The USA and the New Europe, 1945-1993

By Peter Duignan; L. H. Gann | Go to book overview

2
An Expanding Alliance 1945-1987

When World War II ended, the US emerged as the world's leader and North America as a continent of prosperity. While postwar Europe was anxious and fearful, Americans were full of confidence and optimism in themselves and in their country. Americans rejoiced in their federal constitutional system (and wanted to give it to Europe as a model for new democratic states). Americans were proud of capitalism and its wartime performance as the arsenal of democracy. The left in Europe feared and hated American capitalism and its economic imperialism. Wall Street was much distrusted, as was the US economic history of boom and bust. Although Europeans were depressed by past failures of democracy and the past dominance of fascism, they still felt culturally superior to the US.

In 1949 (and in later years) the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano claimed that communism was not as inimical to Christianity as capitalism. Many Protestant churchmen thought that capitalism was incompatible with Christianity. For example, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, attacked capitalism's self-interest and concern with money and materialism. The Archbishop opined that Europe's leaders had turned their back on capitalism and were not interested in whether America was going to reform that evil system.

Many of postwar Europe's leaders felt inferior in face of America's wealth and power, its egalitarianism and democracy. While Americans were staunchly individualistic and anti-socialist, the European left was pro-socialist. Yet workers in the supposedly reactionary free enterprise system were the most productive in the world; their output was higher, and they shared more in the wealth they created than did European workers. There was less social envy and class hostility in the US than in Europe. American workers felt they had more opportunities than did the workers of Europe. Furthermore, there was no social stigma attached to being in the working class.

-34-

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The USA and the New Europe, 1945-1993
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Figures vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2 - An Expanding Alliance 1945-1987 34
  • 3 - The Us and Its Main Partners: Informal and Formal Links 1949-1985 61
  • 4 - Germany: Key to a Continent 90
  • 5 - East-Central Europe: The Great Transformation 1985-1992 128
  • 6 - Embattled Empire: from Soviet Union to Cis 180
  • 7 - The Us and the New Europe 1985-1993 227
  • 8 - The Us: A Hopeful Future 276
  • Notes 319
  • Bibliography 342
  • Index 349
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