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Journal of Cold War Studies 5.2 (2003) 115-117

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S. Victor Papacosma, Sean Kay, and Mark R. Rubin, eds., NATO After Fifty Years. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2001. 279 pp. $65.00.

More than fifty years after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created, it is still an alliance in the making. Instead of being dismantled after 1991, it has been reinvented, though perhaps not on a lasting basis. After much hesitation and soul-searching, alliance members played a key role in ending the war in Bosnia- Herzegovina, in bringing about a settlement in Kosovo, and in reaching out to the countries of the former Communist bloc. NATO is unique among alliances. After forty years as a Cold War alliance it has been transformed into an instrument for security and stabilization in Europe and perhaps eventually will become an organ in the global war against terrorism. Conferences and publications, notably Gustav Schmidt's three-volume A History of NATO: The First Fifty Years (New York: Palgrave, 2001), greeted the fiftieth anniversary of the alliance in 1999. The edited collection under review is the latest addition to this burgeoning literature.

How successful has the transformation of NATO been and what lies ahead? NATO After Fifty Years is the fruit of a conference hosted by the Lyman L. Lemnitzer Center for NATO and European Union (EU) Studies at Kent State University in May 1999. Two thoughtful introductory essays offer optimistic and pessimistic assessments of the alliance and its future. Stanley R. Sloan finds reassurance in NATO's fifty-year track record of adaptation, contending that the alliance represents the only proved and tested security organization spanning North American and European interests [End Page 115] and values. By contrast, Ted Galen Carpenter argues that NATO has outlived its usefulness. He emphasizes the lack of consensus about NATO's future, a situation that persists even after the NATO summit in Prague in November 2002. Traditionalists continue to stress collective defense and the transatlantic relationship, whereas advocates of a new NATO propose out-of-area, even global, missions. Expansion in the 1990s, observes Galen, may well have damaged the transatlantic relationship. Julian Lindley-French is critical of Britain's dual effort to encourage defense reform among NATO partners while also working with France and Germany for an EU defense capability. His advocacy of a new partnership in which Washington would give allies more say over policy in return for greater defense spending seems unlikely to materialize.

In practice, as Frédéric Bozo recognizes, the Atlanticist perspective has prevailed over European views, reinforcing American leadership. Bozo offers a timely reminder that NATO's interventions in the former Yugoslavia nearly ended in failure. Other contributors examine the workings of the organization. Steven L. Rearden highlights one of the most innovative features of post-Cold War evolution, the deployment of Combined Joint Task Forces. The tensions between peacetime structure and wartime operations are addressed by Robert S. Jordan. Alliance members have different perceptions of partnership, and in wartime this may mean that effective military planning is stymied by complex political roadblocks, as General Wesley Clark found to his dismay in Kosovo.

Even in peacetime, however, serious tensions, as Andrew A. Michta demonstrates, may undermine the organization. On the one hand, NATO's requirement that new members meet standards of civilian control over the military has been a positive force in stabilizing former Communist countries. On the other hand, the allies, by giving new missions to NATO that outstrip available resources and training, have provoked civil-military distrust. Jeffrey Simon criticizes the Washington Summit of 1999 for generating unrealistic expectations by extending what was perceived to be a de facto security guarantee to the non-NATO countries bordering Serbia.

What relationship should NATO have with the EU? Pierre-Henri Laurent believes that the European Security and Defense Initiative (ESDI) is unlikely to result in a strong EU defense force. Three chapters examine the relationship of theory and practice. Cooperative security, argues Allen G. Sens, has largely replaced collective defense, but the new doctrine might undermine alliance cohesion...