The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), sometimes called North Atlantic Alliance, Atlantic Alliance or the Western Alliance, is an international organisation for defence collaboration established in 1949, in support of the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington, DC, on April 4, 1949. Its other official name is the Soviet Union launched an attack against the European allies of the United States, it would be treated as if it was an attack on the United States itself, which had the biggest military and could thus provide the most significant retaliation. However the feared Soviet invasion of Europe never came. Instead, the provision was invoked for the first time in the treaty's history on September 12, 2001, in response to the Belgium Canada Denmark France Iceland Italy Luxembourg Netherlands Norway Portugal United Kingdom United States
States that joined subsequently:
Expansion of NATO in Europe
Greece and Turkey joined the organisation in February 1952. Germany joined as West Germany in 1955 and German unification in 1990 extended the membership to the areas of former East Germany. Spain was admitted on May 30, 1982, and the former Warsaw Pact Countries of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic made history by becoming members on March 12, 1999.
France is a member of NATO, which retired from the military command in 1966 but rejoined in 1992. Iceland, the sole member of NATO which does not have its own military force (the Icelandic Defence Force being the United States Military contingent permanently stationed in Iceland), joined on the condition that they would not be expected to establish one.
Slovenia, Slovakia, the former Warsaw Pact countries of Bulgaria and Romania, and the former republics of the USSR Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, officially acceded to NATO on March 29, 2004. They attended their first NATO meeting in April 2004.
The U.S. President, NATO Secretary General, and the Prime Ministers of Slovenia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Estonia after a South Lawn ceremony welcoming them into NATO on March 29, 2004.
- April 4, 1949: North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington, DC.
- July 8, 1997: Three former communist countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland are invited to joined NATO. They join in 1999.
- September 12, 2001: NATO invoked, for the first time in its history, the collective security clause of its charter. Article 5 states that any attack on a member state is considered an attack against the entire alliance. This came in response to the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack against the United States.
- February 10, 2003: NATO faced a crisis when France and Belgium vetoed the procedure of silent approval concerning the timing of protective measures for Turkey in case of a possible war with Iraq. Germany did not use its right to break the procedure but said it supported the veto.
- April 16, 2003: NATO agreed to take command in August of the Afghanistan. The decision came at the request of Germany and the Netherlands, the two nations leading ISAF at the time of the agreement. All 19 NATO ambassadors approved it unanimously. The handover of control to NATO took place on Canada had originally been slated to take over ISAF by itself on that date.
- June 19, 2003: A major restructuring of the NATO military commands began as the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic was abolished and a new command, Allied Command Transformation was established in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
- March 29, 2004: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia join NATO.
Secretaries General of NATO
- Hastings Lionel Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay (United Kingdom): April 4, 1952, to May 16, 1957
- Paul-Henri Spaak (Belgium): May 16, 1957, to April 21, 1961
- Dirk Stikker (Netherlands): April 21, 1961, to August 1, 1964
- Manlio Brosio (Italy): August 1, 1964, to October 1, 1971
- Joseph Luns (Netherlands): October 1, 1971, to June 25, 1984
- Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington (United Kingdom): June 25, 1984, to July 1, 1988
- Manfred Wörner (Germany): July 1, 1988, to August 13, 1994
- Sergio Balanzino (Italy, acting): August 13, 1994, to October 17, 1994
- Willy Claes (Belgium): October 17, 1994, to October 20, 1995
- Sergio Balanzino (Italy, acting): October 20, 1995, to December 5, 1995
- Javier Solana (Spain): December 5, 1995, to October 6, 1999
- George Robertson (United Kingdom): October 14, 1999, to January 1, 2004
- Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (Netherlands): January 1, 2004, to present
- Dwight D. Eisenhower: April 2, 1951, to May 30, 1952
- Matthew Ridgway: May 30, 1952, to July 11, 1953
- Alfred Gruenther: July 1, 1953, to November 20, 1956
- Lauris Norstad: November 20, 1956, to January 1, 1963
- Lyman Lemnitzer: January 1, 1963, to July 1, 1969
- Andrew Goodpaster: July 1, 1969, to December 15, 1974
- Alexander Haig: December 15, 1974, to July 1, 1979
- Bernard Rogers: July 1, 1979, to June 26, 1987
- John Galvin: June 26, 1987, to June 23, 1992
- John Shalikashvili: June 23, 1992, to October 22, 1993
- George Joulwan: October 22, 1993, to July 11, 1997
- Wesley Clark: July 11, 1997, to May 3, 2000
- Joseph Ralston: May 3, 2000, to January 17, 2003
- James L. Jones: January 17, 2003, to present
Note: Starting with Ridgway, all SACEUR have also simultaneously been CINCEUR.
Debate on the future of NATO
The crumbling of the main "Enemy of the West" in Eastern Europe, as well as dissentions between members about the latest Iraq operations, makes some wonder – in North America as well as in Europe – if NATO has not become obsolete. The terrorist menace could give this institution a new life, but some think also that fighting this new enemy needs a completely different political and military organisation, as well as completely different weapons systems other than those on which NATO was built.
Many also argue that NATO is in conflict with the prospects of deeper European integration in the fields of foreign policy and security within the framework of the EU institutions. Advocates for a strong EU Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) would like to see NATO dismantled and create common defence and foreign policy within the existing EU institutions.
In November 2004 after the re-election of President George W. Bush the Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik publicly discussed whether Norway would gain by strengthening her defence relations with the EU. Many Norwegian political analysts consider NATO to be a "politically dead organisation". So do several pundits and political leaders in other member nations. These attitudes will of necessity be reflected in future discussions of NATO expansion.
- NATO Official Website (http://www.nato.int/)
- NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) Official Website (http://www.namsa.nato.int/)
- NATO Response Force Article (http://www.army-technology.com/contractors/missiles/nato.html)
- Official Article on NATO Response Force (http://www.nato.int/issues/nrf/index.html)
- Basic NATO Documents (http://www.nato.int/docu/basics.htm)
- Nato searches for defining role (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4232381.stm)
Alternative meaning: National Association of Theatre Owners