Introduction to NATO
The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have had a history together ever since the organization was created. The United States was one of the first members of NATO and has always been a major military influence. It has played a key role in all major crises in which NATO was part of, from World War II; the wars in the former Yugoslavia; and current problems in the Middle East. While the United States at one point in time was viewed as being an important, key member of NATO, that is not necessarily the case in present day world affairs, as much of the world sees NATO as mostly a European institution that no longer needs the aid of the United States to help in conflicts between member nations and outside nations.
History of NATO
The North Atlantic Treaty, or NATO, formed on April 4, 1949, originally included twelve countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Denmark, Italy, Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Together these countries came to the agreement that if one of them was attacked, it would be considered an attack against all members of NATO – if an attack occurred, “each Ally would take ‘such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed forces.” In the beginning of NATO, there was no military structure that would work effectively in the case that military force was needed. Upon the “Soviet detonation of an atomic bomb”, and the Korean War in 1950, NATO developed a “consolidated command structure” in Rocquencourt, France, which became known as the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers of Europe, or SHAPE. Smaller nations within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization tend to prefer less military interference in world affairs and prefer, instead, diplomacy. While NATO was only supposed to be a treaty that would last for twenty years, it is still around to this very day, and has undergone many changes, such as the movement of its military headquarters from France to Belgium, a change in stances from “Massive Retaliation” which said that NATO would respond with nuclear weapons if the Soviet Union attacked any member countries, to “Flexible Response” which wanted a nuclear -free world and boosted “NATO’s conventional defense posture by offering military responses short of a full nuclear exchange in the event of conflict” and so on.1 Along with the many changes NATO has undergone, many new countries have also joined the organization, totaling a number of twenty-eight countries including Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, plus the original thirteen members.
United States Participation in NATO: The Early Days
Since the founding of the United States, it had held an isolationist stance for 175 years of its history. This idea of isolationism had been presented by one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and the first president, George Washington. In Washington’s Farewell Address, he cautioned “our young country and struggling republic to avoid involvement in any entangling alliances which might involve us or drag us into the quarrels of Europe”. The whole concept of staying out of affairs with other countries changed with World War I, and especially the onset of World War II. At the beginning of World War II, Great Britain had been fighting against Nazi Germany alone, while at the same time continuing to financially support Greece. Since Great Britain could no longer afford to fight against Nazi Germany and support the small island country of Greece, it went to the United States asking for help to support Greece to keep it from falling into the grips of Communism – this was the end of United States isolationism. Since member countries were being attacked by Nazi Germany, along with its allies, each of the twelve countries had to retaliate, which was done...
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