The President, the ‘Theologians’ and the Europeans: The Johnson Administration and NATO Nuclear Sharing

Andrew Priest

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3 Citations (SciVal)


This article examines Lyndon Johnson's handling of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nuclear-sharing issue and specifically plans for a NATO Multilateral Force during the first three years of his presidency. The article argues that although Johnson did not confront the nuclear sharing/Multilateral Force issue directly for the first year of his presidency, he subsequently made sensible policy decisions in the face of a number of challenges. These included pressure for a speedy resolution of the nuclear-sharing issue from within his own State Department and from the government of the Federal Republic of Germany on the one side, and opposition to the Multilateral Force from the British and French governments on the other. The nuclear-sharing issue is discussed in the context of challenges to NATO, most notably French President Charles de Gaulle's rejection of US leadership and his withdrawal of French forces from NATO's integrated military structure in 1966 and broader debates about nuclear consultation within the alliance. The article concludes that by using the advisory process well and through some deft diplomacy, particularly refusing to demand a quick resolution to the nuclear-sharing problem, the Johnson administration had effectively resolved the nuclear-sharing issue by late 1966.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-275
Number of pages19
JournalInternational History Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Multilateral force
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • Lyndon B. Johnson


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