Le dictionnaire



Following the communist-engin-eered coup d’état in Prague in February 1948, Western European governments worried by possible Soviet aggression further west signed the Treaty of Brussels in March. The Americans were, however, reluctant to commit themselves by a treaty to the military defense of Europe, preferring to mobilize economic resources via the Marshall Plan to contain the Soviets. The Berlin Crisis of 1948–1949 changed all this, however, leading the United States to reconsider Western European requests for it to join a trans-Atlantic collective security arrangement. Washington agreed. In April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed. It included the states of the United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium (the Treaty of Brussels signatories), the United States, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Italy, Norway, and Portugal. In 1952, Greece and Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). West Germany did so in 1955.

For France, membership of NATO had repercus-sions for its conduct of the war in Indochina. For example, the creation of NATO in 1949 shortly preceded the internationalization and the intensification of the Indochina War as the Chinese communists began supporting the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and entered the Korean War in 1950. French military strategists and politicians thus had to reconcile two costly but conflicting priorities: maintain a serious air and infantry presence in Indochina in view of possible Chinese intervention in Southeast Asia, and do the same for the defense of Western Europe in line with its NATO commitments against possible Soviet attack. Which was more important, many asked, “the defense of Europe or the defense of Indochina”? From 1953, it was clear in metropolitan circles that NATO and European questions had to take precedence, as General Henri Navarre knew when he was sent to Indochina that summer. As for the Americans, Eisenhower built on NATO by spinning a web of global security alliances designed to contain communism along its Eurasian axis, including the South East Asia Treaty Organization and the Baghdad Pact (CENTO) in 1954 and 1955, respectively.