From Bad to Worse: The United States and Western Europe, 1977–1984

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:
From Bad to Worse: The United States and Western Europe, 1977–1984

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Gives an account of the worsening relations between the US and Western Europe during the Carter and Reagan administrations of 1977–1984. Jimmy Carter took over as President of the US with the best of intentions: while continuing to improve relations with the Soviet Union and China, he would at the same time upgrade America's ties with its allies in Western Europe and Japan (trilateralism); this was not to be, and by the end of the 1970s Moscow had become so frustrated with Carter that the Soviet leaders actually preferred Ronald Reagan in the 1980 elections. American relations with some Western European countries, particularly West Germany, also reached a nadir. Ronald Reagan was determined to re‐establish the leadership role of the US with regard to both the Soviets and the Western Europeans: the ‘evil empire’ was to be defeated from a position of strength, and the ‘free world’ was to be united under America's firm leadership; neither was to be. Yet, even in these very difficult times for Atlantic relations most European leaders continued to issue at least some invitations to the Americans to increase their role militarily and economically, although these invitations were clearly more ambivalent now than before—public opinion was becoming more skeptical of the US, but still supported the main dimensions of the American role in Western Europe.

Keywords: American leadership; American–Western European relations; Carter administration; China; cooperation; Japan; public opinion; Reagan administration; Soviet Union; trilateralism; US; West Germany

Chapter.  11848 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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