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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An examination of the contribution to the security of Southeast Asia made by the 1971 Five Power Defence Agreement between Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore Mellows, Jeffrey Arnold

Abstract

The security arrangements established between Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, announced in April 1971, are remarkable for their lack of explicit detail and formalised commitment. This vagueness has discouraged a positive assessment of the contribution toward regional security that may be represented by the arrangements, and most academic and popular evaluations have been superficial or simply derogatory. In order to uncover the real intentions of the five participants, and thus establish the effectiveness and credibility of their joint defence system, it was considered necessary to subject to systematic analysis the decision-making processes by which each of the five states arrived at the point of agreement. Although Graham T. Allison's system of analysis was designed to illuminate a crisis situation that bears only a limited resemblance to the kind of almost evolutionary decision-making processes represented by this problem, his trifocal framework was found to be readily applicable. The thesis reports in some detail the analytical proceedings and findings in the case of the British decision-making process, which is considered to be of the greatest interest and importance, and also reports more briefly on the results of similar analyses of the decision-making processes of the other participants. The Allison framework is found to be particularly productive in both identifying and evaluating the intentions of the five powers, and in the second part of the thesis the way in which these intentions have been translated into actual strategic dispositions receives general attention, and the capabilities of the ANZUK forces are compared with the various threats and dangers with which they are likely to be confronted. In conclusion it is found that the original intentions of the five participants have already been outpared and outmoded by certain major shifts in the systemic and subsystemic political environment of Southeast Asia. However, it seems that several of these obsolete functions have been replaced by others that will serve to extend the usefulness of the arrangements beyond the immediate future.

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