Advertisement

Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 324–341 | Cite as

Between the Atlantic and the Empire: NATO as a framework for Portuguese—American relations in early Cold War (1949–1957)

  • Daniel MarcosEmail author
2013 Donald Cameron Watt prize winner

Abstract

In April 1949, Portugal, an undemocratic and underdeveloped small country of Western Europe, became one of the 12 founding members of the Atlantic Alliance. The important geopolitical position of the Portuguese Atlantic islands was the main justification for the admission of this authoritarian regime in the Western Alliance. From this moment on, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) served as a framework for the bilateral relationship between Portugal and the USA. The US interests were fully achieved after the Azores agreement of 1951, since it authorised Washington to use an airbase in the archipelago during peacetime. However, for Lisbon, NATO did not safeguard one of its most important objectives: the maintenance of its colonial empire. As the 1950s evolved, US presence in the Azores and Lisbon’s resistance to decolonisation became increasingly interdependent. Portugal quickly understood that the Azores could be a trump card to obtain political leverage from the USA regarding Lisbon’s colonial policy. This strategy led to the establishment of a modus vivendi in US–Portuguese relations that was based on a thin balance between the interests of both governments.

Keywords

NATO Cold War Portugal USA Azores 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Letter from Ambassador Lincoln MacVeagh to William Dunham, Department of State, April 29, 1949. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, Maryland — Record Group (RG) 59, Lot File 59D108, Box 10.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For further information on the strategic importance of the Azores for the USA before the Cold War, see José M. Ferreira, ‘Os Açores nas Duas Guerras Mundiais’, Boletim do Instituto Histórico da Ilha Terceira XLV (1987): 73–90Google Scholar
  3. 2a.
    António Telo, Os Açores e o Controlo do Atlântico (1898/1948) (Porto: Edições Asa, 1993); andGoogle Scholar
  4. au2b.
    Luís Rodrigues, No Coração do Atlântico. Os Estados Unidos e os Açores (1939–1948) (Lisboa: Edições Prefácio, 2005).Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Melvyn Leffler, A Preponderance of Power. National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992), 59; andGoogle Scholar
  6. 3a.
    Nuno Teixeira, ‘From Neutrality to Alignment: Portugal in the Foundation of the Atlantic Pact’, Luso-Brazilian Review 29 (1992): 113–27.Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    Luís Rodrigues, No Coração do Atlântico.Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    ‘A Report to the President by the National Security Council’, November 25, 1947. Harry Truman Presidential Library (HTPL) — Personal Secretary File, Subject File, Box 176. During the 1940s, US presence in the Azores was regulated by three bilateral agreements signed in 1944, 1946 and 1948. See Luís Rodrigues, No Coração do Atlântico.Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    Geir Lundestad, The United States and Western Europe since 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 31.Google Scholar
  10. 7.
    Nuno Teixeira, ‘Between Africa and Europe: Portuguese Foreign Policy’, in Contemporary Portugal. Politics, Society and Culture (New York: SSM-Columbia University Press, 2011), 95–130.Google Scholar
  11. 8.
    António Telo, Portugal e a Nato: O reencontro da tradição Atlântica (Lisboa: Edições Cosmos, 1996), 1.Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    Daniel Marcos, ‘Uma Aliança Circunstancial: Portugal e os Estados Unidos nos Anos 1950’ (PhD diss., ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon, 2011), 39–61.Google Scholar
  13. 10.
    ‘Washington Paper’, September 9, 1948. Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), 1948, III: 240–41.Google Scholar
  14. 11.
    Lawrence Kaplan, NATO 1948. The Birth of the Transatlantic Alliance (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), 172–77.Google Scholar
  15. 12.
    Despite the rhetoric, Portugal eventually received financial support from the ERP from 1948 to 1950. This change was justified by the degradation of the international financial system. For further information see Nuno Teixeira, ‘Between Africa and Europe: Portuguese Foreign Policy’, 106; and Fernanda Rollo, Portugal e o Plano Marshall. Da rejeição à solicitação da ajuda financeira norte-americana (1947–1952) (Lisboa: Editorial Estampa, 1994).Google Scholar
  16. 13.
    US official acknowledgement that the Portuguese peripheral position at the Western end of Europe diminished the sense of threat of a military attack by the Soviet Union. This did not reflect a complete unlikelihood regarding the effective threat of Moscow to Europe, but made plain the idea that Portugal was thought to be in a position to bargain with the transatlantic partners. For further information see Daniel Marcos, ‘Uma Aliança Circunstancial’, 129–30.Google Scholar
  17. 14.
    ‘Telegram Ambassador in Portugal to Secretary of State’, September 8, 1948. FRUS, 1948, III: 1002–5.Google Scholar
  18. 15.
    Nuno Teixeira, From Neutrality to Alignment; Pedro Oliveira, ‘Documentos: A Adesão de Portugal à NATO (1948–1949)’, Política Internacional 19 (1999): 121–50.Google Scholar
  19. 16.
    Portugal sought to ensure the inclusion of its colonial territories in the treaty area. However, the results were not the same as the ones achieved by Paris, which was successful in its efforts. For more details see Carlos Gaspar, ‘Organização do Tratado do Atlântico Norte’, in Dicionário de História de Portugal, eds. António Barreto and Maria Filomena Mónica (Porto: Livraria Figueirinhas, 2000), 678–84; and Lawrence Kaplan, NATO 1948, 211–12.Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    Carlos Gaspar, ‘Organização do Tratado do Atlântico Norte’, 678–84; Oliveira Salazar’s speech in the Portuguese National Assembly, July 26, 1949. Quoted on Franco Nogueira, Salazar. O Ataque (1945–1958) (Porto: Livraria Civilização Editora, 2000), 155.Google Scholar
  21. 18.
    As the Portuguese Ambassador in Paris put it to Oliveira Salazar in a letter where he defended the necessity of Portuguese participation in NATO, ‘excluded from the United Nations Portugal could not miss the opportunity’ of strengthening the international links with the Western powers. Letter from Marcello Mathias to Oliveira Salazar, March 23, 1949. Veríssimo Serrão, ed., Correspondência Marcello Mathias/Salazar (1947/1968) (Lisboa: Difel, 1984), 127–9.Google Scholar
  22. 19.
    Luís Rodrigues, ‘Crossroads of the Atlantic: Portugal, the Azores and the Atlantic Community (1943–1957)’, in European Community, Atlantic Community?, eds. Valérie Aubourg, Gérard Bossuat, and Giles Scott-Smith (Paris: Soleb, 2008), 456–67; and Daniel Marcos, ‘Uma Aliança Circunstancial’, 39.Google Scholar
  23. 20.
    Letter from the US Ambassador at Lisbon to the Department of State (William Dunham), April 29, 1949. NARA — RG 59, Lot 59D108, Box 10.Google Scholar
  24. 21.
    Note from the US Embassy in Lisbon to the Portuguese Government, December 7, 1949. Direcção Geral Arquivos (DGARQ), Lisboa — AOS/CO/NE-18-1.Google Scholar
  25. 22.
    Pedro Oliveira, Os Despojos da Aliança. A Grã-Bretanha e a questão colonial portuguesa, 1945–1975 (Lisboa: Tinta da China Edições, 2007), 480.Google Scholar
  26. 23.
    Daniel Marcos, ‘Portugal e a Evolução do Sistema Defensivo Europeu. A Cimeira de Lisboa de 1952’, Relações Internacionais 27 (2010): 65–80.Google Scholar
  27. 24.
    Diário de Notícias, September 7, 1951, 1.Google Scholar
  28. 25.
    ‘Anexo I do Acordo Luso-Americano de 6 de Setembro de 1951’. Arquivo da Defesa Nacional (ADN), Paço de Arcos — Fundo do Secretariado-Geral de Defesa Nacional, Box 7089.2.Google Scholar
  29. 26.
    Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace. The Making of European Settlement (New Jersey, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), 96–8.Google Scholar
  30. 27.
    John Gaddis, The Cold War (London: Allen Lane, 2005), 40–60.Google Scholar
  31. 28.
    Geir Lundestad, The United States and Western Europe since 1945, 63 ff.; and Carlos Gaspar ‘A Aliança Atlântica e o método dos alargamentos’, Nação e Defesa 102 (2002): 45–63.Google Scholar
  32. 29.
    OTAN, Organization du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord, Structure, Faits et Chiffres (Brussels: OTAN, 1981), 28–9.Google Scholar
  33. 30.
    James McAllister, No Exit. America and the German Problem (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002), 188.Google Scholar
  34. 31.
    Report 1205 from the North Atlantic Pact Service, April 7, 1953. Arquivo Histórico Diplomático-MNE (AHD-MNE), Lisboa — RNP, A. 50, M. 102.Google Scholar
  35. 32.
    William Hitchcock, France Restored. Cold War Diplomacy and the Quest for Leadership in Europe, 1944–1954 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 133–168; and James McAllister, No Exit. America and the German Problem, 171–244.Google Scholar
  36. 33.
    Final Communiqué of the North Atlantic Council, Lisbon, 20–25 February 1952. North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Online Library, https://doi.org/www.nato.int/docu/comm/49-95/ c520225a.htm (accessed January 27, 2014).
  37. 34.
    Franco Nogueira, Salazar. O Ataque (1945–1958), 170–171.Google Scholar
  38. 35.
    ‘Informação de Serviço’, March, 17, 1952. AHD-MNE — RQE, A. 51, M. 21.Google Scholar
  39. 36.
    ‘Evolução da NATO durante os últimos meses: de Otawa a Roma e ao TCC, July 8, 1951. AHD-MNE — RNP, A. 50, M. 102.Google Scholar
  40. 37.
    ‘Informação de Serviço’, March 17, 1952. AHD-MNE — RQE, A. 51, M. 21.Google Scholar
  41. 38.
    Carlos Gaspar, ‘A Aliança Atlântica e o método dos alargamentos’, 50.Google Scholar
  42. 39.
    James Miller, The United States and the Making of Modern Greece (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 29–30.Google Scholar
  43. 40.
    Memorandum of Conversation, July 13, 1951. NARA — RG 59, Lot File 59D108, Box 1.Google Scholar
  44. 41.
    Diário de Notícias, February 20, 1952, 1 and 6.Google Scholar
  45. 42.
    Daniel Marcos, ‘Uma Aliança Circunstancial’, 103–118.Google Scholar
  46. 43.
    ‘Memorando da Repartição de Negócios Políticos para o Ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros’, January, 1954. AHD-MNE — RNP, A. 59, M. 232.Google Scholar
  47. 44.
    Before Second World War this foreign policy guideline was assured by the Alliance between Portugal and Great Britain. However, in the 1950s, it was already clear to Portugal that Britain was not in a position to grant support to Portuguese colonial interests. For further information see Pedro Oliveira, Os Despojos da Aliança.Google Scholar
  48. 45.
    Historically, Portuguese Foreign policy in the Far East was based on the effort to follow an autonomous position regarding the Western Powers. This meant that the Portuguese Government should analyse every particular situation individually, which could mean adopting a course that served the interests of the regional powers, China, for example, instead of those of the European powers. Daniel Marcos, ‘Uma Aliança Circunstancial’, 145–146.Google Scholar
  49. 46.
    ‘Memorando da Repartição de Negócios Políticos para o Ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros’, January, 1954. AHD-MNE — RNP, A. 59, M. 232.Google Scholar
  50. 47.
    Daniel Marcos, ‘Uma Aliança Circunstancial’; John Lewis Gaddis defines as progressive autonomy what the superpower’s allies tried to achieve from the end of the 1950s onwards. In the case of the Soviet Union, the most paradigmatic example was the People Republic of China. In regard to the USA, the actions of De Gaulle’s, France shows the increasing difficulty that the superpowers had in controlling their allies. In sum, progressively, ‘the weakest discovered opportunities to confront the strongest’; and John Gaddis, The Cold War, 119–155.Google Scholar
  51. 48.
    Franco Nogueira, Salazar. O Ataque (1945–1958), 177.Google Scholar
  52. 49.
    ‘Miséria e medo: características do momento actual’. Speech by Oliveira Salazar, November 25, 1947; and Oliveira Salazar, Discursos e Notas Políticas. 1943–1950 (Lisboa: Coimbra Editora, 1961), 306.Google Scholar
  53. 50.
    Oliveira Salazar, ‘Goa and the Indian Union: The Portuguese View’, Foreign Affairs 34, no. 3 (1956): 418–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 51.
    ‘Note from the Legation of India in Lisbon’, January, 14, 1953. Vinte anos de Defesa do Estado da Índia, Vol. I (Lisboa: Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros, 1967), 281–3. This idea of geographical contiguity as an argument to take control over Goa was contested by Portugal on the basis that from British India two countries have become independent: Pakistan and Indian Union.Google Scholar
  55. 52.
    Arthur Rubinoff, India’s Use of Force in Goa (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1971), 15–29.Google Scholar
  56. 53.
    Prakashchandra Pandurang Shirodkar, Goa’s Struggle for Freedom (Delhi: Ajanta, 1988), 40–1.Google Scholar
  57. 54.
    Maria Stocker, Xeque-Mate a Goa (Lisboa: Temas e Debates, 2005), 95Google Scholar
  58. 54a.
    Pundalik D. Gaitonde, The Liberation of Goa: A Participant’s view of History (London: Hurst, 1987), 71–80.Google Scholar
  59. 55.
    ‘Department of State Policy Statement’, December 1, 1950. FRUS, 1950, V, 1480.Google Scholar
  60. 56.
    ‘Memorandum of Conversation’, February 14, 1951. FRUS, 1951, VI, 1663.Google Scholar
  61. 57.
    Verbatim Record of the Seventh Meeting of the Council, April 23, 1954 (C-VR(54)17-FINAL) — NATO Archive, Brussels. See also Moritz Pöllath, ‘‘Far away from the Atlantic…’: Goa, West New Guinea and NATO’s out-of-area policy at Bandung 1955’, Journal of Transatlantic Studies 11, no. 4 (2013): 387–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 58.
    According to this article, any attack to a NATO ally is considered to be an act of violence against all member states of this organisation.Google Scholar
  63. 59.
    Portuguese approach to the UK in Pedro Oliveira, Os Despojos da Aliança, 95–103.Google Scholar
  64. 60.
    ‘Memorandum to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant) and to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy)’, May 20, 1954. FRUS, 1952–1954, V, 1742–4.Google Scholar
  65. 61.
    Memorandum from the Foreign Ministry to the Overseas Ministry, July 31, 1954. Vinte anos de Defesa do Estado da Índia, Vol. II (Lisboa: Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros, 1967), 35–6.Google Scholar
  66. 62.
    Office Memo to the Secretary of State, July 30, 1954. NARA — RG 59, Lot File 59D108, Box 3.Google Scholar
  67. 63.
    ‘Telegram from the Ambassador in Portugal to the Department of State’, August 9, 1954. FRUS, 1952–1954, VI, 1744–1745.Google Scholar
  68. 64.
    Letter from the US Embassy in Lisbon to the Department of State, August 30, 1954. NARA — RG 59, Lot File 59D108, Box 3.Google Scholar
  69. 65.
    ‘Dispatch from the Embassy in Lisbon to the Department of State’, November 2, 1954. FRUS, 1952–1954, VI, 1749–1750.Google Scholar
  70. 66.
    Letter from the American Embassy in Lisbon, April 23, 1954. NARA — RG 59, Lot File 59D108, Box 3.Google Scholar
  71. 67.
    ‘Memorandum of Conversation’, January 13, 1955. FRUS, 1955–1957, XXVII, 439.Google Scholar
  72. 68.
    Letter from the US Embassy in Portugal to the Portuguese Desk, September 24, 1954. NARA — RG 84, US Legation in Lisbon, Box 47.Google Scholar
  73. 69.
    The international criticism to European resistance to decolonisation caused the Portuguese Government, in 1951, to make amendments to the constitution, in order to review the linkage between the metropole and its colonies. From this moment on, Portugal adopted an assimilationist conception, where the colonies became ‘Overseas Provinces’ forming ‘a united and indivisible nation’ with the European territories. See Valentim Alexandre, ‘The Colonial Empire’ in Contemporary Portugal, 65–84.Google Scholar
  74. 70.
    ‘Memorandum of Conversation’, November 30, 1955. FRUS, 1955–1957, XXVII, 445–51.Google Scholar
  75. 71.
    Cunha-Dulles Statement, December 2, 1955. Vinte anos de Defesa do Estado da Índia, Vol. III (Lisboa: Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros, 1968), 51. The Cunha-Dulles Statement was a milestone in USA-Portuguese relations. For the USA, it reflected the North-American position regarding the Bandung Conference of 1955. For the Portuguese Government, the Cunha-Dulles Statement was made at a time when the recent Portuguese accession to the United Nations anticipated a period of strong criticism to Portugal’s colonial policy in that institution.Google Scholar
  76. 72.
    William Roger Louis, ‘Dulles, Suez and the British’ in John Foster Dulles and the Diplomacy of the Cold War, ed. Richard Immerman (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), 133–58; andGoogle Scholar
  77. 72a.
    Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 (New York: The Penguin Press, 2005), 294–8.Google Scholar
  78. 73.
    ‘Despatch from the US Embassy in Lisbon’, January 4, 1957. FRUS 1955–1957, XXVII, 466–71.Google Scholar
  79. 74.
    Handwritten note by Oliveira Salazar on USA-Portuguese relations, November, 1955. DGARQ — AOS/CO/NE-17.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Português de Relações Internacionais (IPRI)NOVA UniversityLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations