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T. Michael Ruddy

The term "neutralism" is not new to the lexicon of international relations, but in the Cold War world, divided into two competing blocs, this word assumed new meaning. For its first century and a half as a nation, the United States, under the guise of isolationism, practiced its own form of neutralism, shunning political and military involvement with the European powers and invoking its neutrality according to international law in wartime. The appeal of neutrality persisted into the 1930s, as the United States anticipated possible involvement in World War II. But those were different times. There was no Cold War, and the United States was not a superpower. While America's earlier neutralism bore a resemblance to the Cold War variety, some important distinctions set the two apart.

The Cold War, defined not only in terms of a political rivalry between the United States and Soviet Union but also in terms of a conflict between Soviet communism and Western democratic capitalism, provided the context for this new form of neutralism. This ideological rivalry dated to the time of the 1917 Russian Revolution, but during World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union put aside their ideological differences and joined in a common cause to defeat Hitler. In the aftermath of that conflict, the animosity soon resurfaced as disputes over the postwar settlement escalated. The two powers ultimately abandoned cooperation and turned to consolidating control within their respective spheres. By 1947, containment defined America's postwar policy toward the Soviet Union. The North Atlantic Treaty (1949), an alliance intended to thwart Soviet aggression, institutionalized this containment and defined the western bloc. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was consolidating its control over the eastern bloc.

Not all European states, however, presumed that their national interests would be served by associating with this alliance system. Sweden, situated on Europe's strategically important northern flank, and Austria, bordering the Soviet bloc, are notable examples. To them, neutralism had a definite appeal. Their decision to assume an independent position created complications for U.S. foreign relations. Policymakers in Washington particularly worried that neutralism might tempt America's allies and erode the solidarity of the Atlantic alliance.

Compounding their apprehension were developments in the Third World. As the former European colonial empires slowly crumbled, many newly independent states opted for nonalignment, often with the intention of exploiting the Soviet-American rivalry to secure economic assistance from both sides. The 1955 gathering of twenty-nine nonaligned nations at Bandung, Indonesia, combined with a concerted effort by the Soviet Union to curry favor with these states, underlined the necessity for the United States to follow a well-considered approach to neutralism.

In the years after World War II, an understanding of the causes, intentions, and goals of neutralism slowly evolved within policymaking circles that would guide America's relationship with these states. The administration of President Harry Truman initially resisted neutralism, considering it a hindrance to western security. Only reluctantly, after officials realized that the neutrals would not be dissuaded from their chosen course, did Washington begin to pursue an accommodation with neutralism. The administration of President Dwight Eisenhower, despite its inflammatory rhetoric, grasped the advantages and drawbacks of this third force and endeavored to implement a policy toward neutralism that would benefit Western interests. But often Cold War considerations intruded to muddle relations with the neutrals, particularly in the Third World. Despite the more sophisticated worldview of President John F. Kennedy and his advisers, and their appreciation of the unique circumstances faced by the Third World, in practice they deviated little from the approach of their predecessors. The framework for the U.S.-neutral relationship that would survive through the Cold War was in place by the 1960s.

U.S. policy toward neutralism met with mixed results. In western Europe, the neutral states, despite their aversion to alliances, shared a common political, social, and economic heritage with the United States and its European allies. U.S. policy thus successfully fostered a relationship that to a great extent accommodated neutral interests while furthering America's Cold War goals. In the case of the Soviet bloc, Yugoslavia's adoption of neutralism offered an opportunity to weaken Soviet control within its own orbit. But contrary to the hopes of policymakers, neutralism did not spread further in the Soviet bloc. Finally, Washington often misunderstood the forces of nationalism in the Third World. America's ties to many of the former colonial powers created friction with the newly independent states and opened opportunities for the Soviet Union. The United States encouraged neutralism when it fit American interests, but opposed it when it went counter to these interests. Often, this opposition was counterproductive. It antagonized Third World nationalism and drove these states closer to the Soviet Union.

By the time the expanding conflict in Vietnam consumed America's attention in the mid-1960s, neutralism had established itself as a force to be reckoned with. As Washington struggled to extricate itself from that costly Asian war and then as it tried to reduce Cold War tensions through a détente policy, the neutrals had to be factored into the equation. The neutrals exerted an important influence, often serving as political or diplomatic bridges between the competing Cold War blocs. They recognized that it was in their interest to work toward a solution to the Cold War.


At a June 1956 news conference, when the topic of neutralism came up, President Dwight D. Eisenhower responded by noting that for 150 years the United States itself had been neutral. He then declared that "neutral" now meant avoiding any attachment to military alliances, and that "this [did] not necessarily mean neutral as between right and wrong or between decay and decency." In equating America's past tradition with the neutral stance of 1956, the president exhibited a sympathy and understanding of this "third force" not always associated with his administration. The 150-year commitment to which he referred evoked two distinct but interrelated facets of how the United States defined its neutrality in the pastfirst, the legal status of a neutral state in time of war, and, second, the response to George Washington's admonition in his Farewell Address to "avoid entangling alliances." The traditional legal concept of neutrality, which had evolved in international law during the past century through treaty, court cases, and precedent, was codified in the Hague Conventions of 1907. These conventions recognized the legal status of a nonbelligerent state in time of war and prescribed the rights and obligations of a nation in its relations with belligerent states. During its formative years, the United States adhered toindeed, became a champion ofthese principles of neutrality. The principles of freedom of the seas and the right to trade with belligerents in time of war appealed to a fledgling nation focused on establishing its economic stability, which was so important to ensuring its viability as a nation. Even as the United States was becoming a major power in the twentieth century, it was hesitant to abandon neutrality. For three years before its 1917 entry into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson asserted America's neutral rights. And during the 1930s, encouraged particularly by a Congress and a public intent upon staying out of another conflict emerging in Europe, once again the United States declared its neutrality until events inexorably brought the country into the conflict at the end of 1941.

Besides this neutrality defined by international law, Eisenhower in his remarks also referred to another aspect of America's earlier policies that was more akin to postwar neutralism. In 1796, President George Washington in his Farewell Address warned Americans to avoid entangling alliances. At the time, war threatened to engulf Europe. The United States, which had signed an alliance with France in 1778, feared being drawn into a European conflict that did not serve its national interests. It abrogated that treaty by 1800, and for a century and a half thereafter assiduously avoided political and military entanglements with Europe.

In international affairs, America entered a period of what many historians describe as isolationism. In effect, the United States assumed a neutralist position. Yet this neutralism was not a total rejection of international involvement. The United States pursued opportunities for trade, protected in time of conflict by the neutral rights supposedly guaranteed by international law, and the independence its neutral position afforded, provided opportunities to exploit the rivalry among the European powers to America's benefit.

America's status changed dramatically after World War II. As a major power, it could not return to its former neutral position. In fact, it now confronted a neutralism, first in Europe and then in the Third World, that exhibited many of the characteristics of the neutralism it had practiced for so many years.

After World War II, the legally defined neutrality in wartime was irrelevant in the new environment of the Cold War. The more traditional European neutrals, such as Switzerland and Sweden, had used this neutrality as a basis for their status. But like earlier U.S. neutralism, this new neutralism was more political than legal. In most cases, nations that espoused neutralism did so freely. In a few notable cases, however, external pressure influenced their choice. All neutrals refused to commit to alliances and distanced themselves from the power blocs dominated by the United States and the Soviet Union. As Peter Lyon notes in his study Neutralism, "By neutrality is meant non-involvement in war, while by neutralism is meant non-involvement in the Cold War." Neutralism was a state of mind shared by a segment of Europe's and the world's population. Neutral sentiment existed in nations allied with the United States as well as in the neutral states themselves. As was the case with the United States during its early history, neutralist states determined that their national interest would best be served by not choosing sides in the great power conflict.

But Cold War neutralism, unlike that of the United States in the nineteenth century, was not isolationist. It was what political scientists call positive neutralism. Neutral states consciously exercised their status as a third force between the power blocs to further their national interests. Like the United States in the nineteenth century, this included promoting their economic and commercial cause. But positive neutralism went further. Through political involvement, especially in international organizations, neutrals exerted an influence on international affairs. They played a role as bridge-builders to span the gap between the Cold War rivals.

Neutralism presented an appealing option for those who had misgivings about subordinating their nation's sovereignty to the policies of the United States or the Soviet Union. Concern that the North Atlantic Treaty might just lead to such an eventuality at times fueled an attraction to neutralism even among some of America's traditionally closest allies. As late as 1948, political factions in Great Britain considered pursuing a "third way," which they defined as a bloc of western European states and their former colonies that would assume an independent position between the United States and the Soviet Union, to reduce British dependence on the United States. The term "neutralism" itself first came into vogue in the late 1940s in France, where it signified a state of mind that questioned whether French national interests would be served by subordinating French independence to American leadership.

The desire for U.S. economic assistance and a growing apprehension about the Soviet political and military threat ultimately trumped neutralism's appeal in Britain and France. But some of Europe's smaller states did embrace neutralism. Each of these states constructed its own distinct style of neutralism, defined in terms that served its own national interests. Switzerland and Sweden had a long tradition of neutrality that they had maintained throughout World War II and firmly guarded in the Cold War. Finland and Austria to differing degrees represented neutralism coerced. Finland, defeated and forced to deal with its victorious Soviet neighbor, tried to preserve as much of its independence as possible by signing the 1948 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, which bound it to resist any attack on the Soviet Union. Austria, like Germany occupied by the Allies after World War II, accepted the status of neutrality as a prerequisite for the 1955 Austrian State Treaty that ended the occupation of its territory and restored its autonomy.

The Soviet bloc was not immune to the appeal of neutralism. Josip Broz Tito established a communist regime in Yugoslavia, but bristled at Stalinist interference in the internal affairs of his country. When Yugoslavia was expelled from the Cominform in 1948, Tito charted a course independent of both blocs.

As neutralism took root in Europe, the dissolution of Europe's colonial empires in Africa and Asia gave rise to newly independent nations, many of which adopted a policy of nonalignment. In certain respects, nonalignment was synonymous with neutralism, for the nonaligned states eschewed commitments to either of the global power centers. But not all members of the nonaligned movement took a neutral position vis-àvis the two blocs. Many of the twenty-nine states that attended the first meeting of the nonaligned at Bandung in 1955 tilted to one side or the other. B. K. Shrivastava, in a 1982 article titled "The United States and the Non-Aligned Movement," identified three categories of nonaligned states that had become clearly delineated by 1970: the extremists, consisting largely of Marxist and proSoviet countries; the conservative friends of the United States and the West; and the moderates, who wanted to maintain their distance from both the United States and the Soviet Union. Moderates, such as India and Egypt, wary both of the Soviet Union and of Western capitalist powers, their former colonial overlords, represented the true neutrals of the Third World.

As neutralism established itself in Europe and spread to Asia and Africa, U.S. policymakers had to decide whether to oppose or to pursue accommodation with that movement. Certain aspects of this phenomenon, from their viewpoint, were clearly contrary to American interests, especially the tendency for neutralism to impede the establishment of a unified opposition to Soviet advances. But neutrals, in their distrust of Soviet doctrine, also offered opportunities.


After World War II, the Truman administration faced a deteriorating relationship with the Soviet Union and a Europe in dire economic straits that made it vulnerable to communist blandishments and powerless to resist potential Soviet aggression. In central Europe, the failure to establish a cooperative framework for the occupation of Germany was leading to a permanently divided German state. When the United States responded to these developments with a containment policy, it soon became clear that neutralism had the potential to undermine the unity of purpose the Truman administration deemed necessary to repel Soviet advances.

West Germany was a key factor in American policymakers' response to neutralism. With the creation of the Federal Republic in 1949 in the wake of the Berlin airlift, West Germany quickly emerged as an important component of the western European alliance, and a divided Germany became an accepted part of the Cold War landscape. To many Germans intent upon reuniting their country, however, neutralism often surfaced as a means of accomplishing this reunification. Through the years, this solution even had prominent advocates in the United States. The noted American diplomat and historian George F. Kennan, in his 1957 Reith Lectures over the BBC, called for the superpowers to disengage from Germany, which would be united and demilitarized. Throughout the Cold War, Washington consistently resisted such solutions, fearing that this would weaken Western resolve to resist the Soviet threat.

The traditional neutrals, Switzerland and Sweden, along with Finland, were particular obstacles to Western solidarity. Neutrals were more than willing to participate in postwar economic programs such as the Marshall Plan. (Finland was the notable exception. As it tried to construct a relationship with its Soviet neighbor that would preserve its national autonomy, Helsinki opted against participation so as not to antagonize the Kremlin.) Economic ties were as far as they would go, however. Political and military bonds were out of the question.

The Truman administration initially viewed neutralism with suspicion and even hostility. The advice that Secretary of State George Marshall offered to the president on the occasion of a 1948 visit by the crown prince of Sweden was typical. Marshall argued that Sweden's adherence to neutrality had "been more benefit to the Soviet Union than to the Western countries" and urged Truman to "avoid any expression of approval of the neutrality policy," since such a policy that "reveal[ed] a division among the free nations of the world [could] only serve to invite aggression."

Gradually, however, officials grudgingly conceded that it was futile to try to dissuade these neutrals and that neutralism had to be accommodated for the foreseeable future. They thus concentrated on finding a way at least indirectly to turn neutralism to the West's benefit. Washington curtailed efforts to pressure neutrals to choose between the two competing camps and moved toward a consistent, pragmatic plan to bind Europe's neutrals closer to the West, thus strengthening rather than weakening the emerging collective security.

The Eisenhower administration, despite its more confrontational public stance and expressions of intolerance for neutralismSecretary of State John Foster Dulles called neutrality "obsolete," "immoral," and "shortsighted"continued and in fact institutionalized this trend. Dulles's public statements obscured an underlying realism in the administration's approach, a realism that was willing to accommodate the neutral cause if it served U.S. interests.

By the mid-1950s, a number of factors had moved neutralism to a higher priority for policy-makers. Nikita Khrushchev, successor to Joseph Stalin, in 1955 proclaimed a drive for "peaceful coexistence" and backed his words with actionthe return in 1956 of the port of Porkkala, which had been seized at the end of World War II, to Finland; his decision to support a neutralized Austria in return for a treaty ending its occupation; and efforts to mend relations with Yugoslavia. The United States doubted Khrushchev's sincerity and suspected that he was simply maneuvering to divide the West by encouraging neutralism. Khrushchev's actions, combined with his interest in a unified and neutralized Germany, raised some concern that the Kremlin was seeking a neutralized zone across central Europeincluding Austria, Germany, and Yugoslaviathat would weaken the Western defense system. As these events unfolded in Europe, the Bandung Conference highlighted the expanding appeal of neutralism worldwide, a potential advantage for the Soviet Union.

In response to these developments, the National Security Council in 1955 asked the State Department to prepare an assessment of neutralism worldwide to aid the White House in developing an informed approach to this third force. This pivotal study established a framework for America's approach to neutralism through much of the remainder of the Cold War. For Europe, its analysis and conclusions led to a pragmatic and measured relationship with the neutral states.

The study began by making a distinction between neutrality, a government policy or a nation's status in foreign relations, and neutralism, described as "an attitude or psychological tendency." It went on to distinguish between what it called "classical" neutralism, which had always entailed a determination not to take sides in international rivalries, and a new "quasi-neutralism," a "hodge-podge of attitudes and tendencies which involve[d] a disinclination to cooperate with U.S. objectives in the Cold War and in a possible hot war." Even though this new neutralism eschewed commitments to both the Soviet Union and the United States, it was more threatening to the West's interests. Soviet strategy could exploit it.

The report proceeded to list several explanations for the appeal of this new neutralist sentiment in Europe: fear of nuclear war, nationalism, negative reactions to U.S. leadership, a desire to achieve security without responsibility, pacifism, pursuit of special interests, and economic motivations. It further emphasized that this new neutralism, more than the legal government policy of neutrality or even the neutralist position some European states assumed in the Cold War, was what threatened American interests most. A government's declaring itself to be neutral, the study stressed, did not automatically mean that nation was infected with that troublesome neutralism.

This cautionary insight was fundamental to the evolution of America's relations with the neutral states. From the U.S. perspective, the litmus test for beneficial neutrality was a strong ideological identification with the West, demonstration of "solid resistance to Communist blandishments," and maintenance of a strong national defense establishment. The key neutrals in Europe fulfilled these criteria. Each for its own reasons had adopted a neutral position, but this did not necessarily translate to that damaging neutralism that threatened to undermine relations with the West. Indeed, the State Department study identified neutralist sentiment as stronger among some of America's allies than among the neutral states. These insights led the United States to understand the distinct interests and positions of the individual states.

Switzerland Switzerland, the purest of the neutrals, dated its neutrality to the sixteenth century. Its status was reinforced in the early nineteenth century by provisions of the Congress of Vienna, and it carefully maintained its neutral stance throughout World War II. After the war, Switzerland even eschewed membership in the United Nations because it determined that membership in this international organization might compromise its neutrality. Despite Switzerland's stubborn refusal to cooperate, U.S. officials took solace in the fact that Switzerland practiced an armed neutrality. There was no doubt that it would defend its territory in time of conflict. Bordered by France and Italy, Switzerland, of the four major European neutral states, was of least concern to the United States.

Sweden Sweden dated its neutrality to the Napoleonic wars at the beginning of the nineteenth century and maintained this status throughout World War II. After the war, it defined its position to be neutral in war and nonaligned in peacetime. When the United States began planning for the security for Europe, Sweden presented a particular problem. As a significant military force on Europe's northern flank, it was important to continental defense. U.S. officials understood the advantages of convincing Sweden to participate in Western defense arrangements. But as Washington negotiated the North Atlantic Treaty, Stockholm, rather than cooperating, attempted to exclude the Cold War from the Nordic region by proposing a league of armed neutrality, a Nordic Union, with its Scandinavian neighbors, Denmark and Norway. This scheme ultimately failed, and Denmark and Norway signed the North Atlantic Treaty. Sweden continued to refuse to associate itself with the Western military alliance.

Sweden's actions caused some tension with the United States, but relations improved by the early 1950s. A 1952 National Security Council policy paper on Scandinavia and Finland (NSC 121) admitted that in the near future the United States would have to accept Sweden's determination to avoid military alliances and calculate the best means to increase Sweden's contribution to Western defense. Subsequently, Sweden became an important centerpiece of a "Nordic Balance" that secured the North Atlantic alliance's northern flank. Its neutrality, furthermore, contributed to Finland's success in maintaining its neutral position.

Finland In contrast to these established neutrals, the United States confronted in Finland's situation a neutrality created out of necessity. Precariously situated on the border of the Soviet Union, the Helsinki government struggled to preserve its independence by building a relationship premised on the belief that the Kremlin's interest in Finland was strategic, not ideological. After signing a punitive peace treaty in 1947 that imposed devastating reparations and took away 11 percent of its territory, Finland agreed to a ten-year Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance in 1948 that required it to resist any attack on the Soviet Union through Finnish territory by Germany or any nation allied with Germany, to consult with the Soviet Union on an appropriate response in the event of attack, and to refrain from joining any alliance aimed at the Soviet Union. Finland subsequently tried to interpret and apply this pact in such a way that it could move more to a neutral position between the two blocs. Washington ultimately appreciated that Finland lacked alternatives to its chosen course, and was careful not to disrupt the delicate balance.

At times during the Eisenhower years, as Finland's economic situation improved and its independence became more secure, Washington considered the possibility that the solution crafted by Finland might serve as a model for other states bordering the Soviet Union. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles at the 1955 Geneva summit meeting between Khrushchev and Eisenhower suggested to Soviet Premier Nikolai A. Bulganin that Finland exemplified the relationship that might be acceptable to the United States for the Soviet-dominated nations of Eastern Europe. A 1959 National Security Council report titled "U.S. Policy Toward Finland" (NSC 5914/1) mirrored this suggestion when it asserted that "If Finland is able to preserve its present neutral status it could serve as an example of what the United States might like to see achieved by the Soviet-dominated nations of Eastern Europe."

This appreciation of the benefits of Finnish neutralism for American foreign policy goals contrasted with later scathing assessments of the Finnish example. In a 1977 article titled "Europe: The Specter of Finlandization," the scholar Walter Laqueur coined the term "Finlandization," which from his perspective bore the negative connotation of a country willing to sacrifice its sovereignty for the sake of preserving felicitous relations with the Soviet Union. Laqueur feared that other European states might succumb to the temptation to follow Finland's example. Yet here, years before Laqueur's criticism, Dulles was offering the Finnish style of neutralism as a means of diminishing rather than enhancing Soviet control in its own sphere. Even if the Finnish situation was in no way analogous to that of the satellite states in Eastern Europe, the mere presence of this small nation resisting Soviet domination was useful as a propaganda tool for the United States.

Austria In 1955 neutral representation in western Europe expanded further as Austria joined this "third force." Austria, occupied by the Allies after the war's end, suffered through occupation and protracted treaty negotiations as the Cold War rift widened. By late 1953, Austrian officials were ready to accept neutralization as the price for regaining sovereignty. Soviet negotiators endorsed this solution at the foreign ministers' conference at Berlin in 1954, but the proposal was tabled, the victim of the continuing dispute over the status of Germany, because the neutralization of Austria could be linked to a similar solution for Germany. This was particularly unacceptable to the United States. Although Washington was willing to respect Austria's decision if it chose neutrality, Dulles articulated Washington's misgivings when he asserted that it was one thing for a nation to choose neutrality and another to have neutrality forcibly imposed. Under such circumstances, a nation could not be truly independent and sovereign.

West Germany's incorporation into NATO in 1955 removed this obstacle to a neutralized Austria. (The Soviet Union responded to West Germany's new status with the Warsaw Pact, which further solidified its control of the eastern bloc.) Austrian officials traveled to Moscow and negotiated the terms of the State Treaty of May 1955, agreeing that Austria would join no military alliances, would permit no military bases on its territory, and would practice a form of neutrality along the lines of the Swiss model. France and Britain endorsed this arrangement; the United States reluctantly agreed.

Economic and Military Assistance Each of these states traversed a different path to neutralism, and each defined its neutralism in its own distinct terms. Nevertheless, all shared an affinity with western values. This reassured U.S. officials, who employed several tactics to strengthen these ties. Economic measures figured prominently in American plans. European integration, furthermore, provided a vehicle to tie the neutrals to the West. Finally, in response to Sweden's efforts to improve its military capabilities and shore up its defensive position, covert military arrangements developed between Sweden and the United States and its NATO allies.

Economic assistance in the form of trade, loans, and credits was a particularly useful method of fostering a beneficial relationship. But economic assistance was not unrestricted; it had to address the West's Cold War interests. Switzerland and Sweden were economically sound and had healthy trade relations with the West. The United States continued to encourage this trade, but it feared the possible transfer of strategically important materials and technology by these neutrals to the Soviet bloc. In 1949, the United States and its allies had reached an agreement to restrict the transfer of strategic goods. In ongoing negotiations parallel with the establishment of the Marshall Plan, U.S. officials pressured both Switzerland and Sweden to adhere to these export controls. Both countries, reluctant to compromise their neutral status, nevertheless by 1951 informally agreed to adhere to parts of the export controls. Reflecting Sweden's strategic importance in the Nordic region, its adherence to these controls led the United States in 1952 to begin to allow Sweden to purchase selected military equipment and supplies. This made Sweden eligible for military equipment otherwise restricted to America's allies. The United States went even further in 1956 when it agreed to share some nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

U.S. aid to Austria between 1945 and 1955, prior to the restoration of its sovereignty, amounted to an estimated $1.25 billion. Assistance continued after the State Treaty was signed in order to strengthen Austria's armed neutrality. In relations with Finland, Washington assiduously pursued an essentially hands-off political posture, intended to minimize antagonizing the Soviet Union, combined with measured economic assistance to strengthen the Finnish economy and orient it more firmly toward the west. This assistance included the sale of surplus agricultural goods as well as loans, the latter conflicting with the 1951 Battle Act, which prohibited loans to nations exporting strategic goods to the communist bloc. In the late 1950s, Eisenhower cited overriding foreign policy considerations to bypass Battle Act restrictions and ensure millions of dollars in loans to Finland. As a result, by the late 1950s, Finnish exports to and imports from the east bloc declined in relation to exports to and imports from the West.

In tandem with these economic measures, the United States exploited the steady evolution toward European integration to draw the neutrals further from the Soviet orbit, so as to reinforce rather than weaken the Western security system. Aside from any benefit integration could provide for its neutral policy, the United States recognized the value of a more tightly integrated Europe, both economically and politically. It therefore consistently encouraged Europe's movement toward cooperation, beginning with the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), established in 1948 to coordinate Marshall Plan aid; proceeding to the European Coal and Steel Community and then the European Economic Community (EEC), which portended the possibility of a truly effective union; and refusing to rebuff the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), a tariff union created by states excluded from the EEC. Despite its interest in integration with truly effective supranational authority, the United States continued to encourage institutions like the OEEC and EFTA, which lacked that desired supranational authority, in part because these organizations provided a niche for the neutrals in the Western system. The OEEC included Sweden, Switzerland, and Austria. And when the EFTA was negotiated in 1958, U.S. officials hesitated to repudiate it, largely because it offered a haven for these three neutrals. Also, as Finland became more secure in its relationship with the Soviet Union, it began negotiations in 1959 that culminated in associate membership in this customs union in 1961.

In addition to these efforts aimed at all the neutrals, the United States and its NATO allies engaged Sweden in a covert military relationship that theoretically contradicted that nation's nonaligned posture. Soon after the promulgation of the North Atlantic Treaty, Sweden began to meet with Denmark and Norway to coordinate military cooperation and planning. These secret meetings eventually expanded to include the United States and Great Britain, and led to other areas of cooperation. Sweden in effect became an unofficial member of the Western alliance system.

The Kennedy Years John F. Kennedy was the willing heir to this relationship with Europe's neutrals. Mirroring the findings of the 1955 neutralism study, a State Department study released in 1961 admitted that there were many variants of neutralism arising from "unique, indigenous conditions." The new administration was reassured by the fact that the European neutrals were stable nations that had proved impervious to communist influence, so Washington was content to let these favorable trends mature.

Illustrative of Kennedy's approach was his response to a visit to Washington in the fall of 1961 by Finland's President Urho Kekkonen and the subsequent "note crisis" provoked by Moscow. Finland's effort to associate with EFTA was only one of a series of cautious steps that nation had taken since 1955 to carefully establish its independence from Soviet control. On his visit to Washington, Kekkonen met with Kennedy and received a public endorsement for his country's neutral course. Soon thereafter, alarmed by Finland's expanding outreach to the West, Khrushchev sent an official note to Helsinki invoking the consultation clause of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, a move that potentially threatened Finland's sovereignty. Although concerned about this development, Washington reacted cautiously. Bowing to Finnish wishes, Washington remained in the background and avoided escalating this incident into a Cold War confrontation. The U.S. ambassador to Finland privately reassured the Finns of America's support, then bowed to Helsinki's wish to address the crisis in its own way. After a visit to the Soviet Union, Kekkonen succeeded in defusing the crisis with Finland's independence still intact.

Britain and the EEC Despite this appreciation of neutralism, however, when neutral interests conflicted with more pressing priorities of America's Cold War policies, neutrals were the losers. A case in point was the U.S. response to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan's announcement in the spring of 1961 that Great Britain intended to apply for EEC membership. Washington encouraged Macmillan because Britain was an important force in European economic and political affairs, and would provide an Atlantic link between the European Union and the United States. But to the dismay of American officials, Macmillan also pressed for membership, either full or associate, for Britain's fellow EFTA members, including the neutrals Austria, Switzerland, and Sweden (as well as associated Finland). Although Macmillan's proposal potentially would have drawn the neutrals closer to western Europe, Washington opposed his plan because these neutrals were unwilling to accept the full political commitments required of EEC members. Their participation, therefore, would erode the supranational authority necessary for a strong union. Washington encouraged Britain's application, but pressed London to postpone its efforts on behalf of fellow EFTA members. This decision was not encouraging for the U.S.-neutrals relationship. The issue ultimately became moot when the EEC, led by France, rejected Britain's application in January 1963. Nevertheless, these events illustrated the limits of America's willingness to accommodate the interests of these neutrals.


The pragmatism evident in western Europe extended as well to U.S. policy toward neutralism worldwide, but with mixed results. In The Specter of Neutralism, an important study of America's early postwar relations with Yugoslavia, India, and Egypt, H. W. Brands concluded that actual American policy during the Truman and Eisenhower years, as distinct from public rhetoric, "demonstrated a pragmatic ability to deal with neutralism on its own merits. If the neutralist actions of a particular country worked to the advantage of the United States, that country deserved, and usually received, American support. If a neutralist challenged American interests, opposition was the rule." The American advantages and interests to which Brands referred were inevitably defined by the geopolitical rivalry with communism and often lacked a sophisticated understanding of the interests of the Third World states.

Although Brands's study was restricted to the Truman-Eisenhower period, his insight could for the most part extend to the Kennedy years as well. Kennedy administration pragmatism was informed by a more sophisticated understanding of Third World issues, yet Cold War interests still prevailed and affected American tolerance for neutrals. Washington offered economic assistance and encouraged social reform as means to guide these states toward democracy and, it hoped, to counter the allure of communism. Policymakers were committed to resisting Soviet influence and preferred that these countries commit to the West, but when necessary, they were willing to use neutralism as an alternative to communist expansion. Notable in this regard were the Southeast Asia states of Cambodia and Laos. In the late 1950s, as the United States slowly increased its involvement in that area of the world, these two nations, recently independent from French control, embraced neutralism in an ultimately futile attempt to keep out of the emerging conflict. While the United States preferred a Laos and Cambodia committed to the anticommunist cause, it grudgingly accepted their neutralism. Kennedy, furthermore, during his 1961 Vienna summit meeting with Khrushchev supported the neutralization of Laos.

From the end of World War II to the 1960s, neutralism brought opportunities and challenges outside western Europe. In the Soviet bloc, the United States encouraged Yugoslavia's neutralism, even in the face of congressional opposition, because this was a chance to discreetly undermine Soviet dominance. The flowering of neutralism in the Third World dictated that the United States adapt its policies, which it did with varying degrees of success, as relations with the key neutrals, India and Egypt, illustrate. In South Asia, a region on the periphery of American interests, India, the quintessential Third World neutral, vexed policymakers. Resistant to U.S. efforts to draw it into entanglements with the West, India stubbornly followed a truly independent course. But while south Asia was not critical to U.S. security interests, the Middle East with its oil and strategic geographic position was. Here, U.S.Egyptian relations proved particularly trying.

Yugoslavia John Gaddis, in The Long Peace, a retrospective look at four decades of the Cold War, argues that from as early as the middle of 1947, the United States had pursued a "multifaceted strategy aimed at driving a wedge between Moscow and its ideological allies throughout the world." Nowhere was this wedge strategy more evident than in relations with Yugoslavia. After World War II, Josip Broz Tito had imposed a Marxist regime. But, although committed to building a communist regime internally, he chafed under Stalin's attempts to impose tighter control over the eastern bloc. Stalin could not tolerate Tito's separate road to communism because Tito's neutralism conflicted with Soviet domination of the communist movement. Their dispute culminated with Stalin labeling Tito a deviationist and expelling Yugoslavia from the Cominform in June 1948. Without abandoning his commitment to communism, Tito then adopted nonalignment to address his nation's best interests.

The break left Yugoslavia desperate for economic assistance. The United States, quick to recognize the opportunity Tito's defection offered, stepped in to fill the vacuum left by his former Soviet benefactor. U.S. officials anticipated that, if successful, Tito's independent brand of communism might spread not only in Eastern Europe but also among communist states elsewhere, perhaps even China. Of added benefit was Yugoslavia's military strength. Tito commanded a force of thirty divisions that could potentially be turned against the Soviet Union in case of attack. In pursuit of these ends, the Truman administration adopted a low-key public approach, both to divert congressional opposition to support of a communist regime and to avoid the impression that the United States was responsible for Tito's defection, thus lending credence to Stalin's charges that Tito was selling out to the West. The United States extended aid and credits, including a $20 million loan from the Export-Import Bank, and lifted trade restrictions on many items, including some munitions. In the aftermath of North Korea's invasion of South Korea in 1950, Washington offered further military assistance through the Mutual Defense Assistance Act.

As its defection became more permanent, Yugoslavia also figured in plans for the military containment of the Soviet Union. In February 1953, negotiations between Yugoslavia and Greece and Turkey, endorsed by the United States, resulted in the Balkan Pact, a friendship treaty providing for consultation and coordination of defense planning. Within a year, this pact evolved into a military alliance. The agreement enhanced Tito's international standing, but it never fulfilled expectations of closer collaboration with the West. For Tito, carefully guarding his nonaligned position, never abandoned the option of resuming relations with the Soviet Union. Following Stalin's death, formal relations were restored in 1955, after Khrushchev recognized Yugoslavia's independent road to communism. In that same year, Tito enhanced his neutral credentials by joining India and Egypt as a principal sponsor of the Bandung Conference. Despite Tito's machinations, the Eisenhower administration continued America's cautious support for Yugoslavia throughout the 1950s, seeing his independence as a beneficial break in the monolithic control that the Soviet Union exerted over the eastern bloc.

The Kennedy administration likewise willingly accepted Yugoslavia's neutralism as an alternative to Soviet influence. It tolerated Tito's independent initiatives even when they challenged Western interests. In September 1961, for example, Tito hosted a conference of nonaligned states in Belgrade. There, he played a leading role in pressing the nonaligned agenda that promoted, among other things, peaceful coexistence and condemnation of colonialism. His tilt toward the Soviet Union on certain issues addressed at this meeting irritated U.S. officials, especially when he failed to condemn the recent Soviet decision to resume nuclear testing, but blamed the capitalist bloc for the recent crisis in Germany surrounding the construction of the Berlin Wall. But Washington still pursued amicable relations.

The Third World If the advantages of a neutral heretic in the Soviet bloc seemed obvious and led to a straightforward policy, appropriately addressing nonalignment among the former European colonies proved more problematic. The 1955 neutralism study commissioned by Eisenhower's National Security Council had also examined the phenomenon of neutralism in the Near East and Far East. Like European neutrals, Third World neutrals wanted to remain independent of the competing power blocs. But the study stressed that in the developing world anticolonialism and nationalism were closely intertwined with neutralism, creating a more complex set of circumstances. Furthermore, these newly independent nations had little international experience and had very little power in international relations. However pragmatic and insightful these observations were, in application U.S. policy was less effective in the Third World. Cold War concerns often gave priority to global considerations, which tended to obfuscate officials' interpretations of the motives and actions taken by these nonaligned neutrals. Strained relations often resulted.

World War II hastened the demise of the former colonial empires. During the war, the U.S. government had signaled some sympathy for the plight of these colonies. The Atlantic Charter (1941), a statement of wartime aims signed by President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, had called for self-determination of all people, a reference in part to peoples under colonial rule. But political developments after the war soon complicated America's relationship with these former colonial possessions. As one former colony after another achieved independence, the United States was distracted by events in Europe. By the time the communist victory in China and, more significantly, the outbreak of the Korean War finally compelled America to turn its attention to the Third World, it encountered a rising tide of nationalism, resentful of years of colonial domination and determined to establish an independent position. Marxism appealed to many Third World nationalists, and the Soviet Union and People's Republic of China competed for influence. On one level, Khrushchev's call for "peaceful coexistence" was a blatant attempt to associate the Soviet Union with the cause of these newly independent states. The United States thus found itself in an awkward position. Not only were the former colonial powers some of its most valued European allies, but communism's appeal in the Third World aroused fears of the expansion of Soviet influence. The two prominent Third World neutrals, India and Egypt, illustrate the problems the United States faced in forging a successful relationship under these circumstances.

After India achieved independence in 1947, its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, crafted a foreign policy designed to steer clear of military involvements and to maintain an independent role in international affairs. Nehru's India was a democratic state that adopted the Marxist model of economic reform, thereby triggering suspicion among some policymakers. In contrast to Washington's global perspective, Nehru's outlook was decidedly regional. Given India's desperate economic state, his first priority was to improve the lot of his people. To accomplish this, he was open to economic assistance regardless of whether it came from the East or the West.

The Truman administration from the start encouraged India's effort to establish itself as a viable independent state. As Dennis Merrill notes in Bread and the Ballot: The United States and India's Economic Development, 19471963, "United States policy toward India abounded with contradictions." But, according to Merrill, it was guided by several goals: to prevent India from succumbing to communism and the increasing influence of the Soviet Union; to draw India into the Western alliance, tap its raw materials, and make it a reliable military ally; and to make India a model for noncommunist development in the Third World and an Asian "counterweight" to the People's Republic of China.

India, which from the beginning not only espoused neutralism but also acted in a neutral fashion, confounded American officials. Nehru's criticism of American policies, including Washington's refusal to recognize Communist China and its support for what he characterized as French aggression in Indochina, created friction. When the Korean War broke out, India supported early UN resolutions condemning the invasion and sanctioning UN actions to repulse the North Korean forces, at the same time that it strove to mediate an end to the conflict. By the latter stages of the war, the United States found it convenient to use Indian diplomats as a conduit to convey its positions to the Soviet Union. After the armistice was signed, India chaired the Neutral Nations Repatriation Committee.

India's marginal importance to America's global strategy partially explained both America's measured response to its nonalignment policies even when they were detrimental to U.S. interests, and also why economic assistance to this poor country was slow in coming. But once it began, it steadily expanded during the Eisenhower years and reached its zenith during the Kennedy administration, peaking in 1962 at $465.5 million.

Good relations engendered by this aid, however, were often negated by the incompatibility of Washington's global goals with India's more regional interests. Nowhere was this more evident than in New Delhi's reaction to U.S. relations with Pakistan, a Muslim state established in 1947, at the time of India's independence, and a state engaged in an ongoing conflict with India over control of the state of Kashmir. In contrast to India's neutralism, Pakistan became a willing participant in America's containment efforts, which led the Eisenhower administration to view Pakistan as a barrier to Soviet expansion in the Middle East and as a potential bridge to Muslim populations there. In 1954, Washington concluded a mutual defense assistance agreement with Pakistan. Soon thereafter, Pakistan became a member of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization. (Washington had previously tried to persuade India to join, but was rebuffed.) Then, in 1955, Pakistan joined NATO members Turkey and Great Britain in the Baghdad Pact (in 1959 renamed the Central Treaty Organization). While these maneuvers served America's global interests, they strained relations with India. Nehru not only was wary of bringing the Cold War rivalry to the Asian continent, but he feared the advantage American military assistance gave to his regional foe.

The Kennedy administration, more sensitive to India's interests, appointed the prominent economist and confidant of the president, John Kenneth Galbraith, as ambassador in 1961, signaling an interest in improving relations. Galbraith promoted expanded assistance to India and counseled acceptance of its nonaligned foreign policy. When the People's Republic of China attacked India in 1962 over disputed border areas, the United States provided India with necessary military aid. The United States now saw India as a counterweight to the growing influence of Communist China in that area of the world. India accepted U.S. assistance, but still resisted any commitment that would draw it into the Cold War. Washington continued to pursue improved relations, but India never achieved priority status.

In contrast to India, Egypt, located in the Middle East, a region rich in oil and strategically situated in the eastern Mediterranean, became a serious concern for American policy. Gamal Abdel Nasser rose to power in 1954, two years after a military coup had deposed King Farouk. Nasser rapidly established himself as a leader of the nonaligned movement and became a hero to the cause of Arab nationalism. Prior to the early 1950s, the Middle East seemed safely in the Western camp. And for a time after the coup, U.S. relations with Egypt were cordial. Washington promoted an Anglo-Egyptian base treaty that ended British occupation of the Suez Canal zone and expressed willingness to provide Cairo with both economic and military aid. But relations gradually deteriorated. U.S. commitments to Israel and its determination to deter the advance of Soviet influence in the region proved increasingly incompatible with the course Nasser chose to follow.

Nasser, whose country for years had endured British rule, adopted a form of neutralism intent on preventing domination by both the West and the Soviet Union. He resisted Western influence and rebuffed U.S. attempts to get Egypt to join a Middle East Defense Organization, an effort to expand the Western alliance system into the eastern Mediterranean. At the same time, while he willingly cooperated with the Soviet Union when it served his purposes, he guarded against letting this cooperation turn to subservience. To Nasser and fellow Arab neutralists, opposition to the State of Israel was part and parcel of this policy. They opposed Zionism not only because Israel occupied Arab lands, but also because the former imperial powers supported Zionism. They saw Zionism as a tool of Western imperialism.

The neutral Nasser, like Nehru, willingly accepted aid from both the Soviet Union and the United States. He recognized that the West was a more reliable source of aid, but he was wary of any assistance that threatened his independence of action. Thus, his independent neutralism increasingly ran counter to American interests. Nasser refused to join the Baghdad Pact in 1955, so Washington turned to Iraq, long one of Egypt's adversaries. Later, when Nasser requested military supplies after some serious border skirmishes with the Israelis in the Gaza Strip, Washington rejected his request. In response, Nasser turned to Czechoslovakia for arms, evoking vehement objections from Washington. While his actions were consistent with his neutral strategy, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles condemned him for opening opportunities for the expansion of Soviet influence.

Dulles's handling of the Aswan Dam project antagonized Nasser even further. In 1955, the United States, Great Britain, and the World Bank offered a financial package to fund this ambitious project intended to provide irrigation and other benefits for Egypt's economic improvement. However, Dulles made this offer contingent on Egypt's abandoning closer ties with the Soviet Union. When Nasser continued to negotiate with the Kremlin for a better offer to build the dam, refused to rescind his arms deal with Czechoslovakia, and then extended diplomatic recognition to the People's Republic of China in 1956, Dulles rescinded his offer, prompting Nasser to nationalize the Suez Canal in order to use the fees collected to finance the dam.

Dulles created a self-fulfilling prophecy. The United States worried that neutralism provided opportunities for the Soviet Union in the Middle East. Washington's response to Nasser's neutralism resulted in the spread of Soviet influence and damaged American prestige. In October 1956, when Israel invaded Egypt, and Britain and France in a coordinated move occupied the Suez Canal under the pretext of protecting it, the United States found itself at odds with its major allies in Europe. The United States was forced to join with the Soviet Union in calling for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Egypt.

Washington added to the damage by suspending aid to Egypt and freezing Egyptian assets. U.S. officials could not shake the fear that Nasser was a pawn of the Soviet Union. The 1957 Eisenhower Doctrine, which assured American support for Middle Eastern nations threatened by external aggression, was intended to contain the spread of Soviet communism. But Arab allies of Nasser interpreted it as an attempt to contain his nationalist movement. In 1958, Nasser accepted Soviet aid for the construction of the Aswan Dam and welcomed Soviet advisers, who remained in Egypt until Nasser's successor, Anwar Sadat, expelled them in 1972.

Beginning in 1959, relations improved as Eisenhower once more made Egypt eligible for food aid. By 1960, the United States provided two-thirds of Egypt's grain imports. And in October 1962, the Kennedy administration reached a $432 million aid deal with Egypt. But these steps could not totally mend the damage done to U.S. prestige by the events of the mid-1950s. Uneasy relations with Nasser continued, especially after he signed another arms agreement with the Soviet Union in June 1963.


By the mid-1960s, Cold War neutralism had matured as a distinct force in international affairs. As the Vietnam conflict monopolized America's attention, neutral states both in Europe and in the Third World became more assertive and outspoken. The two blocs that defined the Cold War ever so slowly succumbed to a new international order. The appeal of neutralism threatened to challenge America's control over the western bloc at the same time that the Soviet Union met with only limited success in wooing the neutrals. Harto Hakovirta, in an article titled "The Soviet Union and the Varieties of Neutrality in Western Europe," observed that "at the height of the Cold War in the 1940s and 1950s, a tendency toward absolute alliance was dominant; but, starting roughly in 1963, the direction seemed to reverse itself. Cold-war structures began to crumble, and the United States gradually lost control over its West European partners."

The United Nations provided a major forum for neutrals to voice their concerns. The composition of that organization changed significantly in the years after the end of World War II as its membership expanded to include newly independent Asian and African states, many of which embraced nonalignment. In 1964, these states formed a caucus, the Group of Seventy-seven (the number of members would increase in subsequent years), that, constituting a two-thirds majority, could effectively control the General Assembly. Although these new states resisted Soviet efforts to assume a role of leadership, they could often count on Soviet support. In contrast to the immediate postwar years, the United States no longer dominated the United Nations, and faced criticism and opposition from the membership.

Neutrals in the United Nations became increasingly outspoken on many issuesthe need to reduce Cold War tensions, colonialism, and, importantly, nuclear proliferation. As early as 1961, neutrals took up the cause of nuclear disarmament. In that year, Swedish Foreign Minister Bo Östen Unden, addressing the General Assembly, called upon the nonnuclear members to band together to pressure the nuclear powers to reduce their armaments. Later, in a noteworthy success in the crusade to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, neutral states played a role in the promulgation of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The terms of this treaty, after initially being negotiated by the Soviet Union and the United States, were revised and then submitted to the UN General Assembly by an eighteen-nation disarmament committee. In addition to five representatives each from the Western and Eastern blocs, eight neutral states were represented on this committee.

While the United States welcomed support for attempts to curtail the arms race, on some issues its interests were pitted against the neutral position. America's strong support for Israel and its intervention in Vietnam are prominent examples. Vietnam particularly exposed the United States to charges of being an imperialist power bent on pursuing its own ends, with no consideration for the Third World countries trying to overcome their years under colonialism. As opposition to American involvement grew, Sweden and India stood out among critics of that war.

By words and deeds, Sweden made its opposition known. In 1966, citing its commitment to freedom of speech and assembly, the Swedish government ignored Washington's protests and permitted the Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal, made up of a long list of prominent critics of American policy, to meet in Stockholm. Sweden also granted asylum to draft dodgers and military deserters. The numbers seeking safe haven grew significantly in the late 1960s. Prime Minister Olof Palme further strained U.S.Swedish relations when in December 1972 he likened the massive Christmas bombing of North Vietnam to past Nazi atrocities. Most damaging to U.S.Swedish relations, in 1969 Sweden became the first Western nation to extend full diplomatic recognition to North Vietnam. Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon both threatened, but did not follow through on, economic sanctions.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India incurred the wrath of the Johnson administration in 1966 when she publicly condemned U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, prompting Washington to postpone needed agricultural aid to her country. This, combined with the continued U.S. support for Pakistan, put a real strain on U.S.Indian relations.

In Europe, the United States feared a weakening of the Western alliance and a drift toward neutralism among its allies. Following the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the United States, chastened by the possibility of nuclear annihilation, gradually adopted détente to reduce tensions with the Soviet bloc. Beginning in 1969, President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser (and later secretary of state), Henry Kissinger, made détente the cornerstone of their foreign policy. As their efforts probed the possibility that the divide between the two superpowers might be narrowed, Willy Brandt, foreign minister of West Germany from 1966 to 1969 and chancellor from 1969 to 1974, pursued his own form of détente, Ostpolitik, an independent effort by West Germany to resolve the differences with East Germany and the Soviet Union. Between 1970 and 1972, his diplomatic efforts led to treaties with Poland and the Soviet Union, and ultimately normalization of relations with East Germany.

Brandt's Ostpolitik in many respects coincided with Nixon's quest to improve relations with the Soviet Union. But Kissinger feared that Ostpolitik represented a drift toward neutralism and the possible resurgence of German nationalism. He worried that it might create fissures in the Western alliance, give the advantage to the Soviet Union, and consequently hinder the détente at the superpower level that he and Nixon were so intent upon pursuing. While the United States could not oppose Ostpolitik, its support for these initiatives was lukewarm.

As détente changed the dynamics of the Cold War, neutral states in Europe willingly assumed a role as bridge-builders between the competing blocs. They helped facilitate the resolution of Cold War disputes. Beginning in 1969, Helsinki and Vienna provided the settings for arms control negotiations that resulted in the first Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty in 1972. More significant, Finland played a prominent role in encouraging negotiations in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (1975). Jussi Hanhimäki, in his study Scandinavia and the United States: An Insecure Friendship, characterized the role of Finland, along with its Scandinavian neighbors including Sweden, as that of "midwives, providing the services and the medium needed for the conclusion of the agreements." He conceded that the agreements would not have come about without Brandt's Ostpolitik, Nixon's efforts at détente, and the Soviet desire for recognition of the postwar borders. But with its commitment to bridge-building, neutral Finland was a valuable vehicle for fostering and moving these negotiations forward.

By the 1980s, great strides had been made in narrowing the chasm created by the Cold War. Although this trend would experience setbacks during the early years of Ronald Reagan's presidency, when Reagan returned to confrontational politics of the earlier Cold War, and although consequently the U.S.-neutral relationship would decline, with Mikhail Gorbachev's rise to power in the Soviet Union, the momentum spawned by détente resumed in the late 1980s. Likewise, the interest of neutrals in reducing nuclear armaments and easing East-West tensions increasingly coincided with Reagan administration policy. Washington welcomed neutral support. Through the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and other means, neutrals worked to maintain the momentum of improving relations between the two superpowers. Just as the neutrals had played a role in the events of the era of détente, so as bridge builders they served America's policy interests and facilitated the exchanges leading to the end of the Cold War.

With the end of the Cold War, neutralism effectively became an anachronism. Nevertheless, for nearly five decades, it was a third force that American policy had with varying degrees of success addressed in its rivalry with the Soviet Union. U.S. policy that became established during the first two decades of the Cold War for the most part successfully steered a course that, with relatively few exceptions, preserved a good relationship with Europe's neutralsif not promoting, at least not hinderingAmerica's Cold War goals. This success to a large extent was attributable to the fact that Europe's neutrals shared political, economic, and cultural values and interests with the United States. Relations with Third World neutrals were more troublesome. Anticolonial feelings and the growing tide of nationalism that U.S. policymakers often misunderstood and resisted, strained relationships and opened opportunities for the Soviet Union. Cold War perspectives and global concerns regularly obfuscated policymakers' appreciation of the Third World neutral position, and the Soviet Union often stepped in to exploit the situation.


Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 32 (1965). Entire volume devoted to articles on various aspects of neutralism.

Brands, H. W. "Redefining the Cold War: American Policy Toward Yugoslavia, 19481960." Diplomatic History 11 (1987): 4153.

. The Specter of Neutralism: The United States and the Emergence of the Third World, 19471960. New York, 1989. Essential work examining the origins of U.S. policy through case studies of three Third World nations.

. India and the United States: The Cold Peace. Boston, 1990.

Brecher, Michael. "Neutralism: An Analysis." International Journal 17 (19611962): 224236.

Deák, Francis. "Neutrality Revisited." In Wolfgang Friedmann, Louis Henkin, and Oliver Lissitzyn, eds. Transnational Law in a Changing Society. New York, 1972.

Gabriel, Jürg Martin. The American Conception of Neutrality After 1941. New York, 1988.

Gaddis, John Lewis. The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War. New York and Oxford, 1987.

Gehler, Michael, and Rolf Steininger, eds. The Neutrals and the European Integration, 19451995. Vienna, 2000.

Hahn, Peter L. The United States, Great Britain, and Egypt, 19451956: Strategy and Diplomacy in the Early Cold War. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1991.

Hakovirta, Harto. "The Soviet Union and the Varieties of Neutrality in Western Europe." World Politics 35 (1983): 563585.

. East-West Conflict and European Neutrality. New York and Oxford, 1988.

Hanhimäki, Jussi M. "The First Line of Defence or a Springboard for Disintegration? European Neutrals in American Foreign Policy, 194561." Diplomacy and Statecraft 7 (1996): 578-403. A valuable synthesis of U.S. policy toward Europe's neutrals.

. Scandinavia and the United States: An Insecure Friendship. New York, 1997.

Hess, Gary R. "Accommodation and Discord: The United States, India, and the Third World." Diplomatic History 16 (1992): 122.

Karsh, Efraim. Neutrality and the Small States. London, 1988.

Kissinger, Henry. The White House Years. Boston and Toronto, 1979.

Krüzel, Joseph, and Michael H. Haltzel, eds. Between the Blocs: Problems and Prospects for Europe's Neutral and Nonaligned Countries. Washington, D.C., and Cambridge, U.K., 1989.

Laqueur, Walter. "Europe: The Specter of Finlandization." Commentary 64 (1977): 3741.

Lees, Lorraine. Keeping Tito Afloat: The United States, Yugoslavia, and the Cold War. University Park, Pa., 1997.

Logevall, Fredrik. "The Swedish-American Conflict over Vietnam." Diplomatic History 17 (1993): 421445.

Lyon, Peter. "Neutrality and the Emergence of the Concept of Neutralism." Review of Politics 22 (1960): 255265. A brief synthesis of the theory and meaning of neutralism.

. Neutralism. Leicester, U.K., 1963. A useful work defining neutralism and its roots.

Maurer, Pierre. "The United States-Yugoslav Relations: A Marriage of Convenience." Studia Diplomatica (1985): 429451.

McMahon, Robert J. The Cold War on the Periphery: The United States, India, and Pakistan. New York, 1994.

Merrill, Dennis. Bread and the Ballot: The United States and India's Economic Development, 19471963. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1990.

Papacosma, S. Victor, and Mark R. Rubin, eds. Europe's Neutral and Nonaligned States: Between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Wilmington, Del., 1989.

Shrivastava, B. K. "The United States and the Non-Aligned Movement." In K. P. Misra, ed. Non-Alignment Frontiers and Dynamics. New Delhi, 1982.

See also Cold War Evolution and Interpretations; Cold War Origins; Foreign Aid; Isolationism; Neutrality .


In the mid-1950s, Eisenhower administration public pronouncements on the issue of neutralism sometimes gave conflicting signals. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the administration's principal foreign policy spokesman, was consistently critical. In October 1955, speaking before an American Legion convention in Miami, he stubbornly declared that "except under very exceptional circumstances, neutrality today is an immoral and shortsighted conception." But several months later, at a June 1956 news conference, President Eisenhower took a more tolerant position. He observed that for 150 years the United States had been neutral, that in 1956 neutrality meant avoiding attachment to military alliances, and that "this does not necessarily mean neutral as between right and wrong or between decay and decency." He concluded his appraisal by referring the reporters to a speech Dulles was scheduled to give the following week at Iowa State University. There, however, Dulles did not revise his assessment of neutralism but rather reiterated his intolerant stance. Dulles's hostility has been explained in different ways. It may have reflected his personal belief that there was a stark contrast between communism and democracy, and that, therefore, to take a neutral position was tantamount to choosing the former. H. W. Brands, in The Specter of Neutralism, offered another explanation, politics: "The secretary's sermonizing was designed to please conservatives, Republicans for the most part, who distrusted neutralists and continually threatened to block administration initiatives toward countries of the Third World." But what about Eisenhower's contrasting expression of tolerance for neutralism? The answer may lie in the behind-the-scenes deliberations of the administration. The National Security Council, responding to Nikita Khrushchev's "peaceful coexistence" campaign, was reexamining neutralism and all of its ramifications in order to construct a coherent policy toward these neutral states.

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neutralization, chemical reaction, according to the Arrhenius theory of acids and bases, in which a water solution of acid is mixed with a water solution of base to form a salt and water; this reaction is complete only if the resulting solution has neither acidic nor basic properties. Such a solution is called a neutral solution. Complete neutralization can take place when a strong acid, such as hydrochloric acid, HCl, is mixed with a strong base, such as sodium hydroxide, NaOH. Strong acids and strong bases completely break up, or dissociate, into their constituent ions when they dissolve in water. In the case of hydrochloric acid, hydrogen ions, H+, and chloride ions, Cl-, are formed. In the case of sodium hydroxide, sodium ions, Na+, and hydroxide ions, OH-, are formed. The hydrogen and hydroxide ions readily unite to form water. If the number of hydrogen ions in the hydrochloric acid solution is equal to the number of hydroxide ions in the sodium hydroxide solution, complete neutralization occurs when the two solutions are mixed. The resulting solution contains sodium ions and chloride ions that unite when the water evaporates to form sodium chloride, common table salt. In a neutralization reaction in which either a weak acid or a weak base is used, only partial neutralization occurs. In a neutralization reaction in which both a weak acid and a weak base are used, complete neutralization can occur if the acid and the base are equally weak. The heat produced in the reaction between an acid and a base is called the heat of neutralization. When any strong acid is mixed with any strong base, the heat of neutralization is always about 13,700 calories for each equivalent weight of acid and base neutralized. See article on pH; titration.

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neutralization In chemistry, the mixing, or titration, of equivalent amounts of an acid and a base in an aqueous medium until the mixture is neither acidic nor basic (pH of 7).

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neu·tral·ism / ˈn(y)oōtrəˌlizəm/ • n. a policy of political neutrality. DERIVATIVES: neu·tral·ist n.

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neutralism The situation in which two species populations coexist, with neither population being affected by its association with the other.

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neutralism A situation in which two species populations coexist, with neither population being affected by association with the other.

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neutralism A situation in which two species populations coexist, with neither population being affected by association with the other.

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