Pros and Cons of NATO

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NATO began as a counter to potential Soviet aggression in Europe following the post-WW2 establishment of communist regimes in central and eastern Europe. However, the end of the cold war followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent demise of the Warsaw Pact left NATO with no obvious purpose. This ultimately brought about an existential question for NATO, because the threat that NATO had been set up to counter had vanished. NATO was still committed to fighting militant nationalism in Europe, as well as promoting democracy and political integration; thus this became their new role. For example in Operation Enduring Freedom, America led the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 to take control of the Taliban regime, which allowed Al-Qaeda to use the country as a base. NATO was called on to take command of the ISAF, aiming to provide security and stability so that peace and democracy could flourish, maintaining its presence from 2003-2014. Therefore, providing evidence of NATO’s relevance in its expanded role in Afghanistan, their aim of promoting democracy is emphasized as this was NATO’s first major operation outside Europe. On the other hand, some observers have characterized Nato’s eastward expansion as the most dangerous strategic decision of the post-war period, therefore, this may lead to the expansion of NATO to dilute. As it would lead to the overstretching of the organization and thus the undermining of stability for the entirety of Europe. Hence the view that expansion is not only unnecessary but it is also likely to increase the threat of nuclear conflict in western Europe. Overall, in the case of expansionism, it is clear that NATO, is only relevant to a small extent, as it adds more disagreements into a group, which ultimately leads to inner conflicts.

NATO is the world’s most powerful military alliance, whose spending makes up over 70 percent of global military spending. The USA remains the linchpin of NATO, with a huge defense budget of over $569 billion in 2015 compared to Russia’s $53.2 billion. And in 2014, all non-US allies agreed to increase their defense spending to 2% of GDP by 2024; in 2017, this figure stood at an average of 1.46%. This conveys the relevance and usefulness of NATO because of the simple fact that it’s a military powerhouse, with its technologically advanced military alliance and proven capabilities in military action. However, NATO is also extremely weakened in terms of expenses. This is because it will be hard for new members to meet the burden of significantly increased military spending when there are no longer external threats. It will either weaken NATO or be a drain on other members’ resources. Furthermore, due to America’s mass contributions, it can be viewed that any further expansion of NATO is in reality a cover for increased US interventionism in Europe and beyond. This meant that Russia sees the Eastward expansion as an attempt by the USA to encircle Russia. Thus NATO strategy may have triggered Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. NATO essentially proves to be laying the ground for a new confrontation with Russia; for instance, after ten years of economic and military decline, Russia’s generals have become less inclined to see NATO as a benign influence. In addition, if the Baltic States were to join Nato it would bring NATO to Russia’s border and cut off Kaliningrad, the Russian Federation’s valuable military enclave on the Baltic. Overall, it is evident that NATO is not useful in comforting states with peace and security with Russia, instead, it builds more suspicion for Russia and America holds a lot of influence in NATO.

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NATO had faced many controversial and problematic missions which immensely affected its relevance and usefulness. For example, in Afghanistan and Libya in 2011 NATO faced controversy. In Afghanistan military personnel from NATO countries suffered considerable casualties. More than 2000 US and 400 UK personnel were killed. These losses were politically damaging as it was hard to make the case that NATO, perceived to be a defense organization for Europe, was acting defensively in Afghanistan. People questioned how NATO troops serving and dying in Afghanistan helped the national interests of the member states. Furthermore, civilians were killed, particularly in airstrikes by NATO aircraft, such as the bombing of a wedding party by a US air raid in 2008. On top of the suffering, these casualties caused tensions between the Afghan government and foreign forces and controversy among other NATO nations. Therefore, this illustrates that the failure of NATO to bring stability to countries such as Afghanistan reinforces the belief that NATO. However, it can be argued that NATO had reinvented itself in peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention excluding the main controversies; for instance, NATO carried out 77 days of air strikes to remove Milosevic’s Serbian troops from Kosovo in 1999. Also in 1995, NATO’s intervention in Bosnia established conditions for the subsequent signing of the Dayton Peace Accords (1995). Hence demonstrating that in both interventions, NATO played an important role in nation-building once the fighting had ceased; illustrating their peacekeeping aims. Overall, the extent to which NATO it’s still relevant and useful is to a small extent as the more recent missions tend to have been controversial.

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Pros and Cons of NATO. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“Pros and Cons of NATO.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
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