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Trade and Payments in Western Europe: A Study in Economic Cooperation, 1947-51

By William Diebold Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
THE APPROACH TO COOPERATION

THE GOVERNMENT Of the United States, in recent years, has encouraged the countries of Western Europe to draw closer together and form some kind of union. This policy has found wide support in both major parties; it looks good to the man in the street; both Congress and the executive branch have written it into their pronouncements. Enthusiasm on this subject is a new development in United States foreign relations. In times past when projects for European unity were put forward, the official American attitude was more reserved since it seemed likely that such a union might damage American interests, particularly in trade and finance. Of the many factors explaining the change, two stand out: first, the conviction that without greater economic unification Western Europe could not fully recover from the effects of the war and earn its way in the world, and second, the belief that by common action the countries of Western Europe could exert their maximum power in the defense of the west.

Acting on these premises, the United States has encouraged the political, military and economic drawing-together of Western Europe. At least until negotiations began for a common defense program, the greatest activity was in the economic sphere. Through the Marshall Plan, American officials --directed by a Congressional mandate--have tried to promote closer economic cooperation, hoping that ultimately the national economies of Western Europe might be transformed into a "single market." The first task that faced Western Europe was to re-weave the web of trade and payments which bound the area together. These efforts, an essential part of the larger policy, form the subject of this book.

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