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NATO's Hegemonic Formula

4. enlarging the circle

For half a century the Atlantic Alliance had supplanted, to a considerable degree, national defence in Western Europe. In the 1990s, American policy makers became preoccupied by the converse possibility, 're-nationalization'. The connotations of this bugbear, ubiquitous in the period, are ambiguous, encompassing everything from barriers to trade to inter-state military rivalry and war. It is the interconnection of such ills, and the holism of their remedy, that distinguished Clinton-era globalist ideology. 'America's core concepts--democracy and market economics--are more broadly accepted than ever', rejoiced National Security Advisor Anthony Lake in September 1993. Emancipation of Eastern European states from the Communist yoke handed the administration a 'moment of immense democratic and entrepreneurial opportunity'. The time had come to advance `from containment to enlargement'.

'During the Cold War', Clinton intoned a week later, 'we sought to contain a threat to the survival of free institutions'. 'Now we seek to enlarge the circle of nations that live under those free institutions.' Where the 'new democracies' were concerned, NATO and shock therapy were part of the same package.

In hindsight, it is notable that accession of the Visegrád trio, formalized at the 1997 Summit in Madrid should have encountered as much us domestic resistance as it did. Congress was pliant enough, but a number of establishment grandees expressed their dissatisfaction, among them the secretary of defence, out of misgivings about alienating Russia. Differences chiefly had to do with when and where the alliance expanded, not its purpose as such. The Kremlin's concerns were ultimately brushed aside, and Clinton dismissed fears of a Russian backlash as 'silly'.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed May 3rd, 2023 at 05:41:28 PM EST

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