chapter  1
17 Pages


Recent scholarship has suggested that the important role of Britain and the US in the formation of NATO should not be over-estimated.1 Such scholarship emphasizes the multi-polar nature of the conflict and the need to see both the British and American contributions within the context of other allies and these allies’ impact on strategy and policy formation. This is undoubtedly correct, but it should not ignore the huge contribution of Britain and the United States. The influence of these two allies was a result of America’s domination of the nascent Western sphere and the re-establishment of its close relationship with Britain during the early cold war. Britain’s influence occurred because of its continued role as a power with global interests and in spite of its weak economic position in the aftermath of Second World War. Indeed, Ritchie Ovendale suggests that the British, and particularly post-War Labour Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, were responsible for ‘educating the Americans’ to the Soviet threat in the years after 1945 and were thus crucial in the formation of the alliance that would stand against them. Ovendale argues that President Harry Truman was unprepared for the Soviet threat to Europe and was making plans to reduce long-term American commitments between 1945 and 1949, when NATO was formed.2