Today, in the era of high technologies and scientific improvements, humanity is still trying to understand what is happening and how to predict future. From the point of international relations, this discourse is relevant for understanding of motivations behind states' behaviour. In this paper, realistic theory of IR is used in order to explain conditionality of NATO transformation after the end of Cold War. In this context, attention will be paid to explanation of changing political and security environment in the world and shift in the international system.
Key Words: the Cold War, NATO, realism, international relations, national interests.
The Post-Cold War Realism of NATO Transformation
In the history of human civilisation, task of various intellectuals, philosophers and scientists could have been summarised in two interconnected questions why and what is next. In other words, humanity was always trying to understand motives for the events' occurrence and on the basis of that knowledge to predict subsequent consequences and chains of new events. In the contemporary world of high technologies and scientific advancement, humanity is still trying to answer these questions and understand itself. From the point of international relations, this discourse is relevant for comprehension of reasons behind states' activities and driving motives of their behaviour. Due to diversity of views on the topic and changeable character of IR, various theories were offered to explain these matters. In terms of the present paper realistic paradigm will be used in order to explain conditionality of NATO transformation after the end of Cold War and its orientation towards other regions. In this context, attention will be paid to explanation of changing political and security environment in the world and shift in the international system.
The main rationale for choosing this theoretical paradigm is because it is the oldest IR theory and its prevalence during the Cold War proved to be quite functional. The essence if this theory is that international relations are characterised by chaos and in that chaos there is no place for altruism, morality or ethics. On the other hand, the central reason for states interactions is the availability of material resources, which can be beneficial for states' development or simple existence (Weber, 2009). Under these circumstances, all actions of states are characterised by states' national interests. Although initial variants of theory suggested that states were unlikely to create alliances, from the recent interpretations of the theory international cooperation in a form of international organisations was possible and it would last only until their purpose was fulfilled or state's interests changed (Weber, 2009). In other words, from the point of realist perspective, behaviour of states was quite predictable since it was based on constant geo-strategic interests of these states.
Transforming this theory into reality of the Cold War, it can be argued that, under conditions of the bipolar international system, the relative status quo was achieved. In this regard, two opposite blocs ruled by antagonist great powers had their vital interest in safeguarding that the status quo. In other words, due to nuclear deterrence, massive conventional warfare was unlikely to happen since it would automatically result in the destruction of both states, and no matter how antagonistic states might be the instinct of self-preservation and material benefits would prevail over any ideological (Bebler 2010). Under those circumstances, the main role of NATO was to make sure interests of member states were protected and in the main region of Europe, where the Soviet threat was the greatest and confrontation between two parts of Germany was an inevitable reality. Thus, from the institutional perspective, the role of NATO was to keep balance of power and avoid any advantageous geo-strategic advancements of the adversary (Adler, 2008, p.119). In order to achieve that simple parity of power, presence of Allied Forces in Europe as a centre of security concerns and ability to project power were crucial.
On the other hand, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and reunification of Germany, geo-political map of the world changed, the traditional status quo of powers was destroyed, and a new system of international relations and security measures were required. That was the time of transition, changes and adaptation. First of all, from the point of the international system, the world was no longer divided into two blocs. Until certain extent, some scholars argue that USA was the winner of the Cold War (Ratti, 2006, p. 81). On the other hand, lack of an opponent raised the question of who would take responsibilities for regional and international security under the rise of new threats. In these conditions, NATO might have been the most likely answer, but the problem was that the whole structure of the institution, its official status and general direction of activities was directed towards conventional war and fighting of a single enemy - Warsaw Pact Treaty Organisation and Soviet Union in Europe. In other words, in order to continue protecting interests of the member states and USA, NATO had to adapt to the new geopolitical environment (Bebler 2010).
In the context of changes in the international system, the main driving motive for changes was multiplication of threats beyond conventional characteristics. In this context, the collapse of a huge unity like Soviet Union resulted in the creation of numerous unstable states without any functional infrastructure, lack of any directions for further development and with vital needs of material benefits for sustaining their survival (Ratti, 2006, p. 89). From the point of the domino theory, it can be argued that there were many unstable dominoes which could trigger unpredictable conflicts and collapses in regional and international relations. From the point of the Western states and USA, spreading of instability could result in local wars, which could have resulted in subsequent escalation of war on a global scale (Gheciu, 2005). Another crucial threat was a lack of a single owner over the weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons left after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Under these circumstances, NATO had to secure ownership over these weapons in one hands and provision of relative stability in states that had these weapons (Adler, 2008, p.103). None of the states wanted to deal with numerous unstable nuclear countries while it was more strategically justified to deal with the old, well- known successor of the Soviet Union - the Russian Federation. That is why NATO as means of protecting member states interests, had to evolve and become more flexible as a response to the new threats.
Although liberalists would argue that the main rationale of NATO change was dictated by the changing nature of IR environment towards humanism and peacekeeping, from the realists' perspective, the changes were still driven by national interest and existence of threats which could overcome any potential desire to avoid involvement in new IR conflicts. First of all, from the economic perspective, when the treat of the Soviet Union as the main enemy of the USA was no more, the country had no reason for providing European security at its own cost (Bebler 2010). In this regard, lack of massive threat suggested an opportunity for the USA, and NATO to change the discourse of its responsibilities in terms of European security. In this context, since there was no direct threat for the USA in the region, it was relatively stable, and full of allied states; continuing Cold War spending on their conventional defence was simply waste of funds (Ratti, 2006, p. 85). It may seem that, under the conditions of post-bipolar IR system, USA might have wanted to secure its influence in the region through continuous strong presence through NATO. In fact, it would have been rationale and corresponded to realist paradigm, but it would have been completely unnecessary. In this context, USA kept its presence in the region through NATO supporting, stabilising and negotiating roles and cooperation with strictly Europe organisations like the European Union (EU), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Western European Union (WEU) (Adler, 2008, p.96).
Thus, through NATO US secured its geo-strategic influence, but at lower costs than during the Cold War. In this context, funds were crucial for general reorganisation of the NATO apparatus and adaptation of the USA itself for the new geo-political environment. This adaptation was crucial for general tendency of economy and need for reorganisation of a massive nuclear Cold War power state into a post-Cold War influential, diplomatic and negotiating state (Bebler, 2010). From the realist perspective, the driving force for NATO reformation and change of US foreign policy discourse was not dictated by humanistic and altruistic ideas of universal peace and desire for spreading democracy for its own sake. The main rationale or national interest was in finding of common grounds with new independent states and securing influence in other geo-political regions. In this context, spreading of democracy and liberal regimes in the new countries in the framework of the Partnership For Peace and other humanitarian initiatives aimed at securing commonality of values for the future cooperation and securing of peace in countries and regions. In this context, the rationale of the theory of democracy and peace can be applied. In other words, countries sharing the same democratic values are unlikely to fight one another since benefits from cooperation exceed any potential gains from conflict or confrontation (Gheciu, 2005). Although this concept remain a theoretical consideration on the meaning of democracy in preservation of peace, its rationale corresponds to then realist theory of IR, which again confirms that states' policies are driven by national interest and materialistic benefits from commonality of values.
It can be also argued that, from the point of diversification of potential threats, NATO was too huge and oriented on conventional threats, which still worked in the Gulf War, but proved to be irrelevant during the war in Yugoslavia and Kosovo Crisis (Bebler, 2010). Under these conditions, USA and NATO had to develop new approaches for policy conduct and achievement of strategic objectives. Under those conditions, for the USA to protect its positions in the region and the world, it has to change its main tool (meaning NATO) from heavyweight artillery to a tool of surgical actions. Judging the issue from the contemporary, realistic perspective, it can be argued that ability of NATO preserve its influence and USA to keep its global status had largely depended on NATO adaptation to the new geo-political environment. If the rationale of NATO changes were dictated by altruism and desire to bring peace in the whole world, then USA would not cut its military spending and would have kept fully-functional NATO presence in Europe. On the other hand, it could weaken the state, and it could easily become a target for even earlier 9/11 event or even worse a potential war on the territory of the state. So, from the point of national interest, and adaptability of the state to the new challenges transformation of NATO was vital and strictly realistic decision.
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