Norway and NATO
From small countries do mighty alliances
grow explains the OpsRoom.
Norway has played an important role throughout NATO's history.
In fact, Norway may lay claim to getting the ball rolling for
NATO’s 1949 founding.
It happened shortly after the Second World War. Norway was quaking
in fear. They knew the USSR was about to demand that they sign
a non aggression pact with them. Stalin would also require right
of access to the Norway coast.
The cowing of Norway, Britain warned Canada and America, ‘would
involve the appearance and reality of Russia on the Atlantic and
the collapse of the whole Scandinavian system. This would in turn
prejudice the change of calling any halt to the relentless advance
of Russia into Western Europe’.
In light of this danger, Britain, the United States, and Canada
urged immediate action on an ‘Atlantic security system before
Norway goes under’ and all of free Europe is threatened
by Soviet marauding into the Atlantic.
Norway was near and dear to the British. During the Second World
War, Norway transported about one-third of all supplies to Britain.
Churchill considered the efforts of the 1,100 ships and 30,000
sailors under the Norwegian government in exile to equal in importance
an army of one million men on the battlefield in Europe.
To understand the importance of this alliance created on 4 April
1949, one need only look to the word of Winston Churchill: 'Certainly
in its early stages the Atlantic treaty achieved more by being
than by doing. It gave renewed confidence to Europe, particularly
to the territories near Soviet Russia and their satellites. This
treaty was marked by a recession in the communist parties in the
threatened countries, and by a resurgence of healthy national
vigor in western Germany'.
Norway, of course, constituted the northern flank of NATO and,
with Iceland, was closest to the entry channels into the Atlantic
from the Soviet bases to the north on the Kola Peninsula held
an especially sensitive geopolitical position. This reality made
it imperative for Norway to place certain political limits on
military activities. Thus its policy throughout the Cold War was
to keep tensions in on their border as low as possible.