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«THE RHODESIAN CRISIS IN BRITISH AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, 1964-1965 by CARL PETER WATTS A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham For the ...»

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THE RHODESIAN CRISIS IN BRITISH AND

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, 1964-1965

by

CARL PETER WATTS

A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham

For the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

School of Historical Studies

The University of Birmingham

April 2006

University of Birmingham Research Archive

e-theses repository

This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third

parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation.

Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.

Abstract This thesis uses evidence from British and international archives to examine the events leading up to Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) on 11 November 1965 from the perspectives of Britain, the Old Commonwealth (Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), and the United States. Two underlying themes run throughout the thesis.

First, it argues that although the problem of Rhodesian independence was highly complex, a UDI was by no means inevitable. There were courses of action that were dismissed or remained under explored (especially in Britain, but also in the Old Commonwealth, and the United States), which could have been pursued further and may have prevented a UDI. Second, the thesis argues there were structural weaknesses in the machinery of government of each of the major actors, but particularly in Britain. This made the management of the Rhodesian Crisis more difficult, contributed to the likelihood of a UDI, and exacerbated tension in relations between Britain and its international partners. In stressing these themes the thesis builds upon some of the earlier literature that was critical of the Labour Government’s foreign and Commonwealth policies. Although this thesis is primarily an international history, it also makes use of theories from political science and international relations to frame certain aspects of the empirical research.

Dedication This thesis is dedicated to my mother, Patricia, and my father, Peter.

They always encouraged me to walk this path.

Acknowledgements This thesis was completed without any assistance from the Arts and Humanities Research Board, but fortunately there are several institutions that did consider my scholarship to be worthy of funding and Iam pleased to acknowledge them here. I am grateful to the School of Historical Studies at the University of Birmingham for providing me with fees bursaries in the academic years 1998-1999 and 1999-2000, without which I would never have begun my research. The University of Birmingham also kindly awarded me a George Henry Marshall Scholarship in 1999-2000, which was the only year in which my research was properly funded. I am obliged to the Royal Historical Society, which provided me with some travel funds to undertake a great deal of archival research in the UK during 1999, and in the USA during 2003. My trips to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, Texas, and the Bentley Historical Library, Michigan, revived my enthusiasm for the PhD and gave me the necessary material for articles that were subsequently published in the Michigan Academician and Diplomatic History. I would also like to thank the Department of History, and the Research and Development Office at Grand Valley State University, where I was employed as a Visiting Assistant Professor, 2003-2006. During that period, GVSU very generously provided full funding for me to present my research at the 30th Annual Meeting of the Western Conference on British Studies in Tucson, Arizona (October 2003); the Annual Conference of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations in Austin, Texas (June 2004); the Transatlantic Studies Association Conference in Nottingham (July 2005); and the ‘Rhodesian UDI: 40 Years On’ Conference in the Cold War Studies Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science (January 2006).

I must also thank a number of individuals who have at various times provided me with advice and encouragement. Not least among this number is my research supervisor, Dr Nicholas Crowson, for his helpful input over a far longer period than either he or I had ever anticipated. Dr Larry Butler (Department of History, University of East Anglia), advised me on sources during the early stages of my research and later had many kind words to say about my published work. I am very grateful to Professor Andrew DeRoche (Chair, Department of History, Front Range Community College), and Professor Thomas J. Noer, (Valor Distinguished Professor, Carthage College), for their constructive comments on my research on the Anglo-American aspects of the Rhodesian Crisis. My work on the viability of British military intervention in Rhodesia has been greatly strengthened by the contributions of Rhodesian ex-servicemen, and I am much obliged to them for taking the time to respond to my questions on a subject that remains sensitive some four decades after Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence.





Finally, I wish to thank my family and friends for their love and support. During the early years of my research I had several personal and financial difficulties that almost derailed the project altogether, but my mother, father, sister, and many friends, always encouraged me to keep moving forward. I was deeply saddened by the death of my mother in September 2003, and I much regret that she did not see the completion of the thesis, which I know would have made her proud. The last word of thanks goes to my wife, Shannon, for her love, patience, and understanding during the last three years.

Carl P. Watts Grand Rapids, Michigan

–  –  –

Chapter Two Alternatives: The United Nations, and the Use of Force 98 Part Two The Commonwealth and the Rhodesian Crisis, 1964-65

–  –  –

Part Three The United States and the Rhodesian Crisis, 1964-65 Chapter Six Anglo-American Relations and the Rhodesian Crisis 304

–  –  –

The Rhodesian Crisis: recent interest and scholarship During the 1960s the disintegration of the Central African Federation and the concomitant problems of granting independence to Southern Rhodesia attracted a significant amount of coverage in the British media and a high degree of interest among academics. 1 The level of scrutiny intensified in the wake of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) on 11 November 1965. Many books were published that examined the events leading up to UDI and subsequent efforts to bring Rhodesia back to legality through diplomatic negotiations and economic sanctions. As the armed confrontation between African nationalists and the UDI regime escalated, a number of books also appeared about the bush war. After Rhodesia eventually became legally independent as Zimbabwe in 1980 a couple of studies of the Lancaster House negotiations emerged, and a few other books on Rhodesia’s independence were published, then interest generally subsided. 2 In the last few years, however, a combination of media attention, academic research, publications, oral history projects, and conferences has revealed a renewed interest in the Rhodesian Crisis and the recent history of southern Africa.

After Northern Rhodesia became independent as the state of Zambia in October 1964, Southern Rhodesia was usually referred to simply as Rhodesia. That pattern of nomenclature is used in this thesis.

For a guide to the older literature see M. E. Doro, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe: A Bibliographic Guide to the Nationalist Period (Boston, MA: G. K. Hall, 1984); O. Pollack and K. Pollack, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe: An

International Bibliography (Oxford: Clio Press, 1979); D. Potts, World Bibliographical Series, Volume 4:

Zimbabwe (Oxford: Clio Press, rev. edn., 1993); and the online bibliography maintained by Richard Wood, available at http://www.jrtwood.com/rhodesia_zimbabwe_political.asp First, the British media has reported the troubles in Zimbabwe, which has prompted a renewed interest in Rhodesia’s history. In a debate at the Oxford Union in October 2000, Ian Smith refused to apologise for atrocities committed while he held office. He said he had no regrets about the estimated 30,000 Zimbabweans killed during the period of Rhodesian Front rule. 3 Second, younger historians – searching for suitable topics on which to base their research – have taken advantage of the vast number of records released into the public domain in accordance with the Thirty Year Rule. 4 Third, a number of notable books have emerged recently. In terms of primary sources, historians have been well served by the British Documents on the End of Empire Project, which has made a good selection of documents on the Rhodesian Crisis available to scholars. 5 In terms of autobiography and biography, historians have had the benefit of Ian Smith’s The Observer, 29 October 2000.

For example: Evan D. Fountain, ‘Purposes of economic sanctions: British objectives in the Rhodesian crisis, 1964-79’, Oxford D.Phil (2000); Richard Coggins, ‘Rhodesian UDI and the search for a settlement, 1964-8: failure of decolonization’, Oxford D.Phil (2002); Alice Robinson, ‘Britain and the Rhodesian crisis, 1964-5, with special reference to South Africa and the United States’, Ulster M.Phil (2003); Claire Waddingham, ‘Colonial misjudgement: a comparative study of British policy towards the Mau Mau emergency in Kenya, 1952–6, and the unilateral declaration of independence in Rhodesia, 1964–8’, Exeter M.Phil (in progress, 2005); Julian Francis, ‘The Seeds of UDI: an argument for and an examination of internal and external factors that shaped a Rhodesian national identity’, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London, Ph.D (in progress, 2006); Andrew Cohen, ‘Settler Power, African Nationalism and British Interests in the Central African Federation, 1957-63’, Sheffield Ph.D (in progress, 2006).

S. R. Ashton and Wm. Roger Louis (eds.), British Documents on the End of Empire, Series A, Volume 5, Part II: Europe, Rhodesia, Commonwealth (London: The Stationery Office, 2004); and Philip Murphy (ed.), British Documents on the End of Empire, Series B, Volume 9, Part II: Crisis and Dissolution, 1959London: The Stationery Office, 2005). These volumes referred to hereafter as BDEEP.

vituperative memoirs, published in 1997, 6 and Alan Megahey’s study of the ‘beleaguered’ Governor of Southern Rhodesia, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, published in 1998. 7 Richard Wood’s lengthy account of Rhodesia’s attempts to obtain independence, which is based on sole access to the hitherto closed papers of Ian Smith as well as British Government papers, was published only very recently. 8 From the British perspective, John Young’s study of the Labour Government’s international policy, which also benefits from the use of recently released British Government files, has made an important contribution to the debate on Labour’s performance in office during the period 1964-70. 9 A fourth factor that has both reflected and stimulated interest in the Rhodesian Crisis is the number of projects that have captured the story of Rhodesia’s painful journey towards

–  –  –

presented a three-part BBC documentary series entitled Rebellion, which featured interviews with many of the surviving protagonists including former British Labour Ministers Barbara Castle, Denis Healey, and George Thomson; Sir Oliver Wright, Private Secretary to Harold Wilson, 1964-66; Rhodesian Ministers Ian Smith, Jack Mussett, and P. K. Van Der Byl; and African nationalist leaders, including Robert Mugabe and Bishop Abel Muzorewa. In September 2000, the Institute of Contemporary British History Ian Douglas Smith, The Great Betrayal: The Memoirs of Ian Douglas Smith (London: Blake, 1997); and Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal and the Dreadful Aftermath (London: Blake, 2001).

Alan Megahey, Humphrey Gibbs: Beleaguered Governor. Southern Rhodesia, 1929-1969 (Basingstoke:

Macmillan, 1998).

J. R. T. Wood, ‘So Far and No Further!’ Rhodesia’s Bid for Independence during the Retreat from Empire 1959-1965 (Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing, 2005).

John W. Young, The Labour Governments 1964-70, Volume 2: International Policy (Manchester:

Manchester University Press, 2003).

organised a Witness Seminar on ‘Rhodesian UDI’, held at the National Archives, Kew.

Participants included: Sir Oliver Wright; George Cunningham, who served as an adviser in the Labour Party Overseas Department; Sir John Pestell, Comptroller to Humphrey Gibbs; and several Conservative and Labour Members of Parliament. 10 Similarly, as part of its Southern Africa Initiative, the Cold War Studies Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) organised a further Witness Seminar on ‘Britain and Rhodesia: Road to Settlement’, again held at the National Archives, in July 2005.



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