The Dilemma of NATO Strategy, 1949-1968

by Davis, Robert Thomas

Abstract (Summary)
This study is a reappraisal of the strategic dilemma of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the Cold War. This dilemma revolves around the problem of articulating a strategic concept for a military alliance in the nuclear era. NATO was born of a perceived need to defend Western Europe from a Soviet onslaught. It was an imperative of the early alliance to develop a military strategy and force posture to defend Western Europe should such a war break out. It was not long after the first iteration of strategy took shape than the imperative for a military defense of Europe receded under the looming threat of thermonuclear war. The advent of thermonuclear arsenals in both the United States and Soviet Union brought with it the potential destruction of civilization should war break out. This realization made statesmen on both sides of the Iron Curtain undergo what has been referred to as an ongoing process of nuclear learning. This led to deterrence, rather than defense, being the priority for both the NATO allies and the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact. But fundamental tensions remained, and a need for military strategies seemed to remain. The problem was to then gauge how important conventional forces, tactical nuclear weapons, and strategic nuclear forces were to determine force postures that provided the most effective combination of deterrence and defense.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Ohio University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:nato strategy cold war nuclear military planning


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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