Mixed Signals from the United States
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.
KeywordsNuclear Weapon Nuclear Force Mixed Signal Flexible Response Military Officer
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Notes and References
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