Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Forming and Role of NATO

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The North Atlantic Organisation Treaty formed on the 4th April 1949 was essentially a defensive establishment put in place as a result of the tensions between the East and the West produced by the Cold War. This alliance signed by twelve western nations including Canada and most importantly the United States openly attacked the Soviet Union and its anti-democratic ideologies. The core concept of NATO was to defend Western Europe from the threat of communism and the parties agreed that “an attack against one shall be considered an attack against them all” committing each member state to armed resistance if necessary. In order to understand the motives for the formation of NATO it is imperative to determine the key events which heightened the tensions between the two major superpowers, creating a Bipolar world which lasted for nearly 40 years after the end of the Second World War.

During the Second World War Europe quickly found itself divided into two alliances, the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) with the formation of the Tripartite Pact in Berlin and the Allied powers. The Allied powers had ultimately joined together to rid Europe of the scourge of Nazism and as Mitchner states in Global Forces of the Twentieth Century that “Because they faced a common enemy in Hitler, the Grand Alliance became a marriage of necessity forged by the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union”. On the 1st January the USSR joined the United States, Great Britain, France and China and other countries in signing the declaration by United Nations in Washington. This pact pledged that each participant would “employ its full resources military or economic against the Axis powers” and to make no “separate armistice or peace with the enemies”. However it became apparent that even before the Nazi regime crumbled the Allied Democracy and the Soviet Communists simply did not trust one another which led to tensions soon after the war ended

Already aware of the fundamental differing ideologies between the West and the East, one being based on democracy and private enterprise and the other on totalitarian communism, it is also true to say that they both had very different post-war goals.

The West even though they agreed to leave their troops in Germany to maintain peace whilst the country could begin to re-establish itself as a democracy, they wanted to demobilise and return their troops to civilian life, especially the Americans. However Stalin had a different agenda before the war had ended and he felt it imperative that buffer states should be created to protect the borders of the fatherland. In forty years the USSR had been invaded from the West and Stalin was determined to gain maximum security from another attack. The Red Army stormed through Eastern Europe at an alarming rate liberating many countries which had been under Nazi occupation putting in place communist government loyal to the Soviet Union. European nations felt threatened by the military power of the Soviet Union and she had emerged from the war stronger than she had ever been before. As a result of this power the Red Army had annexed a population of about million and seized and area of over 180, 000 square miles and by 1947 all European states, except Czechoslovakia were under communist rule.

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The newly expanded Soviet regime wanted to keep a tight hold on their satellite states and created the Communist Information Bureau, otherwise known as Cominform an information agency set up in 1947. It attempted to re-establish information exchanges amongst the European Communist parties that had lapsed since the dissolution of the Comintern in 1947.

The United states like the Western European felt threatened by the Soviet expansion and it soon became apparent that two superpowers had emerged from the war. Former European powers such as Britain and France were weakened by the war and required time and money to recover. The use of the Atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki had ended the war in Japan but had also increased tensions between the US and the Soviet bloc. This political demonstration of the superiority of the American Military instilled fear in the Soviet government who responded with a clear push towards nuclear technology. This rapid response from the Soviets to manufacturer nuclear weapons became known as the Arms race, another reason why the Western European desired an alliance with the United States as they also had no nuclear weapon technology.

Winston Churchill, having failed to be re-elected as Britains Prime Minister in July 1945 he delivered a very important speech at Fulton, Missouri, titled “The Sinews of Peace”. Churchill illustrated the division within Europe at this time and outlined the ideological conflict between Soviet Communism and Democratic Capitalism. Before this speech the United States and Britain had been very much concerned with their own post-was economies and had remained grateful for the Soviet Union’s part in ending World War two. However, his powerful speech generated much attention and had an immense international impact on public opinion when he declared “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent”. People in the West feared the spread of communism and wanted security for the West, an alliance that would provide security against Eastern aggression, provided mutual aid and a step towards Trans-Atlantic co-operation.

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