The Speaker
Saturday, 25 May 2024 – 21:43
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What is NATO and why was it formed?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was formed in 1949 as a response to the growing fear of Soviet Influence in Europe, shortly after the outbreak of the Cold War.

Created essentially as a protectorate pact, meaning that all members would come to the defence of another should that nation be invaded, NATO was aimed at preventing the expansion of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence in Eastern Europe.

Formed from the traditional North Atlantic allies – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Iceland and most other Western European nations – NATO was aimed at ensuring the mutual defence of these countries, but more specifically to limit the expansion of the Soviet sphere of influence across Europe.

Setting out clear guidelines for what would and wouldn’t constitute an act worth of NATO intervention, the organisation effectively prevented the greater expansion of communism and Soviet influence into Europe, whilst increasing the US and western sphere of influence across both sides of the Atlantic.

For decades, NATO and consequently the Warsaw Pact (the USSR’s version of NATO) acted as the basis of the Cold War, dividing the world between these western powers and the Soviet influence, playing a significant role in the balance of power; the prevailing foreign policy theory that dominated the cold war era.

Since the end of the cold war with the USSR’s collapse in 1991, NATO has seen its role as an alliance somewhat diminish, despite intervention in several major conflicts; bilateral agreements and increasing United Nation’s cooperation have taken greater precedence.

However, this does not mean that NATO is dead or indeed irrelevant to major global security policy. With a significant rise in tensions between Russia and the west, coinciding with outwards shifts in the foreign policy arrangements of China and India, NATO is once again taking a leading role in the foreign policy and international security discussion.

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