Jan 1, 2001
This research brief describes work documented in NATO Enlargement, 2000-2015: Determinants and Implications for Defense Planning and Shaping (MR-1243-AF).
Excerpt: As part of its post-Cold War strategy, NATO has embarked on the twin processes of enlargement and transformation. The first round of post-Cold War enlargement occurred in 1999, with the accession of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. NATO's transformation also dates from the 1990s, when the alliance, while reaffirming its commitment to the collective defense of its members, expanded its mission to include conflict prevention and conflict management throughout Europe, including areas outside the boundaries of the NATO treaty area. Both NATO's enlargement and its transformation have been driven primarily by political imperatives, that is, by an environment-shaping agenda of democratization and integration rather than threat-based military rationale. There is good reason to believe that the two processes have been a major cause of the benign security environment that has prevailed in Europe since the second half of the 1990s, an environment characterized by the absence (or extremely low incidence) of armed conflict and the lack of near-term potential for a major war. To a large extent, NATO's enlargement and transformation have functioned, respectively, as the proverbial carrot and stick. The enlargement offers a positive incentive for peaceful and cooperative relations in Europe, while the transformation holds out a negative incentive in the form of the alliance's commitment to enforce peace and deter aggression, as demonstrated in the 1999 Operation Allied Force against Yugoslavia.