NATO Essay, Research Paper
Fifty years ago on April 4, 1949, twelve countries signed the Treaty of Washington and formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. There were a total of sixteen countries that signed this treaty. Those countries were the following: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States. These various groups of countries came together and formed the NATO Alliance. They wanted to help the world maintain peace due to the Soviet Union?s threat on the non-Communist countries of Western Europe.
In the early 1990?s, political critics began to criticize NATO saying that is was not needed anymore after the control over Russia. Books and article titles from the early 1990s ??reflected the mood of the times. Liberal scholars expected NATO to wither because of the drawing peace in Europe undermined the need for big military organization and collective security would be given new life?NATO was forced with growing irrelevance and that it would be surprising if Europe?s alliance outline the century? (Gordon 1).
In sum, NATO is an alliance based on political and military correspondence between its member countries. As stated in the preamble to the North Atlantic treaty, Alliance members are committed to safeguarding the freedom, common heritage and civilization of its people, that is founded on the principle of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.
- Why NATO?
This period of early history was a time where countries were proving their power.
In addition, Russia was causing serious uproars for Western Europe. After World War II in 1945, the Communist states- led by Russia and the non-Communist states- led by the United States were engaging in a political rival known as the Cold War. One of the controversial topics was that of nuclear weapons. Britain and France were concerned that the Soviet Union may use nuclear weapons against them. They also were doubtful that the United States would use their nuclear weapons against Russian to protect Britain. So Britain and France built their own nuclear weapons. As a result, France removed its troops from NATO command, but did remain a member. The Paris headquarters was then moved to Brussels, Belgium. By 1955 the Soviet Union headed its own alliance to oppose NATO called the Warsaw Pact.
The objectives of NATO are political based on a common defense planning and military cooperation and by working together in economic, scientific, environmental and other issues that would be of major concern for the world. During the Cold War, for example, NATO focused on the problems dividing Europe which was the development and maintenance of universal defense system and overcoming the political issues that were dividing them at this time. Today, NATO is focusing on developing stability within the European Community as well as developing an adequate peace keeping and crisis management system.
The Treaty of Washington has specific articles that are rules or guidelines that countries under this treaty are to abide by. Article four of the treaty provides consultations among the allies whenever that particular country feels that its territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened. The threatened country has the guaranteed assurance that the other member nation will be committed to that country?s welfare. This is true for all member nations. This means that is a member country of North America or Europe is threatened, the antagonizing country shall have not one, but all NATO countries against it.
- The Organization of NATO
The headquarters of NATO is located in Brussels, Belgium. The headquarters is the
home of the North Atlantic Council. It also houses the permanent representatives and national delegates, the Secretary General and the International Staff, national military representatives the Chairman of the Military Committee and the International Military Staff and other NATO offices.
There are approximately 3,750 people who work full-time for NATO.
Approximately 2,150 of those are members of national delegations and representatives of the national military committee in NATO. ?There are approximately 1,180 civilian members of the International Staff and 420 members of the International Military Staff, including 80 civilian personnel? (NATO handbook).
NATO has two branches- the civilian branch and the military branch. The civilian branch consists of the North Atlantic Council-the highest authority in NATO. It includes NATO?s leadership and the representatives. The Council is headed by the secretary-general which is occupied by a European at all times.
The Secretary General is responsible for promoting and directing the process of consultation and decision-making through the Alliance. He is the Chairman of the North Atlantic Council, the Defense Planning Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group as well as titular Chairman of other senior committees. He may propose items for discussion and decision and has the authority to use his good offices in cases of dispute between member countries. He is responsible for directing the International Staff and is the principal spokesman for the Alliance in relations between governments and with the media. The Deputy Secretary-General assists the Secretary General in the exercise of his functions and replaces him in his absence. He is Chairman of the High Level Task Force on Conventional Arms Control, the Executive Working Group, the NATO Air Defense Committee, the Joint Consultative Board, the Joint Committee on Proliferation and a number of other Ad Hoc and Working Groups. (NATO handbook).
The other division of NATO is the military branch. This branch is divided up into
three commands. The first, often referred to the heart of NATO, is the Allied Command
Europe. The leader of this command has always been a United States General. The Allied Command Europe headquarters in located at Casteau near Mons, Belgium. This group?s duty is to protect the area from the northern tip of Norway to southern Europe and also from the Atlantic coastline to the eastern border of Turkey. This area adds up to ?two million square kilometers of land, more than three million square kilometers of sea, and a population of about 350 million people? (NATO handbook). The Supreme Allied Commander of Europe then becomes responsible for protecting these areas in which ever way is needed if an attack is in effect. The ACE has several subcommittees designated to protecting these above-mentioned areas of Europe. Another division is the Allied Command Atlantic whose headquarters is in Norfolk, Virginia. ?ACLANT extends from the North Pole to the Tropic of Cancer and from the coastal waters of North America to those of Europe and Africa?not including the Channel and the British Isles? (NATO).
The other division, the Military Committee, receives reports from NATO?s military
commanders which ultimately report to the North Atlantic Council. The Military Committee is composed of military chief of staff or other representatives of the NATO member nations.
- Decision-making within NATO
Since NATO is a conjoined organization made up of the sixteen independent nations,
it has no supranational authority or policy-making power over the separate, independent members. To make any decisions, the Alliance must meet and get a unanimous decision from all member nations. This means that their agreed upon decisions are held by all member nations. This means that all decisions the individual countries have been previously agreed upon. These decisions can only be carried out when all member nations are in agreement.
- NATO and the Environment
The NATO countries are expected to contribute to worldwide well being by
contributing toward statuses of peace and stability. Article two of the North Atlantic Treaty deals with environmental concerns. NATO established two different committees to help implement these policies. The first committee was formed eight years after the signing of the treaty called the NATO Science Committee. It was made to establish a high level of science and technological advances as well as promoting the networking of scientists to the member states. The other committee is called the Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society (CCMS). It was created in 1969 to focus mainly on the specific environmental problems within the member countries. They were concerned with things such as the quality of life for their people. The Science Committee deals with many areas of concern as in such of the following:
- Environmental and human health consequences of military actions
- Solid and toxic waste management
- Air pollution in industrial areas
- Natural and man-made hazards
- Industrial accidents
- Marine pollution, especially in coastal zones and estuaries
- Agricultural management
NATO works annually with the professionals of different areas, mainly environmental producing works, such as books about the progress or lack of progress concerning the environment.
- NATO today
NATO faced its biggest crisis in 1991 when the Soviet Union broke up into a large number of independent states that rejected communism. As a result, many people thought that NATO?s purpose was void and it was deemed to fall apart. Furthermore, NATO offered membership to former Soviet countries, but the plan was thought that it might backfire. If the countries of Poland, Hungary, and the Ukraine were to join NATO, it may pose further conflicts with Russia.
With the new Partnership for Peace program, created in 1994 with a total member population of 20 countries, military planning and exercises were open for discussion without formal NATO membership. NATO handled the Bosnia incident in 1995 with expertise. Bosnian Serbs were fighting the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina and NATO decided to step in for the aim of peace. Russia became threatened by NATO?s involvement because it is an ally of Bosnia. Nevertheless, in later 1995, Bosnia agreed to sign a peace treaty.
The Madrid Conference in 1997 help concluded NATO?s existing proposals. Some of the new plans for NATO today are:
- A commitment to defense to its members
- An introduction of new mechanisms for a close relationship with Russia
- The development of a European Security Identity with NATO and for operations where it is agreed that the Western European Union should have responsibility, arrangements for the loan of Alliance assets and capabilities
- The establishment of a Mediterranean dialogue designed to contribute to security and stability in the Mediterranean and to improve understanding.
NATO served its purpose in dealing with Russia in the Cold War and it continues to
thrive by promoting world peace, order, and well-being. Who could say that the world would be the way it is if it were not for that great organization founded over 50 years ago?