After the Wall

American Policy Toward Germany

Elizabeth Pond
Release Date: November 1, 1990

To few generations is vouchsafed the chance to reshape a world. That is today’s opportunity, as the Soviet empire disintegrates, German power rises for the third time in a century, and Europe as a whole experiences a renaissance that could restore to it the dynamism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The United States is not the same colossus now as forty years ago, when it determined the post war order as the only nuclear power, the produce of close to half of the globes economic output, and the only major belligerent to survive World War II essentially unscathed. But it still holds a unique position as the balancer both of East-West and West-West relations. Much will depend on its wisdom and skill in managing the present transformation.

Though the danger is not as great now as in the late 1940s, when a savage and possibly mad czar in Moscow, a man who had murdered twenty million of his own subjects, seized a new empire of one hundred million East Europeans and acquired the atom bomb. But the far more rational Soviet Union of today still has nuclear weapons and the largest army in Europe–and its deep imperial and moral crises could still degenerate into chaos. As the same time, the newly democratic Germany, in united and becoming a regional superpower, is repeating an ascent that twice before in the twentieth century led to tragedy.

The outcome of these multiple transactions will depend on the European’s as much as the Americans’ vision and power. But the grandsons and granddaughters of Dean Acheson and Harry Truman will certainly play a crucial role in inventing the suddenly post-postwar, post-cold-war wold. And the crucial question we post in this monograph is what will U.S. develop policy or a “second creation” that could prove as durable and wise as the first?