NATO was long touted as a post-WWII body of collective security, though few on the wrong end of its bombing campaigns have felt any safer for it. Here are a few reasons why 65 years of NATO haven’t made the world a better place.
NATO was founded as a post WWII force “to keep the Americans in,
the Russians out and the Germans down.”
But for over 40 years, the alliance barely made a peep, getting
involved in its first hot war after its Cold War rival had
already exited history’s stage.
In Bosnia, NATO got Security Council approval every step of the
way from 1992-1996, as it set up no-fly zones to protect “safe
areas” and UN peacekeepers on the ground, as warring factions
tore the former Yugoslavia apart.
On 28 February 1994, NATO engaged in the first combat operations
in its history when its fighters shot down four Bosnian Serb
fighter-bombers conducting a bombing mission in violation of the
They also set up a naval blockade in the Adriatic Sea to stem the
tide of arms and military equipment flowing into the former
Yugoslavia, though it was a series of airstrikes known as Dead
Eye and Deliberate Force that brought the Serbs to the
Since then, it’s gotten, how shall we put this, bigger, like a
heck of a lot bigger.
As NATO began aggressively expanding, in 1999 the alliance threw
UN mandates out of the window when they started a 78-day bombing
campaign of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, after
negotiations reportedly “broke down.”
It’s reported that up to 2,000 Yugoslav civilians were killed in
the NATO airstrikes.
The Chinese Embassy in Belgrade also didn’t fair too well.
“There is always a cost to defeat an evil. It never comes free,
unfortunately. But the cost of failure to defeat a great evil is
far higher," said NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said at the time.
Two years on, NATO evoked Article 5 of its treaty requiring the
alliance to come to the aid of any member state subject to an
armed attack for the first time in over half a century following
the 9/11 attacks.
The NATO led-International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was
first tasked with securing Kabul, though their mandate was later
expanded throughout the country.
And as always, when the bombs began to fall, the cost of
defeating evil was one NATO was willing to pay, hence the two
dozen dead Pakistani soldiers during an errant airstrike on the
Pakistani-Afghanistan border in November 2011.
Or 18 dead civilians – half of them children – during a coalition
airstrike in an eastern province in Afghanistan in June of the
But apologies are hard to come by, as victories are widely
celebrated, as civilian causalities are chalked up to
And for the scores of “unacknowledged” civilians killed during
NATO’s 2011 bombing campaign in Libya, or the rebel fighters
taken down in friendly fire attacks, NATO repeats the eternal
mantra heard every time when it attempts to bomb its way to
peace: “collateral damage.”
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