The Puzzle of the Heretical: Yugoslavia in NATO Political Analysis, 1951–72
By 1951–2, NATO, always retaining its emphasis on the military level, also initiated a series of studies on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, trying to assess their adversary’s political and economic strengths and weaknesses. This chapter focuses on the findings of the NATO working groups regarding Yugoslavia’s sui generis position in the Cold War. It argues that NATO experts mostly viewed this pivotal country in a narrowly Eastern European context, and rather neglected its role as a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement. Moreover, they failed to appreciate the peculiar international position or the ideological orientations and needs of the Tito regime which, in order to survive as a heretical communist polity, had to be—and be seen as being—independent of both East and West. It was only by the mid-1960s, mostly after the impressive reforms in the Yugoslav economy, that NATO working groups became definitely convinced that Yugoslavia represented a real ‘heresy’ in the communist world which could be exploited by the West.