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Unformatted text preview: ech Republic, Hungary, and Poland became the first former-Warsaw pact countries to join NATO, over Russia's stiff objections. In
the years to follow, the Baltic states and Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania also joined. Although the United States and Great Britain
circumvented NATO to topple the Taliban government in late 2001, two years later NATO took its operations outside of Europe for the first time
in the form of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Today the NATO-led force includes 50,000 troops from 40 countries,
including all 27 of the NATO allies. Given the East-West stalemate, during the postwar decades it was possible for NATO allies to work together
in the name of collective defense, despite the many differences of opinion within the pact. Leaving aside the question of the nature of the Soviet
threat (archives in Moscow turned up no plans for an invasion), the United States and the Western Europeans concurred that the Soviet Union
was the enemy. Although the United States set the agenda and the Europeans were effectively junior partners, the principle of collective decisio...
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