History Ph.D. Dissertations


United States-Yugoslav Relations, 1961-80: The Twilight of Tito's Era and the Role of Ambassadorial Diplomacy in the Making of America's Yugoslav Policy

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Gary R. Hess

Second Advisor

Neal Jesse (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Beth A. Griech-Pollele (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Douglas J. Forsyth (Committee Member)


This historical investigation of United States-Yugoslav relations during the last two decades of Josip Broz Tito's thirty-five-year presidency makes a contribution to understanding the formation and execution of American policy toward Yugoslavia. An examination of the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter Administrations dealings with a nonaligned and socialist Yugoslavia shows that the United States during the height of the Cold War could maintain good relations with a Communist state to uphold a wedge in the Soviet Bloc and to preserve regional geo-strategic balance.

The Yugoslav communists managed to deal imaginatively and successfully with the shifts in the focus of American policy from Kennedy's "Grand Design," Johnson's "building bridges" appeal, Nixon's personal diplomacy, to Carter's focus on the human rights. Despite its domestic problems that involved political infighting and purges, experimentations with the market economy, and the resurgence of nationalism, Yugoslavia pursued a surprisingly independent foreign policy and maintained leadership of the international nonaligned movement that created a competing ideology to challenge the established spheres of influence of the two superpowers.

The study juxtaposes the importance of the role of American ambassadors in creating and maintaining bilateral relations against the importance of the high-level visits - by presidents, secretaries of state, and foreign ministers - and asserts that ambassadorial diplomacy was crucial in maintaining steady bilateral relations.