The Wilsonian Impulse: U.S. Foreign Policy, the Alliance, and German Unification

The Wilsonian Impulse: U.S. Foreign Policy, the Alliance, and German Unification

The Wilsonian Impulse: U.S. Foreign Policy, the Alliance, and German Unification

The Wilsonian Impulse: U.S. Foreign Policy, the Alliance, and German Unification

Synopsis

Mary Hampton argues that a set of ideas that influenced American policymakers in the postwar era help explain the unique evolution of the Western Alliance and Germany's rapid unification in 1990. These ideas, called the Wilsonian impulse, derived from the historical lessons concerning World War I and the interwar years learned by prominent American policymakers. The most important lesson was that a trans-Atlantic community of nations must be built that included a democratic and equal Germany. West German leaders were persistent in appealing to the Wilsonian impulse to promote their national interests. In particular, Bonn was able to ensure over time Washington's pledge to aid in the peaceful unification of Germany. The success of that policy became evident in 1990.

Excerpt

I started research for this book some time before the seismic changes that began occurring in international politics in 1989. I sought to explain why realism, the dominant approach in international relations theory, overlooked crucial aspects of the Western Alliance that allowed West Germany so much influence on American and Western security policy. As the events of 1989 and 1990 unfolded, it became evident that fifty years of Allied relations had helped clear the way for the peaceful unification of Germany. How and why the Alliance was so important to that event, and why the role of U.S. foreign policy has been critical to the success of the German quest for unity, are the focus of this book.

In preparing this book, I have had tremendous help. I am grateful to a number of people who have helped me during the course of the research project. First and foremost I would like to thank Ronald Rogowski, whose constant support and insightful comments have been crucial throughout the course of my research and the many incarnations of this project. I would like to thank the following people for their helpful comments on earlier versions of the work: Jeffrey Frieden, David Cattell, Hans Schulhammer, Scott Sagan, David Calleo, Robert O. Keohane, Lilly Gardner- Feldman, Anne-Marie Burley, and Richard Eichenberg. Most recently, I thank Robert O. Keohane, Robert Putnam, Celeste Wallander, Chris Kruegler, Gillian Price, Lawrence Broz, Phil Williams, B. George Thomas, Steve Jones, Mary Reddick, and Robert Paarlberg for their excellent suggestions.

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