The "Atlantic" Component of NATO
Chapter 2 looks at the Atlantic character of NATO and its importance in winning acceptance of the treaty. It was prepared for a conference in 1989 held in Ponta Delgada and sponsored by the Centro de Estudos de Relações Internacionais e Estrategia of the University of the Azores, the Centre d'étude de rélations internationales of the University of Brussels, and the Lyman L. Lemnitzer Center of Kent State University. The essay appeared in Relações Transatlânticas no Limiar do Século XXI (Ponta Delgada: CERIE, 1989).
As historians look back on NATO's first forty years it seems obvious that NATO has been a Western European alliance undergirded by the membership of such non-European nations as the United States and Canada. The intention of the founding fathers in 1948 and 1949 was to defend beleaguered Western European nations against the threat of communism, either from within through national Communist parties, or from without through such military actions as the Soviet Union might mount against them. A second objective was to create a united Europe which not only could stand up by itself to any challenge from the East but also to dispense with assistance from the United States. Given this European orientation it is legitimate to explore why Europe is mentioned only once by name in the text of the treaty, and to ask whether there is such an entity as an Atlantic Community, or whether any such community was intended. In brief, what is "Atlantic" about the Atlantic alliance?
Certainly, the idea of treaty under an Atlantic title was not in the minds