After World War II ended, most of Western Europe had been reduced to ruin. In an effort to protect itself from possible future invasions, the Western European Union (WEU) was founded by the following countries: Britain, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. When the city of Berlin was blockaded in 1948 by the Soviet Union, members of the WEU decide that a wider foundation of cooperation is needed-one that involves the United States. The United States and WEU formed a new alliance called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949, in response to the Communist aggression in Eastern Europe, Korea, and Czechoslovakia.
In 1990, the reunification of East and West Germany began to splinter the once-solid Communist bloc of Eastern Europe. The Warsaw Pact (the Soviet equivalent of NATO) was officially disbanded in March 1991 and the Soviet Union collapsed in December of that year. Since that time, several former Soviet states have become NATO members and others are partner countries.
Current Issues within NATO
NATO’s original objective has been completed. The Alliance must now decide what its future role should be. There are several challenges facing NATO which are causing internal disagreements between members and threaten the future of the Alliance.
Issue 1: There are acute discrepancies between the United States’ and Europe’s contributions to NATO including economic and military technology.
•Economic contributions. The United States provides a greater financial contribution to NATO than many of the countries in Europe. Figures from the Congressional Budget Office report that the United States accounted for 25.2% of NATO’s common budget in 1999 (24). The second greatest contributor to NATO’s budget was Germany with 19.6%. •Military technology. The United States provides greater technology for military conflicts than European nations. This became evident during the Kosovo air strikes in 1999. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “the European allies were struck by the wide divergence between the United States’ and Europe’s respective capabilities in precision bombing, stealth aircraft, intelligence, and airlift. The European allies were also frustrated by their inability to take action in Kosovo without U.S. leadership” (20).
Issue 2: The members have different perspectives regarding several significant issues.
•Europe’s attitude toward Israel. Roskin and Berry write, “Americans are generally pro-Israel, Europeans anti-Israel” (259). •Europe concentrates on domestic affairs and does not seek to involve itself in problems with either the Balkans or Mid-East. (Roskin and Berry 268). After two World Wars that devastated the majority of Europe and Great Britain, Europe has become increasingly indifferent to conflicts that do not directly involve their interests. •Europe has developed a pacifist mentality. “Europeans just don’t want war and doubt that any war is justified. They may send forces for peacekeeping but under orders to avoid fighting. European opinion massively opposed the 2003 Iraq War” (Roskin and Berry 268). •The increasing difficulties in receiving cooperation from France. “Most officials from Germany, the U.K., or the U.S. would agree that French cooperation is often difficult to come by, even where real policy differences are minimal and eventual policy outcomes are not affected. France unfairly selects to participate in those areas of NATO where it will receive benefit without paying ‘the full price of admission’ in partnership. From the French perspective, the tendency is for NATO policy to follow closely—too closely—American policy” (Wood 13). •Members are divided on which countries should become new members. Prior to 1997, NATO had only allowed four new members. In 2004 NATO had seven republics become members, the majority of them former Soviet satellites. It would appear that there is a push by some members to allow as many as possible....