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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been a silent partner on the world stage for more than half of the century and the most successful political-military alliance in history. The United Nations and their peacekeeping efforts have had the spotlight for the past few years. However the driving force behind any successful agreement or, if needed, action on the part of several countries has been because of the strong foundation and experience of NATO and its members. The following report will chronicle the events leading up to the creation of NATO, its first decade, the constant struggle with communism in the decades that proceed, and finally the challenges for NATO today and in the future. In the years after World War II, a new threat encroached upon the leaders of Western Europe and their hopes of a stable peace. This threat would be from the growing dominance of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in Eastern Europe.
The USSR had an increasing appetite for the smaller countries to her west. These aggressive demands for territory and the placing of installations in taken countries fueled the fears of many that the USSR was marching toward a third world war. Britain and France, not wanting to make the mistake again of appeasing this new menace until it was too late, developed the Dunkirk Treaty in 1947. This treaty in essence pledged a common defense against any aggression. The USSR answered this by creating a European Communist organization called the Cominform and it rejected the European Recovery Program, which is commonly known as the Marshall Plan.
The Marshall Plan, named for the US Secretary of State, was basically a financial bailout for the European nations. These nations were starving because of the slow and near stopping of the coal and agricultural industries after WWII. The US offered millions of dollars to all of Europe to aid in rebuilding for four reasons. First, Europe had been a great marketplace imports and exports for the US.
Second, historically West Germany had been an industrial hub and needed to be brought back to tip-top shape to buffer the expanding USSR. Third, with its increasing mass the USSR was becoming a rival to the US. Lastly, without this aid Western Europe might look to the USSR for help, which would make life a lot tougher for American interests. The year of 1948 was pivotal for Europe. In February, the Communists in Prague staged a coup d?
etat and the spring brought the beginning of the Cold War. Immediately after WWII, Germany was divided in to occupation zones by Britain, France, the US, and USSR. The capital of Germany at the time was Berlin, which happened to fall in the Soviet zone. The governing administration located in Berlin fell, because of the obvious reason of? too many cooks spoil the broth? . When this happened, the USSR demanded that Berlin become solely part of the Soviet zone, since its status as capital was ruined.
The USSR enforced this ruling by blockading all land routes into and tried to force the other powers out of its respective sectors of Berlin. Eventually the Berlin Blockade was squelched by a military airlift that lasted the rest of the year. The city still remained divided and became known as East (Soviet controlled) and West Berlin. This transgression on the part of the USSR prompted negotiations between Western Europe, the US and Canada that resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty. The language of the North Atlantic Treaty originally consisted of its preamble and fourteen articles. The preamble states that members will promote common values and will?
unite their efforts for a collective defense. ? The key article of the North Atlantic Treaty is number five (it? s the one that inspired my title) it reads, ? The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them? shall be considered an attack against them all. ? Another interesting article is the last one, number fourteen, and it calls for the deposition of the official copies of the treaty to be kept in the US Archives.
The US already was establishing itself as the dominant member of an organization that is supposed to be based on equal responsibility. After the ratification of this treaty the structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began. The highest policy-making body in NATO is the North Atlantic Council, which met in Paris until 1967. The council composed of permanent delegates from all members was responsible for general policy, budgetary outlines, intergovernmental consultation and administrative actions. There are two main temporary committees that answer directly to the council. Those are the Secretariat, which handles non-military functions of the alliance (economic, scientific, cultural, and environmental issues), and the Military Committee or the Defense Planning Committee (DPC), which consists of the chiefs of staff of the various armed forces.
They meet to discuss military policies, develop defense plans for their respective areas, determine the force requirements, and deploy and exercise the forces under their command. The forces directly below the DPC are the Allied Commands Europe (was first headed by Eisenhower), Atlantic, and Channel and the Regional Planning Group (for North America). To assist in carrying out their global roles, the council and the DPC have established committees to deal with emergencies and the new threat of nuclear power. They meet only in a dire situation. However, until the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, NATO had no real military structure. The Korean War was at first perceived as part of a worldwide Communist offensive beginning in the divided Germany.
This perspective lead to the NATO military force that was explained in the preceding paragraph. Within NATO? s first decade the main military and security forces have come from the US. Along with this the US was depended on for the revival of Europe?
s economy and polity. The Korean War also brought an overall expansion of the organization. By 1955, Greece, Turkey, and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) had entered as members. The only provisions for West Germany was not allowed to manufacture NBC (nuclear, biological, and chemical) weapons. With the rearmament of West Germany in progress, the USSR and her allies decided to created a treaty organization of their own. The Warsaw Pact, signed in 1955, combined to powers of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and of course the USSR.
The members of this communist alliance were under strict control of the soviets headquartered in Moscow. Key posts in these satellite countries were usually ran by soviet-born or soviet-trained officers and all their equipment was standardized to the regulations of the USSR. The structure of the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO) was similar to NATO. Two major bodies carried out the policies of the pact. The first was the Political Consultative Committee, which handled all activities except military, and the Unified Command of Pact Armed Forces, which had authority over the troops assigned to certain members.
On paper you can see the similarities, but the USSR rule with absolute dominance. When members tried to break away or try to join NATO, the consequences were terrifying. In 1956, Hungary tried to withdrawal from the WTO; the USSR took unilateral military action against the revolt killing 200, 000 people. Another member state, Czechoslovakia attempted to leave and was swiftly forced back by a soviet invasion. Albania seemed to find a way out, because of their alliance with China and some other ideological reasons, and broke off in 1968. With the USSR?
s undeniable stranglehold on its neighboring countries in place, the race began for total superiority on the global scene over the US and her allies. The main gauge for this was nuclear weapon advances and stockpiles. Who could have the biggest and best in the shortest amount of time and who would dare to use it first? These pressing questions tainted the next three decades and worried some of the other NATO members that the US wouldn? t honor their pledge if the USSR were to do the unspeakable to Western Europe.
NATO members tried to keep a positive perspective, but several events caused a sense of dissatisfaction of its worth by the end of the sixties. To begin the decade off the USSR officially blockaded their side of Berlin by erecting the? wall? . At first the Berlin Wall consisted only of barbed wire, but people were? escaping? to East Germany, so an actual concrete wall was constructed with all the bells and whistles, like checkpoints with armed guards and minefields.
The people of East Germany were prisoners in their own country and were not allowed to contact or visit family. In addition, the withdrawal of France, one of the founding members, in 1966 by President Charles de Gaulle sent shock waves through the organization. Although they continued to contribute to the alliance, they left the governing duties to the other members. Also NATO was pressured by the smaller nation-states to be come members and that would take a lot of funding, time, and focus away from the problems in Eastern Europe. One of the main factors of the late sixties and early seventies was America? s involvement in the Vietnam War.
This horrifying war sapped the US economy, morale, and foreign policy prowess. Although the 1970 s began with the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I), this decade created more disillusionment by world powers as the Soviets continued to rapidly stock their military and nuclear arsenals. In 1979, NATO initiated a dual-track program where new defense efforts were coupled with new efforts in reconciliation and cooperation. Unfortunately, the steps taken by both sides were small and uneventful and usually were retracted within a short time. This brings us to the Reagan years, the eighties, and to the closest watched political tug-a-war in years. This decade opened with a deepening crisis and in 1983 the USSR failed to prevent the deployment of intermediate-range ballistic missiles, sent to counteract the ones they had pointed a Europe?
s major cites. It is possible to say that NATO help greatly in dissuading the USSR from following through on attacking Western Europe. The? game? had gotten deadly serious and in 1987 both sides agreed to talks. Out of these talks came the Intermediate-range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty, which not only gave people a sense of relief across the world it also began the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact and the WTO.
The change in the wind prompted the Berlin Wall that separated a people for over twenty-five years to be torn down and Germany was finally reunified. The late eighties to the mid-nineties finally saw the beginning of the end to the Cold War. This time also showed the world the success of NATO and the unified efforts of its members in meeting the challenge of the Communists and the WTO. NATO had finally shown itself to be a viable source for communication and resolution between factions instead of war.
That became more evident in the 1990 s, with the continued depletion of nuclear arsenals on both sides, the dissolving of the Warsaw Pact in 1991, and the continued duties to help return the countries of Eastern Europe to normalcy. An example of this is evident in Bosnia/Herzegovina and Kosovo. These areas and people have been able to strengthen their nationalistic feeling with both encouraging and disastrous results. Through the efforts of the UN and NATO forces a peaceful conclusion may be in the future for this troubled culture. The organization has already placed in the works the inclusion of the Czech Republic (formerly part of Czechoslovakia), Hungary, and Poland. These talks are setting the stage for NATO?
s most significant expansion. These countries will need modern military training, upgrades on their communications, command, and air defense systems at an estimated cost of between $ 25 and $ 35 billion over thirteen years. The members of NATO pay out this money, the US share being approximately $ 200 million over ten years. There was a time that even the thought of these countries entering NATO peacefully was unheard of. These new members make NATO?
s interests in the Balkans even more timely. Over the past few years, the establishment of a long-term stability in the Balkans has fallen on NATO? s already over weighed shoulders. The former Yugoslavia is one area of Europe where the end of the cold war has not brought about the general trend towards openness, democracy and integration that we have seen elsewhere. Ending this anomaly will mean looking beyond the time frame of NATO? s Stabilization Force in Bosnia.
Once the parties realize that settling differences peacefully and democratically really is the only viable option, then Bosnia and other countries in the region will have the right to the fullest integration into the international community. In Kosovo, where the world community is facing humanitarian, political and legal dilemmas, a solution must be found that allows the Ethnic Albanians more autonomy within the confines of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In finding such a solution, we must avoid a situation where moral considerations are pitted against international law. And we must remember that a security policy that doesn? t take as its point of reference the needs of humanity, risks suffering the worst possible fate- a slide into irrelevance. In Kosovo?
s immediate neighborhood, NATO has helped to provide hope and some stability, as well as assistance in coping with the refugees in Albania and Macedonia. The latter country is hosting a NATO extraction force, ready to support the verification mission deployed in Kosovo. Hopefully, the prospect of long-term stability, coupled with the desire for economic benefits, will draw the entire Balkans back into the European mainstream. None of this will happen without NATO continued belief in? collective security? . To deal with these challenges, there is a need for further improvements in the inter-operability and sustainability of alliance forces.
The future of NATO lies in having rapidly deployable capabilities to fulfill an increasing range of missions. The military forces of NATO allies will need to be on the same wavelength; able to move effectively and quickly, to communicate with one another- service to service, as well as ally to ally- in a world where information technologies are becoming part of the modern soldier? s basic kit. Trying to stay as current as possible on NATO? s movements is not an easy job these days. Every hour seems to bring a new page to NATO?
s illustrious history. We can only sit back and watch the further developments in the Balkan region and in the other? hotspots? around the world, like Korea, Rwanda, India, and even within the NATO members themselves. Other important issues approach on the horizon that will strongly effect NATO, the unification of Europe, China?
s threats to security and the questions of a possible global peace in the millenium. Can NATO meet these challenges? Can it evolve in the shadow of the Cold War? The next few years will unfold an exciting chapter in the history of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Ergang Ph. D. , R. , Europe in Our Time (D.
C. Heath and Co. 1958) Goldfield, D. , Abbott, C. , De John Anderson, V. , Argersinger, J. & P. , Barney, Wm. , and Weir, R. , The American Journey: A History of the United States: vol. 2; chap. 29, pp. 890 and chap. 33, pp. 1031 - 2 Guehenno, J. , trans. by Elliot, V. , The End of the Nation-State (UN of Minnesota 1995) Plan, B. , ? A Popular Bad Idea? , Time, May 11, 1998 v 151 n 18 p 38 Remington, R. , The Warsaw Pact (The MIT Press 1971) Stanley, T. , NATO in Transition: The Future of the Atlantic Alliance (Praeger Pub. 1965) Toland, J. , The Last Hundred Days (Random House 1966) T. Custody, A.
Millar, , J. Matousek, ? Nato's shaky new triad: the alliances three prospective members havent made an informed public choice? , The Nation, March 16, 1998 v 266 n 10 p 18 (4)? NATO? s New Challenge: What is NATO Without a Cold War? ? , Time International, Dec. 10, pg. 50 +?
Open Doors: NATO reaches out to Europe? s other half? , Time International, Dec. 10, 1998 p 55 Various information including referrals and title graphic attained at web
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