Chapter

Introduction

Geir Lundestad

in The United States and Western Europe Since 1945

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780199266685
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601057 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199266689.003.0001
Introduction

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The first section of the Introduction presents the main arguments of the book, which the author describes as fairly simple. He indicates that while focusing on the overall issue of cooperation versus conflict in American–Western European relations, the book represents an extension of his ‘“Empire” by invitation’ thesis as presented in earlier works. The first argument deals with the position of the US, which was unique in 1945, in that no other Great Power had ever had such a vast lead over its potential competitors; on the basis of this strength American influence expanded in most parts of the world—certainly in Western Europe, so that it could be argued that Western Europe became part of an American sphere of influence, even an American ‘empire’. The second argument presented relates to the ambivalent attitudes of the Western Europeans towards the US: in the early years after 1945 the Western Europeans needed to involve the Americans in the affairs of their continent, and it can be argued that they invited them in. In the 1950s, there were many references to the need for Atlantic integration, but also complaints about US ‘interference’, so that it was paradoxical that when, at the end of the Cold War, the US reduced its presence in Europe, the Western Europeans reissued the old invitations, although in modified form. The second section of the Introduction provides a perspective on and details of literature about the US and Western Europe after 1945. The third and fourth sections discuss first cooperation, and then conflict, between the US and Western Europe.

Keywords: American interference; American–Western European relations; Atlantic integration; Cold War; conflict; cooperation; empire by invitation; US

Chapter.  10143 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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