NATO, or the North American Treaty Alliance, was founded in 1949 amidst the threat of war from the Soviet Bloc. It is a governmental alliance that includes 29 North American and European states, and an additional 21 countries participate in NATOs Partnership for Peace. The alliance is based on the North Atlantic Treaty, article five of which requires that member states must come to the aid of any other member state subject to an armed attack. NATO are allegedly committed to the protection of human rights, democracy and the peaceful resolution of disputes. A representative from each member state features on the committee, decisions must be unanimous, and each country is fundamentally responsible for their own affairs. There are currently 18, 000 military personnel in NATO, and they are operating in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Mediterranean.
Yet, with the current political disputes and unrest between member states and non-member states around the world, the effectiveness of NATO is being questioned. They have continuously failed to enlarge the alliance, and countries have been denied entry solely on the basis of an isolated dispute with one of the members. The alliance is predominantly US controlled and financed, with the President of the USA, Donald Trump, stating that members need to increase the financial support that they provide. He has chastised and lectured world leaders for not spending enough on their own defence. He proposed that it is the US taxpayers who have predominantly footed the bill, and demanded that countries meet their financial obligations. Turkey currently holds the closest NATO base to the Syrian border and the war in the Middle East, and yet people are calling for Turkey to be dismissed from the alliance. They argue that the Turkish government has fundamentally violated NATOs founding treaty regarding human rights. Turkey has more journalists in prison than any other country in the world, this censorship of the media and their use of blatant propaganda is done in an attempt to shape public attitudes towards those considered to be enemies of the Turkish state. Notably, the Kurdish people and individuals associated with the Hizmet movement, led by the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen. Gulen has been under a self-imposed exile in America since 1999, and Turkey believes that as allies, America should repatriate Gulen to face trial in Turkey for his supposed involvement in the attempted military coup that happened there in the summer of 2016. Yet, the USA has refused, stating that proof must be provided in order to do so. For violence against protesters by Turkish police in America, a war of words, and the arrest of citizens. In response, there is currently a visa ban for Americans visiting Turkey, and reports of American citizens living in the country being arrested and held without charge. Erdogan argues that Turkey is currently the only NATO member country to be fighting Daesh, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. However, Americas have been providing significant arms to the people’s Protection Unit, the Kurdish military who are considered to be the most effective defence against Daesh. With Turkey, considering the Kurds to be the enemy, this mess has resulted in significant tensions within the NATO Alliance.
It is also reported that that growing Turkish-Russian co-operation could be a significant issue for NATO. Relations between Russia and NATO have been historically turbulent, but the threat of attack from Russia is becoming increasingly apparent. The Ukraine had previously expressed to join NATO but, after Putin had openly disputed this, the Ukraine dropped their plans in 2010. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and their insurgencies in Eastern Ukraine is the first of such in Europe since World War 2. Yet, NATO has failed to act. Plus the Ukraine has been left to cope with the aftermath of the situation and the ongoing conflict alone, with increasing power and support being given to far Right Neo-Nazi groups. In response to the Russia Ukraine conflict, NATO has since reinforced its support for ‘capability development and capacity building’ in the Ukraine, but many have argued that this is not enough. It has even been suggested that if the Russians move further West, NATO may not be able to fend off an assault. With NATO now recognising cyber-attacks as a possible reason for invoking article 5, recent investigations into Russian espionage and influence of important political events in the WEST, such as the US Elections and Brexit, may complicate matters with Russia further. NATO members cannot agree between themselves, instead of bickering like children in the playground at the cost of people’s lives, how they can be considered even to be able to defend member states from the threat of invasion or even nuclear warfare from other countries. With North Korea releasing rockets and testing nuclear weaponry, the Russians invading their neighbourhood countries as they see fit, and Donald Trump in charge of the biggest superpower in the world, there is a significant need for NATO to live up to the promises that they have made. The disputes between NATO countries, and their failure to effectively respond to warfare and invasions would indicate that the organisation is seriously failing. Alliances between member states are faltering, and the fundamental violations of citizens human rights is taking place, in so-called member countries. NATO must begin living up to the ideals that it was founded on if it is ever to be successful in dealing with the mess that is currently global politics and defence.