In This Review

Uncertain Allies: Nixon, Kissinger, and the Threat of a United Europe
Uncertain Allies: Nixon, Kissinger, and the Threat of a United Europe
By Klaus Larres
Yale University Press, 2021, 432 pp.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. government enthusiastically supported European integration. Yet under President Richard Nixon and his adviser Henry Kissinger, Washington began to view European economic and security cooperation as a threat—one Nixon characterized as “a Frankenstein monster.” Although this book does not break new historiographic ground, it summarizes this epochal shift well, arguing that the central problem lay in divergent national interests. With a monetary crisis weakening the Bretton Woods system and a geopolitical debacle in Vietnam, the United States came to believe that the Europeans should spend more on defense, reduce their agricultural protections, accept the devaluation of the U.S. dollar, and abstain from criticism of American global priorities and actions. If Europe refused, Kissinger reasoned, the United States should seek to keep it divided. Understandably, the Europeans viewed such demands as misguided and unreasonable—and some began to question whether the United States was a reliable ally. The U.S. government has never returned to its full support for Europe, Larres argues, although he surely overreaches in treating the state of transatlantic relations under former President Donald Trump as a natural continuation of Nixon’s policies.