To Washington policy-makers, 1973 was to be the "Year of Europe," a time to renew and strengthen trans-Atlantic relations. Instead, disputes over trade, monetary and military matters are threatening to tear apart the strategic partnership. Not since the United States emerged as the world's premier power from the ashes of World War II has its global prestige been at such a low point. The current crisis between Western Europe and the United States goes far beyond the Watergate affair and its damaging impact upon the confidence in U. S. leadership overseas. It can be attributed primarily to America's orientation - or disorientation - in foreign affairs beginning in the early 1960's. During the dozen frustrating years of the Vietnam experience, Washington's ties with Europe became strained, links with Japan rusted and Africa was virtually ignored, while much of Latin America became openly antagonistic. In a touch of bitter irony, Washington's relations warmed up with North Vietnam's two principle suppliers and spiritual advocates, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China.
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