What is NATO and why was it created?
NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was formed in 1949 with the aim, first and foremost, of acting as a deterrent to the threat of Soviet expansion in Europe after World War II. Beyond that, the United States saw it as a tool to prevent the resurgence of nationalist tendencies in Europe and to foster political integration on the continent.
Its origins, however, actually go back to 1947, when the United Kingdom and France signed the Treaty of Dunkirk as an alliance to counter the eventuality of a German attack in the aftermath of the war.
The original 12 founding members of the political and military alliance are: the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal. Today, there are 30 countries who are members.
At its core, the organization acts as a collective security alliance with the aim of providing mutual defense through military and political means if a member state is threatened by an external country.