Monday, July 14, 2008

Back to the Beginning: The Origins of NATO

By Andrea Frontini, Italian Youth Atlantic Treaty Association

Report on YATA Gorizia 2008 Lecture: “The Vandenberg Resolution and the Origins of the North Atlantic Treaty” On April 22nd 2008, the Gorizia Branch of the Italian Youth Atlantic Treaty Association, in partnership with the Political Science Student Association of the University of Trieste, organized an academic lecture on the 60th Anniversary of the Vandenberg Resolution, which represented the first step towards the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty and the subsequent birth of NATO itself.

The event, which took place at the Gorizia Branch of the University of Trieste, saw the kind participation of Mr. Fabrizio W. Luciolli, Secretary General of the Italian Atlantic Treaty Association, Mr. Georg Meyr, President of the local chapter of the Italian Atlantic Treaty Association and Professor of History of International Relations at the University of Trieste, and Mr. Stefano Pilotto, Professor of International Politics and European Integration at the University of Trieste and senior member of the Italian Atlantic Committee.

The lecture, which was followed by several graduate and undergraduate students of diplomacy and international relations of the University of Trieste, first focused on an indepth analysis of the historical and geopolitical background of the Vandenberg Resolution, including a comprehensive examination of the premises of the Cold War, and it eventually evolved in a broader reflection on NATO’s transformation throughout the twentieth century, and the crucial challenges faced by the Alliance nowadays.

The first session of the lecture was inaugurated by Professor Georg Meyr, who provided the audience with a remarkable introduction of the security environment in Europe after the end of the Second World War. During his intervention, Professor Georg Meyr drew a masterful scenario of the chronological evolution of European politics from the Peace Conferences of Yalta and Potsdam (1945-1946) to the creation of the Brussels Treaty in March 1948 – just a few months before the approval of the Vandenberg Resolution by the US Senate – by highlighting the rise of the bipolar competition and its impacts on Western Europe.

Eventually, Professor Stefano Pilotto held a speech on the creation of the Vandenberg Resolution in June 1948, and skillfully examined the crucial reappraisal of American foreign policy between 1947 and 1949, which set off with the so-called Truman Doctrine and later culminated in the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in April 1949. After analyzing the main features of the Vandenberg Resolution - which officially allowed the American Government to settle bilateral and collective agreements for purposes of security and mutual defense – Professor Pilotto devoted a key portion of his intervention to an extensive report on the diplomatic negotiations for the creation of a new system of multilateral security in Western Europe. These negotiations took place between 1948 and 1949 and ultimately led to the creation of the Atlantic Alliance.

Finally, Mr. Fabrizio W. Luciolli concluded the lecture by summing up the main features of NATO’s transformation in the last decades, and accurately pointed out the main topics linked to NATO’s future perspectives. In his final remarks, Mr. Luciolli highlighted NATO’s inherent capacity to rapidly adapt to the current strategic environment, especially with regard to the major threats of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), and emphasized the Alliance’s continuing commitment to liberty, democracy and stability.

The lecture, which ended with a general debate over transatlantic security, also marked a crucial step in the creation of a local chapter of the Italian Youth Atlantic Treaty Association in Gorizia, which has been operating since February 2008 in order to build up a solid group of students committed to the aims and objectives of NATO. Since then, the YATA chapter of Gorizia has been working to implement the abovementioned goals, through a wide range of tools, such as a local newsletter, public presentations, debates and other educational activities.

Moreover, the creation of a YATA branch in Gorizia, on the borderline between Italy and the Republic of Slovenia, could also represent a significant contribution to thereinforcement, and even the expansion, of the process of Euro-Atlantic integration: a brand new community of common security and shared prosperity.

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