"A NATO For the Next Fifty-years"

Essay by condourUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, January 2003

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Fifty-years ago the Soviet Union loomed over Europe and the world as a threat to democracy. To safeguard themselves against Communist Russia the leaders of Western Europe, the United States, and Canada established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. When the Warsaw Pact dissolved and Russia's unified Socialist government was dismantled, NATO claimed victory. In a war it is commonplace for the victors to divide the plunder and go back to their homes, but the Cold War, was a different kind of war and NATO is a different kind of military alliance. As an alliance founded on the ideal of a collective defense, it remains today and is larger than ever, with the ascension of three new member nations this past year. Yet NATO's future remains uncertain. Some argue it should spread throughout Europe and include former Warsaw Pact nations; other proponents feel NATO's existence is crucial to European security, but membership should be frozen at its current number.

Isolationists in the United States and Europeans fed up with American interference in European affairs believe an organization like the European Union (EU) or Western European Union (WEU) should shoulder many of the burdens the United States-led NATO currently carries. A more extreme opinion holds the position that NATO is no longer needed and should be entirely disbanded. The future of NATO cannot be mandated as simply as any of these propositions, but with the compromise of several of the more moderate ideas NATO will prove to be as successful for the next fifty-years as it was during its first fifty-years.

The North Atlantic Treaty, drafted on April 4, 1949, never included in its original language that the organization's intent was to thwart Russian attempts to spread communism. It stated the member nations were "determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and...