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5 - The US, the UK and German Unification within NATO

from Part 2 - Anglo-American Relations and the Diplomacy of German Unification (1989–1990)

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

Germany's relationship with NATO and Britain's alignment with US positions

‘We can't let the Soviets clutch victory from the jaws of defeat’

(George H. W. Bush, 24 February 1990)

‘There are all kinds of events that we can't foresee that require a strong NATO, and there's all kind of potential instability that requires a strong U.S. presence’

(George H. W. Bush, 24 February 1990)

‘A special friendship that is evident from the way we share a common vision for the future of humanity’

(George H. W. Bush, 13 April 1990)

Anglo-American views and West Germany's relationship with NATO

This chapter focuses on Anglo-American views of Germany's relationship with NATO. While the question of a peace settlement had caused tension, the issue of Germany's relationship with NATO was one of overall Anglo-American agreement. By April 1990 there was a strong consensus in Washington and London that a united Germany should remain a member of the Western alliance. Nonetheless, there were nuances in Anglo-American approaches. Britain's preference was to discuss unification in the CSCE in order to appease the Russians. Only after Washington's rejection of British proposals did London endorse US demands for a united Germany's membership of the alliance. The British also supported Washington's ambitious review of NATO's strategy, which made the organisation more political and less military and part of a security structure for the whole of Europe. Ultimately, Whitehall helped the White House overcome Soviet resistance and French uncertainties. The British also contributed to preventing Bonn from making excessive concessions to Moscow. However, although there was a closeness of positions, NATO's transformation was not the product of a joint Anglo-American initiative. In contrast, this process reflected the American vision for the alliance, rather than one that emerged through the usual channels of NATO bureaucracy or bilateral Anglo-American negotiations.

The Federal government's initial cautiousness on this issue had been a cause of apprehension for both the White House and Whitehall. As in the heyday of Brandt's Eastern policy – when Nixon and Heath had feared the Federal Republic's neutralisation – the perception that there might not be a firm consensus in Bonn over Germany's commitment to the alliance caused concern.

Type
Chapter
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A Not-So-Special Relationship
The US, The UK and German Unification, 1945-1990
, pp. 300 - 339
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2017

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