[Answered] Examine the role of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in ensuring world peace.

Introduction: Write a short note about NATO.

Body: Write a few points on the achievements and significance of NATO. Write a few points on the criticisms of NATO.

Conclusion: Write a neutral view point.

The war in Ukraine has brought the spotlight on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It was formed in the aftermath of the Second World War by the Western powers in response to the rise of the USSR. NATO was established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April, 1949.

Role of NATO:

  • Cooperative-security: NATO directly contributes to the security, prosperity, and liberty of the people of the world by acting against terrorism, piracy, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cyber warfare.
  • Territorial integrity: It maintains peace and guarantees the territorial integrity, political independence and security of the member states.
  • Democratic process: NATO promotes democratic values and encourages consultation and cooperation on defense and security issues to build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict. NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes.
  • Crisis Management: If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military capacity to undertake crisis-management operations under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a UN mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations. Article 5 has been invoked just once, in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Criticism:

  • NATO’s involvement in world affairs is a threat to global peace and a just world order.
  • Continuous expansion: In the 1980s, the leaders of Western powers had assured that NATO would not expand into the East. On the contrary, it has kept expanding and now has 30 member states in place of the original 12.
  • Territorial Conflicts: The eastward expansion of NATO is the reason for Russian aggression. There is presence of NATO and US troops in former Soviet States like Lithuania, Estonia etc.
  • Mismanagement of funds: Various activities of NATO divert funds from social programmes that could otherwise be used to improve the lives and livelihood of the people.
  • Destruction and civilian killings: Over 500 civilians lost their lives due to NATO’s indiscriminate bombing in the Kosovo campaign. Similarly, the US-led intervention in Iraq, Afghan war etc., resulted in many civilians’ deaths, forced migration, loss of property, psychological damage or geopolitical instability.

NATO, despite the identity crisis and differences, remains relevant, as it has the capability to deter and defend its members from outside actors and tackle new domains. While doing so, NATO should ensure that the shared democratic values remain intact.

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