In Search of Stability NATO's Strategic Crossroads; Strategic Insights: v.2, issue 5 (May 2003)
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World War I saw the end of the empires that had dominated the European political scene for centuries and it cut short the lives of over ten million human beings. The effect of the war and the lessons taken from it remain with us today. What then are the lessons of World War I that have been so resilient? First, excessive militarization of a country, both in terms of its military capabilities to wage war and in terms of the organization of its political and public life, is a prescription for disaster. Second, there is a need for crisis management institutions and procedures to prevent hazardous situations escaping the control of governments. As events in 1914 spun out of control, officials seemed unable to halt or even slow the rush toward war, a war most did not seem to want. Finally, there is an understanding that sovereign nations need to be part of an interlocking network of international organizations to provide communication and transparency to defuse or prevent tensions that can lead to war. This Strategic Insight suggests that although these lessons have merit, they often ease only the symptoms of a developing crisis, while doing little to address the underlying sources of international tension. It explores the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) recent efforts to foster stability, and suggests how these initiatives might be improved by deemphasizing crisis management in favor of long-term efforts to address more fundamental sources of international discord.
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (May 2003), v.2 no.5
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