The Transatlantic Security Relationship

Prof. Dr. Tarık OĞUZLU
25 August 2014
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Just as many other relationships across the globe have endured turbulent times in recent years, the decades-long security partnership between the two shores of the Atlantic Ocean has now been exposed to vital challenges. The end of the Cold War era and the disappearance of the existential threat posed by the Soviet Union have made it difficult, if not impossible, for the United States and its European allies to join forces around common threats. As the alliance literature suggests, the sine quo non for states to enter into alliance-like relations is the presence of common security threats. In the absence of such threats, the existence of common norms, values and identities would only buy some time for the allies by the time new unifying threats perceptions emerge. As the time draws closer to the convening of the next summing meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Wales, the future of the Alliance seems to be beset by fundamental unknowns. This short brief will not touch upon all of the challenges facing the allies, yet it will suggest that the disparities between the security conceptualizations and strategic outlooks of the United States on the one hand and those of main European allies on the other will make it difficult for NATO to act as an umbrella organization, under which transatlantic allies would feel themselves commonly at home.   


The ethnic wars in the Balkans during the 1990s and the war on global terror following the ominous September 11 attacks, seem to have initially provided the Atlantic allies with a strong rationale to continue their security cooperation in the areas of crisis-management, peace-building in war-torn countries, fighting against transnational religious terrorism, piracy, organized crime, intelligence gathering and processing, illegal trafficking in human beings and drugs, etc. NATO’s involvement in Bosnia, Kosova and Afghanistan on the one hand and the enlargement of NATO and the EU towards the former communist countries of central and eastern Europe on the other, epitomized the persistence of the trans-Atlantic security cooperation into the post-Cold War era. NATO has both adopted out-of-area tasks in order to remain in business and steadily transformed itself into a collective security organization through article 5 and non-article 5 missions


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