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The Year That Never Was
Heath, the Nixon Administration and the Year of Europe

Catherine Hynes (author)
Publication date:
23rd March 2009

Author Biography

Catherine Hynes is a graduate of University College Dublin. Her research interests include twentieth-century British history and the history of international relations, particularly Anglo-American relations.


'We thought we were tapping the idealistic tradition of the democracies when we put forward the Year of Europe', explained Henry Kissinger, National Security Advisor in the Nixon White House. 'We did not know what we were letting ourselves in for'. President Richard Nixon's claim during his second inaugural address that 'we stand on the threshold of a new era of peace in the world' reflected his relief at the formal conclusion of the war between the United States and North Viet Nam. Freed from the trauma of this conflict, the Administration's attentions could now be redirected to the deteriorating transatlantic alliance. In a self-conscious attempt to echo the heady days of the Marshall Plan, Kissinger persuaded a reluctant President that now was the perfect opportunity to initiate a comprehensive reassessment of the alliance. The new initiative, called the Year of Europe, quickly became a central part of Nixon's second-term public relations campaign. Drawing on recently declassified documents from both the British and American National Archives, Hynes examines how the Year of Europe became a pivotal year in British foreign policy - for all the wrong reasons.Set against the turbulent world climate of the early 1970s, it provides a vivid insight into the bizarre diplomatic modus operandi of the Nixon-Kissinger White House. It also offers a fresh interpretation of the difficulties faced by British Prime Minister Edward Heath as he sought to rebuff Kissinger's overtures and reorientate Britain's foreign policy towards Europe.