NATO's Out-of-Area dilemma
Theodorelos, Susan Lynn
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NATO has a legitimate right to project force beyond the geographical boundaries of the NATO alliance. That NATO has been unwilling or unable to do so since 1949 results from a combination of factors relating to disagreements between the members over the geographical scope of the alliance, shifts in allied foreign policies and inter-allied tensions brought on by the Cold War. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait moved NATO's out-of-area problem from a subordinate position to the primary threat facing the alliance. Historically, the Alliance felt that responses to out-of-area security threats should be dealt with on a unilateral basis, even when the Alliance has agreed that their collective vital interests are threatened. The dilemma for NATO is the lack of a unified approach to the out-of-area problem. NATO's boundaries are boundaries of obligation and not boundaries of confinement. Through a review of the language of the treaty and problems inherent in alliance relationships, this thesis will explore the differing perceptions of alliance members regarding the scope of the alliance and why NATO has survived for 40 years yet been unable to deal with the out-of-area problem.
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