The Entangling Alliance: The United States and European Security, 1950-1993

The Entangling Alliance: The United States and European Security, 1950-1993

The Entangling Alliance: The United States and European Security, 1950-1993

The Entangling Alliance: The United States and European Security, 1950-1993


In an earlier study, Toward an Entangling Alliance: American Isolationism, Internationalism, and Europe, 1901-1950, Powaski described the events, factors, and personalities that contributed to the American decision to abandon a century-and-a-half-old isolationist tradition and join an "entangling" alliance with European nations. This study is a continuation of the story of America's involvement in Europe's security affairs since 1950. In it, Powaski explains why America expanded its military commitment to Europe--including the stationing of U.S. combat forces, both nuclear and conventional, on the continent--and why the U.S. military presence in Europe is now declining. In addition, Powaski describes the issues and personalities that have divided, as well as united, the United States and its European allies, and why, despite these disagreements, America's involvement in the entangling alliance is likely to endure.


In 1949 the United States ratified the North Atlantic Treaty, thereby abandoning two of its most time-honored traditions: avoiding entanglement in permanent alliances, a policy first enunciated in George Washington's 1797 farewell address, and maintaining the separation between Europe's affairs and those of the Western Hemisphere, a policy first promulgated in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. the strength of these traditions was demonstrated well into the twentieth century as the United States rejected membership in the League of Nations and reverted to a policy of isolationism after World War I.

Why isolationism? Almost from the time when the first European colonies were established in the New World, Americans had regarded the Old World with a mixture of envy and contempt. While they modeled almost everything they did after patterns designed in Europe, they also came to resent the constant warfare, social and economic inequity, religious intolerance, and political oppression that characterized much of the Old World environment. Reinforced by the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution, Americans considered themselves morally and politically superior to Europeans, an attitude that made them extremely reluctant to associate with the political affairs of the Old World.

Isolationism also made good practical sense. George Washington, in his 1797 farewell address, urged his fellow citizens to avoid permanent alliances with European countries in order to remain free to concentrate their energies on developing their young nation. a quarter of a century later, President James Monroe reinforced the isolationist sentiments of Washington's farewell address by declaring that the United States would not interfere in the affairs of Europe and, in turn, would tolerate no further European colonization in the New World.

Nonetheless, while the first presidents considered American nonentanglement in Europe's political problems vital to the welfare of the young nation, they also realized that the peace, prosperity and independence of the United States were, to a great extent, dependent on the existence of a balance of power on the European . . .

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