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While both NATO and the Warsaw Pact were designed as mutually defensive strategic
groupings they were also tools that the USA and the USSR used respectively up until the
1970’s to their own needs and benefits. On April 4th 1949, the Western allies along with a
large number of West European countries1 formed an “intergovernmental military alliance
based on the North Atlantic Treaty”(Wikipedia, 2009). This military alliance was considered
offensive and threatening by the Eastern Bloc and in retaliation, on the 14th May 1955, The
Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, more commonly known today as
‘The Warsaw Pact’, also a “mutual defence treaty” (Wikipedia, 2009), was established;
primarily to provide the Eastern Bloc with a military alliance that guaranteed mutual defence
between signatory states2.

During NATO’s creation in 1949, the member states outlined set aims and policies that they
wished to achieve and follow respectively. NATO’s first chief, Lord Ismay, crudely defined
NATO’s purpose as “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”
(Wikipedia, 2009). This comment has roots in fact however as NATO was created as one of the
deterrents during the Cold War where it was designed to prevent attacks from the Soviet
Union, keep the German population de-militarized and the Americans on the ‘winning side’ of
the Cold War. “The original purpose3 of the grouping was to defend Western interests
through[out] the Cold War” (BBC, 1999). Fundamentally, from its creation in 1949 right up till
the NPT was passed in 1970 changing somewhat the nuclear interests of NATO (North Atlantic
Treaty Organisation, 2001) , this was indeed NATO’s main goal.

Interestingly but understandably, in 1955, when The Warsaw Pact was put into effect, its aims
were very similar to those of NATO, if not identical. The Warsaw Pact was a USSR devised
military mutual alliance that aimed at providing not only a buffer for the USSR against NATO,
but a mutual defence agreement not unlike that of NATO. Its main aim was to protect and
serve the interests of the USSR and all parties joined under The Warsaw Pact, protect the
sovereign rights of these states and to serve in direct accordance with the policies and
principles of the Charter of the United Nations, namely, the right to defend oneself against
direct or indirect attack by all means necessary in respect to measures determined by the
Security Council4.

However the Pact also created a massive security blanket for all states within the USSR’s
umbrella and for the USSR herself, it “bound its signatories to come to the aid of the others,
should any one of them be the victim of foreign aggression”5 (Warsaw-life, 2007).
Interestingly, the Warsaw Pact “was based on total equality of each nation and mutual non-
interference in one another's internal affairs” (Warsaw-life, 2007) which contrary to the now

1 Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, United Kingdom, Unites States of America, Canada, Portugal, Italy,
Norway, Denmark and Iceland (Wikipedia, 2009)

2 Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovak Republic, German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and USSR
(Wikipedia, 2009)

3 NATO’s aims have changed drastically since the end of the Cold War and with the collapse of the Warsaw Pact in
1991 (Wikipedia, 2009), they are now more centred at non-aggression within and performed against all member
states (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, 2009) from all and any country rather than a more anti-communist
stance, although their website to this day clearly defines member states to be “democratic” and draws the line of
membership firmly down that divide

4 “The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to
give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These
may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio,
and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.” – Article 41 - Charter of the United
Nations (United Nations Member States, 1945)
more commonly post-revisionist viewpoint that it was in fact a defensive move by the USSR to
oppose the formation of NATO and that it was the ‘extended army’ of the USSR, seems to be
almost an obsolete principle. In addition however, the Warsaw Pact strove to maintain a non-
aggression policy with NATO to prevent conflict (News, 1958) and the hope of forming a non-
aggressionist policy that would allow the two bodies to function with each other in
peace(News, 1958).

In addition to the aims elucidated upon in 1949 by NATO, were policies which they strove to
follow and abide by in their pursuit of the achievement of their goals. The first and foremost
policy was that NATO deemed that “an armed attack against one or more of them [member
states] in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all [member
states]” (Wikipedia, 2009) and that “if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise
of the right of individual or collective self-defence will assist the Party or Parties being
attacked, individually and in concert with the other Parties” (Wikipedia, 2009). These policies
created a mutual military controlled solely by the commanding structure, in essence, the
creation of a massive armed force that could in effect, take on any nation posing a threat to
any or all member states. These aims were a perfect diplomatic cloak for the hidden agenda;
an army that could take on all and any threat the USSR posed to the security and peace of all
NATO member nations6.

Although NATO was conceived as a mutual defence mechanism, it created suspicion among
some of the allies it held and from other nations. Very similar to the USSR military domination
of the Warsaw Pact and its apparent overall control over all the forces, it was said that “The
“Community7” was, like so many other things in post-1945 Europe, created both by and
against the U.S.A.” (Hobsbawm, 1994). There were also, of course, fears of the U.S.A. […]
[who were] apt to put the interests of the American world supremacy above all else”
(Hobsbawm, 1994). Some nations feared that these interests were in direct benefit of the
U.S.A. and not in the direct benefit of any other nation in the command structure or under the
NATO umbrella of protection. However, as mentioned before, this suspicion was the twin of
the common known fact that the Warsaw Pact was designed with the USSR in clear benefit.
Although both NATO and the Warsaw Pact were designed as defence treaties, it can definitely
be seen that they could also be viewed as founder beneficial.

Interestingly, from the perspective and lens of friendship and cooperation within each
respective group, The Warsaw Pact saw a lot more internal disruption and upheaval that
NATO, who in comparison received almost none. As a result of this and a result of the USSR
wanting absolute control over its people’s and populations, The Warsaw Pact soon took on
another aim. “With a Soviet Military adviser attached to each member state the structure of
the alliance was such that it could at times become an instrument for the control of dissent
within the satellite states.” (Watson, 1989). The USSR twisted the policies and aims of the
Pact slightly to their benefit after realising the dissent between some of its member countries.

“Disturbances followed in 1056 in Poland and then, more seriously, in Hungary, where an
unsuccessful attempt was made to leave the Warsaw Pact. Czechoslovakia exploded in 1968,
at a time of considerable discontent in the West, […] Czechoslovakia then subsided under the
crushing impact of a Soviet invasion” (Watson, 1989) The USSR was using every available
asset within the Pact to crush all uprisings. With Czechoslovakia the USSR called upon the
Warsaw Pact allies to stand firm and united against the uprisings and invaded Czechoslovakia

5 “In the event of an armed attack in Europe on one or several states that are signatories of the treaty by any
state or group of states, each state that is a party to this treaty shall, in the exercise of the right to individual or
collective self-defence in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations Organisation, render the
state or states so attacked immediate assistance, individually and in agreement with other states that are parties
to this treaty, by all the means it may consider necessary, including the use of armed force” (Fordham, 2009)

6 Interestingly, these conflicts or “threats” between NATO and The Warsaw Pact allies all took place in the form of
‘Proxy’ wars rather than distinctive conflict, neither side was ready to proclaim war directly upon the other for fear
of not only nuclear holocaust but potential WWIII

7 NATO and the Western Allies were often referred to as “The Community” as that is what they were trying to
achieve on an international level
‘successfully’, reinstating communism and reaffirming the USSR as the one and only power
with control over the country. As a result, the Warsaw Pact became not only retaliation to
NATO but now an internal affairs control force for the USSR.

In conclusion, both NATO and the Warsaw Pact were designed, by their respective parties, as
a security blanket against any form of military harm from the other side. The Warsaw Pact
“reinforced the Soviet Union's claim to power status as the leader of the world socialist
system, enhanced its prestige, and legitimized its presence and influence in Eastern Europe”
(Sam Houston State University, 2002). NATO on the other hand created a buffer for the United
States in Europe, reinforced the Western democratic principles in Western European
countries, sent a powerful subversive message to the Eastern Bloc that the West was united
and it was ‘all for one and one for all’. While both the Warsaw Pact and NATO were designed
to shield one another from the other, they caused war and destruction elsewhere, Vietnam,
Korea, Afghanistan, cleverly diverting the public’s eye from the reality of the war, the true
players behind them. Both groups of countries had a mutual defence policy, which acted as a
vital deterrent in direct conflict in context of the member’s global location, an area still
recovering from the effects of WW2. Both the Pact and NATO were good and bad, clever and
stupid, enemies of each other, yet friends to the people as they prevented conflict, conflict
which could have brought about the end of the world as they knew it.

BBC. (1999, August 3). Nato's Cold War Roots. Retrieved October 13, 2009, from BBC World:

Fordham. (2009, June 26). Modern History Soucebook: The Warsaw Pact, 1955. Retrieved October 14,
2009, from Modern History SourceBook:

Hobsbawm, E. (1994). The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991. New York: Vintage

News, S. (1958, May 29). Document 155 - Draft Pact of Non-Agression Between State Parties to the
Warsaw Treaty and State Parties to the North Atlantic Pact. New Delhi, India.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. (2009, October 7). NATO - What is NATO? Retrieved October 14,
2009, from NATO:

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. (2001, October 26). NATO Update - 1970. Retrieved October 14,
2009, from NATO:

Sam Houston State University. (2002, February 26). The Warsaw Pact. Retrieved October 13, 2009,
from Sam Houston State University:

United Nations Member States. (1945, June 26). The Charter of the United Nations. San Fransisco,

Warsaw-life. (2007, December 10). Warsaw Pact. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from Warsaw Life:

Watson, J. (1989). Success in World History Since 1945. London: Athenaeum Press.

Wikipedia, c. (2009, October 12). NATO. Retrieved October 13, 2009, from Wikipedia, The Free

Wikipedia, c. (2009, October 13). Warsaw Pact. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from Wikipedia: The Free

Wikipedia, c. (2009, October 13). Warsaw Pact. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from Wikipedia: The Free

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