Indonesian confrontation continues: Sukharno a second Nasser

uk 75

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a political what if that would have had a major impact on the UK would have been a continuation of the confrontation with Indonesia into the late 60s early 70s.

If Sukharno had survived and been as influential as Mao or Nasser, Britain would have had to take a much harder look at its East of Suez presence under pressure from its friends in the region and the US.

This would have had an influence on the shape of UK defence planning as in real life the confrontation was winding down when the new Labour Government took power.

The major beneficiary at first sight would look to be the F111 order. However, as with the Australian aircraft there might have been delays with these planes. The RN could then have stepped up to the plate with the Bucaneer on its carriers and the RAF might even have had a second crack at TSR 2 or UKVG without the Euro limits.
 

Hood

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End result would have been the same. Britain is too broke to afford protecting Malaya with very little in return. Perhaps some token force would remain (the RN retains a refuelling detachment in Singapore to this day), couple of frigates perhaps. No need for much else, the Confrontation is acclaimed as the war won without a single shot fired. That alone would probably put off Healy sending another big force down there. Of course leaving the flank of the US forces in Vietnam open and forcing the US to get involved with support etc. would probably push the Johnson-Wilson relationship beyond the brink. Might hamper Polaris build-up etc. I just can't see any threat in the region being big enough to deter the Labour Government from cutting the ties that should have been cut ten years earlier (if you look at it in pure fiscal terms).
 

JFC Fuller

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I have to agree with Hood here. Any continuation of the Indonesian crisis, or for that matter any other SEA crisis would at most just involve the UK using its existing assets as far as it could to engage. However, I fail to see it having any major impact on procurement or the trajectory of the UK presence EoS. Both of these, by the mid-60s, were almost completely defined by programme failures and economics (Why the RAF ended up with Jaguars rather than P.1154s etc). The fact that Australia participated in Vietnam whilst the UK progressively wound down its EoS presence (FEAF strength had been in free-fall for most of the 60s and the command was finally wound down in 1971 when the Carriers were also due to be retired) tells you all you need to know about the UKs presence EoS.

The harsh reality was that by the 1960s the relative economic decline of the UK meant that the global role was being undertaken to the detriment of the defence of the UK and rightfully this had to end. Sandys had been anti-carrier in the 50s and had it not have been for a vigorous effort by the Navy and Mountbatten in particular they would have gone in 1957; ultimately the Navy lost most of what it fought for in the 50s during the 1960s.
 

alertken

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JFCF is exactly right. White Man's Burden was a spasm of pretension. Harold Wilson's efforts to keep us there endured to 16/1/68 due largely to a notion that little UK should provide the nuclear umbrella, that would deter Chinese adventurism over the Himalayas and Irrawaddy, and deflect a Soviet-leaning Congress Party from an indigenous nuke, provoking Pakistan.

Wilson had been obliged to impose "repulsive" deferral of lifting school-leaving age to 16, until 1971. Yes, we left full time education at 15 till then. Surely right, that UK's job was...to sustain UK jobs, and defend ourselves v. USSR. It was for Suharto's and Mao's neighbours to keep local loons at bay. Which they very capably have.
 

uk 75

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Gentlemen

Thank you for a detailed account of the historical political and economic background to the late 60s early 70s. Of course I agree with all your points, which should help anyone using this site to learn about the uk secret projects.

Can I pose a different question in order to get us into the realm of whatiffery? Sukharno had the potential to be a massive destabilising influence in the region, his replacement by Suharto made life somewhat easier for the UK and Australia. Assuming that the UK had not faced the massive economic trauma of the period (Devaluation etc) would you have gone the RN or RAF route to maintaining a presence East of Suez. To make it easier assume that Alec Douglas Home won the 1964 election and that Peter Thorneycroft remains at Defence until replaced by Peter Carrington.
 

pathology_doc

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Assuming the money is there and assuming the region stays destabilised (maybe even turns hot) and assuming the US is sufficiently distracted by Vietnam not to be able to help... IIRC Australia expected its F-111s in 1963 and ended up waiting nearly ten years for them, which takes us into an era where Australia is F-111-less but TSR.2 is still (barely) alive (with one in flight, one close and others already on the production line).


Having seen the aircraft fly, and having been convinced that aerodynamically at least it's everything it was promised to be (a start, at least), and being confronted with a hostile northern neighbour, maybe it could be prevailed upon to switch. Either that or TSR.2 dies and the focus turns to Buccaneers for the RAAF (not sure whether HMAS Sydney or Melbourne could have taken them; probably not) and a small number of Victors or similar for air-air refuelling on the way out and back. Question - could the Buccaneer strike avionics have been fitted in early TSR.2s as an interim measure until the dedicated system was ready?
 
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