NATO is an alliance of 28 states from Europe and North America. It was founded in 1949 at the start of the Cold War to provide for the collective defense of its members, and for much of its history was focused on the military threat posed by the forces of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. Since the end of the Cold War in 1989, the direct military threat to NATO’s European member states has substantially diminished and NATO has transformed itself to additionally include crisis management beyond its borders and collective security amongst its tasks. This requires substantial investment by its member states to modernize their armed forces to be deployable and sustainable overseas. More recently, the long term effects of the global financial crisis have underlined the strain that defense expenditure puts on the governments of the member states. And, under the terms of NATO’s Treaty, its European member states should still be able to expect military assistance from the United States and Canada in the event of an attack. Should NATO’s European members reduce their armed forces?
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