The Conservative Case for NATO

By Jackson, Bruce Pitcairn | Policy Review, April-May 1999 | Go to article overview

The Conservative Case for NATO


Jackson, Bruce Pitcairn, Policy Review


In April 23, 1999, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Washington Treaty, the heads of state of the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will gather in Washington to celebrate the creation of the Atlantic Alliance. Undoubtedly, these leaders will commend themselves for having built the most successful military alliance in history. They will look back with satisfaction on NATO's central role in the containment and defeat of Soviet imperialism and its crucial contribution to the defense, reformation and ultimate reunification of Germany. They can point to NATO's unique role in keeping the peace between Greece and Turkey over decades, in establishing the Partnership for Peace program, and in the "Open Door" for new democracies. They might also observe that NATO has served to help stave off American flirtations with isolationism and has acted as a magnet that continues to pull emerging democracies toward the West. Finally, there will be justifiable celebration of the accession of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary as NATO allies, a watershed event that can only be regarded as a major step towards the achievement of the West's historic objective of a Europe whole and free.

Ironically, however, while the allies will have no difficulty finding past achievements to toast, they will doubtless find themselves discordant on the key question now facing NATO -- the ambitious task of agreeing on a revised "strategic concept" for the alliance. Recently, the NATO members have bickered openly about the future mission of the alliance, and some have even gone so far as to wonder whether NATO deserves to live on.

Rarely in world history has such a successful military and political alliance been so lacking in self-confidence and so uncertain about political support among its constituent members. NATO's identity crisis is particularly perplexing for those who are generally optimistic that what has worked in the past will work in the future and are accordingly reluctant to tear down institutions of proven value to make way for new world orders -- that is, for those who take a conservative view of foreign policy. Why this debate? Why now?

The historical context

The problem of the "New NATO," as every writer on the subject reminds us, began with the disappearance of the Soviet threat in 1989. This wholesale change in the geopolitical landscape fundamentally altered the West's security. In the United States, standing military forces and the defense industrial base were dramatically downsized. U.S. strategic forces were reoriented, and the National Laboratory system, which had been built to sustain the U.S. nuclear deterrent, was cut back and assigned other missions. Multilateral institutions, too, such as the U.N. and the IMF, have become objects of significant criticism. They also have been forced to face reform and overhaul. The construction of a "New NATO" is therefore but one of the many transformations of previously reliable Euro-Atlantic institutions since 1989. Nor is change of this sort without precedent in the context of military strategy. The history of American foreign policy in the inter-war periods of the 20th century offers guidance on how to adapt our alliances to new strategic circumstances. To understand where the alliance is going as it redefines itself, it is useful to look at its historical antecedents. From 1919 to 1939, the United States made decisions to withdraw from "European entanglements," to limit our participation in multi-lateral alliances, and, if not to rely upon, at least to benefit from a vague association of collective security. Americans have tended to draw from the negative experience of the 1930s an appropriate prejudice against isolationism and three general lessons, which should today inform our vision of the future of NATO. First, the withdrawal of the United States from Europe is a geostrategic mistake of the first order. Second, alliances and ad hoc coalitions of the liked-minded and the willing, within the constraints imposed by American exceptionalism, are on balance prudent. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Conservative Case for NATO
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.