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Of Walls and Bridges: The United States andamp; Eastern Europe

Bennett Kovrig
Copyright Date: 1991
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 440
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qg7n3
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  • Book Info
    Of Walls and Bridges
    Book Description:

    In this ambitious work, Bennett Kovrig lucidly traces the economic, political and ideological developments that have characterized U.S. relations with Eastern Europe since World War II. Kovrig provides a refreshingly objective examination of the complex evolution of events that led to the end of the cold war. His account of the days prior ro America's global confrontation with the U.S.S.R. when U.S. interests in Eastern Europe were minimal, of the economic and psychological warfare of the cold war, and of the growing diversity of Eastern European nations that contributed to the upheavals of 1989 offers a rich and comprehensive background to the current scenario.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6360-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Richard C. Leone

    In the years since World War II, America’s policies toward the nations of Eastern Europe were overwhelmingly influenced by global competition between the United States and the USSR. It is tempting to say that the apparent ending of that struggle may result in an even more limited American role in that part of the world. This work, by Bennett Kovrig of Trinity College in Toronto, significantly enriches our understanding of the complexity and nuance of past U.S. policy and of the stakes and possibilities for future American relations with the region.

    Hegel’s assertion that men and nations learn nothing from...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    If consistency of purpose and flexibility in tactics are the inseparable hallmarks of a sound foreign policy, America’s engagement in the affairs of Eastern Europe has stood the test of history. Only a nation possessed of ideological certainty and the attendant sense of mission could persevere so doggedly in championing the cause of democratic self-determination in a distant region vulnerable to the imperial ambitions of more proximate great powers.

    To be sure, pursuit of that goal was fraught with frustration and compromises dictated by other strategic priorities and the limits of American power. Liberation rhetoric could not stop the tanks...

  6. 1 Promises to Keep
    (pp. 5-49)

    After forty years of political and economic exile, the East Europeans are beginning their journey home. Notwithstanding occasional miscalculations and mishaps, the United States has been steadfast in pursuit of this goal. It would be ironic if America’s principled commitment flagged just when at long last there looms the prospect of success. Indeed, the promise of self-determination has kept the U.S.-East European relationship alive.

    In World War I, the United States contributed the Wilsonian vision of national self-determination to legitimate its participation and forge a more peaceful and democratic order in Europe. But neither its commercial nor its security interests...

  7. 2 Rebellion Too Far
    (pp. 50-102)

    The ambiguities of liberation did not disappear with Eisenhower’s triumph. A succession struggle in the Kremlin presented the West with new opportunities as well as uncertainties. Stalinism’s oppressive weight drove East Europeans to confront their masters, first in Czechoslovakia and East Germany, then in Poland and Hungary. The prospect of revising the division of Europe flickered briefly, then died out. The security priorities of Washington and Moscow remained unaltered, and the permanence of Soviet rule over Eastern Europe was reconfirmed. This was a dismal outcome for an administration whose election campaign had

    The impact of liberation on American politics waned...

  8. 3 Walls and Bridges
    (pp. 103-156)

    As the mirage of early liberation dissipated, both the United States and the peoples of Eastern Europe settled in for the long haul anticipated in the original concept of containment. There would be no more attempts at destabilization, no more invitations to the East Europeans to seize the Titoist option. The Soviet Union’s forceful reminder that it was the sole arbiter over its sphere of dominance compelled the United States to adjust policy to the possibilities of evolutionary change.

    The lessons of Hungary also informed Khrushchev’s pursuit of de-Stalinization. Poland was allowed to make concessions to the Roman Catholic church...

  9. 4 Human Rights
    (pp. 157-227)

    The principle of inalienable individual freedoms is deeply rooted in the American political culture, as is the belief that these freedoms have universal validity. Ideological universalism has been a constant factor in the U.S. world outlook, confirmed by force of example as well as by active engagement of the Wilsonian variety. In modern times, the powerful popular appeal of human rights has induced regimes of all colors to seek legitimacy by professing to respect them or to seek their realization. But much as the notion of democracy, or rule by the will and consent of the majority, has been debased...

  10. 5 Economic Levers
    (pp. 228-302)

    The Western alliance, observed a prominent expert, has a capacity for chaotic mismanagement of East-West trade policy that is hard to underestimate.¹ Indeed, the need to reconcile America’s security, political, and commercial interests in Eastern Europe has sorely tested the wit and will of successive administrations. Recalcitrant allies, conflicting domestic pressures, and marginal economic leverage have hampered the development of a consistent strategy that could effectively advance all of those interests. The relative decline in America’s economic predominance further weakened that leverage even as detente in the early 1970s and in the Gorbachev era invited a redefinition of the costs...

  11. 6 Security Structures
    (pp. 303-364)

    The contest for Europe has stood at the heart of the confrontation between East and West since World War II. Extension of Soviet hegemony over Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe accentuated the threat to the rest of the continent, and by 1947 Western strategists became preoccupied with the political and military security of free Europe. All other considerations were subordinated to bolstering Western Europe’s military defenses and integrative institutions. While the people of Eastern Europe were nominally considered to be friendly captives of a hostile power, their countries were in the enemy camp. For all the rhetoric of...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 365-400)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 401-410)
  14. Index
    (pp. 411-426)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 427-427)