Just as American interest and participation in the creation of the UN is often seen as inescapable, so too is the North Atlantic Treaty. In what could be called the conventional wisdom, the bipolar distribution of power, the reach of military technology, and ideological differences between the Soviet Union and the United States inevitably placed them at loggerheads, particularly over the fate of the European continent. The power of structure is said to be evident in the strong bipartisan support for the North Atlantic Treaty in the United States Senate.
The discussion leading up to the North Atlantic Treaty was indeed structurally compelled to a large degree. The precipitating factor in the creation of NATO was a series of Soviet provocations in 1948 that suggested malign Soviet intentions and eventually convinced even the more geographically insulated Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, of the need to act. This does not tell us much, however. As Lake points out, the existence of the Soviet threat does not explain in and of itself why the allies designed the alliance the way they did or why they aligned at all (1999: 128–9). Of more importance is that these countries chose to cooperate and the form that cooperation took.
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