NATO nuclear strategy and the adoption of ‘flexible response’

Terry Macintyre

in Anglo-German Relations During the Labour Governments 1964-70

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780719076008
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701485 | DOI:
NATO nuclear strategy and the adoption of ‘flexible response’

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This chapter examines the background to the formal adoption by NATO in 1967 of the revised nuclear strategy of ‘flexible response’. By the early 1960s, the security guarantee provided to NATO members by the United States had been undermined as the Soviet Union achieved nuclear parity and by the demand that its European allies strengthen their conventional forces assigned to NATO. For the Germans in particular, either the consequences of a failure of deterrence or the prospect of a conventional battle fought on their territory was too serious to contemplate. Britain clearly understood German concerns and to some extent shared them. The agreement on the revised NATO strategy represented a compromise between these respective positions. Britain was a key player in the development of NATO strategy and, with Germany, was influential in developing guidance on the use of tactical nuclear weapons by the Alliance as part of flexible response.

Keywords: United States; Soviet Union; deterrence; Germany; nuclear weapons; Britain; NATO; NATO strategy; flexible response

Chapter.  11064 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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