Conclusion: The US-Norwegian Alliance, 1954–1960

  • Mats R. Berdal
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


Alignment with the Western powers in 1949 enabled Norway — a country with meagre resources, recently occupied by a foreign power and bordering a major potential adversary — to become a “consumer” of the collective good of security.2 The fact that the “Scandinavian option” represented, in the words of Holst, a “perfectly valid alternative” in terms of association with a political community only demonstrates that Norway’s decision to join NATO was more the “result of security calculations than of a commitment to community building.”3 By the early 1950s, the United States had largely replaced Britain as the principal underwriter of Norwegian security. Although the Royal Navy remained actively committed to Norway until Sandys’s defence review, the 1950s as a whole saw the “continuation of the trend established in the late 1940s — a shying away by Britain from any serious commitment to the defence of Norway with the United States taking on an increasing burden.”4


Nuclear Weapon Small Power North American Continent Strategic Policy Nordic Region 
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  1. 1.
    Robert E. Osgood, Alliances and American Foreign Policy (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1967), p. 18.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For the concept of “power consumers” and “suppliers,” see Steven L. Spiegel, Dominance and Diversity: The International Hierarchy (Boston: Little and Brown, 1972), pp. 133 and 136.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Clive Archer, Uncertain Trust: The British-Norwegian defence relationship (Oslo: Institutt for Forsvarsstudier, 1989), p. 23.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    For the problems of defining “small” and “weak” states, see Niels Amstrup, “The Perennial Problem of Small States: A Survey of the Research Effort,” Co-operation and Conflict 11 (1976) Amstrup, pp. 167–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 6.
    Jacob Bercovitch, “Alliances in International Relations: Aspects of Performance and Problems of Management,” in ANZUS in Crisis: Alliance Management in International Affairs, ed. Jacob Bercovitch, (London: Macmillan Press, 1988), p. 14.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Robert O. Keohane, “The Big Influence of Small Allies,” Foreign Policy no. 2 (Spring 1971), p. 167.Google Scholar
  7. 19.
    For an interesting discussion of these issues, see comments by Helge Pharo in “Doktordisputas — The United States and the Cold War in the High North” Historisk Tidsskrift 2 (1992), pp. 208–209.Google Scholar
  8. 27.
    This study has examined the air and maritime perspective since these were of principal concern to Norway. The centrality of nuclear weapons in planning for land-battle operations was, of course, equally pervasive. See John P. Rose, The Evolution of US Army Nuclear Doctrine, 1945–1980, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1980), pp. 55–76.Google Scholar
  9. 31.
    Although Norway’s “nuclear ban” policy had first been adopted by the Labour Party conference in 1957 and then enunciated by Prime Minister Gerhardsen at the NATO summit later in the year, the question of storing nuclear weapons at Special Ammunition Storage sites and of incorporating tactical nuclear weapons into Norwegian forces, continued to be discussed after 1957. Any alternative to the non-nuclear line was finally rejected in 1960–61. See Rolf Tamnes, “Handlefrihet og lojalitet: Norge og atompolitikken i 1950 ärene,” in Historiker og Veileder: Festskrift til Jakob Sverdrup, ed. H. Pharo and Trond Bergh (Oslo: Tiden Norsk Forlag, 1989).Google Scholar
  10. 37.
    On the importance of preserving consensus in the making of post-war foreign policy-making in Norway, see Olav Riste, “The Foreign Policy-Making Process in Norway: An Historical Perspective,” in Defence Studies 1982 (Oslo: Tanum-Norli, 1983), ed. R. Tamnes, pp. 242–243.Google Scholar
  11. 38.
    A major research effort, spearheaded by Sven Holtsmark at the Institute for Defence Studies in Oslo, has been undertaken to collect and translate Soviet sources on the history of Soviet-Norwegian relations. A documentary collection covering the period 1917–55 was published in 1995. Sven G. Holtsmark, ed., Norge og Sovjetunion: En utenrikspolitisk dokumentasjon (Oslo: Cappelen, 1995).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mats R. Berdal 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mats R. Berdal
    • 1
  1. 1.International Institute for Strategic StudiesLondonUK

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