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The United States and NATO

The United States and NATO: The Formative Years

Lawrence S. Kaplan
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The United States and NATO
    Book Description:

    The creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was one of the most important accomplishments of American diplomacy in countering the Soviet threat during the early days of the Cold War. Why and how such a reversal of a 150-year nonalignment policy by the United States was brought about, and how the goals of the treaty became a reality, are questions addressed here by a leading scholar of NATO.

    The importance of restoring Europe to strength and stability in the post-World War II years was as obvious to America as to its allies, but the means of achieving that goal were far from clear. The problem for European statesmen was how to secure much- needed American economic and military aid without sacrificing political independence. For American policymakers, in contrast, a degree of American control was seen as an essential quid pro quo. As Mr. Kaplan shows, the lengthy negotiations of 1947 and 1948 were chiefly concerned with reconciling these opposing views.For the Truman administration, the difficulties of achieving a treaty acceptable to the allies were matched by those of winning its acceptance by Congress and the public. Many Americans saw such an "entangling alliance" as a threat not only to American security but to the viability of the United Nations. Mr. Kaplan demonstrates the tortuous course of the debate on the treaty and the pivotal role of the communist invasion of South Korea in its ultimate approval.

    This authoritative study offers a timely reevaluation of the origins of an alliance that continues to play a critical role in the balance of power and in the prospects for world peace.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6336-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Lyman L. Lemnitzer
  4. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    Is it a truism or an act of faith to assert that creation of the Atlantic alliance in 1949 was the most important event in American history since the Treaty of Paris established independence in 1783? Certainly its treatment by historians suggests rather that this is simply one more grandiose statement to stand alongside Wilson’s league or the United Nations, if not the Kellogg Pact and the Carter Doctrine, as a symbol of great expectations shattered or illusion perpetrated. It is the rare historian who would agree with Armin Rappaport and call the signing of the treaty the “American Revolution...

  5. 2. The Treaties of Paris and Washington: Two Entangling Alliances
    (pp. 14-29)

    There is a special source of inspiration for this essay that links the treaties of alliance of 1778 and 1949 with the Capitol Historical Society proceedings of 1978. Senate Caucus Room 318, where the four major contributors to this conference made their presentations, was also the place where Cornell professor Curtis P. Nettels spoke at great length and with much passion on May 17, 1949, on reasons why the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should reject the newly signed North Atlantic Treaty. The pact, according to Nettels, was an entangling alliance that would produce unhappy consequences. By joining the Atlantic alliance...

  6. 3. Isolationism, the United Nations, and the Cold War, 1947-1949
    (pp. 30-48)

    The experience of World War II taught Americans that the price the nation had paid for its isolationism in the 1930s was too high. They learned that war might have been avoided had the United States been able to accept the principles of collective security. But even as this knowledge impressed itself upon policymakers, the Roosevelt and Truman administrations recognized the difficulty of uprooting an entrenched idea. Political abstention from the Old World meant American freedom from the evils of spheres of influence, alliances, and balance-of-power struggles. The fate of Woodrow Wilson’s attempt to bring the United States into the...

  7. 4. Toward the Brussels Pact: December 1947-March 1948
    (pp. 49-64)

    If ever the time seemed both right and compelling for an entangling alliance between Europe and America, it was the dark winter of 1948. The failure of the London Conference of Foreign Ministers in December 1947 meant that American support for Western Europe would have to assume political and military as well as economic forms. The impasse over Germany seemed to portend a continuing conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union that might destroy Europe. European and American leaders alike recognized that economic recovery built on the Marshall Plan was not possible without a sense of military security,...

  8. 5. Brussels Pact to Atlantic Alliance: March-December 1948
    (pp. 65-92)

    The high hopes which European federationists and their American friends had vested in the Brussels Pact and in the president’s reaction to it could not be sustained indefinitely. The way to a unified Europe was to be longer and more circuitous than the events of March seemed to indicate. It was not that Truman was unresponsive to the plight of Europe or to the promise which the Brussels Pact seemed to hold for the future. European leaders of the new Western Union and American policymakers in the State Department and National Security Council diverted American assistance along other channels.


  9. 6. Completing the Treaty: January-April 1949
    (pp. 93-120)

    While military insecurity was a consistent problem for the future allies throughout 1948, the role of their adversary, the Soviet Union, appeared to have altered significantly between 1948 and 1949. The urgencies of 1948 were harder to find a year later. Internal Communist pressures in France and Italy were muted; the parties retained much of their popular strength, but no longer did they pose the threat of a parliamentary path to power in Western Europe. And in Eastern Europe the Tito rebellion had succeeded in detaching Yugoslavia from the Soviet grip with no riposte in sight to repair the damage...

  10. 7. Treaty to Organization: April 1949-January 1950
    (pp. 121-144)

    Once the Treaty came into being the center of gravity in the new alliance shifted from Article 5 to Article 3, with its twin objectives of self-help and mutual assistance. It was not that the question of “the pledge” had disappeared or even been reduced in significance. The entangling nature of NATO was its most significant accomplishment from its inception; indeed, it was the commitment to the defense of Europe that was to fire so much emotion in the United States Senate in the course of the Treaty’s ratification. But the promises of Article 5 were essentially passive; Article 3,...

  11. 8. The Impact of the Korean War
    (pp. 145-175)

    For President Truman, self-conscious about his role in history, the invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950, was a landmark that would affect the future of America and the world. He never saw it otherwise. On his flight back to Washington from his brother’s Missouri farm that fateful day, he reflected on the meaning of the news from Korea. As he reported in his memoirs, he recalled the 1930s. If the invasion “was allowed to go unchallenged it would mean a third world war.”¹ In interviews with Merle Miller years later he repeated those sentiments. “The flight took about...

  12. 9. Western Europe in “The American Century”
    (pp. 176-186)

    In the summer of 1981 Willy Brandt, former chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and current chairman of the Social Democratic party, was reported to have complained that the United States was treating Germany “like a colony.”¹ This charge is one of many similar statements that have emanated from Germany, the United Kingdom, Greece, and the Netherlands in the 1980s. Older as well as younger opponents of NATO base their aversion to the alliance upon a belief that its purposes serve only American imperial interests at the same time that its official policies threaten Europe’s security. Anti-Americanism is the...

  13. Bibliographic Essays
    (pp. 187-221)
  14. Appendix A. Text of the Brussels Pact
    (pp. 222-225)
  15. Appendix B. Text of the Vandenberg Resolution
    (pp. 226-226)
  16. Appendix C. Text of the North Atlantic Treaty
    (pp. 227-230)
  17. Abbreviations Used in the Text
    (pp. 231-231)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 232-265)
  19. Index
    (pp. 266-276)