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Is NATO still relevant ?

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Etudiante
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Expert
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economics
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IEP Paris

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documents in English
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7 pages
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  1. Introduction
  2. General framework around NATO's controversy
    1. The military alliance
    2. Prevention of the USSR and Communism from spreading over Europe
  3. The arguments of NATO's advocates
  4. The increasing irrelevance of NATO
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

General De Gaulle once said that all alliances are like roses: they wither and decay. NATO might be a counter-example or it might not. While during the Munich Conference, the US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, claimed ?As an alliance we have never been stronger. We have never been more united. We have never been more resolved to move forward together,? the general opinion was quite the opposite. On both sides of the Atlantic, no one would say that this statement strongly reflects the current reality. On the contrary, NATO is actually a huge object of controversies and is at a crossroads, trying to define its future, if any. Is NATO still relevant in a world of evolving coalitions and global economies? Is there a place for a military partnership originally formed to counter balance the Soviet Union (USSR) that no longer exists? Will the eternally-fraught transatlantic relationship be the downfall of the most powerful military alliance in the world? In order to understand this debate better, I will first present the framework of the current NATO's controversy, and then describe the NATO's advocates' point of view. I will consequently discuss the fact that, without reforming, NATO is no longer relevant in a post Cold War world.

[...] Even though Russia is not perceived as an ?enemy' anymore, relations with it are still qualified of ?problematic.' Consequently, in the context of tense connections, broadening NATO right into its sphere of influence might not be appreciated. More fundamentalists even declare that expanding the alliance right into Russia's backyard is simply asking for ongoing diplomatic trouble. In addition, in a more practical way, the enlargement of NATO involves difficulties in the representative and voting system. The decision process (veto, unanimous vote, etc.) of the alliance has never been fundamentally changed since its creation. [...]


[...] For the main advocates of the Alliance, it is as if ?since NATO expands, it means that it is still relevant.' They use this reality as self- sufficient to appreciate its value. Moreover, the fact that, as early as 1991, the former communist countries turned toward the alliance, looking for the protection it insures, is proof of NATO's legitimacy according to them. Paradoxically, at the moment when interrogations concerning the usefulness of NATO started rising in the West, right after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and so the evaporation of the threat, the countries of Eastern and Central Europe began asking for their integration. [...]


[...] Therefore, as its proponents claim that NATO has an increasing political role to play,[8] I argue that it is not part of its agenda to manage only such issues and that the U.N is far more proficient and equipped to deal with political matters. Finally, NATO might put the brakes on the creation of an independent European defense. Indeed, even though so far most of the projects to build a common defense in Europe have been aborted not only because of the existence of NATO, the fact that the European Countries belongs to the Alliance prevents them from going forward in the establishment of this integrated common security, as was thought in the Rome Treaty. [...]

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