North Atlantic Treaty Organization
- (NATO)NATO was created in April 1949 as an alliance of 12 states (the United States and Canada, along with several states of Western Europe). It was established as a defensive alliance against the communist bloc, as a result of the growing threat from the Soviet Union in the postwar years. Member countries agreed to treat an attack on any one of them as an attack against them all, each nation being obliged to assist those attacked by taking ‘such action as it deems necessary including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area’.Once the Cold War ended, NATO’s traditional role disappeared. However, members recognise the desirability of retaining the tradition of cooperation they have developed and – at the European end – are keen to ensure that the US retains its commitment to European defence. Now enlarged to 26, it serves as a forum in which member states can consult on issues of common concern and agree on action to advance their interests. It sees its primary purpose as to ‘safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means’. Its main work is in the areas of crisis management and peacekeeping.
Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.
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