(a) The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was an essential defensive organization against Communist aggression and a successful step towards European and trans-Atlantic cooperation.
Soon after the formation of the NATO, the Berlin Blockade was lifted by the Soviet Union and there was no further advance of Communism in Europe (but not in Asia).
Many other efforts at co-operation among the western European countries were made after the formation of the NATO.
(b) The United States had committed herself to a military alliance in peace time for the first time in her history ‘from 1949 onwards, a large number of American troops was stationed in western Europe. For the next 20 years, her allies could call for American military assistance. This marked an end of the isolationist policy which had always been upheld by the United States.
(c) In response to the formation of the NATO, Russia formed the Warsaw Pact.
The Warsaw Pact:
Since the end of the war, Russia had set up pro-Russian communist governments in eastern and central Europe. By 1948 the Cominform had been formed and Russia had concluded mutuaj assistance treaties with Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Rumania.
The confrontation over Berlin (1948-49) and the formation of NATO meant that the Cold War would continue. Soon after the Communist victory in Indo-China, the anticommunist nations in Asia formed the South- East Asia Treaty Organisation. In Europe, West Germany was admitted to the NATO in 1955 and allowed to re-arm. (West Germany was essential to an overall defence system in Europe.
As her economy advanced rapidly after 1950, her rearmament was of great help to the defence of Western Europe. Because of Britain’s promise not to withdraw her NATO forces from Europe (in order to counterbalance the German forces), France did not object to the admittance of West Germany into the NATO and West Germany’s rearmament in the 9 Power Conference of 1954.)
The Soviet Union looked at these anti-communist moves with fear. She concluded the Warsaw Pact with her satellites in May 1955. It included all communist states in Europe except Yugoslavia – Soviet Russia, Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, Czechoslovakia and East Germany. The Pact spoke of peaceful intentions and defence.
It precluded its members to participate in any other coalition or alliance but it assured members of immediate assistance, including the use of armed force, in the event of armed aggression.
To provide for military assistance, a Russian Supreme Commander was appointed to lead the combined armed forces of its members. A Consultative Committee was established to foster political understanding of its members. Significance of the formation of the Warsaw Pact:
(a) The Pact allowed Russia to station her troops in eastern European countries. This meant that Russia could attack Western Europe at any moment and could suppress any sign of rebellion in her satellite countries,
(b) By 1955 when the most critical phase of the Cold War was over both Russia and the United States had organised their satellites into opposing alliances. Political tension between the East and the West will continue. The tension eased after 1953-54 After 1953, the Cold War was waning. There were two reasons which could explain the easing-of the tension.
The first reason was that since 1953, both the United States and the Soviet Union possessed hydrogen bombs. Both sides realised that the use of these destructive weapons in war would destroy each other. Thus they were determined to improve their relations in order to avoid direct military clash.
The second reason was that since 1954, the bonds between the ‘Super Powers’ and their ‘satellites’ began to slacken. As their ‘satellites’ did not fully support their leader – the United States and the Soviet Union, it made political sense for the two Super-Powers to improve their relations.