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Helmut Schmidt and the shaping of Western security in the late 1970s: the Guadeloupe summit of 1979

Spohr, Kristina (2015) Helmut Schmidt and the shaping of Western security in the late 1970s: the Guadeloupe summit of 1979. International History Review, 37 (1). pp. 167-192. ISSN 0707-5332

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Identification Number: 10.1080/07075332.2013.836125


On 5 and 6 January 1979, US President Jimmy Carter, British Prime Minister James Callaghan, French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt met on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. These secret talks à quatre were intended to be a relaxed frank and free exchange on the current state of global politics, though Western security issues lay at the discussions’ heart. As we now know, it had been Schmidt who, behind the scenes, had been pressing the Carter administration to pursue informal (transatlantic) summitry - the Chancellor's preferred modus operandi. In view of growing Euro-strategic imbalances due to Soviet arms build-up, he sought to achieve political co-ordination among the key North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) players on the theatre-nuclear-forces-modernisation-cum-arms-control issue. Schmidt's pushiness reflected West Germany's new political assertiveness, but also the Chancellor's desire to personally promote national interests in nuclear politics at the top table (similar to his approach as a shaper of international economic and energy policies). This article will explore why this ‘parley at the summit’ mattered, how within this intimate forum Schmidt pursued his goals, what diplomatic tactics and methods he employed, and to what extent he managed to control and shape proceedings and outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 Taylor & Francis
Divisions: International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2013 16:28
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2024 05:45

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