November 13, 2001

Post WWII Years; Pt. 2

Post WWII Years; Pt. 2

The Berlin Blockade also became the catalyst for the Western allies and their friends to act upon their perceived need to protect themselves against Soviet aggression. Enter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), formed in 1949, a collective security system under which conventional armies and nuclear weapons would offset Soviet forces.

The fundamental role of NATO is to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries. It is one of the foundations on which the stability and security of the Euro-Atlantic area depends and it serves as an essential forum for transatlantic consultations on matters affecting the vital security interests of all its members. Its first task is to deter and defend against any threat of aggression against any of them. (NATO mission statement)

The NATO charter goes on to say, The fundamental commitment of all members of the Alliance to each other's security is enshrined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which states that an attack against one member country is considered as an attack against all. The Alliance's integrated military structure and common defence planning procedures underpin this commitment to collective defence. They are at the heart of the Alliance's strength and credibility.

Today's NATO is considered a military alliance whose members include Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.

The Soviet Union lost its influence in Yugoslavia. The country's communist government had come to power without benefit of Soviet assistance. Their leader, Josip Broz Tito, refused to bow to Stalin's control resulting in Yugoslavia's dismissal from the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) in 1948. The Cominform had been created in 1947 to replace the Comintern abolished by Stalin in 1943.

To avert the rise of other independent leaders, Stalin purged many of the chief communists in other East European states. In Asia the Chinese communists, headed by Mao Zedong and assisted by the Soviet Union, achieved victory over the Guomindang in 1949. Several months afterward, in 1950, China and the Soviet Union concluded a mutual defense treaty against Japan and the United States. Hard negotiations over concessions and aid between the two communist countries served as an indication that China, with its independent party and enormous population, would not become a Soviet satellite, although for a time Sino-Soviet relations appeared particularly close.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Soviet Union pursued a vigorous policy of support for national liberation movements, especially in Malaya and Indochina, which were still colonies of Britain and France, respectively. Thinking that the West would not defend the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Stalin allowed or encouraged the Soviet-equipped forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) to invade South Korea in 1950. But forces from the United States and other members of the United Nations came to the aid of South Korea, leading China to intervene militarily on behalf of North Korea, probably at Soviet instigation.

Although the Soviet Union avoided direct participation in the conflict, the Korean War (1950-53) motivated the United States to strengthen its military capability and to conclude a peace treaty and security pact with Japan. Chinese participation in the war also strengthened China's independent position relative to the Soviet Union.

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