In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section NATO

  • Introduction
  • Journals

International Relations NATO
Carl Cavanagh Hodge
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 June 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0036


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 frontline 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 2017 its membership totals twenty-eight countries. The founders in 1949 were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Greece and Turkey were added in 1952; Federal Republic of Germany in 1955; Spain in 1982; the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in 1999; Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia in 2004; Albania and Croatia in 2009. 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.


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 inquiry 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 it is approachable.

  • Atlantic Community.

    Website covering all aspects of transatlantic relations; essays, bulletins, calls for papers.

  • Cold War History. 2000–.

    Based on the Cold War Studies Programme of the London School of Economics the journal publishes scholarly articles from historians and scholars in other disciplines on every aspect of the Cold War.

  • European Security. 1991–.

    Published quarterly, the journal treats all aspects of European security, with many articles and reviews on NATO affairs.

  • International Affairs. 1922–.

    The quarterly journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, publishing articles by scholars and policy experts aimed at specialists as well as general readers.

  • International Security. 1976–.

    Well-documented articles on war and peace, contemporary security issues, diplomatic and military history, peacekeeping, arms control, nuclear forces, and strategy.

  • Journal of Transatlantic Studies. 2002–.

    Academic quarterly. Multidisciplinary, but dominated by history, international relations, and security studies generally and NATO’s contemporary challenges specifically.

  • NATO Review.

    Online journal of the alliance, featuring news, organizational bulletins, and articles on security and defense-related matters; also video and RSS feed.

  • RUSI Journal. 1857–.

    Journal of the Royal United Services Institute, oriented toward defense and military personnel; extremely useful on NATO expeditionary operations.

  • Survival. 1959–.

    Flagship journal the highly respected International Institute for Strategic Studies; routinely publishes articles on NATO and related matters.

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