History Ph.D. Dissertations


Cold Warriors, Good Neighbors, Smart Power: U.S. Army, Berlin, 1961-1994

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Beth Griech-Polelle (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Marc Simon (Other)

Third Advisor

Bill Allison (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Michael Brooks (Committee Member)


The end of the Cold War and the manner in which it was “won” by the Allied nations ignited debate over the utility of military power as a source of American leadership in the new unipolar world. A popular theme arose, that a new form of state power, soft power, had the capacity to achieve America’s interests as it prepared to enter the 21st century. The idea that expensive and dangerous technologies could be replaced by investments in peaceful means of influence, wielded by America’s foreign policy professionals to foster a new cooperative spirit in the world, was naturally attractive. The United States could be relieved of much of its global military presence and reduce its military’s intrusions upon foreign people and their cultures. This dissertation challenges the assumption that the impact of military stationing in the Cold War was limited to hard power. In the case of the U.S. Army in Berlin, the unit and its members practiced civic, social, cultural, and political behaviors that meet the criteria of the post-Cold War branded term, soft power. In their daily interactions with Berliners, they exercised the full spectrum of foreign policy smart power tools, as Cold Warrior defenders of West Berlin and in compliance with U.S. Army, Europe’s directive for all soldiers and their family members to act as Good Neighbors to the Germans in the city. The unit’s command designed institutional structures to enhance its ability to project power, and these networks became the basis for intentional actions to improve its Social Capital in the isolated city. In fact, these networks, controlled by the Army in Berlin, changed the dynamics of the occupied-occupier relationship and provided West Berlin’s civic leadership its first formal step toward balancing the relational power calculations with its lawful occupiers. As a policy history case study, it may be useful to the U.S. military as a fresh perspective on the spectrum of power behaviors evident in its own historical records. The usefulness of this study is subject to the recognition that the experience in West Berlin, while ultimately successful, occurred in a particular period and cultural context. For U.S. policymakers seeking a broader range of choices in a future scenario requiring a hard power capability on the ground while offering a path to a soft power component possibility, Army Berlin’s critical crisis assessments and long-term practices might be instructive. Policymakers who restrict their choices in the early estimation process based upon the limitations assumed in modern power theory may benefit from a broader understanding that does not exclude the force that necessarily absorbs much of the foreign policy budget. Under certain circumstances and in the proper context, the manpower, social, and cultural strength of the United States military, through its leaders, members, and dependents, has advanced the national interest effectively and without resorting to its hard power capabilities.