Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Edward P Crapol


America's Vietnam War had profound ramifications beyond its immediate effect on Southeast Asia and the United States. This dissertation utilizes the debate over Vietnam between the United States and its major European allies, Britain, France, and West Germany, as an analytical framework to examine inter-allied relations. The "Vietnam problem" strained the traps-Atlantic alliance and revealed the respective self-interest of the four member nations. The British, French, and West Germans had serious misgivings about the American strategy in Vietnam, based on a differing view of the nature of the conflict and a pessimistic assessment of American chances for success in South Vietnam. Equally important, the Europeans feared that Washington might disengage from Europe and that the fighting in Southeast Asia might develop into a major, perhaps even a world war. European security hence might be dangerously undermined by further American escalation in Vietnam. According to the European powers, the Cold War should be primarily fought in Europe. Although London, Paris, and Bonn were deeply apprehensive about the American engagement in Vietnam, they failed to develop a unified policy to affect American decision-making because they were unable to transcend their nationalistic agendas. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson unsuccessfully attempted to win substantial European support for America's role in Vietnam. to the United States, Vietnam was a prime domino that could not be allowed to fall and Washington viewed European concerns as parochial and counter-productive. The essentially unilateral approach of the United States in Vietnam led to tragic failure. as a result of the Vietnam experience, Washington realized that it could not fulfill all its global obligations without the backing of its European allies. The lack of a cohesive policy toward America's engagement in Vietnam revealed inherent shortcomings in the foreign policy-making of the European nation-states, which were still guided by a nationalistic, self-interested approach. Britain, France, West Germany, and the United States painfully recognized that in order to successfully meet global challenges they needed to listen more closely to each other and develop a mutualistic policy that would better serve their shared interests as allies and friends.



© The Author