Why did NATO expand recently?

In April 2009, NATO expanded into the Balkan region through the accession of Croatia and Albania. The Balkans region is currently the most volatile area in Europe and poses a threat to the security of European countries. Therefore, NATO’s expansion into the Balkan region enables it to increase the security and stability of the region by surrounding Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia, the three countries that carry the highest security threat to Europe. NATO’s expansion also enables it to increase its military strength since the new member states contribute towards increasing the collective military force and military equipment of the NATO. In addition to this, by expanding into the Balkan region, NATO is able to promote the development of peace and progress to these nations, which have had a history of conflict and instability.

What states have most recently joined NATO, and why?

Recently, Albania and Croatia joined NATO. Both of these countries have a relatively weak military force thus by joining NATO, they seek to benefit from collective security offered by the NATO. Albania and Croatia have had a history of political instability and conflict; hence, they intend to convey the message that they are now politically stable. Their economies also stand to benefit as their membership to NATO will attract investors because it indicates that they meet the NATO’s core values of commitment to democracy, freedom, free market economy, respect of human rights and rule of law (Duignan, 2000). Their accession brings to 28, the total number of member states of NATO. Albania and Croatia also joined NATO to protect themselves against ideological and military threats by other attacking countries. They also joined in order to present a stronger front during peacekeeping missions because they have greater political weight as a group. The states also joined in order to assuage the strain on U.S. troops abroad. For instance, they assisted the U.S by deploying around 1,000 military officers to Afghanistan in 2009, to control the terrorist insurgence.

By joining the NATO, Croatia and Albania also aim to detach themselves from their history as member states of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact. Other members joined the NATO in order to bring peace and stability to the entire region. By joining NATO, they also have more diplomatic support in case of conflict from states such as the US, therefore more protection. The NATO holds over 70% of the world’s defense spending, therefore it is well able to defend itself in case of a world crisis. Therefore, one of the key reasons why the new member states joined is to increase their military strength and hence increased security against external threats. By joining NATO, Albania and Croatia seek to benefit from the stronger security (Clausson, 2006).

Why did some people and states oppose NATO expansion?

NATO’s expansion has been criticized as a tool for the U.S. to extend its power and control globally. The former President of Russia, Vladimir Putin believed that the expansion of NATO posed a security threat to Russia. He claimed that NATO’s intention was to surround Russia and exert dominance over it. NATO has also been criticized for not adding any value to the economies of member states such as Latvia, which has a high percentage of people living below the poverty line (Mattox & Rachwald , 2001). NATO has also been accused of promoting a first strike nuclear policy as well as other hard-line military policies as opposed to promoting peace among European states and in the world. On April 4, 2009, there was a major demonstration against NATO in Strasbourg, France.

The demonstrators protested against NATO’s approach to security and stability in Europe, whereby instead of aiming to create and promote peace, the organization aims to expand in order to assert dominance and military strength over its enemies. The expansion of NATO has also been viewed as an obstacle to the achievement of world peace. This is because, NATO responds to conflict situations through the assertion of military force. For example, NATO has deployed over 12000 troops to Afghanistan since 2002 when the ‘war on terror’ began. NATO’s military expenditure is by far the highest in the world, at over 70%, it has been accused of investing its resources in military paraphernalia instead of investing in the member countries’ populations, and especially since some of the member states are relatively poor.

What do you believe is NATO’s future role with the end of the Cold War?

The Cold War ended in 1991 and with it, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Therefore, NATO has had to reorganize its purpose and objectives for the future. With the end of the Cold war, NATO aims to expand in order to increase the security and stability of European states against external threat. By expanding, it would be able to increase its military budget and hence would have a stronger military force, capable of defending the member states against security threats. It especially seeks to include the countries that were previously prone to conflict such as the Balkans (Duignan, 1996). NATO has also widened its objectives to include the promotion of peace and harmony in the world without the use of warfare.

What evidence points in this direction?

The evidence pointing in this direction is that NATO is still selling itself to non-member European countries as an instrument of security and stability enhancement. Currently, it has invited Georgia, Macedonia and Ukraine to become member states, thus is still pushing its expansion agenda. NATO has also shown that it intends to pursue non-warfare methods of achieving world peace by revealing that it intends to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan gradually in the future.


Carnesdale, A. (1983). Living with nuclear weapons. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Clausson, M. I. (2006). NATO: status, relations, and decision-making. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

Duignan, P. (1996). Cold war: end and aftermath. New York, NY: Hoover Inst Press.

Duignan, P. (2000). NATO: its past, present, and future. Stanford, CA: Hoover Press Publication.

Mattox, A.G., & Rachwald, A. R. (2001). Enlarging NATO: the national debates. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.



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