North Atlantic Treaty Organization –

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO (which, in English, is NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization), is a military institution created during the initial context of the Cold War and which, basically, represented a mutual defense treaty between its member countries. In other words, countries that were part of the agreement that were attacked must be immediately defended by the other members.

Currently, NATO has 29 member countries. Founded in 1949, the Alliance had twelve founding members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. The other member countries are: Greece and Turkey (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982), Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009) and Montenegro (2017).

In the view of NATO leaders, the organization guarantees the security of their countries, which together have approximately 1 billion citizens. They also believe that by sharing freedom and values, such as democracy, individual freedom, human rights and solidarity, they strengthen the cohesion of that alliance.
The leaders of the countries that make up NATO understand that as long as they work together to prevent conflict and preserve peace, NATO will remain the basis of their collective defense and the essential forum for security consultation and decision-making among allies.
In the London Declaration, leaders reaffirmed the enduring transatlantic bond between Europe and North America, and the commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the solemn commitment, enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, that an attack against one ally is considered an attack on all of them.

NATO’s headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, and the organization constitutes a system by which member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack from any external party.

History of NATO

The founding members of NATO signed the North Atlantic Treaty on April 4, 1949. In this way, the treaty worked together with the United Nations (UN), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Therefore, the organizations were created during the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference.

Purpose at the foundation

The main and initial objective of the military alliance was to defend member countries from threats from communist countries. In this way, the United States also wanted to maintain a presence in Europe to prevent the resurgence of aggressive nationalism (Nazism) and foster the political union of the countries.

Therefore, NATO (NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization – term in English) enabled the formation of the European Union. U.S. military protection gave European nations the security they needed to rebuild after the devastation of World War II.

NATO – Cold War

However, it was during the Cold War that the mission of the military alliance expanded and the organization also began to prevent a possible nuclear war. Thus, after West Germany joined NATO, communist countries formed the Warsaw Pact alliance that included the USSR, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

However, in response the organization adopted a policy of «massive retaliation». Thus, the members of the military alliance promised to use nuclear weapons if the Warsaw Pact countries attacked any NATO member. However, the organization’s deterrence policy allowed Europe to focus on economic development and thus it was not necessary to create conventional armies.

USSR – military presence

In this way, the Soviet Union continued to build its military presence. However, at the end of the Cold War the country was spending three times what the United States spent with only a third of the economic power.

However, following the dissolution of the USSR in the late 1980s, NATO’s relationship with Russia was severely damaged. However, in 1997 NATO countries signed the NATO-Russia Founding Act to build bilateral cooperation. However, it was only in 2002 that the NATO-Russia Council was formed to partner on shared security issues.

Collapse of the USSR – NATO

The collapse and end of the USSR brought unrest in the former satellite states. Therefore, NATO became involved in the civil war in Yugoslavia when it became a genocide. Thus, NATO’s initial support for a United Nations naval embargo led to the application of a no-fly zone.

However, the violations led to some air strikes until September 1999. Thus, NATO conducted a nine-day air campaign that ended the war. Furthermore, in December of that year NATO deployed a peacekeeping force of 60,000 troops that ended in 2004 when NATO transferred this role to the European Union.

The conflicts that NATO was part of

Among NATO’s most recent actions are the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001; the Iraq War in 2003; and intervention in the Libyan civil war in 2011. In 2002, Russia also joined the organization, but only partially.

NATO’s mission is to protect the freedom of its members. As such, its targets include weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and cyber attacks. However, at its meeting on July 11, 2018, the organization approved new measures to contain Russia.

Thus, it was agreed that the organization would include two new military commands and expanded efforts against cyberwarfare and counterterrorism. However, a new plan to stop Russian aggression against Poland and the Baltic States is also underway.

The importance of NATO

NATO wanted to guarantee the existence of capitalism in Western Europe led by the USA and the Warsaw Pact had similar objectives to the Warsaw Pact however, it was led by the USSR. Everything the US did, the USSR also wanted to do and vice versa.

Currently the organization’s objectives are: Guaranteeing the bloc’s security against piracy operations, civil wars and terrorism; Inhibit as much as possible the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. NATO has become the main military alliance on planet Earth.

We can say that NATO’s geopolitical importance is based especially on the creation of this military organization.

Bibliographic references

COSTA, Rogério Santos da. The failure of the collective security system and its implications for integration processes. In: IV FOMERCO, 2003, Maringá. Annals

______. NOZAR, Karina da Silveira; SANTOS, Rafael dos. Post-Cold War collective security: the influence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). International Relations Course Magazine Univali, Florianópolis, n. 6, Jun. 2004.

DIEZ DE VELASCO, Manuel. The international organizations. 11.ed. Madrid: Tecnos, 1999.NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANISATION (NATO). Nato Handbook.Available at: .Accessed on: 7 Feb. 2021.

______. Nato Review, summer 2004. Available at: . Accessed on: 7 Feb. 2021.

______. The NATO documentation: 50th anniversary edition – 1949-1999. Brussels, Belgium: NATO, 1999.

______. The NATO handbook: 50th anniversary edition –1949-1999. Brussels, Belgium: NATO, 1999.

RAYA, María Angustias Caracuel. NATO’s changes at the endof the cold war. Madrid: Tecnos, 1997.