Middle East now for a moment and look at Europe because and I'm going to put a question to you here James Anderson. Clearly from this British Conservative government there's going to be a much more determined effort from Britain to get into the Common Market. Now how does the United States going to react to that. I think that has been seen as perhaps the one really significant difference between a Conservative government on the one hand on our Labor Government on the other hand and that generally pleases the United States policymakers very much. It was put recently by a high ranking man in the State Department this way that we would be willing to put up with the short term commercial
disadvantages for the long range political advantages that we see coming out of Britain going into the going into the European Common Market and those advantages really come down to one word increased stability. Now the show the commercial advantages are not only short term there are some very serious ones and I recently found out for example in the State Department and in the United States embassy in Brussels that the State Department is actually running computer readouts on what would happen if Britain were to go in and the price for support on corn or or chickens were put at such and such and they are running these things through the computers projecting them forward for 15 or 20 years. The long term disadvantage of the United States. What happens when I considerable goes into the Common Market. They could be extremely considerable or they could be relatively minor depending on what deal Britain hammers out. So the United States now has a fairly comprehensive idea of where At what point the
United States would be hurt in any commercial agreement. And at that point I presume the United States would bring whatever pressure it has to bear. But for the moment I think as a result of the 962 963 caper the United States believes that it can best serve Britain and its own purpose by staying quietly in the background. You can only do it in part because of the hope that with Britain a member of the Common Market more fully perhaps integrated into European defense the United States might be able to withdraw from Europe if that happens. That might be part of it but I think that they are thinking a step beyond that they're thinking more in the long range strategic. View of it which is that the stability in Britain in the long range will mean all forces in Europe can be cut back not only the American forces. Would you like to comment on all this. What I think of the Americans are just getting around to computer readouts on the fact that they're going to lose their agricultural exports to Europe they're a bit late in the day it's pretty obvious that they're going to be
wiped out by the European agricultural policy and I call for export and always has been and that's the object of the operation and it's not going to be changed in the negotiations. So the question is what is the political American political interest in kind of overcoming the agricultural lobby. And there we have I think a very uncertain world because the United States is no longer care about where your up is going or what her interests are. And there is a residue in the state department of faith but I think the reality is that left us very confused myself don't think that on this United States are going to make any difference either way. Chris you're with me on this going I think it's true that the Conservative government you've got to have a took some time to get into Iraq but I don't think it follows that you're going to get more success because there are about 40 to 50 conservative members of the House of Commons who are dead against it at any price. So it's a difficult position. I wonder if we can move now quickly from the Common Market I get another angle on all this. Can I just move on to this one suggestion that's been made in Britain is that British foreign policy in future
instead of working through the United Nations. We work closely with the United Nations and be more inclined to put an emphasis on the Commonwealth's relationship. Do you think this is. No I don't think there will be a strong say to nations or the Commonwealth's relationship although the narrow old commonwealth Canada Australia New Zealand and particularly Australia New Zealand will mean a lot to Mr. Heath answer I've got the film and there will be an attempt to build something at that level but not in the great 28 nations on less I don't think James Anderson if there is a slight shift of British emphasis in favor of the United Nations more in a Commonwealth direction what how would America react to that. I think probably it would. The new U.S. administration would favor a greater attachment toward the Commonwealth for the simple pragmatic reason that it seems to have worked better. I think this is unreal. I don't think the Commonwealth exists as a force in national.
I wonder if we can move finally to another angle on all this. It doesn't look at all there are certain hints that the British government might seek a more active role in world affairs perhaps in the Middle East keeping a presence in the Far East and clearly there are certain elements of this that Mr Nixon would welcome because the United States is not an active role in world affairs. But the paradox of all this is that the peoples in both our countries seem to be less keen on their respective countries having world roles and work commitments and so in the United States you've got these demonstrations about against American involvement in Cambodia or in Viet Nam. And if the British government sends arms to South Africa Raul maintains a presence in the Middle East I suspect there might be some demonstrations in this country. James Anderson first of all. Can these demonstrations affect foreign policy and what governments would like to do. Oh yes by all means they can affect foreign policy in fact they affect it most
immediately by making it very difficult for politicians to campaign. It's always been my theory and I think this theory of some other people here in Washington that this was one of the reasons why Lyndon Johnson stood down because it would have been either embarrassing or dangerous to have campaigned as actively as he wanted to. Yes of course the popular feeling is directed effectively directly affecting the foreign and foreign policy of any country and that's especially true in our two countries. I would expect to see it more in the United States than in the United Kingdom because we've had the particularly traumatic experience of Vietnam which has affected both right and left. Peter calculated What's your view. Well it's awfully difficult to talk about that sort of question but I do myself believe that it's a general objection and it doesn't say to the extent of British participation in national that I think there is an objection to the nature of it. But if you think of the way things like Oxfam have taken on humanitarian enterprise IT concerned with other countries in
which people have a little about to think of the way young people go abroad Nowadays I think it's a more active in that confine of that but not in the traditional political diplomatic forums operate a little bit and I agree with that. It was extraordinary Britain fought a major war 20 battalions very big army in Borneo between 1964 and 1967 an enormous national effort and commitment raised no criticism or even any comment. All those party because they didn't have the television cameras and and I'm quite certain that Edward Heath is running a situation in some part of the world he'll move heaven and earth to make sure the television cameras. So you were stressing there are younger people. Why do you think when you did the work. But they didn't like the way governments participated went to fast. But that's not isolationist. But it doesn't therefore follow from that that if the way the conservative government tries to participate in world is by maintaining what might look like
Russian military bases in the Middle East and finally this could be stirring up dissension in this country it is probably using the people in the paint. It's very dangerous for one of the strongest things the Labor government did for its own support. What's the use of very substantial military forces in Northern Ireland to handle a situation and this was very successful because it was well done. Yes and this is the point well handled essentially military or paramilitary operation is a great source of support and power to a government. I do think Anderson do you I just want to jump in with you. A comment from this side of the Atlantic which is that about 19 months have passed since President Nixon took over. And if he has gained any wisdom in those time in that time he has learned that the United States foreign policy cannot do everything that there are things which should not and cannot be done by United States troops or diplomats. And therefore these months have given him at least that wisdom of knowing where we should stop. I think Mr hese is going to have to go through some of that lesson
again although some of it is much more evident from London than it is from Washington. But James Anderson do you think there's any danger or any sign that the pressure of public opinion in the United States is producing in the United States policy a neo isolationism again. Yes a lot of people don't like that name but I think there is something like that building. It all goes all the way from Senator Fulbright who does it for idealistic political reasons and which he says that it's immoral to try to influence other people's lives we don't know what is good for them and we have no right to be meddling down to the people on the National Security Council who have suddenly and finally realize that we cannot play policeman to the world. This goes down into the streets with much more radical much more violent expression. But I think there is something like a neo isolationism which I don't think will build into a fortress America because we still after all are in the middle age. Thank you again. Trying to get foreign produced in London by the British for constant cooperation
- Special of the week
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Identifier: 69-SPWK-482a (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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