The founder and managing editor of New Global Studies examines the history of the State Department’s Bureau of European Affairs (EUR) and the foreign officers whose transatlantic diplomacy left the continent mostly peaceful and prosperous at the end of the 20th century.
Political, cultural and intellectual ties have always linked Europe and America, but the idea of an Atlantic community is a 20th-century creation, largely the work of four generations of diplomats housed in the EUR. Weisbrode explains the origins of the EUR and its historic status as first among equals within the Department, but he focuses on the period between World War II and the Ford administration, the golden age for the formulation and exercise of policy uniting the United States and Europe. This era, coinciding with the height of the Cold War, saw the cementing of transatlantic solidarity through a variety of military, political and economic arrangements that narrowed the distance between the two continents and made it impossible for the Soviet Union to divide the West against itself. This long-term project of Atlanticism features names well known to the general reader—Marshall, Acheson, Dulles—but could not have succeeded without the dedication of a cadre of professionals whose contributions are acknowledged here. Though names such as Dunn, Hickerson, Hillenbrand, Merchant and Goodpastor ring less resoundingly through history, their work in the trenches helped forward the Atlantic project, softened the occasionally sharp American elbows and ensured that Europeans took part willingly in the alliance. Because it’s a history of a bureaucracy, the narrative is sometimes too inside baseball. Indeed, many of the tales that enliven the story center on personalities like George Kennan, William Bullitt and Chip Bohlen, all committed in varying degrees to the Atlantic project, but none strictly speaking EUR men. Nevertheless, Weisbrode’s careful research and serviceable prose add light and dimension to a uniquely Eurocentric moment in American diplomatic history.
Of particular interest to specialists and diligent students of 20th-century European and American history.