chapter  6
16 Pages

‘The finest labour network in Europe’: American labour and the Cold War JULIA ANGSTER

What role do private, or non-governmental, actors play in international relations? Are not foreign politics the domain of the state and its agencies? Since the 1990s, perceptions of both international relations and national foreign politics have started to change.1 The end of the Cold War and the bipolar world it had established has shaken old assumptions, and the rise of something that may or may not be adequately described as ‘globalisation’ has further undermined the old conviction that foreign politics was something that governments do – and nobody else. Looking back at the early Cold War years, there is ample evidence that non-governmental players have been taking part in foreign politics all along. In this chapter I will argue that American trade unions did play an important part in American foreign politics during the late 1940s and 1950s, especially in western Europe.2