chapter  16
13 Pages

Between East and West – social democracy as an alternative to communism and capitalism: Willy Brandt’s strategy as president of the Socialist International


From the middle of the 1970s on, Willy Brandt more and more distanced himself from US policy. Why? As Foreign Minister and as Chancellor until 1974 Brandt had to observe institutional limits for public critical comments against the Western world’s leading power. Brandt himself named this reason explicitly in a speech delivered to a closed meeting of the parliamentarian group of the SPD in 1973, when he tried to explain why he had not made any comment on the Vietnam War.1 After having resigned as Chancellor in May 1974 Brandt started to criticize openly the foreign policy of the US government. He focused on two major problems: first, the support given to right-wing dictatorships in the Third World, which constantly violated Western values as interpreted by Brandt: defense of human rights, democracy and social justice; second, insufficient commitment to continue détente, especially in favor of real disarmament.