Nuclear Weapons and British Alliance Commitments, 1955–1956
The mid-1950s witnessed the consolidation of Britain’s alliance commitments outside Europe and the continuing review of NATO’s strategy on the Continent. In the Far and Near East Britain found itself fending off allied demands for more troops and less empty promises, while in Europe, Britain had to convince its allies to review their strategic concepts with the aim of decreasing investment in men and conventional material. In both the European and extra-European theatres, nuclear weapons were attractive instruments of deterrence, war-fighting, and, when used to replace conventional firepower, of economic savings. This chapter analyses the strength and motivation behind Britain’s commitment to these strategies and its success in convincing its allies accordingly. Such an analysis provides one indication of the pace at which British nuclear strategy was moving towards a ‘New Look’ posture in the middle of the 1950s which involved greater reliance on nuclear weapons at the expense of conventional forces.
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