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The US Commitment to NATO in the Post-Cold War Period

SONG, YANAN (2015) The US Commitment to NATO in the Post-Cold War Period. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The geopolitical conditions which led to the creation of NATO in 1949 rapidly disappeared following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The possibility of the termination of institutionalised US support for European security was seriously raised in this period, as was the possibility of NATO ceasing to exist. However, after progressive transformation, NATO expanded rather than disbanded. It went on to participate in ‘out of area’ actions. All these commitments were accompanied by debates about the purpose of NATO. Relevant debates included continuing tensions between Washington and European capitals over defence spending levels; accusations that the US was using NATO as an instrument of extra-United Nations unilateral power; the preference of Washington immediately after 9/11 for working through ad hoc rather than institutionalised alliance structures; and the developing relationship between NATO and Russia.
This research seeks to explain the continuing US commitment to NATO in the post-Cold War era. The initial focus is on the recommitment decisions of the Clinton administration. It also researches in some depth the operations in Kosovo and, in particular, Libya. The case study on Libya is especially important in exploring the Obama administration’s understanding of the purpose of NATO in the context of current economic pressures, domestic US debates about post-War on Terror interventions, and of increasing American preoccupation with Pacific rather than European security. In the light of NATO operations in the post-Cold War era and the recent Syrian and Ukrainian crises, the study argues that the US has always been committed to NATO due to the unique value of NATO; the US overall foreign policy preference for NATO; and internal bureaucratic compromise on NATO. But the US may suspend its support to the Alliance in the future if the inherent problem of burden-sharing is not seriously treated by the European members.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Feb 2015 14:49

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