The North Atlantic Treaty, Military Assistance and the Troops to Europe Decision

  • Phil Williams


Although the American military presence has become a central feature of security arrangements in Europe, the United States in the late 1940s had no intention of making such a deployment. As late as 1948 an ‘entangling alliance’ with Western Europe was still regarded as ‘worse than original sin’.1 The Truman Administration had committed itself to the economic recovery of Western Europe through Marshall Aid, but this was intended to restore an indigenous balance of power in Erope and thereby ensure that the United States did not become more directly involved.2 Not only was the aid programme based on the principle of European self-help, it also anticipated that it would promote European self-reliance. The consequences for the United States, however, were very different from its intentions, and what had been regarded as the final stage in America’s European policy became merely an interim measure, as it became clear that the economic recovery programme was unlikely to come to fruition without steps to reassure Western Europe that its security would also be underwritten.


Foreign Policy Economic Recovery Foreign Relation American Troop Military Assistance 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Quoted in L. S. Kaplan, A Community of Interests: NATO and the Military Assistance Program, 1948–1951 (Washington: Office of the Secretary of Defense, Historical Office, 1980) p. 17.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This is one of the main themes of T. Ireland, Creating the Entangling Alliance: The Origins of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (London: Aldwych Press, 1981).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See S. M. Hartmann, Truman and the Eightieth Congress (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1971) andGoogle Scholar
  4. W. C. Cromwell. Hartmann, Truman and the Eightieth Congress (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1971) andGoogle Scholar
  5. W. C. Cromwell, ‘The Marshall Non Plan, Congress and the Soviet Union’, Western Political Quarterly, vol. 32 (1979) 422–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 5.
    A good account can be found in J. Eayrs, In Defence of Canada: Growing Up Allied (University of Toronto Press, 1980) pp. 89–96.Google Scholar
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    See E. Reid, Time of Fear and Hope: The Making of the North Atlantic Treaty (Toronto: McCleland and Stewart, 1977) p. 143.Google Scholar
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    The text is contained in T. H. Etzold and J. L. Gaddis, Containment: Documents on American Policy and Strategy 1945–50 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1978) pp. 144–53.Google Scholar
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    J. Reston, ‘Isolationism is not Main Factor in Pact Debate’, New York Times, 20 Feb 1949. Section 4, p. 3.Google Scholar
  16. 36.
    J. J. McCloy, The Atlantic Alliance: Its Origin and Future (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969) p. 25.Google Scholar
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© Phil Williams 1985

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  • Phil Williams

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