The Long Entanglement: NATO's First Fifty Years

The Long Entanglement: NATO's First Fifty Years

The Long Entanglement: NATO's First Fifty Years

The Long Entanglement: NATO's First Fifty Years

Synopsis

The fiftieth anniversary of the long entanglement between the United States and NATO is an appropriate occasion to reflect. One of the few NATO studies to concentrate on the history of the alliance, particularly the relationship between its senior partner and its European allies, this study examines critical issues in depth to uncover the ability of the allies to surmount their internal divisions and to confront their Soviet adversary. While NATO archives are still not fully open, the use of declassified documents from the National Archives and the presidential libraries are of invaluable assistance in considering the historical role of America in the alliance and the continuing relevance of the organization in U.S. foreign policy.

Excerpt

The three chapters examining the origins of NATO deal with issues vital to the fashioning of the alliance. Chapter 1 is a close examination of the efforts of the Western Union to entangle the United States in a European alliance on European terms. Its success was mixed. This chapter was written for an international symposium held in Oslo in August 1983, organized by the Research Centre for Defense History at Norway's National Defense College. It was published in Olav Riste, ed., Western Security: The Formative Years (Oslo: Norwegian University Press, 1985).

It has been customary for observers, friendly and hostile, to look for secret protocols or codicils in any major treaty. And rightly so, for they can be found, in the American experience, from the Treaty of Paris in 1783 to the Yalta agreements in 1945. They are especially likely to be found in a wartime agreement where security conditions discourage full disclosure.

This brief peroration on the obvious is a preface to the claim that the Treaty of Brussels, which established the Western Union, was different. Its meaning can be comprehended best through recognizing a hidden agenda rather than a secret codicil. This requires a reconsideration of the treaty's intention to create an integrated organization over a fifty-year time span, during which each party would afford each other in the event of attack "all the military and other aid and assistance in their power." The only enemy listed in the text is a re-militarized Germany. The Soviet Union is conspicuous by its absence. Also omitted from the text are the assumptions . . .

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