The Long Entanglement: NATO's First Fifty Years

By Lawrence S. Kaplan | Go to book overview

9
The INF Treaty and the Future of NATO: Lessons from the 1960s

"The INF Treaty and the Future of NATO: Lessons from the 1960s," was a chapter in Lawrence S. Kaplan, ed., American Historians and the Atlantic Alliance (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1991), pp. 135-53. The book developed from a symposium on the role of NATO in American history held in Brussels in May 1969 and jointly sponsored by the U.S. Mission to NATO and the Lyman L. Lemnitzer Center for NATO Studies.

As the North Atlantic Treaty approached its fortieth anniversary, the United States and the Soviet Union signed an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty in December 1987. On one level this action represented a striking triumph for the West, and a vindication of the promise inherent in the North Atlantic Council's dual-track decision of 1979. America's firmness over deploying the cruise and Pershing II missiles in Western Europe led initially to a confrontation with the Soviet adversary in 1983, when its delegates walked out of the arms talks in Geneva. But it ultimately led to an agreement that would remove both the newly deployed American missiles and the Soviet SS-4 and SS-5 as well as the SS-20 missiles. An elaborate system of verification would follow over the next thirteen years. The signing of this treaty, with its Memorandum of Understanding and Protocols, and its subsequent ratification in 1988, seemed to testify to the validity of a major NATO assumption: that a strong defensive posture was a prerequisite to genuine détente with the East bloc.

On another level, however, the INF treaty raised a host of new questions about the future of the alliance that could lead to its dissolution if its members could not respond to new challenges:

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