Historical Background and Formation
To overcome the threat posed by the Soviet Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or "NATO", was formed by Western European capitalist powers. Apart from preventing the expansion of the Soviet Union, NATO was also meant to prevent the reemergence of the nationalist military system in Europe, with some presence of the same even having been seen from the North American superpowers in this regard leading up to World War 2. Finally, NATO also had the duty to unite European nations politically. Following the horrors of World War II, when large portions of Europe still lay in shambles, and when European countries and states were quite insecure about their political talks and the Soviet Union was gaining a stronghold in West Germany, the NATO treaty was signed on the 4th of April, 1949. The founding members included Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Several additional countries have joined NATO in the almost seven decades since.
Objectives and Functions
Soviet Union was trying its best to bring in Communism and United States of America felt that it had to intervene and prevent the spreading of this Communism. Hence, with the creation of NATO, it put a stop to this. Initially, countries like United States of America, The Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and France were in this. NATO’s objectives were to create fear on the minds of Soviet Russia. It also meant that if Soviet Russia ever attacked any country in Europe, US would help that country. NATO’s other objective was to bring Europe and US under the same layer of protection thereby strengthening the military and economic condition and giving Europe a lot of strength. This was also a bid to unite all the superpowers like Europe and US to be ready for any attack by Soviet Russia. The functions of NATO also included the collective countries helping each other for sovereignty and security, and that hey would act together to counter any attack on any of the fellow member nations.
Notable Military Campaigns
NATO has been working towards ensuring peace and even has been working for resolving disputes internationally. During and after the Cold War till presently, NATO was involved in several missions. During 1990-91, Operations Anchor Guard and Ace Guard were important NATO initiatives in the Middle East spurred by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Currently, NATO Missions in Afghanistan, Libya, and Kosovo are important and worth mentioning. After the September 11th attacks, Operation International Security Assistance Force was led by multiple nations in NATO, worked towards establishing peace in Afghanistan. NATO even went on to contribute to relief efforts during the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005-2006.
Criticism and Controversy
While NATO has been praised for its humanitarian activities too, it was accused of the bombing in Eastern Afghanistan, or even for bombing Yugoslavia and for killing people. Though at few occasions, NATO had denied the activities, few other times, it has even justified the bombings. NATO was accused of bombing non-military buildings, thereby killing innocent civilians in Yugoslavia. NATO is also seen keen towards developing cordial relations with Russia.
NATO In The Post-Soviet Era
Since NATO was formed to counter the rise of Soviet Russia, it was only natural that after the Soviet era, it had to change. NATO has also pledged that it will not deploy nuclear weapons in any of the countries ever since 1996. NATO’s military might has also been reduced by a great deal in the post-Soviet era, and it no longer considers Soviet Russia as an adversary at all. Today, Russia is part of NATO's Partnership for Peace, though many NATO leaders continue to criticize Russia, such as in the cases of their recent military involvements in the Ukraine and Syria.