Sovereignty or Security? Maintaining Peace and The Ambivalent Relationship Between Europe and Washington, 1945–1991


The Orthodox School of the Cold War
European Integration
Post-War Europe
European sovereignty in the Cold War
France’s role in the Cold War
Cold War Historiography
The Anglo-American Special Relationship


Among historians, there has been a recurring debate on whether European states lost their de facto sovereignty during the Cold War (1945–1991). While Orthodox Cold War historians claimed that the Europeans were nothing more than chess pieces of the two opposing superpowers, others argued that the continental nations retained autonomy and contributed significantly to the war effort. In response to the academic discussion, this article aims to clarify whether Western European states traded their sovereignty for nuclear and diplomatic protection from the USA. By comparing the policies adopted by Washington and the Europeans – namely the British and French, respectively – I attempt to elucidate the scale of their disagreements and provide a clear analysis of the issue at hand. Upon research, the related literature and first-hand historical sources have demonstrated that: (1) Britain and France played an essential role in initiating the Cold War; (2) Western European states carried out foreign policies that were not in line with Kissinger’s direction during the 1960s and 1970s; (3) Transatlantic diplomatic differences remained in certain policy directions during the 1980s and early 1990s. In general, despite being close strategic allies of Washington, the European states retained their decision-making power.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Kalos Lau


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