North Atlantic Treaty

(1949)

In 1949 twelve Western nations signed the North Atlantic Treaty, a defense pact designed in large part to address the growing expansionist threat of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Eastern Europe; the United States ratified the treaty in July of that year. The essence of the treaty was that “the Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.” The treaty created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.


The North Atlantic Treaty had its origins in the 1948 Treaty of Brussels, a defense pact entered into by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom. Later that year, in response to the Soviets' blockade of West Berlin, these states created a military agency, the Western Union Defence Organization. The growing power and belligerence of the Soviet Union, however, convinced Europeans that the alliance would...

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President Dwight Eisenhower addressing NATO (Library of Congress)

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