NATO and SEATO are organisations who come forward and fight for civilians rights and injustice. We experienced their activity in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. But why NATO is not taking actions against Asad regime in Syria, Israeli forces in Palestine, Burmese military, Chinese government in Xinjiang Uygur region and Indian Army and Pakistani Army in Kashmir region who killed and displaces million of people? Is NATO take action only against certain nations, does NATO discriminate to take action?


NATO is not a humanitarian organization.

NATO is the collective defense organization by various "North Atlantic" countries. The purpose is to defend (Article 5) the territory of the NATO members north of the tropic of cancer (Article 6).

There have been few attacks against NATO members. The Algerian War was not considered an external attack. The Falklands War did not count because it was too far south. The 9/11 terror attacks were considered an Article 5 case, which caused Afghanistan and Iraq, among other operations in the war on terror.

NATO has also acted when several NATO members, individually, decided to act and asked to make use of NATO command facilities. The best example are the various interventions in the breakup of Yugoslavia.

So to answer your question, those countries you mention did not attack any NATO member and did not motivate a sufficient number of NATO members to act collectively within the existing NATO structure.

  • “those countries you mention did not attack any NATO member”, neither did Libya nor Iraq (Afghanistan is a bit of a stretch but it was at least linked to 9/11 which was experienced as a traumatic attack by the most influence NATO member). – Relaxed Aug 22 '19 at 5:43
  • @Relaxed, Libya would come under the last paragraph. Regarding Iraq, the US administration at the time claimed the terror connection in addition to "Weapons of Mass Distraction". They made it stick. I've added a link. – o.m. Aug 22 '19 at 5:56
  • Right, but it directly disproves the third one as does the second paragraph. Real attacks were ignored (Falklands), fake attacks were invoked (Iraq) or we dispensed with the pretense entirely. Article 5 provides at best technical legal cover but whether a country genuinely “attacked” a NATO member does not really explain these decisions or answer the question. – Relaxed Aug 22 '19 at 6:01
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    @Relaxed, the Falklands are south of the Tropic of Cancer. They were not "ignored," they were explicitly excluded when the treaty was written. – o.m. Aug 22 '19 at 6:06
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    @Relaxed, how does the point stand? If I get insurance for my car but not for my bicycle, it is in no way remarkable that the insurance company doesn't cover damage to the bike. The Tropic of Cancer was written into the treaty for very good reasons and everybody did accept that. – o.m. Aug 22 '19 at 6:17

Goals of NATO

NATO is the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Like the previous answers, I would point out that NATO is an association of countries to protect themselves and their interest.

Originally, it was created as a way for the USA to get allies, limit communism extension and defend against the USSR threat.

Thus the actions of NATO may appear inconsistent as far as Human rights are concerned, but that isn't why it's there at all.

Specific examples

There are a few examples mentioned in your question or in some comments, and I wanted to clarify some elements:

  • Libya: NATO did not intervene in Libya as such. But the USA, the UK and France did in their own name. Being the main army forces behind the NATO, we tend to mix them, but no, that was "individual" operations for the most part. NATO as such only participated in the naval blockade.
  • Syria: actually the same countries backed some groups opposing Al-Assad, but were weary to directly act. Libya is a failed state resulting from the intervention mentioned above. So the Western Powers were trying to find another approach. And then came ISIS. Which meant that their interests shifted slightly. It became more important to eliminate ISIS than to fight against a dictator.
  • Israel: is a strong ally of the USA, and important cultural and economical partner. They are not a direct threat to NATO members.
  • Burma: no threat whatsoever to NATO members.
  • China: no threat whatsoever to NATO members. Plus a direct war against China would have very complex consequences worldwide, so better to avoid being too strong on there.
  • Kashmir: no threat whatsoever to NATO members. Plus again risk of complex consequences.
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    Note that Turkey is also very active in Syria with distinct goals and strategy (and of course no integrated command). – Relaxed Aug 22 '19 at 7:19

The short and the long of it is that NATO simply follows US policy in these cases. It has no broad mandate to fight against injustice in the world and did not decide to start any of these wars. It lent support after the fact, sometimes reluctantly (very quickly in Libya, with some real fighting in Afghanistan, and only for a limited training mission in Iraq), because the US requested it. But it was not a driving force behind the initial military intervention, operationally or politically.

NATO does require the approval of other members than the US to act and many are weary of risky expeditions so it doesn't automatically follow what the US does. That's why only individual NATO countries (US, UK, France, Turkey, the Netherlands) have been involved in Syria and not under unified command. The more careful members also required some sort of UN sanction before stepping in (not necessarily a full-blown mandate but at least a robust condemnation). Given the political support they enjoy, it's highly unlikely such a resolution would ever get passed against China (it has a veto in the UN security council), Israel, or Syria.

Not to mention the fact it's difficult to believe that anybody would think that a war with India, China, or Pakistan would be a good idea or achieve anything. Politics and foreign support aside, even Israel would be a much more formidable enemy than Afghanistan or Iraq, requiring a strong commitment for a very risky operation.

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