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NATO membership action plans: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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Technical Report,26 Jun 2017,24 May 2018

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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In 1999 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO took efforts to formalize the accession process for countries that aspire to join the alliance. This formalization of Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty became known as the Membership Action Plan MAP. On an individual case basis, NATO offered MAPs at its biannual summits, often after solicitation by potential members. Once offered a MAP, NATO carefully monitored the reform process internal to the aspirant member to ensure that the potential member conformed to western liberal institutionalist ideals. Throughout the post-Cold War 1990s, Article 10, and its MAP criteria served as a catalyst rather than an impediment to bringing newly reformed countries into western alignment along democratic and free-market ideals. The reform process takes time, an element that Russia needed to regain its footing in the post-Cold War era to regain Great Power status in the international community. This monograph explores the dawn of the MAP era in NATO and its application to contemporary aspirant countries, both successful and unsuccessful. Successful NATO membership found expression in the case of the Vilnius group, formed by the Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in only two years from the start of the process. Contrasting the success of the Baltics was the utter failure in Georgia and Ukraine. This failure exemplified how Russian realism blunted the efforts of western liberal institutionalism and its expansion through NATO. The brief shooting war between Georgia and Russia in 2008 demonstrated Russian belief that NATO would not get involved and succeeded in halting NATO expansion in her near abroad. Flush with success in Georgia, six years later, Russia once more gambled that western institutions would not resort to war over a nation seeking membership in NATO and the goal of a western political and economic alignment.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations

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