The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed as an intergovernmental military alliance, based on the North Atlantic Treaty, signed in Washington on April 4, 1949. The alliance has been under the domination of the United States ever since its formation until to date. The organization constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in the event of an external aggression against anyone of them.
At the time of formation, NATO was comprised of 12 member states. Then it was expanded to include Greece and Turkey in 1952 and West Germany in 1955.
The erstwhile Soviet Union considered West Germany’s incorporation into the alliance as a direct threat to it. As a response to this, a rival alliance, known as the Warsaw Pact, was created and this alliance was dissolved following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland became the first member states of the former Warsaw Pact alliance that joined NATO in 1999.
NATO heads of state, during their summit in Prague in 2002, decided to extend formal invitation to former European members of the Warsaw Pact, such as Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania to join the alliance. The main goal of the formation of NATO was to counter the Soviet threat and stop the spreading of Communism. In other words, the goal was establishment of a strong military bloc to protect Europe from Communism.
During the long years of the Cold War between the Western and Eastern military blocs, there were no circumstances that warranted any NATO-led military operation within Europe or outside. The nuclear deterrent was the major factor in this regard. This was also instrumental in protecting the world from a Third World War. However, such a war was replaced by a World Economic War.
In 1966, French President Charles de Gaulle withdrew France’s Mediterranean Fleet from NATO command. This was in protest against the U.S. hegemony in the alliance. He was against the French forces being come under the direct command of the U.S. because of the apprehensions that such a situation would drag France into war in order to serve the interests of U.S. and not that of France.
NATO was able to play positive role only on three occasions. The first was the intervention in Bosnia Herzegovina in 1995 following the genocidal war waged by Serbia. That intervention was apparently not to protect Bosnians but was a warning to the Russian Federation, in addition to overpowering Serbia, Russia’s last ally in Europe. Then, the NATO intervention came in Kosovo in 1999. The U.S. air force launched air strike against Serbia in order to assert the U.S. leadership in Europe, and that was also a second warning to Russia. The third intervention was in 2001 to disarm Macedonia.
All these military operations were carried out by the NATO alliance until the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. After imposing its influence on the rest of the NATO member countries, Washington engaged in these two wars that were not related with the security of Europe. Washington even fabricated reasons to have some credibility for its claims.
The U.S. General Bantz Craddock, supreme commander of the NATO forces, warned that the relations between the United States and the Russian Federation would witness deterioration, and sometimes it could be more worsened for the first time since the end of the Cold War. In a written testimony to the Armed Forces Committee under the U.S. Senate, Craddock said that Russia is seeking to reduce the U.S. influence and weaken the security institutions in Europe. He was also outspoken while announcing that U.S. is ready to use its economic influence and military forces to realize its goals.
This strange statement at a strange time coincides with the decision of France to return to the NATO’s military wing. Former French President Sarkozy’s decision in this regard was welcomed by the NATO leaders because they saw in it the desire of France to improve its relations with U.S. But that sparked angry reactions against him in the country, not only from the opposition parties but also from within the ruling party because Sarkozy’s decision was a deviation from the policy, followed by his predecessors since the time of former leader Charles de Gaulle.
There is no doubt that NATO exceeded the scope of the purpose of its creation. It is supposed that NATO is a powerful military force that can confront the Russian Federation and can contribute and unite in a war that may break out in the Far East. But the American interests have overcome the truth and the goals, especially after confirming that all the member states are working in the service of the United States and that they are looking for a way out of the Afghan quagmire.
When Barack Hussein Obama entered the White House, the world waited for new positions on the part of the United States, especially after it embraced a half-black African as its president. There were expectations that he would give a new direction to the U.S. administration with regard to the international issues, especially those concerned with security challenges, and that they might be different from the policies of George Bush Junior.
But during the four-year-tenure, Obama gave disappointment as his administration was negative in its positions and no substantial changes have been taken place at all.
From the overall performance of NATO, we can see that it had deviated completely from the causes for which it was created. It has become a military machine moving forward only to meet the desires of U.S. Now, it has become the duty of NATO states to repair the damage caused to the bloc due to the aggressive and futile policies of the Bush administration, and for which the world is paying the price in the form of the U.S. made economic crisis.
Finally, I think that NATO is aged, and has lost its identity and the reasons for its existence. Hence, it required retirement so as not to remain a military machine to interfere in the internal affairs of states in the name of freedom, democracy and combating global terror, in order to serve the interests of the U.S., even though it was at the expense of its allies and friends.
Let me ask with all honesty and transparency: What did NATO forces in Afghanistan? What it did in Iraq in the name of the coalition forces? Why didn’t it solve the issue of piracy in the Gulf of Aden? Why did America allow it to strike Gaddafi and destroy a lot of infrastructures in Libya? Why don’t it find a way to save the Syrian people? Is it simply because of the Russian-Chinese veto in U.N.?
So, of course, there must be some U.S. interests. Whoever searches for it, he can find it out.
(Hassan Tahsin is an Egyptian writer and political analyst. This article was published in the Saudi Gazette on Nov. 8, 2012)