Mixed Signals from the United States

  • Jane E. Stromseth
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


To what extent did the American government undermine its own efforts to strengthen NATO’s conventional forces in the 1960s? The McNamara proposals, and the analysis upon which they were based, did not meet with uniform acceptance in Washington. Careful examination of the divergent points of view held by Defense Department civilian officials and by the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggests that the policy messages conveyed by American officials to the European allies were not always clear and consistent. Sceptical military officers at the Pentagon, for example, disputed McNamara’s analysis of the NATO/Warsaw Pact military balance and the viability of a conventional defence of Western Europe. Further, McNamara’s attempts in the early 1960s to share more information about nuclear weapons with the allies were undercut by opposition from the intelligence community and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The result was a series of ‘mixed signals’ which stimulated European scepticism regarding the McNamara proposals and the motivations behind them.


Nuclear Weapon Nuclear Force Mixed Signal Flexible Response Military Officer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and References

  1. 7.
    Maxwell Taylor, Swords and Plowshares (New York: W. W. Norton, 1972) pp. 207–8.Google Scholar
  2. 14.
    J. Michael Legge, Theater Nuclear Weapons and the NATO Strategy of Flexible Response, Report R-2964-FF (Santa Monica, Cal.: RAND, April 1983) p. 14.Google Scholar
  3. 17.
    Harlan Cleveland, NATO: The Transatlantic Bargain (New York: Harper & Row, 1970) p. 47.Google Scholar
  4. 26.
    John F. Kennedy, Public Papers of the Presidents, 1961, p. 385.Google Scholar
  5. 27.
    Harold Macmillan, At the End of the Day, 1961–1963 (London: Macmillan, 1973) p. 343.Google Scholar
  6. 45.
    Robert Bowie, ‘Strategy and the Atlantic Alliance’, International Organization, Vol. 17 (Summer 1963) pp. 725–6.Google Scholar
  7. 76.
    Earl H. Voss and Richard Fryklund, ‘Rusk Hints Sharp Curb on Nuclear Arms Use’, The Evening Star, 27 February 1961. See also New York Times, 28 February 1961, p. 5.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jane E. Stromseth 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane E. Stromseth

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations