Sword or Ploughshare? New Roles for NATO and the Changing Nature of Transatlantic Relations

Olaf Theiler
Content Type
Working Paper
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
The Western community is currently experiencing “a defining moment of international relations” as it undergoes one of its biggest and most severe crises. Some authors are already speaking of the “end of the West,” while others see chances for its rebirth. As the institutional epitome of transatlantic relations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has always been the most important yardstick for gauging their state. It is now once again at the center of the crisis. During the Cold War, NATO and hence the transatlantic partnership were based on three central elements: Firstly, a shared direct existential threat, which applied equally to all Western states; secondly, a broad base of common values, standards and convictions; and thirdly, a division of labor and system of burden and risk-sharing that were born of necessity. As the biggest military and economic power, the U.S. assumed a dominant role as 'primus inter pares' in the transatlantic alliance, which the weaker European partners voluntarily joined without becoming completely subordinate.
Foreign Policy, NATO, Bilateral Relations
Political Geography
United States, Europe