At the founding ceremony for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Washington, DC in April 1949, a military band struck up the song "I've Got Plenty of Nothin'" from George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess. The choice of tunes could not have been more appropriate. NATO at its birth and for some time thereafter was, in the words of Charles Maier, a "paper alliance," grandiose in conception but lacking the integrated military forces and command structure necessary to live up to its charter. Above all it lacked a consensus on how to finance the alliance's ambitious arms buildup program, which became all the more urgent following the outbreak of the Korean War. How would the defense spending burden be shared among NATO's twelve charter members, and how could the needs of military rearmament be squared with the imperatives of rebuilding Western Europe's civilian economies and laying the foundation for the welfare state? [End Page 128]
Helmut R. Hammerich's fine book recounts NATO's struggle to find a solution to its internal financial and structural dilemmas, eventually coming up with a "recipe for success" that not only got the infant alliance through its teething crisis of the early 1950s but also established the groundwork for the genuine multinational cooperation that has served NATO so well over the past half-century.
The first part of Jeder für sich und Amerika gegen alle? examines the manifold tensions between economic revival and rearmament as they played out in the Atlantic world from 1947 to 1951. Although the ground Hammerich covers here is familiar to students of the postwar security scene, he provides the most sophisticated analysis to date of the conflicting visions and agendas within the fledgling alliance. Hammerich points out that the original procedure for sharing the defense burden within NATO proved unworkable because it used the partners' defense budgets as baselines, but these budgets differed so significantly in their composition that they were not really comparable. For example, Great Britain included military pensions in its defense budgets, whereas in some other states such costs were part of the social welfare budget. Until a more equitable mechanism for assessing the partners' varying financial capacities and responsibilities could be devised, the European states doggedly resisted U.S. demands for large increases in defense spending and focused instead on civilian reconstruction. The French and British in particular insisted that they would not undermine their socioeconomic health in pursuit of defense measures whose purpose, after all, was to protect the societies in question. The United States, for its part, threatened a substantial reduction in its military and financial commitments to Europe unless the Europeans did more for their own defense.
The solution to NATO's burden-sharing dilemma was worked out in late 1951 and 1952 by the Temporary Council Committee (TCC), which was established at the Ottawa meeting of the North Atlantic Council in September 1951. Despite this committee's crucial contribution to the success of the NATO enterprise, its work was largely ignored by scholars until Hammerich made it the centerpiece of Jeder für sich und Amerika gegen alle? Dubbed by Dean Acheson "Operation Wise Men," the TCC was composed of single delegates from each of the alliance members (equality was an imperative here) operating under an executive bureau with three chairmen—the three "Wise Men." The delegates were all figures of substance—cabinet members, ambassadors, high government officials—and the three wise men were among the most prominent individuals in postwar transatlantic politics: W. Averell Harriman, Sir Edwin Plowden, and Jean Monnet. Attached to the executive bureau was a screening and costing staff composed of high-level military and economic experts. Existing NATO agencies were ordered to assist the TCC, which had the authority to deal directly with the member governments. This, in other words, was a bureaucracy with bite.
The TCC's task was hugely complex, and in taking us through its deliberations Hammerich does justice to...