North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

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  • NATO
    • Why was it formed?
      • To provide collective security against the threat of military action in Europe from the Soviet bloc and to promote deeper political integrationa and stability in Europe.
      • Article 5 states that signatories agree that an attack on one of them would be considered an attack on all of them and they should consider armed force in response.
    • Evidence NATO's role has changed
      • In 1995 NATO intervention in Bosnia, bombing the Bosnian Serb positions. Established conditions for subsequent signing of the Dayton Peace Accords (1995).
      • In 1999 NATO bombed Serbia to stop the government's military offensives within Kosovo.
        • In both interventions, NATO played an important role in nation-building once fighting had ceased.
          • In 1995 NATO intervention in Bosnia, bombing the Bosnian Serb positions. Established conditions for subsequent signing of the Dayton Peace Accords (1995).
      • From 2001-14 NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) played an important role in backing Afghan forces against Taliban insurgency. Since 2015 its successor, Operation Resolute Support has trained and advised Afghan forces in their ongoing struggle to expand the government's authority.
      • In 2011 it intervened in Libya to implement UN Resolution 1973, stopping the government's attacks on civilians. As a result of its military action the Gaddafi regime was overthrown.
      • From 2009-16 NATO's Operation Ocean Shield combatted piracy in the Indian Ocean.
    • Evidence that NATO hasn't abandoned its original purpose of collective security?
      • Since the end of the Cold War NATO has expanded far into E. Europe. Its newer members, like the Baltic States and Poland, are acutely conscious of the importance of collective security in protecting their independence
      • Under Putin, Russia's become more assertive. In 2008 it attacked Georgia in support of South Ossetia's claims for independence and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
        • Indicates how vulnerable Russia's non-NATO neighbours are and has reinforced the importance of collective security in deterring possibility of further Russian expansionism.
      • Failure of NATO to bring stability to Afghanistan and Libya reinforces the belief that NATO's tried to do too much and should return to its original focus.
    • Strengths
      • Maintaining a strong military relationship between the US and W. Europe. Made it less likely that the US could become isolationist, undermining European security.
      • By expanding into E. Europe, NATO is providing security guarantees to new democracies and reducing the risk of a Russian 'divide and conquer' strategy.
      • Defensive realists, like Kenneth Waltz, argue that NATO encourages peace by providing incentives for Russia not to threaten W. interests.
      • NATO's new 'Very High Readiness Joint Task Force' is very flexible and adaptable in emergencies.
      • NATO recognises that threats to W. interests are 'multi-directional' and it must present a united front against new challenges like Islamist terrorism.
    • Weaknesses
      • By expanding to 29 member states (2017), NATO has to provide collective security to states very close to Russia's zone of influence. Could undermine Article 5, since not all states may feel equally prepared to provide collective security if Russia threatened its more vulnerable neighbours. By becoming so big, NATO's sense of solidarity is being undermined.
      • US complains that many states freeload off NATO. Only four NATO European members spend more than 2 per cent of their GDP on defence and still claim the benefits of collective security.
      • Commitment of some members, like Turkey and Hungary, to collective security has been questioned.
      • Advances in cyber technology may be the aggression of the future. Unclear whether this would lead to the triggering of Article 5.
      • NATO's primary role in protecting W. Europe could be diluted by Jean-Claude Juncker's plans for a European army.


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