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2 - The US, the UK and the German Question from Détente to the Second Cold War (1961–1985)

from Part 1 - The Special Relationship and the German Question during the Cold War

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

The special relationship and the Federal Republic's Ostpolitik (1961–1973)

‘Willy Brandt should be cooled off … to slow down the mad race to Moscow’

(Dean Acheson, 10 December 1970)

‘What had happened up to now is not dangerous. What the long-term chance may be is another matter’

(Henry Kissinger, 17 December 1970)

The US, the UK and the origins of Bonn's Ostpolitik

This second chapter focuses on Anglo-American approaches to the German question during East–West détente. It first debates the evolution in Anglo-American policies in the context of East– West relations, their encouragement for an evolution in West Germany's attitude to détente, and their reactions to the FRG's Ostpolitik and Deutschlandpolitik in the late 1960s and early 1970s until the signing in August 1975 of the CSCE Final Act. The chapter argues that, while Washington and London formally maintained a commitment to German unity, during détente an Anglo-American consensus consolidated around the understanding that the country's division would be a long-term feature of East–West relations. It then debates how US and British views of the German question evolved in the second half of the 1970s, following the rapid deterioration in relations with Moscow which was brought about by the Euro-missiles crisis, conflicting approaches to the CSCE third basket and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. The chapter concludes that, after a period of tension in US–German relations, which coincided with the presidency of Jimmy Carter in the US and the chancellorship of Helmut Schmidt in the FRG, in the early 1980s Helmut Kohl's commitment to NATO proved a major factor in reassuring Washington.

In the early 1960s the cautious Anglo-American reactions to the Berlin Wall had made it evident that Washington and London saw no immediate urgency in ameliorating the situation in Germany and Berlin. Bonn interpreted allied conduct during the Berlin crisis as proof of a receding Western commitment to German unity. This perception was one of the key factors in prompting an evolution in the Federal government's policy towards the Soviet bloc and the GDR. With Anglo-American policy encouraging more flexibility, in the early 1960s the Federal Republic began a fundamental re-examination of its Eastern policy.

Type
Chapter
Information
A Not-So-Special Relationship
The US, The UK and German Unification, 1945-1990
, pp. 109 - 213
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2017

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