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Nuclear Weapons and British Strategic Planning, 1955–1958$
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Martin S. Navias

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198277545

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198277545.001.0001

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The Sandys White Paper of 1957

The Sandys White Paper of 1957

(p.134) 5 The Sandys White Paper of 1957
Nuclear Weapons and British Strategic Planning, 1955–1958

Martins S. Navias

Oxford University Press

In 1957 the new Minister of Defence, Duncan Sandys, sought to mould British defence policy and force structure to reflect the exigencies of war in the thermonuclear age. His termination of national service meant that even relatively, the importance of the deterrent would increase. His stress on the independence of Britain’s deterrent gave the impression to some of a new departure in British defence policy — at least in terms of the degree of commitment attributed to this posture. This chapter investigates these issues and analyses the contribution of Duncan Sandys to the substance of Britain’s nuclear strategy through a review of the 1957 White Paper negotiations as well as that document’s immediate implications for force structuring. It describes the political environment of the post-Suez world in which Sandys had to function and it argues that although he was guided by a strategic vision which recognized the merits of a policy of nuclear deterrence, he was more directly and immediately impressed by the economic necessity of terminating national service. It is further contended that his ‘New Look’ force posture followed more from the relative decline of conventional forces than from new plans for an increase in the absolute power of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Keywords:   New Look, defence policy, national service, Duncan Sandys, Defence White Paper

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