The Big Bang of NATO Enlargement: Goetterdaemmerung or Rebirth?
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY CONFLICT
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At the November 2002 North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO summit, the western alliance invited seven central and eastern European countries-Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia-to join its system of collective security. This proverbial big bang enlargement of Euro-Atlantic security and defense had, just a few years before, been thought to be impossible. If all goes well, these new members will formally join NATO in the spring of 2004. How could an organization that many believe is a Cold War relic searching for a mission display such vigor at the Prague summit What force allows this security and collective defense organization to grow in membership and to assume new missions and functions This essay highlights the features of endurance and adaptability in NATO that elude many critics and doubters, whose analysis is prone to caricatures of Europeans as freeloaders and defeatists. These critics often overstate the divergent strategic interests between the European NATO nations and the United States. Accepting the relevance of the alliance, the essay explores the tasks of statecraft, security and defense reform connected with NATOs enlargement and strategic realignment.
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