Categories World History



  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty. Its headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.
  • The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.
  • It has 28 member states across North America and Europe, the newest of which, Albania and Croatia. Twelve of these twenty-eight are original members who joined in 1949, while the other sixteen joined in one of seven enlargement rounds
  • An additional 22 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programmes.
  • The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70 percent of the global total. Members’ defence spending is supposed to amount to 2 percent of GDP. The United States accounting for three fourths of NATO defence spending.


  • The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington, D.C., on 4 April 1949.
  • The Treaty of Brussels, signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom, is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. The treaty and the Soviet Berlin Blockade in Germany led to the creation of the Western European Union’s Defence Organization in September 1948.
  • However, participation of the United States was thought necessary both to counter the military power of the USSR and to prevent the revival of nationalist militarism, so talks for a new military alliance began almost immediately resulting in the North Atlantic Treaty. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. During the original treaty negotiations, the United States insisted that colonies like the Belgian Congo be excluded from the treaty. The treaty was later clarified to include both the member’s territory and their “vessels, forces or aircraft” above the Tropic of Cancer, including some Overseas departments of France.
  • The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, stated in 1949 that the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
  • The creation of NATO can be seen as the primary institutional consequence of a school of thought called Atlanticism which stressed the importance of trans-Atlantic cooperation.
  • The members agreed that an armed attack against any one of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. Consequently they agreed that, if an armed attack occurred, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence, would assist the member being attacked, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
  • The treaty does not require members to respond with military action against an aggressor. Although obliged to respond, they maintain the freedom to choose the method by which they do so. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels, which clearly states that the response will be military in nature.
  • The creation of NATO brought about some standardization of allied military terminology, procedures, and technology, which in many cases meant European countries adopting US practices.

Cold War:

  • The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 was crucial for NATO as it raised the apparent threat of all Communist countries working together, and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans. SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), was formed as a consolidated command structure.
  • The 1952 Lisbon conference, the post of Secretary General of NATO as the organization’s chief civilian was created. Greece and Turkey also joined the alliance in 1952.
  • In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe.The NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union’s motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected this proposal.
  • The incorporation of West Germany into the organization on 9 May 1955 because without German manpower, it would have been impossible to field enough conventional forces to resist a Soviet invasion. One of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, which was signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War.

French withdrawal:

  • Charles de Gaulle’s president of France protested the United States’ strong role in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between it and the United Kingdom. He wanted to give France, in the event of an East German incursion into West Germany, the option of coming to a separate peace with the Eastern bloc instead of being drawn into a larger NATO-Warsaw Pact war.
  • In 1966, all French armed forces were removed from NATO’s integrated military command, and all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France. This withdrawal forced the relocation of SHAPE from France to Belgium, by 16 October 1967. France remained a member of the alliance, and committed to the defence of Europe from possible Warsaw Pact attack with its own forces stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany throughout the Cold War.
  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy culminated in the return to full membership on 4 April 2009, while maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent.

Détente and escalation:

  • During most of the Cold War, NATO’s watch against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact did not actually lead to direct military action.
  • On 1 July 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty opened for signature: NATO argued that its nuclear sharing arrangements did not breach the treaty as US forces controlled the weapons until a decision was made to go to war.
  • In May 1978, NATO countries officially defined two complementary aims of the Alliance, to maintain security and pursue detente. This was supposed to mean matching defences at the level rendered necessary by the Warsaw Pact’s offensive capabilities without spurring a further arms race.
  • On 12 December 1979, in light of a build-up of Warsaw Pact nuclear capabilities in Europe, ministers approved the deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe. The new warheads were also meant to strengthen the western negotiating position regarding nuclear disarmament. This policy was called the Dual Track policy.
  • Similarly, in 1983–84, both side deployed nuclear missiles in Europe. This action led to peace movement protests throughout Western Europe, and support for the deployment wavered as many doubted whether the push for deployment could be sustained.
  • The membership of the organization at this time remained largely static. In 1974, as a consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Greece withdrew its forces from NATO’s military command structure but, with Turkish cooperation, were readmitted in 1980.
  • The Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina did not result in NATO involvement because article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty specifies that collective self-defense is only applicable to attacks on member state territories north of the Tropic of Cancer.
  • On 30 May 1982, the newly democratic Spain joined the alliance. At the peak of the Cold War, 16 member nations maintained an approximate strength of 5,252,800 active military.

After the Cold War:

  • The Revolutions of 1989 and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 removed the de facto main adversary of NATO and caused a strategic re-evaluation of NATO’s purpose, nature, tasks, and their focus on the continent of Europe.
  • This shift started with the 1990 signing in Paris of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe between NATO and the Soviet Union, which mandated specific military reductions across the continent.
  • NATO also began a gradual expansion to include newly autonomous Eastern European nations, and extended its activities into political and humanitarian situations that had not formerly been NATO concerns.
  • The first post-Cold War expansion of NATO came with German reunification on 3 October 1990, when the former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance. This had been agreed in the Two Plus Four Treaty earlier in the year. To secure Soviet approval of a united Germany remaining in NATO, it was agreed that foreign troops and nuclear weapons would not be stationed in the east, and there are diverging view on whether negotiators gave commitments regarding no further NATO expansion in eastern Europe.
  • New membership in the alliance has been largely from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, including former members of the Warsaw Pact. Their accession to the alliance is governed with individual Membership Action Plans, and will require approval by each current member. In order to support each other in the process, new and potential members in that region formed the Adriatic Charter in 2003. Russia continues to oppose further expansion, seeing it as inconsistent with understandings between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and European and American negotiators that allowed for a peaceful German reunification. NATO’s expansion efforts are often seen by Moscow leaders as a continuation of a Cold War attempt to surround and isolate Russia. Ukraine is one of eight countries in Eastern Europe with an Individual Partnership Action Plan. IPAPs began in 2002, and are open to countries that have the political will and ability to deepen their relationship with NATO.
  • As part of post-Cold War restructuring, NATO’s military structure was cut back and reorganized. The changes brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union on the military balance in Europe were recognized in the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which was signed in 1999.

Enlargement and reform:

  • Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbours were set up, like the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.
  • In 1997, NATO reached agreement on a significant downsizing of its command structure from 65 headquarters to just 20.
  • In 1998, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council was established.
  • There were enlargements through accession of Northern and Eastern European countries to NATO in 1999 (Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland) and then in 2004 (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania). In 2004 Istanbul summit, NATO launched the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with four Persian Gulf nations.
  • The NATO Response Force (NRF) was launched at the 2002 Prague summit.
  • On 19 June 2003, a further restructuring of the NATO military commands began as the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic were abolished and a new command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), was established in Virginia, United States, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) became the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO).
  • ACT is responsible for driving transformation (future capabilities) in NATO, whilst ACO is responsible for current operations.

Military operations:

  • No military operations were conducted by NATO during the Cold War.
  • Following the end of the Cold War, the first operations, in Gulf War,1990-91, were prompted by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Bosnia and Herzegovina intervention:

  • The Bosnian War began in 1992, as a result of the Breakup of Yugoslavia. The deteriorating situation led to United Nations Security Council Resolution on 9 October 1992, ordering a no-fly zone over central Bosnia and Herzegovina, which NATO began enforcing on 12 April 1993 with Operation Deny Flight. From June 1993 until October 1996, Operation Sharp Guard added maritime enforcement of the arms embargo and economic sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 28 February 1994, NATO took its first wartime action by shooting down four Bosnian Serb aircraft violating the no-fly zone.
  • A two-week NATO bombing campaign, Operation Deliberate Force, began in August 1995 against the Army of the Republika Srpska, after the Srebrenica massacre.
  • NATO air strikes that year helped bring the Yugoslav wars to an end, resulting in the Dayton Agreement in November 1995.

Kosovo intervention:

  • In an effort to stop Serbian-led crackdown on KLA separatists and Albanian civilians in Kosovo, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution on 23 September 1998 to demand a ceasefire. Negotiations broke down and NATO started a 78-day bombing campaign on 24 March 1999 targeting capabilities of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It also delivered humanitarian aid to refugees from Kosovo.
  • Though the campaign was criticized for high civilian casualties, Milosevic (President of Serbia) finally accepted the terms of an international peace plan on 3 June 1999, ending the Kosovo War.
  • NATO then helped establish the KFOR (Kosovo Force) peacekeeping force. In August–September 2001, the alliance also mounted a mission disarming ethnic Albanian militias in the Republic of Macedonia.
  • The US, the UK, and most other NATO countries opposed efforts to require the U.N. Security Council to approve NATO military strikes as  this would undermine the authority of the alliance as Russia and China would have exercised their Security Council vetoes, while France and some others claimed that the alliance needed UN approval.
  • Recognizing the post-Cold War military environment, NATO adopted the Alliance Strategic Concept during its Washington summit in April 1999 that emphasized conflict prevention and crisis management.

Afghanistan War: 

  • The September 11th attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter for the first time in the organization’s history. The Article says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all. Operation Eagle Assist and Operation Active Endeavour  began on 4 October 2001.
  • On 16 April 2003, NATO agreed to take command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The handover of control to NATO marked the first time in NATO’s history that it took charge of a mission outside the north Atlantic area. ISAF was initially charged with securing Kabul and surrounding areas from the Taliban, al Qaeda and factional warlords, so as to allow for the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the ISAF mission throughout Afghanistan.

Iraq training mission: 

  • In August 2004, during the Iraq War, NATO formed the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, a training mission to assist the Iraqi security forces at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government under the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546.

Gulf of Aden anti-piracy:

  • Beginning on 17 August 2009, NATO deployed warships in an operation to protect maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean from Somali pirates, and help strengthen the navies and coast guards of regional states.

Libya intervention: 

  • During the Libyan Civil War, violence between protesters and the Libyan government under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi escalated, and on 17 March 2011 led to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for a ceasefire, and authorized military action to protect civilians. NATO states agreed on enforcing an arms embargo against Libya and to take control of the no-fly zone. Reports of divisions within the alliance surfaced as only eight of the 28 member nations were participating in combat operations, resulting in a confrontation between US and countries such as Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Germany to contribute more, the latter believing the organization has overstepped its mandate in the conflict. US criticized allied countries in suggesting their actions could cause the demise of NATO.


  • The Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme was established in 1994 and is based on individual bilateral relations between each partner country and NATO: each country may choose the extent of its participation. Members include all current and former members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
  • The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) was first established on 29 May 1997, and is a forum for regular coordination, consultation and dialogue between all fifty participants.The PfP programme is considered the operational wing of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership.
  • The European Union (EU) signed a comprehensive package of arrangements with NATO in 2002. With this agreement the EU was given the possibility to use NATO assets in case it wanted to act independently in an international crisis, on the condition that NATO itself did not want to act—the so-called “right of first refusal.” It provides a “double framework” for the EU countries that are also linked with the PfP programme.
  • Additionally, NATO cooperates and discusses their activities with numerous other non-NATO members.
  • The Mediterranean Dialogue was established in 1994 to coordinate in a similar way with Israel and countries in North Africa.
  • The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was announced in 2004 as a dialogue forum for the Middle East along the same lines as the Mediterranean Dialogue. The four participants are also linked through the Gulf Cooperation Council.
  • Political dialogue with Japan began in 1990, and since then, the Alliance has gradually increased its contact with countries that do not form part of any of these cooperation initiatives.The term “Contact Countries” was agreed by the Allies in 2000 which meets to discuss issues such as counter-piracy and technology exchange, under the names “partners across the globe” or “global partners.”
  • Australia and New Zealand, both contact countries, are also members of the AUSCANNZUKUS strategic alliance, and similar regional or bilateral agreements between contact countries and NATO members also aid cooperation. In 2013, Colombia became the first and only Latin American country to cooperate with NATO.
  • The staff at the Headquarters is composed of national delegations of member countries and includes civilian and military liaison offices or diplomatic missions of partner countries, as well as the International Staff and International Military Staff filled from serving members of the armed forces of member states.

NATO Council:

  • NATO is governed by its 28 member states. The North Atlantic Treaty and other agreements outline how decisions are to be made within NATO.
  • Each of the 28 members sends a delegation or mission to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels.The senior permanent member of each delegation is known as the Permanent Representative.
  • Together, the Permanent Members form the North Atlantic Council (NAC), a body which has effective governance authority and powers of decision in NATO. From time to time the Council also meets at higher level meetings involving foreign ministers, defence ministers or heads of state.The Council has the same authority and powers of decision-making at all level, and its decisions have the same status and validity, at whatever level it meets.
  • The meetings of the Council are chaired by the Secretary General of NATO and, when decisions are agreed upon on the basis of unanimity. There is no voting or decision by majority.

NATO Parliamentary Assembly:

  • The body that sets broad strategic goals for NATO is the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO-PA) which meets at the Annual Session.
  • The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is made up of legislators from the member countries as well as 13 associate members.
  • The Assembly generates political policy agenda setting for the NATO Council via reports of its committees.

Military structures:

  • NATO’s military operations are directed by the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and split into two Strategic Commands. The Strategic Commanders are responsible to the Military Committee for the overall direction and conduct of all Alliance military matters within their areas of command.
  • Together the Military Representatives from member countries form the Military Committee. Its principal role is to provide direction and advice on military policy and strategy. It provides guidance on military matters to the NATO Strategic Commanders and is responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the Alliance under the authority of the Council.
  • Like the Council, from time to time the Military Committee also meets at a higher level, namely at the level of Chiefs of Defence.
  • The NATO command structure evolved throughout the Cold War and its aftermath. An integrated military structure for NATO was first established in 1950. In April 1951, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) was established.
  • Separate command responsibility between Allied Command Transformation (ACT), responsible for transformation and training of NATO forces, and Allied Command Operations (ACO), responsible for NATO operations worldwide.


Q. Write short note on NATO.

  • (Do it youself)

Q. “The Brussel Treaty of 17 March, 1948 paved the way for the formation of NATO.” Comment.

  • During the World War II, Britain, the United States and the USSR had together fought against the fascist countries, but after the war con­flict began to emerge between Britain and the US on the one hand and the USSR on the other, the relation between them began to deteriorate and came to be characterized by what is called the Cold War.
  • It became more and more intense and the world was divided into two major blocks- the US and West European countries forming one bloc and USSR and the socialist countries of Eastern Europe forming the other. With the in­crease in the might of the USSR the emergence of government ruled by communist parties in many parts of the world alarmed the government of US, Britain and other west European countries.
  • They all became aligned and began to follow a policy mainly aimed at curbing the growth of communism.
  • In this tense international situation, the Brussels’ Treaty was signed on 17 March, 1948 by Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and Luxem­burg. It was a treaty of economic, social and cul­tural collaboration and collective self defense. It was a commitment by the five powers who signed it that if any of them was attacked in Europe (which meant that their colonies were not cov­ered) all other signatories would provide all mili­tary aid and other assistance within their power. This treaty created the Brussels’ Treaty organiza­tion also. It was defensive in nature without nam­ing any enemy in advance, but Soviet bloc inter­preted it as an alliance against her as was the tense situation at that time.
  • It is in this background that the North Atlan­tic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) was formed in 1949 for defense against Soviet Union. The mem­bers of this alliance were US, Britain, France, Bel­gium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Netherland, Luxemburg, Norway and Portugal. NATO army was created which established its bases in many countries in Europe.

Q. “NATO in many ways symbolized the key role that the United States had come to play in Europe”. Comment.

  • (See previous years solved papers for answer)


  1. Many points you have missed here.
    1. Brussel’s treaty was against any kind of rearmament or resurgence of West Germany,
    2. How it was precursor of NATO, you have not explained. NATO was a more extended version of Brussel’s treaty in terms of membership, geographical representation & collective framework. It carried the same spirit & theme of Brussel’s treaty

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