Opening NATO's Door

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

How and why did NATO, a Cold War military alliance created in 1949 to counter Stalin's Soviet Union, become the cornerstone of a new security order for post-Cold War Europe? Why did the United States not retreat from Europe after communism's collapse, but instead launch the greatest expansion of the American commitment to the old continent in decades? Council Fellow Ronald Asmus, who as a former key adviser to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was one of the architects of NATO enlargement, draws on State Department classified archives to answer these and other questions.

The political battle over NATO enlargement was the first serious debate about national security strategy since the Cold War. It forced the United States to answer basic questions about America's relations with Europe, NATO, and Russia. In this definitive account, Asmus sheds new light on the Clinton administration's strategy to open NATO to new members and argues that this was part of a broader U.S. effort to modernize the alliance for a new era in which the United States and Europe would face new global threats together.

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One of the earliest intellectual advocates of NATO enlargement to central and eastern Europe in the early 1990s, Asmus documents how the administration sought to develop a rationale for a new NATO that would bind the United States and Europe together as closely in the post-Cold War era as they had been during the fight against communism. Opening NATO's Door illuminates the ideas, politics, and diplomacy behind the historic decision to expand NATO to the east.

A Council on Foreign Relations Book

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Reviews and Endorsements

Powerful reading. The expansion of the Atlantic Alliance to include the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland was the most courageous and considered act which the Clinton administration brought off in the field of international politics.

Vacla Havel, President of the Czech Republic

Opening NATO's Door is a definitive account of one of the most important American foreign policy decisions of the 1990s—President Clinton's decision to enlarge the Atlantic Alliance to include Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Asmus takes us behind the scenes to analyze the intellectual, political and diplomatic battles waged in Washington and across the Atlantic over how to recast NATO for the post-Cold War era. His book combines the insights of an insider with those of a scholar. It is a marvelous story, must reading for anyone interested in American foreign policy and the future of our relations with Europe and Russia.

Richard C. Holbrooke, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

A unique first-hand account of one of the most important foreign policy developments of our time. With rare access to official documents, Asmus is at once witness, analyst, and historian.

Timothy Garton Ash

In Opening NATO's Door, we have a wonderful account of the NATO enlargement debate from someone who was a driving force in developing the idea and who later helped implement it as U.S. policy under Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Asmus brings to life the ideas, the personalities, and the diplomacy involved in this historic decision to extend America's premier alliance to Central and Eastern Europe. As the Alliance debates its future following the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, this book is required reading about the first post-Cold War effort to modernize NATO for a new era.

Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN)

A masterful contribution to the understanding of the birth and growth of the post-Cold War international order. Essential reading for those who want to get an insider's view of the process of NATO enlargement as seen from the West and Central European perspectives.

Bronislaw Geremek, former Polish Foreign Minister

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