American origins of NATO : a study in domestic inhibitions and West European constraints
This thesis examines why the United States became a founder signatory to the North Atlantic Treaty in April 1949. The enquiry suggests that the perception of a Soviet challenge to Western Europe was a necessary condition for the Americans helping to create the postwar Atlantic Alliance but an historically inadequate explanation of the reasons they did so. The central conclusion reached in this thesis is that the Truman Administration planned beyond the short-term need to reassure the West Europeans and had its sights set on a longer-term objective. U.S. policy-makers sought to alter the political, economic and military status quo in Western Europe so as virtually to guarantee that the United States would not again be drawn into another world war centred on Europe. Crucial to this American policy objective was the inter-relationship between the temporary purposes of the North Atlantic Treaty and the unformulated but potent idea of West European unity. Contemporary documents make clear that the American concept of - and enthusiasm for - West European integration a) formed an essential part of security deliberations in Washington, including military planning, during the late 1940s; b) gave coherence to domestic, diplomatic, economic and military aspects of U.S. foreign policy; and c) governed the style, content and tone of transatlantic exchanges, ironically limiting the scope for independent U.S. initiatives while giving the war-weakened states of Western Europe a certain, but never decisive, influence over American policy towards themselves. By helping create conditions during the late 1940s in which a militarily self-sustaining Western Europe could emerge, the United States hoped eventually - possibly as early as the 1950s - to withdraw from Europe altogether. From then on containment in that all-important region would not be an American prerogative.