Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 47–64 | Cite as

In search of a negotiated settlement: McGeorge Bundy and the 1961 Berlin crisis

  • Kasper Grotle RasmussenEmail author


In the scholarly and popular literature, the view on former National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy has often been exclusively focused on his role in the expansion of the Vietnam War, where he helped presidents Kennedy and Johnson escalate the conflict at the expense of negotiation and disengagement. The present article attempts to nuance our view of Bundy by analysing his role in US foreign policy-making during the 1961 Berlin crisis, because while Bundy was clearly a Vietnam hawk, this was not the case in other policy areas of more immediate importance in the early 1960s. Here, the article argues, Bundy persistently sought a negotiated settlement to the crisis and was ultimately successful in crafting an action-oriented negotiating platform. And while the ensuing negotiations eventually proved fruitless, the American willingness to negotiate helped relieve the tension in Berlin and prepare the two superpowers for the Limited Test Ban Treaty and to conclude the European phase of the Cold War.


McGeorge Bundy Berlin crisis John F. Kennedy US-Soviet relations Vietnam Cold War 1961–1963 


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Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for American Studies, Department of HistoryUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

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