The making of American power (1): the end of the Second World War

This week, I started a new eight-week evening class at London”s City Literary Institute. The title is “The making of American power: US foreign policy from the Cold War to Trump” and our lecturer is Jack Gain.

Week 1 of the course discussed the nature of state power and the post-war reconstruction of Europe.

State power can be seen as a spectrum from hard power to soft power. Hard power involves the deployment of military and intelligence assets. Soft power is about the use of diplomacy and cultural forces. In between, one has economic options, whether positive such as trade agreements and preferential treatment or negative such as tariffs and sanctions. US foreign policy employs all of these options.

The post- Second World War foreign policy agenda of President Harry Truman involved the Marshall Plan of aid to Western European nations (the UK was the largest recipient with 24% of the total), support for European integration (leading eventually to the European Union), the creation of the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and the Bretton Woods financial system involving the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World bank.

Less visible was the co-operation of America’s security and intelligence agencies with those of its European allies with the first successes being intervention in the Italian election of 1948 and involvement in the Greek civil war of 1946-1949.


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