A Troublesome Relationship: The US Grand Strategy and NATO

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The evolution of US grand strategy heavily impacted on NATO posture during the Alliance’s seventy-years-long life. Not only the US provided the nuclear umbrella that Europe coveted (especially in front of the build-up of Soviet nuclear capabilities) but also the bulk of NATO’s conventional forces, at least in qualitative terms. The US military presence in the heart of Europe was at the same time the trigger that provided the strategic linkage between Washington and the allies and the deterrent that should have avoided the trigger’s ‘click’. Consequently, Alliance was constantly forced to adapt its strategic vision to the US one, although the process was never painless. Things did not change after the Cold War. With the end of the Soviet threat, the US remained the only global player and the only actor whose power could effectively counter the multi-faceted/multi-vectorial risks of the new international environment. Although in a more subtle way than in the past, they retained their ability to shape NATO’s strategy at both military and (increasingly) political level, as attested by the role that the Clinton administration had in the debate on NATO enlargement. Even the drift that followed the US invasion of Iraq (2003) can be framed in the same perspective, with the emergence of the NATO+ model as an effort to integrate into the Alliance’s operational mechanism the logic supporting the model of the coalition of the willing. Moving from these premises, the paper aims to provide a long-term overview of how the US grand strategy and NATO posture interacted and how they evolved side by side. The main focus will be on the political dimension of the process, although attention will be devoted also to the military aspects. The assumption is that, despite the greater emphasis placed on the military dimension, it was the Atlantic Alliance (i.e., the political agreement), more than NATO (i.e., its operational and ‘material’ component), the real locus of the US-Europe dialogue and the ‘clearing house’ where the divergencies that arose among partners could find a mutually-satisfactorily composition.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteNATO in the Post-Cold War Era. Continuity and Transformation
EditorM de Leonardis
Numero di pagine26
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2023


  • Rapporti Stati Uniti-NATO


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