NATO is sometimes referred to as the Atlantic Alliance. Establishedin 1949 (its headquarters are in Brussels), NATO is charged withprotecting the security of Western Europe. More specifically, itsmandate is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members, tomaintain stability within the Euro-Atlantic area, to manage and preventinternational crises, to act as a consultative forum on Europeansecurity issues and, finally, to uphold the values of the UnitedNations and promote democracy, human rights and internationallaw. Essentially, it is a collective defence organisation that regards amilitary attack on any one of its member countries as an attack on allof them.The original treaty to set up NATO was signed in Washington on4 April 1949 and came into force in August of the same year. Twelvestates signed the treaty, including the United States, Canada, theUnited Kingdom, France, the Benelux countries, Italy, Norway, Iceland,Denmark, and Portugal. Since then, NATO’s membership hasexpanded to include Turkey (1952), Greece (1952), Germany (1955),????? ???????? ?????? ???????????? (????)219Spain (1982), the Czech Republic (1997), Poland (1997), and Hungary(1997).NATO was set up not only to deter an attack on Europe by theSoviet Union, but also to allay West European fears of a revival ofGerman militarism. The 1949 treaty committed the United States to apermanent role in European security affairs, a dramatic change of policythat ran counter to the traditional US concern to avoid ‘entanglingalliances’. Initially, Congress allocated US$1.3 billion to establishNATO and this sum rose considerably after the Korean War broke outin 1950.By the end of 1949, the alliance partners had established a permanentcommand structure for the organisation. In 1952, under GeneralDwight D. Eisenhower, NATO held its first joint military exercises. Inits early years, NATO planners were primarily concerned with buildingup a well-equipped fighting force. It was not until after Germanybecame a full member in 1955 that NATO developed into a highlystructured and unified defence force. It was also Germany’s membershipthat prompted the Soviet Union to form the Warsaw Pact laterthat year.NATO has an extremely complex organisational structure and it isnot possible to do justice to this complexity here. Briefly, NATOincludes civilian, military, and military command strands. The NorthAtlantic Council has overall control of NATO and is made up ofrepresentatives from each of the member states. The civilian wing isheaded by a European, while the military wing is under US control.During the cold war, NATO was never far from controversy. In theearly years, problems arose over the use of nuclear weapons to deter aSoviet attack. In the mid-1960s, France withdrew its troops fromNATO control, as it was concerned about the sincerity of US claimsthat it would use nuclear weapons to deter a Soviet attack on Europe.NATO also attracted strong resentment from peace activists andenvironmentalists concerned over the potential for a nuclear war inEurope.More recently, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the demise ofthe Warsaw Pact have raised questions about the relevance of theorganisation in a vastly changed European security environment. Chiefamong these have concerned the future role of the United States, therole of NATO in so-called ‘out-of-area’ operations (such as itsinvolvement in Yugoslavia), and whether it should be enlarged toinclude more states from Central and Eastern Europe.However, despite the end of the cold war, Russia remains the majorconcern for NATO planners. There are those who suggest that an????? ???????? ?????? ???????????? (????)220expanded NATO will lead to a new configuration of power in Europeand this will have a destabilising effect on Russia. At present, there arefew signs of such an eventuality. Moreover, through such groupings asthe Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and the Planning andReview Process (PARP), new structures have been developed to maintaina dialogue with Russia. In the future, the greatest threat to NATOarises from the growing defence cooperation among European states(particularly France and Germany) and ongoing doubts about thecommitment of the United States to the defence of Europe.