Accommodating and confronting the Portuguese dictatorship within NATO, 1970-4

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During the early 1970s, NATO member-states such as Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands repeatedly sought to use the Atlantic Alliance as a forum to confront Portuguese domestic and colonial policies. However, the larger members of the organisation - including the United States, the UK, France, and West Germany - successfully blocked their efforts. While the former expressed concern over the challenges posed by the Lisbon regime to NATO’s credibility at home and abroad, the latter sought to preserve their interests and institutional cohesion in view of the challenges posed by détente. This fault line reflected core differences in the allies’ perspectives about both Portugal and NATO itself. Drawing on extensive multi-archival research, this article examines the motivations and actions of various member-states on the North Atlantic Assembly and the NATO Council ministerial meetings. It reconsiders the international dimension of the Marcelo Caetano dictatorship and the connection between the cold war framework and the process of Portuguese resistance to decolonisation in Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-526
Number of pages22
JournalInternational History Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2016


  • Cold war
  • Colonialism
  • Decolonisation
  • Détente
  • NATO
  • Portugal


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