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High Hopes, Bold Aims, Limited Results: Britain and the Establishment of the NATO Mediterranean Command, 1950-1953

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Although a great deal has been written about British policy in the Middle East in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the reorganization of the Southern flank of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe after the admission of Greece and Turkey into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the assumption of NATO's naval Mediterranean Command by Britain has attracted little attention. This article analyses British aims and policy on the formation of the Mediterranean Command, the talks between London and Washington concerning the appointment of a Naval Commander-in-Chief, the attitudes of France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey towards British policy, and finally, the establishment of NATO's Mediterranean Command in conjunction with the reorganization of SHAPE's Southern flank. For strategic as well as prestige reasons, Britain tried to retain its traditional dominant eastern Mediterranean position by encouraging the establishment of an Allied naval Mediterranean Command under a British Commander-in-Chief. However, the decline of British military and naval power and political influence meant that Britain secured a compromise settlement which only partially satisfied its aspirations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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