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Journal of Cold War Studies 6.2 (2004) 88-89

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Jeffrey Glen Giauque, Grand Designs and Visions of Unity: The Atlantic Powers and the Reorganization of Western Europe, 1955-1963. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002. 326 pp. $19.95.

The "Grand Designs" discussed in this book emerged in response to the European Common Market. They include the European Free Trade Area proposed by the United Kingdom, the Atlantic Community proposed by U.S. President John Kennedy, the Fouchet Plan for "European Unity" proposed by France under Charles de Gaulle's leadership, and the Franco-German Treaty of Friendship signed in 1963. The general argument is that the Common Market had a more unsettling effect on Western political relationships during the Cold War than historians have hitherto allowed, but not so unsettling as to prevent the West from uniting when it perceived itself under serious threat, as in the case of the Cuban missile crisis. Rather than being, as often presented, the capstone of European reconstruction, the Common Market provoked further attempts at reconstruction. Because all these attempts failed and because all their chief proponents with the exception of de Gaulle were out of office by the end of 1963, the period has a certain unity. It left behind much mistrust but little overt antagonism between the Western allies afterward.

Historical accounts of these episodes have usually been separate tales. Giauque's book is valuable in synthesizing and combining them. As such, it brings out clearly the connections between these separate designs for holding together the West, designs that were also intended to advance national ambitions. Only Kennedy's Atlantic Community with its Multilateral Force still reads like a muddle—mainly because, as Giauque shows, it was a muddle. From all the other schemes every country took what it wanted and jettisoned or sabotaged the rest. None was interested in subservience. Notably, the Franco-German Friendship Treaty became a triumph for West German parliamentary democracy in its rewriting by the West German Bundestag, with considerable encouragement from Washington and London. British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan's successive "Grand Designs" were rejected by France and the United States, and de Gaulle's aspirations were rejected by all.

Giauque is now a State Department official, and some time seems to have elapsed between the completion of his thesis—the basis of the book—and the book's publication. The literature to which the book refers falls short of being up-to-date. Few would now treat Belgium and the Netherlands as such minor actors in the rejection of the Fouchet Plan or in the pressure they exerted to bring the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community (EEC). Nor would anyone claim that Britain initially [End Page 88] accepted the idea of the Multilateral Force. Whatever Macmillan may have said in Washington, it is now clear that he had no intention of altering the independence of Britain's nuclear deterrent, which he saw as a vital source of leverage with the United States. Other misperceptions arise from the conventionally narrow diplomatic historical view that Giauque takes. You would never know from his book that "Atlantic Community" was a frequently recurring theme in British plans for the future from 1945 on, albeit primarily in an economic sense, particularly as a vehicle for promoting freer British access to the American market. Kennedy was not offering such access during the new round of multilateral trade negotiations that began in 1963. Instead, he proposed only another universal tariff bargaining process in the General Agreement in Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in which the Common Market would be a bigger player than Britain. It might indeed further be deduced that American support, for political reasons, for the supranational Common Market of the EEC was the first and irreversible step toward the world of tariff blocs into which we have lately so rapidly lurched. It follows from the lack of attention that Giauque pays to the economic foundations of reconstruction that the initial chapter on...