News24

Nato: The world's biggest defence alliance

2012-05-16 13:10

Brussels - Founded in the early days of the Cold War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) has grown into a collective defence group of 28 nations from North America and Europe.

The United States, Canada and 10 European allies signed a treaty in Washington on 4 April 1949, creating an enduring military alliance based on solidarity against threats from the Soviet Union.

The first European nations to team up with North America were Britain, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands and Portugal.

Over the subsequent years, 16 more nations joined the club as the fall of the Iron Curtain brought former Soviet satellites into the transatlantic family.

Nato welcomed Germany, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into the fold over the years.

A second wave on March 2004 brought Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania. The last two nations to join Nato were Albania and Croatia in 2010.

The United States is by far the biggest contributor to the alliance, representing 75% of defence spending, compared to 50% a decade ago.

The alliance's central tenet is Article 5, which states that an attack on one Nato nation represents an attack on all.

This principle was invoked only once in Nato's history, on 12 September 2001, the day after al-Qaeda's suicide airplane attack on the United States.

Nato was first headquartered in London and then Paris before moving to Brussels in 1966. Its military command centre, known by its acronym Shape, is in Mons, Belgium

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister, has held the post of secretary general, the alliance's top civilian official, since August 2009.

Comments
  • cyanideandhappiness - 2012-05-16 14:34

    Nanananananana Team Nato, World Police!!!! They are there to protect the world from pesky nations that have too much independence, wont share their oil or other resources, or just wont play ball in the international arena... Look what Nato did to Libya, its a gabazillion times worse now than it ever was under Gaddafi... This isn't news, its propaganda once again...

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-16 14:53

      It's actually silliness and ignorance on your part.

      Matt - 2012-05-16 22:37

      Amen, NATO is pretty much dominated by the US as well as Britain and France. They call us ignorant while Freddy talks about the \freer world\. So many people see the West as a beacon of freedom. They seem to think a country with military spending more than the next 9 country's combined and the largest exporter of weapons is somehow a role model for others. Then. In the same paragraph preach about peace and freedom, its insanity. Want the real face of Western freedom? Try: the patriot act or the national defense authorization act.

  • Henry - 2012-05-16 14:43

    Long live the western alliance and no one else

      Matt - 2012-05-16 22:40

      Mindless drone. This isn't a sport

  • dave.kofang - 2012-05-16 15:25

    Defence against who?This alliance is used to impose their will on other countries.Brics countries must also form their own alliance.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-16 16:04

      Why would you want to polarize the world like that. Far better for one global alliance that stands against human rights abuses, wherever they occur.

      Matt - 2012-05-16 22:23

      Fred is longing for tyranny, as long as it comes with security

      terence.pattison - 2012-06-25 16:09

      The thought of a Military Alliance with Russia & China is truly frightening. Economic co-operation is one thing being drawn into an International conflict by any Super Power is a no go.

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