What is NATO? History, Countries and NATO Facts - Studynlearn

In 1949, the United States, Canada, and many Western European nations formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to guarantee collective protection against the Soviet Union.


What exactly is NATO?


NATO is the abbreviation for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It is a military alliance made up of 30 European and North American countries. NATO's headquarter is located in Brussels. NATO was established in 1949, not long after World War II ended. Its goal is to safeguard the security and freedom of all member countries (the Allies). 


NATO Member Countries


Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States are among NATO's 30 members.


The NATO Treaty


NATO was the United States' first peacetime military alliance outside of the Western Hemisphere. Following the devastation of WWII, Europe's nations battled to restore their economies and maintain their security.

The former demanded a major flow of aid to help the war-torn landscapes re-establish industry and generate food, while the latter demanded guarantees against a rising Germany or Soviet Union invasions. An economically strong, rearmed, and united Europe, according to the US, was critical to preventing communist expansion across the continent. 


As a result, Secretary of State George Marshall suggested a massive economic assistance program for Europe. The European Recovery Program, or Marshall Plan, that resulted not only aided European economic integration but also reinforced the concept of shared interests and collaboration between the US and Europe.

The Soviet Union's refusal to participate in the Marshall Plan or to enable its satellite governments in Eastern Europe to accept the aid worsened Europe's increasing divide between east and west.


A series of events in 1947�1948 caused Western European nations to be concerned about their physical and political security, and the US to get more involved in European politics. The continued civil war in Greece, as well as tensions in Turkey, prompted President Harry S. Truman to declare that the US would provide economic and military assistance to both countries, as well as any other nation facing subjection.


On the German border, a communist administration was established after a Soviet-backed coup in Czechoslovakia. Elections in Italy were also in the spotlight, as the communist party had made substantial gains among Italian voters. In addition, recent occurrences in Germany have sparked anxiety. 


The occupation and governance of Germany after the war had long been a source of dispute, and in mid-1948, Soviet premier Joseph Stalin decided to put Western resolve to the test by imposing a barricade on West Berlin, which was then under the joint control of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France but was surrounded by Soviet-controlled East Germany.


The United States and the Soviet Union were on the verge of war during the Berlin Crisis, but a major airlift to resupply the city for the duration of the embargo helped to avoid full-fledged warfare. Following these events, US authorities became increasingly cautious of the potential that Western European governments would resolve their security issues by negotiating with the Soviets.


To address this probable turn of events, the Truman Administration explored forging a European-American alliance in which the US would commit to strengthening Western Europe's security.


NATO Facts


1. An attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members of NATO. According to Article 5 of the NATO agreement, an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all NATO members. This emphasizes NATO's main goal: to protect its members and their citizens.


2. In 1951, General Dwight D. Eisenhower of the United States Army was named NATO's first Supreme Allied Commander.


3. Jens Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, is the current Secretary-General of the Alliance.


4. NATO countries are required to devote at least 2% of their GDP to defense. This pledge is fully met and exceeded by the UK.


5. NATO nations collectively account for at least half of global GDP and have over 3 million men and women serving in the military.


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