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  • Transforming NATO in the Cold War: Challenges beyond Deterrence in the 1960s
  • Ryan C. Hendrickson
Andreas Wenger, Christian Nuenlist, and Anna Locher, eds., Transforming NATO in the Cold War: Challenges beyond Deterrence in the 1960s. New York: Routledge, 2007. 251 pp. $120.00.

Much of the existing scholarship on Cold War debates within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has focused on how the organization evolved to meet challenges posed by the Soviet Union. The literature has mostly focused on American [End Page 157] leadership of the alliance, using U.S.-Soviet developments to structure analysis of NATO.

In contrast to this approach, Andreas Wenger, Christian Nuenlist, and Anna Locher have compiled an impressive collection of chapters that identify intra-alliance debates and contributions from many NATO members in the 1960s. Thanks to the opening of the NATO archives in 1999, coupled with outstanding use of national archives in many of the NATO members, the contributors to the volume shed new light—from an array of perspectives—on NATO’s challenges during this tenuous period in the alliance’s existence. The book, which is divided into four substantive sections—including analyses of NATO as an organization of shared political values, the challenge posed by French President Charles de Gaulle and the broader desire within the alliance for détente policies, NATO’s nuclear dilemmas, and the role of domestic political concerns in shaping alliance debates—is a must read for students of NATO.

Many of the essays point to a more “participatory alliance” than is commonly assumed and taught (p. 10). Using a multinational analysis, the contributors depict NATO as a pluralistic security community in which debate among member-states, both large and small, frequently occurred. Early chapters find evidence of transnational groups within the alliance, consisting of key policymaking elites who fostered common transatlantic interests, as well as contributions from states such as Belgium, Canada, and the Netherlands, all of which are often absent from analyses of key Cold War questions that faced the alliance.

Several chapters also point to the role of NATO’s institutional leaders, including the secretaries general and individual ambassadors. These essays fill a large void in the existing scholarship, especially on the role of NATO’s secretaries general, including Paul Spaak, Dirk Stikker, and Manlio Brosio, during the Cold War. Anna Locher’s chapter is especially good in capturing the challenges faced by Stikker in dealing with the French from 1963 on, when NATO’s French ambassador essentially refused to speak in the North Atlantic Council.

Among the many impressive chapters, Christian Nuenlist’s analysis of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower shows that Eisenhower was far less consultative with the allies than has often been assumed. Eisenhower at one point in his communications with the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev criticized the NATO allies and encouraged Khrushchev not to let intra-alliance differences detract from U.S.-Soviet relations. Nuenlist also presents evidence that the Kennedy administration took more substantial steps to consult with the allies than previously believed. Nuenlist credits Secretary General Stikker with playing a “constructive role” at NATO headquarters during the Berlin crisis of 1961 (p. 83). His analysis diverges from most of the previous scholarship on Stikker, which emphasizes the secretary general’s frequent absences because of health concerns and alleged lack of interest in fostering a more consultative environment within the alliance. Nuenlist thus offers unique historical insights into NATO’s Cold War tribulations.

The section on domestic politics in the member-states, including analyses of Denmark, Italy, and the anti-nuclear/anti-American protest movements in Europe, also provides novel perspectives on intra-alliance discussions. Among these chapters, [End Page 158]

Jonathan Søborg Agger’s assessment of Danish politics and Denmark’s reasons for supporting NATO’s Harmel report and détente more generally highlights the importance of Denmark’s domestic critics of NATO in shaping the Danish government’s aggressive support of these initiatives at NATO headquarters.

One gap in the volume is the absence of analysis of the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) during this period. Previous analyses have identified the SACEUR as NATO’s dominant institutional leader during most of the Cold War...


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pp. 157-159
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