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NATO: Past and Present

Date & Time

Dec. 6, 2019
4:00am – 2:30pm


King's College, London
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NATO: Past and Present

In 2019 NATO marks the seventieth anniversary of its founding. Created as a bulwark against perceived Soviet expansionism, NATO became a fixture of the European security landscape, one that anchored the United States in Europe and formed the institutional framework for political and military cooperation between Washington and its Western European allies. NATO helped keep Western Europe secure, democratic, and prosperous through the Cold War years. The end of the Cold War presented the Transatlantic alliance with a new set of challenges. As the democracies of Eastern Europe clamoured to join the West, the United States and its allies opted for enlargement, filling the security void left by the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. NATO played a crucial role in ending ethnic strife in Yugoslavia, while security challenges of the post-Cold War, including terrorism, piracy, and religious and ethnic sectarianism, offered the organization new opportunities for reinventing itself. Meanwhile, some aspects of NATO’s expanding mission touched on sensitive chords in Moscow, contributing to growing tensions between increasingly assertive Russia and the West. The Centre for Conflict, Security, and Societies (Cardiff University), the Engelsberg Proramme for Applied History, Grand Strategy and Geopolitics, supported by the Axel and Margaret Axson Johnson Foundation (King’s College London), the Sir Michael Howard Centre (King’s College London), and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) are holding a one-day conference, “NATO: Past and Present” to evaluate the lessons of NATO’s history during the Cold War and its aftermath. We seek to explore what worked and what didn’t; which opportunities were seized, and which were missed, and how NATO’s evolving mission has shaped the European and international security environments.

The one-day conference will take place at King’s College London on December 6, 2019.

Selected papers will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Strategic Studies.

This event is taking place at King's College, London 09:00 to 09:15 WelcomeJoe Maiolo, Kings College LondonChristian Ostermann, Wilson CenterSimone Tholens, Cardiff University 09:15 to 10:45 Panel 1. NATO: The early years(Chair: Simone Tholens, Cardiff University)“An Alternative to NATO: The Campaign for a Common European Foreign Policy, 1945-1954”Jan Stöckmann (Helmut Schmidt University)“Kennan and NATO: Lessons from early American Cold War Foreign Policy”Andrew White (Independent historian)“What Are We Defending?: The Challenge of Illiberal NATO Member Governments, Past, Present, and Future.”Ruud van Dijk (University of Amsterdam) and Stanley Sloan (The Atlantic Council)“Visions of the Next War or Reliving the Last One?: Early Alliance Views of War with the Soviet Bloc”Jeff Michaels (Kings College London) 10:45 to 11:00 Coffee break 11:00 to 12:30 Panel 2. Strategy, Nuclear Technology and Intelligence(Chair: Leopoldo Nuti, Roma Tre)“What They Knew. Czechoslovakia and its Intelligence Reports on NATO in the 1960s”Jan Adamec (Independent historian)“NATO Nuclear Sharing: the Multilateral Force and the Origins of the Modern DCA Dilemma”Andrew Carroll (Columbia University)“Flexible Response: The Untested Strategy”Kenton White (University of Reading)The Harmel Report Revisited or: How the Reagan Administration Learned to Stop Worrying and Love DétenteSusan Colbourn (Yale University) 12:30 to 14:00 Lunch 14:00 to 15:30 Panel 3. NATO and the Second Cold War(Chair: William C. Wohlforth, Dartmouth)“Overcoming the Second Cold War NATO’s dilemma”Thierry Tardy (NATO Defence College)“NATO’s Second Cold War: Perception, Reality, and the Beginning of the End of the Cold War”Simon Miles (Duke University)“The ‘Zero Option’ and NATO’s Dual-Track Decision: Rethinking the Paradox”Andreas Lutsch (Federal University of Administrative Sciences)“Shifting stance on the ‘out of area’ issue: NATO and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan”Barbara Zanchetta (Kings College London) 15:30 to 15:45 Coffee break 15:45 to 17:15 Panel 4. NATO Enlargement (1)(Chair: Effie Pedaliu, London School of Economics)“NATO and the “Second Cold War”: Triumphalist Narratives and their Limitations”Douglas Selvage (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)"Shaping Europe's Future: NATO Enlargement and the American Effort to Suppress an Independent Western Europe, 1990-1993”Joshua Shifrinson (Boston University)“What Gorbachev Really Heard about NATO”Mark Kramer (Harvard)NATO and the Iran-Iraq War: How “Out-of-Area” Concerns Paved the Way to a Post-Cold War FutureLauren Stauffer (University of Connecticut) 17:15 to 17:30 Coffee break 17:30 to 19:00 Panel 5. NATO Enlargement (2)(Chair: Vladislav Zubok, LSE)New and Improved? Assessing the Strategic and Military Consequences of NATO's Post-Cold War EnlargementSara Bjerg Moller (Seton Hall University)Competition and cooperation among the Baltic states during the NATO accession processAndres Kasekamp (University of Toronto)NATO’s enlargement to the east: what influence on the internal dynamics of the Alliance?Christelle Calmels (Science Po)“NATO Enlargement as Nash Equilibrium: the Integration Dilemma and the New Europe”Jonathan Askonas (Catholic University of America) 19:00 to 19:30 Reception. Book Launch.Tim Sayle (University of Toronto)(Q&A: Sergey Radchenko & Simone Tholens, Cardiff University) The organisers would like to thank the following for generously funding the conference: the Cardiff University School of Law and Politics, the Engelsberg Proramme for Applied History, Grand Strategy and Geopolitics, supported by the Axel and Margaret Axson Johnson Foundation, the Sir Michael Howard Centre, and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Hosted By

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program uses history to improve understanding of important global dynamics, trends in international relations, and American foreign policy.  Read more

Nuclear Proliferation International History Project

The Nuclear Proliferation International History Project is a global network of individuals and institutions engaged in the study of international nuclear history through archival documents, oral history interviews, and other empirical sources. At the Wilson Center, it is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program.  Read more

Cold War International History Project

The Cold War International History Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War. Through an award winning Digital Archive, the Project allows scholars, journalists, students, and the interested public to reassess the Cold War and its many contemporary legacies. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program.  Read more

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