DURING the past 2 years the free nations of Europe, with the help of the United States, have made great strides toward recovery. An essential element in this program has been the establishment of conditions in Western Europe adequate to give confidence to the people and to insure a reasonable prospect that the fruits of their labor would not be immediately lost in the event of aggression.
It was realized that an adequate security arrangement could be organized only if the free nations of Western Europe joined together and strengthened their individual and collective defense through self-help and mutual aid and if the United States joined in the collective enterprise. In recognition of this fact, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed on April 4, 1949. Further, in recognition of the concept of self-help and mutual aid embodied in article 3 of the treaty, I asked the Congress to authorize the furnishing of military assistance to certain of its signatories. At the same time I requested authorization to furnish military assistance to certain other free nations.
In response to my request, the Congress passed the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949 on October 6, 1949. Under its provisions I am authorized to furnish military assistance to certain foreign countries which meet the specific conditions prescribed in the law. In the case of parties to the North Atlantic Treaty, three such conditions are imposed. In the first place, to be eligible for assistance, the country must have requested such assistance prior to the effective date of the law. Secondly, $900 million of the $1 billion in funds and contract authority made available for assistance in the North Atlantic area can only be utilized after I approve recommendations for an integrated defense of the North Atlantic area made by the Council and the Defense Committee established under the North Atlantic Treaty. Finally, as a condition precedent to the furnishing of assistance to any country, the recipient must have entered into an agreement with the United States embodying certain commitments concerning its use.
Prior to the effective date of the law, the Department of State received requests for military assistance from the following North Atlantic Treaty countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom.
The North Atlantic Defense Committee, at its meeting in Paris on December 1, 1949, agreed unanimously on recommendations made by the Military Committee for the integrated defense of the North Atlantic area, and the North Atlantic Council unanimously approved these recommendations on January 6, 1950. Subsequently, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense recommended that I approve them.
I have today approved these recommendations as satisfying the pertinent provisions of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949.
I have approved them because I am satisfied that they provide for the accomplishment of an integrated defense of the North Atlantic area. They do this by providing for a common defense based on the cooperative use of national military resources and on individual national specialization. They contain agreement that these resources, including United States military assistance, will be used with maximum efficiency and will not be used to develop separate and unrelated defenses.
The North Atlantic Treaty is, in itself, a deterrent to aggression. I believe that these recommendations which have been agreed to by the governments of the North Atlantic Treaty nations constitute a major achievement under the treaty. They provide further convincing evidence of the determination of these nations to resist aggression against any of them and are a definite indication of the genuine spirit of cooperation among the treaty members.
The Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949 also provided that the United States should conclude agreements with the countries which request, and are to receive, military assistance. Such agreements are being signed today by the Secretary of State and representatives of Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Their texts will be made public and they will be registered with the United Nations.
In view of these significant developments, I have today also made formal provision for the administration of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act by issuing an Executive order authorizing the Secretary of State to proceed with the program in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator for Economic Cooperation.
These developments are the result of close cooperation among free nations which intend to remain free. They are, of course, first steps. The successful implementation of the North Atlantic Treaty will require constant and continuing effort and cooperation by all its members. Planning for defense cannot be static. It must be constantly reviewed and revised in the light of changing circumstances and it must be flexible to allow for maximum coordination of effort at all times.