The Limits of Linkage: The Nixon Administration and Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik, 1969–72 (Ohne Sprachangabe)

In: The International History Review   ;  33 ,  2  ;  277-297  ;  2011

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This article takes a look at the reaction of the White House to the new Ostpolitik of the Federal Republic of Germany, initiated in 1969 by the newly elected Chancellor, Willy Brandt. The President, Richard M. Nixon, and his National Security Advisor, Henry A. Kissinger, viewed Bonn's new policy as a challenge to Western unity and their own policy of détente. For them, Ostpolitik, as a policy aiming at rapprochement with the Soviet bloc, represented an irritating element in international politics. However, the Nixon administration understood that it was impossible for the United States to take action against Brandt's initiatives in the East without causing irreparable damage to the vital German–US relationship. In this context, Kissinger came to see the four-power negotiations on Berlin (1970–1) as a way to link Ostpolitik with other diplomatic issues of interest to the United States. He hoped that this would allow him control Brandt's Eastern policy and exploit it to further US interests. This strategy of linkage did not bring the US many positive results; indeed, it put a strain on relations between Washington and Bonn. Nevertheless, in the end the Nixon administration got most of what it wanted out of Ostpolitik, despite its limited influence on its course.

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