The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO was founded “in response to the threat posed by the Soviet Union. This is only partially true. In fact, the Alliance’s creation was part of a broader effort to serve three purposes: deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration.” (History) NATO was formed as a security organization that would assist the nations of mainland Europe defend against incursion by the Soviet Union (IE the spread of Communism) and to maintain the ability to keep nationalism (as was seen in Nazi Germany) in check. This security organizational also ensured that the United States would never completely withdraw military power from Europe. In a nutshell NATO was created to maintain the common united defense of mainland Europe in addition to giving the United States a group of allied nations (or an international organization) from which it would be able to continue to assist with the defense of Europe and the prevention of the spread of communism.
Most importantly the charter of NATO stated that “the North Atlantic Treaty was signed on 4 April, 1949. In the Treaty’s renowned Article 5, the new Allies agreed “an armed attack against one or more of them… shall be considered an attack against them all” and that following such an attack, each Ally would take “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force” in response. Significantly, Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty had important purposes not immediately germane to the threat of attack. Article 3 laid the foundation for cooperation in military preparedness between the Allies, and Article 2 allowed them some leeway to engage in non-military cooperation.” (History) This meant that an attack on one member-state would be treated like an attack on all member-states and all NATO members would assist in military action against the aggressor. These articles separated NATO from other IOs namely the United Nations (UN) in that the UN seeks to prevent member-states from taking hostile action (not only against other members) but will seek diplomatic methods before making an agreement to engage in hostile action. NATO on the other hand understood that at times actions would speak louder than words and that at times member-states would be required to defend one another during war time. This level of military intervention also allowed for increased interconnectedness between member-states which led to the eventual creation of the European Commission/European Union “The European Commission represents the interests of the EU as a whole. It proposes new legislation to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, and it ensures that EU law is correctly applied by member countries.” (Commission at Work - Commission's role in EU lawmaking - European Commission)
The evolution from membership in NATO to an interconnected Europe can be seen in the fact that “With the benefit of aid and a security umbrella, political stability was gradually restored to Western Europe and the post-war economic miracle began. New Allies joined the Alliance: Greece and Turkey in 1952, and West Germany in 1955. European political integration took its first hesitant steps. In reaction to West Germany’s NATO accession, the Soviet Union and its Eastern European client states formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955. Europe settled into an uneasy stand-off, symbolized by the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.” (History) NATO was able to bring stability to Europe and therefore mainland Europe was allowed to develop and enter into economic organizations such as the EU. During this period NATO was beneficial in balancing the power of the Soviet Union in Europe with “NATO adopted the strategic doctrine of "Massive Retaliation” – if the Soviet Union attacked, NATO would respond with nuclear weapons.” (History) This being similar to the United States doctrine of the same period of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) both of these doctrines were meant to demonstrate that any nuclear attack would be met with retaliatory nuclear attack where there would be no clear winner as nuclear attack would result in total destruction.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s NATO continued to check the power of the Soviet Union throughout Europe. In 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan once again NATO took steps to check the military power of the Soviet Union and to assist the United States in its efforts to arm the Afghans against Soviet aggression. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union. The Soviet Invasion that began in 1979 was over by 1989 with a Soviet defeat.
This defeat led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union (1991) and the end of the Cold War. As NATO was an organization that has initially been created to prevent the spread of communism and to offer an overall security organization for the states of mainland Europe that allowed for increased stability and increased economic interdependence. As the Soviet Union was no longer, there were questions of the continued need of NATO. NATO continued to function due to the fact that the “Alliance’s two other original if unspoken mandates still held: to deter the rise of militant nationalism and to provide the foundation of collective security that would encourage democratization and political integration in Europe” (History) the breakup of the Soviet Union allowed former Soviet Republics to express independence. This led to several low intensity conflicts between former nations of the Soviet Union (The Balkan/Caucuses) region.
In addition NATO was able to re-task its mission to become effective in the Global War on Terrorism as NATO is now functioning as the leading body of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) “In accordance with all the relevant Security Council Resolutions, the main role of ISAF is to assist the Afghan government in the establishment of a secure and stable environment. To this end, ISAF forces conduct security and stability operations throughout the country together with the Afghan National Security Forces and are directly involved in the development of the Afghan National Security Forces through mentoring, training and equipping.” (Mission | ISAF - International Security Assistance Force) As part of the ISAF, NATO primary mission “in Afghanistan is to enable the Afghan authorities to provide effective security across the country and ensure that the country can never again be a safe haven for terrorists. Since August 2003, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been conducting security operations, while also training and developing the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).” (NATO and Afghanistan) NATO has reinvented itself to become an effective security organization that has been assisting in bringing safety, security and stability to Afghanistan in the same way that the organization was involved in brining safety, security and stability to Europe after World War II and the period of the Cold War.
NATO was formed after World War II when there was some question as to the level of continued U.S. military involvement, to help balance the power of the Soviet Union (i.e. communism spreading through Europe) while also attempting to maintain safety and security of mainland Europe to allow for an increasingly interconnected Europe with the creation of an economic organization namely the EC and EU.
The lessons that NATO learned from the period of the Cold War allowed for the organization to transition from a security organization that was mostly concerned with balancing the power of the Soviet Union and maintain peace and stability of Europe into an organization that is assisting in offering safety and stability throughout Afghanistan.
Additionally NATO has proven to become a modern security organization that has kept up with changes in criminal activity. For example, NATO is offering expertise in the area of cyber-crime ““Cyber defense is as much about people as it is about technology,” stressed Michael Gaul, Senior Advisor for Strategy and Projects in NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division. “Enhancing cooperation with our partners, particularly as many of them are connected to Allied networks in the context of NATO’s operations and missions, is of utmost importance.” (Building cyber defence expertise in Moldova) Cyber-crime is a part of transnational crime and can be perpetrated in one nation against another nation or even against non-state actors (as through identity theft). NATO has begun offering training on cyber-crime so that developing nations will have an understanding of how to deal with these types of situations in the future.
NATO staff have also been deployed to Libya on 4 June 2013 this deployment was undertaken in an attempt to “ building security institutions” (NATO to send expert team to Libya to assess aid request) It is likely that this deployment has taken place in an attempt to bring stability to Libya and end the violence that has occurred in 2012 and led to the attack on the U.S. embassy.
Finally “Centers of Excellence (COEs) are nationally or multi-nationally funded institutions that train and educate leaders and specialists from NATO member and partner countries, assist in doctrine development, identify lessons learned, improve interoperability, and capabilities and test and validate concepts through experimentation. They offer recognized expertise and experience that is of benefit to the Alliance and support the transformation of NATO, while avoiding the duplication of assets, resources and capabilities already present within the NATO command structure.” (Centres of Excellence) These COEs are designed to offer training and assistance to other NATO member-states to ensure that a certain level of expertise is maintained throughout NATO deployments. “Coordinated by Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, Virginia in the United States, COEs are considered to be international military organizations. Although not part of the NATO command structure, they are part of a wider framework supporting NATO Command Arrangements. Designed to complement the Alliance’s current resources, COEs cover a wide variety of areas, with each one focusing on a specific field of expertise to enhance NATO capabilities.” (Centres of Excellence) Not only has NATO proven itself as capable of maintain safety and security in a given region, NATO has also taken on a training function to ensure that all nations that are involved with NATO missions are trained and prepared to assist in NATOs military, security, or humanitarian aid functions.
In an effort to make NATO deployments as orderly as possible, NATO publishes a Logistics guide that can be located here:
This document is lengthy to say the least and covers many of the aspects that NATO involves itself with including:
- “The Heads of State and Government approved the new Strategic Concept for the Alliance at the NATO Summit in Lisbon in November 2010. The modern security environment contains a broad and evolving set of challenges to the security of NATO’s territory and populations. In order to assure their security, the Alliance must and will continue fulfilling effectively the following three essential core tasks, all of which contribute to safeguarding Alliance members, and always in accordance with international law” (NATO logistics handbook) This is possibly the most important aspect of the overall NATO mission as it has become the mission of NATO to provide safety, security and stability to member-states across the globe including a security and national building aspects taking place in Afghanistan.
- “The Political Guidance, agreed by NATO Defense Ministers on 10 March 2011 provides direction for the continuing transformation of defense capabilities and forces and the implementation of the defense-related aspects of the Strategic Concept agreed at Lisbon” (NATO logistics handbook) Again, this spells out what is considered acceptable behavior by NATO members during nation building exercises. It is important that all member-nations are on the same page as far this nation building is concerned as member-nations may have differing opinions on what is and is not acceptable behavior while offering political stability.
NATO clearly accepts that they are a large body with a large and expanding area of responsibility and have gone out of their way to offer a logistics guide that has been accepted by all member-nations so as all NATO deployments will take place in the same fashion.
NATO works with a wide variety of partners in an attempt to complete their mission. One of these partners is the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). The EAPC includes “all NATO Member countries and the following partner countries:” (Partners)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
- Kyrgyz Republic
- The Republic of Moldova
- Uzbekistan (Partners)
NATO also cooperates with:
- The countries of the Mediterranean region including:
- Tunisia (Partners)
NATO also cooperates with the “Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI)” (Partners) including:
- United Arab Emirates (Partners)
In addition to these expressed partners of NATO the organization also works in cooperation of other nations across the globe including:
- Republic of Korea
- New Zealand
Not only does NATO continue to work with the nations of Europe, they have also expanded their mission into cooperation to many of the developed and developing nations across the world in an effort to maintain security and stability.
- Connect to course topics.
Learning objective 1 of this course states:
- “Examine the roles of international organizations within international relations, peacekeeping, economy, security, and conflict resolution.” (Syllabus IRLS 503) NATO is an international peacekeeping and security organization that functions to maintain peace and security within the regions where it functions. Through continued peace and security NATO forces are also able to maintain stability in a region so as to allow for economic development. For example in maintaining of peace in Europe after World War II allowed for the creation of the EC and the attempt to maintain security in Afghanistan has led to the development of the Afghan Provisional Government.
Learning objective 3 of this course states:
- “Apply theories of human rights and state sovereignty to specific international organizations and institutions.” (Syllabus IRLS 503) The study of NATO will complete this learning task due to the fact that several developed and developing nations are willing to cooperate to complete the task of NATO, any time a nation works with an international organization a certain amount of autonomy is given up. Nations associated with NATO seem to have no problem with giving up a small amount of sovereignty so as to complete the NATO mission of providing safety and security.
"Building cyber defence expertise in Moldova." NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/news_106989.htm (accessed February 26, 2014).
"Centres of Excellence." NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_68372.htm (accessed February 26, 2014).
"Commission at Work - Commission's role in EU lawmaking - European Commission." Commission at Work - Commission's role in EU lawmaking - European Commission. http://ec.europa.eu/atwork/index_en.htm (accessed February 26, 2014).
"History." NATO. http://www.nato.int/history/nato-history.html (accessed February 24, 2014).
"Mission | ISAF - International Security Assistance Force." Mission | ISAF - International Security Assistance Force. http://www.isaf.nato.int/mission.html (accessed February 26, 2014).
NATO logistics handbook. Brussels, Belgium: NATO, 2012.
"NATO to send expert team to Libya to assess aid request." NATO- North Atlantic Treaty Organization. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-37DA2604-DA0EF802/natolive/news_101096.htm?selectedLocale=en (accessed February 26, 2014).
"Partners." NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/51288.htm (accessed February 26, 2014).
"NATO and Afghanistan." NATO-North Atlantic Treaty Organization. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/69772.htm (accessed February 26, 2014).
Syllabus IRLS 503 International Organizations