Sunday, March 19, 2006

European Union and NATO: Part II

Part II in a series based on the Future of NATO and the European Union by Major Michael Doyle.

Background of NATO

The background of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is different from the background of the European Union. The separate history has caused NATO to develop down a path separate from the EU but it will not necessarily give NATO a unique future.

NATO was founded in 1949 by twelve countries, ten in Europe and the United States and Canada. The organization’s purpose was to act as an alliance against Soviet aggressive expansion which was personified by the Berlin Blockade. The pact expanded throughout the years eventually gaining a total of twenty-six members. France removed its military competent from NATO while remaining in the political structure and Iceland relies on the United States' armed forces for its military strength (although the Iceland Defense Force will be disbanded by September 2006).

The goal of NATO was the defense of Europe. Because European countries feared the Soviet Union, Euroskeptic states like Norway and Iceland joined NATO while resisting the EU. The desire for as many allies as possible caused NATO to embrace countries like Greece and Turkey while the Western Europeans in the European Community remained skeptics of these countries ability to assimilate into a Western European organization.

The Post Cold War era presented new challenges. The Soviet Union was gone and the European Union was on the rise. Would the Atlantic treaty survive or would it be replaced by an European military force?

So far NATO has been thriving while the EU is withering on the vine. When the Bosnian crisis broke the European Community did nothing after diplomacy failed. President Clinton on the other hand led NATO in and the Dayton Accords were signed. The same story happened in Kosovo. NATO is also in charge of reconstructing Afghanistan after Coalition forces replaced the Taliban. On the other hand the EU’s attempts to create a political state have been set back years because of the rejection of the European Constitution.

The nature of NATO is one of a military alliance. There have been no seriously plans to expand its mission into the political realm. Therefore people tend to think of it in a separate sphere from the European Union. However, their existences are intertwined and their fates have a possibility of being the same.

Next Time: NATO and the EU's Coming Future

Category: Geopolitics

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