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NATO adapts to changing world

Column by Alec Hamilton

AlecHamilton-w2000-h2000The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been and continues to be one of the most historically significant and effective international organizations since the end of World War II.

The argument may even be made that NATO is more effective and able to take more decisive actions that the United Nations.

While the conflicts and problems of the world have changed since the end of World War II, NATO continues to play a crucial role in international diplomatic, aid and military efforts.

NATO was founded in the aftermath of World War II to combat the growing threat and expansion of Communism out of the Soviet Union.

For 40 years, the countries of Europe join the U.S., France and U.K. in the fight against and to contain Communism and were opposed by the Soviet Union and members of the Warsaw Pact.

What followed were a series of proxy wars in battle grounds throughout the world where the U.S. and Soviet Union supported their allies but never engaged each other directly.

With the end of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, it seemed that NATO had outlived its usefulness. Instead, NATO adapted and become a leader in diplomatic endeavors and providing a wide variety of aid, in addition to its military functions.

Since thenNATO has acted when the U.N. did not or could not in a timely manner. NATO helped to end the conflict in the Balkans, supported the U.S. against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and gave some aid during the war in Iraq.

Whether you agree personally with any of these conflicts, NATO fulfilled its functions admirably and continued to maintain a high level of effectiveness and professionalism.

Who knows what the cost of Afghanistan and Iraq would have been without the support of NATO and allies?

I admit, there are discrepancies when it comes to funding of NATO, but the same can be said of almost every international organization that the U.S. is part of.

It is a cost of having the world’s foremost military by miles, as well as one of the top economies.

While there can be changes made to any organization to make it more efficient or well-balanced, what cannot happen is lessening NATO’s involvement or relevancy.

In an age when the United Nations is becoming more and more cumbersome, unable to take decisive and timely action, NATO has become the most capable organization to respond quickly to a crisis.

The revolution in Libya is a prime example. In a situation when a population rises up against its brutal dictator so close to Europe and with citizens of France and much of Europe at risk, NATO acted quickly to support the revolution and depose Muammar Gaddafi before Libya could collapse into a vicious civil war in likeness to Syria.

Despite recent developments there, NATO’s intervention in Libya when no other organization could act shows that NATO is still needed at full strength and effectiveness.

Hamilton is a senior international relations and news-Internet double major and can be reached at alec.hamilton@drake.edu

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