.. e to Western Europe. NATO members tried to keep a positive perspective, but several events caused a sense of dissatisfaction of its worth by the end of the sixties. To begin the decade off the USSR officially blockaded their side of Berlin by erecting the wall. At first the Berlin Wall consisted only of barbed wire, but people were escaping to East Germany, so an actual concrete wall was constructed with all the bells and whistles, like checkpoints with armed guards and minefields.
The people of East Germany were prisoners in their own country and were not allowed to contact or visit family. In addition, the withdrawal of France, one of the founding members, in 1966 by President Charles de Gaulle sent shock waves through the organization. Although they continued to contribute to the alliance, they left the governing duties to the other members. Also NATO was pressured by the smaller nation-states to be come members and that would take a lot of funding, time, and focus away from the problems in Eastern Europe. One of the main factors of the late sixties and early seventies was Americas involvement in the Vietnam War. This horrifying war sapped the US economy, morale, and foreign policy prowess.
Although the 1970s began with the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I), this decade created more disillusionment by world powers as the Soviets continued to rapidly stock their military and nuclear arsenals. In 1979, NATO initiated a dual-track program where new defense efforts were coupled with new efforts in reconciliation and cooperation. Unfortunately, the steps taken by both sides were small and uneventful and usually were retracted within a short time. This brings us to the Reagan years, the eighties, and to the closest watched political tug-a-war in years. This decade opened with a deepening crisis and in 1983 the USSR failed to prevent the deployment of intermediate-range ballistic missiles, sent to counteract the ones they had pointed a Europes major cites.
It is possible to say that NATO help greatly in dissuading the USSR from following through on attacking Western Europe. The game had gotten deadly serious and in 1987 both sides agreed to talks. Out of these talks came the Intermediate-range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty, which not only gave people a sense of relief across the world it also began the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact and the WTO. The change in the wind prompted the Berlin Wall that separated a people for over twenty-five years to be torn down and Germany was finally reunified. The late eighties to the mid-nineties finally saw the beginning of the end to the Cold War.
This time also showed the world the success of NATO and the unified efforts of its members in meeting the challenge of the Communists and the WTO. NATO had finally shown itself to be a viable source for communication and resolution between factions instead of war. That became more evident in the 1990s, with the continued depletion of nuclear arsenals on both sides, the dissolving of the Warsaw Pact in 1991, and the continued duties to help return the countries of Eastern Europe to normalcy. An example of this is evident in Bosnia/Herzegovina and Kosovo. These areas and people have been able to strengthen their nationalistic feeling with both encouraging and disastrous results.
Through the efforts of the UN and NATO forces a peaceful conclusion may be in the future for this troubled culture. The organization has already placed in the works the inclusion of the Czech Republic (formerly part of Czechoslovakia), Hungary, and Poland. These talks are setting the stage for NATOs most significant expansion. These countries will need modern military training, upgrades on their communications, command, and air defense systems at an estimated cost of between $25 and $35 billion over thirteen years. The members of NATO pay out this money, the US share being approximately $200 million over ten years.
There was a time that even the thought of these countries entering NATO peacefully was unheard of. These new members make NATOs interests in the Balkans even more timely. Over the past few years, the establishment of a long-term stability in the Balkans has fallen on NATOs already overweighed shoulders. The former Yugoslavia is one area of Europe where the end of the cold war has not brought about the general trend towards openness, democracy and integration that we have seen elsewhere. Ending this anomaly will mean looking beyond the time frame of NATOs Stabilization Force in Bosnia. Once the parties realize that settling differences peacefully and democratically really is the only viable option, then Bosnia and other countries in the region will have the right to the fullest integration into the international community.
In Kosovo, where the world community is facing humanitarian, political and legal dilemmas, a solution must be found that allows the Ethnic Albanians more autonomy within the confines of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In finding such a solution, we must avoid a situation where moral considerations are pitted against international law. And we must remember that a security policy that doesnt take as its point of reference the needs of humanity, risks suffering the worst possible fate- a slide into irrelevance. In Kosovos immediate neighborhood, NATO has helped to provide hope and some stability, as well as assistance in coping with the refugees in Albania and Macedonia. The latter country is hosting a NATO extraction force, ready to support the verification mission deployed in Kosovo. Hopefully, the prospect of long-term stability, coupled with the desire for economic benefits, will draw the entire Balkans back into the European mainstream.
None of this will happen without NATO continued belief in “collective security”. To deal with these challenges, there is a need for further improvements in the inter-operability and sustainability of alliance forces. The future of NATO lies in having rapidly deployable capabilities to fulfill an increasing range of missions. The military forces of NATO allies will need to be on the same wavelength; able to move effectively and quickly, to communicate with one another- service to service, as well as ally to ally- in a world where information technologies are becoming part of the modern soldiers basic kit. Trying to stay as current as possible on NATOs movements is not an easy job these days.
Every hour seems to bring a new page to NATOs illustrious history. We can only sit back and watch the further developments in the Balkan region and in the other hotspots around the world, like Korea, Rwanda, India, and even within the NATO members themselves. Other important issues approach on the horizon that will strongly effect NATO, the unification of Europe, Chinas threats to security and the questions of a possible global peace in the millenium. Can NATO meet these challenges? Can it evolve in the shadow of the Cold War? The next few years will unfold an exciting chapter in the history of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Bibliography Ergang Ph.D., R., Europe in Our Time (D.C.
Heath and Co. 1958) Goldfield, D., Abbott, C., DeJohn Anderson, V., Argersinger, J. & P., Barney, Wm., and Weir, R., The American Journey: A History of the United States: vol. 2; chap. 29, pp. 890 and chap.33, pp. 1031-2 Guehenno, J., trans.
by Elliot, V., The End of the Nation-State (UN of Minnesota 1995) Nelan, B., “A Popular Bad Idea”, Time, May 11, 1998 v151 n18 p38 Remington, R., The Warsaw Pact (The MIT Press 1971) Stanley, T., NATO in Transition: The Future of the Atlantic Alliance (Praeger Pub. 1965) Toland, J., The Last Hundred Days (Random House 1966) T. Caspody, A. Millar, , J. Matousek, “NATO’s shaky new triad: the alliance’s three prospective members haven’t made an informed public choice”, The Nation, March 16, 1998 v266 n10 p18(4) “NATOs New Challenge: What is NATO Without a Cold War?”, Time International, Dec. 10, pg.
50+ “Open Doors: NATO reaches out to Europes other half”, Time International, Dec. 10, 1998 p55 Various information including referrals and title graphic attained at www.nato.com.