NATO in the "New Europe": The Politics of International Socialization after the Cold War

NATO in the "New Europe": The Politics of International Socialization after the Cold War

NATO in the "New Europe": The Politics of International Socialization after the Cold War

NATO in the "New Europe": The Politics of International Socialization after the Cold War

Synopsis

In recent years, the question of the post-Cold War NATO, particularly in relation to the former communist countries of Europe, has been at the heart of a series of international reform debates. NATO in the "New Europe" contributes to these debates by arguing that, contrary to conventional assumptions about the role of international security organizations, NATO has been systematically involved in the process of building liberal democracy in the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

The book also seeks to contribute to the development of an international political sociology of socialization. It draws on arguments developed by political theorists, sociologists, and social psychologists to examine the dynamics and implications of socialization practices conducted by an international institution.

Excerpt

Shortly after Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution, Manfred Wörner, then Secretary General of NATO, reportedly asked President Vaclav Havel what was the most urgent problem of the post-revolutionary period. Havel allegedly replied: “I do not know how we are going to run this country. We have two options: we can rely on Communists, who do have some useful experience but are not politically reliable; or we can entrust key positions to former dissidents, who are reliable but lack the knowledge necessary in order to lead the country. If we opt for the second solution, we are going to need a lot of help and advice from Western experts.”

Today, more than a decade after the end of the Cold War, we tend to assume that the former Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe “naturally” adopted Western-style liberal democratic norms and institutions following their liberation from Soviet influence. That image, however, overlooks the complexity of the process of (re)building postCommunist polities, and marginalizes—or at least provides an excessively simplified view of—the role played by international institutions in that process. In this book, I analyze the practices enacted by NATO in Central/Eastern Europe, and demonstrate the alliance's systematic involvement in the construction of Western-defined liberal democratic norms and institutions in former Communist countries. This is important because it reveals that the social relationships created in the process of interaction between NATO and actors from Central/Eastern Europe were significantly different from our conventional wisdom regarding the behavior of a military alliance vis-à-vis potential new allies. It also demonstrates that the nature and dynamics of power exercised by NATO departed significantly from the prevailing conception of (coercive) power characteristic of international relations.

Contrary to the view of an essentially domestic process of reform . . .

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