In the crisis precipitated by the discovery of Russian strategic nuclear weapons and delivery systems in Cuba, many Americans came to a new understanding of the great accretion of strength which membership in our alliances in this hemisphere and in Europe brings to a confrontation of power. They got a new understanding, too, of the vast importance of having choices of means, other than nuclear means, of meeting a hostile threat. These truths, seen in the sharp light of experience, bring into clearer relief the central problem of our European alliance.
In the immediate postwar years, the United States wisely helped Western Europe restore itself to economic health. Equal wisdom led the way in binding together Western Europe and North America in the defense of this center and powerhouse of an environment for free societies. Since then inspired European leadership has brought about economic integration of the Continent, paving the way for even greater development and political unity. At the same time new problems have confronted and new strains divided the Atlantic Alliance. Sometimes they have come from the dissolution of colonial ties which has caused many of our allies the most acute distress and, in the case of Suez,
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