Rezension: Albertine Bloemendal, Reframing the Diplomat

Albertine Bloemendal, Reframing the Diplomat. Ernst van der Beugel and the Cold War Atlantic Community, Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers  2018.

Rezensiert für den Arbeitskreis Historische Friedensforschung bei H-Soz-u-Kult von: Ruud van Dijk, University of Amsterdam.

Although the 1960s and 1970s, the heart of this book, are still very much in living memory, in important respects this is a story from another time. The “Atlantic Community” from the title is in the process of disintegration, and the United States (so admired by the book’s protagonist Ernst van der Beugel) and its leader are the main cause. In addition, ours is an era of populist revolt – the opposite of, and perhaps a reaction to, the time when influential elite-networks in which Ernst van der Beugel played such an important role, held sway.

Whether Van der Beugel would endure the current crisis in good health is questionable. From Albertine Bloemendal’s account it emerges that in his time, this unreserved defender of the United States and champion of the Atlantic alliance worried constantly about the future. At one point she calls the Dutch diplomat and power-broker an “Atlanticist Jeremiah” (p. 261). Compared to our own time, however, the Gaullist rebellion or the upheaval over the United States war in Vietnam appear trivial.

Bloemendal keeps a clear distance from comparisons with the present. This is a historical study, based on thorough research at more than a dozen archives in the Netherlands and the United States, along with numerous published materials and oral history sources (most notably a very extensive series of oral history interviews with Van der Beugel himself). It was written as a dissertation at Leiden University (2017), where Van der Beugel held a special Chair in Western Cooperation from 1966 to 1984 and where currently a special Chair in his name is held by Giles Scott-Smith, the author’s adviser. The author had the full cooperation of Van der Beugel’s daughter, yielding valuable private papers. The book is not a biography, even though we do learn a good deal about Van der Beugel’s youth and student years. This part on his early life is primarly there, however, to help illuminate the central part of the story, namely Van der Beugel’s informal transatlantic diplomacy in the 1960s and 1970s through his extended and long-standing personal and professional networks. Through this focus on what can be seen as the most significant part of Van der Beugel’s life and career, the author seeks to contribute to the so-called New Diplomatic History, in this case of the Cold War. weiterlesen

Empfohlene Zitierweise
Ruud van Dijk: Rezension zu: Bloemendal, Albertine: Reframing the Diplomat. Ernst van der Beugel and the Cold War Atlantic Community. Leiden  2018 , in: H-Soz-Kult, 27.07.2018, <www.hsozkult.de/publicationreview/id/rezbuecher-28587>