By Phil Williams
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Additional resources for The Senate and US Troops in Europe
The elaborate NATO framework with its numerous subsidiary units, now appeared an empty shell incapable of repelling a sudden attack of any magnitude. What was worse, the allies lost confidence for the moment in NATO's ability to prevent such an attack from occurring. What had happened in the Far East could happen in Europe. 84 Thus NATO needed a genuine capacity for collective defence. Containment, if it was to succeed, would have to be militarised. Accordingly, the United States initiated a massive rearmament programme, and the Europeans, to the extent possible, followed suit as the prior constraint of economic recovery was now significantly relaxed if not wholly abandoned.
4 While this response was understandable from a Secretary of State simultaneously beleaguered by critics who regarded him as a traitor, and proud of his role in creating the Atlantic security system, it was not the kind of speech likely to establish a harmonious working relationship between the Administration and its opponents. If, on the one hand, important segments of the GOP, fortified by electoral success, were looking for a confrontation with the Democratic Administration over foreign policy, it appears, on the other hand, that the Administration itself was prepared to countenance such a challenge with equanimity.
The second reservation claimed that in such circumstances Congress would be under neither moral nor legal compunction to declare war. Both were overwhelmingly defeated. Their decisive rejection stemmed on the one hand from the possibility that they would undermine the pact as a deterrent to Soviet aggression and a boost to European morale, and on the other from the fact they appeared to be superfluous. The actions of Connally, Vandenberg and the Foreign Relations Committee had ensured that congressional prerogatives for the future were sufficiently well protected without the reservations.