Allies at War

America, Europe, and the Crisis Over Iraq

Philip H. Gordon, Jeremy Shapiro
Release Date: April 1, 2004

From the 1956 Suez Crisis to the disputes over US military intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, the history of the post-World War II American-European alliance is one of nearly continuous diplomatic crisis. Yet, no matter how deep the divisions or bitter the dispute, in the end, the allies always found ways to rise above their differences and preserve the integrity of an alliance that, by the late 1990s, had become the most successful in world history.

The diplomatic wrangling over the war in Iraq produced the worst transatlantic crisis in nearly fifty years, and for the first time leaders in both the United States and Europe are seriously questioning the viability and, indeed, even the value of the alliance. But is the latest crisis really so different from all those that came before it? Is it, as some contend, the culmination of an inevitable process of dissolution that began with the end of the Cold War and became clear after 9/11? Is the fragile US-European alliance and the world order it supports coming unraveled?

In Allies at War, distinguished Brookings analysts Philip Gordon and Jeremy Shapiro provide answers to these and other critical questions about the current crisis in US-European relation and its implication for the future.

To help put the current crisis into context the authors trace the evolution of American-European relations since World War II. They describe how deep ideological differences that emerged at the end of the Cold War and disputes over the Balkans, Iran, and Iraq during the Clinton years already had some analysts questioning if the alliance would survive. They explain how the Bush administration’s “cowboy diplomacy” helped bring already simmering tensions to a boil. And they provide a detailed, inside account of the events leading up to the Iraq crisis, describing how a series of disastrous diplomatic missteps turned a legitimate disagreement over how to deal with a rogue regime into a crisis that threatened the alliance’s very existence.

Finally, in response to those who would say good riddance to an alliance that has given the West fifty years of unprecedented economic and political stability, the authors explain why continued US-European cooperation is essential to global security and prosperity. In an age of terrorism and globalization, they argue, no country or continent, no matter how strong, can stand alone. Allies at War offers concrete prescriptions for mending the rifts that have opened in our relationship and cementing an even stronger alliance-one strong enough to weather the challenges of a post-9/11 world.