World War II was one that completely changed the history of the globe and made political leaders realize that without greater understanding and international cooperation, progress was not possible. In the aftermath of WWII, many alliances, military, and otherwise were created. It was done to work as a deterrent to prevent any such events in the future. One such collaboration was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO. Created by the United States of America (USA) in the year 1949, NATO was initially a peacetime military alliance that sought to ensure that war was prevented in this part of the world. NATO remained dormant even during the Cold War era, which followed close on the heels of World War II. However, many features of NATO make the organization relevant even today. The organization not only acts as a preventive measure but also one that fosters a sense of brotherhood amongst member nations. Some of the essential features and the history of NATO are as follows:
The origin of NATO goes back to the signing of the Treaty of Dunkirk, France, and the United Kingdom. This was a Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance. This treaty would come into effect if Germany or the erstwhile Soviet Union attacked either of the nations. This formed the framework of NATO. Having observed the success of this treaty and the possibility of cooperation between two nations in the event of war, other nations of Europe began to consider the possibility of developing a Treaty that can improve the collaboration between the countries. This alliance was now expanded to form the Brussels Treaty Organization or the BTO. The BTO also led to the formation of the Western Union. Finally, the possibility of a peacetime military alliance began to become possible. However, this now required other countries like the USA and Canada to join, to make the coalition complete. Hence, a new treaty was signed on April 4th, 1949 by the countries in North America, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. This was the first time all nations in the North of the Atlantic Ocean came together to sign a treaty that signified a military alliance between the Western European Union and North America.
NATO was created to ensure that peace is maintained amongst the member nations and for increased cooperation. However, NATO was not proactively involved during the Cold War. Nevertheless, it was a military alliance, and hence, NATO had to intervene during certain warlike situations across the globe. The first military activity carried out by the NATO Bosnia and Herzegovina intervention. The Bosnia War began after the breakup of Yugoslavia. The political and military situation was deteriorating in the region for an extended period. NATO had to intervene, and repeated airstrikes by the NATO Air Force were required to bring an end to the strife in the region. This operation was not only the first military operation by NATO but also one that was aided by non-NATO forces. The second army intervention carried out by NATO is known as the Kosovo Operation. This was primarily carried out by ground forces of NATO, and it was done to bring down the separatist leader Slobodan Milošević. NATO had to invoke Article 5 for the first time after the September 11th attack, and operations had to be carried out on foreign soil. The attack on Afghanistan is often seen as retaliation. However, it was a military strike by NATO to restore peace in the region and transition of a nation that was already war-torn to elected governance. The country that so long had suffered in the hands of radicals now could transition into a different state under Hamid Karzai. NATO continued to perform military operations in other nations as well as the Iraq training mission and the Libya intervention. These military activities of NATO are designed to ensure peace and reduce the threat of another war. NATO continues to protect ships in the Gulf of Aden region to prevent piracy. It also provides support to the World Food Programme to ensure that vessels carrying food are not lost to theft. These ongoing efforts of NATO ensure that peace is maintained in regions of the world that are more likely to slip into warlike situations.
NATO is primarily a peacetime military alliance. Its structure is designed in a manner that its primary control rests in the hands of the army, navy, and air-force generals. The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee is the Air Chief Marshal of the Royal Air Force. The North Atlantic Council (NAC) is the competent governing body of NATO. It consists of the ministerial heads like the ministers of foreign affairs, ministers of defense, or even the leaders of the government of the NATO member states. Some of the members of the NAC are considered to be permanent members. The Secretary-General chairs all meetings of the NAC. The Military Committee of NATO consists of the Chiefs of Defense of the Member States or the CHODs. They also work as the chief advisers of NAC. Since the ministers have to work on the advice of the CHODs, actual power rests with the military heads. Hence, NATO is indeed a peacetime military organization.
Thus, NATO is only one of its kind alliances that has taken up the responsibility of maintaining peace not only in the particular region of the globe but also in other parts of the world. This is essential if the order is to be maintained and another war is to be prevented. NATO endeavors to maintain peace and avoid any fallout that can result in a full-scale war. NATO has been proactively involved in ensuring that order is maintained across the world, and many times its intervention is solicited by non-member states as well.
Jun 03, 2020