As Western Europe, with help from our Marshall plan, rebuilt, all our nations began to face the nature of the Soviet threat to the democracies. And so, beginning with the Brussels treaty in 1948, which established the Western European Union, and then the North Atlantic treaty 1 year later, which included Canada and the United States as well as other European nations, we drew together for our common safety and peace. As President Harry Truman said when he signed the North Atlantic treaty: Through this partnership “we seek to establish freedom from aggression and from the use of force in the North Atlantic community.” And he added: “This is the area which has been at the heart of the last two world conflicts. To protect this area against war will be a long step toward permanent peace in the whole world.”
Well, peace has been the alliance’s goal, the purpose of its forces and its strategies. And for almost 40 years, peace has been its achievement—an unprecedented period of European peace in which we in the democracies have lived in freedom and prospered. NATO’s strategy for peace has always been simple: Prevent aggression before it starts. Be strong enough, be determined enough so that no adversary would think even for a moment that war might pay.
Address to the Citizens of Western Europe Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/253706