Elec Telegraph: What is Nato's role and how does it function?greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Completely off topic but there seems to be a lot of interest in what's going on "over there."
What is Nato's role and how does it function?, By Christopher Lockwood, Diplomatic Editor
Who exactly is bombing Yugoslavia?
The air strikes are being conducted by Nato, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, to which Britain has belonged since its foundation. The pilots ultimately report to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, based at Mons in Belgium. Almost all Nato countries have sent combat planes.
But isn't Nato a defensive organisation?
That's what it was set up to be in 1949, when the Soviet Union first posed a threat to Western Europe. Its central doctrine is that "an attack on one is an attack on all". But since the Cold War, its role has been changing. In Bosnia it conducted air strikes against the Serbs at the request of the UN, and since 1996 Nato has been running the large peacekeeping force stationed there.
So is Nato now a kind of global policeman?
Yes, within limits. At its 50th anniversary summit in Washington next month the alliance will formally adopt a "new strategic concept", which will clarify its new peacekeeping role in conflicts outside members' territory. It is still not clear whether this new freedom of action will be confined to the European/Mediterranean area.
Has the UN given Nato authority to act in Kosovo?
No. The Russians and the Chinese say that this makes the present military action illegal. Britain, France and America, the other permanent members of the Security Council, say they are acting in support of UN resolutions. Those resolutions call on Milosevic to end the repression in Kosovo, but do not explicitly authorise the use of force.
Is Nato united behind the air strikes?
Nato takes its decisions by consensus and all 19 countries approved the air action plan initially in January. But Greece has called for the strikes to be ended "quickly" and opposition is mounting in Italy. Most of the attacks are taking place out of Italian air bases and Italy's leftist government is uneasy.
What do the Russians think of Nato's new role?
They are extremely unhappy about it. They have recalled their ambassador from its political headquarters in Brussels and have kicked Nato's man out of Moscow. Russia fears this is a precedent for bypassing the UN which may one day be used against it in the Caucasus.
Who belongs to Nato?
Nineteen countries in all. The original members were the US, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Iceland, Portugal, Denmark and Norway. Germany, Turkey and Greece joined in 1952, Spain in 1982. Earlier this month, Nato took in its first east European members: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Didn't France quit Nato?
In 1966 France decided to leave the military structure of Nato and the alliance's headquarters were moved to Brussels. But France remains a political member of the alliance, bound by the same defence obligations, and is increasing its military integration with it.
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