In what ways did the NATO and the Warsaw Pact change Europe?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The boundary between NATO countries and the Warsaw Pact defined Europe during the Cold War, and to an extent, still defines American-Russian relations today.  After the fall of the Nazis in 1945, the Soviet Union set up satellite states in Eastern Europe and East Germany in order to provide a...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The boundary between NATO countries and the Warsaw Pact defined Europe during the Cold War, and to an extent, still defines American-Russian relations today.  After the fall of the Nazis in 1945, the Soviet Union set up satellite states in Eastern Europe and East Germany in order to provide a buffer zone between itself and the West.  The United States was convinced by Britain and France that the Soviet Union may become an aggressor nation which would take over Europe.  Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech and George Keenan's Long Telegram were two key pieces of rhetoric from the West that said that the Soviet Union had designs on world domination and that America should take the lead to keep Europe "free."  In order to lessen European fears, America formed NATO, which stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with itself, Britain, France, and other Western European nations.  It's charter said that an attack against one is an attack against all.  The Soviet Union formed the Warsaw Pact with itself, Poland, Romania, and other Eastern European countries that were headed by leftist dictators friendly to Moscow.  Their treaty was the same, that an attack against one was an attack against all.  While America put a lot of money into Western Europe via the Marshall Plan, Eastern Europe would continue to be war-ravaged because the Soviet Union saw this money as a capitalist trap.  The NATO-Warsaw Pact rivalry created a stalemate in Europe for over forty years, ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Even today, Russia is hesitant to let former Soviet republics join NATO as it backs pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine who wish to maintain closer ties to Russia.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team