Anglo-American Approaches to Alliance Security, 1955–60 by G. Wyn Rees (auth.)

By G. Wyn Rees (auth.)

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It was therefore in their interests to avoid commitments that could drag them into a direct confrontation with the USSR. The issue of a residual independent capability remains a thorny one. If it is feared that an alliance might not hold together then it is incumbent upon governments to reserve a capacity for independent action. 45 Similarly, if the alliance fails to cover all the interests of a state, or if it wishes to carry out an action of which its allies disapprove, then it will need to retain the power to act outside of the organisation.

In the light of the emerging nuclear stalemate and the reticence of the US to commit itself to the early use of nuclear weapons, the prospect of limited war with the USSR became more plausible. Literature from civilian strategists that criticised the Eisenhower Administration's pronouncements on Massive Retaliation began to appear. 45 The US Army and Navy were once more among the proponents of this view. It was a small step to go from the concept of conventional hostilities after the nuclear phase of a global war, to argue for a purely limited war in which nuclear weapons were avoided altogether.

26 Anglo-American Approaches to Alliance Security, 1955-60 There could be little doubt that the Soviets recognised the danger of global war. The behaviour of the USSR in the latter part of the 1950s suggested caution rather than recklessness. Yet as the nuclear strength of the Soviets increased, it was not clear what impact this would have upon their behaviour. On the one hand, an optimistic assessment was that the Soviets would remain cautious, additional nuclear capabilities only serving to increase their sense of responsibility.

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