The research aim of this study is to answer the following question: What kind of security strategies did the United States conduct toward Europe during the period 1981 through 1997 ( and why? In order to answer this question, three auxiliary questions are asked. Firstly, what was the U.S. strategy during the second Cold War of the 1980s? Secondly, how and why did the U.S. strategy correspond to the European Union's fledgling attempts to build up independent, security and defense structures after the end of the Cold War? And thirdly, how should the 1997 decision, taken under U.S. leadership, to invite three, former, Soviet satellite states[MA1] into NATO membership be assessed?
In order to answer these questions, two different analytical frameworks are developed. The first is based on realism and geopolitics, the second on liberalism and social constructivism. These theoretical perspectives are used as instruments for the analysis of the official U.S. security strategy, defined in terms of threat perceptions, goals, and means.
The qualitative analysis and the quantification of the findings reveal that concepts related to both the realist-geopolitical and liberal-constructivist theoretical perspectives were equally frequent in the U.S. strategy. An additional analysis of declassified, governmental documents supports this interpretation as well.
The study concludes that realist-geopolitical factors were essential for the formation of threat perceptions. Furthermore, after the end of the Cold War, the goal of NATO's continued primacy - and thus the continuation of American influence in Europe - was consistently pursued. The highly salient means of military capabilities also underscores the importance of the realist-geopolitical dimension of the U.S. strategy. However, the persistency of two other concepts underlines the usefulness of the liberal-constructivist perspective: the promotion of democracy and the concept of the democratic peace.
Given the empirical findings, a new theoretical synthesis - constructivist realism - is applied. Based on the materially and militarily oriented realist-geopolitical perspective, it brings in selected immaterial and domestically oriented variables derived from the liberal-constructivist perspective, and specifies the relationships between them. Compared to conventional approaches, such a perspective amounts to a more persuasive framework for the analysis of international relations, since it considers both material and immaterial factors.
Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2001. , 300 p.
United States of America, realism, geopolitics, liberalism, constructivism, Cold War, balance of power, democratic peace, NATO, European Union.