Evolution of NATO: From Cold War Alliance to 21st Century Security Organization

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How the principles & mission of NATO changed since 1949. Illustrate its 2010.

NATO was created in 1945 during the Cold War as a military alliance of countries from the EU and North America. It is currently the most highly organized security organization with 28 member countries, and its purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.

After 1991, the main goal became to create democracies and a community of values by contributing to overall Euro-Atlantic security. On a political dimension, NATO promotes democratic values, encourages consultation and cooperation on defense and security issues. On the military level, if diplomatic efforts fail, the organization has the military capacity to undertake crisis-management operations. Article 5 of the founding Treaty is the principle of collective defense. Thus, an attack on one is an attack on all. Article 5 has only been invoked once in response to the US 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Article 10, on the other hand, of the North Atlantic Treaty focuses on the enlargement of NATO. Membership is open to any other European states in a position to further the principles and values of NATO. The Membership Action Plan offers aspiring members practical advice and targeted assistance. The aspiring members are expected, however, to meet certain criteria and regulations.

NATO has 18,000 military personnel engaged in missions around the world, and they are active in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and the Mediterranean. Their operations also include assistance to the EU for the Refugee Crisis, as well as disaster relief operations and missions to protect against natural, technological, and humanitarian disasters.

The 2010 Strategic Concept was done with the purpose of guiding NATO in the current changing world so it would continue to be effective. It reconfirms the main principles and values such as the Principle of collective Defense, Crisis management, and Cooperative security.

Indeed, the 21st Century has seen a change in the types of threats. Threats include the proliferation of ballistic missiles, proliferation of WMD, terrorism, cyber attacks, attacks on communication and transport, the use of laser weapons, and electronic warfare. Member states are not at peace and face new security threats that are not stated in the 2010 Strategic Concept. The US and European member countries are facing terrorism threats, for instance. After Russia's invasion of Ukraine, NATO returned its attention to Europe, and the member countries confronted their decline in defense spending.

There has also been the intensification of military exercises and a return to the security dilemma stated above.

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