Politics in Minutes (2016)

Alliances and neutrality

Alliances are common during wartime and may dissolve with the end of hostilities, such as the cooperation between the UK, the USA and Soviet Russia during the Second World War. But in the second half of the 20th century, two major military alliances emerged: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), comprising most nations of North America and Europe; and, in response, the Warsaw Pact (officially the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance) between the countries of the Soviet Union and its satellites.

More recently, with the breakup of the Communist bloc, new alliances are being formed, with economic and trade alliances also agreeing to some mutual military assistance and cooperation, and the Non-Aligned Movement of mainly southern-hemisphere countries not associated with or against any major power bloc. In addition, a handful of states, such as Switzerland, have steadfastly maintained a strict neutrality, refusing to align with any participants in international conflicts.