PUTTING NATO FIRST?
By 1967 the need for British reappraisal of its east of Suez role had become much more urgent. Economic difficulties and the end of the Indonesia ‘confrontation’ against the Malaysian federation in late 1966 led to a major reassessment of British global commitments that resulted in a much stronger focus on the NATO area. By the start of 1968, Britain could no longer maintain the pretence of global status. The Labour government’s announcement of its intention to withdraw from east of Suez positions and then to accelerate these withdrawals was the culmination of a long, slow process. Both Tory and Labour governments had tried to soften the impact of withdrawals on allies by demonstrating continued commitment to other areas of defence. This inevitably brought them into conflict with the Americans.