Summary of What is NATO?

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The future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has become a hotly debated issue. During his election campaign, US president Donald Trump shocked people on both sides of the Atlantic when he suggested that the alliance, once considered a cornerstone of collective defense for Europe and the United States, may now be obsolete. Before weighing in on the debate, it is helpful to remember what NATO is, why it came into existence and how it evolved. This report provides a solid overview to answer basic questions about the alliance. However, being NATO-published, the document fails to address the many controversies the alliance has faced over the years, such as issues about its interventions in the Balkans in the 1990s and the 2011 bombing campaign in Libya. Further, it gives little heed to Russian concerns over NATO expansion and missile defense. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends this NATO publication to anyone interested in a broad overview of the alliance and its history.

About the Author

The Public Diplomacy Division of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization raises awareness of the alliance.



All for One, One for All

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a political and military alliance whose stated objectives are “collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security through partnerships.” The alliance’s members initially included 10 European states, the United States and Canada. Since the end of the Cold War, 16 additional European countries have joined the alliance. All 28 member states pledge to uphold the organization’s core values of “democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.”

NATO began in 1949, at the beginning of the Cold War, as a cooperative against expansionary threats posed by the Soviet Union, which by then controlled Eastern Europe. While the US-funded Marshall Plan helped reconstruct war-torn Europe economically, NATO provided the necessary military protection that allowed Western Europe to build strong democratic institutions and economic prosperity. NATO headquarters are in the Belgian capital Brussels, where representatives of the permanent member states form the organization’s main decision-making body – the North Atlantic Council (NAC). The decision-making process at NATO is based...

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