The Search for Peace

In January of 1957, the U.S. Department of State Press released a statement in favor of the initiative to create a European common market. The economic community included Belgium, France, the German Federal Republic, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, and desired unfettered trade between member nations. To bolster the union further, members planned to instate a tariff on trade from all non-member nations. ((United States Department of State Press Statement: On the European Common Market And The Free Trade Area, January 15, 1957)) Those not directly included in the common market were not excluded entirely; the United Kingdom entered an agreement with the six nations which waived many trade barriers between the UK and the “free trade arena,” while upholding member nation’s common tariff on British goods. ((United States Department of State Press Statement: On the European Common Market And The Free Trade Area, January 15, 1957)) The proposal for the common market and the United States’ official support represented the growth of a global economy and a push towards stability in the years after the devastation of WWII.

The rationale for United States support was drawn from the “traditional policies” of supporting political and economic unity in Western Europe, and a general backing of all initiatives which promote freer trade. ((United States Department of State Press Statement: On the European Common Market And The Free Trade Area, January 15, 1957)) A goal of the common market was to expand trade with many nations, not simply those included in the specific agreement, a vision which appealed to American leaders looking to bolster their own economy. Despite the seemingly global initiative, the rhetoric of the U.S. Department of State Press clearly limited trade expansion and the resulting economic prosperity to the “free world.” In 1957, the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union had already spurred multiple proxy, guerilla-style battles in developing nations. The U.S. sought free trade in the non-communist sphere as a bulwark against leftist and Soviet advances. Agreements which entangled multiple powerful nations and bolstered stability also acted as a safeguard against future war. Similar institutions such as the United Nations were created in the postwar years for the same reason. If the economies of many nations are completely intertwined and dependent on one another, these nations will not go to war, and excluded nations will fear allied backlash if they attack a member nation. The push for globalized economies and politics was a push for lasting peace.

On the European Common Market and the Free Trade Area

3 Observations

1) Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and West Germany are the six nations which were negotiating to establish a common market with no internal trade barriers and a common external tariff. The United Kingdom was interested in joining the elimination of trade barriers with these six founding members but having its own external tariff. Other Western European nations showed interest similar to the UK.

2) The United States’ policies were: to support moves to further political and economic strength and cohesion in Western Europe, and devotion to progress toward freer nondiscriminatory multilateral trade and convertibility of currencies. Simply put, the US supported the formation of this common market because it would benefit both the US and the world economy.

3) The United States was particularly interested in arrangements that related to agriculture, had a bearing on the liberalization of import controls affecting dollar goods, and measures both public and private which bear on international trade. Again, the US supports this common market because it would benefit the US especially in its agricultural exports to Europe.

2 Questions

1) As it stood, this cooperation represented progress in the world economy. Later on, when this was incorporated into the Treaty for the UN, they treaty mentioned a common defense policy which might lead to a common defense. Does this sound like the type of alliance which could lead to another World War? If not, then why is this different from alliances earlier in the century?

2) What was happening at the time with diplomacy in Eastern Europe? And how did they perceive this agreement?

1 Interesting Observation

1) Although nothing about communism or the Cold War was mentioned, it was highly probable that the US supported this partly because it helped the six member states resist the influence of communism. The US would do anything at the time to undermine efforts of communist expansion.