Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

NATO at the Crossroads

Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

NATO at the Crossroads

Article excerpt

On the eve of the NATO summit in Chicago, the Alliance appears to be reaching a critical junction. During the Cold War, NATO's purpose was defined first and foremost by the existence of the Soviet threat and the need to deter it. In this context, NATO's Article 5 was the ultimate cornerstone and essence of the alliance. With the end of the Cold War, the Alliance successfully redefined itself by becoming predominantly a crisis-management operations organisation and through enlargement to former communist states. For NATO, no longer deterring an external threat but organising security became its essential role. But this could not last indefinitely. Further expansion of the Alliance is reaching its limits and the era of crisis-management operations is likely to come to an end following the pullout from Afghanistan. From this follow two fundamental questions: Is the Alliance in need of a new mission, and will the Chicago summit become a stepping stone in this process?

As several authors in this volume point out, the Alliance's future has already been defined in the New Strategic Concept adopted at the summit in Lisbon in 2010. NATO's new doctrine states that its key roles are collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. The implementation of these tasks, however, is challenged by the severe economic crisis in the Western world that has produced massive defence spending cuts and by the U.S. decision to pivot progressively away from Europe towards the Middle East and East Asia.

This volume is composed almost entirely of contributions by authors from Central and Eastern Europe or those who also know and understand the region's specificity and its security outlook. …

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