restricted access 3 “Learning by Doing”
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43 No Unnecessary Luxury In his memoirs, Dean Acheson criticizes Lester “Mike” Pearson, the Canadian minister for foreign affairs, and article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty: “Article 2 has continued to bedevil NATO. Lester Pearson has continually urged the Council to set up committees of ‘wise men’ to find a use for it, which the ‘wise men’ have continually failed to do.”1 Acheson made clear that he did not like article 2, did not like the obligation to conduct political consultations, an obligation the United States evaded from the start with all its might, and did not like Pearson for being one of the leading exponents of a political role for the alliance. Nevertheless, the founding fathers of NATO did include the subject of political cooperation in the text of the treaty, and this was by no means done thoughtlessly or out of pure naiveté. The rapid militarization of the North Atlantic alliance as a result of the Korean shock often obscures the fact that, initially, the threat to the West was perceived to be political as much as military. Common efforts to contain expansionist Soviet ambitions necessarily required that the members of the alliance be willing to subordinate their sometimes conflicting national interests to the common interests of the alliance to make the pledge of mutual military assistance in the event of an external attack credible. At the same time, it was important to keep the burdens of collective defense within reasonable limits. In addition, the populations of each individual member state had to be convinced that the burden imposed on it was not considerably heavier than that imposed on the others. 3 “Learning by Doing” Disintegrating Factors and the Development of Political Cooperation in Early NATO Winfried Heinemann 44 Nato and the warsaw pact Only if the alliance succeeded in maintaining a united defensive front against Communism would it be able to serve its purpose. Hence, a minimum of political cooperation constituted no superfluous luxury but was, rather, an urgent necessity for achieving the specific aim of the alliance. How international politics came to understand these new thoughts, even against the reluctance of classic diplomats such as Acheson,2 will be the subject of this chapter, illustrated by two examples from the years 1953–54 and 1956. Trieste At the end of the Second World War, Trieste was a free territory, divided into two zones of occupation. U.S. and British troops controlled Zone A, and the Yugoslavs occupied Zone B.3 Both Italy and Yugoslavia laid claim to the whole territory. As long as Yugoslavia had formed a solid part of the Communist bloc, everything seemed clear. During the Italian election campaign in 1948, the United States, Great Britain, and France had officially confirmed Italy’s claim on the territory.4 But the more Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito distanced himself from Josef Stalin and instead pursued a rather Western-oriented foreign policy, the more the Western powers had to take a mediating position. On the one hand, they wanted to deepen the split in the Communist bloc evidenced by the Yugoslav breakaway, even going so far as to give substantial military aid to Yugoslavia, a process in which U.S. Army General Lyman L. Lemnitzer was prominently involved. On the other hand, the West sought Italy’s ratification of the European Defense Community and Rome’s approval of U.S. naval bases in Naples. In the autumn of 1953, the situation seemed to have reached an impasse. Neither Italy nor Yugoslavia was willing to give in. On top of that, Italy and Yugoslavia sent troops to their common frontier after a diplomatic misunderstanding, the Italian troops normally being assigned to NATO. The threat from this hot spot became all too obvious. In this situation, London remembered that, on the occasion of his visit in March 1953, Tito had indicated his willingness to accept a solution imposed by the Western powers.5 In early October 1953, London and Washington were in agreement to leave Zone A to Italy and silently accept Yugoslavia’s de facto annexation of Zone B. Moreover, the two also agreed to make this move without France because they were worried that the French would inform their friends in Rome prematurely and thus scuttle the whole idea of an imposed solution from the very start.6 BecausenotevenFrancehadbeeninformedinadvance,NATOparticipationhad toberuledoutevenmore.Denyingthecouncilpriorconsultationwouldforeseeably incur the displeasure of some alliance members. The U.S. State Department brushed political cooperation in early nato 45 aside these objections...


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Subject Headings

  • Soviet Union -- Foreign relations -- Europe, Eastern.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Foreign relations -- Soviet Union.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Europe.
  • Europe -- Foreign relations -- United States.
  • Warsaw Treaty Organization -- History.
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- History -- 20th century.
  • Cold War.
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