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Buccaneer aircraft of 800 Squadron from HMS EAGLE on patrol over Aden airfield during the withdrawal of British troops on 29 November 1967.

Imperial War Museum

Seminar - Open to the Public

Lessons in Retrenchment: The Legacy of the United Kingdom's Withdrawal from "East of Suez"

Thu., Apr. 16, 2020 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm


Speaker: William James, Grand Strategy, Security, and Statecraft Fellow, International Security Program

Why did Britain withdraw from its military bases in the Persian Gulf, Malaysia, and Singapore? The current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, believes that the drawdown was a mistake, taken rashly in January 1968 as pro-European Cabinet members seized on a financial crisis to end the "East of Suez" role. This interpretation — that retrenchment was the result of Britain's weak economic position and domestic politics — aligns with most of the historiography. In this seminar, that view will be questioned. Based on extensive archival research, the speaker offers an alternative explanation on the timing and motives for the withdrawal. The talk will conclude with policy recommendations for current practitioners in London, who are charting a return "East of Suez" under the post-Brexit banner of "Global Britain."

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar: https://harvard.zoom.us/meeting/register/v5MocuCqqzIi2Lg5FwAv24-wwUO2wr5XXg