The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) is the largest military force ever assembled, with a potential armed force of more than seven million.
Two decades after its original enemy, the Soviet Union, disintegrated, the alliance has been searching for a new identity and new role.
As it reinvents itself for the 21st century, Nato is also redefining its threat assessments and its area of operations.
The Russian leadership is many things, but not foolish. As reported on 30 November, 2010 at:
"While the U.S. and Russia have been publicly crowing about their awesome new friendship for the past two years, Moscow’s been moving small, ground-based nuclear weapons closer to the borders of Washington’s easternmost NATO allies."
"As recently as this spring, the Russians have moved their tactical nukes to sites close to their Western frontiers, alarming the Baltic and Eastern European members of NATO, the Wall Street Journal reports. Russia’s longstanding position is that it won’t pull its tactical nuclear weapons behind the Ural Mountains until the U.S. gets its own small nukes out of Europe. True totals of Russian tactical nuclear weapons is a tightly-held secret, but the Federation of American Scientists estimated last year that Moscow has nearly 5,400 of them, with about 2,000 deployed."
Unless the tension between Russia, China, and NATO is defused by some workable, verifiable treaty mechanism, we may well be looking at a recipe for disaster, culminating in a world war.