As historians have studied the influence of electron power upon history, the preponderance of attention from foreign relations scholars has been on nuclear weapons and atomic power. John Krige’s Sharing Knowledge, Shaping Europe: US Technological Collaboration and Nonproliferation adds much to our understanding. He explores the intersection of nuclear non-proliferation, European integration, and U.S.-European scientific collaboration in the early and middle Cold War. He wishes to know how the United States worked to keep Western European countries from developing their own nuclear warheads and weapons systems. Krige does not attempt a definitive account of any of these subjects. Rather, he argues that the United States and other powers used technological collaboration and denial as “soft power” tools for pushing partners towards policy goals intended to stabilize the regional and global political system, with middling success. Krige takes the reader through four topical case studies to reach several conclusions. The soft power tools of technological collaboration and technological denial were of limited utility unless interconnected to hard power tools. Soft power was also not particularly effective when the U.S. policy-making bureaucracy was internally divided, and when there was firm opposition from the targeted West European countries. Foreign relations scholars need to understand complex technological systems to avoid misunderstandings about policymaker intentions. Finally, foreign relations scholars need to be aware of the importance of lower-level figures such as scientists and engineers who functioned as technological interpreters to the policymakers. Krige’s first case study is that of U.S. policy towards the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). The two chapters covering this topic make up nearly half the book. In a close, nuanced review of the policy discussions, Krige explains the evolution of U.S. support for Euratom from 1955 through 1961. He assumes that the reader will be largely familiar with both the history of Euratom and the European integration project. Krige wants to engage the historiographic debate over the significance of Euratom (and U.S. support) to European integration. He also argues that the larger U.S. effort towards Euratom was unsuccessful because of internal policy divisions. Thus, even though the U.S. had the soft power advantage in its technical knowledge and possession of fissile material, that soft power was of limited advantage on its own. Krige’s second case study is a U.S.-FRG collaborative space exploration effort proposed in 1965–1966. He argues this was not meant to be just a sweetener for more difficult policy decisions about financial offset payments and the Multilateral Force. Instead, drawing on Francis Gavin’s recent work on nuclear nonproliferation, he argues that in the aftermath of the Chinese testing of a bomb the U.S. sought to divert nuclear-capable powers away from weapons projects. The path taken was one of “positive disarmament,” substitution of something else for the nuclear weapons project. But FRG Chancellor Ludwig Erhard was more interested in the prestige of a nuclear weapons project than mere scientific collaboration. Krige convincingly shows that the joint research proposal was a substantive policy element on its own at the center of U.S. nonproliferation efforts with the FRG. The third case study shows how external economic and military factors could easily derail collaborative scientific efforts. In 1965–1966, the United States supported the European Launcher Development Organization (ELDO) to divert West European research away from weapons delivery systems and towards peaceful space launchers. In February 1966, the British decided to withdraw from ELDO. U.S. officials urged the British to stay, but the United States could only offer technological sharing rather financial support. Two National Security Action Memoranda (NSAM) inadvertently constrained the Johnson administration from assisting those European powers who might have an independent nuclear capability, construct an independent commercial communications satellite system, or develop the launchers to put them into orbit. The Department of State and NASA tried to work out a solution, but could not surmount internal U.S. opposition to an independent European communications satellite system. Moreover, the West Europeans refused to use U.S. technology if it came with restrictions lest it trap them. ELDO was ultimately a failure (and thus ignored by historians). Still, Krige sees this as an excellent example of nonproliferation through positive disarmament. The final case study is the U.S.-UK relationship over gas centrifuge enrichment. The United States pursued legal and technical policies to retard the development of gas centrifuge technology in Western Europe. Gas centrifuges were a less expensive way of producing enriched uranium than gaseous diffusion. This raised a proliferation risk, however, and a challenge in balancing competing governmental, commercial, and academic interests in this technology. When the British revealed a previously secret effort in 1968, U.S. officials welcomed the idea of a joint UK-Dutch-West German gas centrifuge plant to constrain the FRG’s ambitions. But UK officials were not allowed to share any information already acquired from collaboration with the United States. It soon emerged that the British were technologically behind the United States, and so too would be the West Germans. Technological collaboration in this instance had given the United States soft power with which to achieve both political and economic goals. In the end, was technological collaboration a successful and useful instrument of soft power for the United States to deal with Western Europe and nonproliferation? Krige believes it was not. The West Europeans worried about dependency and autonomy, even as they pursued integration. U.S. officials had too much faith in the power of their technological leadership and too little understanding of national interest among their partners. Ultimately, Krige concludes, technological collaboration and technological denial are complementary tools best used together. Krige demonstrates this with an additional case study of Henry Kissinger’s efforts to improve the French nuclear arsenal in the 1970s. The book is not without its issues. The intended audience is foreign relations historians generally, but more than a passing familiarity with the key figures and issues in both European integration and the history of European space exploration is needed. The sourcing too will give one pause. The primary source bibliography is exceedingly brief. Some expected collections are not mentioned at all. To be fair, Krige is making an argument, not providing a definitive account, but the reader needs to be reassured about the mastery of the relevant archival material. More problematic is the sloppy sourcing. There are repeated references to documents from NARA without Record Groups or subcollections, citations to documents without archives, and even notes for documents without dates, authors, archives, or context. None of this casts real doubt on Krige’s underlying conclusions, but in a work designed to help foreign relations scholars integrate technology more effectively into the larger story of the Cold War, it is an unforced error. It is surprising that MIT Press did not address this at the editorial stage. Despite these shortfalls, Krige’s account points towards many exciting directions for further research on the intersection of technology, business, politics, and foreign relations history. This book adds nuance to our understanding of nonproliferation history, evolving policy on European integration, the history of technology and of U.S. foreign policy towards Europe during the Cold War. Those working on the histories of science and technology in all of its forms, nuclear proliferation, and European relations will all profit from this work. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Diplomatic History – Oxford University Press
Published: Feb 6, 2018
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