North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

TheNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance founded on April 4, 1949 by the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington. It was born in the climate of the Cold War, and is intended to discourage any aggression from the USSR by ensuring the countries of Western Europe the permanent military support of the United States which they lacked during the first Hitlerian aggressions, at the start of World War II. NATO's main objective is to ensure security in the North Atlantic region through a collective system of military defense.

Founding members of NATO and treaty provisions

The Atlantic Alliance was concluded in 1949 between twelve countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the United States, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom. It was subsequently accepted by Greece and Turkey (Feb. 1952) and, after the signing of the Paris Agreements (Oct. 23, 1954), by the Federal Republic of Germany.

The essential provisions of the treaty were contained in article 5: “The parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them, occurring in Europe or in North America, will be considered as an attack directed against all of them. the parties and, consequently, they agree that, if such an attack occurs, each of them, in the exercise of the right of self-defense, individual or collective, recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, shall assist the party or parties thus attacked by undertaking immediately individually, and in agreement with the other parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and ensure security in the region of the North Atlantic. "The zone covered by the treaty was thus defined by article 6:" ... an attack against the territory of one of the parties in Europe or in North America, against the French departments of Algeria (mention deleted in January 1963, following the independence of Algeria), against the territory of Turkey or against the islands under the jurisdiction of one of the parties in the North Atlantic region, north of the Tropic of Cancer ”.

The Atlantic Alliance presented itself not only as a defensive military alliance, but also as an effort to create a community of countries with similar political ideals.

NATO Integrated Military Command

Three supreme commands were created: the command in Europe, the command of the Atlantic and the command of the Channel area. Appointed in December 1950 Supreme Commander in Europe. Eisenhower established his headquarters (SHAPE, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) in Rocquencourt, near Versailles. The seat of the Atlantic Council was fixed in Paris. Primarily based on American power, NATO was strengthened during the 1950s by the development of the armies of Western Europe, which received significant financial assistance from the United States. In response to NATO, the USSR set up the Warsaw Pact Organization (1955).

From 1957 it was decided that the United States would permanently maintain nuclear forces in European NATO countries. In the 1960s, however, the first developments in detente led to a loosening in the ties between NATO countries. Having endowed France with a national nuclear deterrent force, General de Gaulle opposed plans for the supranational integration of the forces of the Atlantic Alliance. While remaining in the Alliance, France withdrew from NATO on July 1, 1966; SHAPE was then transferred from Rocquencourt to Belgium, and soon after, the Atlantic Council was established in Brussels. In June 1974, the fifteen member countries of the Alliance adopted an "Atlantic declaration" which noted that the 1949 treaty had provided the basis of their security by making detente possible and that it had established the solidarity of destiny of the member countries. ; they affirmed that the presence of North American forces in Europe remained essential. On May 31, 1982, Spain, newly ruled by socialists, was admitted to the organization.

The evolution of the Atlantic Alliance

In 1984, the classic armed forces balance appeared to favor the Warsaw Pact. The installation, from 1977, of Soviet SS 20 missiles with three nuclear warheads capable of reaching all of Western Europe prompted NATO, from 1983, to install its Pershing II rockets in Western Europe. The agreement on these Euromissiles, negotiated in Dec. 1987, and its positive consequences for all relations between East and West forced NATO to undergo a strategic review. It had to take into account the pan-European aspirations of most of the communist countries, the USSR in the first place. But the collapse of the latter led to questioning the very function of NATO.

The breakup of the Soviet bloc was followed by a period of reflection on the purpose of the organization. While WEU, dormant since the 1960s, appeared to be a possible European pillar of the Alliance, the question of a possible enlargement of the Alliance to the former Eastern European countries aroused strong opposition from the European Union. Moscow. Russia, fearing to be isolated from the rest of Europe by an extension of NATO from which it would be excluded if it saw a proposal in January 1994 of a "partnership for peace" with blurred outlines, but open to all European countries. After France's reintegration into the Organization's military committee (1996), NATO signed a precise cooperation agreement with Russia in May 1997, while an enlargement process was initiated to accommodate countries from Central Europe. In March 1999, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic made their entry into the Alliance. The same month, the Atlantic forces bombed Serbia to obtain the withdrawal of its troops from Kosovo: it was the first intervention of NATO against a sovereign country.

Nowadays, the raison d'être of NATO is the subject of debate, in an increasingly multipolar world and as the United States increasingly withdraws from international organizations and serious dissension opposes sometimes Alliance members.

For further

- History of NATO, by Charles Zorgbibe. Complex, 2002.

- NATO in the 21st century: The transformation of a legacy, by Olivier Kempf. Editions du Rocher, 2019.

- History of international relations: From 1945 to the present day, by Jean-Baptiste Duroselle and André Kaspi. Armand Colin, 2009.


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