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NATO: Successes and Failures Essay

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Updated: Oct 14th, 2021


The world seems to be transforming into a battleground, rather than a peaceful provision to live in. Everyone is seen to be full of greed, deceit, jealousy, and all the other negative elements one can think of, are present in ‘our’ world today. Undoubtedly, war and its forms have been omnipresent since time immemorial, and people have wanted to take over other’s lands, properties, and have commenced war-like situations, or battles. The harshness of people has not ended, and till today, half of the world is at war.

A need to help counter war-like situations was felt by some nations, and a defense alliance by the name of NATO came into being on 4th April 1949. NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is a coalition of 26 nations, from North America and Europe, and is attempting to fulfill the terms of the treaty that was signed in 1949 (NATO, 2008). This treaty included the United States, Portugal, Canada, Italy, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland among other member nations.

NATO and its Tasks

NATO emerged as a defensive body for the people and assured security and safety in times of political turmoil, or in the case of a foreign attack. The treaty contained such commitments with one another, to help in times of dire need, and if any of the member states were attacked by an outside body, they would all be equally affected, and all member countries would help for the defense of the affected zone.

This is what NATO functions as, to this date. The question that arises, is that is NATO serving the way it is supposed to, without any biased actions, and whether each country of the world is being treated with equity or not. The current fights that are present in various portions of the world are based on a variety of reasons, some due to ethnic differences, some for religious purposes, and others, over a dispute of land, etc. NATO goes to various regions of the world, to help solve their problems, by providing defense to the nations attacked, and supplying arms, and army personnel. NATO has been successful at some tasks and unsuccessful in other areas, where the opposition parties do not seem to give in and are stronger than NATO itself. NATO is trying to bring peacekeeping grounds to many blocs of the globe.

However, despite the many interventions being executed by NATO in Kosovo and Afghanistan, it has faced more failures as compared to its success rate and can be classified as a disappointment in its attempt for peacekeeping.

NATO Interventions in Kosovo

NATO is attempting to protect nations against terrorism, and provide defense in the Balkan region. They have begun a peacekeeping mission in the region while trying to help out the governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the past Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in reorganizing their armies. The plan that has been implemented by NATO is to keep peace and stability in the Eastern European region and smooth the process of the combination of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, and the previous Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, into Euro-Atlantic bodies.

This was a marked aspect in the history of NATO, to get out of the member countries circle, and get involved with other nations and their peacekeeping missions (NATO, 2008). The attempts made at Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Kosovo, were to forcefully end conflicts, and deploy troops with the aim of developing situations in which peace would take its turn, and hostilities would end. The alliance had ended hostilities in the Yugoslavian region with diplomatic talks and has chalked out a plan for peacekeeping and resolution in the region.

NATO has worked for the European Union additionally, and the OSCE, (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), the United Nations, and various other institutes, for restoration of peace, and other such aims. NATO is guided for its military tasks by the North Atlantic Council and this is the organization that makes its decisions and plans.

Since June 1999, NATO has been in Kosovo for the maintenance and restoration of peace and political steadiness. There have also been other international efforts that have tried to restore peace in Kosovo. In Kosovo, there is a prevailing body called the KFOR, or Kosovo Force, and is headed by NATO. At the time of plenty of political upheavals in the year 1999, this body was initiated to counter the situation, with the help of a 78-day air operation over there.

Kosovo declared independence in February 2008, but NATO stated that the KFOR that had been developed for peacekeeping in the region should remain as it is, and not discontinue service, depending on the decisions made by the Foreign Ministers. This decision was taken to make available the support of the KFOR to the people when they need them, with their consistent collaboration with the United Nations and the European Union. The only reason for this deployment was to encourage and enhance the development of Kosovo as a multi-ethnic populace.

The current number of KFOR personnel is 15, 900, and they are deployed to cut down or diminish any ethnic differences that may further arise in Kosovo, and also to provide them with security at all times. When the problem of Kosovo was initiated, NATO gave assistance to the nations which were present to help them out with their operations, like Finland and the United Nations. Since then, the alliance has been ready to provide security to the people of Kosovo.

NATO Interventions in Afghanistan

The Afghanistan instability arose a few years ago, and NATO has been involved in peacekeeping operations there too. The country needs to be reconstructed and was on the verge of a downfall until matters seemed to take their place, and political issues settled to an extent. The indulgence of NATO into the Afghan borders has been the most challenging, according to the Secretary-General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Since Afghanistan is a third-world, underdeveloped country, NATO decided to assist the people there, for their recovery and reconciliation, and also to give them the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves. NATO is playing a key role in the Afghanistan Compact, which is a five-year plan within the Afghan government and the international community, for aims to restore security and stability in the country, as well as provide economic development to the country, as much as possible.

NATO, Georgia, and Ukraine

There is an intensified relationship between NATO ad Ukraine. In the year 1997, the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC), came into existence, which was in charge of the operating activities and relations between the alliance and Ukraine. A Charter was established for the analysis of the relationships existing between the two, and to conduct plans for future sustenance of the body to be handy in times of need.

The NATO member states and Ukraine are included in the NUC, and meetings of the ambassadors, defense ministers, and other staff are held regularly. The current issue that has arisen is that the Ukrainian region and Georgia wish to be granted membership into the NATO, but the Western allies are not ready to accept them and are unwilling to grant them the Membership Action Plans (MAP). The basic reason behind this is that the member states are worried as to how they will deal with Russia, after its ill relations with Georgia recently. They are still worrisome as to how things will work out after President George W. Bush leaves office in January.

Georgia is probably not going to be granted a membership because of its bad behavior, and the leaders present it as irresponsible. The Ukrainian region will also probably not be granted the MAP, because of consistent misunderstandings and tensions between the president and the prime minister. The majority of the population also does not favor its membership in NATO (Whitmore, B., 2008). Ukraine is also suffering from a political crisis, and the membership into NATO or its acceptance as a member would not be feasible, or recommendable.

Membership in NATO is devised to increase costs, as well as risks. The membership of other nations will also affect the relations with Russia, which are cooperating in their arms usage and retaining peace in the Balkans (Reiter, D.).

Failures of NATO in Afghanistan

NATO has proved to be a failure in its operation execution in Afghanistan. There was much ado about nothing in its course over there, attempting to retain peace in the Afghan region. There is another aid available to the Afghans now like Canada is offering big help. The military, as well as civilian population, is seen there, working voluntarily, because NATO could not prove successful. It claims to agree to the facts that are laid forward, such as the region being high in rank, but there is no funding and military assistance from the other member nations.

It is wondered as to why these nations are not coming forth, if it is due to the fear of the entire action being a loss, or if it is just talking more and doing less, because of America’s developing policies with the Muslim world, is unknown. It could also be because the allied countries are unprepared for the consequences that the Muslim population in their countries might face (Smith, G., 2007). Thus we can assume the following factors to be the failure of NATO’s interventions in Afghanistan being a failure:

  • Lack of resources granted by the member states of NATO
  • More verbal commitments, and less action
  • No proper execution or implementation of the plan
  • Fear of full-fledged assistance due to the Afghan region being a crucial, terrorist-inflicted zone
  • Fear of helping out the Muslims, who are better known as terrorists
  • NATO had broad nation-building goals in Afghanistan, but they could not be achieved due to the Western concern of the Taliban being present there. The Al-Qaeda movement which is deep-rooted in Afghanistan is the main core of global terrorism currently, which fathers the Taliban, and does not support Western views and thoughts.

The NATO entered Afghanistan with the prospect of developing conditions in which Afghanistan can “enjoy”, after many years of destruction, and turmoil. Only some of the policies put forth by NATO are working, while most are not. It is estimated that even in a period of ten years, the objectives that NATO has set will not be attained.

NATO seems to be going wherever it wishes to, without concern of the nation is a part of the NATO member states or not, as was agreed in the treaty. The action was to be taken only if any of the member states get attacked. But NATO seemed to want to interfere in all disputed regions, like in Kosovo, presumably due to reinventing the role of NATO (Hussain, F., 2008).

Failures of NATO in Kosovo

The NATO-led forces in Kosovo have failed to protect the rights of the minorities, according to reports attained from that region. The actions to be undertaken in Kosovo were to be its greatest challenge but was failed to be achieved, and during the riots going on in the Serbian localities, the NATO officials locked their gates and just watched the Serb homes being burnt. The KFOR that had been developed for the protection of minority rights, s aforementioned, but while the Albanian crowds were attacking the Serbs, the allied forces just watched them, without posing immediate help.

The KFOR needs to be equipped and trained for the prevention of violence, and to protect the rights of the minorities, as were promised. If NATO had entered Kosovo despite not being a member country, and they came about with the goodwill of assisting and protecting human rights, then they should be able to keep up with their commitment and grant the minorities the right to live there freely, instead of not taking any course of action for their main cause.

The alliances set out to war for protecting the political situation in the Balkan region, but unfortunately, NATO became a failure and poised the opposite of what had been intended. Thousands of refugees ended up in the region, and the aims NATO had set out with were failed to be achieved (Mandelbaum, M., 1999). The fragile condition of the Balkan region turned out to be a catastrophe (Hopman, T., 2000). NATO had even been unprepared in its air raids; attacks on the ground were made without proper targeting, and this made them unwary for protecting the civilians present in Kosovo (Hopman, T., 2000). The aerial operation ended up destroying the infrastructure of the region, with burned homes, farms, and innocent lives being taken. Everything was miscalculated, despite the many promises they had set out with.


It is apparent that despite the aims that NATO had in its agenda for peacekeeping in the various regions of the world, it has proved a failure more than a success. It can be seen by the execution carried out in Afghanistan and Kosovo, that there have been more claims than actions, over its decades of existence as a peace-providing entity. The failures of NATO also affected the already weak economies of these regions.

Works Cited

  1. Hussain, F. NATO, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan:What is NATO Doing in Afghanistan? 2008.
  2. Hopman, T. Failure in Kosovo 2000.
  3. 2008. Web.
  4. Mandelbaum, M. A Perfect Failure: NATO’s War Against Yugoslavia 1999.
  5. 2008. Web.
  6. Reiter, D. Why NATO Enlargement Does Not Spread Democracy.
  7. Smith, G. Canada in Afghanistan: Is It Working? 2007.
  8. Whitmore, B. NATO Foreign Ministers Meet To Consider Georgian, Ukrainian Bids 2008.
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