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The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or NATO was set up in 1946 and until 1990 primarily concentrated on European defence against the Warsaw Pact countries However since the collapse of the Soviet Union NATO has lost its principle protagonist So it must be asked can there really be as the US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said a new NATO for a new century Indeed she said at the Brookings Institution that since the end of the Cold War Alliance leaders have been confronted with a new set of questions How would the Alliance hold together now that the adversary that had brought it together was gone If it remained united what would it do How should it change How might the new NATO relate to the new Europe And what role would Russia play1 These are all valid questions when attempting to evaluate the extent to which NATO is a thing of the past Natos traditional role was that of containment of the Warsaw Pact countries and Western European security It was Ernst Bevin the British foreign secretary who came up with the idea of NATO which has always principally been a military alliance who said that NATO would be the answer to the Communist threat by organising and consolidating the ethical and spiritual forces of Western civilisation If this is the case since the collapse of Communism many would argue that NATO is no longer necessary It has achieved its purpose and its usefulness has been outlived Indeed Kenneth Waltz a prominent international relations scholar said in 1990 that NATO is a disappearing thing It is a question of how long it is going to remain as a significant institution even though its name may linger on2 However since 1990 NATO has expanded in size to include Hungary Poland and the Czech Republic adapted to pursue peace-keeping roles in Central and Eastern Europe and most recently launched one of the largest aerial campaigns
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