Jamie's history class

Turning Points On The Way to Sixty

A series of 6 lectures on the history of the Atlantic alliance by Dr. Jamie P. Shea, Directory of Policy Planning, Private Office of the Secretary General of NATO.

1949: NATO’s Anxious Birth

There was nothing inevitable about the creation of NATO in 1949. The United States – mindful of George Washington’s warnings about “entangling alliances” hesitated right up to the last minute, and certainly was cautious about extending military security guarantees. NATO was only the second military alliance in the history of the United States. The Europeans started out more concerned to contain a renascent post-war Germany than their old wartime ally, the Soviet Union. They looked also for European rather than Atlanticist solutions in the immediate post-war years. Who was then the true father of NATO: Ernest Bevin, Harry Truman or Josef Stalin? This first lecture will examine the twists and turns in NATO’s protracted birth negotiations and explain why a despite initial hesitations on both sides – North Americans and Europeans ultimately decided that their only viable security option post-World War Two was to come together.

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