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International Relations NATO
by
Carl Cavanagh Hodge

Introduction

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance of North American and European democratic states founded by the North Atlantic Treaty, signed on 4 April 1949 in Washington, DC. It is a product of both the Anglo-American alliance during World War II and the conflict that emerged after 1945 between the United States and the Soviet Union over the postwar future of Europe. It was preceded by the Treaty of Brussels, signed 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom, which was as much a hedge against the reemergence of an aggressive Germany as an anti-Soviet coalition. As the Soviet military threat to Western Europe made the Brussels states anxious to secure an American security guarantee, talks were convened that ultimately led to the creation of NATO, incorporating the five Brussels states plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. In 1952 Greece and Turkey were added, and in 1955 the inclusion of the Federal Republic of Germany further strengthened NATO and made West Germany the front-line state of NATO’s confrontation with the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Treaty Organization until 1989. Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, NATO has added to its number former member states of the Warsaw Pact and former Soviet republics, so that as of 2010 its membership totals twenty-eight countries. The literature on NATO falls into four categories: journal articles dealing with NATO in all periods since its founding, literature on the Cold War Era, studies of post–Cold War change generally, and growing literature on NATO in the expeditionary era specifically.

Journals

With the exception of the NATO Review, which is both a textbook of alliance affairs and a bulletin of news, journal scholarship on NATO is evenly divided between historians and political scientists, and most of the journals listed below feature a healthy degree of cross-fertilization between those two disciplines. Cold War History, however, is dominated by historical enquiry and often engages the matter of the Cold War’s place in international history. At the opposite extreme, Survival offers articles on contemporary events and policy debates. Atlantic Community is a highly informative website on a wide array of contemporary issues. International Affairs has since 1924 routinely published articles and reviews of the widest variety on global politics; its archive therefore covers the entire history of NATO. By contrast, International Security features many more articles dealing with international-relations theory, much of which is of direct or indirect relevance to the alliance. The same can be said of European Security, with the difference that its focus on Europe gives a very high profile to NATO and related concerns. Although the Journal of Transatlantic Studies is comparatively new on the scene, its articles and reviews feature a strong representation of scholarship on NATO and related topics. The RUSI Journal is oriented toward government and military personnel, yet is approachable.

The Cold War Alliance

Historians and political scientists represented in this literature have been concerned with NATO’s origins and with the diplomacy of alliance management more than with purely military affairs. This is a wholly appropriate reflection of NATO’s role as an international political organization and forum of diplomacy, but it means that the literature is more useful to students of international affairs and security—on matters ranging from conventional to nuclear defense, mutual assured destruction versus flexible response, détente, and arms negotiations—than to military historians. General studies of the alliance are rather evenly divided between history and political science, ranging from Deutsch’s early and theoretical work at one extreme (Deutsch, et al. 1957) and Grosser’s survey of alliance diplomacy at the other (Grosser 1980). Kaplan 1999 and Gann and Duignan 1998 attempt a broad framework for viewing NATO as a multinational community as well as an alliance. Joffe 1987, Schmidt 2001, and Smith 2000 are all concerned with NATO’s evolution and the internal stresses brought about by international change.

Early Alliance History

The early years of the alliance constitute a major factor in the post-1945 reconstitution of Europe in line with the deepening superpower confrontation. Kaplan 2007 focuses on the politics and diplomacy of NATO’s founding, while Ruane 2000, Smith 1991, Trachtenberg 1999, and Willis 1968 each deal in greater detail with specific bilateral relationships within the alliance.

  • Kaplan, Lawrence S. NATO 1948: The Birth of the Transatlantic Alliance. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.

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    A study of the contentious and often torturous negotiating process after which the United States abandoned its traditional rejection of alliance to accept a permanent military burden in Europe.

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  • Ruane, Kevin. The Rise and Fall of the European Defence Community: Anglo-American Relations and the Crisis of European Defence, 1950–55. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 2000.

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    The alliance’s infancy and the miscarried attempt to establish a European alternative, followed by German rearmament and NATO membership; elegantly argued.

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  • Smith, E. Timothy. The United States, Italy, and NATO, 1947–52. London: Macmillan, 1991.

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    American diplomacy and Italian membership in NATO as critical aspects of the legitimation of the postwar regime in Rome and its prominent role in the creation of the European Community. Solid NATO and European history.

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  • Trachtenberg, Marc. A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945–1963. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.

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    West Germany as pivotal to European peace, with German security—conventional or nuclear—the central question.

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  • Willis, F. Roy. France, Germany, and the New Europe, 1945–1963. Rev. ed. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1968.

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    Now dated treatment of a critical bilateral relationship during the formative years of the alliance, still useful in appreciating the politics of the time.

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Intra-Alliance Relations

The literature on relations among NATO members tends to be dominated by three approaches. The first, typified by Calleo 1988, Kissinger 1965, and Osgood 1962, places the alliance in a broad historical and theoretical context. A second approach studies cooperation and responsibilities within NATO in considerable detail. Sandler and Hartley 1999 applies an economic model, while Boyer 1993 resorts to a more comprehensive public-goods approach to costs and benefits. Lunn 1983 is concerned with the impact of NATO’s structure on its internal diplomacy; Risse-Kappen 1995, a more recent study, draws appropriate attention to the influence of European members following the Cold War. A third tendency, here represented by Carpenter 1994 and Treverton 1985, is dominated by policy advocates and combines informed commentary on current issues with specific recommendations.

  • Boyer, Mark A. International Cooperation and Public Goods: Opportunities for the Western Alliance. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.

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    An application of the “public goods” model to NATO, arguing that many benefits beyond security are derived by alliance membership.

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  • Calleo, David P. Beyond American Hegemony: The Future of the Western Alliance. Brighton, UK: Wheatsheaf, 1988.

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    A critical contribution on why and how the European member states should take greater responsibility for their own defense—a timeless NATO theme.

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  • Carpenter, Ted Galen. Beyond NATO: Staying Out of Europe’s Wars. Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 1994.

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    Essentially a policy brief against NATO expansion, questioning the post–Cold War utility of the alliance; long on polemics and short on scholarship.

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  • Kissinger, Henry A. The Troubled Partnership: The Atlantic Alliance. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965.

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    A plea for American flexibility on sharing decision-making powers with European allies, strongly influenced by the Gaullist diplomacy of France yet featuring observations that remain relevant to the contemporary alliance.

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  • Lunn, Simon. Burden-Sharing in NATO. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983.

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    An even-handed discussion of how the very structure of the alliance has tended to aggravate disputes over responsibilities, disputes usually overcome by compromise but which were made more intractable by the crises of the 1980s

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  • Osgood, Robert E. NATO: The Entangling Alliance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962.

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    A landmark book on the strategic dilemmas posed by a permanent American security guarantee to Western Europe, now quite dated but useful in its clear thinking on the Cold War alliance.

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  • Risse-Kappen, Thomas. Cooperation among Democracies: The European Influence on U.S. Foreign Policy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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    Simultaneously a study of European influence within NATO, an alliance in post–Cold War transition, and institutionalized diplomacy with an alliance of democratic states.

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  • Sandler, Todd, and Keith Hartley. The Political Economy of NATO: Past, Present, and into the 21st Century. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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    The tools of economic analysis applied to burden sharing within a military alliance, demonstrating a recurrent tendency toward the exploitation of the strong by the weak.

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  • Treverton, Gregory F. Making the Alliance Work: The United States and Western Europe. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1985.

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    A snapshot of NATO’s condition in the mid-1980s, published in the midst of the Euromissile crisis, with informed advice on how common interests can keep the alliance united for another thirty years.

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Britain and NATO

Among the European founding members of NATO, Britain was critical. Baylis 1993 stresses the British role in entangling the interests of the United States in Europe generally, while Dockrill 1991 focuses on Britain’s contribution to rehabilitating Germany as a major factor in strengthening the alliance. Priest 2006 deals with Anglo-American relations during the Vietnam era, while Badsey and Latawsky 2004 focuses on Britain and NATO peace support in Yugoslavia.

France and NATO

France represents the most ambivalent major power in Europe. Whereas Hitchcock 1988 studies France’s painful transition from a victim of Nazi occupation to a central player in European integration, Bozo 2001 and Gordon 1993 are concerned with the Gaullist revolution in French foreign policy in the Fifth Republic, according to which France sought to maximize its autonomy within NATO.

Germany and NATO

As long as the Cold War lasted, the Federal Republic of Germany represented NATO’s frontline state. The story begins with Richardson 1966. Hanrieder 1989 explains why the relationship between the United States and West Germany was the most “special” of all special relationships. Duffield 1998 explores the pacifying effect of the Cold War on Germany and its foreign policy. The contribution of a reunified Germany to NATO enlargement is then examined by Hyde-Price 2000.

Military Strategy

Books on NATO strategy during the Cold War are dominated by the nuclear issue, ranging from debates over doctrine covering strategic weapons in Daalder 1991, Haftendorn, et al. 2006, Risse-Kappen 1988, and Schwartz 1983, to Heuser 1997, a comparative study of the divergent policies of three major European allies on nuclear weaponry. Duffield 1995 stands out as the best of the very few works dealing with NATO’s conventional military forces and their posture to war with the Warsaw Pact. Haftendorn 1996 is mandatory reading on the rethinking of nuclear strategy in the 1960s, while Pierre 1984 is an edited volume that revisits the issue two decades later.

  • Daalder, Ivo H. The Nature and Practice of Flexible Response: NATO Strategy and Theater Nuclear Forces since 1967. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.

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    A major history of Western European nuclear strategy meticulously reconstructed from a wide array of sources and explaining American, British, Dutch, and German positions. Mandatory reading.

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  • Duffield, John S. Power Rules: The Evolution of NATO’s Conventional Force Posture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995.

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    A history of the evolution of NATO’s conception of conventional forces for the defense of Europe, superbly documented and soberly evaluated.

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  • Haftendorn, Helga. Georges-Henri Soutou, Stephen F. Szabo, and Samuel F. Wells Jr., eds. The Strategic Triangle: France, Germany, and the United States in the Shaping of the New Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

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    Fifteen essays on many aspects of the triangle; especially useful on the NATO crisis of the 1960s and the Euromissile crisis of the 1980s.

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  • Haftendorn, Helga. NATO and the Nuclear Revolution: A Crisis of Credibility, 1966–1967. Oxford: Clarendon, 1996.

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    Superb account of the crisis of nuclear strategy brought on by the growing Soviet arsenal, the advent of the French force de frappe, and the discussion of flexible response.

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  • Heuser, Beatrice. NATO, Britain, France, and the FRG: Nuclear Strategies and Forces for Europe, 1949–2000. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1997.

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    Superb scholarly study of nuclear doctrine and nuclear politics in the three most important allies of the American superpower by an authority completely at home in three national contexts.

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  • Pierre, Andrew J., ed. Nuclear Weapons in Europe. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1984.

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    A volume of essays debating the strategic utility and political wisdom of the intermediate-range nuclear-missile deployments of the 1980s.

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  • Risse-Kappen, Thomas. The Zero Option: INF, West Germany, and Arms Control. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1988.

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    The critical role of the Federal Republic of Germany in the missile deployments of the 1980s, the extraordinary consultation with it allies, and the happy outcome of an arms race that brought peace to Europe.

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  • Schwartz, David N. NATO’s Nuclear Dilemmas. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1983.

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    Thoughtful study of the decision to deploy a new generation of nuclear weapons in Western Europe in the 1980s, told by an insider. Not for novices.

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Post–Cold War Change

The literature covering post–Cold War change within NATO is dominated by the debate over the alliance’s eastward expansion. A smaller but equally important literature addresses the recurrent ambition of the European member states to develop a collective security and defense capacity relatively independent of the United States, while European defense technologies have generally lagged behind American advances to a degree that has actually increased European material dependency on NATO. Surveys of NATO after the historic changes of 1989–1991 take a broad view of a variety of issues. Kay 1998 is the most useful introductory reading, while Rynning 2005 and Serfaty 2005 assume a basic knowledge of NATO and of contemporary strategic issues on the part of the reader. The same can be said of Thies 2009 and Williams and Jones 2001, with the difference that they are more speculative about the future viability of the alliance.

NATO Enlargement

The enlargement of NATO during the 1990s to include former members of the Warsaw Pact represents one of the two major vehicles that unified Europe under democratic government, alongside the expansion of the European Union. Goldgeier 1999 examines the process by which the United States decided in favor of enlargement. Gheciu 2005 and Simon 2004a are particularly attentive to the complementary nature of EU and NATO enlargement. Asmus 2002, Kugler 1996, and Larrabee 2003 focus meanwhile on the strategic implications of enlargement, particularly its impact on American and European relations with Russia. Barany 2003 and Jacoby 2004, meanwhile, stress that NATO has always been a political as well as a military organization, in which aspiring members from Eastern Europe experienced profound political change as the price of belonging. Simon 2004b deals in detail with the transformation wrought in Poland, a pivotal state in ending the Cold War and in enlarging NATO.

The Capabilities Gap

During the 1990s a good deal of literature explored the gap in military capabilities between the United States and its European allies. Much of the literature was highly technical and rather weak on the historical aspects of a problem dating to the 1960s; Quinlan 2001 is exceptional in this regard. Otherwise, the more useful work on the capabilities gap devotes primary attention to bilateral and multilateral efforts either to overcome or mitigate it. Cogan 2001, Gordon 1995, and Haglund 1991 all place Franco-German cooperation at the very center of efforts to create a European security and defense policy.

  • Cogan, Charles G. The Third Option: The Emancipation of European Defense, 1989–2000. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001.

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    Among the best treatments of Europe’s effort to establish an autonomous defense capability, given new impetus in the 1990s by Europe’s poor performance in Yugoslavia and American ambivalence over deploying ground forces in Kosovo.

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  • Gordon, Philip H. France, Germany, and the Western Alliance. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1995.

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    The evolution and future of the most important bilateral relationship in Europe, especially critical to NATO after German reunification and subsequent developments such as the formation of the Franco-German Brigade in 1990.

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  • Haglund, David G. Alliance within the Alliance? Franco-German Military Cooperation and the European Pillar of Defense. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1991.

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    An analysis of Franco-German defense cooperation as a possible basis for European self-reliance, assessing its lack of progress and possible ways forward.

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  • Quinlan, Michael. European Defense Cooperation: Asset or Threat to NATO? Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center, 2001.

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    Expert exploration of decades of efforts in burden sharing among European states, interpreted in the end primarily as a strengthened collective contribution to NATO.

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Strategic Divergence

A parallel phenomenon to the post–Cold War alliance has been the divergent strategic perspectives and military priorities in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. Although this literature remains underdeveloped, Haass 1999, a collection of essays on tensions between the United States and its European allies with regard to “rogue states” on and beyond NATO’s periphery, is a sound introduction. Michta 2006 and Rupp 2006 discuss the intensification of transatlantic strategic divergence since the events of September 11, 2001. Sloan 2005 is prescriptive, yet it comes from one of greatest authorities on NATO affairs and is mandatory for any student of the alliance.

Expeditionary NATO

The growing literature on NATO’s involvement in the serial wars of the Yugoslav succession during the 1990s and on NATO burden sharing across a variety of missions in Afghanistan also deals with the transatlantic “capabilities gap”. At the same time, however, it devotes considerable attention to the logistical challenges of coalition expeditionary warfare and the tactical challenges of counterinsurgency and reconstruction. Last, and most important, much of the literature engages the issue of NATO unity and survival in the face of challenges over which there are deep internal divisions. Contemporary general treatments of NATO’s post–Cold War military missions have given primary attention to the transformative impact of such missions, ranging from humanitarian intervention in the former Yugoslavia beginning in the 1990s to differences over the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the alliance’s travails with counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. Yost 1998 is the most worthwhile stock-taking of transformation in the first decade following the end of the Cold War, while Frantzen 2005 concentrates on the impact of the decade on three alliance members. Cohen-Tanugi 2003, Gordon 2004, Hodge 2005, and Pond 2004 all stress the internal discord within NATO following upon the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and are to varying degrees pessimistic about NATO’s future. More recent and more optimistic is Moore 2007, a work on NATO’s democratic mission, and Hallams 2010, an authoritative work on Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Former Yugoslavia

NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia has produced a number of high-quality books, all of which are ambivalent about the use of force, the nature of its application, and its results. Kaufman 2002 is the best introductions to NATO’s travails in Yugoslavia generally, while Fromkin 1999 represents the most negative interpretation of the cost and benefit of the war over Kosovo specifically. Bacevich and Cohen 2001, along with Daalder and O’Hanlon 2000, brings a more detached yet informed interpretation of the policy motivations and the diplomacy preceding and accompanying the use of NATO airpower over Kosovo. Henricksen 2007, Lambeth 2001, and Peters 2001 have produced comparatively detailed accounts of the use of precision airpower, its virtues and limitations, and consequences of the “capabilities gap” within NATO for Operation Allied Force. Norris 2005 extends its concern to the damage done by NATO’s intervention to relations with Russia.

Afghanistan

The literature on NATO’s joint effort in Afghanistan is as yet underdeveloped, but the efforts of Jones 2008 and O’Hanlon and Sherjan 2010 represent very strong early contributions. Bensahel 2003 puts Afghanistan in the context of a larger alliance effort against terrorism, complementing Kobras 2010, a study of asymmetric warfare. Giustozzi 2008, a study of the neo-Taliban insurgency, is an excellent primer on the nature of the military and political struggle with all its complications. Fergusson 2008 is a case study of the British experience, offering graphic detail on modern counterinsurgency. Paul, et al. 2010 then completes the picture with a broad view of counterinsurgency.

LAST MODIFIED: 03/02/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199743292-0036

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