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					Gabriel Lorca Aicardi                                                          Date: 14/12/2011


        NATO as a Global Actor: How relevant is still today?


There could be several ways to regard the NATO in its global function, but I’m going to
dedicate rather these pages here in analyzing its influence from the prospective of how the
NATO interacts with some other key important actors in the international community.
Considering this assumption, would be an important matter to see what happens within the
NATO – I mean the Atlantic relation between the Americans and its European partners –
and outside the NATO – what was the develop between the relation with Russia and some
strategic countries outside the EU.

However, the differentiation between the dynamics inside and outside the organization
doesn’t have absolutely to misunderstand the point of what kind of influence this
organization effectively spread in the international level. And if I have to be synthetic, a
careful analysis of this organization in the today’s world should start after the fall of the
Berlin Wall, because – as I said in my introductory paper – the most relevant actors relieved
themselves from the bipolar tension that was impose during the Cold War. And in this new
context, the NATO was at that point nothing more than a vestige of a security strategy that
the US used to maintain his position against the Soviet rival. The reasons and implications
to innovate the role of this structure in the international relations would depend, on one
hand, on the degree of liberalization and interest of the most relevant actors in the new
system; in the other, in the level of procedural and normative constriction that the NATO
produce to them, and how useful NATO could be for these actors.

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In fact, it was expected that at the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR the
Western powers, USA and Europe, would find no useful to maintain a security organization
with integrated commando. Most of all, the “enemy” didn’t exist anymore. The grandiose
USSR was fragmented in very different states, in which none of them could minimally be
compared to the political and military power hold by the Soviet state the decade before. It
was neither like this in the field of nuclear power, since Russia was threatened by the
independence of other three former member of the USSR – Ukraine, Byelorussia, and
Kazakhstan – which were keeping an important number of nuclear missiles within their
territory. Internally, neither the political stability of the country was guaranteed. In the 90’s,
Russia made an endeavor to remake its position in the international environment, by

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Gabriel Lorca Aicardi                                                                                          Date: 14/12/2011


opening its economy, creating a new set of friendly relation with its neighbors – under the
CIS framework –, by supporting the Americans in common issues of concern, like
international security and trade and                        by engaging in economic ties with Europe. The
“westernization” of the Russian state was very surprising. The same Yeltsin declared even
his willingness that “Russia could join the NATO one day”1.

Contemporary, the Europeans started to think about the new context they had to deal to. It
was from that moment more relevant to develop an autonomous defensive system which
couldn’t depend straightly on the American willingness. A first step towards a wider margin
of military independence happened in the Maastricht summit, when under the framework of
the Maastricht treaty the Europeans created a common policy of security, the Common
Foreign Security Policy pillar (CFSP); then in 1997 it would become the new European
Security and Defense Policy (ESDP)2.

The world that came out in the nineties was featured by a new westernized Russia and the
attempts of the Europeans allies to have a proper system of security without any dependency
on the Americans. How we fill the NATO in these situations? If the NATO went on is
because its functionality was quite shifted. Now, I will quote myself at this point because it
becomes useful to repeat the two valences that I gave to this military organization. A first
valence of NATO is as an actor as such, which mean, the institution with its own decisional
mechanism where members have common-shared values, and common objectives. In the
second valence instead, we have the organization as an instrument, in which both Americans
and Europeans can make use of it. It is not necessary to make a deep analysis, to understand
that the first valence has lost ground, since that the Cold War was over. The ideological
contraposition went down, and there are no universal ideas to get into clash in a bipolar
context. What used to be the antagonistic rival – Russia – is now another actor sharing the
same values and principles.

Instead, the true value that made NATO still being alive and relevant in the years after the
Cold War, is the instrumentality that NATO means for the Americans and for the
Europeans. In which sense can this assumption be explained?

Looking at the European case, it was believe that a new independent EU could have fruitful
outcomes in increasing their participation in conflictive scenarios, imposing like never before
the respect of universal principles in the international community and reducing the political


1 Smith Julianne, “The NATO-Russia Relationship: Defining Moment or Déjà Vu?”, in CSIS: Center for Strategic International Studies,
November 2008, pp. 2.
2 Archick Kristin and Gallis Paul, “NATO and the European Union”, in CRS Report for Congress, January 4, 2005, intro.

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Gabriel Lorca Aicardi                                                                                         Date: 14/12/2011


engagement of being dependent in the American military force. Incredible or not, very short
time after the summit in Maastricht, a conflict “next door” managed to put the European
military independence under question. The wars of Yugoslavia and Kosovo were seen as the
training mode of the European military mechanism. It was expected that they could resolve
the issues, but the political contrast between values of self-determination, fear of a
precedence of segregation for minorities and respect of HR made the EU interventions
inconsistent and contradictory. The NATO was the only source of military support for
extinguishes the fire. If the Europeans would make their own military systems, the costs of
that enterprise would be excessive3. Instead, NATO’s role was modified to become useful for
going beyond the mere purpose of collective security and intervene in peripheral areas, by
using the American military capability. In other words, NATO supplies military power
when the European’s is not enough – always –4.

The instrumentality of NATO for the American is much more articulated, although more
relevant. A country which has had for so long more than fifty percent of global military
expenditure, why should it still rely in a military alliance if it seems like no one could be at
the level to be its enemy? NATO may provide what the United States needs to intervene
abroad: firstly, a legal-normative covert. NATO could permit the United States to justify
their direct interventions abroad by hiding their “unilateralism” and representing instead the
action as “in the name of a coalition of the willing”5; for instance, in fighting the terrorism,
or in contrasting the Rogue States. Secondly, NATO proportions also the logistic and
command necessary to make interventions more efficiently. NATO was a military
organization that was developed during the years of the Cold War; thus it has a stable
headquarter, advance logistic, intelligence and a well-trained staff6. But the utility for the
United States to maintain NATO goes further.

The main reason why it is still alive comes from the fact that NATO allows the US to
maintain its supremacy and reducing the “costs” – not only financial – in doing so. Many
things I could say to clarify this, but I am going to concentrate my analysis in the policy of
enlargement. Since the end of the nineties, the enlargement has followed an “eastern” trend.
After the enlargement to Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary, we had the Baltic States
membership, an enforcement of Turkey tasks within NATO and an intensive dialogue with



3 Wallander, Celeste A., “Institutional Assets and Adaptability: NATO After the Cold War”, in International Organization 54 - The IO
Foundation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Autumn 2000, pp. 723.
4 Archick Kristin and Gallis Paul, “NATO and the European Union”, in CRS Report for Congress, January 4, 2005, pp. 1.
5 Ídem, pp. 12.
6 Wallander, Celeste A., “Institutional Assets and Adaptability: NATO After the Cold War”, in International Organization 54 - The IO

Foundation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Autumn 2000, pp. 725.
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Gabriel Lorca Aicardi                                                                                      Date: 14/12/2011


Ukraine and Georgia7. The NATO, in other words, has put effort in surrounding the
Russian Federation. This explanation is plausible, since Russia, in absolute military
capabilities – The country with the highest number of nuclear warheads –, still represents
“the threat” for the American’s military superiority. For USA then, is advantageous to
reduce the political dragging of Russia by aggregating the border countries of Russia – all of
them deeply unfriendly to the Russian federation – and next using them as advance positions
for military bases and missile silos8. It is worth to look here that USA increases its political
influence by fruit Russian discordance with its neighbors.

The enlargement is undoubtedly an American move. What intention instead would have
European countries to keep enlarging the institution towards unstable culturally-different
members? Or for what reason they would be happy to make the decision-making process
difficult by increasing the membership? France and Germany declared that the main reason
not to enlarging the NATO would be because Ukraine and Georgia still presents problems
with minorities; I guess it is much clearer as a reason the desire of enhancing the economic
and diplomatic relations with new good partner of Europe, like Russia is, especially for its
potential in stability, energy supply and market for goods-destination9.

Russia is still one of the most important key-actors in NATO strategy, although their
relations have been rather ambivalent. The most evident post-Cold War shift was the
willingness of cooperation that both have demonstrated. In years when Russia engages itself
in a seeking for partnership with the Western, Russia has shown big commonalities with the
organization and its members. One important aspect in which both blocs have a common
intention is in fighting against terrorism. The wars in Chechnya during the nineties and
terrorist attacks in Moscow subway and the international airport one year ago highlighted
that both are keen to work together in contrast terroristic groups. And Russia, for its
geographic position, represents a convenient ally for the NATO, in conflictive scenarios like
the Middle East and Afghanistan. Since 1997 when the NATO – Russia Security Council
was founded, the main topics of conversation were the fight against terrorism and the
treatment with Rouge states. A relevant question may be the theme about Iran, in which




7 Minas George, “NATO’S Relations with Russia: The Greek Proposal”, in NATO - EAPC Research Fellowship, June 1999 – June 2001, pp.
12-13.
8 Minas George, “NATO’S Relations with Russia: The Greek Proposal”, in NATO - EAPC Research Fellowship, June 1999 – June 2001, pp.

5.
9 McNamara Sally, “Russia’s Proposed New European Security Treaty: A Non-Starter for the U.S. and Europe” in The Heritage Foundation,

September 16, 2010.
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Gabriel Lorca Aicardi                                                                                          Date: 14/12/2011


there is another example of Russia’s mitigation of western influence in the area, although
there is a common willingness to avoid nuclear proliferation10.

Despite of common intentions, is undeniable that Russia still perceive the NATO as a rival
alliance. Is quite interesting that now Russia is aware of the Europeans reclaims of
autonomy. The diplomatic strategy of Russia was focused in weaken the internal coalition of
the members of NATO. For attaining this, Russia has engaged in an attempt to maximize
the utility of its interaction with the Europeans. Some discourse about the “European bloc”
and the friendship of Europe and Russia were made to create a common sense of continental
identity between Europeans and Russia. A further step in this direction was the proposition
of a European Security Treaty (EST), proposed by Russian president Medvedev. However it
might be plausible that the most important European countries, like the UK or Germany
would be skeptical about breaching the old partnership with the Americans under the covert
of NATO, but what about countries which were hardly pressing to have an independent
military structure for the Americans, like France? France is maybe the most feverous
supporter in reduce the influence of NATO in Europe, thus it might have a strategic
advantage in accomplish the request of Medvedev11. Moreover, EST signifies a real danger
for NATO decisional mechanism, since in case it will be ratified “Article 2 of the EST would
effectively rule out further NATO enlargement without Russia’s consent and potentially
limit NATO military exercises and NATO contingency planning”.12

In the deep, Russia knows that NATO is a prolongation of American influence and operate
on US behalf. The danger is always the same: NATO can bluntly force the balance of power
against Russia. For instance, the case of Kosovo in 1999 presented a situation in which for
reasons of “humanitarian intervention” the NATO justified a pre-emptive attack by
overcoming the UN decision-making process for the fear of a very-likely Russian veto
against a hard military intervention. The precedent that this could signify for the oncoming
dynamics would be that NATO and its leader, the United States, could legitimize itself in
the future to use the force every time it wants it without respecting the normative structure
of the United Nations13.

For Russia it is extremely important to block the NATO enlargement in order to maintain
the balance of power, in special case when it threats its sphere of influence. Ukraine and


10 Ídem; Smith Julianne, “The NATO-Russia Relationship: Defining Moment or Déjà Vu?”, in CSIS: Center for Strategic International Studies,
November 2008, pp. 6.
11 Archick Kristin and Gallis Paul, “NATO and the European Union”, in CRS Report for Congress, January 4, 2005, pp. 13.
12 McNamara Sally, “Russia’s Proposed New European Security Treaty: A Non-Starter for the U.S. and Europe” in The Heritage

Foundation, September 16, 2010.
13 Archick Kristin and Gallis Paul, “NATO and the European Union”, in CRS Report for Congress, January 4, 2005, pp. 12.

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Gabriel Lorca Aicardi                                                                                          Date: 14/12/2011


Georgia are strategically very important for Russia. In case those two countries like them
would become members of NATO, then is not so hard to imagine how the equilibrium of
deterrence between Russia and the Western would be inexistent.

In the case of Ukraine, Russia adopted a diplomatic approach, perhaps because is a big
military power in Eastern Europe. Since Putin years, it was offered to Ukraine to join the
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and an enforcement of CIS. With Georgia,
the Kremlin preferred the use of coercion. The war of 2008 was the clear attempt to
neutralize Georgian conditions to become a NATO member, by damaging its territorial
integrity and threatening the Western about interfering in local issues of Russian zone of
influence14.

To sum up, I am from those who think that the NATO as a channel of influence might be
useful for everybody, although in primis for the United States. NATO represents not a
tedious, complicated and old-fashion alliance from the Western, but is rather a complicated
institution with a normative framework and decisional mechanism which has been
consolidated for so many decades and now seems hard to dismantle15. The Americans know
this; that is why they were pursuing the enhancing of NATO influence. From all the
relevant point that I could sign in this paper, about the way how the US operate to enforce
the NATO organization, I used the policy of enlargement because seems the most incisive in
ratify the NATO influence. Within the alliance, enlargement is useful to control the
Europeans allies; outside it, enlargement cut the Russian sphere of influence. Countries like
Turkey, the Baltic States, Poland, then Georgia and Ukraine has had historical contrast with
the Russian Federation, so they need the security supplied by the NATO. In brief, they also
may represent strong pro-American position within the NATO decisional mechanism, as
well as they could be useful as strategic position for US military interventions.

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NATO is an actor that offers security and military power, thus is a political actor as well.
But the way in which the influence of NATO could be regarded depends on the way this
organization is taken by the main actors in international relations. NATO sometimes seems
to be a strategic leverage, sometimes could be a problem. Why it interesting, however, is
that nowadays this relation between advantages and disadvantages of NATO is much more


14 Smith Julianne, “The NATO-Russia Relationship: Defining Moment or Déjà Vu?”, in CSIS: Center for Strategic International Studies,
November 2008, pp. 12.
15 Wallander, Celeste A., “Institutional Assets and Adaptability: NATO After the Cold War”, in International Organization 54 - The IO

Foundation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Autumn 2000, pp. 707.
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Gabriel Lorca Aicardi                                                                                         Date: 14/12/2011


dynamic that in the years of the Cold War. And this phenomenon usually creates global
effects.

Today the future of NATO was seriously been put under question. For instance, the
European members knew how to recognize an important value in having the Americans
next to them, like in cases were their interventions were heading to a clear political defeat,
like in Yugoslavia and Kosovo. But their made clear their opposition when the USA started
to speak about preventive attack to combat the terrorism. The opposition to the “Bush
Doctrine” determined the limits of the European military cooperation with USA16. After the
Unilateral decisions of the Americans in intervene for the second time in Iraq, it could really
be imagined that the European would like to hamper NATO influence. It’s a matter of fact
the international system is not the one of the post-Cold War period. Russia, by contrast,
may demonstrate be a Western- mentally power, with good international behavior, with
important economic links for the European and a quite interesting alternative to the out-of-
order and expensive alliance under the cover of NATO. So, what would be the problem to
have an EST?

The options to counterbalance the NATO influence are now much more opened now than
never before. That’s why the American started an unstoppable campaign towards a rapid
enlargement. The more pro-American members are included in NATO, the more the
organization becomes useful to keep the Europeans under control. The fragmentation of the
political system produced that the way of exercise influence becomes a subtle game of
political bargain and diplomatic pressure. Even if NATO was made to organize and manage
the most powerful military capability, now it can be useful to play this game as well. All
depends in its capacity to use “security” as leverage; for those which are within the alliance,
for those that fear the alliance, and for those which want to get into the alliance. If NATO is
useful to Russia to combat terrorism and insurgency, it is also useful for neighbor states to
contrast Russian influence. If NATO is necessary for European to enforce universal
principles of HR and self-determination, it can be necessary as well to keep the Europeans
under control and encircle the Russian sphere of influence.




16   Archick Kristin and Gallis Paul, “NATO and the European Union”, in CRS Report for Congress, January 4, 2005, pp. 11.
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Gabriel Lorca Aicardi                                                                                     Date: 14/12/2011


References




Archick Kristin and Gallis Paul, “NATO and the European Union”, in CRS Report for
Congress, January 4, 2005.
- http://www.fas.org/man/crs/RL32342.pdf




McNamara Sally, “Russia’s Proposed New European Security Treaty: A Non-Starter for the
U.S. and Europe” in The Heritage Foundation, September 16, 2010.
- http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/09/russia-s-proposed-new-european-security-treaty-a-non-starter-for-the-us-and-
europe




Minas George, “NATO’S Relations with Russia: The Greek Proposal”, in NATO - EAPC
Research Fellowship, June 1999 – June 2001.
- http://www.nato.int/acad/fellow/99-01/minas.pdf




Smith Julianne, “The NATO-Russia Relationship: Defining Moment or Déjà Vu?”, in CSIS:
Center for Strategic International Studies, November 2008.
- http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/081110_smith_natorussia_web.pdf




Wallander, Celeste A., “Institutional Assets and Adaptability: NATO After the Cold War”,
in International Organization 54 - The IO Foundation and the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Autumn 2000.
- http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/Inor/pdf/inor_54_4_705_0.pdf




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