NATO's Future Role in Europe

Toward a More Political Alliance in a Stable ''1 1/2 Bloc'' System

by Richard L. Kugler

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This report develops a conceptual framework for thinking about future NATO policies. It analyzes, individually and interactively, the major variables that seem likely to shape NATO's role over the period 1990-2005. NATO's premature dissolution could unleash forces of instability in Europe. The Alliance serves vital Western interests that transcend the specific details of East-West relations. As long as it continues to face a Soviet military threat of some sort, it will need a coherent military strategy and defense posture. What is needed is a process of change and adaptation, one aimed at transforming NATO from its primarily military orientation into a more political alliance, calling for a policy of pragmatic aims rather than ultimate visions. One evolutionary path Europe might follow is discussed. The goals of Western security policy would be to use NATO to enhance stability at each stage, guard against reversals, and encourage further evolution.

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