U.S. decisionmaking process on NATO enlargement: implications for East Eurpoean States
Malashchenko, Vitaliy B.
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This thesis examines the evolution of post-Cold War U.S. policy towards NATO as a case study of the way in which domestic and international pressures interact to shape security policy. I argue that the expansion of U.S. commitments to post-Cold War Europe corresponds to the way key U.S. policymaking institutions have framed American national interests. President Clinton, his key advisers and Republican leaders of Congress emphasize that NATO enlargement advances American interests by accelerating the success of democratic and market economy reforms in Eastern European countries and Russia. But NATO enlargement also serves a more defensive mission -- that of pushing back threats to the West from the East. The process that led to this definition of U.S. interests reflects the flexibility of the U.S. decisionmaking structure, and the sharing of powers between Congress, the president and other key actors. The interpretation of these national interests, in turn, have been shaped by two factors: geostrategic perspectives and domestic political concerns. Wide agreement has emerged between Congress and the Executive branch that NATO enlargement serves U.S. geostrategic interests. Moreover, at least until now, partisan political conflict over NATO enlargement has remained muted. Such conflicts could grow as new strategic questions emerge with the prospect of enlargement beyond the Vishegrad countries (Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic).
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