"An Alliance against the common enemy is something clear and understandable. Far more complicated is an alliance after the war for securing lasting peace and the fruits of victory."

Winston Churchill(39)


With the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of the "clear and present danger," many analysts predicted that NATO having lost its raison d'être, would wither away. In its place would emerge either a largely institution-free anarchy characterized by much looser shifting alliances and a significantly greater risk of conflict or other European security institutions better suited to the needs of the post-Cold War environment.(40) NATO Enlargement was in fact, put forward in some circles as an answer to the question: "How can a withering NATO be saved? (41)

The short answer to that question is simple. NATO is not in need of saving, in fact the patient is doing very well, witness for instance the rapprochement of France to NATO's military structure, the IFOR/SFOR deployment in Bosnia, and the number of neighbours wanting to join NATO. This chapter seeks to clarify the reasons for NATO's persistence and relevance, and in doing so, to counter one of the arguments presented in the NATO enlargement debate - that the Alliance is imperilled and that enlargement is required for its survival.(42)

Historically, nations have formed alliances to respond to a common external threat. Alliances normally disintegrate when the threat that was the reason for their creation disappear. The best and most recent example being the Second World War alliance of the Soviet Union, the United States, the U.K. and Canada. That alliance, referred to by Churchill in the quotation above, was formed with the single purpose of defeating Nazi Germany. The ink was not even dry on the Yalta agreement, before the Alliance was obviously terminally ill, and, in fact, the Alliance did not survive the end of the Second World War.

When the Cold War ended, many observers predicted that NATO might follow the same pattern.(43) Contrary to this logic, NATO has not only survived, but has become the most important Euro-Atlantic security institution for members as well as non-members. What explains its persistence? Put differently, why have Alliance members found it in their interest to preserve NATO, albeit, with a mission better adapted to the current European security environment?

The analysis of NATO's future prospects as dim overlooked at least three important factors that may help to explain the Alliance's enduring relevance:

Underestimation of the importance of extra, as well as, intra-alliance functions;

The centrality of the transatlantic link to European security; and

NATO's capacity for adaptation to the new Euro-Atlantic security environment.


The threat of a massive Soviet attack against Western Europe has now disappeared. It is a welcome development. However, the situation in Russia, a nuclear superpower with an army in disarray, is likely to remain very unsettled for the foreseeable future. European uneasiness about Russian intentions is, therefore, understandable. As Josef Joffe puts it, "Russia is too big for Europe; it has been, and will continue to be, a problem in the European balance. So a downsized NATO with a rapid reconstitution capability remains a critical weight in the equation. (44) Under these circumstances, the Alliance is seen as a "strategic balance" or an insurance guarantee against a possible revival of Russian power.

While "collective defence remains, the core function of the Alliance," a second post-Cold War task has, however, assumed greater prominence for NATO. This is the Alliance's response to an array of emerging risks, "more diverse and more complex than that NATO faced during its first four decades. (45) These risks include: the proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction, (WMD), ethnic fragmentation, instability and conflicts, mass migrations resulting from these ethnic conflicts and from instability in North Africa and dwindling energy resources, in particular, oil and water. A cursory look reveals that most of these risks emanate from the southern tier of NATO.

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, provided members of the Alliance their first opportunity to react as a "coalition of the willing," to these emerging risks on the periphery of the Alliance. The lessons drawn from the Gulf War are of particular interest to the Alliance: the need to address the proliferation of WMD, their means of delivery, as well as, the need to preserve the military expertise developed after forty years of integrated military structures within NATO. At the Brussels 1994 Summit, NATO gave a high priority to countering the proliferation of WMD. Of particular interest, was the formation of a Senior Defence Group on Proliferation, (DGP), with France participating, to address the risks posed by nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons, and the need to improve Alliance military

capabilities such as wide

-area ground surveillance, and theatre missile defence (TMD). This effort is but one of many examples of the continued adaptation of the Alliance to the new security environment.

The ethnic conflicts which had been predicted in various countries of the CEE, but fortunately were contained within the former Yugoslavia, have also been given more prominence by NATO in recent years. Such conflicts, as we have seen with the civil war in Bosnia and the recent upheaval in Albania, have the potential to generate large number of refugees or even spill over into the territory of neighbouring countries, including NATO members. The assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 by an ardent Bosnian Serbian ignited the First World War. A similar scenario appears unlikely at the end of the twentieth century. On the other hand, few predicted in 1991 the catastrophic civil war in Bosnia. In 1995, after more than three years of divisive internal debate on how to restore peace in Bosnia, the Alliance came to the conclusion that it was in their best interest to lead a peace keeping operation in Bosnia.


Preventing an attack on the territory of the Allies (Article V of the Washington Treaty) was the defining role of NATO until the end of the Cold War. Lord Ismay, the first Secretary General of NATO, recognized the Alliance's responsibility of keeping the "Russians Out," but also highlighted the intra-Alliance function of "keeping the Germans down, and the Americans in."

The "German" function, early in the history of the Alliance, was changed into what Josef Joffe describes as "keeping the Germans integrated." The most important intra-Alliance function during the last forty-five years has been one of "reassurance." The transparency created by consultations, the integrated military structure and the defence planning process "assures its members that they have nothing to fear from one another. (46) Skeptics may say that Greece and Turkey, both longtime NATO members, have not resolved their disputes over territory in the Aegean Sea or over Cyprus, and both have nearly gone to war over these differences in the past. But as Czech President Vaclav Havel said at a mid-May meeting with New York Times writers, "I believe if it weren't for NATO, three wars might have been fought between Greece and Turkey in the last decade. (47) With the exception of the Greek-Turkish tense relationship, the possibility of conflict among the Western European countries has all but disappeared since the creation of NATO. Although this may seem as a statement of the obvious in 1997, it was not always the case, witness the three bitter wars fought by Germany and France between 1870 and 1945 "NATO makes German power controllable and thus acceptable to allies and political adversaries alike, Germany outside NATO would raise international concerns. (48)

The intra-Alliance benefits are even more evident with respect to a powerful unified Germany back in the heart of Europe. The other Western European countries want to ensure that Germany remains tightly anchored in NATO. Even France dropped its usual reserve and involved itself in the development of the Alliance's Strategic Concept in 1990, out of "its wish to keep NATO as a strong multilateral structure for the integration and control of German military power. (49) "It is again too big to be left alone," argues Joffe, "The Germans understand full well that NATO and the United States reassure everybody else by shortening the shadow of German power. (50)

Another reassuring dimension of NATO is the integration of national security policies within an Alliance context. A collective approach to defence planning within NATO not only promotes transparency and trust between allies but also discourages the risky re nationalization of defence. Joffe maintains that all the Europeans dread the re nationalization of their defences. The Alliance, Joffe argues, "has spared the Europeans the need for an autonomous defence policy, historically, the most powerful cause of conflict and war. (51) Another strong argument in favour of collective defence, especially in a period of shrinking defence budget, is that it is both cheaper and stronger than national defence.


With the disappearance of the Soviet military threat some analysts predicted that the North Americans, particularly the United States, would, inevitably, withdraw their military forces from Europe and then by extension, its nuclear and conventional guarantees to European security. These analysts believed this would result in a re nationalization of European security policy coupled with a return to an unstable continent. This did not happen. The US military presence in Europe remains at a credible level of some 100,000 troops. Canada, although it withdrew its NATO contribution in Germany, contributed significantly to European security with a substantive participation in UNPROFOR and subsequently to IFOR/SFOR The pessimistic analysts had forgotten that the North American commitment to European security, post-Second World War, was meant to address more than just the Soviet military threat against Western Europe.

A review of the broad objectives of the strategy of containment, as embodied in the seminal strategic document of the Cold War era - National Security Council (NSC) Directive 68, - helps in the understanding of why the United States remains solidly anchored in Europe, and is likely to remain committed for the foreseeable future. The adoption of the containment strategy codified in NSC-68 ultimately established the framework for the United States' security policy throughout most of the Cold War era. NSC-68 was the result of a study ordered by President Truman in January 1950.The Soviet threat had by then acquired a new and ominous dimension with the explosion of a nuclear device in August 1949. That event, with the consolidation of the communist rule on the Chinese mainland, suggested that the Soviets were on the verge of "a shift in the correlation of forces." NSC-68 was approved in September 1950, after North Korea attacked South Korea. This historic decision was a confirmation that the United States was ready to take a leadership position toward a postwar world order.

The overall US policy can be described as "one designed to foster a world environment in which the American system could survive and flourish." Isolation was rejected as a concept. NSC-68 confirmed "the United States positive participation in the world community." These broad intentions embraced two subsidiary policies. The first was one which: "the United States would probably pursue even if there was no Soviet threat. It is a policy of attempting to develop a healthy international community." The other was the policy of "containing the Soviet system." The document made it clear that the policy of striving to "develop a healthy international community" was to be a long-term constructive effort and it, as much as containment, "underlay United States efforts to rehabilitate Western Europe" and that "most of our international economic activities can be explained in terms of this policy." It concluded by stating that: "the policies designed to develop a healthy international community are more than ever necessary to our own strength. (52)

Following that Presidential decision, the United States, Canada, and their European allies began to convert the Washington Treaty, (see Annex A for the full text of the Treaty) from a political commitment to collective defence into the integrated military organization known as NATO, with forces and a command structure that could actually deter and defend. It is important to remember that these actions did not take place until 1951, some two years after the ratification of the Washington Treaty. As a corollary, the United States and Canadian military presence would provide a stable environment in Western Europe where economic prosperity could flourish.

Despite the disappearance of the Soviet military threat, a continued US commitment to the security and stability of Europe remains important to the United States. As we have seen, the original United States commitment was not only about countering a Soviet threat. Had that been the case, NATO would, in fact, have lost its raison d'être. Economic links to Europe were and are still critically important to its commercial interests. The same rationale also applies to Canada. The former Minister of National Defence Doug Young, in his recent report to the Prime Minister on Leadership and Management of the Canadian Forces, stated that: "Being a country dependent on trade, we also have a very practical national interest in a stable international environment and a global economy in which all can prosper."

There is no doubt that Canadian and US trade with Asia has grown substantially over the last twenty years and, as a consequence, the relative importance of Europe as a trading partner is declining. It is important, however, to dispel the notion that Canada and the United States

must make a choice between the two regions; both regions are vital to North America's economic health. In fact the prosperity of both nations has never been more dependent on the world economy as a whole.

In 1995, 10% of Canada's imports and 6.4%of its exports of goods were with

countries of the EU. This is not a negligible amount, considering that Canadian trade with the United States is very high at 70% of our imports and 80% of our total exports. Bilateral investment in Canada and the EU is the most dynamic element of our economic relations, totaling in 1995, some Can$32 billion in both directions.(53)

Despite all the headline quarrels over whether Europe still matters to the United States and the call for primacy of Asia, the United States does more business, with more profit, with Europe than it does with any other major region. Transatlantic economic flows taken together, including investment and technology transfers as well as trade, still dwarf United States-Asian flows. In contrast to the deep chronic deficits that the United States faces with East Asia in almost every area of economic activity, and especially in trade involving core manufacturing industries from autos to computers, US-European trade and commerce are either healthily balanced or significantly in US' favour.

In fact, US manufacturers have run trade surpluses with Europe nearly every year since 1980. For instance, in 1993, the trade deficit with Europe was only US $7 billion, compared with US$115 billion for Asia. United States direct investment in Europe exceeds US $250 billion and is greater than in any other region of the world.(54)

The tremendous economic benefits the United States, and to a lesser extent Canada, receive from their cooperative relationship with a stable and prosperous Europe, is a facet too easily ignored by some critics in Washington and Ottawa. Inside the "zone of stability" of Western Europe, the Allies on both sides of the Atlantic, have developed strong economic ties and shared values that have been, and remain of great mutual profit. NATO has developed into something much more than a classical military alliance. Today, it is a community of shared values between two continents, North America and Europe. Although it represents only 6% of the world population, the economic power of the regions adds up to 40% of the world GNP. The transatlantic link remains essential to North American and European allies. "Even with a reduced strategic threat" argues Josef Joffe, "it is not at all clear whether there can be European security without Atlantic security. Europe has flourished because the United States has essentially become a European power and Europe did not flourish in this century when American power was not part of the balance. Moreover, everybody wants to secure the American presence as a counterweight to German and Russian power. (55) "Without Europe," suggests Henry Kissinger, "America will become an island off the shores of Eurasia condemned to a kind of pure balance of power politics that does not reflect its national genius. (56)


Collective defense remains the core of the Alliance commitments, yet collective defence will not be the principal focus of NATO's activities in the foreseeable future. The NATO that is about to enlarge is different from the NATO of the Cold War. New members will enter a NATO that is already adapting to the challenges of the post-Cold War in a variety of ways. NATO's day-to-day activities are shifting from collective defence to "cooperative security." This shift should not come as a complete surprise to those who have followed NATO's successful internal and external transformation since the NATO leaders at the London Summit of July 1990 set out new goals for the Alliance, called for changes in its strategy and military structures to reflect the revolutionary changes which had taken place in Europe, and declared that the Alliance no longer considered Russia an adversary.(57) Since then, the Alliance, has, with audacity and imagination, reshaped itself into a "new NATO." An alliance not only dedicated to collective defence, and resistance to armed attack (Articles III and V of the Washington Treaty), but one also bent on advancing the prospects of a "Europe whole and free."

The 1991 Rome Summit set the tone for these changes. At that meeting NATO leaders approved the new Strategic Concept. This new doctrine was, for the first time, made available to the public, thereby displaying to NATO's former adversaries, in particular Russia, the nonthreatening nature of the Alliance. With the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, the concept concluded that the risks to Alliance security in the future were more likely to be "multifaceted, multidirectional, and difficult to predict." Particular emphasis was laid on the risks arising from instabilities on the periphery of the Alliance because of political, economic, and social pressure and ethnic and territorial disputes.

The Alliance was also concerned about the risks that were being posed by the proliferation of missile technology and weapons of mass destruction, particularly on the southern periphery of the Alliance. On the basis of this reappraisal of risks, the Strategic Concept set out a "broad approach to security," based on the triad of cooperation, dialogue and defence, the latter two being the original pillars contained in the 1967 Harmel Report on the Future Tasks of the Alliance. This broad approach, while reaffirming the continuing importance of collective defence, laid great stress on the importance of crisis management and conflict prevention, as well as, the acknowledgment of the role that other European institutions such as the CSCE/OSCE and the European Community (now the European Union) would play in the future security of Europe. In line with this new strategy, the size of the Alliance forces would be reduced, and made more mobile and flexible to meet the changing demands.

At the Rome Summit, the Alliance also opened itself to the East, through the creation of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, (NACC), thus providing an institutional framework for political and security cooperation between NATO and the former communist states. The creation of the NACC was a clear sign of the Alliance determination to work towards a new security community, in which security would be achieved through cooperation. In 1992, the Alliance took a very important decision as part of its effort to adapt to the new European security environment by offering, on a case-by-case basis, to assist the then CSCE and UN peace operations. This shift to "out of area" non-Article V operations was the most tangible step taken by the Alliance in the expansion of its basic mission of collective defence to include crisis management and peacekeeping.

Since then, NATO has taken further steps to advance its adaptation. NATO leaders took a number of key decisions at the 1994 Brussels Summit, most notably: the creation of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme; the creation of Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF), which would give more substance to the European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI); the agreement to intensify their efforts against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the decision to enlarge. NATO leaders also welcomed US continued commitment to the transatlantic link. These decisions were followed, in 1995, by the announcement of the Mediterranean initiative, whose purpose is to enhance the dialogue with some North African and Middle Eastern countries, and the decision to deploy some 60,000 troops in Bosnia to implement the military portion of the Dayton Agreement.

Two of these NATO initiatives warrant special attention: the creation of the PfP, and the wide European participation along with Russia in IFOR/SFOR. Taken together these changes form the heart of a transformed NATO. The essential purpose of the Alliance, safeguarding the freedom and security of its members under the provisions of Article V remains unaltered, while the Alliance also becomes the anchor of a broad new evolving cooperative security regime in Europe.

The purpose of PfP is to enable intensive political and military-to-military cooperation with Europe's new democracies as well as other states, such as the neutrals and develop and strengthen their capacity to work together in the fields of peacekeeping, crisis management, and humanitarian operations. This, in the view of NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, is the kind of practical security cooperation that Europe needs most.(58) PfP sought to facilitate transparency in national defence planning and budgeting processes, and democratic control of defence forces.

The PfP also offered signatories the right to refer any situation to the Council which, in their opinion, could threaten their integrity, independence, and security. In effect, this is an extension of the provisions of Article IV of the Washington Treaty, allowing these countries direct access to the governing body of NATO. The full potential of PfP depends in large part on the realization of the goals of Defence Planning and Review Process (PARP), which aims not only to improve interoperability, but is also a mechanism for a more general and regular exchange of information and for increased transparency among partners. Since its creation, the enhanced PfP has narrowed the gap between NATO members and its partners and has become a very successful programme of military cooperation, and a key component in building the European cooperative security. This programme is proving its worth in Bosnia where thirteen PfP partner states are making substantial contributions to the NATO-led peacekeeping operation.

The second aspect of NATO's adaptation to the new security environment is the military implementation of the Dayton Agreement. While the most obvious accomplishment in Bosnia is the silence of the guns and the stoppage of the widespread killing, we should not lose sight of some key lessons resulting from NATO's involvement in the Bosnian peace process: the US is an essential actor in European security; CEE countries and Russia can make an important contribution to European security; cooperation between NATO and the OSCE is an essential component of European security; and Russia and NATO can work together very successfully for a common cause, a lesson worth remembering in the current enlargement debate.

Finally, France's historical decision in 1995 to return to the Military Committee (MC) after an absence of some thirty years; the recent decision of Spain to participate in the Alliance's new military structure; the creation of CJTF, which has been a key factor in France's military rapprochement to NATO; and the development of the ESDI within the Alliance, are tangible examples of the adaptation and relevancy of NATO to the changing European security environment.

The adaptation of NATO's internal structures, the shift of its military doctrine from positional defence against an identified enemy to a capacity for a flexible deployment to areas of need, the establishment of permanent cooperative relations with partner countries, and a strategic relationship with Russia, the expansion of its Mediterranean dialogue to promote stability in the region, and, keeping the peace in Bosnia, "hardly suggest an Alliance in decline," argues NATO Secretary General Javier Solana.(59)

In sum, it is premature to write NATO off, as some pessimists suggested in the early 1990s. Its members have found it in their mutual interest to maintain the Alliance as it continues to perform several vital security functions, both external and internal, including the linking of the United States and Canada to European security matters. As well, the Alliance has adapted very well to the changing European security environment. The Bosnian experience is a successful example of that adaptation. While "the collective defence of Alliance territory remains at the heart of NATO, (60) the "new NATO" by expanding its core function to include crisis management and peacekeeping, and fostering partnership and cooperation, including a

strategic relationship with Russia, has become the anchor of a European "cooperative security" regime. Whether, this "softer" approach to Euro

-Atlantic security will satisfy new members in their quest for "hard" security guarantees, remains to be seen.


39. 39. Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War - Triumph and Tragedy, (London, U.K.: The Educational Book Company Ltd., 1953), p. 277.

40. 40. John Duffield, "NATO's Functions After the Cold War," Political Science Quarterly, vol. 109, no. 5, (1994-95) pp. 763-787.

41. 41. Philip Zelikow, "The Masque of Institutions," NATO's Transformation - The Changing Shape of the Atlantic Alliance ed. Philip Gordon (Lanham,Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1997), p. 84.

42. 42. Philip H. Gordon, "Recasting the Atlantic Alliance," Survival, vol. 38, no. 1, (Spring 1996), p. 47.

43. 43. Hugh de Santis, "The Graying of NATO," Washington Quarterly, vol. 14, (Autumn 1991), pp. 51-63. For a discussion of various explanations of the rise and fall of alliances, see Stephen M. Walt, "Why Alliances Endure or Collapse," Survival, vol. 39, no. 1, (Spring 1997), pp. 156-79.

44. 44. Joseph Joffe, "NATO After Victory, New Products, New Markets, and the Microeconomics of Alliance," Will NATO Go East?, The Debate Over Enlarging the Alliance, David Haglund, ed. (Kingston, Ontario: Queen's University Centre for International Affairs, 1996), p. 67.

45. 45. Final Communiqué Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Defence Ministers Session, 13 June 1996.

46. 46. John Duffield, "NATO's Functions After the Cold War," Political Science Quarterly, vol. 109, no. 5, (1994-95), p. 773.

47. 47. Craig Whitney, "What Is NATO? Europe's Glue, Not Kremlin's Foe," New York Times, 16 May 1997.

48. 48. John Dufffield, "NATO's Functions After the Cold War," Political Science Quarterly, vol. 109, no. 5, (1994-95), p. 773.

49. 49. Reinhardt Rummel, "Integration, Disintegration and Security in Europe: Preparing the Community for a Multi-Institutional Response," International Journal, (Winter 1991-92), p. 76.

50. 50. Joseph Joffe, "NATO After Victory, New Products, New Markets, and the Microeconomics of Alliance," Will NATO Go East?, The Debate Over Enlarging the Alliance, David Haglund, ed. (Kingston, Ontario: Queen's University Centre for International Affairs, 1996), p. 67.

51. 51. Ibid., p. 67.

52. 52. "NSC-68, Forging the Strategy of Containment," S. Nelson Drew, (Washington, D.C.: Institute for National Strategic Studies 1994), p. 54.

53. 53. Data taken from the Report by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, European Integration: The Implications for Canada, 1996, p. 22.

54. 54. William Perry, Secretary of Defense, United States Security Strategy for Europe and NATO, (Washington, D.C.: Department of Defense, Office of International Security Affairs), p. 4. For other economic arguments see also: Allan Tonelson and Robin Caster, "Our Interests in Europe," The Atlantic Monthly, August 1995, and B.C. Schwarz, "Cold War Continuities - US Economic and Security Strategy Towards Europe," The Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. 17, no. 4, (December 1994).

55. 55. Joseph Joffe, "NATO After Victory, New Products, New Markets, and the Microeconomics of Alliance, Will NATO Go East? - The Debate Over Enlarging the Alliance, David Haglund, ed. (Kingston, Ontario: Queen's University Centre for International Affairs, 1996), p. 67.

56. 56. Henry Kissinger, "Expand NATO Now." Washington Post, 19 December 1994, p. A27.

57. 57. "Text of London Declaration," NATO Review, no. 4, (August 1990), pp. 32-33.

58. 58. Javier Solana, "Secretary General's Speech to the North Atlantic Treaty Association Assembly," Rome,

4 November, 1996.

59. 59. Javier Solana, "Secretary General's Speech to the Federation of Austrian Industries," Vienna, 16 January 1997.

60. 60. Javier Solana, "Secretary General's Speech to the Royal Institute of International Affairs," Chatham House, London, 4 March 1997.