Using the European Defence Community (EDC) as a case-study, this book examines the competing and often conflicting views of the British and American governments towards European integration in the 1950s. Unlike much of the scholarship on Britain and Europe, this study argues that London, with Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden to the fore, was both positive and constructive in its support for the supranational EDC. Indeed, in 1953, when the US government warned of an 'agonizing reappraisal' of its defence relationship with Europe if the project failed, British support actually intensified. By 1954, this American factor, rather than support for European unity per se, had become the dominant feature of EdenOs policy. When, in August 1954, the French parliament destroyed the EDC and simultaneously plunged NATO into chaos, it was fear of the 'agonizing reappraisal' that also determined much of Eden's ultimately successful crisis management.
At the London Nine-Power Conference of September-October 1954, the British were instrumental not only in holding NATO together and anchoring West Germany firmly in the Western camp, but in encouraging Washington to re-dedicate itself to European defence. This last achievement has rarely been given the prominence it deserves, perhaps because contemporary observers, and many historians, dismissed the 'agonizing reappraisal' as a bluff. However, as this book will show, there was more substance to the threat than is often allowed, with sections of the US Congress in particular pressing the Eisenhower Administ-tion to adopt a 'peripheral' defence of Europe.