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NATO Enlargement
  “   NATO is now an Alliance that opposes no one. ”    Sergio Balanzino In the world of contemporary world politics the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is widely known as the “greatest defensive alliance the world has ever known” (Paul -Henri Spaak, 1963). Since NATO‟s inception in 1949, it has bound together the states of North  America and Western Europe and served as guarantor of politico-economic and military stability. The organization faced challenging issues that have been studied by talented researchers and global thinkers. In accordance with realist points of view, alliances can be seen as “ double-edged swords ” ; they might provoke political violence as well as keeping the peace. Besides, realists claim that there is always potential threat from other countries to their existence and to international security. Liberalists, on the contrary, see alliances, such as NATO, as meeting basic state requirements of strategy and security. According to Keohane and Martin (1995, p 42), “institutions can provide information, reduce transaction costs, make commitments more credible, establish focal points for coordination and, in general, facilitate the operation of reciprocity”.  In this essay I will analyze NATO‟s role in international relations and examine the contradictions between realists and liberalists concerning this concept. The main focus of my essay is arguments about the pros and cons of NATO‟s enlargement in the post-Cold War era and how the two classic theories engage with this. Following 1945, the United States and the Soviet Union formed a host of military alliances. However NATO, backed by the U.S., has been regarded as the most influential in keeping the region in peace. The biggest challenge NATO has ever experienced regarded its raison d’etre  after the Soviet Union collapsed. With the absence of threat posed by the USSR, NATO‟s faced a void of purpose. The process of NATO enlargement is based on Article 10 of the NATO Treaty, which states that „any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area‟  (The North  Atlantic Treaty, 1949). In accordance with realism theory, alliances are generally formed in response to any possible international threat. For instance, when powerful states arise, others band together to prevent domination by the rising hegemon. From this perspective, shifts in the level of threat will alter the nature of existing alliances significantly. If a strong state becomes weaker or is defeated in war, alliances formed to check its ambitions will be less necessary and more likely to dissolve (Dunne, Schmidt, 2011, p88). Another theoretical perspective on alliances is derived from theories of international institutions. In the dominant “neoliberal”  version of this approach, formal and informal institutions encourage cooperation by reducing transaction costs and facilitating compliance with existing agreements (Sterling-Folker, 2010, p117-119). In the words of Martin (2000, p15), “ highly institutionalized alliances may create capacities that are worth keeping even after their srcinal rationale is gone, especially when it costs less to maintain them in the fir  st place. In other words, institutions are “sticky”; once established, they tend to endure even if the conditions that led to their creation are no longer present. From the perspective of institutionalist theory, in short, the more highly institutionalized the alliance, the more likely it is to endure even in the face of a significant shift in the array of external threats. NATO is by far the most institutionalized alliance in history. Not surprisingly, they also see this as a central source of durability.”  The NATO enlargement has raised difficult questions with regards to its aims, credibility and purpose. In classic theories thinkers argue for and against NATO enlargement with no consensus even among writers from the same school of thought. I would first like to analyze from the perspective of the realists, the main opponents of NATO enlargement in the post-Cold War era. Many realists tend to oppose NATO expansion due to several interrelated reasons and offer two general responses. The first, based on an analysis of the balance of forces among the great powers, suggests that the old bipolar system could ultimately be replaced by a new one, or by a multipolar system, which enlargement may not be able to prevent and, in fact, could even promote. The second response suggests that order is maintained by hegemony  –  in this case U.S. hegemony  –  which can improve prospects for security and stability through enlargement. While the first argument perceives “balancing” as a source of conflict, the second sees  “bandwagoning” as a guarantee of stability. In the final analysis, the structural realists are in no agreement on the desirability of NATO enlargement (Kay, 1998, p6-7). Charles-Philippe David and Jacques Levesque (1999, p13), maintain that “ the neo-realist school of international relations focuses on power relationships between states. It attaches great importance to the system‟s geopolitical balance, which determines the evolution of these relationships. Alliances remain a central element in defining this balance since they bring states together in an effort to establish or preserve a power relationship that provides these states with security. That is why, according to this approach, alliances can exist only in a context in which they promote balance and protect their member states from the threat posed by other states and alliances. Alliances are therefore an extension of power politics. There are two possible variants of this approach that apply to the specific case of Europe and NATO ”.  First argument is "balancing" which explains the alliances' existence through the idea of counterbalance of geopolitical forces in the case of threat. Without any threat, there is no need for "balancing" and no purposes for alliances to be established. So, in the view of Kenneth Waltz, currently there is no justification for NATO in geopolitical context due to absence of contemporary threat. He writes (1993): “NATO‟s days are not numbered, but its years are". Robert McCalla (1996, p454-5) and Fred Chernoff (1995, p33) point out that, for the moment, NATO is not reducing but increasing its missions, even though there is no military threat. John Mearsheimer and Jane Sharp (1990) suggest that “ it is the prospect of a long-term threat that makes it necessary to maintain a symbolic balance against Russian or even German hegemony; without NATO, these could re-emerge in the form of traditional spheres of influence. It is therefore unclear whether the demise of the bipolar system signals the disappearance of NATO; it is also not cle ar that enlargement can ward off a return to forms of “balancing” in Europe ” . Realism thinkers, such as George Kennan, Michael Mandelbaum, and Michael Brown, voice a pessimistic view, opposed to the realist-optimist argument. Their main points that can cause a “debalancing” on the international area are written below. The first and in my opinion the most “realistic” view is that t here is no military threat from Russia; but if NATO continues to accept new members from Central and Eastern Europe this can provoke Russian Federation to take a radical course and create alliances that oppose NATO. Another realist argument is that through NATO enlargement the US is getting closer to Russian borders and can influence Russia's fear perception and the good relations that had previously developed between these two countries. Furthermore, Russian Federation would be less trustful during negotiations in the field of disarmament treaties etc. Finally, NATO enlargement would undermine the new "common security" structure that exists in favour of an old Cold War era concept (Charles-Philippe David, Jacques Levesque, 1999, p13-6). Other structural-realism argument is the "bandwagoning". It is process of joining the dominating power or alliance during the radical shifts in the world of international processes. States are not made not join the "bandwagon" by force they support the winning power voluntarily for its own gains and benefits. The pro-enlargement argument is built by a number of realist strategists, including Henry Kissinger, Zbignew Brzezinski, and William Odom. NATO enlargement supporters concluded their observations in the following main points. Firstly, if NATO will not accept new members from Central and Eastern Europe, there would be another more dangerous scenario. Russia and Germany as great powers could eventually confront leading to a multipolar system in Europe. Another argument is that the NATO should admit Central and Eastern Europe states quickly by taking advantage of the Russian Federation's weakness and preventing it reinstating its sphere of influence. Finally, there is the possibility of a new "security committee" structure in Europe (Charles-Philippe David, Jacques Levesque, 1999, p13-6). The majority of liberal thinkers claim that NATO enlargement provides the best conditions for European stability in the post-Cold War era and that Europe‟s security serves as   „the prime objective‟ of NATO expansion. According to former secretary of state Madeline  Albright , NATO‟s principal goal was to contain the USSR, but “it also provided the confidence and security shattered economies needed to rebuild themselves, ”  Madeline Albright (1997). Liberals think that NATO expansion is a great investment towards a secure future and that Europe and the United States will advance on a new level of cooperation as military partners. This will prevent dangerous military competition and arms racing.   The requirements of NATO membership promote the peaceful settlement of disputes. In many respects, NATO can serve as midwife to democratic institutionalization. NATO enlargement can modulate the totalitarian regimes of former Soviet republics, helping them to defend human rights. NATO can prevent serious conflict, like those between Greece and Turkey, from becoming violent or spilling over into neighbouring countries. The pro-enlargement liberal viewpoint has been supported by Ronald Asmus, Richard Kugler, Stephen Larrabee, Allen Sens, Steve Weber, and, from an official perspective, Strobe Talbott. They argue in favour of NATO enlargement for three reasons. Firstly, the Central and Eastern European democracies must become stable. In case of failing of democratization, the consequences would be worse than those related to NATO expansion. The big quantity of democratization failures can undermine all the efforts to prevent conflicts associated with territory, ethnicity and irredentism. Secondly, a host of liberal institutionalists claim that NATO enlargement process would provide even the smallest states of European region with multilateral security benefits, which are essential to these countries policy. Moreover, Central and Eastern European states will have an opportunity to affect the decisions as well as to have its own voice side by side with the great power states. Finally, the other supporting argument in favour of NATO expansion is the integration with other international institutions in European region, such as the European Union whereas states in Central and Eastern Europe need to develop security sector as well as economy. By virtue of synchronized admission timetables of NATO and EU, nowadays there is an existence of coordination between these two institutions. (Charles-Philippe David, Jacques Levesque; 1999, p17-21). However, one liberal-institutional viewpoint opposed NATO enlargement. The opponents of NATO expansion are writers such as such as John Newhouse, Allen Sens, Emanuel Adler, Charles William Mayness and Philip Zelikow. Firstly, they think that there is no risk of political coup d'etat or violence connected to the issue of ethnicity in the nearest future, and as a result, the region of Central and Eastern Europe does not need to become a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization to avoid the problems of stability and democracy. Second; some liberal thinkers give a preference for the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) more than NATO. They say that OSCE is a better security institution for multilateral cooperation in the aims of developing European community between small and the great power states. Furthermore, OSCE is more adapted for a contemporary international security environment than traditional and a bit old defence role. Finally, if the main goal is to advance stability and security in the Europe, for these purposes there are other institutions such as European Union. EU needs to take this opportunity and be more initiative for promoting regional stability. in perspective, these actions can lead to the boost of economic growth and security in Central and Eastern European states and reduce the Russia's geopolitical insecurity (Charles-Philippe David, Jacques Levesque; 1999, p17-21). Allen Sens (1995, p678) puts the question incisively: “if NATO no longer stands against the threat of the Soviet Union, then what does it stand for?”  To conclude, there is a lot of serious questions about new responsibilities and the role of NATO as an international security alliance discussed many times by classic theories writers. The majority of the realists and liberalists see NATO enlargement as “conceptual deadlock”. The realist school claims that there is no raison d‟etre for North Atlantic Treaty Organization after the Cold War ended as the main threat  –  Soviet Union has collapsed. On the issue of NATO expansion realists divide on representa tives of “bandwagoning” and “balancing”, which do not have an agreement on the concept of NATO expansion. From one point of view, NATO expansion can be seen as a weakening factor of this alliance's credibility and can provoke the establishing a new counter security alliance. On another hand, NATO enlargement will promote regional security and stability by giving member countries certain advantages. The liberalism point of view is based on peace through integration and institutionalism, which functions are to promote stability, security, development and strengthening democracy. But the supporters of this theory also divide into two camps: proponents and opponents of NATO enlargement. The positive institutionalists are convinced that NATO expansion will help European states to build their democracy and develop cooperation within the Central and Eastern European countries. Furthermore, new NATO members will be given an opportunity to be heard and to influence decisions made by great power countries. Their opponents, negative institutionalists argue that there is no rising danger in the nearest future in European region; so there is no need to join NATO. Moreover, they give the preference to other international  institutions such as EU and OSCE that can help to increase the economic growth, security stability and democracy building. BIBLIOGRAPHY CHERNOFF, F., (1995). After Bipolarity: The Vanishing Threat, Theories of Cooperation, and the Future of the Atlantic Alliance. et al.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan   Press.  33. CRAWFORD, B., (1992). The Future of European Security. Berkeley: U.C. Berkeley International and Area Studies. DAVID, Ch. and LEVESQUE J., (1999). The future of NATO: Enlargement, Russia, and European Security. Montreal; London: McGill- Queen‟s University Press. DUNNE T. and SCHMIDT B. et al., (2011). The Globalization of world politics: An introduction to international relations. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press. KAY, S., (1998). NATO and the Future of European Security. London: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. MARTIN, P., (2000). Alliance Politics, Kosovo and NATO‟s War. New York; Ba singstoke: Palgrave. McCALLA, R., (1996). NATO‟s persistence after the Cold War. International Organization. 50,  454-5. MEARSHEIMER, J., (1990). Back to the future: Instability in Europe after the Cold War. International Security.   15,  5-56. SHARP, J., (1992). Security options for Central Europe. et al Crawford, B. The future of European security. 126 SPAAK, P., (1963). Hold fast. Foreign Affairs. 41, 611 STERLING-FOLKER J. et al., (2010). International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. WALTZ, K., (1993). The Emerging structure of International Politics. International security.   18 , 76. The North Atlantic Treaty, 4 Apr 1949
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