Why NATO Endures

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Why NATO Endures examines military alliances and their role in international relations, developing two themes. The first is that the Atlantic Alliance, also known as NATO, has become something very different from virtually all pre-1939 alliances and many contemporary alliances. The members of early alliances frequently feared their allies as much if not more than their enemies, viewing them as temporary accomplices and future rivals. In contrast, NATO members were almost all democracies that encouraged each other to grow stronger. The book’s second theme is that NATO, as an alliance of democracies, has developed hidden strengths that have allowed it to endure for roughly 60 years, unlike most other alliances, which often broke apart within a few years. Democracies can and do disagree with one another, but they do not fear each other. They also need the approval of other democracies as they conduct their foreign policies. These traits constitute built-in, self-healing tendencies, which is why NATO endures.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Why NATO Endures provides a useful reminder of NATO’s essential stability in the face of deep fissures over many small issues.”
Andrew Moravcsik, Foreign Affairs

“NATO’s continued existence and presumed utility to its members, who have the right to leave at any time, seem to be a mystery…In this masterful and excellently written account, Thies provides an answer to the mystery….To be certain, NATO may yet fall apart…but until such time, this excellent book is a superb and required guide for anyone interested in European security and the mysterious persistence of NATO. After reading this book the reader will realize that, in fact, there is no mystery, only our inability to make sense of what is actually happening before our eyes.”
– Dr. Stephen J. Blank, Professor of National Security Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, PARAMETERS

“This book represents a timely as well as useful contribution to the scholarly literature on NATO...Why NATO Endures merits attention from those who wish to deepen their understanding of the alliance's internal dynamics or gain an appreciation of its remarkable longevity.”
Perspectives on Politics, John S. Duffield, Georgia State University


“NATO analysts of all stripes have at one time or another over the past 60 years proclaimed NATO to be ‘in crisis’ and frequently on its deathbed. The phenomenon continues today, with NATO’s future said to be hanging on the outcome in Afghanistan. In this astute historical study, Wallace Thies dissects the crisis analyses and explains why NATO has not come apart at the seams as the result of any of the declared crises in transatlantic relations. It is not because of persistent threats. It is, according to Thies, because of persistent values associated with liberal democracy and derivative shared interests. His analysis should be read by all who have an interest in or proclivity for predicting the future of this seemingly permanent alliance.”
– Stanley R. Sloan, Visiting Scholar, Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, Middlebury College, and author of Permanent Alliance?: NATO and the Transatlantic Bargain from Truman to Obama

“For almost two decades, NATO’s persistence has confounded continual predictions of its timely demise. Now, Wallace Thies tells us why. In this historically informed and theoretically insightful book, he shows why NATO is different from previous international alliances, why an alliance of democracies has resilience, and why NATO is likely to endure. This is one of the most important books on NATO since the end of the Cold War.”
– Robert Art, Brandeis University

“Why NATO Endures is a significant contribution to our understanding of not only NATO but also alliances in general. Thies shows how and why the numerous apparent crises have been surmounted through characteristics that make NATO distinctive. I strongly recommend this book.”
– Robert Jervis, Columbia University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521749794
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/22/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Wallace J. Thies is a Yale Ph.D. who has held full-time teaching positions in political science at the University of Connecticut (Storrs), the University of California, Berkeley, and the Catholic University of America. Why NATO Endures is his third book. His two previous books are When Governments Collide: Coercion and Diplomacy in the Vietnam Conflict (1980) and Friendly Rivals: Bargaining and Burden-Shifting in NATO (2003). He has also published articles in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Strategic Studies, International Interactions, Comparative Strategy, and European Security. He has also served as an International Affairs Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, working at the US Department of State, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, and a NATO Research Fellow.
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Table of Contents

1. The curious relationship; 2. Rivalry and community in interstate alliances prior to the Second World War; 3. Creating a contentious alliance; 4. Why NATO is different; 5. NATO and the military balance; 6. NATO and the out-of-area issue; 7. Non-military issues; 8. Why NATO endures.
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