August 11, 2022

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From the Cold War to Putin. The fragile agreement between the United States and Germany

In the new book by Italian diplomat Lorenzo Trabassi, “Fragile Understanding” (Louis University Press), foreword by Enzo Amendola, a survey of relations between Germany and the United States, from the Cold War to the multipolar world

With a new conflict at the gates of the European Union, the Cold War is a page of history that appears to have reopened today, and therefore it is important to understand its dynamics, even the most subtle. Especially since the Cold War, if we can consider it over, it ended yesterday: many still remember the Berlin Wall and the matches in which Germany played with two national teams, one for the West and one for the East.

The world that existed only forty years ago seemed forever divided into two blocks, with NATO and Warsaw Pact tanks lined up in the heart of Berlin, a city that still shows signs of division when visited today, from Mauer Park. From Bernauer Strasse in the East Side Gallery, between the great discotheques of Berlin and the banks of the Spree.

It was these childhood memories that I would think of. Two years ago, when serving at the Italian Embassy in Berlin, I began writing “No Fragile Understanding. Berlin and Euro-Atlantic Relations in the Early Years of the Cold War,” an article just published by Lewis University Press with Introduction by Vincenzo Amendola, Under-Secretary of State for the Presidency of the Council of Ministers Responsible for European Affairs.

book cover

The book – which I would like to point out is in no way attributable to Farnesina, but is an exclusively personal work of mine – examines the lesser known part of the early years of the Cold War and, in particular, the background to the alliance between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany arose, reborn In Bonn, led by Konrad Adenauer and with the approval of the White House. A relationship between Boone and Washington, which the history brochures put on the basis of the West that came down from the ruins of World War II with the aim of confronting the Russian threat.

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Everything seems to be linear, given that NATO was born out of this relationship, and to this day and more than ever it remains a reference point for security in Europe. However, in this historical period very close to us, there are still many unknown background stories: when the covenant was stipulated, was it really so hard? And what did the Europeans – the Italians and, at first, the Germans – think of the new “gentlemen”, the Americans?

In his introduction, Under Secretary Amendola, comparing the birth years of NATO, wrote what NATO’s current role is: “If the diplomatic alliance becomes the heart of public debate, it is necessary to know its past. Its deep roots: how it was born, how it developed, why it went into crisis What is the opinion of the concerned parties?

In this sense, in Fragile Understanding, Adenauer’s Germany and De Gasperi’s Italy give us excellent examples of how much more can still be said about the lesser known aspect of the Cold War, the “human factor”, i.e., the sentiment that characterized the psychological relationship between Germans and Italians. The former enemies of the United States, to whom they owe the political and economic revival of their countries, are guilty of igniting the fires of the Second World War, which ended with the Red Army in the heart of Berlin.

This article deals specifically with understanding what the leaders of West Germany and Italy really believed about the United States and their “imperial” policy toward Europeans, caught between the Atlantic Treaty that sometimes felt too austere and the threat of war against the Soviet Union, a war Europeans realized they had to fight by proxy.

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A book that analyzes, for the first time in Italian, the memories of the main German leaders of the time and compares them to De Gasperi’s political experience. A contradictory psychological picture emerges, especially with regard to the relationship between German statesmen and the United States, one built on gratitude but also marked by frustration and mistrust among Germans, who are disillusioned with the lack of American support for the country’s reunification, which will not happen until after four decades of division. And when Moscow was unable to implement any counter-geopolitical move regarding the initiatives of Cole and Bush Sr.

Fragile Understanding offers readers an analysis of international relations that I hope will be interesting even today, for example because it helps us understand the origins of the misunderstanding between Germany’s Angela Merkel and the various tenants who left Bianca’s house during her tenure. Long advisory. A Cold War narrative has been proposed at a time when Europe is back in discussion about the issues that ravaged it in the 1950s and 1960s, and today the winds of war are sweeping the continent once again. Indeed, as Under Secretary Amendola wrote in the preface: “This war on our doorstep concerns us all, because Europe is a common destiny, even before it is a political enterprise.”