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John F. Kennedy and Europe
Douglas Brinkley and Richard T. Griffiths, eds., John F. Kennedy and Europe. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999. 349 pp. $60.00.
This thoroughly edited book on the Kennedy administration's policy toward Europe consists of papers delivered by distinguished scholars and Kennedy administration alumni at a conference hosted by the European University Institute in Florence in 1992. For the most part the chapters are based on research in American and European archives. They deal with such diverse issues as U.S. policy toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), trade and finance, the United States and the European Economic Community (EEC), and personalities and policies during the White House years of John F. Kennedy. But the fact that it took almost seven years to publish these results is unfortunate. Some of the arguments have been put forward or challenged elsewhere in the interim.
The chapters by Alistair Horne, Roger Morgan, and John Newhouse remind us of Kennedy's relations with key European leaders such as Harold Macmillan, Konrad Adenauer, and General Charles de Gaulle. Newhouse's essay is of particular interest as [End Page 110] he touches on the complex subject of Anglo-American nuclear aid for France, an issue that is also discussed in Stuart Ward's chapter on "Kennedy, Britain and the European Community." Valuable though Newhouse's chapter is, it would have been even stronger if he had included a discussion of Marc Trachtenberg's challenging argument that President Kennedy was willing to help France's strategic nuclear program. The history of the Multilateral Force (MLF) is still an underresearched issue, and Lawrence Kaplan's chapter is a welcome addition to the literature in the making. Kaplan succeeds in highlighting the internal U.S. frictions on the MLF. The rifts in the Kennedy administration were not merely between those at the State Department who supported the MLF and their critics at the Department of Defense. The two departments themselves were internally split. The MLF also features in Leopoldo Nuti's excellent chapter on President Kennedy's Italian policy. Nuti deserves credit for disclosing the ideological strain in U.S. policy toward Italy, drawing parallels to more progressive foreign policies usually associated with the Alliance for Progress in Latin America. Bernhard J. Firestone's chapter on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is a first-rate contribution to the literature. He establishes a good case study of presidential leadership, accentuating Kennedy's achievement in taking on the U.S. political system from the executive branch to Congress to the American public. However, one would have wished for an additional account describing the diplomacy of the test-ban negotiations on the basis of recently declassified documents.
The chapters by David L. Dileo, Walt Rostow, and Douglas Brinkley on President Kennedy's relations with George Ball and the Europeanists in the State Department, Jean Monnet, and Dean Acheson respectively, cover well-trodden ground but are still full of fresh insights. Brinkley convincingly shows that Dean Acheson sought to maintain influence with Kennedy in order to combat French nationalism. Dileo's account is particularly commendable for highlighting George Ball's emerging influence with Kennedy during the 1960 election campaign. While the President-to-be was busy campaigning, Ball and others wrote a major foreign policy report for the 1960s. The document, Dileo claims, became the basis of Kennedy's Atlantic Partnership and Grand Design, which promoted an "Open Door" ideology for America's foreign economic policy (p. 271). The question remains, however, whether Kennedy's initiatives in foreign economic policy were really evidence of the president's pro-European credentials or were merely the result of pragmatism. After all, as Firestone points out, U. Alexis Johnson had noted that "if [Kennedy] had a weakness I would say it was a tendency to decide in the light of the immediate circumstances at the time without trying to look far ahead" (p. 76). In a book entitled John F. Kennedy and Europe, a more general discussion...