History Optional Paper- 2 Solution – 2003: Q.5 (c)
Q.5 (d) “Brussels Treaty of 17 March, 1948 paved the way for the formation of NATO.” Comment.
The large-scale demobilisation of allied forces at the end of the Second World War had contrasted sharply with the maintenance of Soviet military forces. In a few short months, any remaining illusions that the war-time alliance with the Soviet Union would be translated into peacetime cooperation, had been destroyed by the conferences of Yalta and Potsdam in the spring and summer of 1945 and the wave of Soviet expansionism that followed. The West European countries were fearful for their security which led to first the Brussels Treaty in 1948 and then the North Atlantic Treaty in 1948.
The Brussels Treaty
The Brussels Treaty of 17 March 1948 was signed originally by five countries (France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom) in Western Europe after World War II had weakened much of the military power of these countries.
Its aim was to set out terms for economic, social and cultural cooperation, and especially, collective self-defence. The Brussels Treaty represented the first step in the post-war reconstruction of Western European security and the development of common defence structures.
Formation of NATO
The Brussels Treaty was the first step in the process leading to the signature of the North Atlantic Treaty (Washington Treaty) in 1949 and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) with headquarters in Brussels was formed for defense against Soviet Union. Five additional European nations would later join the signatories of the Brussels Treaty as the original signatories of the Washington Treaty. They were Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway, and Portugal. In North America, Canada and the United States would also sign the Washington Treaty.
The process of formation of NATO had got accelerated after Stalin and the Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia which was an act perceived by the West as a direct USSR’s challenge to European security.
Brussels Treaty paved the way for the formation of NATO because:
(1) The Brussels Treaty has been accepted as an historical document that led to increased European cooperation and shared military strength. This led to further cooperation with the participation of more European countries and two non-European powers (the USA and Canada) in the form of NATO.
(2) The signature of the Brussels Treaty and the embryonic military structure it brought into being, provided the evidence needed by the United States and Canada, that the European powers had both the intention and the determination to reestablish a basis for their common defence and to prevent further Soviet domination. Hence tha USA and Canada became ready to be part of NATO inspite of the USA foreign policy of not being under any international security obligation.
(3) The Brussels Treaty’s provision of Collective Self Defence was that if any of signatories was attacked in Europe all other signatories would provide all military aid and other assistances. This treaty created the Brussels’ Treaty organization. These provisions also became basis of North Atlantic Treaty.