Courtesy Reuters

If Nato Had to Fight

THE end of the Cold War still seems to be so far away that there is a tendency to forget what great progress has been made in both the economic stability and the military security of the Western World since 1948 when the Communist coup in Prague and the Russian blockade of Berlin revealed the depth of the cleavage between East and West. To the American taxpayer, still supporting a vast program of foreign aid, it may seem that comparatively little has been accomplished, but to the people of Western Europe it appears that in less than five years the outlook has been transformed.

Economic recovery, so bountifully primed by Marshall Aid, has checked or curtailed the power of the local Communist parties, even in their great Western strongholds, France and Italy. Thus the threat of indirect aggression, on the pattern of Czechoslovakia, has undoubtedly diminished. The danger of direct attack has also declined since the creation of the North Atlantic Alliance made it clear that any aggressive move against any member of NATO would precipitate a world war. Moreover, during the past 18 months the military strength of the Western Powers in Germany has been so greatly increased that the Russians can no longer count on being able to overrun Western Europe in a lightning campaign with the forces at present stationed in the Soviet Zone of Germany. Finally, even though the Soviet Union has developed its own atomic bomb, the deterrent power of American atomic weapons is certainly as great as it was in 1948, and is probably greater now that the United States has proved its mastery of the scientific and industrial problems involved in the production of the far more terrifying hydrogen bomb.

These developments have made the Russians pause, and since 1950 they have been content to consolidate their gains in Europe and have concentrated on extending Communist power in Asia, either by proxy, as in Korea, or by insurrection, as in Indo-China and Malaya. It seems that the present

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