Volume 52 (2018) / Issue 1
At the close of the Second World War, American officials, in concert with their allies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, set out to remake the machinery of international commerce. They did so not as naive globalists, but as desperate realists – realists who had survived the Great Depression and the second great war of the century. In designing the framework that would govern post-war international economic policy, American leaders and technocrats adhered to a set of essential principles. These principles had emerged from their hard-earned experience during the breakdown of global cooperation in the interwar years and the staggering bloodshed of the war itself. A careful review of the substance of negotiations over the formation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and political communications by US officials in support of those institutions – including essays, speeches, and testimony before Congress – suggests a set of vital and, perhaps, enduring principles that won the day: multilateral coordination, liberalization, mutual benefit-mutual responsibility, and economy = security. To American leaders these principles were abundantly evident. Their task was to persuade their domestic and international peers of the necessity of these principles and to put them into action. Ultimately they created a set of interlocking multilateral institutions to facilitate global commerce and global peace.
All rights reserved