Courtesy Reuters

The Search for Consensus


WHEN the Western European Union was founded, and when the Federal Republic of Germany became a member of NATO, there existed a uniform political concept which was supported by all partners in the alliance. On it was based the strategic concept, which in turn was the basis for setting force requirements that were to be built up and maintained by all the members. In the course of the last few years, however, we have seen a growing divergence of opinion on the basic questions of our common defense and strategy. By the time President Kennedy took office, the concept which had been in effect up to that time-namely the principle of massive deterrence and, should it fail, of massive retaliation-was no longer considered by the United States to be credible. Strategy was adapted to the development of modern weapons technology and flexible response was made the official and binding American military doctrine.

After a decade, during which all American military effort had been centered around the nuclear potential, the consequence of the new doctrine was that conventional units and their weapons systems again came to be emphasized. At the same time, the airlift capability was sizably increased. With regard to nuclear weapons, the idea of the "second strike capability" became important, which meant the development and introduction in increasing degree of weapons that could still be employed effectively after the enemy had launched the first strike. The objective of these measures was to gain a wider political margin for the employment of these weapons.

Of course, the American attempt to make the new strategic doctrine the basic doctrine of NATO as a whole was not successful because a major member of the partnership objected. The result has been that the old concept is still officially accepted, even though most of the members of NATO no longer consider it binding. It was modified by the so-called "Athens Guidelines" and by the new Emergency Defense Plan of SACEUR (Supreme Allied

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