Sharing Knowledge, Shaping Europe
US Technological Collaboration and Nonproliferation
How America used its technological leadership in the 1950s and the 1960s to foster European collaboration and curb nuclear proliferation, with varying degrees of success.
In the 1950s and the 1960s, U.S. administrations were determined to prevent Western European countries from developing independent national nuclear weapons programs. To do so, the United States attempted to use its technological pre-eminence as a tool of “soft power” to steer Western European technological choices toward the peaceful uses of the atom and of space, encouraging options that fostered collaboration, promoted nonproliferation, and defused challenges to U.S. technological superiority. In Sharing Knowledge, Shaping Europe, John Krige describes these efforts and the varying degrees of success they achieved.
Krige explains that the pursuit of scientific and technological leadership, galvanized by America's Cold War competition with the Soviet Union, was also used for techno-political collaboration with major allies. He examines a series of multinational arrangements involving shared technological platforms and aimed at curbing nuclear proliferation, and he describes the roles of the Department of State, the Atomic Energy Commission, and NASA. To their dismay, these agencies discovered that the use of technology as an instrument of soft power was seriously circumscribed, by internal divisions within successive administrations and by external opposition from European countries. It was successful, Krige argues, only when technological leadership was embedded in a web of supportive “harder” power structures.
A remarkable account of an important but little known Cold War story: how the United States tried, with varying degrees of success, to use technological collaboration in nuclear power and space technology to further political goals. I learned a great deal by reading it, including that the US nuclear power industry has been troubled its entire life, and that there is a long history of the US over-estimating its technological leadership and placing exaggerated faith in technological solutions to political problems.
Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
Sharing Knowledge, Shaping Europe is a most useful contribution to our understanding of the complex interaction between science and international relations. By carefully investigating how the US tried to control the flow of technological information to shape the construction of Europe, John Krige has offered a very convincing analysis which will be mandatory reading for scholars of US foreign policy, historians of European integration, and all those who are interested in the study of nuclear nonproliferation.
Leopoldo Nuti, Professor of International History, Roma Tre University
John Krige's new book offers a fascinating account of the complex connections between American soft power, US-led technological collaboration in atomic energy, European integration, and nuclear nonproliferation. As such, it touches upon some of the most pressing concerns of the Western alliance during the Cold War and beyond.
Kiran Klaus Patel, Jean Monnet Chair for European and Global History, Maastricht University