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In partnership with: Harcourt Riverdeep

Evaluate the relevance of NATO

February 10, 2003
Web posted at: 11:03 PM EST (0403 GMT)

After students read "Debate over defending Turkey takes center stage at NATO" present the following:


• How NATO works external link

• Holt, Rinehart and Winston: World Atlas external link
• Holt, Rinehart and Winston: Holt Researcher external link

1. What does NATO stand for? What was its goal? How many original members did this organization have? How many nations are currently in NATO? How many countries are due to gain official membership in 2004?

2. Why did the United States ask NATO to begin preparations for protecting Turkey? Do you think Turkey needs NATO protection? Which NATO members blocked that request? What reasons did they give for blocking the request? According to U.S. officials, how will this maneuver affect the U.S. stance on Iraq?

3. Bruce Jackson, President of the U.S. Committee on NATO, makes a case for why France shouldn't have the right to object. Why do you think France's objections are raising concerns in Washington, D.C.? Do you think that the fact that the U.S. pays the biggest defense bills in NATO and provides the technology that makes NATO possible should give it more power to make decisions for the organization? Explain.

4. Have small groups of students research the role of NATO. Assign each group one of the following topics to research: how and why NATO was formed, how a nation becomes a NATO member, the obligations of NATO members, the NATO treaty, NATO activities during the Cold War, and NATO today. After student groups present their findings to the class, tell students that they have been charged with the task of determining whether or not to disband NATO in favor of a new alliance system for the 21st century. They should consider the current role of the United States in NATO, and the potential for the U.S. to act on its own in the case of Iraq, without the support of the U.N. or NATO. Hold a class discussion on the following questions:

    • Do you think NATO is still a valid organization? Why or why not?

    • Do you think the U.S. still needs to be a part of a broader political, military, or economic organization such as NATO or the United Nations? Why or why not?

    • What purposes have these organizations served the U.S. in the past?

    • What purposes do they currently serve?

    • Should there be a new alliance system in place of the current system? Why or why not?

    • If so, what would it look like? What would be its goals? Who would belong? What methods would it use to further U.S. goals?

Encourage students share their ideas in a letter to Bruce Jackson.

Partner Resources:
Education Partners
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