Nato gave proof that the United States was determined to save and consolidate the democracies of Western Europe after World War II. Following the economic underpinning provided by the Marshall Plan it constituted a fairly satisfactory solution to the problems which both they and the United States then had to face. Having subjugated Eastern Europe, Stalin was turning to the West; his prime aim was to undermine democracy there before it could get firmly on its feet. By assuming the leadership in organizing Western defense, the United States provided an effective answer to this challenge.
Since that time, however, there has been a series of transformations in the world scene. The development of atomic arms and missiles has forced the two major powers to review their policies and to seek a way toward peaceful competition. At the same time, they have extended their rivalry and hence their commitments in an ever-increasing number of critical areas all over the globe, which as a result absorb an increasingly large portion of their resources and energies. Meanwhile, Western Europe has enjoyed tremendous economic growth; she has changed from a weak, frail American dependency to an "affluent society," not much inferior to the United States itself. And the rest of the world has passed from a period of political inertia to one of intense change.
In these new circumstances, the solidarity of the advanced Western democracies is as essential as ever. The question is whether the particular form this solidarity has assumed in NATO is still useful and efficient. Indeed, it will be argued here that NATO involuntarily has become the cause of excessive responsibility for the United States and of excessive irresponsibility for its European partners.
The Atlantic Pact is a defensive alliance among sovereign states, but it is fundamentally different from the traditional alliance common in European history. The latter remained dormant, as it were, until the common enemy had committed an act of aggression. In the meantime, each ally carried out its
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