What Is NATO?

By Steph Wright on May 17 2020 in World Facts

Original NATO members include the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Iceland, and Belgium. Image credit: www.timesnew.co
Original NATO members include the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Iceland, and Belgium. Image credit: www.timesnew.co
  • Article 5 has only been invoked once in history.
  • There are currently 30 members of NATO.
  • Famous NATO operations include Operation Eagle Assist and Operation Active Endeavor.

NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was established in 1949 as a way to ensure the safety of its member countries. Article 5 is a cornerstone of the alliance; it is used to deter attacks on NATO member countries. The original members of NATO include the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Iceland, and Belgium. As of 2020, there are 30 members of the organization. But what is NATO? and why was it formed? Read on below to find out more.

What is NATO?

NATO's Article 5 states that an attack on one member state is an attack on all states. Image credit: www.eur.army.mil

NATO is a multi-country military alliance founded after World War II and established in 1949. There are currently 30 countries that are a part of NATO and the membership is open to “any European state to further the principles of the Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area." In order to join, countries must prepare for membership by following the advice of the Membership Action Plan. Bosnia and Herzegovina are currently participating, and the newest member to join was North Macedonia on March 27, 2020.

NATO’s mission objective is to protect the freedom of its members and to stop weapons of mass destruction, cyber-attacks, and terrorism. Article 5 of the Treaty states that an attack on one member state is an attack on all states; members of the organization pledge to aid any member state that has come under attack. Despite its importance, Article 5 has only been invoked once. This was in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Why Was NATO formed?

NATO was formed as a defense against the Soviet Union dismantling democracy in Europe. Photo by Марьян Блан | @marjanblan on Unsplash

NATO was formed as a defense against the threat of the Soviet Union dismantling democracy in Europe and spreading communism to the United States. President Harry Truman signed the North Atlantic Treaty on April 4, 1949. 12 countries joined NATO in 1949, including Canada and the United Kingdom. In 1954, the Soviet Union made requests to join but they were rejected and have been ever since. One of the conditions of being a part of NATO is to spend two percent of their country’s wealth on defense. In 2018, President Trump had expressed desires to withdraw the United States from NATO, this led to the passing of the NATO Support Act which “prohibits the appropriation or use of funds to withdraw the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization”. Trump was criticized by officials who said the United States’ withdrawal would destroy relationships and undo the hard work carried out by the organization over the last 70-plus years.

More in World Facts