North Atlantic Treaty

The Arctic Transformed

the Arctic 1949.0404

North Atlantic Treaty

Cold War in the Arctic, Climate Change (4 April 1949)

Historical Map of the Arctic & the Far North

World War II left the United States and the Soviet Union as the dominant powers in Europe. Relations between the two began to deteriorate almost immediately, especially after US concerns over the Soviet installment of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe prompted President Truman to embark on a policy of "containment" by aiding the non-Communist regimes which surrounded the Soviet bloc. As this new "Cold War" heated up, the US and its European allies signed the North Atlantic Treaty, formally creating the NATO alliance to counter any potential Soviet attack.

Main Events

Kuril Landing Operation

A small detachment of Soviet forces, carried by two mine trawlers from Petropavlovsk, landed on Iturup - largest of the southern islands in the Japanese territory of the Kuril Islands. Urup and the northern islands were then occupied from 22 to 28 August, with the islands south of Iturup falling in early September. On 23 August, the Japanese garrison on the islands was ordered to surrender, although resistance continued in some areas until 4 September.

Occupation of Japan

In Operation Blacklist, United States forces led by Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, occupied Japan with support from the British Commonwealth - the only time in Japanese history that it had been occupied by a foreign power. The occupation transformed Japan into a parliamentary democracy with the Emperor as a figurehead and was effective until the restoration of Japanese sovereignty in 1952.

German surrender on Svalbard

German soldiers garrisoned at Haudegen meteorological station on Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, surrendered to a Norwegian sealing vessel after losing radio contact in May. These men were the last German troops involved in World War II to surrender.

US bid to buy Greenland

The US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes made an offer to purchase Greenland for the United States for $100,000,000 to Danish Foreign Minister Gustav Rasmussen during a United Nations meeting in New York. Denmark declined the offer but ultimately accepted US bases on the island.

Newfoundland Act

After a 1948 referendum in Newfoundland narrowly supported union with Canada, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the British North America Act 1949 - later renamed the Newfoundland Act - on 23 March 1949. Eight days later, at midnight on 31 March, Newfoundland and its dependency of Labrador joined Canada as its tenth province, Newfoundland. In return, Canada took over much of Newfoundland's infrastructure and assumed responsibility for its debt.

North Atlantic Treaty

The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington DC, creating a formal alliance - the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO - between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, and the United States. The treaty, primarily directed against the Soviet Union, committed each member state to consider any armed attack against another member state, in Europe or North America, to be an attack against them all.

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