Will the Western Alliance Survive?
A British View of American Policy
For more than two years the bonds of the Western Alliance, forged when the cold war was hotter, have been slackening. In Europe during this time tendencies toward a “third force” movement began to develop, while Washington on its side seemed more and more anxious to separate itself from British and French overseas interests; any association with “colonialism” was felt as an embarrassment by the administration in its efforts to strengthen American prestige with the Afro-Asian world. Alliances, unless they evolve and grow stronger, tend to do the opposite. So it has been with this one. And though it was the mitigation of Russian truculence and aggressiveness after Stalin’s death that made the need for Western unity appear less urgent, the Alliance was also weakened by the fact that same of the Eisenhower administration’s attitudes and decisions troubled the U.S.’s European partners deeply and made them feel less and less confident of America.
In 1949 George Kennan, who then headed the State Department’s planning staff, had prepared a policy paper advocating a closer and more intimate Anglo-American alliance than was then in existence. Neither the American nor the British government took the proposal seriously. American policy aimed at encouraging the establishment of a European union that would include West Germany, and in which Britain would be an associate rather than full member, with America confining her own participation to political, economic, and military support of the union. Eisenhower, and to a lesser extent Dulles, confirmed this policy when the Republicans took office in 1953. But when France rejected the European Defense Community, the idea of which General Eisenhower, as commander of SHAEF, had helped originate, Washington felt it as something of a psychological as well as political shock.
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