Good Question: What Is NATO?

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Soon, the United States will turn over the lead role in operations against Libya to NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. So, what is NATO and does the U.S. really control the organization?

NATO was founded in 1949 to counteract the post war military might of the Soviet Union. The main theory of the alliance of 12 countries was that if there were an attack on one country, the others treated it like they were being attacked.

Today, NATO has grown to 28 countries: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, UK and the U.S.

Twelve countries joined the alliance after 1999.

So, what about Libya?

According to the Pentagon, the U.S. has spent $550 million bombing Libya. The U.K. has spent $55 million.

That is expected to change when NATO takes the lead role. After that, the U.S. will spend $40 million a month.

Typically, the U.S. provides 22 percent of the budget for NATO, according to the Associated Press, which is almost as much as the next two funders, Britain and France, combined.

A Canadian three-star general is running the operation in Libya, but his boss is NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, James Stavridis, who is an American.

Still, decisions are made with the consultation of the whole group, which gives the United States political cover. It also gives countries that are skeptical of the attack on Libya, like Turkey and Germany, the ability to say they had a voice.

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  • L

    “That is expected to change when NATO takes the lead role. After that, the U.S. will spend $40 million a month. ”

    Is that correct??!?!?!?? A MONTH!!!

    • Bob

      Missiles are expensive. A single cruise missile costs $500,000. The UK and the US launched 125 of them the first night. Not to mention the cost of naval and air operations. When we get our defense budget, it does not include the cost of actually using the military in a new operation.

  • Victim Du Jour

    NATO is a PR gimmick to make the false impression it’s a joint military action when Democrats are President.

    Like when Clinton sent troops to Bosnia.

  • w

    Nato is a corrupt organization paid for mostly by the U.S.

  • MNTP

    NATO is a front organization for the New World Order. Our particiipation in this organization is part of the socialist agenda for promoting One World government under the United Nations.

  • René

    It’s really sad that so many people didn’t know what NATO was!

    • Keep your change

      nato was great when it started and its worthless now full of crooks now

      • Bob

        What kind of crooks are those? The US military seems to like it a lot.

  • KLP

    Their website has a pretty straighforward explanation in flash animation:

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