The Long Entanglement: NATO's First Fifty Years

By Lawrence S. Kaplan | Go to book overview

7
The U.S. and NATO in the Johnson Years

"The U.S. and NATO in the Johnson Years," was prepared for Robert A. Divine , ed., The Johnson Years, Volume 3: LBJ at Home and Abroad ( Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994), pp. 119-49. The chapters in this volume were based on the extensive records of the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, Texas.

Since World War II, Europe has been the focus of American foreign relations. And since 1949 the Atlantic alliance has been the front line of containment of Soviet communism. In the words of David Calleo, NATO was "the rather elaborate apparatus by which we have chosen to organize the American protectorate in Europe."1 Until 1963 other parts of the world had been fringe areas despite intrusion of crises in Korea, Guatemala, Indochina, and the Suez Canal in the 1950s. The Soviets were considered to have created turmoil in those regions to divert America from its primary concern--the defense of Europe. In the course of fashioning an Atlantic community to whose fortunes it became attached, the nation had abandoned its tradition of nonentanglement with Europe, the hallmark of American foreign policy for the first century and a half of its history.

Through its involvement in the Vietnam War the Johnson administration appeared to turn the clock back, to return the United States to its earlier concerns with the Pacific rim. It was not that the administration intended to abandon the new links to Europe; the Soviet peril there remained virulent as the status of West Berlin remained unresolved, as the Soviet buildup of nuclear weapons after the Cuban missile crisis escalated, and as the Brezh-

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