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quinta-feira, 4 de novembro de 2010

A Brief History of NATO All you need to know: NATO



"NATO is a subject that drives the dagger of boredom deep, deep into the heart." That’s Jack Beatty, writing about NATO in the Atlantic Monthly in June of 1989, when George Bush Sr. was in the White House, Mikhail Gorbachev was in the Kremlin, and discussions about the future of the alliance in a world with only one “superpower” were just beginning to be heard. Ten years later, the dagger is still pretty sharp, but it’s the eve of a NATO summit in Prague and you never know when you might be called upon to discuss defense-related issues with at least of semblance of understanding. That’s where we come in. What follows is everything you need for a semblance of understanding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Origins Sometime between the end of World War II and the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949, the Soviet Union went from ally to arch enemy. Startled Westerners who’d fought in common cause with the Russians woke up one morning to find their view of Eastern Europe obscured by an Iron Curtain. The Western Allies (France, Britain and the United States) had rapidly reduced their arms at the end of the war, but not so the Soviet Union. The specter of an armed and dangerous Russian army suddenly loomed over Europe. It was a reality that forced the allies to reconsider their plans for aid to post-war Europe. The American historian John Gaddis (quoted in the Beatty article mentioned above) said, "The idea of a military alliance did not occur to the original containment people – Marshall, Kennan, and the others. They started out thinking that economic aid would be sufficient to do what they wanted to do – restore the balance of power in Europe in the wake of World War Two. It was the Europeans who asked for an explicit military alliance." The Marshall Plan, named for then U.S. Secretary of State, General G.C. Marshall, came into effect in 1948. Under its terms, the United States and Canada sent thousands of dollars in loans to the countries of Western and Southern Europe on the condition that they cooperate with each other to hasten economic recovery. That same year, the United Kingdom, France, and the Low Countries (the Netherlands and Belgium) signed the Brussels Treaty establishing a military alliance. It became very clear very quickly that the alliance would play David to the Soviet Union’s Goliath without the assistance of the United States. Within a month, the parties to the Brussels Treaty began negotiations with the United States and Canada and on April 4, 1949 (Truman was in the White House, Stalin in the Kremlin) the North Atlantic Treaty was signed. The North Atlantic Treaty To understand the essence of the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty in honor of the city in which it was signed) you must read Article 5. The signatories of the treaty "agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all; and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area." Article 6 defined the geographic scope of the treaty as covering "an armed attack on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America…” The original signatories of the treaty were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The membership of Norway, Iceland, and Portugal, supported by the U.S., was initially opposed by some Europeans who argued the countries were too geographically and culturally distant from Europe to belong. Turkey and Greece signed in 1952, but their joining was not without controversy. Again, opponents raised the issues of geographical distance, but to this was added the argument that the two countries were not democracies (an argument that had also been used against Portugal). Negotiating West Germany’s membership was a delicate operation, but it was concluded as part of the Paris Agreements in October of 1954, and the Federal Republic of Germany joined NATO in 1955. It was at this point that the occupation of West Germany by the Western allies ended. Historical note: It was also at this point that the Soviet Union, in response to West Germany’s entry into NATO, established the Warsaw Treaty Organization, better known as the Warsaw Pact. The Warsaw Pact was made up of the USSR, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania. Spain was kept out of NATO for many years on the grounds that its government institutions were not democratic. Spain was finally permitted entry into the alliance in 1982. Military Presence With the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, the United States’ military alliance with Europe became a reality, but according to Gaddis, even at this point the U.S. had no intention of stationing troops in Europe – its intention was to provide a security guarantee. That changed when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. Opinions conflict as to whether the North Korean attack was instigated by the Soviets. The belief at the time was that the action in Korea was to serve as a distraction while the Soviet Union made its move into Western Europe. Such a move never happened, but the United States acted quickly to demonstrate that it would tolerate no such Russian incursions. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the leader of the western Allied forces in World War II, was named Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) by the North Atlantic Council (NATO's governing body) in December 1950. He was followed by a succession of U.S. generals as supreme Allied commanders. Which brings us, oddly enough, to France. French President Charles de Gaulle was less than impressed with this tradition of U.S. generals as supreme allied commanders. From about 1958 he began to complain about American hegemony in the organization, and in 1966, France officially withdrew from participation in the “integrated” military command structure of NATO, but claimed it would adhere to the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty in case of "unprovoked aggression." De Gaulle demanded that NATO forces withdraw from France and that the alliance’s headquarters be moved from Paris, which is why today NATO is run from Brussels, Belgium. The Cold War NATO’s raison d’etre was to prevent the Soviet Union from invading Western Europe in an attempt to extend the rule of communism. The USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies always maintained stronger ground forces than NATO, but the western alliance counted on the prospect of nuclear retaliation to stop Soviet aggression. In 1957 (Eisenhower was in the White House, Kruschev in the Kremlin) the U.S. introduced nuclear weapons to Western European bases. The weapons were under American control (you can imagine what de Gaulle thought). Now came the period of “mutually assured destruction,” missile crises, and school children learning that to survive a nuclear attack, all you have to do is hide under your desk. (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan are in the White House; Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko in the Kremlin). In the whole Atlantic-to-Urals theater, six million soldiers and airmen armed with 10,000 nuclear weapons cost East and West (combined) $600 billion a year. Jonathan Dean, a U.S. ambassador to the conventional-arms talks of the period, described it as "the largest, the deadliest, and the most costly peacetime military confrontation in history." It seemed the stand-off would continue indefinitely, but then along came Glasnost. NATO Expansion Mikhail Gorbachev is not a popular man in Russia today. After the heady early days of perestroika, he was seen by the reformers as kowtowing to the rightwing forces in the Communist Party, while the rightwing blamed him for nothing less than the collapse of the Soviet empire. Nevertheless, his place in the history books is assured. His reforms were the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union. In 1989, the USSR watched – but did nothing—as communist governments all across Eastern Europe called it a day. West and East Germany were reunified in 1991, and the newly reunited country pledged its allegiance to NATO. The Warsaw Pact officially ended in 1991. At the time, some observers feel that with the end of the Soviet Union, NATO had lost its reason to live and should have gone the way of the Warsaw Pact. (Jack Beatty would no doubt have agreed, the NATO article we’ve been quoting was titled “Exorbitant Anachronism.”) But rather than folding its tent and stealing away, NATO bought a bigger tent. In 1999 (Clinton was in the White House, Yeltsin in the Kremlin) it expanded to include the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary. The organization found a new lease on life as a “political” alliance. Needless to say, Russia was, and continues to be, the biggest opponent of NATO expansion. The Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary were bad enough, from Russia’s perspective, but the next round of expansion, to be announced in Prague, is expected to include the Baltics. It would be as if the Warsaw Pact re-emerged as a “political” alliance and Canada decided to join. But Russia’s irritation notwithstanding, the 2002 summit (George W. Bush is in the White House, Putin is in the Kremlin) is expected to see the invitations go out to at least five, if not seven of the nine candidate countries. Analysts generally see two possible scenarios: a five-country enlargement including Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, and Slovakia; or a seven-out-of-seven expansion that also adds Bulgaria and Romania. (Left out of both scenarios are Macedonia and Albania). Partnership for Peace As well as admitting new members, NATO has reached out to non-member countries through its Partnership for Peace program. The NATO web site page devoted to the program features the words “Partnership for Peace” (in a script more common to Victorian valentines than military alliance propaganda) above two clasped hands. This kinder, gentler, NATO initiative is aimed primarily at former Warsaw Pact countries, “working to expand and intensify political and military cooperation throughout Europe, increase stability, diminish threats to peace, and build strengthened relationships by promoting the spirit of practical cooperation and commitment to democratic principles that underpin the Alliance.” The PfP initiative was introduced at the January 1994 Brussels conference. To qualify for the program, a country has to be a member of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).( Austria, Finland, Malta and Sweden are not NACC members, but they participate in the council’s deliberations on PfP issues). The invitation to join was accepted by 26 states, namely: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan. (Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.) In December of 1996, Switzerland (the italics are ours) joined the PfP, claiming the move would have no effect on its neutral status, and pointing to neutral Austria, Sweden, and Finland as proof. (Joining the PfP caused domestic controversy in all the neutrals.) Each country negotiates its own Individual Partnership Program (IPP) choosing from a NATO “menu” of “potential cooperative activities.” One of the stated objectives of the PfP is to prepare countries to undertake joint peace keeping or search and rescue operations with NATO. One example was the peacekeeping force of 60,000 troops known as IFOR, created in 1995 to monitor the peace agreement in Bosnia Herzegovinia. NATO’s outreach program has peaked with the formation of the new NATO-Russia council, intended to capitalize on the mood of cooperation between the two sides since the beginning of the war on terrorism. NATO Now In the past 10 years, NATO troops – ground and air – have been deployed in the former Yugoslavia, and remain engaged there. Post September 11, “defense” is a word that resonates worldwide, and the alliance seems less of an anachronism than it may have in 1989. But the shape of the organization and its mission may be about to change drastically. NATO officials have hinted that changes to be discussed during the Prague summit, beginning on November 21, could alter the face of the alliance more even than the admission of new members. Reports suggest the NATO heads of government may create a multinational rapid deployment force of about 21,000 troops. Such a force could be used against enemies far away from Europe. The path for such a rapid deployment force was cleared in Reykjavik, Iceland, last spring, when the North Atlantic Council agreed that “NATO must be able to field forces that can move quickly to wherever they are needed” so that the alliance can “more effectively respond collectively to any threat of aggression against a member state.” The decision ended a decades-long debate as to whether NATO should act outside Europe. “We're deconstructing the old NATO to build a new one to meet the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction,” said Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to the alliance. The rapid deployment force would depend on “niche” contributions from member countries. The Czech Republic, for example, might supply specialists in biological and chemical warfare. This aspect of the plan has appeal for countries who do not wish to increase military spending inordinately. Military action against Iraq could be the first flexing of NATO muscle beyond Europe. Conclusion We’ll let you draw your own.

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