Diplomacy and War at NATO: The Secretary General and Military Action After the Cold War

Ryan C. Hendrickson

Language: English

Pages: 184

ISBN: 0826216358

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


NATO is an alliance transformed. Originally created to confront Soviet aggression, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization evolved in the 1990s as a military alliance with a broader agenda. Whether conducting combat operations in the Balkans or defending Turkey from an Iraqi threat in 2003, NATO continues to face new security challenges on several fronts.

Although a number of studies have addressed NATO’s historic evolution, conceptual changes, and military activities, none has considered the role in this transformation of the secretary general, who is most often seen as a minor player operating under severe political constraints. In Diplomacy and War at NATO, Ryan C. Hendrickson examines the first four post–Cold War secretaries general and establishes their roles in moving the alliance toward military action. Drawing on interviews with former NATO ambassadors, alliance military leaders, and senior NATO officials, Hendrickson shows that these leaders played critical roles when military force was used and were often instrumental in promoting transatlantic consensus.

Hendrickson offers a focus on actual diplomacy within NATO unmatched by any other study, providing previously unreported accounts of closed sessions of the North Atlantic Council to show how these four leaders differed in their impacts on the alliance but were all critical players in explaining how and when NATO used force. He examines Manfred Wörner’s role in moving the alliance toward military action in the Balkans; Willy Claes’s influence in shaping alliance policies regarding NATO’s 1995 bombing campaign on the Bosnian Serbs; Javier Solana’s part in shaping political and military agendas in the Yugoslavian war; and George Robertson’s efforts to promote consensus on the Iraqi issue, which culminated in NATO’s decision to provide Turkey with military defensive measures. Through each case, Hendrickson demonstrates that the secretary general is often the central diplomat in generating cooperation within NATO.

As the alliance has expanded its membership and undertaken new peacekeeping missions, it now confronts new threats in international security. Diplomacy and War at NATO offers readers a more complete understanding of the alliance’s post–Cold War transformation as well as policy recommendations for the improvement of transatlantic tensions.

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Martin’s Press, 2000). 16. Hastings Lionel Ismay, The Memoirs of General Lord Ismay (New York: Viking Press, 1960), 458; Acheson, quoted in Jordan, Political Leadership in NATO, 8. NATO’s Cold War Secretary General 15 Lisbon meeting in February 1952, NATO sought to rectify this problem through the creation of the civilian position of secretary general to provide political guidance and leadership to the alliance. Since NATO operates by consensus, each member state still had veto power over all decisions, but when acting on behalf of a specific NAC decision, the secretary general could provide political guidance to NATO’s military authorities, including the SACEUR.

Sells, The Bridge Betrayed (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996); Christopher Bennett, Yugoslavia’s Bloody Collapse: Causes, Course and Consequences (New York: New York University Press, 1995). 8. James A. Baker III with Thomas M. DeFrank, The Politics of Diplomacy (New York: Putnam, 1995), 651; Baker, quoted in Richard Holbrooke, To End a War (New York: Random House, 1998), 27. 9. Barton Gellman, “U. S. Military Fears Balkan Intervention,” New York Times, August 12, 1992, A24; Ronald D. Asmus, Opening NATO’s Door: How the Alliance Remade Itself for a New Era (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 21.

Although it reiterated that NATO’s primary mission remained the defense of its member states, the new Strategic Concept indicated that NATO was evolving toward something markedly different from its Cold War identity. 17 But as the United Nations remained the political and diplomatic center of action, the worsening crisis in the Balkans increasingly became viewed as a test of whether NATO could address this post–Cold War challenge in Europe, and of whether NATO could adapt to its newly stated missions.

Joseph L. Kunz, “Privileges and Immunities of International Organizations,” American Journal of International Law 41, no. 4 (1947): 828–73. 25. Daalder and O’Hanlon, Winning Ugly, 45; Javier Solana, “Statement to the Press by the Secretary General following Decision on the ACTORD,” October 13, 1998, NATO, http://www. nato. int/docu/speech/1998/s981013a. htm. 102 Diplomacy and War at NATO Solana’s diplomatic achievement within the NAC resulted from his ability to find consensus using the semantic ambiguity of the phrase “sufficient legal basis.

Some ambassadors note that the scandal proved damaging to Claes’s ability to lead the alliance, simultaneously tarnishing NATO’s credibility at a time when it badly needed legitimacy. 16 Although the European allies considered the accusations more serious than did the Americans, it appears that few doubted Claes’s commitment to seeing the alliance succeed in Bosnia. The consensus view is that Claes was still able to lead the alliance internally prior to and during Operation Deliberate Force, although the allies recognized that his association with bribery would eventually force his removal from office.

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