NATO has been a military and political alliance between European countries for nearly seven decades. It was founded in 1949 by 12 European nations in response to a perceived threat from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Under Article 5, members pledge to provide mutual defense if attacked. This means that if one of the countries is hit, all 30 NATO members will help that country.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance founded in 1949 by twelve member countries. Its founding principles include collective defense, the concept that an attack against one of its members is considered an attack against all.
The organization comprises a political component at the NATO headquarters in Brussels and a military command based in Norfolk, Virginia. The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) is the head of both the political and military components.
In recent years, the organization has been facing some significant challenges. These have included the fall of the Berlin Wall and its aftermath, wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, and the refugee crisis. The most crucial issue is Russia, which threatens to extend its influence westward, intimidating NATO member states like Ukraine and Georgia.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or NATO, is a political organization of countries that was formed in 1949. Its members are from Europe and North America and are interested in protecting their freedom and security.
Article 5 of the treaty states that if one or more member states are attacked, each must help protect the other, even if that means using military force. This is called collective defense.
In practice, this has been invoked only once — after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001.
As the threat of conflict continues to grow, NATO has adapted to ensure that its policies, capabilities, and structures are fit for the future. This includes a commitment to strengthening democracy and to building collective military capabilities.
The North Atlantic Treaty, signed on April 4, 1949, by the United States, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, commits members to come to the aid of each other. This principle is known as collective defense.
Article 5 of the treaty commits each member to consider an armed attack against any of them in Europe, North America, Turkey, or islands in the Atlantic north of the Tropic of Cancer as an attack against them all and to take action it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. This has only been invoked once, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
European allies do not widely share the American vision of the alliance acting globally. Still, most agree that NATO’s central purpose should be promoting stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. This includes crisis management operations that enforce norms, rules, and codes of conduct for relations between states in the Euro-Atlantic area set out in the Helsinki Final Act and the 1990 Charter of Paris.
The core of the NATO commitment is the principle that an attack against one or more of its members is considered an attack against all of them. It is a unique and enduring principle that binds the Alliance, reinforcing solidarity among its members and securing their citizens.
A NATO response to a direct attack against Warsaw Pact territory would have been swift and automatic. This would have followed Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which enshrines the right of collective defense.
There is complete agreement on the need to protect the security of allied territory from a direct attack. However, when and how they should use force remains to be debated.