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The Opposite Attraction between Mars and Venus:

Sustaining NATO for American and European Security

by Hannah-Sophie Wahle Submitted to:

Advisor Prof. Stuart Gottlieb Director of Honors Thesis Colloquium Prof. Lee Quinby May 9, 2012



NATO: Mars &Venus


  • 1. Introduction


  • 2. Theoretical Framework (Realism vs. Liberalism) and Concepts


  • 3. NATO’s History from 1949 to the Present


  • 4. Conflicts of Interest (U.S. vs. Europe)


  • 5. Organizational Challenges


  • 5.1. Unequal Burden Sharing


  • 5.2. Expansion as a Means for Sustaining NATO


  • 5.3. NATO and the Nuclear Age


  • 5.4. Separable, but not Separate: the European Failure for Independent Security


  • 6. Endurance Explained through Realism


  • 7. Balkan Case Study: NATO’s First Test


  • 8. Prospects for NATO


  • 9. Conclusion




1. Introduction


NATO: Mars &Venus


The complex relationship between the United States and Europe resembles the

relationship metaphor of Mars and Venus. Just as Mars and Venus are alike and deeply

interconnected, the U.S. and Europe share a long history of similar ideals espousing a liberal

world order. After World War II and throughout the Cold War, the North Atlantic Treaty

Organization (“NATO”) evolved into one of the largest and most influential security institutions.

NATO member states joined together in an alliance first to contain the threat of Soviet expansion

and its communist ideals, and then later to integrate Eastern Europe into a more coherent Europe

away from former Soviet control. However, an opposition also occurs for both as understandings

are at times, mismatched. Faults in the organization have placed a shadow on cooperation from

the beginning. During NATO‟s continued existence after the fall of Communism, there was not

only a widening and deepening of unequal burden sharing but also divergences in objectives.

Essentially the alliance split into American and European camps, which have still remained


This mutual interdependence, while moving away from each other, thus puts into

question the efficiency of NATO. Understanding the origins of inefficiency and ideological

divides will help to determine NATO‟s degree of sustainability or alternatively the strength of

independent European solutions. This essay shows that if the transatlantic community seeks to

retain its relevance in providing security for both sides, NATO needs to focus on revisiting its

articles as well as establishing clear terms and structures appropriate for a larger NATO that can

respond to increasing non-military threats. NATO‟s relevance will be preserved through taking

this step before expanding further and beginning new missions throughout the world. Such


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revisions will be three-fold: namely the rejuvenation of values, realignment of troops and

resources as well as rapprochement of organizational structures.

In order to show the steps and re-organization necessary for the continuing relevance, this

paper will follow along six points. First, it will introduce the theories of Realism and Liberalism

as well as define vital concepts such as security communities. Second, the historical part will

provide a broad overview of some major events surrounding NATO and the changes NATO

underwent in its organization from its founding in 1949 until 1989. This point will provide a

closer look into the origin of NATO and will clarify its relevance and purpose. Third, this paper

will determine the conflict of interests between the U.S. and Europe and the different objectives

each one has been following. Fourth, the research will create a roadmap to the organizational

challenges that have been present since NATO‟s founding and which have accelerated with the

fall of Communism in 1989. Fifth, based on its origins and the arising problems, the paper will

utilize the theoretical paradigm of Realism to explain the deficiencies and the reasons behind

NATO‟s rocky path of endurance, expansion, and outreach beyond the traditional transatlantic

community consisting of North America and the major European nations. Sixth, a case study on

the Balkan War will show the procedures taken in NATO missions in general as well as the way

specific disparities play out. Lastly, the paper will conclude by determining that NATO

nevertheless retains a certain degree of relevance, but needs to consider major revisions in its

organization to realign the expectations and goals between the U.S. and Europe in order to

counter the global world in which threats become less military based and in which the role of

global hegemony is shifting.

At the beginning of the research, the project started under the assumption that NATO and

transatlantic security changed completely with the vanishing of the Soviet common enemy. This


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proved certainly true in regards to power relations as well as mission and goals. However, during

the course of the research and primarily focusing the paper around the relationship between the

U.S. and European members, it seemed more and more impossible to divide the pre and post

1989 eras simply into black and white. The points of contention as well as the points of

dependence follow a certain red threat or Leitmotiv for the entirety of NATO‟s history. For

example, French Gaullism, U.S. hegemony, European striving for independence and

simultaneous fear of abandonment, unequal burden-sharing and forces of sovereignty were all

evident likewise before and after the Fall of Communism.

  • 2. Theoretical Framework (Realism vs. Liberalism) and Concepts

Realists, especially Neo-realists, and Liberals, especially Liberal Institutionalists, drive

the main debates within international security and will therefore provide the theoretical reference

for this analysis. The leading scholars of Realism include Kenneth Waltz and John Mearsheimer.

According to Realist thought, which was prevalent during the Cold War, the international system

is characterized by anarchy and sovereign states, which operate under balance-of-power

objectives and do not grant each other complete trust. As states compete for security there is

always a possibility for a state to be dishonest and disregard the alliance‟s rules. Hence, it is

crucial for countries to constantly advance their military capabilities. Furthermore, competition

sparks a focus on relative gains compared to others, so that instead of cooperating for greater

gains, states often focus on diminishing the other parties‟ gains while attaining its own gains.

Although not all Realists dismiss the functionality of institutions completely, the majority

believes that maintaining them is extremely difficult and they are rather temporary set-ups to

counter a common fear or threat, where the security of all parties is equally at stake (Baylis,


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Smith and Patricia 2008). After the fall of the Soviet Union, most Realists therefore predicted the

decline of NATO.

On the other side of the spectrum Liberals, such as John Ikenberry and James Goldgeier,

place confidence in institutions like NATO in order to promote cooperation and overcome

competition. Liberal thought and Idealism especially gained momentum with the fall of the iron

curtain in 1989 and the alleged development of a peaceful Europe. Especially with the growth of

the European Union, the European nation-states increasingly started to integrate, which fosters

the sharing of values and resources. Institutionalization of security specifically can determine

cooperation between states as opposed to state interests being the main drive for policy.

Specifically Liberal Institutionalism points out that institutions can facilitate peace and create an

incentive for states to join as transaction costs decrease, information exchange becomes easier

and trust can be better manifested (Baylis, Smith and Patricia 2008). The Democratic Peace

Theory as a branch of Liberalism takes these ideas even further. It suggests that democratic states

generally do not fight each other, but show a willingness to cooperate and promote Western

democratic values. Therefore, institutions offer a platform for states to work together based on

common values and lessen competition between states. Lastly, Constructivism is also greatly

valued within Liberal thought as it stresses not only military issues, but also the importance of

intimate relations among heads of states, which at any time could positively or negatively affect

one country‟s policy toward another (Wendt 1992).

In explaining the continued existence of NATO, Realism offers the best approach to

understanding the ways in which NATO and its members acted. Even though Realism is split

itself among differing views and most Realists in fact predicted the demise of NATO, it was

Realism that in the end kept NATO going. It is not entirely true that the end of communism


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ushered in a new era of peace and cooperation. First, there have been consistent steps in order to

increase cooperation in Europe starting with the European Coal and Steal Community (ECSC)

founded in 1950 a long time before the end of the cold war. Moreover, the enthusiasm for final

peace was taken too high, because shortly after the end of the Cold War, the problems appeared

to deepen as violent secessionist movements broke out all across former Yugoslavia. At the same

time, there was the First Gulf War along with other contentions in the Middle East. Instead of

reaching peace, most European countries approached each other with suspicion and national

objectives in mind. After all NATO‟s endurance despite unequal burden sharing cannot be solely

attributed to the pure goodwill of the other NATO members toward each other, but, as the

remainder of the paper demonstrates, to the benefit NATO offers to the individual national


In addition to applying a Realist theoretical form and in order to sufficiently analyze the

development and efficiency of NATO, it is important to clarify what structure and outcomes can

be expected from a security community in the broader sense. This definition will lay the

foundational reference for an evaluation of why NATO as an institution was founded, why it

endured and what needs it could potentially meet in the future. The most commonly used

definition can be traced back to Karl W. Deutsch‟s extensive research on International

Organizations. According to his understanding “a security-community […] is one in which there

is real assurance that the members of that community will not fight each other physically, but

will settle their disputes in some other way.” He further notes that “if the entire world were

integrated as a security-community, wars would be automatically eliminated” (Deutsch, et al.

1957, 5). He distinguishes between amalgamated communities and integrated pluralistic

communities. NATO can be categorized as pluralistic and being in the process of integrating,


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since the national governments still exist and each make their own decisions in regards to

NATO. Despite the absence of a single governing body for security, NATO members are very

much economically and socially interlinked. For the purpose of this analysis, the paper will not

take into account the different types of security communities, but instead base its arguments

about NATO efficiency on the advantages or disadvantages of pluralistic security-communities.

The North Atlantic community is a particular example not only of an interstate security

community, but rather a comprehensive one, since wars between states as well as civil wars are

nearly impossible.

Once such a security community exists, the next step is defining what security actually

entails. A shared understanding is essential for sustaining such a community and work towards

the same goal. Security can pertain to individual, national or international levels. During the

Cold War NATO largely focused on national security. Even though NATO is a multi-national

institution, each member state raised concerns about their national security or made national

concerns their reason for joining NATO in the first place. The rise of more liberal ideas after the

Cold War brought more attention to the individual as well (Baylis, Smith and Patricia 2008).

With the intervention in Kosovo and the ethnic cleansing, protecting the individual and securing

civilians added to the concept of security and missions of NATO. At the same time international

security also advanced into the foreground. While nation-states disintegrated to some extent

through the building of the European Union, different actors in the international arena evolved

into players, which may not belong to any state or have affiliations across different states.

Examples include terrorist groups, but they could also be corporations fighting for natural gas or

Information Technology groups conducting cyber-attacks. The increase in non-military threats

and vanishing of clear enemies made international security the more relevant.

  • 3. NATO’s History from 1949 to the Present


NATO: Mars &Venus


The historical part of this paper will show the constant evolution NATO underwent and

how NATO as an institution withstood the changes in membership and missions as well as the

gradual growth and reach of its policies. The second part of the history will discuss the

challenges NATO faced with the fall of communism after 1989. Even though the U.S. and the

Soviet Union concluded several treaties on arms reductions, these took on a rather superficial

role. The Soviet Union created the impression of cooperation, while especially building up its

nuclear force. In addition, the spread of communism around the world, especially in Cuba and

China, as well as the increasing European divide strained the patience‟s of NATO‟s endurance.

In light of the shift of the paper it will be important to treat both the historical part of the pre and

post 1989 history equally and then focus on specific instances to illustrate the inner workings of


April 4 th , 1949 marks the day when

Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain,

Iceland, Italy, Canada, Luxemburg, the

Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United

States signed the North Atlantic Treaty giving

birth to the most complex and long-standing

collective security alliance to date. From the

initial 12 members NATO steadily grew.

Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, the Federal

Republic of Germany in 1955, Spain in 1982,

3. NATO’s History from 1949 to the Present Wahle NATO: Mars &Venus 9 The historical part

Figure 1: NATO Expansion


NATO: Mars &Venus


Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary in 1999, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia,

Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004 and Albania and Croatia in 2009, raising NATO‟s

current count to 28 (A Short History of NATO n.d.).

Lord Ismay, first NATO secretary general, coined the most compact summary of

NATO‟s initial purpose. NATO shall “keep the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans

down.” The alliance‟s main goal consisted of containing communism and protecting Western

Europe from the Soviet threat. The creation of NATO also came along with the idea of the U.S.

mission of securing an overall peace in the Western European states, which had been

significantly weakened militarily and economically by World War II. In addition, binding

Germany to the West and controlling its military development became one of the main side

purposes of NATO. Since such grand goals demand a lot of time and effort, there was no

implicit time limit set on the treaty. Rather the treaty asks for regular reviews to assess if NATO

is still needed or if it should be amended in any way.

At the center of the treaty and its 14 articles stands the most debated Article V. The

signatories agree that “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America

shall be considered an attack against all of them. (North Atlantic Treaty 1949)This article

ultimately ties all the member states together and makes them liable to each other. Besides

providing economic assistance through the Marshall Plan, the American presence thus offered a

security guarantee against Soviet expansion while Europe found itself placed in the middle of the

balancing act between East and West during the Cold War. In return for security, the European

member states allowed the U.S. an input in designing the political structure of the post-World

War II project of a rehabilitated and united Europe. The German question constituted a large part

of this debate. Ideally Germany would be tightly monitored while simultaneously assuming


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equal status in NATO. James Baker, Secretary of State under the George H. W. Busch

administration significantly raised the stakes of the issue by putting officials and the public

before the question whether they prefer an independent nuclear Germany or a controlled

Germany integrated into NATO. When Germany finally joined NATO in 1955, the Eastern

powers, including the USSR, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic

Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania, immediately formed the Warsaw Pact as a

counterweight in order to preserve Soviet power. The Korean War in the 1950‟s additionally

enlarged the global fight against communism.

Even though mutual responsibility held the Atlantic alliance together, differences

challenged solidarity among NATO members early on beyond the German question. The U.S.‟s

military and economic superiority in contrast to Europe‟s weakened position, led to deviations in

questions of purpose, goals, strategy and resource contribution. While the U.S. carried a greater

share, European members raised suspicions toward U.S. dominance. One of the first major

conflicts was the Suez crisis in 1956. When former President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser

nationalized the Suez Canal, which is one of the most vital trade routes up to date, France and

England sought desperately to hold on to their colonial powers. At the same time, the United

States did not grant any support to resolve the debate, which demonstrates the already present

U.S.-European divide. While the inner-NATO disparities continued, the Soviet Unions launched

Sputnik in 1957 and in that manner demonstrated its greater missile capabilities compared to the

U.S., which accelerated the U.S.‟s fear of nuclear inferiority (Kaplan 1999, 67). This conflict and

the separation of the U.S. and the European colonial powers came to a height when French

President Charles de Gaulle withdrew from the treaty in 1966 (Kaplan 1999, 99). The withdrawal

did not present a direct breach of Article V and was therefore a viable option for any member at


NATO: Mars &Venus


any time. All NATO-affiliated personnel and institutions were forced to leave France and the

NATO headquarters moved to Brussels. The period of De Gaulle‟s profound policies for a more

independent Europe became known as Gaullism and has since carried through France‟s foreign


However, instead of weakening and splitting NATO, these events in fact encouraged a

revision of transatlantic policies to foster European participation. NATO headquarters as well as

Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe (SAHPE) moved to Brussels to symbolize

enhanced engagement. In addition, flexible response and high nuclear readiness became an

integral part of NATO strategy. Notable initiatives include the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG)

and a Euro Group. These were expected to improve cooperation in planning of operations and

the development of weapons. Nonetheless, Europe‟s input in nuclear policy stayed limited, since

the U.S. administration especially under Johnson “hoped to coax the allies into believing they

were now fully involved in the planning process. (Kaplan 1999, 134)” In reality, the NPG

focused more on educational and research aspects rather than on a participatory decision-making

process. In 1967 the U.S. and Soviet Union even made an atomic pact, which replaced the U.S.

strategy of massive retaliation with a more flexible response policy (A Short History of NATO

n.d.). Instead of countering every attack with outright atomic means, flexible response offers

better adjustability in situations of lesser threats. At the same time deterrence potential was kept

at a level sufficient enough to scare away possible nuclear attackers.

Another step for cooperation was the 1972 decision of the North Atlantic Council (NAC)

to begin talks with members of the Warsaw Pact, including the signing of the Strategic Arms

Limitations Treaty (SALT I) between the U.S. and Soviet Union, and other European states that

did not belong to either entity at that point. These were supposed to contribute to the Conference


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on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). In addition, talks on the reduction of ground

troops in Central Europe took place, which is also known as Mutual and Balanced Force

Reductions (MBFR) (Kaplan 1999, 116). However, since the Soviet Union kept upgrading their

middle-range nuclear weapons, the new NATO strategy of flexible reaction became less realistic

and did not have the effect as hoped for. Even within the alliance, political problems remained

present. For instance, the conflict over Cyprus caused Greece to be the second country after

France to leave NATO in 1974 (Kaplan 1999, 228). But, unlike France, Greece quickly rejoined

in 1981.

The growing imbalance of nuclear middle-range ballistic missiles during the cooperation

talks eventually led to the NATO Double-Track Decision of 1979 (Kaplan 1999, 117). The aim

was to advocate for cuts in medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles or if failed, an

increase on the American side to guarantee Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). Mikhail

Gorbachev, who became head of state of the Soviet Union in 1985, established a more

cooperative political framework, which helped to cool the conflict between NATO and the

Warsaw Pact. Examples of these changes are the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in

Europe (CFE) to build on the MBFR and the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)

between the U.S. and the Soviet Union concluded 1987 (Kaplan 1999, 155). As part of the

general détente between the two pacts, the latter treaty sought the removal of all nuclear ground-

launched ballistic and cruise missiles of intermediate range. Relations between NATO and the

Warsaw Pact seemed to slowly normalize, but challenges persisted. For instance, after a popular

vote in 1986 Spain left NATO until 1997.

1989 is arguably the most significant turning point for NATO and the alliance it created

during the Cold War. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the unification of Germany


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the three main points Lord Ismay had laid out became insignificant on the first look. However,

NATO persisted and reinvented itself. In 1990 the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist as well and the

CSCE extended its invitation to former Warsaw Pact nations in order to formally end hostilities.

The new strategy moved security and stability into the foreground and NATO‟s entire

capabilities were reduced. The North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) of 1991 formalized

cooperation with former Warsaw Pact states. A newly built Rapid Reaction Force allowed for

greater flexibility and out of area operations, which greatly expanded NATO‟s reach beyond the

transatlantic arena (Kaplan 1999, 204). Bosnia proved as the first instance for NATO to apply its

new conflict prevention and peace building measures in cooperation with official UN mandates.

After the conflict had been ended, NATO retained its hold in Bosnia with its multinational

Implementation Force (IFOR) to secure peace.

Partnership for Peace (PFP) founded in 1994 included former Soviet states in trust-

building activities, such as joint training and planning sessions. The 1996 Combined Joint Task

Forces (CJTF) provided yet another means for flexible forces which could be assembled at

NATO‟s discretion when seen fit (Kaplan 1999, 194). Moreover, a permanent Russia Council

sought to stabilize relations between East and West. This step was necessary in order to enable

the opening of NATO membership towards the Eastern neighbors. Poland, Hungary and the

Czech Republic made up the first round of NATO expansion in 1999.

As positive these undertakings seem, NATO faced significant limits in its role during the

second major confrontation with former Yugoslavian territory. In the same year as the initial

expansion, NATO intervened to protect Albanians in Kosovo from the Serb population. While

the U.S. urged quick intervention, the Europeans showed reluctance and thus prevented any

timely action.


NATO: Mars &Venus


Only 52 years after NATO‟s founding its most fundamental Article V was officially

declared active. When the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11 th , 2011 the

European member states took immediate action to declare solidarity and support (A Short

History of NATO n.d.). Since terrorism is not bound to a specific territory, any NATO member

could fall victim to a similar attack at all times. Therefore, abstinence was not in question.

Initially NATO states therefore faced a new common enemy. However, as will be shown later,

this compassion and eagerness to act quickly vanished when differences in definitions and

categorization of terrorism came to the surface.

In 2002 the NATO-Russia relations restarted after the Kosovo war had put them on hold.

The Prague Summit of the same year gave rise to NATO Response Force (NRF), which is a

globally deployable force to fight and defend against terrorist attacks. In 2003 NATO further

took charge with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. 2004 marks

the year of the second round of NATO expansion and 2005 the first mission in Africa with the

support of peace-building efforts in Darfur. While Ukraine and Georgia were denied, Albania

and Croatia received membership in 2009 (A Short History of NATO n.d.). At the same time

France rejoined the military organization. A new strategy was released with delay in 2010. This

offers Missile defense cooperation with Russia as well as consideration for new rising threats,

such as terrorism, energy security and cyber security.

The preceding historic overview provides a small insight into the many structures and

policies NATO took on while also increasing membership. In order to entangle these

developments and reach the core of NATO‟s existence, the paper will now look into the different

aspects which divorced the American and European camps while simultaneously binding them

together seemingly infinitely.

  • 4. Conflicts of Interest (U.S. vs. Europe)


NATO: Mars &Venus


Any perception that Europe has overcome nationalism in light of the integration within

the EU is overrated. That said, it is probably unlikely that European nations would go to war

with each other, since balance-of power politics among the different princedoms and empires

within Europe, which characterized Europe all throughout the Middle Ages, the period of

unification in the second half of the nineteenth century as well as the two world wars, may well

have worn out the European thirst for war. Nonetheless, the absence of war does not

automatically eliminate nationalism and striving to fulfill own interests. National interests can

work to the advantage of NATO, such as the Eastern European countries‟ desire to join NATO to

bolster their own reputations and the European allowance to contribute less in return for more

U.S. input.

However, nationalism can fatally draw attention away from the transnational alliance just

as a great focus on oneself may be bad for any relationship. Europe‟s inward look can be

justified by the magnificent project of integration (Kagan 2003, 66). But, such arguments do not

necessarily account for a distancing from NATO. After all, as demonstrated before, the U.S.

places a vital interest in the European integration and since integration also appears as the

broader context of NATO, a European focus on domestic issues should be welcomed.

Furthermore, the U.S. itself can be criticized for focusing too much on NATO and foreign

intervention, while domestic factors such as healthcare are majorly neglected, especially as

regarded from a European standpoint. There are two problems with this approach. First, it is

questionable whether the U.S. is in a position to undertake large-scale NATO interventions when

the domestic policies do not even draw close to a settlement. Secondly, the U.S. accepted its


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unilateral role and thus showed interest in the other members and aims at carrying operations fast

and efficiently, without always having to await a NATO decision, which may take a long time in

the process of coming to a consensus. After all, the U.S. in the role of Mars is specialized in

expansion and conquest.

Gaullism was not the only effort to gain a greater focus on the building of the European

Union. The gap between national versus transnational and transatlantic policies made it

“common today for NATO to be seen as „America‟s project‟ and the EU to be seen as Europe‟s”

(Asmus 2005, 94). Rather than becoming one entity in the transatlantic relationship, both sides

chose to build themselves in the meantime. The French stayed especially skeptical and embodied

a more widespread European discontent over the association with America. Atlanticism was

often put aside in favor of working towards European independence and a lot of mistrust

characterized the relations among the representatives. The French even doubted the pro-

Antlanticist Secretary-General Dirk Stikker despite his Dutch heritage. But, the French had

joined the alliance with the knowledge of its transatlanticist orientation and “NATO was a

transatlantic organization, so pro-Atlantic thinkers would hardly be out of place”

(Hoogenboezem 2009, 412). Once entered into such a relationship, it should be clear what to

expect from each other. Yet, it seems that the French simply dismissed any transatlantic

tendencies simply to reinforce their independent position.

One of the most important prerequisites for an effective security alliance is the

establishment of a community with political and economic ties. Building a “we-feeling” around

common values advances the necessary trust. Even though the values between Americans and

Europeans vary greatly, they resemble each other enough for the creation of NATO. Former

President John F. Kennedy‟s famous speech in Germany in the 1960‟s coined the most


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memorable words for the transatlantic relationship. When his words “I am a Berliner” reached

the large crowd, he sealed, even though only rhetorically, the long friendship between the U.S.

and Europe, based on strong ties and commonalities. Not only did the U.S. evolve from Europe

and based its state-building on a mixture of European models, but further the long history of U.S.

efforts for rebuilding Europe and strengthening the EU reiterate this mutual dependency. Some

of the most important shared values include democracy, free speech, human rights and at large

the spread of the liberal world order since the fall of communism.

Regardless of this long friendship, it cannot be denied that values are dynamic among

NATO countries and thus repeatedly encountered differences. The approach to power became

one of the most contested issues in the transatlantic relationship. To illustrate these views

America is often seen as acting in a Hobbesian world of anarchy and Europe in a Kantian world

of stable peace (Kagan 2003, 3). According to Thomas Hobbes‟s theories presented in Leviathan

(1651) the only plausible way to guarantee security is having an absolute sovereign to which

everyone else submits. Immanual Kant, by contrast, belongs to the idealism from the late 18 th

century, which believes in the sense of duty toward each other. These two sides can be

contemporarily understood through the theories of Realism and Liberalism. In keeping with

Realists, the U.S. places little trust in international institutions, which can be concluded from the

rejection of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Kyoto Protocol among other

important international efforts for international cooperation. Besides a lack of trust, the U.S. as

the physically stronger role in Mars is also concerned about losing its power status and being

possibly constraint by these organizations. Hegemony and a global role remain the utmost

concern to the U.S. In contrast, the European nations are unlikely to go to war with each other,

and eagerly create more international rules, treatises and organizations. The theoretical idea of


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the European Union emerged as a role model for all Liberal theories as it is one of the most

recent examples of strong cooperation. After centuries of war and since the end of World War II

the European states consciously began to distance themselves from Machtpolitik and in place

advocate greater cooperation.

However, these attitudes toward power from both the U.S. and European side have been

observed only fairly recently and have undergone a significant shift. Since its founding, the U.S.

has been rather isolationist as it focused on creating its nation through the Civil War and the

Reconstruction period. In the meantime Europe has been involved in overseas missions and

colonial ambitions across the world. Only the end of the nineteenth century gave rise to imperial

America with interventions and explicit interests in Panama and Cuba. This shift in power,

however, does not signify a complete rejection of power by Europe. National competition for

prerogatives within the EU is still present. This can be explained by different perceptions of how

power is defined. In lieu of power encompassing hegemony and more violent implementation of

ideas, Europe found a new role of power. The new image includes the overcoming of power as

dominance in lieu of power as a role model to set best practice governance examples (Kagan

2003, 65). Yet, the same could be argued for the U.S. likewise, since America‟s top agenda seeks

to spread a liberal world order to the entire world, and yet, the U.S. still follows Realist power


There are further plenty of arguments against the shared history and values. The founding

fathers of the U.S. were inspired by some of the institutions, but quickly sought to distinguish

themselves and build something new apart from the old British or French systems. Today

American and Europe value and pride themselves in their respective history and colonial power.

Perceptions of each other offer another point of comparison. With the dominance over Latin


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America, the U.S. developed its sense of responsibility to free the world. Victory in World War

II in particular forced the U.S. into the role of a good-willed hegemon deserving obedience

(Krotz and Sperling 2011, 306). Therewith, the U.S. often neglects to differentiate between

interest and values, where the spread of American values seem to become the main interest. As a

result the unipolar world enhances the importance of the Atlantic alliance. France, for instance,

builds its foreign policy on its ancient image of glory and a specific historical experience of

former hegemony, which is incompatible with American‟s goals for the same. To France security

may not necessarily refer to military terms, but it also entails security of French values as

preserved through independence from the U.S. After all, no country should automatically project

its values on another country, because there are also fundamental differences among liberal

ideas. The U.S. and Europe may both support liberal and open ideas but still interpret these

differently. Namely, the U.S. favors individual economic benefit as opposed to benefit for

Europe as a whole (Krotz and Sperling 2011, 314). These differences in interpretations and

perceptions of values cause the divergences in organization and burden-sharing within NATO as

everyone sets different priorities.

  • 5. Organizational Challenges

In 1988 Colin L. Powell revealed a special insight into the workings of NATO, when

immediately following a NATO heads of state meeting he publicly announced that “where you

have sixteen nations, all each sovereign, certainly there will be differences and there will be

heated debate and discussion from time to time” (Powell 1995, 373). Right around the same

time, then president Ronal Reagan had told the media that the talks went well and there was no

disagreement on how to proceed about the Soviet Union. But, in contrast to Reagan‟s optimism,


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disagreements were already seen during this first part of NATO‟s history despite the uniting

factor of the Soviet Union as an enemy. Especially in the beginning stages of the transatlantic

relationship differences had to be worked out. All initial member states followed the same

objectives of containing communism. Nonetheless, it is impossible to reach an agreement on the

details of strategy and scope of actions. For example, during the Cuba missile crisis “high level

NATO cooperation for Kennedy apparently meant informing the heads of government of two

member states that something was wrong, and nothing more” (Hoogenboezem 2009, 409). Not

only, does this illustrate the lack of inclusion of all members at all times on equal levels, but also

the predominance of sole American leadership if the U.S. saw it fit. These disagreements truly

inflated with the fall of communism firstly, because the common purpose was lost that would

drive the members in the same direction, and secondly NATO expanded widely in size and

scope, which made the practice of consensus building increasingly difficult. In order not to

interfere with each state‟s sovereignty NATO continued with a pledged practice of decision by


In contrast to the alleged importance of the consensus-building model in NATO, however

the U.S. took on more leadership than anyone else, and communication, which would be

essential for any consensus-model, largely failed. Although the North Atlantic Council (NAC) is

the official and most important meeting in NATO, there are many different formal and informal

meetings taking place in many different locations, where not every member may be present. This

makes it hard to consolidate all the points discussed into one comprehensive agenda and it is

likely that certain points get omitted and not communicated between Washington and Brussels.

Already in the 1960‟s former Secretary-General of NATO Dirk Stikker complained that

“governments would not always keep him abreast of their national policies” (Hoogenboezem


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2009, 410). Being Secretary-General, he was supposed to bring all nations under his guidance

within NATO, but the preoccupation with national egoism, makes sharing of policies extremely

difficult. Namely, when Stikker wished to speak to De Gaulle, “it took three months waiting and

Adenauer‟s intervention before an audience was granted (Hoogenboezem 2009, 415).This

shows how personal connections often appear to carry more weight than institutionalized talks

and it may at times be nearly impossible to even discover signs of an alliance. Moreover, once

such relationships were established, they offered only temporary glue to the transatlantic

relations, since most administrations only assume power for four years. Every shift in

administration thus ushers in a new period of having to nourish relations among the states. Since

elections take place at different times in every country, there is a great possibility that there is a

change in administration in some NATO country in short intervals.

Especially urgent and delicate matters of security, however, demand a fast and efficient

response. With the increase in members, the number of opinions and goals steadily rise. Coming

to a decision that is compatible with the greatest number of states slows down the process

drastically. As a result, there have been many proposals to change the outdated NATO decision-

making process. The idea of a more flexible system makes up the most viable option in the

debate. “Precisely because its member states have such a wide array of interests, fears, and

capabilities, the alliance is more likely to take effective and timely action through coalitions of

the willing” (Kupchan 2010, 107). States could join their forces together whenever there is an

issue of particular concern to those states. Temporary alliances within the alliance would thus be

of smaller scale and with a shared vision mind as those states would agree on the issue at hand

and could come to decisions in a timely manner. Usually bilateral agreements offer a strong

alternative when formed between any major NATO member and any other country. In the next


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step the countries working out a deal would then sell the “diplomatic package to other members”

in order to get their support and utilize the alliance for implementation measures. One such

example was the British-French Agreement about intervention in Libya.

Yet, there are some concerns about such a loose system. Even though the differences in

goals and ideas cannot be eliminated, offering the option of such alliances might invite even

further divergences as there would be fewer incentives to find a common denominator and the

states would in fact simply go for their own interests if the option can easily be griped. In

addition, regardless of whether or not a state supports a cause, it will run under the banner of

NATO. If a state completely objects a certain mission, it will still be associated with that action

as a member of NATO. Once the other states carry through with an action, other states might

have trouble identifying themselves with the alliance and all the other ideals. For instance, “when

the United States wants to use military force, it will try to get NATO support. If not, it will go

alone. And if it gets a few NATO countries and a few non-NATO ones to come along, it will

construct a „coalition of the willing.' So how exactly is the new, improved NATO helping here?

(Zakaria 1998). In any case the U.S. will follow its own objectives without being sensitive to

NATO. If there are no clear terms, NATO will eventually become superfluous as anyone can do

as they wish.

Taking this argument even further then questions the relevance of Article V. Since an

attack against one amounts to an attack against all, NATO should not even start operations

without the approval of the majority of members to begin with. If many different alliances form,

NATO itself would cease to be an alliance and the likelihood for NATO to actually perform as a

coherent whole would almost become superfluous. When members commit to Article V they

should automatically commit to the willingness for negotiations and preparedness to take a


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certain direction. If there is a general lack of consensus, the issue might not belong into the realm

of NATO responsibility, which after all had specifically been created to align transatlantic


Besides decision-making governance the structure of NATO also faces challenges in the

efficient coordination of the large number of resources. The Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF)

found in 1996 best exemplifies the diminishing efficiency of NATO. The force includes non-

NATO and non-EU states. On the one hand it is essential in a globalized world to look beyond

the original alliance sphere and include other nations, which global threats affect to a similar

extent. But, on the other hand when including nations outside of the alliance, NATO does not

hold any influence on their approach on policy and implementation. The rules of NATO only

exist in a limited fashion within such a combined force. The overlap also easily sparks more

divisions as there are even more players and viewpoints involved. NATO finds itself at a high

risk of losing oversight over resources allocated and missions started.

Despite the blurring of lines and loss of awareness of what NATO entails, the

organization undertook many attempts to consolidate its structure and simplify command. Taken

the security structure by itself, NATO assumed a direction towards amalgamation. Since the fall

of the Soviet Union large attention has been paid to communication and there are regular

summits being held. Almost each of the summits produces a reform in command structures. Over

time they created different subcommittees to deal with specific security demands. The most

important ones are the Nuclear Planning Group and the Russia Pact. These committees collect all

the assets of the member states. In addition, the civilian and military components of NATO work

closely together in order to reach the best solutions for policies and methods for implementation.

The specific institution of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), for example, bridges


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the command between American and European forces at least in theory. However, most

SACEURS have been solely American citizens and thus the position rather opened another

venue for exercising U.S. power in Europe. Since NATO is an American show, “whatever some

European secretary-general thought or did may not have mattered much [to defense secretaries

like Robert McNamara](Hoogenboezem 2009, 411). Furthermore, it is not clear if the military-

civilian divide is handled well since NATO is a military alliance in civilian control, of which

each not only follow different objectives, but also employ different methodologies. All these

different structures run the risk of converting NATO into a superstructure, in which the

subcommittees easily fail to communicate and consolidate their work efficiently.

5.1. Unequal Burden Sharing

The question of burden sharing is one of the most troublesome contentions that have

accompanied NATO from the very beginning. American taxpayers cry out about tax dollars

being spent on NATO defense on an ongoing basis, especially because the U.S. contributes the

majority of military capabilities and sacrifices many American lives. Former Secretary of

Defense Robert Gates warned of these divergences in his 2011 June address (Gates 2011).

Nevertheless, this argument might not necessarily be accurate for all situations. Firstly, there is a

divide between the American citizens and the U.S. government and how much weight each one

places on the importance on foreign policy and defense. Secondly, the way resources are being

contributed has been changed over and over again and was influenced by events in the world

stage. Namely, there was a shift in the 1960‟s to increase nuclear capabilities and decrease

conventional forces. While the U.S. accuses European states of constantly cutting their defense

budgets, military assets might in fact be less and less desired and needed. One provocative


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argument even claims that the U.S. itself free rode in the first half of the 20 th century, when

Europe “paid the price for competition” through the two world wars (Walt 1998/ 1999).The

following section will assess these dynamics of burden sharing and the changes in needs and


1000000 0 800000 600000 400000 200000 NATO-Europe North America
North America

1990 1995 2000 2005 2010

Figure 2: Defense expenditures of NATO countries in Million U.S. Dollars

Upon NATO‟s founding in 1949 all the member states more or less agreed on

contributing equally and everyone would receive the equal return of security from the Soviets.

Nonetheless, Germany increasingly complicated this process. The concern of how to implement

the integration of Germany, retain control over it and let it rearm at the same time became known

as the German question. As a result, there were differences in contribution by Germany and

opinions towards Germany leading up to its membership in 1955. France expressed the greatest

skepticism about German rearming for reasons of preserving their own power. On the other

hand, the United States perceived a strong Germany being part of NATO as a useful asset.

Former president Harry Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson emerged as the driving

advocates for the U.S. to keep their position in Europe after World War II. If Germany was

included, the other member states could grant Germany full membership and make it feel equal,


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but still keep the possibility of putting controls over the rearming process. The biggest fear of an

independent Germany was the risk of it possibly switching sides (Trachtenberg 1999, 109). Since

the Cold War ultimately entailed a battle between capitalism and communism, it was the U.S.‟s

main goal not to lose anyone to the “other” party. It was thus concluded that, if properly handled,

Germany with its direct border to the Soviet Union could serve as a buffer zone against the

Soviets spreading further into Western Europe.

With the first round of NATO expansion in 1999 unequal burden sharing could be

attributed to natural differences and not only the NATO-made restrains. As Poland, Hungary and

the Czech Republic had just been freed from Soviet control, they naturally had fewer resources at

their disposal. Communism stalled the economy and rebuilding of institutions and infrastructure

took up the assets that were still less. This was one reason that slowed down the expansion

debate, which had been a topic since the moment the iron curtain fell. The advocates for

expansion, such as Bill Clinton thought expansion to be essential for sustaining NATO. Paying

the price was worth for allowing the U.S. to continue on the European project. Eastern Europe

provided the space the U.S. was looking for to expand their liberal word order. Even though

communism fell, such a deeply ingrained system in society and politics alike cannot vanish over

time. Despite communism‟s defeat, eliminating the old system and bringing about reforms

demands a long process. Whether or not this is part of NATO‟s original purpose, did not matter,

because either way NATO expansion allowed the U.S. to put a foot into Eastern Europe.

In addition, the eastern countries were very committed to belonging to the West. As a

result, they showed eagerness to contribute proportionally more than perhaps other European

nations, even if they had smaller budgets. For instance, former secretary of state Colin Powell

noted that “countries that had only just slipped out of the Soviet yoke came on board, including


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Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Bulgaria” to support the U.S.‟s aim to drive Iraq out of Kuwait

(Powell 1995, 490). This shows that they accepted the responsibility that comes along with

NATO membership and they sought to immediately display their commitment and prove that

their admittance had not been a mistake.

Nonetheless, many skeptics used the argument of overstepping NATO‟s realm of

responsibility. Many doubted if NATO would truly be willing to carry out Article V. Just like the

debate during the Cold War “whether the United States would risk New York, Chicago, or Los

Angeles for Paris, Rome, or London; [the issue during the expansion asked] why would anyone

believe that the United States would do so now for Warsaw, Budapest, or Prague” (Ruggie 1996,

119). After all, Kennedy‟s speech “Ich bin ein Berliner” reflected more Atlantic rhetoric than

true feelings of allegiance. The reluctance of his administration to act more directly in the Berlin

Crisis and against the Berlin Wall demonstrates that “Kennedy was not prepared to go to war

over Berlin” (Hoogenboezem 2009, 409). With the threat of Soviet expansion gone, the East was

less strategically important and irrelevant in regards to actually conducting security measures

since it could not contribute as much to the defense budget. Further, the defense budget of those

countries may not even have been substantial for the U.S.

Even more troubling than the Eastern European countries were the Western NATO

members, who were expected to contribute more than they actually did. After World War II

almost everything had been lost and destroyed. Therefore, the similar excuse for less

contribution after a major war as in Eastern Europe in the post-Cold War era could be applied.

However, the small size of a European share carried on beyond the immediate World War II

rebuilding period. Europe became dependent on the U.S. strength and nuclear capabilities to the

extent that they never rebuilt its capabilities to the degree it would have been able to and would


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be necessary for a fair share today. The historian Robert Kagan summarized the current division

of labor in NATO as the “U.S. making the dinner and the Europeans making the dishes” (Kagan

2003, 23). Most of the military assets are provided by the United States, while Europe free rides

and became comfortable while enjoying the American security guarantee. Even though Europe

could potentially spend more on defense, the decision revolves not around ability, but more

around the ideological divide on power as discussed previously (Kagan 2003, 53). While Europe

was thus not only simply enabled to rebuild after the war, it in fact built an extensive social

welfare state. This luxury is often attributed to the U.S.‟s great share of the burden, which

relieved Europe of providing any large military spending.

Whereas Europe is indeed free riding to some extent, there are also more tactical reasons

and the lack of sufficient pressure from the U.S. NATO is often defined as an unwritten deal, in

which the U.S. provides protection in return for having a substantial input in shaping the post-

war order and diplomacy. Even though there also was no other choice, given Europe‟s weakness

and the U.S.‟s increasing hegemonic power, this “forced” situation was welcomed with open

arms by both sides. After all, it was the U.S.‟s decision to retain a presence in Europe, to keep

Europe under its protection and to facilitate European growth. For instance, the Marshall Plan

provided generous financial assistance for rebuilding Europe. No country would voluntarily deny

such support once offered and it was natural for Europe to accpet. This U.S. commitment

manifested itself so deeply, that both U.S. and European efforts to stop it were weak. It can

further be argued that investing in NATO and creating stability saves the U.S. money in the long

run, since it eliminates the need for an arms race and prevents instability to resume, which

would both take up a lot of resources.


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American greater capabilities can also be traced back to the demands of the Cold War on

military strategy. The U.S. was geographically far away from the Soviet Union and thus

developed far-reaching, highly modernized and flexible weapons. In contrast, European NATO

members solely maintained ground forces since the Soviet Union was an immediate neighbor

and it was direct confrontation which could break out any time (Kagan 2003, 24). In addition the

U.S. increasingly immersed itself in its new unilateralism and prepared for wars on a constant

basis. Operations in Kuwait, Somalia, Panama and Iraq among others have necessitated and still

necessitate concurrent technological advances. In contrast, Europe was worn out from the two

World Wars and expressed little understanding for the need to fight several wars at the same


In light of this pacifism, the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) from 1997 specifically

monitors the spending of EU member states, which are also part of the Euro zone and the

common monetary policy. The pact authorizes punishments for countries that overstep the 3%

mark in budget deficits (Leonard 2010, 143). Therefore, the laws of the EU set natural

boundaries on the degree to which EU-NATO members may contribute. However, the recent

financial crisis of 2008 has shown that the EU reached its limits to implement the SGP sanctions

on countries such as Spain and Greece who have breached the pact since the beginning of the

crisis and never returned to the obligated levels. The SGP may therefore solely be a pretext for

certain European NATO states to avoid greater contributions, especially when the SGP possibly

lost its credibility. Similarly, Germany has utilized the fact that it was not allowed to rearm to the

same degree as other NATO members after World War II as an argument or excuse for not

endowing a vaster defense budget.


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While there are abundant talks about European defense cuts, the U.S. has also played

with the thought of cuts in several instances. Immediately after World War II the U.S. shortly

attempted to focus on domestic policies, since it is natural for a country to invest in its own

society during calmer times. But, this lasted only until the start of the Korean War in 1950,

which triggered the building up of more forces (Trachtenberg 1999, 96). The second notable

instance includes former President George H.W. Bush‟s call for arms reductions during his

speech in Germany in May 1989. His proposal “concerns a less militarized Europe, the most

heavily armed continent in the world.” Even though he acknowledges that these steps have to be

undertaken slowly in order not to invite a Soviet attack and that a strong European defense needs

to be present for a constructive peace, Bush encouraged the gradual cut in military capabilities

and troops (Busch 1989). This shows that the U.S. in fact enjoys and wants to preserve its

unilateral and stronger role. To American eyes Europe is not a competitor, but a protectorate and

therefore Bush never implemented the cuts in the U.S. side in light of protecting Europe and

fighting more and more wars across the globe.

The proposed cuts for U.S. ground forces never truly carried through. Since the fall of the

Soviet Union following only a few months after his speech, the U.S. became even more

internationally involved with campaigns in Somalia and Panama as well as most importantly in

Kuwait. Around the same time as Bush‟s speech Powell correctly points out the challenge to

“accept that [the U.S.] had to retrench, yet to maintain the best damned Army in the world”

(Powell 1995, 403). Much like Europe after World War II, U.S. resources had been exhausted by

the Cold War. But, whereas the U.S. had stepped into Europe to help with defense, the U.S. did

not receive the same kind of support it wished to see from its European allies. Powell further also

notes that he received complaints from some European NATO members who asked how they


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could “go to their parliaments asking for serious defense spending when the United States was

ready to cut so deeply” (Powell 1995, 455). This double standard of wanting a less militarized,

but strong Europe, while keeping a hegemonic status causes trouble when the U.S. also demands

an equal burden-share of Europe.

Lastly, it is important to recognize that military capabilities do not make up the only

shares to carry. Especially in countering global threats, the military might be less important

besides the long-range weapons that are being developed. Within NATOs division of labor it is

therefore not entirely clear that Europe only “does the dishes”, since there may well be

capabilities beyond military action. Within security communities Deutsch distinguishes between

tangible and intangible resources. The former includes “military or financial burdens, drains on

manpower and wealth, the burden of risk from political or military commitments, cost of social

and economic readjustments, […and the latter includes] burdens upon attention-giving,

information-processing, and decision-making capabilities” (Deutsch, et al. 1957, 41). While it is

correct that the U.S. shares a greater burden of military and monetary assets, it is harder to

determine total contributions to NATO‟s efforts. It is difficult to place a value judgment on

contributions, because different assets are not quantifiable. Europe contributes to the

organizational structure of NATO just like the U.S. does. In that way the headquarters are

situated in Brussels and the annual summits usually take place in Europe. Both of these examples

require an input of time, funds and logistics.

Moreover, the changing nature of threats might in the near future require less military-

based responses, but could demand a different set of skills. For instance Europe hosts a large

information infrastructure and could easily expand on this base to share intelligence with the

U.S. in countering cyber-attacks and terrorism. Concerning ethnic conflicts, NATO has proved


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“incapable of resolving the serious ethnic conflict among its members (Cyprus), while

accommodating member states that have, at one time or another, been decidedly non-democratic

in character (Greece and Portugal)” (Ruggie 1996, 112). With ethnic conflicts and post-war

reconstructions, Europe‟s soft power policies are generally more apt at dealing with such issues.

Especially regarding the former Yugoslav states, Europe is capable of securing peace and

democratic reforms thanks to an already existing connection with these countries through the

expansion of the EU.

While Liberals will argue that institutions actually lower transactions costs and foster

cooperation among its members which will allow for the sharing of resources, Realists would

claim that the inequality in contributions in fact leads to great disparities that may make it

difficult to cooperate, since the parties involved will increasingly focus on relative gains as

compared to the other NATO member states. For liberals material inequalities pose less of a

problem, since it is the absolute gains that matter. It is assumed that every member gains at some

point and it is acceptable that the beneficiary rotates or receives gains in different ways. As

Deutsch point out “efforts to avoid placing heavy military burdens on weaker or smaller states or

regions, or upon populations psychologically and socially unready or unwilling to bear them,

were followed by the successful preservation of the wider political community” (Deutsch, et al.

1957, 61). If NATO is considered as part of a larger project of political and economic

integration, participating states may be more willing to carry a greater burden for the benefit of

the whole community and in return for the achievement of other goals. In this sense, the United

States was after a long period of negotiations willing to accept the first three Eastern European

states into NATO. While the U.S. has been well aware not to expect grand contributions,

American could meet the agenda of spreading liberalization.


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5.2. Expansion as a Means for Sustaining NATO NATO member states, Membership Action Plan, Independent Partnership
5.2. Expansion as a Means for Sustaining NATO
NATO member states, Membership Action Plan, Independent Partnership Action Plan , Partnership for Peace
(PfP) , Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) , Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) , Contact countries (CC)

Figure 3: NATO and its Global involvement

Expansion has accompanied NATO since the beginning. The cases of Germany, the first

three Eastern European countries of Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic (hereafter referred to

as the Visigrad Group) and lastly the newest round of expansion in 2009 to Albania as well as

out-of-area operations and possible extension to Russia best illuminate what expansion means.

Each one created large debates for NATO and contested the inclusion of others in the rather

elitist relation.

According to Article 13 of the treaty, membership can be extended to any European

country (North Atlantic Treaty 1949). Following the Fall of Communism NATO discovered its

new mission in Eastern Europe and especially in the Visigrad countries. The fight against

communism was by no means over, because the defeat of the Soviet Union had to be locked in

and the U.S. saw building democracy and spreading its liberal wings in its hands. Henry

Kissinger who urged for expansion argued that if the Visigrads had not been accepted in NATO,


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Germany would have experienced a large vacuum, because the Eastern neighbors would stay

threatened by Russia and risk a possible return to the former state of mind(Kissinger 1994). The

geographical immediacy thus made the European countries especially eager to include the

Visigrad. In order not to aggravate Russia the terms prohibited the stationing of NATO troops in

any of the new members. To the perspective of the Visigrad military security mattered less, but

instead they viewed NATO as a door into the West and economic as well as political prosperity.

This in turn would provide security understood as sustaining their newly independent state.

Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, became the biggest advocate for joining

the alliance. However, concerns were raised across the alliance in fear of unequal burden-sharing

that may arise with the lesser contributions of Eastern Europe. Interestingly European states

especially pushed the Eastern countries towards NATO in spite of the EU in fear of an economic

slow-down and an “unwelcome flow of labor and competition” (Kaplan 1999, 212). As a result

of all these different interests in place, where neither the U.S. nor Europe even produced one

clear opinion on expansion, it took almost a decade for the talks to be resolved and the Visigrads

to be accepted.

Next, Russia has also pressed for admission since the fall of the Iron Curtain. Expansion

to the East put Russia into a threatened situation, and an inclusion could prevent a backlash of

Russia as well. Advocates for Russia‟s inclusion refer to the moral argument. Although Russia is

developing towards democratic structures, it is at a true risk of not achieving democracy, unlike

the Visigrad, who have to worry less about their democratic transition. Instead of utilizing

NATO, the EU would have in fact proven as the better institution for the economic growth of the

Visigrad (Zakaria 1998). Russia, on the contrary, would greatly benefit from NATO admission.

However, there is no guarantee for trust in Russia, which is still a country with substantial


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nuclear power and strong ties to states such as Belarus, the only dictatorship left in Europe. An

inclusion of Russia would therefore turn the alliance away from collective defense toward

protection against each other, and furthermore this would move China to the border of NATO,

thus creating only another border conflict with a reviving power.

Such out-of-area operations are often used as an argument for sustaining NATO. With the

absence of a common threat, security would have to go beyond Europe in order to find quests of

security. Goldgeier, for instance argues that there is no choice in such a globalized world, but to

include non-NATO democracies regardless of their geographical location (Goldgeier 2010, 22).

Since threats do not know any borders, an international response would be most sensitive to

threats. Yet, Globalists dismiss the fact that simply increasing the numbers will make it

unrealistic to achieve so many goals at the same time. NATO would soon become irrelevant as it

would provide resources to missions across the globe without displaying national interest and

towards remote areas, where there is not even a true security concern. In addition, the burden-

sharing issues as discussed in the previous section would climb even further. Because Europe‟s

long range capabilities are in even worse shape, the U.S. would have to once again provide the

bulk of the resources.

Besides geography, similar issues shape the debate around the scope of the alliance. In

order to sustain itself, the number of missions increased after the end of the Cold War. As

security offered less of a platform, NATO turned towards political and economic problems. The

public and officials followed the common idea that “NATO must go out of area or out of

business” (Brown 1999, 205). But, as the Eastern European states demonstrated the EU is more

suitable for political stability, ethnic peace, economic revival and democratization. Even though

NATO indirectly facilitates peace through stabilizing countries, it does so by paying the price of


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losing focus and oversight in its missions and purpose. In fact, “by pushing NATO to bring in

new members, they have taken on the EU‟s burdens and obligations” (Brown 1999, 217).

5.3. NATO and the Nuclear Age

Nuclear power is a special topic within NATO policy since the unequal distribution of it

automatically causes differences in burden-sharing as well as governance. Because nuclear

power is important not only in terms of a country‟s defense capabilities, but also to its status,

nuclear weapons are often seen as the “most compelling admission ticket to the high table

seating the world‟s major powers” (Krotz and Sperling 2011, 320).The American nuclear arsenal

served as the most efficient tool in containing the Soviet Union and displaying Marsian hard

power. However, this protection was not a given at all times. The U.S. favored a policy of

flexible response including conventional forces. In contrast, Europe preferred the rapid response

nuclear weapons provide especially in light of rising flexible response, which “reopened the

haunting specter of a battlefield limited to Europe” (Hoogenboezem 2009, 408). While the U.S.

is geographically isolated and could launch long-range missiles, the European members

immediately border Russia and are therewith at a high risk of sacrificing ground troops. Even

though it is often claimed that the Soviet nuclear power has been exaggerated, it is indeed true

that Soviet nuclear power is greater than American, which adds relevance to NATO in building a

compatible counter response to the Soviet threat.

However, significant problems arise with their inclusion in NATO structures. It may at

times give too many privileges only to the countries that own them and join into the nuclear club.

France, for instance, especially with its withdrawal placed magnificent emphasis on advertising

their force de frappe (nuclear power). France‟s force did little to impress the U.S. which was


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certain of France‟s dependence on U.S. nuclear weapons if it would ever come to the point of a

nuclear response. To the U.S. or NATO at large French efforts were rather seen as an unwise use

of resources. Instead the resources could be used for democratic peace-building efforts and

military and conventional capabilities.

Because of the unequal access to nuclear weapons and the competition with the Soviet

Union, NATO did not succeed in bringing nuclear weapons under its jurisdiction. The Nuclear

Planning Group stayed superficial to indicate European involvement to the outside. Yet, after all,

those countries who actually own the nuclear weapons, not NATO, make the decisions over

them. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) strictly organizes the behavior of the five

internationally accepted nuclear powers. Due to these structural constraints a coherent nuclear

policy is almost impossible. Unified governance thus becomes negligible when there is “no

central NATO control over NATO nuclear response (Hoogenboezem 2009, 407)”. Therefore,

there will always be one country having the upper hand and preventing common actions and

decisions when not even all the resources are shared and governed equally.

5.4. Separable, but not Separate: the European Failure for Independent Security

The French German Army, the Western Union Defense Organization, the Berlin-Plus

Agreement, the European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) and the most recent Common

Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) are only a few examples of the many attempts for a

European security mechanism independent from the U.S. However, most either vanished very

quickly or simply remained a part of NATO never being able to fully separate. In order to

determine the reasons for this failure, Charles Tilly‟s model of WUNC serves as a guideline.

Even though Tilly utilizes these factors of Worthiness, Unity, Number and Commitment to


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evaluate social movements, they prove essential for any movement also on the international


The greatest reason behind these failures is the European comfort under the American

security umbrella and its unwillingness to cut back on the social investments. Having an

independent institution has not yet been regarded worthy enough to replace greater welfare

spending(Kagan 2003, 25). Thus, the lack of incentive to change hindered the long process

required by institution building to ever take off. The status quo of NATO‟s division of labor is

most worthy and provides Europe and the U.S. with a relationship of best possible benefits.

Another argument claims, “the largely unspoken justification for having a separate EU force was

to cover situations, in which NATO (and, more particularly the United States) did not wish to be

directly involved, but was nevertheless sympathetic” (Leonard 2010, 260). Assuming that this is

true in the European perception then their force would still be part of NATO and it would not be

worth the effort to make it independent if the connection with NATO remains inevitable in either

case. Especially since NATO rarely turns down opportunities for intervention, there is no benefit

of having a separate institution solely to cover up missions that NATO does not want to publicly

commit to. This would be unnecessary and redundant. Even though it is not quite the same as

being independent, the Berlin-Plus Agreement already in place allows for Europe to use NATO

assets at any time.

Next, unity even within Europe and the EU itself is hard to achieve as the European

governments are not completely amalgamated, but still hold on to their sovereignty. When the

individual states disagree on issues, consolidating into a unit with a common goal is hard to

implement in practice. The renunciation of the EU constitution by the Dutch and French

governments in 2005 is the most drastic instance of the animosity mounted in the EU. Other


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examples include, but are not limited to, the withdrawal of some members, such as Denmark,

from the Schengen agreement to eliminate the borders among EU countries, as well as the

abstinence of Germany to vote on Libya in the Security Council in 2010. Most significantly, this

federalism leads to immense bureaucratic hurdles.

Numbers should have been the easiest to allocate, since EU structures were already in

place bringing together a relatively large number of countries. But, the numbers of those states

supporting an independent European effort changed over time and with each attempt. Different

European countries tried to seek greater autonomy during different points in time, which

prevented any of the attempts to be collaborative and to bring together the majority of states. For

example, the very first attempt of the French-German army in the 1950‟s and a tighter alliance in

the 1960‟s foundered due to the strength of the alliance under the Soviet threat at that time

(Hitchcock 2008, 66). Therefore, other European NATO members rejected the formation of

French-German desires to isolate themselves. Once a certain number of states collaborate, it

immediately raises the suspicion of other states.

Moreover, as Europe tries to move away from power politics and towards pacifism, it

does not recognize the need for security as urgently as the U.S. does, who has been involved in

wars since the end of World War II. Because most European nations do not see a priority in

fighting wars and extending their influence beyond the EU project, momentum stopped short of

the amount necessary to carry through a new policy. Further, the lack of commitment is also the

result of structural problems in the organization of the EU, where the “six-month rotating

presidency left it ill-equipped to lay out strategic priorities” (Goldgeier 2010, 17). Although the

Lisbon Treaty brought about some reforms, the EU encounters barriers in producing a popular

head figure to lead clear actions. Catherine Ashton, the EU‟s High Representative of the Union


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for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy most closely resembles the person that may be called a

head actor in the EU. Despite her frequent appearance in international policy debates, she

nonetheless plays a limited role. Instead, it is the respective heads of states that count and are

looked towards in pressing security matters. Partially the sovereignty and the pluralistic nature of

the EU cause the lack of a guiding figure such as the powerful president in the United States. The

EU is less fond of attributing immense powers in the hands of a single executive. Even though

this serves towards more equality among European states, at other times it might prevent the EU

from reaching its full potential, such as an independent security institution. Furthermore, since a

large number of heads of states are involved and policy often depends on personal connections, it

is nearly impossible to have one comprehensive relation between the U.S. and Europe, since the

new election in each states vary over time, so that there are rarely the same heads of states

coming together to form policies.

All in all, the unwritten deal manifested in NATO sees it as appropriate that Europe

enjoys protection in return for America‟s guiding diplomacy. By joining NATO these terms have

thus been accepted by the members. This argument, however, reveals a policy paradox. On the

one hand, the U.S. wants to strengthen the European pillar in order to strengthen Europe as a

whole. On the other hand the U.S. also shows some fear of a Europe which may at one point turn

into a competitor instead of protectorate. But for now, even if the European members would be

independent they would not be able to gather as much strength as they do when joined with

NATO. Even the force de frappe of France cannot act without the U.S.‟s nuclear power. In

addition, a separate European institution would not guarantee a greater coherence. In fact it may

simply be the same as NATO, except without the U.S. since the European states are themselves

divided with their differing objectives and values. The EU still finds itself in the beginning stages


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of eliminating major differences between states. Until the turn of the century there was not even

a common military planning capability. The goal is it to “minimize dependence within

interdependence” in order to accommodate the continuation of the federal system and at the same

time guarantee assurance (Krotz and Sperling 2011, 313). Even though France rejoined the

alliance fully in 2009, it still advocates for independence and the possibility of such can neither

be excluded nor predicted with absolute certainty.

  • 6. Endurance Explained through Realism

In order to make sense of these apparent inequalities, research in this paper holds that

Realism offers the best explanation for the survival of NATO. At the same time, however, it

ought not to be denied that Liberals are right in stressing the importance of institutionalizing trust

and building a positive hegemony. NATO most importantly survived after the end of the Cold

War because it became more than just a security alliance, but it also “provided mechanisms and

venues to build political relations, conduct business, and regulate conflict (Ikenberry 1998-1999,

69)”. Exactly because countries found various purposes, especially liberal state building, it was

able to survive as members acquired their own stake in the alliance. Most important are the

increased returns and the lock-in effect (Ikenberry 1998-1999, 72). Over time little sense remains

in eliminating an institution, because the cost of creating a new one is unbearable, learning

affects are very high and time is sacrificed to build relations and commitments with other

countries. Realists agree with this since overcoming prevailing mistrusts is a huge benefit and

NATO is important to be sustained.

Realist Mearsheimer claims that the Cold War actually turned out as a period of relative

stability and peace granted by the bipolar order (Mearsheimer, Back to the Future: Instability in


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Europe after the Cold War 1990). He distinguishes between two types of institutions. One is

„inner-directed and provides collective security among members and the other is outer-directed

and focuses on deterrence against an external threat‟ (Mearsheimer, A Realist Reply 1995, 83).

The period after the Cold War, however, would experience a return to balance-of-power politics

as it existed throughout most of Europe‟s history with ethnic conflicts and strives for power.

Before the U.S. and the Soviet Union balanced their power, but, with the demise of the Soviet

Union, the U.S. achieved super power status and global hegemony and thus stirred the jealousy

and fear of other countries. If this development proved true, this would mean that NATO instead

of losing its purpose would have become more important than before in the Cold War era in

order to control the powers set against each other and implement strategic retrains as an inner-

directed collective security alliance. Not only is there still a possibility of Germany reviving

nationalism, but Russia also remains a perhaps outdated but strong nuclear power and could at

any time revert back into revenge. Henry Kissinger often stressed the importance of the U.S. to

guarantee unity in Europe against all mistrusts (Kissinger 1994).

International institutions generally counter an external threat, and besides the revival of

Russia, there are other aspects which still require protection, such as terrorism and energy which

demand the continuation of NATO. Institutions are most likely not products of a simple urge for

international friendships, but rather a direct product of state interests. Decisions are thus based on

interest and not affiliation, which explains the divergences of NATO opinions even in cases

when cooperation would be more than beneficial. Even within the alliance there are still security

competitions and there is no ultimate guarantee for trust. After the Cold War, the Strategic

Concept of 1991 for instance reiterated the need for security in Europe.


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The alliance was supposed to alleviate tensions by granting Europe the “reassurance that

the United States would neither dominate nor abandon them” (Ikenberry 1998-1999, 77). Yet,

NATO‟s relationship is painted with European fears of being prematurely abandoned by the U.S.

and Europe as well as the U.S. remained suspicious of each other‟s power all throughout. NATO

was thus to keep in check Europe‟s criticism of American hegemony and American attempts for

strengthening the European pillar only so far as not to create a competitor. As realists claim,

each country prevailed through pride in their own history and values since NATO‟s founding.

Strict Realists claim that alliances generally do not help overcome such trust issues, because “to

keep your allies guessing, most of the time and on matters vital to them, about what you intent to

do is bound to erode the foundations of confidence” (Morgenthau 1957, 26). But they also

acknowledge that fact that countries still keep the alliance vital to eliminate at least some of the

mistrust. Another feature of NATO is, that the relationship is not seen as pacta sunt servanda

(treatises are binding), but as rebus sic stanibus (by reason of changed conditions) (Raymond

and Kegley 1990, 19). This attitude helped NATO after the demise of the Soviet Union to be

flexible and newly adapt to the international system. However, this flexibility to exercise

national interests and interpret the treaty according to those interests could also easily cause


Lastly, Constructivism as put forth by Alexander Wendt offers yet a different perspective

to NATO‟s endurance. Instead of material capabilities, it focuses on social interactions (Wendt

1992). As could be observed in several instances the relations between administrations do impact

countries relations. But, these relations are also influenced by the structure and the overall stand

of the country and may thus not necessarily guarantee peace. If relationships are unfavorable,

good relations between two states will be hard to maintain. Indeed the policies of such strong


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Atlanticists such as President Clinton pushed NATO forward and kept it alive. But, at the same

time anti-Atlanticists such as De Gaulle did not lead to the demise of NATO. Therefore, relations

may be important to turn policies into a certain direction, but they are not a decisive factor to the

survival of NATO.

  • 7. Balkan Case Study: NATO’s First Test

The Balkans show the first instance when NATO, or more specifically the U.S. pushed

for intervention and an active air campaign in order to counter fight the violent ethnic struggles,

which escalated so far as to catch the attention of the international community and stir debates

about the ethics of humanitarian intervention. The Kosovo-Albanians making up 80 percent of

the population have not been, and are still up to this day, unwilling to integrate into the

Yugoslavian state, now known as Serbia and Montenegro. The goal of Kosovo-Albanians is not

to hold autonomy within Yugoslavia, but to reach complete state independence.

Two main differences distinguish Albanians from Serbs. First, their ethnic background is

fundamentally different. Whereas the Serbs belong to the Slavs, Albanians stem from the

Illyrians, the original inhabitants of the Balkan Peninsula. As a result, the Albanians are

perceived as a foreign body in the Slavic state of Yugoslavia. Second, while the Albanians are

mostly Muslim, Serbs follow Orthodox Christianity. Due to alleged suppression of the Serbian

minority, the autonomy of Kosovo was nullified and the country was scaled down to a Serb

province in the 1980‟s (Jansen 2008). The Serbian government deposed the government in

Kosovo and expelled all Albanians from all administrative organs. In addition, any Albanian-

speaking media was suppressed. Serbs took on leadership in politics, administration and the


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economy and Serbian evolved as the sole official language. All in all, Kosovo became a land

occupied by Serbs and marked by violence, oppression and eviction.

Albanians legitimize their claim to Kosovo through their big majority in populations as

compared to the Serbs and their reinforced settlement of Kosovo in the 18 th century, after most

Serbs had left the Ottoman area. The Serbs in contrast view Kosovo as theirs since it is the

medieval land of origin of the Serbian kingdom. Moreover, Kosovo is of strategic importance

with its corridor to the South across Macedonia and Greece to the Aegean Sea as well as

economic importance with mineral resources. Lastly, Serbs stress the protection of their minority

rights. The defeat in the battle of the Amselfeld in 1389, which ultimately turned Kosovo into a

Muslim country, remains a trauma to the Serbs even today (Jansen 2008). The majority of Serbs

are convinced that Kosovo is part of Serbia.

In order to demonstrate the divide within NATO on the Balkan conflict it is essential to

lay out the different players and their position. Although the Serbs are generally viewed as the

trouble-makers, Great Britain, Russia, France and Greece did not hide their sympathy for the

Serbs (Koppe 1994, 12). Thanks to these reserves the Serbs allocated the necessary resources to

fight in the first place. Russia with its pan-Slavic tendencies also sent troops surprisingly under

NATO. However, their national interest was guided by the hope of using Serbian great power

politics for their own purposes to access the Mediterranean (Koppe 1994, 5). This not only

shows the preeminence of national interests, but also the fact that Russia may abuse partnerships

with NATO in any other instances. However, the publicly announced stand of NATO members

advocates not for Kosovo‟s independence, but rather autonomy within an integrated Yugoslavia

as well as a Bosnian Federation.


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Many obvious reasons called for the immediate intervention of NATO in the conflict as

firstly and urgently proposed by the U.S. The independence of Slovenia and Croatia in 1992

turned the formerly civil war into an inter-state war and thus demanding more international

attention. Slobodan Milosevic was increasingly even opposed by his own Serbian population

(Koppe 1994, 10). As it is widely known among the debate around intervention, all measures,

including the UN Security Resolution, the envoy of blue helmets, the withdrawal of ambassadors

and sanctions, did not affect Milosevic‟s suppressing policies in any substantial way. Meanwhile,

Serbs acquired more and more land even where there were no Serbs residing. The argument was

to bridge the gap between the scattered presences of Serbs in Kosovo. Most importantly is the

brutal ethnic cleansing exercised mainly by the Serbs and to some extent by the Croats against all

UN Human Rights. No agreement seemed to be reached between Bosnians, Kosovo Albanians,

Croats and Serbs, when even religious leaders found themselves in extremist positions.

Despite these calls for intervention and the claims that airpower had been successfully

exercised, the action of NATO states came too late and in fact encountered many hurdles. The

international community should have seen the extreme Serbification in both Bosnia and Kosovo

as critical, but the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) did not

recognize the conflict on time and followed their rules of respecting state integrity. At the same

time attention was focused on the East-West conflict and the Second Gulf War of 1990 with the

Kuwait and Iraq conflict especially causing a delay in American reaction. The international

principle of non-engagement prevented any valuable action. Even though the UN imposed a no-

fly zone in 1993 through NATO implementation, blue helmets remained absent to carry out the

measures (Koppe 1994, 13). Further, the U.S. made it their spiel to put forward a lot of rhetoric

against the atrocities, but was unwilling to commit any troops (Walt 1998/ 1999, 3). In line with


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the labor division in NATO, the U.S. moved safely in the air, while the Europeans carried out

most work on the ground and thus endangering their own troops.

Ultimately the conflict exhibited a test for non-NATO European missions. The war was

symbolic for the increasing lack of purpose of NATO after the fall of communism and this was

the chance to proof the alliance‟s adaptability to a reordered world. Uniquely in this case there

was no dispute over national interests among NATO members, because to both sides the Balkan

area did not attest to any national and strategic interests. Rather, the question the Balkan conflict

raised was about proper process and strategy. The failure of NATO action is due to “conceptual

failures within each of the allied governments rather than to the structure of an alliance that was

never designed to deal with ethnic conflicts” (Kissinger 1994). There were certainly too many

expectations placed on the role and ability of NATO to solve the conflict. No evidence shows

that it was the air campaign of Operation Deliberate Force alone that brought about peace, but

the “diplomatic skills of Assistant Secretary of State Richard C. Holbrooke” also made large

contributions (Kaplan 1999, 206). Moreover, after the air campaign ended, efforts to return

refugees and convict war criminals were extremely slow and the post-war Stabilization Force

(SFOR) continued their presence for a long time.

Another problem was the understanding of the deeply rooted ethnic conflict. Europe was

often criticized because they failed to see the Serbs fault, but rather sought to take a neutral

standpoint in viewing the ethnic groups as equal. As a result, Europe thought the historic conflict

should be settled territorially, in which a Bosnian federal state as settled in the Dayton Acts

would give each group its own jurisdiction (Hitchcock 2008, 68). Even though it is true that the

Serbs settled the land first, nothing is static, so that shifts in power between different ethnic

groups are normal and should not cause such a deep conflict. The U.S. itself was not even sure


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which group to back up. Although they held the Serbs responsible for the bulk of the brutal acts,

the U.S. also backed them many times because of their pro-Western ideals and lifestyle. After

long interventions, the air strikes were seen as successful in driving Milosevic out. The entire

conflict showed U.S. supremacy and the still existent need for U.S. involvement as Europe failed

to act alone and was more important in the aftermath to keep the peace. It is therefore often

argued that Europe is better suited to solving ethnic conflicts than carrying out hard power and

military operations (Ruggie 1996, 117).

All in all, there was no historical justification for the violence that took place, even

though some of the secessionist movements from the former Soviet Bloc were provocative.

There was no legitimacy in the tight Serbian control over the Kosovo Albanians and the random

shooting and displacement. The fact that unrest and disagreements between the different ethnic

groups in the Balkans still cover the news make it questionable in how far the European peace-

keeping efforts were truly successful. Instead they point to a failure in the artificial federation of

Bosnia and the limited understanding of the ethnic divides. Even though the belated American

driven air campaign was successful to some extent, European reluctance to intervention but

pacifist conviction slowed down any quick and valuable decision. NATO as a military alliance

therefore may have to revise its capabilities if it seeks to focus on ethnic and religious conflicts

as a sustainable means to resolve such conflicts as a coherent and effective whole in the future.

  • 8. Prospects for NATO

There are a number of initiatives that should be taken in order to sustain NATO and the

vital transatlantic relationship in the future. First, costs need to be cut to keep the members in as

well as better coordinate burden-sharing. After all both sides of the Atlantic seek substantial


NATO: Mars &Venus


returns from the alliance even though the returns may be different. Decreasing costs can be done

by cutting some of the missions as well as delegating more non-security related responsibility to

the EU. If the U.S. continues to provide the majority of assets, tax payers will eventually cease to

carry the burden. U.S. withdrawal would mean NATO‟s demise. NATO already provides the

structure and thus establishing new security alliances would just increase the cost. Moreover,

despite its weaknesses, the structure has proven very steadfast and survived many crises and

disputes. For instance, the NATO Response Force (NRF) of 2002 provides readily accessible

corps for terrorism, which shows an ability to be flexible and adaptable to new threats. In

addition, some NATO efforts are unknown to the public since the „daily work of democratization

is rarely discussed as disputes attract the media‟ (Hitchcock 2008, 79). The International Security

Assistance Force (ISAF) functioned overall well in the Afghanistan crisis. In addition, the recent

intervention in Libya showed great participation of European members and signs of an improved

functioning of NATO in carrying out the air campaign (Daalder and Stavridis, NATO's Victory

in Libya: The Right Way to Run and Intervention 2012).

Second, the alliance needs to clearly define its purpose and area of responsibility. This

should be done in a way not to offset negative responses in Russia. For example, NATO‟s

purpose could be reframed “from collective defense to strategic reassurance” (Brown 1999, 212).

Within these lines NATO should stop expanding for the sake of having a clearly organized and

functioning structure, unless a country is specifically threatened and would be accepted solely on

the grounds of security and not just economic reasons. After all, “the end of the Cold War did not

reduce the salience of military power and Europe discovered that economic power does not

translate into strategic power” (Kagan 2003, 22). Not only Russia remains a security question,

but the new strategic concept of 2010 also includes cyber and energy security as well as


NATO: Mars &Venus


terrorism. Expansionists like Kissinger, in contrast, suggest increasing the political role in light

of lessened military threats and the rise of more ethnic and religious conflicts (Kissinger 1994).

However, terrorism might well require a military response. The numbers of military staff

necessary perhaps decreases in the near future, but this will only benefit NATO as it helps in

cutting down costs. At the same time, it is still important to sustain a ready force in order to

avoid such unpreparedness as in World War I or the failure of the League of Nations. Even

though intercontinental missiles made it unnecessary to keep installations in Western Europe,

they are still important not to have only protection in America, but also achieve European safety

(Morgenthau 24).

Generational change also needs to be considered. The new leaders did not grow up under

the traditions and feelings of the Cold War and the culture of transatlanticisim, so that they may

be unsure on how they will push for the importance of NATO (Walt 1998/ 1999, 6). The U.S.

will certainly want to keep its role as Mars and retain military supremacy across generations, but

it may be hard to create the same feelings of being pulled together by a common enemy.

Fortunately, “for the health of the alliance in 1999, […] the Clinton Administration believed the

price for allied unity was worth paying” (Kagan 2003, 49). Therefore, the future of NATO will

to some degree depend on the sympathy of leaders to promote the transatlantic relationship.

Since the “end of the Cold War virtually transformed NATO overnight from a compulsory

alliance into a voluntary one” NATO will survive as long as countries see it worthwhile (Krotz

and Sperling 2011, 318).

If the reforms do not take place, Asia, already America‟s biggest trading partner, will

likely move into the foreground of security, and the EU gaining in strength may surpass the U.S.,

since U.S. growth has slowed down. Both players would be threats to the alliance instead of the


NATO: Mars &Venus


EU and NATO enforcing each other (Walt 1998/ 1999, 5). Since Europe shows less interest in

Asia, this would deepen transatlantic divides even further. Yet, at the moment, as the graph

based on data collected by the Pew Research Center demonstrates, there is still a lot of

confidence and good will for NATO.

Opinion of NATO: Do you have a favorable or unfavorable view of NATO?

80% 60% 40% 20% 0%

Percent responding

Favorable (2011)

Figure 4: Public Opinion Survey on NATO

9. Conclusion

With the end of World War Two, NATO did not simply continue to exist, but rotated its

purpose from defending borders to providing security in the international realm. In the process,

the marriage of the U.S. and Europe deepened and survived with every day differences. NATO is

not a failure, but did in fact contain the Soviet Union, despite disunity that had been present since

the beginning. Yet, NATO was set up as an ideal, which cannot ever be complied with due to

national interests. Although it does not always prevent war, it is a platform for cooperation. Since

all members devote a lot of resources there must be merit within it. There is often a divide

between academia and reality, because NATO on the ground in Brussels today reflects world


NATO: Mars &Venus


events and is busier than ever in solving security policy issues against all predictions of its

demise. Despite NATO‟s experiences with many inefficiencies and shortcomings due to its

growth and divergences, the U.S. and Europe discovered their own objectives in NATO. While

the U.S. up to now has provided the majority of military capabilities, Europe used this

opportunity of being able to cut down their defense spending to focus on building an image as

peacekeeper. The U.S. despite public discontent accepted this in return for a presence in Europe

and legitimacy in missions abroad.

However, if NATO seeks to retain its relevance it necessarily has to advocate for more

political unity and equal burden sharing. After the Cold War it survived because it expanded and

reinvented its purpose, so now NATO should follow the minimalist path in keeping its member

list short and its aim for security focused. More research should address what specific steps

NATO should take in its reorganization to ensure the current inefficiencies diminish and what

incentives there are for countries to follow efforts of creating a clear and common purpose. After

all, the U.S. might stay Mars and Europe Venus since these differences will most likely never be

overcome, making it hence more worth accepting and working with the differences. There is

room for these opposing security ideas to complement and compromise each other, where both

sides effectively use their specific skills and resources in order for NATO to stay the main

institution to address questions of transatlantic security.


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