Problems of Over-extension: Reconciling NATO Defence and Out-of-Area Contingencies: Part I

  • Anthony Farrar-Hockley
Part of the International Institute for Strategic Studies Conference Papers book series (IISSCP)


The genesis of the North Atlantic Treaty and the politico-military organization to which it gave rise has become so overladen with the mythology of the pacifist, anti-nuclear, anti-American camps et al., with a disregard for the facts surpassed only by the Cominform, that a brief reminder of the situation in 1948 may be useful. Stalin’s military adventurism following the end of World War II, backed by armed forces which retained much of their wartime strength, alarmed the democratic states of Europe. The United Nations seemed unable to prevent the annexation of formerly independent nations under Soviet occupation. Some of the European countries entered a union for common defence, but it was apparent that this lacked sufficient strength to keep the Soviet Armed Forces out — the Federal Republic of Germany had not then re-emerged as a sovereign state — and it was clear that collective defence could not be assured without the United States, and not simply because of American nuclear supremacy. The United States did not push its way back into European defence leadership; it came at the pressing invitation of Europe. With that accomplished, a number of smaller nations which had for more than a century eschewed defensive alliances in peace — the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, for example — joined the Alliance because the menace persisted, a menace manifest, for example, in the rough language which Stalin used to Norway on the eve of the parliamentary vote on accession or otherwise to the Treaty, though he misjudged the temper of the Storting in so doing.


Home Nation Political Consensus Member Government Small Nation Common Defence 
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© International Institute for Strategic Studies 1986

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  • Anthony Farrar-Hockley

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