NATO And Cold War
The latter half of the twentieth century has been dominated by the Cold War and the actions and events surrounding it. During this period different alliances and treaties were formed and many of these were institutionalized. One such alliance was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This organization was set up by the Northern Atlantic Western Powers to combat the Eastern Soviet threat. Today however NATO still exists and plays an active role in international relations. The question asked then is why after the Soviet Threat has dispersed an organization that was set up with the sole purpose of defeating the Soviets, is still persisting. NATO was formed on the 4th of April 1949 with an alliance of twelve independent nations committed to defence and security.
Between 1952 and 1982 four more nations joined and three more in March 1999. The original alliance was formed with the purpose of stopping Soviet expansion in
Europe, with the United States as the main driving force. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequential end of the Cold War it may be asked why has NATO survived and still plays an active and influential role in European interstate politics. NATO has a definite reason for still continuing on in
Europe. According to Michael Ruhle (Senior Planning Officer, Policy Planning and
Speechwriting Section of NATO's Political Affairs Division) NATO has changed from a singular-purpose organization to a multi-purpose institution, "working together to create a more benign strategic environment." Mr.
Ruhle argues that NATO is contributing to the "emerging Euro-Atlantic security architecture." It is not really an institution but an architect.
The architecture being a "series of key political processes that shape the strategic environment, the European integration process, the evolution of
Russia, the development of transatlantic relations, and the evolution of crisis management in the Euro-Atlantic area." NATO can be seen to be an institution aiming at peace and security within Europe. There are other alliances than NATO that have become or are multi-purpose institutions. This can be seen through the EU, with its enlargement operation and its designs for
Russia. Also the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in defusing minority obstacles in Europe, overseeing elections in Bosnia and working with an agreement in Kosovo. NATO, according to Mr. Ruhle is however, unique as only it can offer coherency in bringing about these processes. The
NATO website offers an interesting perspective on the reasons for NATO's existence. "Today following the end of the Cold War and of the division of
Europe, the Alliance has been restructured to enable it to participate in the development of cooperative security structures for the whole of Europe. It has also transformed its political and military structures in order to adapt them to peacekeeping and crisis management tasks undertaken in cooperation...