Politics of NATO

Mark Webber

in Political Science

ISBN: 9780199756223
Published online November 2011 | | DOI:
Politics of NATO

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  • Comparative Politics
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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949 and so straddles the Cold War and the post-Cold War eras. Despite an important political dimension, during the first of these two periods it was NATO’s standing as a military alliance (indeed, the Alliance) dedicated to the common defense that defined its purpose and activities. For forty years NATO was positioned to deter (and, if necessary, to fight) the conventional and nuclear forces gathered under the umbrella of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The dissolution of the latter, followed in short order by the collapse of the Soviet Union, removed this preoccupation and pushed NATO toward a more uncertain trajectory of development. It has subsequently been involved in activities that were never foreseen in its founding treaty and for which it has often been ill prepared. The Alliance consequently has been characterized by a constant process of reform, strategic reorientation, and internal debate. Literature on the Alliance tends to reflect this historic break. Indeed, the step-change after 1991 has been so profound that much writing on the Alliance regards, for analytical purposes, the twenty years since then as entirely separate.

Article.  9698 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Political Institutions ; Political Methodology ; Political Theory

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