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US Foreign Policy Towards NATO

In this paper I will first explain the history of NATO and the United States policy towards it. I will then give three reasonable policy recommendations for the United States towards NATO. This is important because NATO is an organization with a very brief history but it has molded Europe and other countries and has made a safe-haven from war for the past five decades. NATO was spawn out of the Western countries of Europe fearing the expansion of the greedy, hungry Stalin of the Soviet Union which would directly lead to the expansion of communist governments.

Also, “in 1949 most of the states of Europe were still enfeebled by wartime devastation, striving for economic recovery, attempting to reestablish shattered political institutions, resettle refugees and recover from the second major upheaval in 30 years. “1 After the second world war Stalin, of the Soviet Union, started to spread his communist government to many Eastern European countries fast. Just a couple years before all of this an alliance was made between many nations called The United Nations.

This is where the base idea of NATO came out of. There is a particular article in the United Nation’s charter, article 51, which paved the way. Article 51 read: Nothing in the present charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the security council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.

Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security. 2 So, armed with this article, ten European countries turned to the United States and Canada to draft a pledge of mutual security and on April 4, 1949, they all met in Washington to sign the North Atlantic Treaty.

The fear that created this alliance could not better be seen than in Winston Churchill’s, prime minister of Great Britain, telegram to President Truman saying: “An iron curtain is being drawn down upon their(Soviet Union) front. We do not know what is going on behind. . . “3 With this quote from the British Prime Minister we could see that the biggest fear was the fear itself of not knowing what was going on in the Soviet Union. The North Atlantic Treaty consisted of 14 articles in which I will now briefly explain to help you understand what this treaty entailed.

First off, the whole purpose of this treaty was to “prevent aggression or to repel it, should it occur. “4 It provided for the continuous cooperation and consultation in political, economic and military fields and had an indefinite duration. Every member who was a part of this treaty signed to express their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments. All of this was just reaffirming their faith in the principles of the United Nations. The first article defines the basic principles that member countries should follow to keep the peace and world security.

The second article was an inspiration from the first article of the United Nations Charter. This article defines the aims for the member nations to pursue and the obligations they have. The third article is a statement that the signatories will do all they can to resist attack. The fourth article calls for consultation from all members if one of the members feels that they are threatened. The fifth article is the core of the treaty and states that if one of the member countries is attacked all other members will see it as an attack on each and all of them.

The sixth article defines the area that the provisions in article five apply. Article seven and eight the member nations stipulate that none of their other international commitments conflict with the North Atlantic treaty and that any commitments they make in the future won’t conflict with the treaty as well. Under article nine a council is created in which each member is represented. Article ten provides for any other European country to join the alliance if they will uphold the principles outlined in the treaty.

Article eleven describes the process in which ratification are to occur and how the treaty is to enter into force. Articles twelve and thirteen deals with the possibility of revision of the treaty after ten years and that any member can leave after twenty years. The treaty has never been revised and France is the only country to leave the alliance. Lastly, article fourteen gives equal authority to both the English and French versions or texts of the treaty and states that they are to be safely deposited in Washington DC. Now the creation of this alliance was not all perfect as one would think.

There was a lot of debate about this alliance in Congress. Most of the negative response was directly related to the fact that for most of our history, the United States had what people call an “isolationist” foreign policy. This means that the United States had gotten so used to just letting foreign countries deal with their own problems and we had enough of our own so most leaders of this country thought we should just deal with our own problems. Even George Washington, in his farewell speech, thought that America needed to deal with its own problems and only its own problems.

So you can see that the United Nations charter and the North Atlantic Treaty were a new from of foreign policy for the United States. The United States was to embark on a new way to look at foreign policy and it would be a change that would last. Now the ratification passed by a majority but the minority who voted against it wetre prominent men who spoke out veraciously against the treaty. Regardless of this opposition the United States needed a way to try to curtail the expansion of communism in Eastern Europe. This way to curtail communism and secure free governments was NATO.

The United States and the other free countries couldn’t do anything in the UN because of the constant stalemate by the Soviet Union. Still, some didn’t think that this was any of the United States’ business. “To Americans the Treaty was presented less as an alliance than as a cultural and economic association, fulfilling all requirements of the United Nations. “5 This explains the reason why some were quick to look down upon NATO. People saw it as another UN and that would just be a waste of United States time and money.

For those, in the beginning, who were for the Treaty it was easy to justify why. “They(State Dept. ) were to deter aggression by facing a potential aggressor with a firm US commitment to Western Europe, which – had it existed in 1917 or 1939 – might have prevented two world wars. “6 These were the words that made those who were for the Treaty so confident and so hopeful that this Treaty would be passed. Some of those against the Treaty were such prominent persons as Senator Robert A. Taft and Henry A. Wallace.

Taft was quoted as making such comments as, “Let us begin to make our own foreign policy, instead of letting Moscow make it for us. “7 and “it is with great regret that I have come to my conclusion, but I have come to it because I think the pact carries with it an obligation to assist in arming, at our expense, the nations of Western Europe, because with that obligation I believe it will promote war in the world rather than peace, and because I think that with the arms plan it is wholly contrary to the spirit of the obligations we assumed in the United Nations Charter.

From the statement of the Honorable Mr. Taft we see that he was a die-hard isolationist fan as were many of those opposed to the Treaty. Mr. Wallace offers us another view of the opposition. Mr. Wallace is quoted as saying, “It(NATO) demands spending by Americans without limit in dollars or time. It will create an intolerable burden on our own people, exacting lower living standards and the loss of fundamental freedoms. “9 In reading that statement you can imagine what it did to the public after hearing it.

So you can see that the opposition to the Treaty was backed by distinguished men with very powerful words. In the end, though, the Treaty was approved by the Senate by a vote of 82 to 13. Thus, America finally could start looking for a good way to use this new alliance. Now in order for one to understand the policies the United States had with NATO it is essential for one to know that for the first twenty years of NATO the United States had four main types of foreign policy ideas with respect to NATO.

The first main type of policy attitude the United States had was called Accommodation which occurred from 1944 to 1950. This meant that the congressmen didn’t think the United States should be so far into Europe’s business as it was preparing to be. The congressmen during this era thought that we should be fine because we just won a war and thought we were losing our fight for peace. President Truman worked through this problem by using joint participation by the President and member of congress.

Truman overcame congressional resistance to such an active American role abroad only by working closely with members of Congress and convincing them, and the American people, of the grave political instability that most European states faced from their economic situation and from the growing threat of Soviet communism. “10 After swaying the support of Congress Truman was able to do such tremendous things as; participate in the UN, the International Monetary Fund, the national security act of 1947 became law, and support of Greece and Turkey was approved.

Joint legislative-executive action supported a strong American global role, culminating in the Senate approval of NATO and the permanent stationing of American troops in Europe–an unprecedented American military commitment in a time of peace. “11 You will see that in this period America has a more or less “feel it out” policy towards NATO and that can be expected being that this was the first ever alliance the US had ever taken part in. The first big event in this period was that the actual signing of all twelve participating countries took place here in the United States.

All twelve countries came to Washington, DC to sign the official North Atlantic Treaty. After this the first ever NATO meeting was also held in Washington on September 17, 1949. The next thing that happened in respect to America’s relationship or policy with NATO was that on January 27, 1950 President Truman approved a plan that would give those in the NATO area $900,000,000 for military aid funds. After that was the creation of an integrated European force under centralized command, adequate to deter any aggression and to help ensure the defense of Western Europe.

This military structure was organized and the council asked President Truman to “. . make available General Dwight D. Eisenhower to serve as Supreme Allied Commander for Europe. “12 This meant that in Americas first ever alliance with European countries it was chosen right away to lead it’s military. Most have said that the reason for this was because we had all the power of the military, namely, nuclear weapons. With this new addition NATO was ready to go, or so it thought it was, with an American general leading the way.

So you can see that the United States was pretty much all for NATO and doing whatever they could to better its situation from the very beginning . The proof is in the fact that they even put one of their own generals out there to lead the military division of NATO. Also, in this period, NATO created what was called council deputies and the American Ambassador deputy, Charles M. Spofford, was elected to be the permanent chairman to the council deputies. All of this occurred despite the lengthy and heated debate in Congress over whether we should even enter into this alliance.

From this, one can deduce that those in America who were all for an open door policy with NATO really were all for it. The second major foreign policy attitude of American was called Antagonism. Antagonism lasted from 1951 until 1955. This was a period of bipartisan foreign policy. The republicans and democrats really fought it out in this era. The Democratic party, during this time, filled the air with accusations of Republicans committing treason and helping out the communist party.

“Congressman Robert Rich of Pennsylvania charged that Secretary of State Dean Acheson was on Joseph Stalin’s payroll. 3 So you can see that during this time period there was much turmoil between the parties and nothing much could get done in reference to NATO. The height of this period was the debate over the Bricker amendment, which was an amendment to the constitution in which Congress would gain the responsibility and authority to approve all international agreements that failed to pass by one vote. Had this amendment passed the United States might have dropped out of NATO shortly afterwards. When this amendment failed this period ended.

This is the period when we really see America have an contributory policy towards NATO. Anything NATO needed that we could give it, we gave it. We first see our famous General Eisenhower in mid 1950 agree to cooperate in working out the problems of NATO’s military problems. Next, the US sign a pact with New Zealand and Australia due to our policy towards NATO. Then, on January 30, 1952, we have another American military leader appointed as a military leader for NATO. Admiral Lynde D. McCormick became the first Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic.

This is the second time we see America contributing one of its’ military leaders to the NATO military. We then see an American policy of expansion for NATO when it helps vote to accede Greece and Turkey. Next the US supports one of the NATO military commands by stationing the Headquarters for the Allied Command Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia. To close this period out we see General Eisenhower elected to be President and by this occurrence we can almost be assured, as we will, that US interests will lie heavily on NATO because of the fact that Eisenhower served as a military leader for one of NATO’s military commands.

Not only did General Eisenhower serve as a leader but he was the first leader of a NATO military command. The next and third foreign policy attitude was called the Congressional Acquiescence period and lasted from 1955 to 1965. In this period you see the two parties put their differences aside and together they supported the president in foreign policy. There was only one thorn in the side of making foreign policy and that was McCarthy. McCarthy spent everyday accusing Acheson and Truman of treason and allowing communist infiltration into America.

Not a day went by without McCarthy asking for the resignation of Acheson and the impeachment of Truman. Amidst all of this chaos we see America go full fledged to support NATO more than it has ever. We also see that because of the United States’ role in NATO it joins in many more treaties, pacts, and alliances than it has ever before. To start things out President Eisenhower claims publicly that he will keep troops in Europe for as long as they are needed there.

Then we see more of an expansion policy when, again, America helps vote to accede Germany. On August 2, 1952 we see the Canadian and US NATO air defense integrate and station headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Next, the US takes a bold step with the UK in publicly claiming or proposing the interdependence of all countries in the free world which was a direct challenge to the USSR. More contributory policy then occurs when President Kennedy gives some of his strategic nuclear forces to NATO.

Next, as a show of our military muscle, the US performs operation “Big Lift” which was an operation in which 14,500 troops were flown to Germany to shoe the NATO member nations that we were willing, ready and able to get troops to Europe for defense in emergency situations. So, as I said before, in this period it seems as if the US wants to show off or just make sure that the other NATO member nations know that we are 100% on board with them and that our policy towards NATO was one of contribution by all means. e fourth and final of the main policy periods early on lasted from 1965 to 1969 and was called the period of ambiguity.

This was a period in which Congressmen were a bit uneasy about a warlike foreign policy. Once again, though, through all of this turmoil Congress still supported the President. This period was classified by its’ name because “More and more members of Congress felt that they should be consulted by the President on crucial questions of war and peace. “14 In this period you see the United States’ policy towards NATO taking a back seat to the Policy towards the Vietnam war.

In this time of limited policy towards NATO you see America meeting with the rest of the NATO member nations to discuss the creation of a nuclear planning group which was created and had there first meeting in Washington, DC The only other event was the twentieth anniversary of NATO celebration in 1969 in Washington, DC For the remaining thirty years from 1969 to 1999 you see America’s policy towards NATO being consistent with the policy of the past. The main policy was contribution with no real big seminal events occurring because the crumbling of the USSR was occurring.

You still see an expansionist policy as well as more countries are acceded to NATO. So to sum it all up for the last thirty years America’s policy towards NATO has been one of contribution, expansion, and military aid. There have been a few recent events which have occurred with respect to the United States policy towards NATO. We can see that very recently the United States has kept pretty much the same attitude of foreign policy towards NATO that is has ad consistently in the past. First we see that the US has supported NATO militarily with its involvement in the war in Kosovo.

We can also see that the US has kept the policy of slow enlargement by the recent addition of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland to NATO. So from this evidence in the recent events that the US has, still, kept a policy of slow enlargement and military aid towards NATO. Now that we have the history of US policy towards NATO out of the way I will give you three policy recommendations I believe are what America should aim for and after I list those three and why I will give you the one I think is most feasible and justify why I think that should be the way to go.

The three policy recommendations that I have come up with are; the status quo, that is to say slow enlargement and much military aid, rapid enlargement with a conversion of NATO into a more economic alliance now that the Cold War is over, and then maybe the US should consider trying to make NATO an alliance of just the super powers and these superpowers should try to prevent outbreaks of war and play international policemen. The first recommendation that I suggest is stay with the status quo. We see that the US has kept a fairly constant policy towards NATO and that policy has been military aid and slow enlargement.

One of the biggest advocates for this policy is the President, Mr. Clinton himself, believes that the US should fight for the slow enlargement of NATO to build a new entity that might promote world peace. There is also the old saying that if something isn’t broke, then don’t try to fix it. A lot of people have this view on the way the US should look at NATO, it is in our nature if you think about it. We have always tried to leave things alone and not try to tinker with them so as to keep it going in the same direction.

On the surface, an idea like this seems genuine and true. One must look, though, at the eventual causes of enlargement. You might say, for example, that if we try to enlarge NATO what will it become? This idea goes all the way back to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. These three great thinkers all agreed that the more in a community, entity for our understanding, the less power it has and the more chaos it will create. If so many countries become members of NATO it will be pretty hard to agree on anything. You would also have a divided gap.

Most of the time you would see the big members want one thing and the smaller member nations want another thing. Also, one must look at the past to learn how this idea probably wouldn’t work. After World War II France and the US joined a pact called the Kellogg-Brand Pact of 1928. This was a pact meant to outlaw war by making it illegal. This pact was joined by a numerous amount of other countries and turned into a big joke. There was no way to see that this pact would ever be carried out. How can one honestly say that if they join an alliance there will never be a war.

If NATO keeps its original mission and enlargement occurs on a very large scale, like most want it to, it to will turn into one big joke. The next recommendations I have is one that I’m sure would cause much debate all over the world but it is a possibility. If NATO were to keep the mission it originally started out with why not only let Big powerful countries join to make sure that war is prevented as much as possible. A lot of times the only thing that letting smaller countries into the alliance will do is slow the process and sometimes cause the objective to go off course.

If you think about it, the superpowers of the world are the ones that rule this world. If there could be an alliance of just the superpowers they could act as a supercop for the world in which the other nations would follow and let lead. In this super policing force every member could contribute the same large amount so that there would be no fighting over who should get to rule and make decisions and there would be no fighting about who should contribute what because they would all contribute the same.

Even now, you can see that most of what NATO does is in the interests of the member nations who contribute the most. The only way possible for NATO to continue with the original mission plan it had would be to cut back on its membership. The last policy I recommend is the one I think we should follow. I think that the US should try to enlarge NATO as much as possible but change the mission to economic stability. With economic stability there would be very few reasons for war.

If everybody came together and put together an economic aid type program the only direction this world would go is up. I’m sure some can only imagine what a stable world economy would do for everyone involved. By creating this, the US would gain many allies. What better way to promote peace but to offer an economic council to help third world countries and all of the eastern European states, especially, to recover from the communist struggle that they just recently got out of.

The whole reason NATO was created and the US joined it was to promote peace by preventing war and by shifting its mission to this I think that this can be achieved in a different kind of way. If this doesn’t occur the US is in danger of losing a great alliance because NATO would be at risk to just disintegrate because it can’t adjust to the fact that the Cold War is over and they don’t know what to do now. Why don’t we help make something that was just created for a specific idea and turn NATO into a truly peaceful alliance.

This is, sadly, one of the only hopes to keep a dream of world peace alive. As you can see I just gave you a brief history of NATO and the United States policy towards it for the last half of the century. I also gave three policy recommendations and told you which one I would like to see implemented for the better of the US and the world. This has been a long journey and it is far from over but hopefully we can all look to another way to promote a peaceful world. I hope the information I gave here has been interesting and something you might look at differently now.

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