NATO is celebrating its 60th birthday today with all the leaders of NATO forces join on Frank German Border cities of Strasbourg, which is co-hosting the summit with Kehl in Germany on opposite banks of the River Rhine. NATO, which was created on 4th April 1949, main purpose at its creation was to counter the threat of Communism from Russia. At that time the Europe under threat from Russia asked USA to join too which she did making the equation balance for Europe. At that time their main aim was as famously stated by first NATO Secretary General Lord Ismay "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down". In these last 60 years they saw many ups and downs on the World Stage. From the Korean War to Balkans Invasion, French withdrawal from NATO by Charles de Gaul, Cold War, Cuban Crisis and many events in the second half of the last century saw how NATO faced the Communist block. After the disintegration of Russia then it was seems that there will be no need of NATO anymore. Reunification of Germany further strengthen this belief that now this alliance is not needed and World should move on. Many changes were done in the alliance from cutting down budgets to improving administration and strike capabilities but NATO need an adversary to prove its existence and they were not disappointed when it came in the form of Yugoslavia.
During most part of 90's NATO took military action against Serbs till Slobodan Milosevic agreed to NATO’s demands by accepting UN resolution 1244 in June 11, 1999. Small number of units were placed also in Africa to control rebellions in some of the countries especially those which were seems important due to Oil, Gold and Diamonds present in them. NATO was expanded during all this period from 12 states who collaborated in 1949 to 28 states till 2009 (member states are: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States of America).
September 11 attacks caused NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter for the first time in its history. The Article says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all. The invocation was confirmed on 4 October 2001 when NATO determined that the attacks were indeed eligible under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty. But the alliance faced some resistance within when the decision was going to be made to invade Iraq when France indicated with Germany and some other members support that she may Veto this. Though all of them were and still are pretty much united on the issue of Afghanistan.
Now on their 60th Summit just after G-20 meeting all the NATO allies combine to discuss the new world scenario. Afghanistan is top on table with President Obama's desire and election promise to increase troops in Afghanistan to battle Taliban and Al-Qaeda threat present in the country. President Obama is lobbying right now in NATO so that other countries also follow the lead and increase their troops to tackle the problem more seriously. With Presidential Elections in Afghanistan nearing and Taliban seems to be nearing Kabul USA who was the pioneer of the attacks is said to be nervous of the developments in Afghanistan. With present Economic Crisis every country is reluctant to add another burden on their already complex and out of balance equation of Economy. Even UK is not willing to increase their troops on long term basis so tough decisions are awaiting on Afghanistan right now. Everyone knows that how much Russia had to spent when she invaded Afghanistan though the opposition was also heavily funded by USA and Saudi Arabia but even today the Opposition are getting "mysterious funds" which might increase their cost of putting their troops in Afghanistan.
Other major issue will be increasing influence of Russia in the region and with US willingness to "restart" relationship with Russia some states particularly eastern European countries like Poland and the Czech Republic that used to fall under Russian are reluctant to agree. But involvement of Russia will be critical by other countries point of view as she is still one of the major energy provider to Europe and her influence in Middle East and relationships with China made her still a very major player.
So to wind it up, with Economic Recession going on, increasing threat of Terrorism and new US Administration this forum might be helpful to determine the next steps of the Alliance and how it will determine its and the World Future. I am also waiting to see what the Alliance decide though with France and Germany allied together it will be a tough job for President Obama to get even a good share of what he want.