The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO came into being as a result of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in April 1949. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, it asks its members to provide mutual defense against external threats.
It was the Korean War that turned NATO from a talk shop into a military power. However, tensions plagued the alliance with Europeans growing skeptical over the reasons for NATO and even the US commitment to confronting the Soviet Union. Eventually, in 1966, the French withdrew from NATO.
One would think the fall of the USSR would have put an end to NATO. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Like any other useless bureaucracy, those invested in NATO merely reconfigured the effort and eventually found a new cause in confronting the "war on terror." Afghanistan, in fact, was supposed to be a major proving ground for NATO, and indeed it has shown the new, expanded NATO to be far more brutal and aggressive than the old version, which was rarely involved in an actual war.
Today, NATO members spend over 70% of the world's total defense spending, with the US accounting for 43%. The spending has lately been aimed at Afghanistan where a "war of liberation" has dragged on for a decade, killing, maiming and causing untold suffering to millions of Afghans.
One could compare NATO to some sort of vague, militaristic blob that engorges itself without any real reason. Today it is even making overtures to Russia! And its bellicosity is no doubt one reason why China has chosen to expand the pace and depth of its own military resources.
Whether it is prosecuting a failing war in Afghanistan or attempting to intimidate China with the blunt military tactics of encirclement, NATO continues to blunder its way into the 21st century, useless and truculent, but always expansive. It would have been better to shut it down after the fall of the USSR, but that didn't happen. Now, 20 years later, NATO is resurgent – a growing alliance that has had no reason to exist. It will find one, of course, just as it will make enemies where it can to justify its presence. It is not just a useless organization but a dangerous one as well.