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Based on analysis of Lord Ismay's private papers and on documents from the NATO archives and the Foreign Office archives, this article examines the role of Lord Ismay as the first Secretary General of NATO. As the first person to occupy the role, with little guidance from the national governments and no previous examples to use as a guiding light, Ismay had the opportunity – and the challenge – to shape the new role and to lay the basis for the long-term development of the International Staff. This article argues that Ismay's careful approach was essential in cementing political consensus within the North Atlantic Council at a time in which the members of the Alliance were still learning to work together.
Launched with considerable fanfare in 1969, the Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society (CCMS) was supposed to bring new life to NATO by both re-energising public support and engaging with a variety of themes, issues and partners well beyond the alliance's traditional scope. The first aim of this article is to go beyond the careful media operation that surrounded the launch of the CCMS and to examine the scepticism and resistance of some European partners, particularly the British. The second aim is to demonstrate that NATO started to think in terms of crisis management, disaster relief and environmental disasters well before 1989. The sheer military strength of the alliance and of its partners did remain central – and notably came back to the forefront in 1979 – but the alliance did start to see itself as a geopolitical player and to consider engagement beyond its strictly defined geographical area as early as 1969.
In the first months of 1948, Italy witnessed one of the fiercest electoral campaigns in its history, which saw the mobilisation of all sectors of society and the involvement of numerous international actors. In the end, the Christian Democrats and their political allies gained the majority of the votes at the first post-war general elections of 18 April 1948, thus officially inaugurating the history of the new Italian Republic.