Western Europe and the Crisis in U.S.-Soviet Relations

Western Europe and the Crisis in U.S.-Soviet Relations

Western Europe and the Crisis in U.S.-Soviet Relations

Western Europe and the Crisis in U.S.-Soviet Relations


This volume brings together seven Americans and twenty-six Western Europeans to discuss the role of Western Europe in East-West relations. Although there are a number of books on NATO and on U.S.-West Europeanrelations, this is the first whose topic is the conflict between the U.S. and its European Allies over ties with Moscow, as it is affected by the interests and policies of West European countries.


"Crisis" is a word perhaps too frequently applied to contemporary international politics, but it is no exaggeration to say that the early 1980s saw a crisis in U.S.-Soviet relations. in Washington a new administration came to office asserting that the detente of the 1970s was a chimera, that all forms of cooperation with the Soviets should cease, and that, since Moscow would respect only armed strength, a massive increase in U.S. military spending was necessary in order to halt and reverse worldwide Soviet expansionism and Soviet-supported terrorism.

In Moscow a government of sclerotic and inflexible old men reacted in kind. Hostility between the two governments was as high as at any time since the early 1960s, perhaps even since the early 1950s. Spokesmen for each side talked of the other in terms not heard for two or more decades.

This downturn in U.S.-Soviet relations also marked a turning point in relations between the United States and the nations of Western Europe. Recent U.S. administrations-first Jimmy Carter's, then Ronald Reagan's-have often seemed to feel that they were facing the Soviets alone. Politicians and journalistic commentators have repeatedly asked "Where are the allies?" as one or another action by Washington has aroused only grudging acquiescence, or even disapproval, from the European members of the alliance.

U.S. insistence that the alliance bring economic sanctions to bear against Moscow in response, first, to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the end of 1979 and then to the imposition of martial law by the Polish government in 1981, the Reagan Administration's approach toward arms control negotiations and the deployment of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe-these and other U.S. policies and actions (particularly in the Third World) have all met resistance from allies who in past decades were in much greater agreement with U.S. approaches toward managing the rivalry with Moscow.

The purpose of the present volume is to explore the roots and the manifestations of these transatlantic tensions over policy toward the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. It grows out of a conference, organized by the Department of Social Sciences of the Istituto Universitario Orientale of Naples in June 1985, that drew to that south-

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