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xvii INTRODUCTION Explaining NATO’s Durability the putin government’s forceful annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 sent shockwaves through the European security architecture. The events in Ukraine have been interpreted in Brussels as the single greatest challenge to post–Cold War European security and by nato as a compelling reason for the urgent rejuvenation of the alliance’s role in collective defense on the European continent. To critics of nato expansion, events on the alliance’s eastern flank provided evidence that Russia’s security concerns have been at best underestimated and at worst willfully ignored. To proponents of the policy of enlargement, here was one of its key justifications—the protection of Eastern and Central European countries against future Russian aggression. However recent events in Ukraine are interpreted, the ongoing dispute has been one more crisis in nato’s long, stormy, and turbulent history. The dispute over Egypt’s renationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956, the tension within the alliance over us involvement in the Vietnam War, and the dispute over the Reagan administration ’s deployment of Cruise and Pershing missiles to Europe in the 1980s, all placed enormous pressure on nato and its members. In the post–Cold War era the pattern continued. There were serious ruptures over alliance strategy and involvement in Bosnia in 1995, where nato was criticized by some for not acting soon enough, and by others for getting involved at all. In Kosovo, in 1999, alliance air strikes against Slobodan Milosevic’s forces, without a un mandate, provoked a further barrage of criticism. Perhaps the most serious crisis in nato’s history, the dispute over the us invasion of Iraq in 2003, shook the alliance to its core, threatening to drive an intractable wedge between the us and uk on the one hand and France and Germany on the other. The long and painful conflict in Afghanistan again placed the alliance under severe strain, prompting former us Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to warn that nato faced a “dim, if not dismal, future” if European members xviii ◆ introduction of the alliance continued to fall short on their commitments of troops and resources.1 Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the 2016 US presidential election has also placed the alliance under pressure. The new president, who previously referred to NATO as “obsolete”, has shown a reluctance in his first months in office to endorse the US commitment to Article 5, NATO’s collective defense clause, and has reprimanded NATO leaders for not meeting defence spending targets. Yet, perhaps against the odds, and in the face of these oftenvehement criticisms, nato has survived and continues to be at the very forefront of transatlantic security. The alliance has expanded to include seventeen new members since its formation, with thirteen of these joining since the end of the Cold War, and it is now operating with a host of new global partners in a much wider geographical area than was ever originally envisaged. The alliance has also become a central part of the transatlantic response to the new security challenges of a globalised world, in which transnational terrorist organizations and failed states present a real and continued threat to nato members. nato’s operation in Libya in 2011 underscored its prominence in this new era, if not its effectiveness, and its troubled operation in Afghanistan has been one of the most vital multilateral security operations in history. nato is still undoubtedly the most powerful alliance of states in the world and there are simply no competitors with anything like the same level of capability. The task of this book is to explain this apparent anomaly. Why, despite the crises, criticism, tension, and disagreement, has the alliance proved so resilient? How has nato confounded its critics, overcome its weaknesses, and remained at the forefront of international security? This analytical focus can be expressed more simply and succinctly. what explains nato’s durability in the post–cold war era? This is the central question that this book addresses, and it is an important question. The post–Cold War environment was distinctive in several respects. The us emerged from the Cold War as the world’s only superpower with no geopolitical or ideological competitor in sight. At the same time, the world was subject to deepening globalization, a process of growing interconnectedness between societies , institutions, cultures, and individuals. The focus on nato in the post–Cold War era will thus help shed light on how an alliance was...


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