French fears of a resurgent Germany were grossly unrealistic given that country's damage and disarray, yet the fears were real. In the short run, they hampered efforts to consolidate and strengthen the Western camp. In the long run, they may have helped those efforts. French weakness and insistence that the United States make substantive commitment to the defense of Europe and the strengthening of the economies of the Western states forced accelerated U.S. involvement in Europe. The development of the Marshall and Schuman plans owed much to the linkage of concerns for defense against both the Soviet Union and Germany with the necessity for economic reconstruction. Then, too, U.S. desire not to spend money refueling old European economic contests and Monnet's effort to reduce economic rivalries fostered a new level of cooperation.
Gestation of a new Europe based on international cooperation was cut short by two developments: the splitting of Europe into two camps and the demise of the EDC, an event that seemingly forced Western European relationships back into more traditional forms even though the ECSC had implied other possibilities. At one time, Stalin apparently hoped that any postwar settlement might provide his nation with a secure sphere of influence buffered from the West by a neutral band of territory ranging from Germany through Austria and Switzerland to Italy. In the most crucial area of Central Europe, that band did not appear, as Germany was divided even as the powers professed their belief in German unification. The victor nations may secretly have been content with that arrangement as a status quo that could be altered in the future. But would the friction of the two camps, made all the more acute by their consolidation and the absence of any buffer zone, lead to escalating tensions and warfare? Or would some sort of equilibrium be achieved? That was the major question at the close of the first decade of the Cold War.
Angell, R. C., The Quest for World Order ( 1979).
Baylis, J., The Diplomacy of Pragmatism: Britain and the Formation of NATO 1942-1949 ( 1993).