The EU, NATO and the Integration of Europe: Rules and Rhetoric

By Frank Schimmelfennig | Go to book overview

10    The decision to enlarge NATO

The decision to enlarge NATO and the EU took place in a community environment in which all state actors shared a liberal political culture and had subscribed to the constitutive organizational rules. In a rhetorical perspective, the problem of enlargement decision-making in this environment was not a conflict between competing validity claims. There was no controversy about, or controversial interpretation of, the criteria for legitimate membership; no member state openly challenged the principle that democratic European states were entitled to join the Western organizations. The problem was one of compliance with the practical consequences of this principle. For the CEEC aspirants, the question was how to induce the reluctant member states to acquiesce in Eastern enlargement; for their opponents, it was how to avoid or, at least, put off honoring their commitments as members of the Western community. In this situation (and given that transnational social mobilization did not promise to be effective), the rhetorical action hypothesis predicts that the proponents of enlargement use arguments based on the community culture to shame the opponents into compliance.

For three reasons, the NATO case study analyzes the US domestic decision-making process on NATO enlargement in addition to international interaction. First, the fact that the United States, in 1994, became the most determined advocate of Eastern enlargement in the Alliance was the only major puzzle for the rationalist explanation of enlargement preferences (see chapter 8). How then can we account for the change in US enlargement preferences? Second, the United States is the most powerful state in NATO and has the greatest influence on alliance decisions. Third, the United States was the only alliance member state in which the ratification of Czech, Hungarian and Polish accession to NATO stirred a major elite debate.

This chapter begins with a description of the rhetorical strategies of the CEECs. I then analyze the change in the US position on enlargement, the international decision-making process and the US ratification process. Finally, I briefly demonstrate that the process leading to the second round

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