Ron Asmus Gives Insider’s Account of How the Clinton Administration Shaped the Alliance for a New Era

November 21, 2002

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New York, November 15, 2002 - How and why did NATO, a Cold War military alliance created in 1949 to counter Stalin’s USSR, become the cornerstone of a new security order for post-Cold War Europe? Why did the U.S. not retreat from Europe after communism’s collapse, but instead launched the greatest expansion of the American commitment to the old continent in decades? Ron Asmus, one of the earliest architects of NATO enlargement and a former key advisor to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, draws on State Department classified archives to answer these and other questions in Opening NATO’s Door: How the Alliance Remade Itself for a New Era.

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For the Clinton administration, NATO enlargement became the centerpiece of a broader strategy to consolidate democracy in Europe’s eastern half and modernize Washington’s key alliances for an increasingly globalized world. Asmus documents how the administration sought to develop a rationale for a new NATO that would bind the U.S. and Europe together as closely in the post-Cold War era as they had been during the fight against communism. Opening NATO’s Door provides a definitive account of the ideas, politics, and diplomacy that went into the historic U.S. decision to expand NATO to Central and Eastern Europe as part of a broader strategy to overcome Europe’s Cold War divide and to modernize the Alliance for a new era.

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Asmus was one of the earliest intellectual advocates and architects of NATO enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe in the early 1990s. He subsequently joined the Clinton administration as a key advisor to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott responsible for European security issues. In that capacity, he played a central role in the negotiations that led to NATO’s decision to extend invitations to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act, and finally, the U.S. Senate’s ratification of enlargement.

 

“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.”
— VACLAV 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 relation 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

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"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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Ronald D. Asmus wrote this book as a Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow, and is now an adjunct senior fellow there, as well as a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund. He served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe from 1997-2000.

 

For more information or to read an excerpt from the book, click:
Opening NATO’s Door: How the Alliance Remade Itself for a New Era

 


Contact: Marie X. Strauss, Deputy Director of Communications, 212-434-9536

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