NATO AND ITS MARK ON THE WORLD
Author: Chaitra Srihari,IV year of B.Com.,LL.B from BMS College Of Law, Bengaluru.
The greed of man over money, land and women has resulted in brutal wars. Ramayana, Mahabharata are the perfect example for the gruesome wars fought in Indian history. Foreign invaders have attacked countries for the want of expansion of territory and even looted the country of its riches. Many such wars created a disturbance in the world order and sometimes even changed the demographics of certain regions of the world. The 20th Century world has witnessed two World Wars and numerous civil wars. These wars resulted in the lasting change in the geopolitics and also impacted the relations of countries with each other.
The World War 2 which was fought between 1939-1945 created lasting changes in the relations of countries which, even after 70 odd years has an impact on them. Many countries have united while many have split apart resulting in civil wars between them. After the war with world order changing alliances were formed between countries to promote their ideology to help countries to stabilize themselves after the war. One such alliance is that of the NATO- North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
HISTORY OF NATO
The Second World War had created havoc in Europe. The need of multilateral defense system and for the promotion of Democratic values after the end of World War gave rise to the formation of this Organization. With the end of the World War II the European countries had become weak both militarily and economically. Communism had created a strong foothold in this region and started controlling countries and started overpowering on the non-communist political activities in this region. The communist regime under the leadership of the Soviet Union sealed off its allies from the western world which was majorly non-communist- what the then Prime Minister of UK, Winston Churchill called as ‘Iron Curtain’.
An American funded Marshall Plan was introduced in the year 1948 which was aimed at rehabilitating the economic conditions in the war ravished western and southern European countries. Only those countries which were not under the influence of the Soviet Military participated in this plan like Austria, Belgium, United Kingdom, West Germany etc…
As the military capabilities of the European nations had depleted owing to the World War II, Brussels Treaty of 1948 was instituted which included the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg which would act as a counter weight to the Soviet Military. On the other hand, Britain, Canada and the US were in the talks to form an alliance which would further the democratic ideology and increase military capabilities. Thus, this gave birth to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, whose purpose was to ensure the freedom and security of its members through political and military alliance.
The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on April 4, 1949. The first signatories of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) The United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal. Over the years many other nations have joined the NATO like Greece, Turkey, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Baltic Nations etc… and the latest one being North Macedonia which joined in the year 2020.
After the formation of the NATO the Soviet Union to counter balance, this created a military alliance between the communist nations, this alliance goes by the name of Warsaw Pact. This was signed on 14th May,1955 with the Soviet Union delegation led by the then Premier, Nikolai Bulganin and Prime Ministers of the other signatory nations. The signatories to this pact were Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the Soviet Union. This pact was formed for strengthening the Soviet’s hold over its satellite nations and to enhance its bargaining position in the international diplomacy. This Warsaw Pact ceased to exist from 1st July, 1991.
NATO IN AFGHANISTAN
NATO’s indispensable part of the treaty is that of collective defense. Article 5 of this treaty provides for the same, according to which, ‘the attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all its members.’ Article 5 was invoked for the first and only time in its history which was after the 9/11 attack on the United States of America. The NATO launched its first anti-terror operation- Eagle Assist in which members from 13 NATO countries took part in the US led forces which defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan who had given shelter to the 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin laden. In the year 2003 NATO takes over the International Security Assistance Force operation with a purpose of building and restoring the Afghan security forces and peace in the country. The Resolute Support Mission (RSM) was launched in the year 2015, in which NATO led a mission aimed at training, assisting and advising the Afghan troops. The US-led NATO forces finally pulled out of Afghanistan in 2021 after nearly 20 years into the mission.
NATO IN KOSOVO
Yugoslavia was a country in Europe which has undergone a lot of power struggles over the years before splitting up in January 1992.The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ceased to exist, having dissolved into its constituent states. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia became Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992 (which included only the present countries of Serbia and Montenegro). This too split up into independent Republic countries. The current states which made up the former Socialist Federal Republic are- Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia.
In the early 1900s Kosovo before becoming a self-declared independent state of Europe (in 2008) was a part of Serbia. Several states of the European Union as well as the United State has recognized Kosovo but there still exists certain states who haven’t recognized it including that of Serbia from whom this state had separated from. But the independence came at a cost of Brutal fight in 1998.
The conflict was a result of the opposition of the ethnic Serbs and the Yugoslavia Government by the ethnic Albanians. The abrogation of the Kosovo province’s constitutional autonomy by the then President of the Serbian Republic. The Serbian minority in Kosovo province had objected the control of the area sacred to them, by the Muslim Albanians. Conflicts increased between the two groups and each retaliated with armed attacks, Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) on one side and while on the other the Serbian special police. International intervention initiated a cease-fire but, did not last long. The Yugoslav and the Serbian forces in retaliation to the KLA attacks indulged in ethnic cleansing of the Albanians. With the failure of the diplomatic negotiations the NATO forces began air strikes against the Yugoslav and Serbian forces i.e., to put an end to the violence in Kosovo region. Milošević former President of Serbia accepted the demands of NATO resulting in stoppage of ethnic cleansing and the return of about one million refugees back to the region . NATO lead the Kosovo Force (KFOR) with an aim for peace and support operation in the region. Russia too engaged in the peacekeeping effort. The main aim of the KFOR was to establish a peaceful and provide for a secure environment and also to establish public safety and order. Another intention of this force was also to demilitarize the KLA and to aid the international humanitarian effort in the region.
IS NATO A REASON FOR THE UKRAINE CONFLICT?
Ukraine is a country located in east Europe. This was a country was a formerly a part of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R) before its independence in 1991 but, has been ruled by many other neighbouring countries. The once quite region has been burning in the war which many claim to be the result of NATO’s eastward expansion closer to Russian borders. Ukraine had expressed its desire to join NATO and even applied for the Membership Action Plan in 2008. The then Pro Russian President Yanukovych scrapped this plan which led to a civil unrest in the country. The President was ousted, to which some say Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
But in the coming years the alliance became a priority to Ukraine but, this desire is what has been said to be the reason for Ukraine invasion which was launched on 24th February 2022. However, according to Putin the reason for the “special military operation”- a term used by the Kremlin to name the invasion, was to “demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine”. The war raging day-after-day NATO has not sent its troops to Ukraine to help defend it as it is not a member of Alliance. But NATO has said that it would stand with the people of Ukraine and it’s government and also provide equipment and monetary support for Ukraine to defend itself. But, before the war had started Putin had demanded the NATO expansion be reversed to how it was in 1997 i.e., when the eastern European nations close to Russian borders were not a part of the alliance. Putin has also demanded Ukraine not be a member of NATO and the eastward expansion and ammunition deployment in the region be stopped. If the sole reason for this war is to stop the expansion of NATO, Ukraine’s President Zelensky has said that the country would never join NATO, yet the war hasn’t ended.
The world can only hope for the war to end and the demands be negotiated at the table rather than harming innocent lives. The war has resulted in numerous deaths and scores of people leaving the country to escape the destruction and chaos. The most saddening situation is that of the children who have lost their playful, jolly childhood days to the brutal war, with many children even separating from their family with just a ray of hope to meet them on the other side of the border.
NATO’s primary goal was to provide political and military support to its members, which it has strived to do over the years and the world is a witness to it. The alliance has also tried to expand its memberships and spread its ideologies which also included the spread of democratic values. In doing this NATO has supported its members by providing military support when the democratic values or human rights have been violated in the region. NATO has played a role in various operations across the globe including operations in Libya in 2011, to counter piracy in Somalia, Iraq war in 2003 and many more… From the operations that NATO has taken part over the years, it can be said that its impact on the world has grown since its inception and has played a vital role in the world order.