Sword or Ploughshare? New Roles for NATO and the Changing Nature of Transatlantic Relations
KeywordsGovernment and Political Science
Humanities and History
Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
*UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
ESDP(EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENSE POLICY)
*TRANSATLANTIC SECURITY POLICY
DIVISION OF LABOR
ISAF(INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE FORCE)
*POST-COLD WAR ERA
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AbstractThe Western community is currently experiencing "a defining moment of international relations" as it undergoes one of its biggest and most severe crises. Some authors are already speaking of the "end of the West," while others see chances for its rebirth. As the institutional epitome of transatlantic relations, NATO has always been the most important yardstick for gauging their state. It is now once again at the center of the crisis. During the Cold War, NATO and hence the transatlantic partnership were based on three central elements: (1) a shared direct existential threat, which applied equally to all Western states; (2) a broad base of common values, standards, and convictions; and (3) a division of labor and system of burden and risk-sharing that were born of necessity. As the biggest military and economic power, the United States assumed a dominant role as 'primus inter pares' in the transatlantic alliance, which the weaker European partners voluntarily joined without becoming completely subordinate. The partnership between Europe and the United States no longer exists in this form -- the West as a system of highly coordinated security organizations is a thing of the past. While both sides still emphasize their common values and convictions, the general threat posed by the Warsaw Pact has been overcome, and none of the new threats, including international terrorism and the proliferation of WMD, have had the same unifying effect. A loose and pragmatic partnership has emerged from what was, of necessity, a closely knit community. This partnership must continually redefine and justify its usefulness to the community. At present, the political elites in the United States and Europe are in a phase of redefining their relationship to one another. Given that the outcome of these developments remains largely open, this article seeks to contribute to the debate on the future of NATO and the transatlantic community.
The Marshall Center Occasional Paper Series.