Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Regina Karp

Committee Member

Steve Yetiv

Committee Member

Willard C. Frank,Jr.


In 2006, NATO is operating well out of area and conducting missions beyond the collective defense limits of its founding Treaty. NATO increasingly supports humanitarian relief operations, while also engaged in Afghanistan, the Mediterranean, and African crisis spots.

These changes provide the reason to examine the thesis: only if NATO is able to effectively transform will it be able to continue in its role as the primary European security institution. This transformation of the Alliance is a process, and one that could yet come to an untimely conclusion following any crisis. How NATO has adapted so far, and the potential for further successful adaptation are important European and Transatlantic issues.

The reinvention of a treaty-based collective defense Alliance signed in 1949 to an institution projecting power and stability well beyond its own region resulted from slow and methodical consensus building since the end of the Cold War. Rather than disappearing, NATO enlarged and changed. Alliance members continued to see value in the institution that provided security for decades. Meanwhile, emerging dangers reinvigorated the collective defense nature of the Alliance.

As an intergovernmental organization, NATO is not quickly changed. Nevertheless, since 1989 the Alliance has transformed remarkably. Changes in NATO policies, structure, and capabilities have resulted in a significantly different institution. Externally, NATO has provided a sense of stability and security as it enlarged and engaged the newly democratic nations of Europe. Through partnership activities, NATO provides regional transparency, resulting in the continuation of stability that began at the end of World War Two.

Internally, NATO continues developing a European identity in order to provide a more balanced relationship within the Alliance. It has established the CJTF as a means of supporting the EU in selected contingencies when the Alliance as a whole does not wish to be involved.

NATO has shown great flexibility and adaptability since the end of the Cold War. It is imperative that Alliance members begin to share a common vision and an understanding of their differences. It is also critical that changes within the EU and a future constitution not limit Alliance flexibility.


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