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"'His finest hour?" George Bush and the diplomacy of German unification

Cox, Michael and Hurst, Steven A. (2002) "'His finest hour?" George Bush and the diplomacy of German unification. Diplomacy and statecraft, 13 (4). pp. 123-150. ISSN 0959-2296

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Abstract

This article examines the diplomatic record of the Bush administration with particular reference to its role in German unification. Based upon memoir material and new sources made available since 1989, it argues that the administration in general - and George Bush in particular - played an indispensable role during these critical years. First, Bush's unequivocal support for unification drove the process forward and reinforced Germany's commitment to NATO. By reassuring countries like France, the US also managed to compel reluctant Europeans to accept unification. Finally, by working closely with Gorbachev and Shevarnadze, Washington was also able to persuade the USSR to accept what many had once thought quite unacceptable to the Russians: a united Germany within NATO. Given the part that the President played in all this, the authors suggest that the generally accepted view of Bush as a politician without purpose or plan has to be questioned. The 'statesman without a vision' who emerges from this reading of events is seen as having been a more forceful and effective diplomatic leader than some of his critics have been prepared to concede.

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