The year of Europe, 1973/74 : a study in alliance diplomacy
1973 was a period in the history of the Atlantic Alliance when United States and European interests diverged to an unprecedented degree. Kissinger's Year of Europe initiative (1973/74) and the associated proposal, originally for a new Atlantic Charter and later for a less far-reaching declaration of principles, was an American attempt to inspire an explicit restatement of Alliance obligations. The intention was to take account of changes in the Atlantic relationship consequent upon EEC enlargement, economic pressures, and a dwindling of US domestic support for commitments to Europe at a time of detente with the USSR and the Watergate debacle. But the problems which the US sought to resolve were exacerbated by events, by different priorities in Europe, and by the attitude of France, which chose to interpret American proposals as a diplomatic offensive rather than an attempt to address Alliance problems. Closer US-Soviet relations, the eclipse of European interests during the 1973 Middle East war, and different approaches to the energy crisis created real tension between the allies. It increased - temporarily - the rival attractions of greater European cooperation before leading to recriminations within the Nine members of the EEC and eventual French isolation in the face of Paris's continued hostility to Kissinger's prescription for renewed cooperation. This thesis re-evaluates these events. It looks at the background to 1973 and the prevailing wisdom on such concepts as Atlantic partnership and interdependence. It examines the view that the US initiative was misinterpreted because of unwillingness to jeopardise newly-established European objectives for greater cooperation. It describes how the difficulties were resolved by enhancing - albeit only marginally - the importance of consultation within the Alliance and permitting a degree of US influence within European political cooperation on issues affecting US interests. Finally, it touches on possible comparisons with the early 1990s.