In This Review

Cooperation Among Democracies: The European Influence on U.S. Foreign Policy
Cooperation Among Democracies: The European Influence on U.S. Foreign Policy
By Thomas Risse-Kappen
Princeton University Press, 1995, 250 pp

This work investigates why European allies were successful in influencing U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War. Risse-Kappen, who teaches at the University of Konstanz in Germany, shows how the norms of consultation and co-determination worked within an Atlantic security community whose members recognized that their basic interests were intimately tied together. The strengths of the book are the author's own; its weaknesses flow from the disciplinary conventions (de rigueur among political scientists) within which he works. He is less interested in providing a full explanation of transatlantic cooperation than in testing a set of theoretical propositions, and thus ignores events (like the 1954 crisis over Indochina) that are quite relevant to his topic. He shunts aside the historical origins of the cooperative impulse within the Atlantic community--above all, the awful memory of the years before the Second World War, when disunity among the democracies almost lost them the world. (The interwar experience would in fact form an instructive test of his theory that democracies are "inherently likely" to cooperate with one another within "pacific federations.") Under this theoretical approach, which treats transatlantic cooperation as a species within the genus of "cooperation among democracies," we are to infer that the "special relationship" between the United States and Great Britain will shed light, say, on the relationship between the United States and Costa Rica. It is perfectly true that without this assumption the theory-building enterprise as now practiced would be gravely undermined. That does not mean, however, that the assumption is either correct or useful.