The evolution of the U.S. role in Europe

by James Steinberg

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This paper reviews the nature of the U.S. role in Europe in the post-World War II period and examines the impact on that relationship of the startling changes of 1989 and 1990 in Central and Eastern Europe. Focusing primarily on the unfolding policy debate in the United States, the author analyzes the military, political, and economic implications of four basic views of the situation: (1) the continuing Soviet menace, (2) the dangers of an isolated Soviet Union, (3) the German "loose cannon," and (4) 1914 revisited. While the author concludes that the U.S. role in Europe may diminish in the future, he emphasizes that the extent of the decline may not be great. Given the shift of dominant concerns from security to a balanced relationship among equals, the author foresees a strong bond between the United States and Europe into the next century.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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