Safe for Decolinization
The Eisenhower Administration, Britain, and Singapore
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The Kent State University Press
Table of Contents
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On 12 August 1959, the Eisenhower administration’s Operations Coordinating Board (OCB), an interagency group coordinating the implementation of U. S. operational plans, urged that American policy toward Singapore be reviewed “on an urgent basis.” The British colony had been granted internal self-government...
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Apart from my curiosity about the end of the British Empire, the preponderance of American cultural products in an ex-British colony, and the nature of the Singapore–United States relationship, I was inspired to embark on this study after reading Robert J. McMahon’s critique of the Eisenhower revisionists in 1995. I wondered...
Abbreviations Used in Text
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1. War, the Colonial Question, and the Cold War
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Singapore’s domestic affairs commanded little American attention before World War II. U.S. officials, based at the American consulate general on the island (established in 1836), focused on providing consular services to American merchants in the region.one.superior Singapore was British territory, and diplomatic and commercial...
2. Chasms, Bridges, and the Summer of Violence
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The Eisenhower government was determined to prevent Singapore from falling under communist control. Developments on the island, however, distressed Washington. It appeared that communists were capitalizing on local sociopolitical restiveness stirred by Britain’s retreat from empire to subvert Singapore. Not wanting to cross the British...
3. Diplomatic Overtures
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Although the May upheavals were contained, American doubts about the British ability to maintain Western influence in Singapore persisted. To U.S. observers, the British did not act decisively against local leftists. Colonial officials also seemed excessively optimistic that the partially self-governing island would not be subverted by communists...
4. Developing Political-Cultural Capital
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Apart from cultivating local leaders, American officials also intensified U.S. psychological operations to shore up free world influence in Singapore. The American foray into psychological activities stemmed from the Eisenhower administration’s confidence in the capacity of its psychological endeavors to effectively combat procommunist ideas. American policymakers...
5. Labor Operations
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Although the Eisenhower administration’s psychological warfare operations helped advance U.S. objectives, in one important section of the local population the impact of U.S. activities was ambivalent. Singapore’s unionists, especially those associated with the radical unions located along Middle Road, regarded with much...
6. Embroiled in Economic Cold War
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President Dwight Eisenhower understood that international politics and economics were inseparably linked. Under his leadership, the United States paid serious attention to how U.S. foreign economic policy could advance the administration’s Cold War objectives. The president initially wanted to focus on promoting trade rather than...
7. SEATO’s Spell
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In June 1956, Singapore’s chief minister, David Marshall, furiously criticized British policy, asserting that Britain’s commitment to SEATO had imperiled Singapore’s progress toward greater self-government. The outburst came after British officials in London had rejected his demands that a new constitution granting Singapore more political autonomy be...
8. Under the Shadow of the Mushroom Cloud
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In addition to significantly impacting Singapore’s political development, SEATO cast a long shadow on the island in another way. In support of SEATO and UK military operations, Singapore had been designated Britain’s strategic base from which nuclear bombing runs would be launched against China in a global war. In 1958, to prepare Singapore for that role, Whitehall had begun major construction...
9. Covert Snafus
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U.S. covert operatives were engaged in a broad range of clandestine pursuits against governments abroad during the Eisenhower years. The president believed that well-managed covert operations could advance U.S. foreign policy goals. The question was whether the covert instrument was judiciously applied in cases where less costly alternatives or even patient and benign neglect might have yielded ...
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A systematic examination of the Eisenhower administration’s policy toward late-colonial Singapore indicates that a combination of strategic, economic, and political considerations fundamentally informed the U.S. interest in the island’s domestic affairs. Singapore could not be seized by communists, as this would deprive the United States and the free world of the use of its strategic...
Abbreviations Used in the Notes
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Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: New Studies in U.S. Foreign Relations Series
Series Editor Byline: Mary Ann Heiss