The formation of NATO represented a turning point in the history of both the United States and the other Atlantic powers. For the first time during a period of peace, America engaged in a permanent alliance linking it to Western Europe both in a military and in a political sense. NATO: Its Past, Present, and Future (Hoover Institution Press, 2000) tells the complete story of this historic alliance, from its shaky beginnings through its triumphs and failures to its current new grouping of nations.
Peter Duignan's concise yet comprehensive history reveals how the founding of NATO had some unintended consequences, such as weakening the "special relationship" between the United States and Britain and the development of one with West Germany. Duignan charts the ongoing conflicts between the allies over détente and their respective contributions to the alliance "burden sharing." He chronicles the organization's pivotal role during the cold war years, showing how NATO deterred the Soviet Union from blackmailing or "Finlandizing" Western European countries, how it reconciled the Allies with Germany, and how it kept the United States involved in Europe as a peacekeeper. He details the reorganization of NATO in the 1990s Partnership for Peace and its cooperative arrangements with former Warsaw Pact members (Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic), examining the development of the new post-cold war European-American relationship. And he looks at NATO's present-day challenges--its controversial involvement in Yugoslavia, the clash with Russia over Kosovo, and the de facto partitioning of Kosovo.
Duignan also looks at the changing roles and problems of the organization in the twenty-first century. He examines the transformation of NATO from a defensive organization into a war-making body and its actions against an independent nation over an internal matter.
As NATO celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, the world remains a dangerous place. Critically assessing the modern relationship between the United States and NATO, Duignan declares that the United States should remain in Europe to act as NATO's defensive shield but not its police force. With the European Union wanting to create its own Rapid Reaction Force, the United States should move its troops out of hot spots such as Bosnia and Kosovo and let the Europeans police these areas.
NATO, Its Past, Present, and Future represents a fitting tribute to this historic cooperative alliance of nations and its changing mission.
Peter Duignan is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has authored, edited, or coauthored more than forty books on Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. His most recent publications (with Lewis Gann) include The Rebirth of the West: the Americanization of the Democratic World, Contemporary Europe and the Atlantic Alliance, and The Spanish-Speakers in the United States: A History.