The United States and NATO since 9/11: The Transatlantic Alliance Renewed

The United States and NATO since 9/11: The Transatlantic Alliance Renewed

The United States and NATO since 9/11: The Transatlantic Alliance Renewed

The United States and NATO since 9/11: The Transatlantic Alliance Renewed


The US decision not to work through NATO after 9/11 left many European members of the alliance feeling deflated. This decision reflected not only the unilateralism of the Bush Administration, but also the belief that US operational freedom and flexibility had been hampered during NATO's two Balkans interventions.

This book examines US attitudes to, and perspectives on, the transatlantic alliance, with a particular focus on US-NATO relations since 9/11. It demonstrates that, following the decision to bypass NATO after 9/11, the Bush Administration's perceptions of the alliance shifted due to a belated recognition that NATO did indeed have much to offer the US. Hallams explores NATO's contributions to post-combat reconstruction and stabilisation operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and argues that the events of 9/11 galvanised NATO into undertaking an accelerated program of transformation that has done much to reinvigorate the alliance.

This book offers an optimistic assessment of the transatlantic alliance, counter-balanced by realistic reflections on the problems it faces. Drawing on interviews with US and NATO officials, it argues that NATO is far from irrelevant and that prospects for the alliance remain fundamentally positive; it will be of interest to students and scholars of US Foreign Policy, American politics, international relations, security studies and transatlantic studies.


When Paul Wolfowitz visited NATO in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC to inform the alliance that the US would not be seeking collective NATO action, it seemed to many that the final nail had been hammered into NATO’s coffin. The vultures once again began circling, lamenting the last days of the Atlantic Alliance. Those same vultures had hovered persistently since the Berlin Wall came crashing down, and with it, NATO’s raison d’être. Although the alliance had managed to endure a tumultuous post-Cold War era that saw it confront violence and instability in the Balkans, the Bush Administration’s decision to effectively turn its back on NATO at a time when the alliance had just invoked the Article V guarantee for the first time in its history, seemed to many an irrevocable blow from which NATO could not recover. Following the invocation, the United States was inundated with allied offers of moral and practical support for the ‘War on Terrorism’ declared by the Bush Administration. However, despite reports that NATO was preparing plans for a major operation in Afghanistan, the US chose instead to bypass the alliance, utilising ad hoc coalitions that were perceived as offering Washington greater operational freedom and flexibility. The NATO alliance that had served as the bedrock for transatlantic security for over 50 years was seemingly cast adrift, as the US simply sought to use it as a toolbox from which it could pick and choose what it wanted.

The Bush Administration’s marginalisation of the alliance was not, however, the catastrophic blow to the alliance some predicted. Focusing specifically on US attitudes to NATO, this book seeks to refute those critics who argue that the US has – or is likely to – turn its back on the alliance. It addresses a number of major questions which have arisen since 9/11 and during the course of US-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq: Why had the US, which had demonstrated its enduring commitment to NATO during the Cold War and the 1990s, turned away from the alliance at a time when it offered unwavering support to the US? Was the US right in its decision to opt for a more flexible approach, rather than utilising the institutional structures and military capabilities of NATO? What advantages did ‘coalitions of the willing’ have over NATO? What were the wider implications for the alliance? To what extent does the US remain committed to NATO?

This book sets out the argument that, although the US did indeed end NATO’s Balkans’ missions with a profound sense of frustration over the . . .

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