When the news came yesterday that Finland wanted to join NATO, and Russia started new threats, I decided it was time for a little history and geography lesson.

First of all, have you seen where Finland is on the map? It borders with Russia. I mean, they share an 810 mile border. For perspective, Russia and Ukraine share 1200 miles of land.

It was Ukraine’s desire to join NATO that stirred up this war. Now, Finland wants in. So, does Sweden. If it happens, Russia would be surrounded by NATO in the Baltic and Arctic Seas.

Russia says it would retaliate with military steps if Finland and Sweden follow through on their NATO requests.

I gotta be honest about something here. I think I thought that Finland and Sweden were already in NATO.

Let’s do some research. Reading from 1440: “NATO was founded in 1949 by the United States, Canada and several European nations to provide security against the Soviet Union.”

This was just after World War Two. The world had been divided up. President Harry Truman wanted a way for smaller countries to be protected from over expansion of the Soviet Union. The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on April 4, 1949.

(Now, I understand why Vladimir Putin hates NATO so much. It was designed to stop the Soviet Union from expanding.)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. There are thirty member states, according to Wikipedia. Mostly European, but the U.S. and Canada are members.

NATO has military power. Member countries vow to protect each other. Since Ukraine is not a member, NATO forces have not stepped into the war with Russia.

That said, NATO member countries vow to protect each other. Article 5 of the NATO charter states that any attack on any member shall be considered an attack on all. The 9/11 attacks on the United States caused NATO to invoke Article 5.

NATO and the United Nations are two different organizations. Derek Boothby from the U.N. Department of Political Affairs, explains the difference very well.

He writes: “NATO is an organization designed to fight war, if necessary, in order to defend peace; whereas the U.N. is an organization designed to avoid war in order to maintain peace.”

The United Nations has many more members than NATO. Yes, Ukraine, Sweden and Finland are members. So are Afghanistan, China, Cuba, Russia and the United States. 193 member states in all.

That’s my history and geography lesson for today. I did this for me. You just got dragged into it. Thanks for playing along.

One thought on “Just what is NATO anyway?”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: