By Erin R. Mahan (auth.)
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Additional resources for Kennedy, de Gaulle, and Western Europe
Because military outlays in the Federal Republic of Germany accounted for a quarter of the US payments deficit, the administration initiated a series of talks with the West German government during late January and February 1961. When US Department of Treasury officials met with Foreign Minister Heinrich Brentano and Erhard, they all agreed the Federal Republic of Germany had an obligation to shoulder more of its own defense, particularly for West Berlin. Even so, although Brentano and Erhard were leading spokesmen of the CDU’s “Atlanticist” faction which favored close ties with the United States, it took several weeks of haggling to elicit a promise from West Germany of $900 million prepayment on military orders placed in the United States.
Kennedy was alarmed at the possibility that the Soviet Union and China would provide more economic aid than the West to the Third World. He feared that China’s “Great Leap Forward” program of economic development offered an alluring model to less developed nations. Soviet promises of developmental assistance would also subvert Third World leaders. ” He was influenced by economist Walt W. Rostow’s Stages of Economic Growth, published in 1960. ”7 An overriding consideration of the Kennedy administration’s early formulations of West European polices was the problem of international balance of payments and the related fear concerning the Soviet appeal to lesser developed regions.
In essence, he believed that limited conventional military skirmishes or tactical nuclear battles might prevent nuclear conflagration by allowing a “pause” for the Soviets to retreat. Kennedy had no intention of giving up Berlin, but, for him, preserving Western rights within the city primarily meant ensuring continued access to the city. Yet the French view challenged the basic reasoning and framework of the Kennedy administration’s emerging concept of graduated responses. For de Gaulle, the Berlin problem illustrated a fundamental lack of US commitment to the continent.