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Conclusions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 February 2018

Luca Ratti
Affiliation:
Roma Tre University and the University of Rome
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Summary

Still a special relationship after unification?

As one of the Cold War triggers and in light of its persistent endurance during the East–West division, the German question undoubtedly represents a primary indicator of the vitality and strength of the special relationship in the second half of the twentieth century. While Anglo-American relations were influenced by a number of complex and diverse dynamics, the problem of Germany remained, although with varying intensity, a constant preoccupation for US and British decision-makers from Germany's unconditional surrender in May 1945 until its unification in October 1990. Nonetheless, while Washington and London regarded Germany as the centrepiece of their European policy, Anglo-American strategies did not always coincide. In the first half of the 1950s US and British decision-makers worked closely to secure the FRG's rearmament and integration into the West. However, before and after the formation of the two blocs in Europe Britain entertained hopes for an arrangement with the USSR. This desire also influenced British attitudes towards Germany during the period of East–West détente. During the late 1950s and early 1960s London struggled to adapt to the realities of its international decline. Nonetheless, British decision-makers continued to hope that their country could assert itself as a middleman between the two superpowers. As part of this strategy, London encouraged Bonn to a gradual opening up to the East in order to defuse tension between the two blocs. However, the British did not fully realise the implications that this policy would have for East–West relations.

In the same time period, the US, facing expanding budget deficits and the consequences of a protracted conflict in Vietnam, also supported the FRG's diplomatic initiatives towards the Soviet bloc. Nonetheless, both London and Washington remained suspicious of Bonn's long-term ambitions and of the repercussions of West German policy on the cohesion of the West. In the early 1970s both the Americans and the British reacted with concern when the Federal government's initiatives exceeded their expectations. Both Washington and London now resented, to a certain extent, the FRG's increasing status and growing influence on East–West relations. In the aftermath of Ostpolitik the special relationship was reaffirmed during the Helsinki conference by a common Anglo- American determination to emphasise the ongoing responsibilities of the Four Powers on the German question and Berlin.

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A Not-So-Special Relationship
The US, The UK and German Unification, 1945-1990
, pp. 340 - 344
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2017

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  • Conclusions
  • Luca Ratti, Roma Tre University and the University of Rome
  • Book: A Not-So-Special Relationship
  • Online publication: 03 February 2018
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  • Conclusions
  • Luca Ratti, Roma Tre University and the University of Rome
  • Book: A Not-So-Special Relationship
  • Online publication: 03 February 2018
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Conclusions
  • Luca Ratti, Roma Tre University and the University of Rome
  • Book: A Not-So-Special Relationship
  • Online publication: 03 February 2018
Available formats
×