the North Atlantic Treaty Organizationwas originally created by representatives of twelve Western powers: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in 1949, as a military security alliance to deter the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ (USSR) expansion on the European Continent. From 1945 to 1949, to widen the Communist sphere of influence, the USSR had annexed Czechoslovakia, East Prussia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and sections of Finland, and had penetrated into the governments of Albania, Bulgaria, and Hungary.
The foundation for NATO had been set in Brussels, Belgium, in March 1948, when representatives of Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom met to forge a mutual assistance treaty to provide a common defense system. The Brussels Treaty stipulated that should any of the five signatories be the target of armed aggression in Europe, the other treaty parties would provide the party attacked all the military aid and assistance in their power. In June 1948, after a losing battle by isolationists, the U.S. Congress adopted a resolution recommending that the United States join in a defensive pact for the North Atlantic area. President Harry S. Truman urged U.S. participation in NATO as a critical part of his policy of containment of Soviet expansion. Containment had begun with the Truman Doctrine of 1947 with military assistance to Greece and Turkey to resist Communist subversion. The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on 4 April 1949 in Washington, D.C. It formally committed the European signatories and the United States and Canada to the defense of Western Europe. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty, 82 to 13. This treaty marked a fundamental departure with tradition of the United States because it was Washington’s first peacetime military alliance since the FrancoAmerican Alliance of 1778. In October 1949, in the Mutual Defense Assistance Act, Congress authorized $1.3 billion in military aid for NATO. Greece and Turkey joined NATO in 1952. The Federal Republic of Germany joined in 1955 following an agreement on the termination of the Allies’ postwar occupation of West Germany and an understanding that the country would maintain foreign forces on its soil. A rearmed Germany became a major component of NATO.
The USSR strongly opposed the NATO alliance. The Berlin Blockade in 194748 and the threat of war had in fact given impetus to the creation of NATO. Following the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, fearing the possibility of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe as a result of a miscalculation by Moscow, NATO countries expanded their military forces in Europe. Allied forces in Western Europe numbered twelve divisions to deter a Soviet threat of eighty divisions. The sending of several U.S. divisions to Europe was strongly debated in the U.S. Congress. Proponents of isolationism, including former President Herbert Hoover and Senator Robert Taft, opposed the assignment of ground troops to Europe. Others, including retired Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supported an increase in the U.S. commitment to the Cold War and urged expansion of NATO forces. The isolationists lost, and Truman in 1951 added four more to the two divisions already in Germany to bring the Seventh U.S. Army to six divisions. Truman also brought Eisenhower out of retirement to become Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR), following the creation of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in 1951. NATO ministers, in the Lisbon Agreement on NATO Force Levels of February 1952, set new force goals for 1954 consisting of 10,000 aircraft and 89 divisions, half of them combatready. These were unrealistic; but by 1953, NATO had fielded 25 active divisions, 15 in Central Europe, and 5,200 aircraft, making it at least equal to Soviet forces in East Germany. In 1955, Moscow created the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance composed of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Hungary, Poland, and Romania.
EastWest relations were further strained by Nikita Khrushchev, who emerged as the Soviet leader after Josef Stalin’s death in 1953. Although he had criticized Stalin’s dictatorship and had accused his predecessor of escalating international tensions, Khrushchev ordered a Soviet force into Hungary to suppress a rebellion and maintain Communist rule in 1956. In 1957, the USSR’s launching of Sputnik, the first of the space satellites, indicated that the Soviet Union was developing longrange nuclear missiles. NATO had planned in 1954 to use nuclear weapons in case of a massive Soviet invasion. In 1957, it planned to make the thirty NATO divisions and its tactical aircraft nuclearcapable. By 1960, NATO’s commander, SACEUR, probably had some 7,000 nuclear weapons; but two SACEURs, Gen. Alfred Gruenther and Gen. Lauris Norstad, warned of NATO’s declining conventional capabilities as a result of reductions or redeployments in British and French forces.
During the 1960s, French president Charles de Gaulle rejected the lead of the United States and Britain in Europe and pushed for a larger diplomatic role for France. The French developed their own nuclear capacity; then, in 1966, while still remaining a part of the NATO community, France withdrew its troops from the alliance and requested that NATO’s headquarters and all allied units and installations not under the control of French authorities be removed from French soil. NATO headquarters officially opened in October 1967, in Brussels, where it has remained. East and West efforts to achieve peaceful coexistence decreased a year later when the Soviet Union and four of its satellite nations invaded Czechoslovakia.
In an effort to reach an era of detente, a relaxation of tensions reached through reciprocal beneficial relations between East and West, the Nixon administration took the lead with the Leonid Brezhnev government in Moscow, and NATO members and Warsaw Pact members opened the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in November 1969. In May 1972, the first series of SALT Treaties was signed. The following year a SALT II agreement was reached, although it was never ratified by the United States. Further efforts during the 1970s for EastWest balanced force reductions proved unsuccessful. The ArabIsraeli War did little to ease world tensions when it erupted on 6 October 1973, after which the Soviets implied that they might intervene in the crisis due to the strategic importance of oil reserves in that part of the world. A year later, Brezhnev accused NATO of creating a multinational nuclear force and called for cancelation of the alliance as a first step toward world peace. In 1979, the USSR invaded Afghanistan and that ongoing conflict caused the suspension of negotiations between the United States and the USSR on reductions in intermediaterange nuclear forces (INF) that had opened in 1981. Talks resumed in 1984 primarily to prevent the militarization of outer space and then led to negotiations on arms control and disarmament. Reformer Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR in March 1985, and that October he met President Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland, to discuss ceilings of 100 nuclear missile warheads for each side (none of which would remain in Europe) and 100 residual warheads to remain in Soviet Asia and on U.S. territories in the Pacific. Verification arrangements were also agreed upon for the first time.
By the end of the 1980s, dramatic changes had occurred in the Warsaw Pact countries. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall was opened, which led the way to a unified Germany ten months later. Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania took steps toward breaking from Soviet domination. When Russian troops were withdrawn from Eastern Europe in 1990, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. In response to these events, NATO members at a summit conference in London in July 1990 declared that they no longer considered the Soviets to be an adversary and laid plans for a new strategic concept that was adopted in 1991 in Rome. The concept reaffirmed the significance of collective defense to meet evolving security threatsparticularly from civil wars and massive refugee problemsand established the basis for peacekeeping operations, as well as coalition crisis management both inside and outside the NATO area. It also stressed cooperation and partnership with the emerging democracies of the former Warsaw Pact.
The North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) was created in 1991 to draw former Soviet republics, as well as the Baltic states and Albania, into a closer relationship with NATO countries. The same year, the Soviet Union established diplomatic links with NATO and joined the NACC on a foreign ministerial level. Hungary and Romania entered a twentyfivenation Partnership for Peace (PFP), an arm of NATO created in 1994. The PFP administers exercises, exchanges, and other military contacts to encourage military reform. The partnership also provides for peacekeeping, humanitarian, and rescue operations. Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic aspired to become full members of NATO, and debate opened on a secondtier Russian NATO membership allowing for political, but not military, integration for the former Soviet Union. In June 1994, Russian leader Boris Yeltsin announced that the Russians would join the PFP, but Russian fears of an eastward expansion of NATO remained a contentious issue.
In 1992, due to the escalation of the Bosnian Crisis, and Serbia’s armed support of the Bosnian Serbs against Muslims and Croats, NATO’s mission was expanded to include peacekeeping operations in support of United Nations (UN) efforts to restrain the fighting and find a solution to the conflict. In July 1992, NATO ships and aircraft commenced monitoring operations in support of the UN arms embargoes on Serbia and Bosnia from the former Yugoslavia. In April 1993, NATO aircraft began patrolling the skies over Bosnia to monitor and enforce the UN ban on Serbian military aircraft. In November 1995, following U.S.sponsored peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, a peace agreement was signed in Paris in December calling for a MuslimCroat federation and a Serb entity in Bosnia. During 1996, fourteen nonNATO countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Ukraine) were invited to contribute to the NATOled Implementation Force (IFOR). All the NATO countries with armed forces (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States) pledged to contribute military forces to the operation, and Iceland provided medical personnel. With 60,000 troops, 20,000 of them from the U.S. forces, IFOR was the largest military operation ever undertaken by NATO. It was the first ground force operation, the first deployment out of area, and the first joint operation with NATO’s PFP partners and other nonNATO countries. NATO’s IFOR halted the pitched battles and urban sieges that ravaged Bosnia during the fouryear war. National elections were held in September 1996, and plans were made for a reduced IFOR force.
The collapse of Communism in Europe led NATO to search for new roles beyond that of a mutual defense pact. One was to bolster democracy and national security in former Warsaw bloc nations; consequently in March 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland were made members of NATO. The other new role for NATO was as a regional policeman seeking to restrict ethnic wars, terrorism, and the generation of massive flows of refugees through genocidal violence. Consequently, as a result of military and paramilitary actions by Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic against hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo, NATO in late March 1999 began a military offensive against Serbian forces and installations By April 1999, when the 50th anniversary of the establishment of NATO was observed, NATO forces in the Kosovo Crisis were engaged in the largest military assault in Europe since World War II. The NATO air offensive ended successfully with the Serbian forces withdrawal from Kosovo in June and the establishment of a UN administered and NATO implemented peacekeeping force there. With the end of the Cold War (and NATO’s first war), a new era for NATO had clearly emerged.
View original post here:
NATO: Definition from Answers.com – Answers – The Most …