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169 CONCLUSION NATO’s Durability in a Post–Cold War World this book began by highlighting how nato has continually been beset by crises, criticism, tensions, and disagreements. nato has never had an easy ride, and likely never will. If anything, the emerging security challengesofthetwenty-firstcenturyareincreasinglycomplex,andreach� ing agreement on how best to deal with them will become more difficult, not less. Despite these challenges, nato has proved to be an incredibly durable organization. It has weathered the storms of transatlantic politics, survived regular and sometimes simultaneous crises, both within its membership and without, and demonstrated a remarkable degree of staying power within a changing international environment. What is the essence of the response to the core question that this book posed at the outset: What explains nato’s durability in the post–Cold War era? As revealed in the summaries at the end of each of the preceding chapters, when examining nato’s overall historical trajectory, there are two broad explanations of nato durability that, together, provide powerful insights. the liberal narrative The broad historical analysis provided in this book has revealed some clear and consistent liberal dynamics that have contributed to nato’s resilience, its toughness, and its lastingness throughout its post–Cold War history. This narrative emerged strongly in justifying nato’s expansion during the Clinton administration and, since the early 1990s, it has been an ever-present way of interpreting, explain� ing , and justifying nato’s changing post–Cold War role. NATO’s Values and Its Commitment to Democracy nato’s durability has proved to be closely related to the organization’s values, particularly its commitment to democracy, self-determination, 170 ◆ conclusion and human rights, and especially when those rights have been threatened by despotic regimes. nato has always been an alliance of democracies and one committed to democratic values. This underpins the alliance and gives it a powerful raison d’être. nato enlargement was founded on a desire to extend and safeguard democracy and nato’s role has been shaped by the need to respond to states where democracy and self-determination has literally fallen apart—in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Libya. Promoting democracy and human rights in these countries has been seen as contributing directly to the security of nato members. That is not to say that nato has been trying to create Western-style democracies in these countries, and the alliance’s role in democracy promotion has certainly been controversial, but the need to secure basic human rights, governance, and some level of legitimacy and accountability, have all played a big part in nato’s durability. The Impact of Domestic and Democratic Politics Relatedly, nato’s durability is linked to the impact of domestic/ democratic politics in nato member states, partner states, and the countries in which nato has been involved operationally. There are many examples throughout nato’s post–Cold War history where domestic politics had a big impact in sustaining and galvanizing nato. Changes of government in nato member states have reinvigorated the alliance—the election of President Obama perhaps being the most prominent example in the post–Cold War era. Domestic politics shaped the enlargement decision and strategy profoundly, with powerful lobbying groups, important domestic constituencies, and trade opportunities and commercial incentives all playing a role. Domestic politics was also a vital driver of nato intervention in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, and strong domestic support for nato and its operations within nato countries has given the alliance a solid footing in trying times. There are also strong domestic and democratic reasons why Central and Eastern European states wanted to join the alliance, and actively lobbied nato member states to support their inclusion in the alliance. nato is a community of democracies and it has proved to be the case that the internal democratic politics of nato members has consistently had an impact in sustaining the alliance and its post–Cold War role. NATO’s Institutional Characteristics and Its Ability to Adapt nato’s durability in the post–Cold War era is integrally linked to the institutional characteristics of the alliance and its ability to adapt conclusion ◆ 171 to different international circumstances. The importance of strong political leadership exercised through a consensual decision-making structure, the importance of the integrated military command structure , nato’s political machinery—the nac, pfp, nrc, for example— have all been fundamental in the alliance’s ability to survive, recover, and deal with intra-alliance crises. The Strategic Concepts (1991, 1999, and 2010) have driven reform...


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