35 Foreign Aff. 551 (1956-1957)
British Defense Policy

handle is hein.journals/fora35 and id is 561 raw text is: FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Vol. 35                 JULY 1957                     No. 4
BRITISH DEFENSE POLICY
By Sir John Slessor
HE recent British White Paper on Defense has been de-
scribed as a momentous shift in policy, a radical change in
strategic concept, an agonizing reappraisal. For this the
wording of the Paper may itself be partly responsible, with its
talk about a revision of the whole character of the Defense
plan and the biggest change in military policy ever made in
normal times. So perhaps the first thing that should be said
about the White Paper is that in fact it is no such thing. It intro-
duces no basic revolution in policy, but merely rationalizes and
(probably for the first time) explains in admirably intelligible
form tendencies which have long been obvious and policies most
of which successive British governments have accepted and urged
upon their Allies for some years. This should be qualified in one
respect, one on which unfortunately the White Paper itself is
least clear and is even ambiguous, namely the nature of the total
war envisaged if the deterrent fails to deter.
This is a basic question affecting the function of all three serv-
ices, though more particularly (but by no means exclusively)
that of the Navy. And the fact that it is not squarely faced con-
stitutes to my mind the major element of uncertainty about the
British view on strategic policy, an element which seems to have
been obscured in the minds of our Allies by other doubts and
fears, notably about our attitude to NATO. In one paragraph
the White Paper says that reinforcements which would not be
ready for action in less than three months would be of little value
in nuclear war; in another it says that the nuclear battle might
not be immediately decisive and therefore we must be able to de-
fend Atlantic communications against submarine attack. In
other words the White Paper to some extent still tries to have it
both ways, with the inevitable result that it does not have enough
either way.

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