The United States and the European Alliance since 1945

The United States and the European Alliance since 1945

The United States and the European Alliance since 1945

The United States and the European Alliance since 1945

Synopsis

Most historical writing on the relations between the United States and its European allies in the post-war period has concentrated on the development of the Cold War and the beginnings of European integration. An equally significant question is how relations between an increasingly self-confident Europe and a United States used to its leadership role developed after this period. This book investigates the successes and failures, as well as the diversity, that constituted both the strength and weakness of the transatlantic alliance. It looks at crucial areas of conflict, such as economics and trade, nuclear weapons, the language of power, and key personalities, as well as the very concept of a special relationship. How did Europe and the United States respond to economic emergencies such as the 1973-4 oil crisis and how were issues of power and control reflected in the language used by officials to describe foreign nations and statesmen? Who controlled the nuclear button and how did fears and feelings of inferiority influence European-American nuclear interdependence in NATO? How did American officials attempt to walk successfully in European corridors of power and how did Europeans network in Washington? What are the qualities that make relationships such as the Anglo-American or the German-American one special and what strains do they place on other members of the alliance?Internationally renowned experts in their fields illuminate the most exciting and important research currently available on the European-American relationship and shed new light on the way the western alliance has functioned. This important book will have wide appeal for specialists in a number of fields: international relations, politics, economics, and history.

Excerpt

Relations between the United States and its European allies in the postwar period have for the past decades been a lively field for research. The original question was, how did the Cold War originate and develop, and how did the United States and the Western European states organize themselves for their defense against the perceived threat presented by the Soviet Union? Interest then moved on to the period after 1955: during that year the Federal Republic of Germany gained full sovereignty and joined NATO and, weeks later, the Soviet Union set up the Warsaw Pact; thereafter, with two organised blocs facing each other, there were long periods of stability, and interest could turn to inter–alliance relations. This period came to an end with the proclamation of the end of the Cold War in 1989, and, aided by the opening of the archives year by year, politics is now being turned into written history.

In this book, we look at the relationship from different angles, from that of Europe as well as that of the United States, and at personal and economic relationships as well as those focusing on defense. We look at the language of power, and at the very concept of a special relationship. Although we do not look specifically at the relationship of the alliance with the Soviet Union, which would be another topic entirely, its threatening presence can be assumed throughout the book. It is also worth noting that since the contributors come from six different countries, the book is not dominated by the assumptions arising from just one historical context but benefits from the different points of departure of historians from both big and small states.

The first chapter, which sets the scene for all those that follow, was written by a Norwegian historian of American and European foreign policy, Geir Lundestad. In it, he argues that the United States differed from other imperial powers: rather than follow the approach of divide and rule, it protected its superior position by encouraging the integration of its European allies. Europe was not to be a third force, but rather to be integrated into an organization with an Atlanticist perspective. The United States expected to dominate but not to rule, and this left scope for European self–organization and for European maneuvers.

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