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Journal of Cold War Studies 6.2 (2004) 75-77

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Mark Smith, NATO Enlargement during the Cold War: Strategy and System in the Western Alliance. New York: Palgrave, 2000. 207 pp.

Mark Smith's careful study of the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during the Cold War could not be more timely. In November 2002 the alliance decided to take in eight more new members, following up on an enlargement in 1997-1999 that brought in three new countries. The wisdom of this policy has been a subject of considerable debate ever since the North Atlantic Council opened the possibility of new membership in an appendage to the Partnership for Peace program in December 1994. The prospect of further enlargement of NATO in the years ahead makes it worthwhile to look back at the three rounds of enlargement that occurred during the Cold War.

Although the advantages and drawbacks of an expanding alliance have engaged the attention of pundits and policymakers since the end of the Cold War, there has been little serious examination of the circumstances that led to the accession of new members during NATO's first forty years. Nor has there been much attention paid to the impact of enlargement on the functioning of the alliance during the Cold War or to the general role of enlargement in NATO's history. Mark Smith of the University of Southampton merits the appreciation of NATO scholars for shedding new light on the tortuous course of the early growth of the alliance.

Smith groups the causes of enlargement into three categories and then applies them to each accession: (1) "the external context," notably pressures created by the Cold War that served as a powerful centripetal force; (2) "the intra-alliance debate," usually centering on the influence of domestic politics in judging the suitability of a potential new member; and (3) "the taxonomy of membership," based on the criteria the alliance used when admitting new members. During the intra-alliance debates the United States displayed its clout as a senior partner, although it often served as a catalyst, [End Page 75] raising issues without forcing an outcome on its partners. Smith makes a distinction between "imperialistic" behavior, involving attempts by the Americans to impose their agenda on the allies, and "hegemonic" authority, which could be exercised when U.S. concerns about enlargement were shared by all or almost all of the other members. Although the three categories invite rigidity and are less self-contained than the author intended, they provide a useful guide through the differing circumstances that marked the admission of Greece, Turkey, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), and Spain.

Some of Smith's conclusions are self-evident, particularly the importance of the Soviet challenge in the Cold War as a driving force behind the enlargement of the organization. Greece and Turkey were accepted into the alliance after the Korean War inspired the creation of a military structure in Europe that required support of its southeastern flank. Had the war not taken place, it is unlikely that Greek and Turkish pleas for admission would have been heeded. Smith deemphasizes the Korean War, however, as he goes to some lengths to claim that the Cold War alone was an insufficient explanation for enlargement. The alliance, he rightly observes, "established a role and purpose that went beyond the agendas of the East-West confrontation" (p.162). The postwar reconstruction that would remove the sources of conflict within Western Europe and establish a new order of relationships was a significant impulse for bringing West Germany into NATO, as were the troops that the FRG's membership would provide to the military command.

It is worth noting that more space is given to Spain's accession than to the Federal Republic's, even though the integration of West Germany into NATO in 1955 was of much greater impact—both substantively and symbolically—than the later admission of Spain. But because Germany's role has been so exhaustively analyzed over the years, Smith...


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