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1 1 THE POST–COLD WAR ENVIRONMENT AND NATO ENLARGEMENT as nato entered into the post–Cold War period, the alliance faced new challenges and was forced to adapt to a changing strategic environment. The Soviet Union had collapsed, depriving the alliance of its main adversary, and debates raged in Europe and America about the ongoing viability of an institution centered on deterring a threat that was no longer there. nato’s role was put to the test in dealing with the fallout from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ethnic, intrastate conflict in the former Yugoslavia, and the alliance went through a period of intensive institutional realignment during this period, the absorption into the alliance of a newly unified Germany, the absorption of France back into the military command structure, and late in the decade, the enlargement of the alliance by three new members, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, extending the border in which nato operated 400 miles closer to Russia. nato clearly had a significant role in European and world politics in this period. What factors contributed to the alliance’s durability in this new era, though, and how did the alliance demonstrate such remarkable resilience in the face of a world that was rapidly changing ? These are the central questions that this chapter addresses. The chapter proceeds in three parts. First, it explores nato’s Cold War foundations and how they helped sustain the alliance in entering into the new strategic environment of the 1990s. This section also analyzes the interrelated effects of (a) the changing international “structure,” (b) the impact of globalization, (c) the first Gulf War, and (d) the rise of intrastate conflict. Second, the chapter examines the process of institutional change within the alliance, the adoption of a new strategic concept, which was directly linked to this changing strategic context, and explores the “genesis” of the enlargement strategy. Third, the chapter examines in detail the debate over nato enlargement, the pros and cons, and the reasons those in favor of the strategy prevailed. The chapter reveals the divides that began to emerge in this period between democratic and realist narratives about nato. 2 ◆ nato’s durability in a post–cold war world It argues, however, that the decision to proceed with enlargement, and the strategic and political rationale behind it, demonstrates the convergence between liberal values and interests during this crucial early period in nato’s post–Cold War history. nato’s cold war foundations and the “new security environment” nato’s durability in the post–Cold War era was clearly contingent on its Cold War history. That is to say, nato’s historical accumulation of experience influenced its ongoing trajectory. By the time the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 nato had been in operation for more than forty years. The alliance had faced many and varied challenges, both external and internal, but it had survived, and in doing so had accumulated a great deal of valuable experience.1 nato was a larger alliance first of all, the members that joined during the Cold War—Turkey and Greece (1952), West Germany (1955), and Spain (1982)— had strengthened the organization and given it a wider geographical area of operation. The major Cold War conflicts and crises—the Korean War, Suez Crisis, Vietnam War, the decision by Charles de Gaul to leave the military command in 1965, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and President Reagan’s contentious deployment of Pershing missiles to Europe in the 1980s—all served to influence and shape the organization ’s trajectory, inform its identity, and affect its operational capacity. The alliance had also become adept at resolving intra-alliance tensions during the Cold War. It had come through the storms of the Cold War and was perceived by many to have helped the West to emerge from this protracted conflict in a favorable position. Support for its ongoing role and a firm commitment to preserving the alliance in a very different strategic environment was contingent on such perceptions and on nato’s prior successes and failures. As Veronica Kitchen has argued, “Since détente, the allies had consistently presented their political community as something worthy of preservation for its own sake, rather than simply as a means to defence against the Soviet Union.”2 This commitment to nato did not dissipate as the alliance entered the 1990s, even as the alliance’s main adversary collapsed. Additionally, the political and institutional influence of the alliance was evident as nato...


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