America's New Strong Role in Europe, 1993–2001

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:
America's New Strong Role in Europe, 1993–2001

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Many expected the role of the US in Europe to shrink after the end of the Cold War and with the end of the Soviet–Communist threat: Western Europe presumably did not need the US in the same way it had during the Cold War; now, a strengthened EU could manage much more on its own. In some ways the American role in Western Europe did decline, but the surprise was how little it changed in the period under discussion (1993–2001): the unification of Germany and Western Europe's participation in the Gulf War under US leadership had set the pattern under Bush; now, under Clinton (who was elected in November 1992), America's lead was to be most clearly seen in the wars in ex‐Yugoslavia (discussed in the first section of the chapter) and in the process of NATO expansion (discussed in the second section). NATO did not collapse when its raison d’être, the Soviet Union, the enemy against which it had been directed, disappeared, and the Warsaw Pact was dissolved; on the contrary, NATO took in new members from among the former Pact members and some of the disputes that had plagued it for decades were now softened, so that France moved closer to NATO again. The third section of the chapter shows that, in return, the Clinton administration was showing a more open attitude than that of Bush to European integration (the EU), in the form of monetary and defence cooperation. The last section of the chapter makes the point that, with so many signs of change in Washington, European governments and publics were renewing their invitations to the US to stay involved in Europe: in Western Europe the invitations were weaker and more ambivalent now than in the early years after the Second World War, but in Central and Eastern Europe, finally free from Soviet control, the invitations were quite similar to those the Western Europeans had extended almost fifty years earlier.

Keywords: American–EU relations; American–European relations; American–Western European relations; Central Europe; Clinton administration; cooperation; Eastern Europe; Europe; European integration; EU; NATO; US; Warsaw Pact; Western Europe; Yugoslavia

Chapter.  9771 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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