THE GLOBALIZATION OF NATO: Intervention, Security and Identity

By Zyla, Benjamin | International Journal, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

THE GLOBALIZATION OF NATO: Intervention, Security and Identity


Zyla, Benjamin, International Journal


THE GLOBALIZATION OF NATO Intervention, Security and Identity Veronica M. Kitchen London and New York: Routledge, 2010. 153pp. US$125.00 hardcover ISBN 978-0415570176

That the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is currently "in crisis" should not come as a surprise to analysts and informed observers of transatlantic affairs. The mission in Afghanistan has set off a storm of disagreement on a number of issues, including equipment, strategy, and logistics - to name just a few. National caveats on troop movements and areas of operation have further strained relations among the allies. According to some, these national restrictions have produced higher casualty rates for the countries that operate in regions where the insurgency is strong. The caveats have also rekindled old arguments about burden-sharing within the alliance. The current debates about NATO's new strategic concept testify to the difficulty of the alliance's out-of-area missions.

The Afghan mission is only the latest in a series of out-of-area operations that have prompted arguments about the role of the alliance and allies' responsibilities towards one another. This story, which goes back at least to the 1956 Suez Canal crisis, is the central theme of Veronica M. Kitchen's new book. Kitchen argues that the allies' public debates about the necessity and importance of overseas military interventions have repeatedly redrawn the Atlantic community's geographical and ideational boundaries. The consequences have been significant. They have developed, reinforced, and changed transatlantic ideas about how the allies should act together (2). The process has yielded regulative and constitutive norms that privilege mutual defence missions over out-of-area operations. These norms have helped to resolve conflicts and have reinforced the sense of an Atlantic community. Kitchen concludes, however, that the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 drastically reduced the sway that the norms had previously enjoyed.

Kitchen focuses on the Suez Canal crisis, the Vietnam War, the civil wars in Bosnia, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the current mission in Afghanistan. Speeches by the political leaders of five countries - Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States - comprise her main source of evidence. She contends that elite political discourse explains changes within the transatlantic alliance. In her view, political discourse, which shaped normative predispositions about out-of-area operations, has constructed transatlantic identity. The alliance has developed a norm that accords greater importance to mutual defence than to out-of-area operations because debates about the latter threaten NATO's integrity. By regulating the allies' behaviour, this norm helps to keep the alliance together.

Considering the current debates over the new strategic concept, Kitchen's book is very timely and complements the work of other scholars, including Ellen Hallams, Gülnur Aybet and Rebecca Moore, and Günther Hauser and Franz Kemic. …

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