Was the Federal Republic of Germany, as Stanley Hoffmann once put it, “the country that [had] most deliberately chosen to put independence after safety”? In the early sixties, his friend Raymond Aron alluded to the possibility of a West German nuclear armament, while chancellor Adenauer was eager to leave open the possibility thereof. Such a hypothesis, which contradicts Aron’s reputation as a prudent strategist, should be put in historical perspective. Back in 1960, nuclear weapons were not only the crux of the East-West balance of power, but also a matter of the highest importance for the West European nation-states: Britain, France and Western Germany. This article, with reference to Marc Trachtenberg’s A constructed peace, analyzes Aron’s views on a West German nuclear armament at the global and European levels. It suggests that, while Aron was empathetic towards the German longing for reunification and equality of rights epitomized in the controversial vision of a national deterrent, he was simultaneously convinced that the existing balance of power would rule out both aspirations.


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pp. 51-62
Launched on MUSE
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