The Role of Nato and the Warsaw Pact in the Cold War

2 February 2017

Account for the foundation of NATO and the Warsaw Pact and assess their importance in the development of the cold war. Tensions had long been brewing between the eastern bloc and its frontrunner and big brother, The Soviet Union and the western powers primarily led by the United States of America. Fissures had appeared between the old allies over Germany, Korea as well as ideological, diplomatic and military operations.

These culminated in the final divide between east and west, Communism and Capitalism, international revolution and economic interest; this divide was formalized through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO and the later formation of the Warsaw Pact in the east. This essay will examine the roles of both NATO and the Warsaw pact in concurrence with other events unfolding at the time, contributing to the development of the early Cold War. The West had long seen Soviet action as mere antagonism, coupled with what the West viewed the establishment of new communist states as Soviet expansionism.

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The Western powers sought to combat this through the establishment of NATO – which united the member states in a common defensive goal. This was of course perceived as a direct threat by the Soviet Union, who did attempt to join in 1954 but were rejected on the basis that “they aim to subvert NATO”. Exclusion, if anything indicated that the Soviet Union which had applied vowing that they would be necessary in maintaining world peace were indeed the enemies which NATO feared.

Furthermore the NATO’s militarization and establishment of army bases and regiments alongside the eastern border or the “Iron Curtain” as Winston Churchill had decried it and the introduction of West Germany into NATO 1955. These factors indicated strongly to the USSR and its allies that NATO was indeed only a tool designed against the Soviet Union. NATO also heavily indicated in their speeches and actions that they would not stand down if an open conflict against the USSR would ensue.

Several historians argue that US economic interest was also intertwined in the actions undertaken by NATO. The US which had successfully harnessed and extricated itself from the devastating Depression from the 30s, only through WWII and the industry and alleviations of unemployment which it brought with it. Saw what was to became a massive influx of both troops and military arsenal back to the US which would both lead to unemployment for the troops and economic stagnation to the at the ime most lucrative industries, which were the weapons industries. Later it has been proven that military and weapons industry lobbyists heavily engaged with the U. S government. Some argue therefore that the Cold War was set up by the United States in order to keep unemployment down, keep weapons selling through constant fear mongering and unify the United States and Europe against a common foe. This argument purports that the U. S antagonism in NATO and abroad may have played a big part in escalating tensions, furthering the Cold War.

The Warsaw Pact, which was formed in 1955 as a direct response to the rejection of the Soviet Union from NATO was similarly a military alliance. The goal was not only to amalgamate the Eastern Bloc but also to establish beneficial trade agreements, allowing for a more free system of trade. The Warsaw pact in concoction with the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) set the East as a viable opponent both militarily and economically.

This furthered the Cold War as the both the militarization and economic developments posed a threat to the West. Also the proliferation of nuclear warheads amongst both these alliances created a tense climate, as evident in the Cuban missile Crisis of 1962. Yet the development of the Cold War was also accelerated by a multitude of other factors, such as several diplomatic failings. General ideological differences fueled a political feud between the nations and domestic problems accelerated further.

NATO and the Warsaw pact also lacked much of the unity needed for strong military alliances, with France leaving NATO in 1958 and the several attempts of Eastern Bloc nations to leave the Warsaw pact. In conclusion the roles of the two military alliances played an incremental role in the overall development of the Cold War. Such as the militarization and the policy of detente enforced by NATO to maintain military superiority over the belligerents in the Warsaw Pact; the Warsaw pact had a similar policy and therefore these policies increased the speed of the arms race and fueled militarization.

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