The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a multi country military alliance. The agreement signed by the member countries states that they will defend each other if attacked by a third party. In fact, article 5 of the agreement states that an attack on any member is considered to be an attack on all member countries. The September 11 attacks were the first time that this article was invoked. As of July 2011, there are currently 28 countries that are full members of NATO and it is expected that more countries will join in the near future.
Why was NATO created?
The beginnings of this alliance began with the Treaty of Brussels in 1948. The countries involved in this treaty thought that the United States should be involved to counter the threat of the Soviet Union. This led to the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed on April 4 1949, and this led to the creation of NATO. The first test for the alliance was the Korean War.
There are many reasons why NATO was formed, but the main reason was to create a military force that was capable of defending itself against the USSR during the cold war. The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, is quoted as saying the goal of the organization was to “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Since the collapse of the USSR, NATO has re-evaluated their focus.