The United States emerged as the most powerful nation after WW II, and it soon became pre-occupied with developing a strategy to confront a new enemy – communism – and its foremost proponent – the Soviet Union. Central to this post-war geopolitical strategy was a close relationship with Western Europe, which was put into action via the Marshall Plan, NATO and other institutions such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The United States also supported European integration from early on as a means to accelerate its economic and political recovery from WW II. However, despite the strong incentives to cooperate, relations between the US and Western Europe have not always been smooth.
This course takes a broad approach to diplomatic history, studying transatlantic relations not just through the traditional lens of government-to-government contacts but also through the many varied channels of contact – both overt and covert – that were established to maintain close interests between the US and Western Europe.
This course will look at the fundamental interests and values that lie behind the so-called ‘Atlantic Community’, and follow how particular foreign policies have affected this over time. It will look at US foreign policy, questions of security, and wider issues concerning the ways and means by which an Atlantic Community could be constructed e.g. through cultural relations. In doing so it will ask the student to consider how the world has changed since 1945, and whether the idea of an Atlantic Community is still relevant today. This will involve ending the course by looking at some of the proposals in recent years for a League of Concert of Democracies.
Mode of instruction
A mixture of lectures and interactive seminars, combined with film material, guest lectures by experts in the field, and a study trip to the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg to use its archival resources.
- Research Paper (7500 words)
- Two Short Research Presentations
- 5 Weekly Reports (based on the readings)
- Short Presentation on ‘Atlantic Networks’ topic
Geir Lundestad, The United States and Western Europe since 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)