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Robert M. Hendershot and Steve Marsh

The introduction contextualizes the substance of Culture Matters in three sections. The first section locates the book within important debates about the history of the special relationship and illuminates why an expanded consideration of culture is important to the field. The second section introduces the main ideas and benefits of the ‘cultural turn’ in diplomatic history and international relations, which has operationalized culture as a key to understanding the behavior of states in the global system and inspired diverse analytical approaches. Finally, the third section explains the volume’s structure and central themes as well as introduces the individual chapters, which illuminate the mosaic of cultural connections that have simultaneously influenced elite decision-making and sculpted popular attitudes toward and expectations of the special relationship.

in Culture matters
Steve Marsh

Steve Marsh explores political culture by foregrounding the contribution that diplomatic pageantry has made to official representations of Anglo-American relations. Through analysis of bilateral summit meetings between presidents and prime ministers, the informal ambassadorship of the British royal family, and the forthcoming 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage in 2020, Marsh demonstrates that such events are designed and choreographed to assure elite, media, and popular attention. His work illuminates how the official deployment of a selective narrative of Anglo-American relations serves to (re-)legitimize the concept of the special relationship and enhance its ability to adapt to changed circumstances.

in Culture matters
P. G. Wodehouse, transatlantic romances in fiction, and the Anglo-American relationship
Finn Pollard

Srdjan Vucetic builds upon his previous work on the cultural infrastructure of British society by examining the meanings of America embedded in British school textbooks published throughout the period of the special relationship. As textbooks directly shape, and are shaped by, the discourses of national identity, this source material is fertile ground for the assessment of representations of the United States, and by extension Anglo-American relations, which exist in the British national consciousness. Vucetic employs an inductivist discourse analysis of textbooks to identify three ‘master images’ of the United States that have been mostly positive, exhibit impressive continuity over time, and have the ability to influence the cultural underpinnings of the special relationship.

in Culture matters
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transitions and challenges
Stanley R. Sloan

This chapter opens by examining the dramatic end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and then the Soviet Union and reunification of Germany. It studies the challenges posed by the Balkan conflicts and how those struggles affected relations among the allies. It looks at the questions facing the allies concerning the future of the alliance in a new European security environment and then examines in detail the process of NATO enlargement begun when former Warsaw Pact allies of the Soviet Union pleaded to join the West through accession to NATO and the European Union. It assesses how this dynamic affected the West’s relations with Russia and its attempts to maintain cooperation with Moscow even while accepting countries with which the Russians had only a few years before shared either membership in the Warsaw Pact or status as Soviet Republics. The chapter also traces developments in relations between NATO and the European Union, which had been formed out of the European Communities in the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht.

in Defense of the West (second edition)
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turbulent transatlantic ties
Stanley R. Sloan

This chapter opens by focusing on how the unilateralist approach of the new George Bush administration in the United States threatened alliance solidarity. This focus was quickly overtaken by the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. The chapter reports on invocation of NATO’s collective defense provision—Article 5—for the first time in alliance history. It contrasts allied support for the United States in the Afghanistan War with the profound differences among the allies about the Iraq War, which led to more general tensions in transatlantic relations between the United States and the European Union. The chapter also focuses on the deteriorating relationship with Russia, as the Bush administration sought to push Georgia and Ukraine toward NATO membership and Russia intervened militarily, initially in Georgia, to prevent that happening. The chapter closes with the allies welcoming the end of the second term of the Bush administration and hoping for policies from the successor more in sync with European preferences.

in Defense of the West (second edition)
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new tasks, new traumas
Stanley R. Sloan

This chapter opens with the positive notes for the alliance of Barack Obama’s ascent to the US presidency and France’s return to NATO’s command. A worldwide “great recession” cast a dark cloud over the West. But with the uncertainties surrounding the Bush administration’s commitment to the alliance gone, the allies set about preparing a new strategic concept. The 2010 Lisbon concept adjusted NATO’s mission to reflect new realities, including preparing for more non-Article 5 crisis management contingencies. Possibilities for improved relations with Moscow were dashed in 2014 by Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea region and intervention in the eastern parts of the country. The West responded at the Wales Summit with new sanctions and commitments to increase defense spending. The chapter looks also at NATO’s awkward intervention in Libya, helping remove Muammar Gaddafi from power but leaving the country in chaos. The chapter concludes by examining the traumas that confronted the West in the middle of the decade including a general tendency toward illiberal politics in many NATO and EU nations, Turkey’s drift away from the West, the British decision to leave the EU and, most prominently, the shock of Donald Trump’s antagonism toward Europe, NATO and the EU, autocratic inclinations, and friendship with Russian President Putin.

in Defense of the West (second edition)
Stanley R. Sloan

This chapter analyses the major changes to the alliance that occurred during the Cold War, from 1954 to 1989. It examines France’s departure from NATO’s Integrated Command Structure, the impact of détente on the alliance and the adoption of the Harmel formula of “defense and détente” policies to respond to the challenges from the Soviet Union. It reports on the transition of nuclear strategy from massive retaliation to flexible response, the British decision to join the European Community, the Federal Republic of Germany’s growing importance, and the developing coordination of foreign and security policy in the European Community.

in Defense of the West (second edition)
Stanley R. Sloan

This chapter opens by remarking on the resilience of both the transatlantic alliance and the West, but it warns that the alliance has never faced such an existential threat in its entire 70-year history as has been posed by the Trump presidency. It argues that the West is more than just the transatlantic alliance, but that values, interests, and key institutions grounded in transatlantic relationships are the heart of the West. The chapter’s core focuses on three potential scenarios for the future. One features optimistic projections about the ability of the West to rebound from the current crises, including the pandemic, and build stronger national democracies, European integration, and Western cooperation. A second scenario postulates survival, but without any great leaps forward. The third, and most concerning, examines the potential consequences of the illiberal tendencies and Trump presidency combining with Russian goals to destroy the alliance and devastate Western values and interests. It concludes by judging “The current collision between history and disruptive forces of change has posed a huge challenge to the United States, Canada, and their European allies. Future histories of the next decade of transatlantic relations will record the people’s ultimate decisions and the success or failure of the attempts to manage the crisis.”

in Defense of the West (second edition)
Transatlantic relations from Truman to Trump

This book is an interpretive history of transatlantic security from the negotiation of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1948–1949 to the turbulence created by President Trump, British departure from the European Union (Brexit) and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The book concludes with analyses of possible futures for the West and observes “the most disruptive force of all has been the American presidency of Donald J. Trump. Trump refused to accept virtually all the political and strategic assumptions on which transatlantic political, economic, financial, and security relations have been based for 70 years. And, given the transatlantic alliance’s heavy reliance on American leadership and involvement, Trump’s lack of commitment has placed huge question marks over the West’s future.”

Stanley R. Sloan

This chapter inventories the external threats and the internal challenges, while examining the interactive dynamic between the two categories and dis­cussing the circumstances under which NATO and EU member states may, or may not, be successful in dealing with them. The chapter sets the stage for considering the future of the transatlantic alliance and the West more broadly, examining the external threats to the West, including those from Russia, Middle Eastern instability, terrorism, cyber and information warfare, and China. It then assesses the internal challenges arising from the vulnerabilities of liberal democracy, consequent illiberal tendencies, British departure from the EU, and Donald Trump’s autocratic nationalism and retreat from international leadership. It concludes that “while the external threats to the West are real—far more than ‘risks and challenges’—internal weaknesses could block Western democracies from working together to deal with them. If transatlantic solidar­ity fails, then the future of the West would be in doubt.”

in Defense of the West (second edition)