Decade of Defense
Faced with what may prove to be its most dangerous challenge, NATO marked its tenth anniversary Saturday. Although the Alliance has yet to realize the specific goals of military strength it set for itself, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has proved a valuable mechanism for collective defense. Created in the aftermath of the Czechoslovakian coup of 1948 and the Berlin Blockade, the Treaty signalled Western determination to resist further Soviet expansion in Europe. It also marked the first peace-time alliance to which the United States had ever committed itself; the collapse of Europe brought this country to a mature realization of its international role.
Since the United States had an effective margin of atomic power for several years after the formation of NATO, it is difficult to attribute the actual deterrent effect of the Alliance. The limits of Soviet power have, however, been stable since 1948; indeed the Yugoslavian break with the USSR represents a shaky but tangible Western gain.
The value of the principle of collective security has been attested to by a liberal borrowing of its principles by the present administration. Unfortunately, the case for SEATO or the United States supported Baghdad Pact was not so clear cut at NATO; in forming a similar type of alliance which formally committed us to Chiang and Syngman Rhee, Dulles diplomacy may have been conducted with more frantic zeal than wisdom.
Self-felicitations, morover, on the survival and success of NATO must not obscure the fact that the Alliance was formed under circumstances far different than exist today. NATO was construoted to meet a military threat; the Soviets have conceded, hopefully, that direct military attack on Europe would be disastrous for themselves, but have resultantly increased the tempo of their economic expansion. If NATO is to continue as a useful organization it should expand its functions into the diplomatic and economic spheres. Increased diplomatic cooperation was urged after the surprise invasion of Suez by Britain and France, but unfortunately little has come of such proposals. The Atlantic Alliance might also form a useful body for coordinating military aid to other areas as well as among member nations. The NATO countries, especially West Germany and the U.S. are relatively rich in capital, and might channel strategic aid through a NATO council. In its next few years, NATO should adjust to the new conditions of the East-West rivalry if it is to continue to advance the essential community of interests which bind the United States and the European nations.