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Conditions for International Cooperative Decision Making The Case of an Enlarged NATO: New Roles for International Leadership Post the Cold War; NATO Office if Press and Information, NATO HQ, Brussels Belgium, 2000


Abstract and Figures

This study attempts to apply available knowledge about decision-making mechanisms, characteristics and management needs to top level national decision settings, i.e. the U.S. President, or international settings that may parallel those. We look at decision-making in six cases: the Bosnian crisis, NATO enlargement, the Gulf I Case, the 2+4 agreement, the Yugoslav Crisis, and Kosovo (as it was happening at the time of the writing). All the six cases combined make a useful set together. They had sufficient differences to account for interesting variance, but they shared many more similarities than one would normally expect given the very diverse types, characteristics, time frames and content of the six cases. The analytical framework used combines knowledge and methodological tools from a rich interdisciplinary domain. We find that major post Cold War international decisions are taken in concentric circles and stages tailored by status and relative power of the participants. We used an integrated comparative analysis of all the six cases, in part from a Alexander George Multiple Advocacy Framework combined with a Thompson and Tuden Organizational Structures, Strategies and Processes enhanced perspective. We identify different "status driven participation mechanisms" employed within the available institutional framework dealing with European security, inclusive of threats to stability set forth by our conclusions. We recommend organizational adaptation and/or policy solutions for minimizing negative effects of the participation and communications differential affecting the core of international decision making mechanisms. The effect is increasing optimality of decisions taken in cooperative international settings. Some are (1) macro level measures for maintaining the overall cooperative nature of internationally taken decisions, and (2) identifying new roles for international leadership within institutions and regimes in the post Cold War era.
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Conditions for International Cooperative Decision Making
The Case of an Enlarged NATO
- New Roles for International Leadership Post the Cold War -
Adrian S. Petrescu
- Final Report -
3E01 Posvar Hall #506
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh PA 15260
Fax: (++1 412) 648 2605
- Pittsburgh, June 2000 -
Introduction............................................................................................................................. 2
Chapter I: Analytical Framework: A Blend of Viewpoints....................................................... 3
Chapter II: International Decision-Making in Concentric Circles............................................. 5
Comparative Analysis of Major International Decision-Making Processes............................ 6
Integrated Analysis............................................................................................................ 6
The Gulf and Setting up the Stage................................................................................... 11
NATO Enlargement and Russia: A Case of “Damage Controlled Exclusion”.................. 14
Kosovo and Failed "Damage Control"............................................................................. 25
Status Driven Participation Mechanisms............................................................................. 27
Institutional Framework ..................................................................................................... 29
Chapter III: Conditions for International Cooperative Decision Making................................. 37
Theoretical Lessons Learned: A Pragmatic Blend of Paradigms ......................................... 37
Conditions for Cooperative Decision Making..................................................................... 37
Safeguarding Cooperative Nature of Decision .................................................................... 38
Facilitating Quasi-Complete Alternatives Building Process................................................ 38
A Role for Post Cold War International Leadership............................................................ 39
Conclusions........................................................................................................................... 40
References and Selected Bibliography................................................................................... 41
This study originates from my attempts to apply available knowledge about decision-making
mechanisms, characteristics and management needs as applied to top level national decision
settings, i.e. the U.S. President, to international settings that may parallel those. In this vein, I
wanted to look at the decision-making processes in the Bosnian crisis case and the NATO
enlargement case. Prior to these two cases I have applied the core analytical framework I
developed to other cases, in particular the Gulf Case, the 2+4 agreement, and somewhat to the
Yugoslav Crisis case. With the occurrence in the middle of this work of the Kosovo case, I felt it
simply needed inclusion too, since it is a watershed case I thought could augment many of the
characteristics about international decision making unveiled by the others.
I have thus proceeded with refining and deepening my previous findings about the three cases
I’ve worked on already (Gulf, 2+4 and Yugoslavia I) for their comparative inclusion in this study,
combined with starting new work on the Bosnian and NATO enlargement cases. With the
emergence of the Kosovo War, and the coming through and implementation of the “solution” to
that crisis, I decided to apply the same analytical perspective to this case (albeit data collection
had to be very different) and to integrate findings from all cases into one single analysis. The
more I looked into it, the more I thought that the whole of all the six cases combined makes a
useful set together. They had sufficient differences to account for interesting variance, but
interestingly enough they shared between them much more similarities than one would normally
expect given the very diverse types, characteristics, time frames and content of the six cases.
The analytical framework I have used combines knowledge and methodological tools from a rich
interdisciplinary domain. In the interest of brevity, this final report will only present findings
with some regard to the methodology leading to them, and recommendations, either for further
organizational or policy initiatives and adaptations or for further research, with brief explanations
for the need leading to them. The author intends to publish a more comprehensive version of this
work. During this move from intention to actual realization I encourage any interested reader to
contact me for further details about the findings or recommendations expressed herein.
Chapter One briefly introduces the analytical framework for looking at the cases I selected. The
chapter functions merely as a bibliographical essay pointing towards work of core importance in
various interconnected fields that one may need to use when performing an analysis of this kind.
Chapter Two starts by stating my proposed core conclusion, namely that major post Cold War
international decisions are taken in concentric circles and stages tailored by status and relative
power of the participants. I back it up with an integrated comparative analysis of all the six cases
and, going into further detail, but more for demonstrative purposes, with a more detailed analysis
of three of the cases, the Gulf, NATO Enlargement and some of Kosovo. The chapter ends with a
closer look at the status driven participation mechanisms employed within the available
institutional framework dealing with European security, inclusive of threats to stability set forth
by our conclusions.
In response, Chapter Three takes up the challenge of offering some recommendations, in the form
of organizational adaptation and/or policy solutions for minimizing the negative effects of the
participation and communications differential identified as affecting the core of international
decision making mechanisms. The offered recommendations are primarily meant at increasing
the likelihood of optimality of decisions taken in cooperative international settings. They range
from macro level measures for maintaining the overall cooperative nature of internationally taken
decisions, to the identifying of new roles for international leadership within institutions and
regimes in the post Cold War era.
In the conclusions, we briefly revisit the conduct and overall findings and policy
recommendations of the study.
Chapter I: Analytical Framework: A Blend of Viewpoints
In this study I draw from several different but interconnected (or at least interconnectable) fields,
or organized sources of knowledge, or even literatures, as well as from the practice of
international relations. Among these are International Relations Theory, Decision Making
Theory, (Comparative) Foreign Policy Decision Making, Alliance Theory, Bargaining Theory,
Theory of Organizations, Strategic Management in Organizations, Knowledge Production and
Utilization for and in Public Policy etc.
Describing all the core assumptions and/or main precepts of all these mentioned and other fields
is of course beyond the immediate practical scope of this work. Thus, I will focus here only on
interpreting the evidence in a way inclined towards this goal. My immediate scope is to identify
the overall lessons to be learned (or re-learned) from the combination of the six cases I look at in
the framework of Euro-Atlantic (and worldwide) available security institutions. I concentrate
therefore on using and/or adapting these theoretical backgrounds and especially combinations
thereof to this immediate practical end, which is finding conditions and recommendations for
improving decision mechanisms within the framework of European Security institutions.
Accordingly, I do not detail either of the theories or any of the cases more than I believe it is
necessary for the immediate purpose of enabling the reader to grasp my direct use of the
analytical tools I borrow from each theory on the available evidence contained in the cases1.
I have developed and applied in consecutive steps a comprehensive strategy for analysis. First, I
build the analytical tools. Second, with these tools available, I proceed with the analysis, while
constantly bearing in mind the caveats the analytical framework and tools point out to.
In building the analytical tools, there are three stages: building the framework for analysis,
applying it to the selection and integration of needed and relevant content focused available
theories, and thus build the methodological procedures to be applied in phase two to the cases at
First, before opening the Pandora Box made of content driven literatures (IR Theory, Decision
Theories, Alliance Politics etc.), I start with Charles E. Lindblom’s (1990) views on cognitive
impairment. The goal is, via Popper's (1959, 1970) falibilism, and Cook's and Campbell's (1979)
and others' quasi-experimentation driven methodology, to consciously eliminate threats to
validity that may arise from an analyst's or decision-maker's professional pre-determination
driven biases (the military will focus on a military explanation or solution more likely than the
politicians will, for example).
I continue with Lindblom and Cohen’s findings about knowledge production and utilization
(Lindblom and Cohen 1979), as further amended by Jerome Ravetz’s (1987) introduction of the
usable ignorance concept, and refinements by William N. Dunn (1992, 1993, 1997). I do this in
the context of the concept of type III errors in policy analysis and making, introduced by Howard
Raiffa (1968), and dealt with and refined by Mason and Mitroff (1981) and William N. Dunn’s
(1993, 1997) among others. The overall goal here is to make sure that the proper knowledge
pertinent to the broadest and most accurate possible definition of the problem stands a chance to
be searched for and produced without biases or limitations originating in various preconceptions
of the analysts or other non-cognitive sources of bias.
1 Unfortunately however, such a pragmatic and highly interdisciplinary and cross-paradigmatic approach does not come
without at least some problems. Indeed, some of the fields or sub-fields I choose to bring in at times may not be connected
often to others, and thus interested readers focusing on some fields may find the choice awkward, especially without my
sufficient detailing of the “odd-field(s)”. I think such may be the case for example with Knowledge Utilization literature
(Lindblom and Cohen 1979; Ravetz 1987; Dunn 1993, 1997) or with Strategic Management in Organizations literature
borrowed from the Business and Administration field (Mason and Mitroff 1981; Mintzberg 1983, 1989; Mintzberg and
Quinn 1993), or maybe with others. I believe the connections to be useful, albeit not perfectly transparent, and, while I may
not have managed to fully support such point herein, I may be doing so more extensively in other work I have in progress, so
I urge the reader to contact me about it if interested.
This can not be complete outside a framework built around a line drawn from Max Webber
(1960) through Graham Allison’s (1971) three models of decision, John Steinbrunner’s (1974)
cybernetic decision-making, all the way towards March and Olsen’s (1989) garbage can model
and again through Lindblom’s (1990) other work on disjointed incrementalism in organizations,
and further to Mintzberg’s (1983, 1989) organizational structures2. The goal here is to properly
relate to possible effects or biases that organizations may have on decision making, as well as to
how the proper design of organizational controls may improve decision-making mechanisms
leading to lower risks of decision errors and to higher probability of optimality. It can be argued
though that this latter framework borders and intersects more with content driven literatures, in
particular with decision theories.
This framework of inquiry enables us to open a wise eye when picking up our choice of
paradigms from available related content driven theories. An integrative approach across a wide
set of fields ranging from the rationalist-reflectivist (Wendt, 1992) and neorealist-neoliberal
(Waltz, 1959, 1979; Mearsheimer, 1990; Keohane, 1988, 1989; Keohane and Nye, 1977) debates
in International Relations (IR), through the agent-structure debate and level of analysis problem
in IR (Singer, Clarke and White, 1989), to factors affecting and styles of top-level executive
foreign policy decision making (George 1980, Neustadt 1964), alliance politics (Neustadt 1970,
Brenner 1998), international regimes (Krasner 1983), post cold war changes in the international
system etc. is necessary to properly analyze the content of our cases from the sufficiently broad
perspective I need in this study.
Once this analytical framework built, I proceed with Popper’s (1959, 1970) advice in mind to
design the methodology which I center on quasi-experimentation (Cook and Campbell’s 1979).
The result is an methodological framework based of course on case studies methodology
(George, 1980), but that has built into it methods borrowed from strategic management (or rather
alternatives thereof -- Mintzberg 1983, 1989; Mason and Mitroff 1981) intended to facilitate the
conscious search for and production of rival hypotheses (Popper 1959, 1970, 1972, but also
Hawkesworth 1992), and thus prone to producing and fuurther falsifying rival theories.
Only with all these tools in hand should we then, in phase two open the Pandora box of content
(Dunn 1993, 1997). Once the box is open, we need not close it before we have allowed validity
to get out too, along with all the threats to it that, in being much stronger, always run out first, just
as the proverbial disasters did, leaving poor and weak hope behind in the box. The tools
mentioned above that we have chosen and/or built for the immediate purpose of safely opening
the box should help us in achieving just that, allowing validity to come out intact.
Having said this, upon proceeding with the opening of the box of content, I find that the tools
help us understand why we often may misjudge what we see around us, i.e. empirical evidence,
just as they also help us avoid being overly critical of pre-existing theoretical frames of reference.
In this vein, I argue in this study in favor of the need to navigate in-between and across sub-fields
and/or paradigms within them in order to avoid the threats posed by cognitive impairment. I
further support an open dialogue (between disciplines, fields and paradigms within these) based
approach to analyzing our data, with a focus on the data, not on matching it to the available
theories. It is for this reason that I will not start with setting forth the underlying theories I will
use. Rather, I will step straight into evidence interpretation driven findings, briefly mentioning
agreement with or contradiction of theoretical paradigms as they arise in the analysis. Likewise,
I must stress out that I do not set sail with a preferred paradigm or set of paradigms across
different theories from different contributing interrelated disciplines. Nor is it my intention to
rank such theoretical paradigms against one another along the way, but only to use available
knowledge as I see fit in interpreting our existing data towards my immediate scope – improving
international decision-making mechanisms.
2 The list herein is by no means exhaustive and does not even pretend to be at least comprehensive. It is intended solely with
a recapitulative scope for the building of a broad framework of inquiry in the tradition in pronesis (Hawkesworth, 1992)
Chapter II: International Decision-Making in Concentric Circles
The analysis I performed on the six cases I have looked at (the Gulf Crisis and War, the 2+4
agreements, the Yugoslav Crisis, the Bosnian Crisis, NATO enlargement and the Kosovo Crisis)
leads me to conclude that they are all far apart from each other for various reasons. These start
with identity, strengths, degrees of rationality, and interests of the actors involved. They continue
with the height of perceived and real stakes for each and all of the actors, all the way to existing
precedents, or institutional framework(s) available or not at the time or even developed due to
each case.
Nonetheless, against this broad set of differences, I have found that the six cases also share for
certain a breadth of common characteristics, some of them unexpected. I have concentrated on
these, thinking that it is the similarities, if justified, to help me build knowledge about the
functioning of post Cold War (assumed cooperative in nature, until the assumption is better
detailed) international decision making mechanisms. I have thus focused on differences between
the cases only when deemed necessary by eventual differences in outcomes of the decision-
making processes that could be justified by these differences.
I believe the evidence stays proof to conclude that post Cold War taken decisions and the
frameworks/mechanisms used to reach them were similar in following these general guidelines:
Decisions are made among the limited circle of the more powerful leaders. Later on they are
disseminated to the concentric circles of the less powerful onlookers, whether they are called
allies, special or more common, partners or simply guests.
Once the basic, or core, decisions are achieved in an informal bilateral based network of
powers (its membership may vary, albeit not much, by relevance in the specific case), they
are packaged for general consumption through a formal institutional framework (which can
also vary by case).
Next, one or several participatory decision "iterations" may be organized as necessary within
the institutional framework(s) at hand. There are multiple goals to this stage, some political,
some operational and some mixed, notwithstanding the image preservation or enhancement of
the given institution.
Oppositions, if existent, are dealt with in a broad range of ways, from being solely
acknowledged and not acted upon to being partially or even fully acted upon, through various
available channels fitted for the task, whether institutional or bilateral/private as the case may
require. If persistent, oppositions are most often met with concessions, negotiated as needed.
Even though it may not look this way, in the long run this core decision -
packaging/promoting - consultations/concessions process has a positive effect. After all, the
process strengthens the very institutional framework that helps solidify cooperation with the
lower power actors, or in other words it facilitates a better, more effective and farther-
reaching game of “rallying around the leader(s)”. This offers to the international leadership
its much-needed mechanisms for solving the contradictory demands of effective, but highly
particiaptory, decision making in crisis situations, and their so much desired positive
normative image.
In turn, and in a way self-supporting, a stronger institutional framework allows tighter
integration and timelier decisions in crisis situation. This is simply due to an increased
number of precedents to relate to, or by the realization of the need for and the facilitation of
the conscious building of contingency planning mechanisms in place.
The interpretation of all the six cases considered and of the comparative analysis across them
supports these conclusions.
Comparative Analysis of Major International Decision-Making Processes
For a start, one certainly common characteristic all the cases share is the top level of decision-
makers, and the very high stakes involved in each, even though the decisions have been taken in
somewhat distinct organizational settings, but all since the End of the Cold War nevertheless.
This core similarity fuels my first point, as well as the second, leading to the conclusion that
major post Cold War decisions are taken in concentric circles of power, with power status driven
inclusion or exclusion. The most inner circle may very well be made solely of one actor, the
United States, albeit this is rare (it did happen with Kosovo nonetheless, although not fully by the
US's intention, and the gaffe was quickly corrected3).
At operational level, both participation and considerations to opposing positions originating from
less powerful participants in the decisions are often higher than in the case of the major core
political decisions. The reasons behind it are connected more with need than with inclination.
Briefly, there are issues having to deal with sovereignty that simply can not be overlooked,
whether participants belong to an alliance or not, among which are control over one's military or
right of passage over one's territory or air space4. Besides, this is not necessarily done easy and it
certainly doesn't come at little or no cost. On the contrary, it may actually lead to a surge in costs
for the leading participating parties. As it seems, pushing politically against a country's
opposition can be done but the costs in lost power by the leader(s) may often not be worth it5.
Another broad similarity is the crisis management nature (as opposed to the more mundane
contingency planning type of decision) they all share, with the clear exception of the NATO
enlargement case. The 2+4 case makes a not so sharp exception, especially since its timeline
would certainly suggest it has been perceived as a crisis management type of decision, because of
its “it is now or never” type of resolution.
Going further and deeper, beyond simply broad descriptive similarities, upon analyzing the cases
in more detail I tend to conclude that irrespective of the noted differences between them, the six
cases studied have many more/important similarities than they have differences.
Integrated Analysis
For an illustration of the analytical tools at work in our analysis, and some of the means I have
employed for reaching my conclusions, a partial cut into a comprehensive case study analysis is
presented in Table 1. I have subdivided the cases for analytical purposes, due to the major
differences in decision-making processes that different stages of the respective cases entail.
3 As pointed out later in this report, the U.S. hasty and quick achievements oriented intervention in the otherwise European
lead talks with Milosevic resulted in a threat to the latter has set the U.S. out by itself in the trap of having to deliver on the
threat. Thus, the U.S. has practically set itself up to go to war with Milosevic's Serbia, only dragging the allies along with it.
4 In the Kosovo case, the Austrian denial of air passage in the War stage of the case accounted to exactly this, explanation
through the sovereign right of a country, neutral in this case. The U.S. and the Allies had no way to change Austria's
decision, and thus they only inquired about it once, without any further insistence, while having to adapt the operational
plans accordingly, leading to a large detour.
5 This may seem paradoxical, but it is not. A superpower can not publicly advertise its weaknesses by showing a solid
dependence on the position of one Ally or Partner or the other. Thus, with the Kosovo War, the Allies' and U.S. image of
ability to cope with the situation with or without flying over the Austrian skies had to prevail, and the higher costs and risks
had to be assumed.
Table 1: Characteristics of Post Cold War Major International Decision-Making processes
Case/Criteria Gulf (act/stop) 2+4 Yugoslavia I Bosnia/I(S)FOR NATO
Enlargement Kosovo/KFOR
Type of decision CM CM (CP) CM CM/(CP) CP CM/(CP)
Level decision is
taken at Top Top Top Top/Operational Top Top/Operational
Primary actors
taking decision Small select
UN SC extended
Small select
group: 2+4
History driven
Small select
group: European
Actors; Germany
SU by acting
wisely and not
taking sides
Small select
group: European
Actors initially;
US for Dayton
and Paris Treaty/
US centered
NATO Allies Plus
for I(S)FOR;
Russia important
in IFOR stage
US alone (divided
No regard for
European NATO
Allies Plus;
Minimal regard
for fully opposing
Primarily US (divided
Little regard for others
(facilitators of talks --
Britain, Italy, Germany,
France -- or condemning
parties -- Russia, China,
Higher but incoherent
consultations on ground
troops decision;
Larger group on KFOR
Degree of
convergence of
national interest
(primary decision
High High Low,
later (post Croatia
recognized by
Germany and
problem re-
definition) High
Low in EU stage;
Irrelevant in
Dayton (albeit
High in I(S)FOR
Low, later
"following the
leader" interests
Medium/Low, primarily US
Higher in KFOR stage
Actors consulted
after core
decision(s) taken
Large group:
world (Warren
None significant,
maybe somewhat
Poland and other
German neighbors
later (bilateral
Large group:
neighbors in the
region, world
(needed for UN
Large group:
neighbors in the
region, NATO
Allies Plus, world
Large group:
(Allies plus
Large group: NATO Allies
Declaratory for Russia;
Iterations.(Greece, Italy,
Germany, Austria, Hungary
on its population in Serbia);
World for KFOR (UN
6 Full details of the Russian and other actor positions with respect to NATO enlargement are included further in this chapter.
Case/Criteria Gulf (act/stop) 2+4 Yugoslavia I Bosnia/I(S)FOR NATO
Enlargement Kosovo/KFOR
Lower Power
Actors' expression
of opinions
opposing to
mainstream or
hegemon’s views
Present (France,
SU, Arab
Some impact (e.g.
UN based solution
was SU position
Present but
Neglected at time,
promised to be
and solved later
(bilateral treaties)
Present, essential
(negative) in EU
stage for medium
(Montenegro buy
out etc.);
Low power
Present, important
in operational
Present, European
Allies (partic.
France) expressed
different views;
Neglected (only
American lead
low comprising
possible), even
trade-offs refused
(France back to
mil. struct.)
Present (Greece, Italy,
Germany, Hungary, Austria,
Czech Rep. Macedonia
etc.): some considered
(operational), most
Russia opted out from all
NATO based participatory
mechanisms, kept its
bilateral links
given to
by lower power
Considered, by
Power Status:
SU's position
France's not, but
not punished
Small countries
don't count
(Romania and
reparations fully
Not significant, by
postponement Concerns not
considered (not
even years later --
e.g. Romanian
losses due to
Concerns met in
operational stage
(IFOR) for
medium power
part. (e.g. Russia)
Considered in
stages, and
generally (within
Russian semi-
agreement bought
Founding Act)
Some (oper.) concerns met
(Austria), most neglected
(Greece, Italy, Germany
pleas for pausing bombing)
or window dressed or
compromised (Russia);
Solid decline of NATO
Degree of
collegiality among
Medium/High High Low (Germany
singles itself out) Medium/Low Low Low; forced high for new
members (Poland, less so
Hungary, even lesser Czech
Case/Criteria Gulf (act/stop) 2+4 Yugoslavia I Bosnia/I(S)FOR NATO
Enlargement Kosovo/KFOR
a UN mandate
Yes, at SU
view (historical
turning point)
Yes --
obtained, albeit
not fully needed
Yes, in several
stages, from
embargo to
recognition and/or
Yes Not applicable No, for War (justified with
urgency) -- scary precedent;
Yes, for KFOR
Immature system,
just born --
decision sets
precedents; high
Immature system,
just born Immature,
thus systemic
driven failure --
implies signal for
need for systemic
More mature than
earlier, yet early
lessons not
learned, not even
partially -- final
signal for EU's
lack of abilities/
Relatively mature,
decades old;
Immature for new
conditions -- thus
in chaotic search
for solutions
PfP, ESA etc.);
Some persistent
Should have been relatively
mature, with two plus
similar cases in history.
Still much too immature --
still teething mistakes (self-
trapping threats, no regard
for learned actor's
characteristics, no UN
mandate etc.)
Success of planned
solution by design
or chance as
underlying factor
More by design Design In-success
(problem survives
and transfers
In-success at first;
Chance (Dayton),
later forecast is
by design
Partially in-
success (stability
not fully served);
More by design
for successful part
Later forecast is by design
Degree of
optimality Medium/High
Low in decision to
stop and how
High Low Low in EU stage;
Medium (Dayton)
Higher I/SFOR
Medium Low
Stages in the
decision and
policy making
process affected
(or not) by
optimality (agenda
setting through
and evaluation)
Most stages,
positively affected All, positively
affected Most, negatively
affected Most, different
impacts All, impact
varies broadly
(e.g. high positive
PfP etc., high
negative in final
unilateral US
decision --
optimality absent)
All, negatively affected
Case/Criteria Gulf (act/stop) 2+4 Yugoslavia I Bosnia/I(S)FOR NATO
Enlargement Kosovo/KFOR
Presence of group
think Not bothersome Not bothersome Yes, rallying
behind Germany
(rec. Croatia)
instead of
denouncing its
Yes No, initially;
Yes, in final
decision, by most
exceptions rare
(e.g. France)
Yes, solid, reasons and
manifestation vary with
power status
Presence or degree
of multiple
advocacy (or other
similar devices)
Yes, could be
inferred Yes, somewhat No No, US facilitated
(Dayton) finalized
by chance;
Yes, somewhat
with I/SFOR
(primarily Russia
as alternative
promoter --
Yes, at various
levels (US
domestic and
within NATO
Plus), albeit not
fully taken
advantage of
Not sufficiently
used/allowed with War;
Relatively higher with
Set of alternatives
complete? Close Yes No? No, and late Possibly, but not
treated evenly Definitely no, rush, self-
Scientific rigor
(use analyt. advise) Low Medium Low Low Low Lowest
Legend: CM – crisis management; CP – contingency planning;; (…) – also/somewhat …
As the table shows, there are many similarities between the cases across several criteria.
Moreover, there seem to be certain relationships, whether stronger or mildly strong, between
criteria. All in all, the analysis supports our conclusions about the functioning of decision making
mechanisms presented above.
One remark across the cases is the order. The evolution in time of the institutional framework
available for international decision making, albeit used mostly in secondary decisions, evolves
with support from the lessons learned in each case. The necessary speed of adaptation and degree
of usage of lessons learned from one case to a future one may not always be fully adequate, but
nonetheless there is strong institutional adaptation and learning present. This is easily supported
by the fact that NATO has moved into out-of-area missions as part of its strategic role, and into
implementation of UN or CSCE/OSCE mandates, following the Gulf and Yugoslav precedents.
Further, the EU has finally learned that US leadership was necessary to making things effective
(if not optimal as well). European Allies have also learned that US leadership comes at a cost,
that of less decision powers for themselves. New members of the Alliance have quickly learned
that membership comes with a similar cost, much more responsibility in taking for granted and
not being able to contest too strongly decisions taken over their heads. Also, the EU has learned
out of its repeated in-successes that something needed done and has finally moved on at Helsinki
in December of 1999, advancing a long overdue European Security and Defense Policy. But I
will deal in more detail with these components of institutional adaptation in Chapter III.
For now, for methodological exemplification I include in this report a few cases as analyzed in
greater detail. In particular, a brief sketch of the watershed Gulf case opening up the possibility
for broad worldwide consensus, the cases on the NATO enlargement decision and selected parts
of the decision about the Kosovo War are included. I do not detail the other cases included in the
integrative table above beyond the presentation of overall findings done in the comparison and
contrasting of all the analyzed cases.
The Gulf and Setting up the Stage
I assume the reader knows of course the Gulf case in detail. I only offer here a possible
alternative interpretation of those same facts likely to be an eye opener to the reader as to how the
cases can be interpreted from an alternative perspective. With this introductory caveat I jump
straight into the case.
My main question is whether or not George Bush and/or the US administration could have taken
unilaterally a decision in the Gulf Crisis whose unilateral US implementation would have yielded
similar outcomes with the ones that are now real history and were backed up by the international
The answer I am forced to give is “probably not”. In giving this answer I do not question at all
the US’s ability to having taken alone such decision without having built in advance and/or along
the way a certain level of international support around it. Nor do I question the US’s capability to
carry out alone in the military field the implementation phase7 of such unilateral decision. What I
do question however is in fact the definition of outcomes one employs.
Were I to define the outcome of the Gulf Crisis simply in terms of managing to force Saddam
Hussein out of Kuwait, the answer to the above question could very easily be in fact positive.
Indeed, the US could have taken unilaterally, independent of any international community’s
support, the same or any other decision and it could have implemented it very successfully all by
itself. The outcome of such intervention, limited in its definition to the putting of an end to
Kuwait’s invasion, could have been the same, regardless of the huge costs the US would have had
to bear alone.
7 In fact, interviews this author has carried with NATO IMS staff stand proof that there are perceptions or even real instances
whereby an inter-Allied operation is seen by the military comparatively less effective than a one nation only operation
exactly due to its inter-Allied nature. Further, this perception remains the same way irrespective of the differing degrees of
achieved interoperability between the militaries of different participating members/partners.
But the real overall outcome of the set of decisions taken within the Gulf Crisis context
transcends much beyond this restricted view. I strongly believe that the Gulf Crisis managed
indeed, although not easily and not yet fully, to facilitate the building up of an international
cooperative decision-making process. There have been many flaws of such a cooperative
process, possible counter-arguments to my very idea, all of which I have simply hidden under the
sentence “although not easily”. Nevertheless, the cooperative component of the Gulf decision-
making endeavor can not simply be discarded all together because of these imperfections. After
all, it has been widely argued, whether in the policy arena and in academic analyses, that it has
been for the first time in our modern history that such international co-operation has been
achieved. Therefore, I have given it credit as a good start that, like any other beginning, was not
and did not prove easy at all.
I take the stance that what could be seen as imperfections of the cooperative decision making
process(es), things such as the French exceptionalism and their secret peace proposals, or
Evghenyi Primakov’s diplomatic tour in an attempt to provide a face-saver to Saddam but also a
more acceptable route for Soviet hard liners, could also be looked at from a different perspective.
A point to start in looking at the Gulf case, as well as for the overall analysis herewith is my
belief that too much attention has been given to the divergence of national interests in the Gulf
Crisis case, as it also happens often with many cases of international decisions. Therefore, the
convergence of these national interests towards a mutually agreed upon broader international
interest has gathered too few adepts and thus too few attention. Instead, too many have seen
Warren Cristopher’s “wandering diplomacy” as successful solely as a window dressing endeavor
and not truly successful as a coalition building exercise. In other words, critics argue that the
coalition Bush and Cristopher have managed to build existed in many respects only at a
declaratory level. Meanwhile, the argument follows, the international community was not
genuinely supporting the US initiative to intervene, and some of its members were even trying to
get their own sweet deals. It is exactly these views that I challenge.
In policy terms it has been argued repeatedly throughout the entire decision making process
linked to the Gulf Conflict that it was in the common, mutual, interest of the whole international
community to take action against aggression for the benefit of a real establishment of the rule of
law in Bush’s “New World Order”. Understandably this has been considered very much an
“idealist” normative cover for expressing more real-politik interests of the various national policy
actors implicated. Going beyond thecover” use of the normative approach, maybe it might be
of some explanatory value to take the discourse referring to the safeguarding of international
norms for real, at least partially. Thus, I propose we have a look at the Gulf decision-making
process from a perspective involving shared interests transcending singular state actors and their
I have two arguments for the need to do so. The first one comes from thinking that the
preservation of international norms must have had a value in itself and thus has not been used
solely as a discourse “cover” for real-politik interests. The second argument comes from my
preferred answer to a question I find important: “whether or not the selected policy alternative
and thus the outcome would have been different (better) if multiple advocacy8 and/or other
similar devices were employed in the process”.
The second argument involves an analysis of both a possible generalization of George’s (1972)
decision making related policy prescriptions, as well as of the suitability of the commonly chosen
sub-systemic level of analysis in dealing with the issue, let us proceed more in depth into these
It is my aim here to prove that such decision making helper mechanisms as multiple advocacy
have been in fact been employed, albeit possibly unconsciously, in assessing the policy
alternatives in the Gulf Crisis. In this attempt however, I do change slightly the applicability of
George’s original concept. In this endeavor, it is however paramount to assume the objectivity of
8 As defined briefly on p. 751 in George, Alexander, The Case for Multiple Advocacy in Making Foreign Policy, in The
American Political Science Review, September 1972, Vol. LXVI, No. 3, pp. 751-96.
the US’s acceptance (and not subjectivity of decision taken due to limited existing alternatives) of
working through the UN. There is of course reason for such an assumption: if this wasn't the
case, the US could have gone beyond the agreed upon UN mandate for operation “Desert Storm”.
It had the capability and it might have had the long run individual interest to do so. Since it
didnt do it I might infer that the US has objectively accepted the overall international interest as
more important than its own. Moreover, the US has continuously seen itself as the promoter and
defender primarily of this broader international interest, and not only of its own interests.9
Having said this, I pursue a double tiered analysis, of a possible generalization of George’s
multiple advocacy and other similar devices, and of the suitability of employing a sub-systemic
level of analysis tool, analytical and managerial too, when dealing with the Gulf Crisis decision
making process.
In George’s analysis on the benefits of multiple advocacy, an implicit assumption is made with
respect to a sub-systemic level of analysis and furthermore with respect to the boundaries of the
analyzed decision making sub-system. Indeed, his analyzed sub-system is the White House,
defined by its representation of US interests, as well as its use of US means to pursue these
interests. Implicitly, factors affecting George’s decision making processes from outside the US
are external to his sub-system, coming from above, respectively from the systemic level. While
such a view serves well George’s purpose, it does not necessarily serve well ours.
I believe we shall first be re-ranking George’s variables affecting foreign policy decision-making
processes according to the criteria of “whose decision is it?” In George’s model, national
decision-makers (heads of state or governments if we take one step of generalization beyond
simply the White House) have a national interest to defend or promote. This national interest is
seen pretty much as an independent variable, and it is in terms of this variable that alternatives are
ranked and thus chosen from. Aside from the national interest, other factors are seen as mere
limitations to the “free, informed and rational choice” of alternatives, not necessarily as
independent variables, but rather as intervening ones. Thus, such things as preferences by
domestic constituencies or systemic characteristics are indeed contributing but still less important
in the decision making process than national interest. George’s ranking of these variables is
uneven. Again, such ranking serves his purpose, since the sub-system he analyzes is the White
House, or might be the Kremlin, the Elysee or Downing Street 10.
I do here a different generalization than this one. I look at how are things viewed from the
Rockefeller Center, that is if our main independent variable becomes the mutually accepted
international interest, say safeguarding international norms, transcending as such divergences
among separate national interests and focusing on their convergence points.
Clarke and White (1989) among others, contradicting findings by Singer10 and others, have
argued in favor of a pragmatic approach to the choosing of one’s level of analysis according to
the needs of the particular problem to be solved. They also propose shifting levels as needed
between the systemic and the domestic, bearing in mind the advantages and disadvantages of
each. With this in mind, may I point out that the problem here is not at all similar with George’s.
I try to explain a co-operative decision taken at international level. George's explanations and
recommendations can be easily used for (1) a White House only decision that once taken
unilaterally has been sold to other participating lower-ranked actors. Similarly, they can be used
for analyzing (2) a set of independent White House/Kremlin/Elysee/Downing Street etc.
decisions that are not sufficiently influenced by the preferences in the other contributing capitals.
Explaining the interplay between these decisions needs to be done in a consequent stage and
using separate analytical tools, such as bargaining theory.
9 As table 1 has shown, a similar argument can not be made about the Kosovo War. Considering this, the degree of usage of
such alternatives building/facilitating devices (or strategic assumptions surfacing techniques -- SAST -- as they are known in
business management literature -- Mason and Mitroff 1981) varies indeed significantly between the Gulf case and the
Kosovo case. In starting the Kosovo war almost alone and without a UN mandate, the US had face-saving out of its self-set
trap as its primary objective, irrespective of all the other more moral and even more objective ones.
10 Singer, J. David, “The Level of Analysis Problem in International Relations”
Due to these differences in scope, I feel that we need to give more strength to the role of factors
seen as only intervening variables in George’s model. This is in fact implied by the need to look
at the international interest as at our main independent variable. Hence, since this mutually
accepted interest is a result of the convergence of national interests, these latter maintain their
rank as independent variables, but essentially only their convergent components really count.
Having changed the level of analysis though, we have in fact re-ranked George’s variables, since
France’s interest for example is in this new type of analysis on equal footage with the US’s, and
not just an intervening variable for the White House decision maker.
Accordingly, in the setting herewith, unlike in the commonly George multiple advocacy
applicable cases, it is the decision of a number of co-operating players making the international
community. Each of these players might be considered in a Putnam type of view as negotiators at
two tables, domestic and international, but there are arguments both in favor and against such an
explanation. I do not see them as competing players at any table at all though. Of course all
heads of state or government have had domestic limitations but what we ought to be focusing on
is their participation in the international co-operative decision making process.
Hence, when the decision participants' views are divergent they might be looked at as
manifestations of multiple advocacy mechanisms in an international co-operative decision
making setting. It may be argued though that the managerial component viewed by George as a
precondition for the existence of multiple advocacy is absent in such a possible generalization of
George’s model. One could counter-argue this with the fact that this is in reality one of the roles
President Bush has undertaken in solving the crisis, managing advocates of variances in policy
alternatives to be pursued. It can be further argued that the necessary openness of the
presentations of such alternatives was either not present at all or not as honest as it should have
been for our generalized case to qualify under George-ian terms. Such an argument can also be
discarded, although less easily, by means used in-existing precedent argument. In fact, we do not
think that George himself would deny the existence of a learning curve in his sub-systemic view
of the decision-making world. Moreover, the more complicated the environment, the more
difficult to manage a multiple advocacy exercise in it.
To conclude, if we accept the mutually accepted international interest as a main variable in
determining a decision making process, I also ought to consider shifting levels of analysis in
order to better analyze the decisions taken under such cooperative conditions. Further, I ought to
look for the conditions and criteria under which national (sub-systemic) classic decision making
theories apply under these new circumstances to the international settings involving cooperative
decision making settings, just as this current study does.
NATO Enlargement and Russia: A Case of “Damage Controlled Exclusion”
The end of the Cold War has been made possible by a significant change in US - Soviet relations
during Mikhail Gorbachev's leadership in Moscow and Reagan's and Bush's administrations in
Washington D.C. The factors inducing it aside, for the US the Cold War's end has been almost an
unintended consequence of simply responding to external pressures and managing day by day
relations with the Soviets under Bush. I can hardly think of it as the result of a strategically
planned "grand design" or visionary pursuit on behalf of the US administration.
In the same fashion, maybe as a response to pressure coming from Central and East European
states, the United States has little by little started to perceive it as in its interest to enlarge NATO.
Such enlargement is yet only one component out of a larger set of adaptations to the Atlantic
Alliance, meant first to justify the maintenance of the Alliance, and second to enhance security of
Europe as a whole, Russia and some if not all CIS states included. After the Soviet Union's
dismantling, Russia and some of its followers in the CIS have not seen NATO's expansion11 with
good eyes and thus they have constantly acted against it, through various means.
11 I use here the term "NATO expansion", as the context demands it. However, I prefer NATO's official term "NATO
enlargement" instead, with a reason: unlike some actors in the process, in particular the Russians, I do not necessarily see the
enlargement process as an expansion. An expansion more or less implies a contest and it is definitely not the case, since new
members actually demand to join, nobody is imposing their membership in NATO on them. Moreover, it has been made
I look at the successive stages of development of the (post Cold War) US - Russian relations,
from a perspective related to the process of NATO enlargement and adaptation. From trying to
obtain NATO's dismantling, to getting itself used with the Alliance while trying to stop or limit
enlargement, Russia has incrementally changed its position on NATO enlargement to finally try
to gain some benefits out of letting the process continue. In its turn, the US too has adapted its
policies in small steps towards buying Russia's acceptance of the process, but just making sure
that the price is not too high.
Accordingly, I make the argument that both sides have consciously little by little moved towards
the same direction, i.e. granting Russia some benefits in exchange for them letting go of NATO
enlargement. The enlargement process is not over though, and other Allied policies need some
degree or other of Russian approval too, post-facto or not. Russia is therefore likely to continue
to play this same game, trying to get more benefits out of letting Allied policies pass by albeit not
without voicing and fighting for their concerns, at least until some more concessions are made by
the West. The US and its Allies in their turn do not seem to have other viable solution but to play
With the end of the Cold War ease within US - Soviet relations, as well as with the inherent ease
in Moscow's tutelage over its former WTO satellites, Central and East European countries
(C&EEC) have started to feel three things. First, a security vacuum was developing in their
region. Second, they finally had more (or at last some) freedom of choice in establishing their
own foreign policies and security arrangements, and especially (3) a desire to do everything
possible to further avoid even the slightest probability of their Cold War history repeating itself,
i.e. falling again under a Moscow sphere of influence.
As a consequence, as early as in 1990 (with the WTO or COMECOM not dismantled yet but
soon to be), individual or groups of Central and Eastern European countries (C&EEC) have
expressed formally their interest in closer relations with and participation in the work of Western
institutions. Such requests would culminate with demands for full membership in such bodies as
NATO, the European Union (EU) or the Western European Union (WEU). Initially, the West
has been reluctant to consider the proposal and has tried to find alternative solutions to Easterners
membership in Western "Clubs".
Arguably the US has been the most reluctant member of such Western bodies (in fact only of one,
NATO, but also of the one with the highest demand for opening itself to new members) to agree
to a significant change in membership policies of these organizations. Part of the explanation for
this reluctance could be domestic and part could have to do with not willing to either (1) push the
Soviet/Russian limits too far, and/or (2) commit themselves too much for too large an Europe.
Moreover, the US has not been at all clear about the degree and future of its commitment in
Europe all throughout the period between 1990 and the mid to late 1995.
Beginning with 1995, with Europe having clearly failed to assume sufficient and effective
responsibility in its security matters, and with C&EEC's pressure for full NATO membership
increasing, the US felt the need to make up its mind and address the issue once again and allowed
the issue of NATO enlargement back on the agenda. The US is however the one and only
remaining world power, and still (even though some would argue to the contrary) the
hegemon/leader maintaining the Alliance's credibility. Why would it therefore give in to
pressures coming from such insignificant developing countries such as the C&EECs? It would of
course only if it were in its own interest to do so. Let me thus have a look at what could make the
US consider it in its own national interest to pursue a policy of enlarging (while also adapting!)
Having decided that maintaining its strong commercial ties with Western Europe is clearly in its
interest, the US further perceives that protecting Europe's security means in fact protecting its
own investments there and thus its own interests, otherwise threatened by insecurity in the region.
clear that NATO does not expand at the expense of other nations' diminishing of their spheres of influence, even though not
all stakeholders in the process agree to this view. By all means however, one should consider the term enlargement more
This argument justifies the US's continued presence, commitment and manifested leadership in
Europe. But Eastern Europe is not Western Europe, so still, why enlarge NATO and not keep it
the way it is, save trouble with the opposing Russian position and save money by not bearing the
US's share of enlargement's costs?
There are two answers to this question. First, Yugoslavia and Bosnia and latter Kosovo have
proved that European security can be highly affected from outside its borders by ethnic rivalries,
nationalistic tendencies and so on. Second, the US desires a share for itself in the new
commercial and broader economic opportunities provided by the opening of markets in C&EEC.
Moreover, it can not afford itself to let Europeans gain a comparative advantage over the US by
having privileged access to these markets and/or cheaper labor. Offering East Europeans a
security umbrella is in fact equivalent with protecting the US's businesses in Western Europe and
Eastern Europe as well. Last but certainly not least, NATO enlargement gives the US a
privileged access to C&EECs' markets for military equipment, as well as in the longer run the
possibility of off-shoring some US production in this field too.
Manifesting leadership in Europe while also promoting NATO enlargement offers the US another
indirect advantage: West Europeans have their own interests in accessing and securing these
markets and thus in enlargement but applying it solely to a semi-dormant often contested
organization such as the WEU would not suffice. The US is thus ready and willing to offer the
necessary leadership and maintain NATO, and enlarge it, but wants in return the re-balancing of
the Trans-Atlantic burden sharing, a long desired goal so much postponed already. In other
words, NATO adaptation would mean, among other things, that Europeans would have to pay a
higher cost for their security than they currently do, the US reducing its costs in Europe,
including by further reducing their military presence12 and replacing it with increased political
At the same time, the US - Europe relationship has non-military components as well, linked in
particular to the 1995 initiated EU-US strategic economic partnership. A maintained politico-
military commitment in Europe would thus mean for the US having an extra bargaining chip at
the EU-US negotiating table.
The United States also shares goals that the Alliance has as a whole. Whether it is the other way
around or not is not important here. These objectives are to ensure an effective security in
Europe, to maintain low defense expenditures, to support C&EEC democracy building efforts and
free market economies, both being stability creating and thus minimizing security costs. Further,
an increased Eastern participation in European security affairs has proven itself to be stability
creating as well, a policy that would allow participation of Balkan countries, the Baltic States,
Russia and Ukraine being only beneficial, and in fact more so directly to Europeans than to the
US. Increased trade with the C&EECs for Europe as well may be seen as a cooperative Trans-
Atlantic venture too and not only as a competitive matter, but only if both sides are satisfied with
their respective share.
NATO's drive toward including Russia in a broad European security framework based on an
enlarged and adapted NATO is also justified by its desire to control the spread of nuclear
weapons and/or organized crime. Western allies too prefer political means for ensuring security
rather than military ones, thus maintaining their military costs down, and they too favor a positive
relationship with Russia, if only for geographical reasons.
As it turns out however, the US also has objectives that constitute constraints to pursuing the
policy of NATO enlargement. In particular, it does not want enlargement to affect its bilateral
relations with Russia, and especially strategic current and future arms control agreements.
Besides, Russia is a market in itself, maybe unstable and politically uncontrollable at the moment
but this situation will not last forever. Furthermore, pushing Russia to its limits may be
disastrous in the longer run, leading to a confrontation era again.
12 Of course such measures are backed up by force adaptations towards Rapid Reaction Forces deployable if needed from the
There are other constraints to the US pursuing a policy of enlarging NATO which have more to
deal with either US domestic politics or internal NATO inter-allies divergences of interests or
opinions. I will come back to those later, after we look deeper at Russia's goals, perceptions and
own constraints in pursuing their preferred policy. I need to analyze Russia's position now since
it often acts as a constraint to Allied and US's policy.
Russia wants to maintain an image of power, to gain or keep its voice in the game, maintaining
that no European (or worldwide) Security arrangements are possible either without or opposed to
Russia. The threats the latter position poses seen to be of major significance, since Russia has
declared often that it will take action against either NATO enlargement or PfP exercises too close
to its borders etc. Such action, if taken, could lead again to the re-establishment of a
confrontation era, the result of this decade of partnership and dialogue being the solely moving of
the Iron Curtain further Eastwards.
I need to address a caveat here, respectively what does one mean by the wording "Russia's
position is that…"? Indeed, the question is fit since Russia's c domestic political situation makes
one think of at least three different separate and often contradicting positions in the country.
Moreover, a compromise between these is not always easily achievable, quite on the contrary.
The three main factors have been the Presidency, the Parliament, populated with enough
extremist nationalist or former communist politicians, and of course, the military. Each of these
have sought their own interests, have manifested their own views and thus positions, and often
they have fought each other to promote one's own. While in the US too, President and Congress
or sometimes the Pentagon not always all agree on an issue, the maturity of the US political
system makes it possible to reach a compromise. This is not the case in Russia. Of course, what
weight could one give in international relations to a State Duma declaration banning PfP
exercises next to the Russian border? If at the time of declaration one considers Yeltsin's age and
health, the fact that the pool of candidates for the then upcoming elections was coming out of
members too, as well as the fact that the Russian Duma has at that time blocked the ratification of
the START II agreement for two years, the assigned weight to a Duma originating extremist
position suddenly increases significantly and needs to be taken into account.
In addition to the three major different players with often conflicting views, it is not rare either
that views may differ even within some of these organizational players13. For example, there are
different layers within the Russian military, each with different views, often fully opposed to one
another. While high ranking officers in Russian military command may view participation in PfP
operations, or joint training for interoperability for peacekeeping missions as a positive and
necessary thing, at the higher levels of top political actors in the military the views may be
different. For example, these top level military politicians may simply oppose anything having
the slightest connection with NATO. This is certainly no easy field for assessing the "Russian
position". This caveat aside, Russia (or is it the military?) also wants to maintain its interests in
the "near abroad", also by regaining if possible its lost image in CSI states and the Baltic States.
At the least, it wants to obtain guarantees for the protection of their minorities' rights in CSI and
the Baltic States. Russia desires and has wished for years for a significant Western support for its
collapsing economy, it wants significant and growing Foreign Direct Investment, which given the
instability in the country does not seem to come but only sporadically and by no means meeting
Russia's needs.
Obviously, following the path created by the brief history of post Cold War events presented
above, and the perceptions and expectations these have triggered in the Soviet Union and
inherited by Russia, it wants to participate in Western organizations with a special status, given
by its maintained great power position. This position has had different manifestations, among
which Russia's desire to have NATO dismantled altogether and to base the European Security
Architecture on an enhanced OSCE arrangement in which Russia would have a leading role,
along with (but sometimes not necessarily so) with the United States. Such approach could lead
as far as to legitimate Russian troops as peacekeepers under an OSCE mandate in Russia's "near
13 Interviews carried out by the author at NATO HQ, Brussels, July 1999
abroad". Another less extremist version, originating in its perception that Russia is in fact the
envisaged NATO's enemy against which it expands, has been to demand a special relationship
with the Alliance that would give Russia a veto right over any NATO decision that might concern
Russia. Both these versions are unacceptable solutions for either NATO or the US.
Such opposition by Russia to NATO enlargement, and its refusal to accept either (1) that the
Alliance does not identify Russia as an enemy but rather as a partner also responsible for
European security but within limits, or (2) that an adapted Alliance is in fact a collective effort for
defending member and non-member countries alike against a new type of challenges and threats
to security, cooperation with which would only benefit Russia itself, has clearly constituted a
major constraint in freely pursuing NATO's enlargement policy.
As I have mentioned, the US also faces domestic constraints of the kind specified above, arguing
in favor of America's revert to isolationism once the Cold War is over, based both on costs in
American lives and in a heavy financial burden on the US population that the US's global role
induces. If these isolationist positions are eventually over-passed, the next step is enlargement
costs, considered by US politicians often too high for the US to bear, with no understanding given
to the fact that maintaining peace by political means is always more cost effective in the long run
than having to face and pay for military intervention absent the cheaper political arrangements.
Moreover, while all have embraced the overall policy, Alliance members have not always agreed
on the details of pursuing enlargement and adaptation. Ranging from differences in number of
new members having been invited, and going through Frances demand for getting the Southern
Command in exchange for its return into the Allied Military Structure, and ending with
disagreements on the sharing of Alliance costs across the Atlantic, again not an easy to mitigate
conflict of interest.
The policy alternatives of the actors involved in the considered policy process, they are
synthesized in table 2, presented already in their respective ranked order. Comparing the entries
for US and NATO on the one hand and for Russia on the other shows easily that the main
problem US has faced when choosing a policy alternative has been the in-congruence between its
preferences and Russia's, that have lead to non-Pareto optimality of the outcome. Conscious of
the problem, the US has had essentially three options, one being to give in to Russia's demands in
stage one, and thus agree to dismantle NATO. Clearly not a viable alternative. The second
would have been to give in partially to Russia's demands in stage two, and not enlarge NATO,
thus giving away a significant part of the US's interests in the process. Again not a viable
alternative. Or of course, the third, to enlarge NATO at the expense of weakening it up to
destroying it by way of giving Russia veto powers on its decisions. With these alternatives, the
chosen one, the fourth, almost chose itself: incremental change and mutual compromises with the
Russians trying to convince them little by little to lower their demands to an acceptable solution
for both sides. This alternative has been implemented in has proven correct. After all, Russia
itself was self-conscious than often its demands were either not justified or backed up by real
capabilities. The compromise may after all be more Pareto optimal than it looks at first sight.
Table 2. Goals, perceptions and policy alternatives in decision-making process on NATO enlargement
Actor Goals Perceptions Available Alternatives
Actions (incl. immediate
collateral achievements)
Central and Eastern
European Countries -ensure effective security,
-ensure democratic reforms,
-make market economy
-boost FDI
-inertia in perceiving
Eastern threat,
-importance attached to
Western values,
-positive direct or collateral
impact of NATO and
Western institutions on
domestic democratic
institutions and economy,
-Alliance is very effective,
-worth paying the costs of
membership (financial and
-NATO membership, pay
costs (incl. buy Western
arms), get benefits, low
risks of security
-part. In EAPC/PfP, wait for
acceptance, improve
domestic conditions,
-participation in EAPC/PfP,
otherwise neutrality, pay
higher costs, get only some
benefits, higher risks of
-full neutrality (costly, no
guarantee it really works -
still high risks of security),
-Eastern tutelage, direct or
indirect, very high non-
financial costs, unacceptable
by population
-return to communism,
nationalism or other forms
of extremism, highest
financial and non-financial
costs, lowest security - 2nd
Cold War
Apply for membership
Sign bilateral treaties
Enforce democracy
Build up market economy
Avoid conflicts, internal or
Actor Goals Perceptions Available Alternatives
Actions (incl. immediate
collateral achievements)
NATO (overall) -ensure effective security
-maintain low defense
-support C&EEC
democracy, free market,
stability - minimizes
security costs, increases
trade and Western profits in
-increase Eastern
participation, including not
excluding Russia and
-control nuclear spread
-lowering Alliance costs
-political means for ensuring
-preserve relationship with
Russia - double signal to
them (you are important but
no veto rights + we mean
-democracies do not fight
each other
-Eastern participation
lessens threat
-moral duty to the East (?)
-stability in the East means
access to raw materials,
cheap qualified labor,
-new members should be
providers of security not
only free riders
-open door, careful to
Russia, promise 2nd wave
-postpone opening, while
offering more compromises
(not acceptable b C&EEC -
too much pressure)
-open door largely, risk of
getting Russia mad
-invite all incl. Russia,
dilution of NATO,
decreased effectiveness in
decision process,
-rename NATO, propose
joint leadership to Russia,
would sooner or later mean
veto rights, not acceptable
-dismantling NATO, would
make Russia happiest, but
not acceptable, would mean
return to anarchic realism
Several iterative
compromising steps
Establish membership
criteria according to NATO
Push back C&EEC to meet
goals - obtain stability and
market economies
Invite enough to make the
point, not too many to get
Russia mad
Special Partnership with
Russia, Ukraine
Commitment to other waves
Actor Goals Perceptions Available Alternatives
Actions (incl. immediate
collateral achievements)
US single -manifest leadership
-knee down opposing
European Allies
-keep bilateral agreements
with Russia + more to come
-privileged increased trade
in C&EEC, access and off-
shoring some production
-rebalance Transatlantic
burden sharing, minimize
own costs of European
-gradually decrease
commitment in Europe
while maintaining
leadership role
-bargaining chip for other
transatlantic issues
-Not push Russia more than
it can stand thus loosing on
other open fronts with them
(CFE II, possibly III,
START II ratification)
- Not give away to France's
position – show who is
leading NATO
-Europe important, but costs
have to be maintained down
while boosting benefits of
-Russia important, but still
has to know who is the
master (no veto)
-political leadership more
cost effective (military
commitment as backup)
-C&EEC important, could
get good benefits,
sometimes better than
Europeans can
-Southern command stays
-Europe should pay equal or
larger share
-singled out position,
impose it, reaffirm need for
burden sharing
-partial compromises to
obtain French full entry
back in NATO military
structure (not that important
- they will join anyway…)
-full compromise, loose
face, loose bargaining chips
for later (incl. on burden
-retreat from Europe,
viewed perfect in some
circles at home, but not
Supported Founding Act
with Russia (Helsinki
bilateral summit - "We
agreed to disagree")
Accepted to invite only
Actor Goals Perceptions Available Alternatives
Actions (incl. immediate
collateral achievements)
European Allies (France)
single Obtain special benefits
(more political power in
Europe & C&EEC, better
deal on Transatlantic
burden-sharing, Southern
command, shares of military
market, promote traditional
relations, etc.)
- Boosting European image
for France - bargaining chip
with EU colleagues on other
non-NATO European issues
such as the EMU, or WEU
Maintain however decent
US presence (lower own
costs for security while
maximizing benefits)
Chirac personally to boost
his domestic political image
in an uncertain environment
-in possession of bargaining
chips (proved false)
-interests in C&EE should
belong more to Europe,
share interests more
equitably by having a larger
area to divide (Romania's
special rel. with France,
France partially lost here to
the US too)
-Europe should have its
powers but the US should
still pay significant share
(its in their interest too)
-getting Russia mad is less
important for Europe than
for the US
-play the game and see what
happens, nothing to loose
-comply temporarily or
partially, postpone game
-comply totally, give up
Played game, tried to
impose majority's
constructed position
Did not give up, loosing
momentarily postponed
game, in waiting to have
more bargaining chips
Actor Goals Perceptions Available Alternatives
Actions (incl. immediate
collateral achievements)
President Clinton -President-Congress debate
(not loose on other issues, or
use too much power for one
single not that important a
fight, or even be the first
post FDR president to loose
the big executive/legislative
war for ever)
- A domestically agreeable
consensus deal (not push
Congress too far with 4-5)
- Domestic pressure for
industries to do it - it means
indirect US guarantees
extended on the business
environment there - but also
more immediate benefits,
boosting trade in arms;
industries have been
pushing longer for the first
three (their interest seem
more apparent there due to
these countries' quicker
economic progress)
-prepare Congress well
before take a decision - thus
postponement for three
years and successive
compromises (NACC/PfP)
proposed to NATO to offer
-Boris Yeltzin - strategic
-enlargement not that much
supported by Congress, will
have to act to build support
-knowledge on costs for US
inaccurate, need better study
-some of the 2 too "young",
others not that significant
(Slovenia's in-existent
-1996 election year, NATO
is risky business
Postpone while winning
home, compromising with
C&EEC, satisfy Russia with
it, manifest leadership,
harvest bargaining chips,
open NATO door and play
game when time is right,
commit for 2nd wave to have
argument back on the
domestic table when time
will come
Any other alternative is
loosing to a higher or lower
Postponed several times
Initiatives (NACC-
Played game with Europe -
won, gained extra power for
Plays game with Congress,
expects to win too - will
need it (Neustadt)
Face saving "mechanism" to
non-invited yet, to maintain
C&EEC trust in US
leadership, told them
Congress would not have
approved more - not
necessarily true
Actor Goals Perceptions Available Alternatives
Actions (incl. immediate
collateral achievements)
Russia -maintain image of power,
voice at the table etc. - no
European Security without
Russia or opposed Russia
-maintain interests in "near
-regain lost image in CSI
and Baltics
-obtain protection for their
minorities in CSI and
-get Western support for
their collapsing economy,
-participate in Western
organizations with a special
status, i.e. veto right (with
NATO and/or security
bodies especially)
-get help for their
increasing organized crime
-Yeltzin pressed by
extremist opinions
-NATO should not enlarge
at all
-NATO dismantled, another
pan-European security
organization created, under
Russian (co-)auspices (PfP?)
-NATO itself, the more so
NATO enlargement are a
threat to Russia,
-Russia can offer security
guarantees to its former
allies, be them CSI or not
-no foreign (NATO)
peacekeeping troops needed
in CSI (or Russia)
-Russia can provide
peacekeeping troops under
OSCE mandate in CSI and
-the West should help
Russia much more
-Elite is split, country out of
control due to or. Crime
Fight for the dismantling of
Fight for banning/vetoing
NATO enlargement
Fight for not letting the
Baltics join
Get a special relationship
with the West, if not veto
than as close as it can get,
other bargained benefits for
compromising on
enlargement (sell itself high)
Promote OSCE's more
power under Russian
authority, or another similar
new body
Fought the battle in
increments and lost
partially. NATO
enlargement ongoing. Will
keep fighting, bargaining for
Has and uses some
bargaining chips, such as
arms control agreements, or
their extremist groups.
Considering these findings, we uphold that indeed, at least with respect to the behavior towards
Russia, NATO enlargement was a case of "damage controlled exclusion".
The alternative chosen, to go ahead with NATO enlargement while gradually giving in to some
Russian demands when they have (been helped to) become acceptable, has solved the
disagreements temporarily. Russia has gotten a concession out of agreeing reluctantly with
enlargement, in the form of the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997. Having worked again once
more, the Russian strategy will repeat itself further be it with future waves of enlargements or in
other policies too, and the US will have to give in to Russian demands again in the same way in
which it has done it before. The West and the US in particular has managed once again to
implement its "damage controlled exclusionary" decision making mechanism. Unlike with much
less powerful participants, sometimes including members of the Alliance, in the case of Russia
this mechanism allows a certain degree of participation, through the very mutual concession
orientation of the system. In other words, Russia managed to have a word to say, in at least two
ways. First, Russia does not let NATO enlarge with more than three new members (presuming
the U.S. executive did not have a domestic problem with such strategy). Second, Russia has the
Alliance pay a price for such freedom of action in granted preferred participation (albeit watered
down from the initial Russian demands) for Russia in NATO's decision-making mechanisms.
Kosovo and Failed "Damage Control"
The case of Kosovo has been almost over-analyzed from various angles, whether these were
focusing on new types of humanitarian motivated war, the betrayed American isolationism, new
roles for NATO or less roles for the UN, or simply on finding effective solutions to ethnic
cleansing. We look at it from yet another different perspective, respectively the decision-making
mechanisms involved as it relates to our proposed tactics of Western/US of "damage controlled
Kosovo’s war dynamic history begins with EU’s and NATO’s reaction to the treatment given to
Albanians by the Serbs in this province. On January 20th 1999 NATO’s top ambassadors agreed
to send naval forces to Adriatic, with the implied threat of cruise missiles pointed at Serbia and to
reduce from 96 hours to 48 the warning time before air strikes could be launched. The next stage
was the peace talks at Rambouillet (France) initiated by the Western powers.
With Rambouillet, the Clinton administration thought that they could leave Kosovo’s diplomacy
to their European partners, who led the peace talks. The deal proposed by the NATO states was
that Kosovo should remain formally part of Serbia but in fact run its own affairs. There were to
be safeguards for the Serbian minority. But to reassure the Kosovo Albanians, and indeed make
the deal worked, it was to be implemented by a NATO-led force of up to 30,000 soldiers. The
final constitutional status of Kosovo would be discussed after three years. When the talk went
slowly and towards nowhere, the US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, dropped in on the
negotiators to give things a shove.
However, after 17 days of negotiations, there were no signs that a compromise will be reached.
The Kosovars, through nervous and disappointed by the absence of a clear promise of
independence, were eventually persuaded to sign the agreement on March 18th, 1999. Almost
everyone expected Milosevic to sign the agreement too. He did not, refusing to accept the
proposed “implementation force”. His soldiers and policeman continued their offensive in
Kosovo. At this point, the US administration sends to Belgrade its Balkan point man, Richard
Holbrook, for another and this time final effort to prevent the war. When this failed too, on March
24th 1999 NATO launched air strikes, still clinging to the assumption that grounds troops were
not needed. The air strikes also had the intent to attack, disrupt and degrade Milosevic's
operations, to deter further Serb actions and overall degrade the Serbian military potential (Gen.
Wesley Clarke, 2000). After 11 weeks of bombardment, and an estimated 10,000 deaths, the
peace was finally reached. Left alone, without any support from Russia, Milosevic signed the
peace agreement, accepting NATO’s conditions. At this point, if Milosevic wouldn’t have put an
end to the war, NATO would have deployed 50,000 ground troops in Kosovo.
During the war, NATO’s During the Kosovo war NATO's relation with Russia was characterized
by several ups and downs. After NATO's air strike began, Victor Chernomyrdin, the Russian
envoy, who visited Milosevic, called or a bombing halt. Earlier, he warned that if the bombing
wouldn’t stop he would advise President Boris Yeltin to “suspend Russia’s participation in the
negotiating process” and to back away from cooperation with Washington. In Moscow, at the
beginning of May, a western diplomat said ‘ We are not yet at the point where we sacrifice Russia
to deal with Slobodan Milosevic. But we are getting there. And if you do that, you’ve made the
wrong choice” (The Economist, May 3, 1999 p. 45). At the NATO summit of May 1999, a
communiqué emphasized, “Russia has an important role to play in the search for a solution to the
conflict in Kosovo” (The Economist, May 3, 1999 p. 45) A senior Russian official said that “ in
trying to stabilize the Balkans, [NATO] may be in the process of destabilizing Russia” (The
Economist, May 3, 1999 p. 49). In July 1999, the NATO-Russia relationship went back on track
when Russia decided to participate in KFOR. The Permanent Joint Council resumed its work and
once again served as the focal point of NATO-Russia consultations and cooperation. In the end,
according to Gen. Wesley Clarke, “Russia in its own interest came in to convince him
[Milosevic] to accept NATO’s conditions” (Gen. Wesley Clarke, 2000). Finally, it can be said
that Russia had a significant part in the process, even if it was more at a declaratory level. A
Washington NATO Summit communique was emphasizing in May of 1999 that “Russia has an
important role to play in the search for a solution to the conflict in Kosovo”.
The legality question is extremely important regarding the war in Kosovo. The US and Britain
claimed regarding the bombing of Serbian targets that the use of force to prevent an
overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe - especially one caused by a dictator manifests pursuing
undemocratic goals - is permitted under international law. But under the international law,
Yugoslav crimes do not make the bombing legal. According to the UN’s charter, the use of force
is allowed in only two circumstances: self-defense against a direct attack, and in carrying out a
specific mandate by the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Russia, China and India spoke in favor of the Security Council condemning the bombing (The
Economist, April 3rd – 9th, 1999, p. 19-22).
The positions of NATO members were incoherent on many issues. Allied alternative pleas
themselves, such as those in favor of a stop to the bombing, whether by Italy and Greece in the
early days, or by Germany later into the air strikes process, "have been quickly squelched"
(Rodman 1999). This stands proof that only group-think was accepted as the norm, and that
multiple advocacy was not only promoted, but not even welcomed. One the issue of sending in
ground troops, a French official said that for president Jacques Chirac the ground troops were not
on the agenda and he never wanted them to be there. A senior German official said that it would
be impossible to launch a ground campaign without the resolution of the U.N. Security Council.
Tony Blair seemed prepared to consider a ground war between the alliance and the Serb Army.
Bill Clinton was cautious and merely agreed with Blair that the summit should not close off the
possibility of a ground campaign (The Economist, May 3, 1999 p. 45-47).
The position of the newcomers is also interesting in speaking about presence or absence of group
think, and degree of collegiality or outer circles members participation and degree of being
listened to. In a classical show of group think dynamics, Poland was the most enthusiastic about
participating in the campaign against Serbia. But with its armed forces so poorly adapted to
NATO’s requirements, beyond declarations it was not able to provide more than only token help
with militarily transport. Hungary – which was providing the Alliance with a bridgehead to
Bosnia – has opened its air corridors in yet another example of a new disciplined member of the
club. It was nonetheless very nervous about possible Serb retaliation, possibly in the form of
terrorism. In return for its services Hungary expected the Alliance to offer some special form of
protection to its Hungarian origin people in Voijvodina, but upon considering the issue twice
NATO could not find any operational solution, and Hungary discreetly ceased to bring it up
anymore14. In its turn, the Czech Republic, where public opinion about joining NATO was
somewhat skeptical from the start, was rather the exception to the rule. It reacted to the air strikes
14 As results from interviews carried by the author at NATO HQ, Brussels, July 1999.
with deep dismay (The Economist, April 24th – 30th, 1999, NATO survey, p. 5). While, it did
not have to face any major consequences for its expressed opinions, nor where its concerns and
others' similar ones acted upon either.
Overall therefore, in the Kosovo case the US and the Allies have failed to provide a still major
player like Russia with sufficient reasons to stay on board, in the form of concessions or at least
partial attention to its proposals, views or concerns. Kosovo was thus in this respect a case of
failed damage control exclusion from a set of decisions. It is nonetheless an interesting case since
realizing this the West attempts at post facto concessions meant to bring Russia back on board
after its 1999 opt out of NATO facilitated participation mechanisms available to her. From
Russia's side, the opt out stays of course only at tactical level and has only been intended as a
signal of discontent, and by no means as a measure of self-isolation. Realizing the isolation its
opt out may yield, Russia has no problem to maintain past the opt out its involvement through
bilateral channels direct with the US. The message it conveys is clear: it needs to let the world
know that it still maintains a status that does not require it to use the limiting mechanisms
provided within its NATO-Russia specialized preferred framework offered by the NATO-Russia
Permanent Joint Council. In other words, it tells that it has not been fully tricked with the
concessions made to it only in partial fulfillment of its demands in previous iterations of the
damage controlled exclusion/inclusion game, i.e. with NATO enlargement. It warns that moving
past Kosovo may require more concessions, more re-recognition of its otherwise fading power
(hence the opinion "power by courtesy" cited herein).
As for other non-core participants in the decision, the overall message the Kosovo War case
conveys is that leadership knows what it is doing and it does not need more participation in the
core decision than it asks for. It is implicit that as long as the burden sharing is unevenly
distributed, even within the (traditional by 16) Alliance, let alone between the latter and partners,
the US is doing what it thinks it should without too much regard for all of its Allies.
Status Driven Participation Mechanisms
As shown in the above analyzed cases, as well as primarily in the preceding integrated
comparative analyses of all the six cases at hand, the post Cold War international decision
making processes are characterized by uneven participation by power status. As indicated in the
six characteristics synthesized at the inception of this chapter, core decisions are taken among
core participants and later disseminated through less vital consultations processes to the
respective layers of involved participants, through the available institutional channels developed
partially exactly for this scope.
The primary advantages of these concentric circles power status driven decision mechanisms
are twofold. First, they find a fair resolve to the shortcomings brought up by the contradictory
demands of effectiveness of decisions - broad participation requirements. Second, they
provide a very effective issue specific participation framework for members of non core-
circles that are many times satisfying and that have excellent effects on image preservation
for NATO at the core of these mechanisms.
The disadvantages of international decision making mechanisms based on status driven
exclusionary practices is a certain degree of lowering of participation by status (over or under
a certain threshold).
Whereas the frustrations and implicit tensions favored by such lowering of participation are
not a problem while occurring in relatively small numbers15, they could become a major
15 We have to bear in mind however the negative effect of small numbers combined with the frustrated parties being medium
powers. For example, Russia plus only two more frustrated allied members (or even only by itself) do not make a
sufficiently insignificant voice even though three (or one) is not a large number. The Gulf case supports the point, with
Gorbachev’s and Shewernadze’s Soviet Union imposing on the Bush administration the solution through the UN. Equally so
does the Kosovo case support it, with the partial success of the Russian tactics of retreating from the Brussels table that has
forced the US to consult the Russians more than it was ready to do. In both these instances numbers were the smallest
possible, i.e. one, but the “frustrated voice” has managed to get the message across. Thus, in the interest of increased
accuracy, we should probably adapt the “small numbers” consideration into reading “small number-power combinations”.
problem past a point. It may diminish support while also heightening the possibility of partial
dissent or of internal conflicts added at inopportune times on top of other threats
(Turkey/Greece, Portugal/Spain, maybe less so France/Germany, but more so
Hungary/Romania16). It works the other way around too: if these differences are taken care
of, their resolving could lower the likelihood of occurrence of such conflicts, preventing them
from occurring or escalating.
The work of this mechanism would not constitute a problem as long as either the Russian price or
the overall price of giving in to these demands does not become to high. A too high price would
be exclusion out of an enlarged NATO of some countries interested to join and strategically
valuable to the Alliance. Or, at the extreme, too high a price could mean Russian retaliation, and
the onset of another era of confrontation. The West and the US in particular sometime tend to
think that "Russia remains a power by courtesy only", does not anymore have the capabilities to
sustain a confrontation with the US.17 In this realm, old Kahn-ian nuclear deterrence principles or
reasons for failure apply, and if we just escaped their specter nobody would probably like to try
returning to them again. Extreme caution is thus advisable, and the incremental approach has to
be maintained, while making sure that the price does not go to far.
The outcome of the first wave of enlargement completed in 1999 has not been too high a price for
Russia to accept. In other words, the damage-controlled exclusion from the decision process has
worked at least partially. The costs for the Alliance have not been too high either. They amount
only at the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council. With the Kosovo case having caused
some more serious trouble for the NATO-Russia relationship, the Council has not proven to be a
very effective body. Or perhaps it was not in the interest of any of the parties to use it in the
Kosovo case. Nonetheless, this makes the Allies’ political costs of enlargement even lower vis-à-
vis Russia, simply because the Allies have not given much for the Russian acceptance of
enlargement with the establishment of a not-so-good direct Russia-NATO partnership
While damage controlled exclusion may be a less threatening type of exclusion working
relatively well under certain circumstances, it certainly is not a universal recipe. As it did not
work with Kosovo, it may not work with other cases either, particularly since NATO enlargement
was more of a contingency planning case and not a crisis management one as Kosovo was. Plus,
damaged controlled exclusion gives premiums for accepting to stay excluded, even partially. The
premiums may end one day, plus giving them lessens exclusion itself. Using the procedure
repeatedly ad infinitum transforms the situation, albeit little by little, so much that fairly soon it
demands a re-definition and a strategic re-assessment.
Accordingly, the outcomes of further waves of enlargement (or other exclusionary taken
decisions18) might become critical if some conditions are not met.
The exclusionary act should not have exclusion, but rather decision-making effectiveness at its
core scope. Moreover, it should be complemented by some incentives given to and perceived as
sufficient by the excluded. This would work just as enlargement has been with Russia, with it
being complemented not only by enhancement (not too trusted by or too dear to Russia anyway),
but primarily by some, albeit not too many or too strong either, concessions by the West on the
NATO-Russia Founding Act. Parts of alliance enhancement, on the other hand, have constituted
the concessions for the (hopefully temporary) excluded from the process. The adapting of
16 To proper understand the Hungary/Romania case or others similar with it (Hungary/Slovakia among others), one has to
realize that degree of participation varies in concentric circles, and not in a simply binary fashion, i.e. yes or no, participation
or lack thereof. The placement of otherwise relatively equal actors in distinct such circles, by way of granting uneven
treatment, is likely to cause tensions between them, let alone to amplify pre-existent tensions if the case is as such.
17 Be that as it may, but the latest developments regarding the newly elected President Putin's nominations for various
government and official regional positions are certainly not supportive of the idea of a hurt and sleeping Russian bear…
18 Without going into details here at all, as I was finishing the present report, the US–Russian ABM revision case was
unfolding. Given the US relative inflexibility and lack of interest in even looking seriously at the Russian opinion, this may
very well become another interesting case of exclusionary decisions by the US, if the latter chooses to go on with its stance,
with higher than acceptable costs for Russia. Given the previous experience gathered with Kosovo, this may not be the case
however and the US could choose to express some more wisdom this time.
military capabilities for the organization's new missions includes at the core of NSC99 the
participation alongside with PfP/EAPC partners in joint peacekeeping missions. The adapting of
the command structure is meant at satisfying some frustrated European Allies, while also
contributing to the streamlining of the political decision making process. This should make the
Alliance itself more cohesive than it is today.19, but it should also make the (concentric circles)
decision making process more inclusive for non-NATO members' participation20. New
mechanisms for direct self-tailored participation (at least in some strategy and contingency
planning decisions of direct relevance) are initiated and engineered within the EAPC/PfP
framework, especially targeted at enhancing these mechanisms' image among their members.
Institutional Framework
At the intersection of advantages and disadvantages of the concentric circles based decision
making mechanisms, there are certain threats set forth by the communication and participation
differential across membership in different circles that such mechanisms entail. In view of these
threats, the communication and participation differential addressed and explained in this present
chapter needs therefore addressing, before it does any major damage. The means that can be used
to address it are presented further. Part of these means are institutional. The institutional
framework allowing broad participation, albeit uneven, in the international decision-making
processes post the end of the Cold War, is the very European Security Architecture (ESA).
With NATO at the heart of the European Security Architecture, and with the US at the heart of
NATO, talking about the ESA most often means talking about NATO, albeit not everybody
agrees to this to the same extent21. Further, as pointed out throughout this report, major Allied
decisions are not taken primarily in Brussels, but in Washington DC, and on the phones with a
few other capitals. Brussels is only the place for broad dissemination, as well as for operational
actual decisions in many cases. Today’s Alliance encompasses within and around it the
Partnership for Peace (PfP) program, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) (formerly
North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC)), and of course the newly revived NATO Euro-
group. Furthermore, also at this core stays NATO’s New Strategic Concept decided upon at the
Washington Summit in 1999 (NATO, 1999).
Moreover, another core component of the European Security Architecture is the established
relationship between NATO and the other security organizations in Europe, namely the WEU/EU
and the OSCE, or outside and above Europe, i.e. the UN. Such relationships have had a
complicated evolution. They can not be said to originate only in NATO’s NSC91 or other
Alliance significant documents. Rather, as shown above, this institutional framework has
evolved out of pre and post end of the Cold War international experiences. They can be
completely defined only together with their origin in other organizations (i.e. the CSCE/OSCE,
the EU, the WEU), with the perception these component bodies or members thereof have on the
ESA and with the established working cooperation mechanisms between component institutions.
Perception of European and North American states on the validity of the sharing of roles between
ESA component bodies, as well as on the powers and efficiency each body has, is also an
extremely significant factor.
As the historical development of each of these organizations show, it is difficult to trace down
one single event that constitutes their birth. The concept has rather risen out the mutually
acceptance of both states and organizations on the need for creating it. And it has risen out of
19 I refer to the eliminating of instances such as France's repeated postponement of implementing their December 1995
decision to rejoin the Allied integrated military structure, but also major differences in vision on sharing the costs between
the two sides of the Atlantic
20 Please see NATO 1999 for Alliance New Strategic Concept (NSC99)
21 When asked to give a talk about the ESA at NATO HQ in July 1997, Nick Williams, then …, has putted it this way, : “The
European Security Architecture: There is really no such thing…because these words mean different things to different
people: if you talk to a French, it should be built around the WEU and the EU, if you talk to a Russian, it should be under the
OSCE, and if you talk to an American, it means NATO. Having said that, let us talk about NATO.”
practice, i.e. the perceived incapacity of one single organization to deal alone all by itself with
European security issues. The working together, and sharing of attributions and capabilities of
these bodies under the concept of “interlocking and mutually reinforcing institutions” has thus
been invented and embraced by all of them.
It is my argument however that while the component bodies are not at all new, their working
together is not new either. As we have outlined in the previous sub-chapter, it has occurred
before the end of the Cold War too. In fact, the sharing of responsibilities between participating
institutions that have shaped Cold War security policies has been a characteristic of the Cold War
era. Moreover, the transfer of policies and their implementation from NATO to the CSCE and
from the two competing powers bilaterally to the CSCE as well has actually helped end the Cold
War. The in-between role of the WEU has been its strength ever since its existence and the
institution keeps being proud of maintaining the same role even today.
The only major change we can perceive is a difference in voice given to member states. The
CSCE was used during the Cold War to provide a framework for dialogue between the then two
superpowers only. In those days opposition meant an opt out, as it happened with De Gaulle's
France, followed by one's need to seek alternative arrangements, as France did with establishing
its force de frappe strategy. Today, some less significant powers have the right to voice too. The
voicing of concerns, although often neglected gets results at least at times. An example is the
positive (even though late and extremely incremental) response to C&EEC pressures for NATO
NATO’s current strategy is based on the triad partnership, co-operation and dialogue with the
newly emerged eastern democracies and especially with Russia and Ukraine. Today, post Cold
War current international history has lead NATO to assume an on-call role for undertaking peace-
keeping, peace-making or more general crisis management missions under a mandate given to it
by either the UN or the OSCE. And yet, With the Kosovo war, a mandate does not seem
necessary anymore. Meanwhile, it prepares its forces (i.e. national contributing forces to NATO’s
military capabilities) to undertake such missions. Moreover, as Bosnia and now Kosovo have
shown in doing so it considers useful and thus takes appropriate actions to make possible the
participation of forces from non-NATO member but PfP signatory countries in such missions
and/or in common NATO/non-NATO training exercises for such missions. Unlike a decade ago
when they were unacceptable, out of area missions are today a significant part of NATO’s role,
and thus preparing for them becomes too of outmost importance. In addition, its ability to
conduct non-military missions becomes more and more a must. Politically, unlike some years ago
when it kept being shut or postponed, the door to NATO new membership has been opened in
1999 to three new former enemy countries and the commitment has been expressed for
maintaining it open for other candidates as well.
The North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) created in December 1991, represents the
precursor of the EAPC. A NATO fact sheet about it states that
"[NACC] establishes a framework for dialogue and cooperation with the countries of
Central and Eastern Europe and with the newly independent states which emerged from
the former Soviet Union" (NACC, 1997).
The trouble with this is that such a framework did exist within the CSCE since 1975 and it has
functioned well throughout the Cold War, eventually leading to the latter's end. Nonetheless,
there are two things making the NACC special. First, it is built around NATO and thus it stands a
high chance at gaining or inheriting some effectiveness, power, expertise and prestige from
NATO. Second, in January 1994 another body has been created, and also from within NATO,
that certainly differentiates NACC from any of its possible predecessors: NACC’s
complementary organization, or program, the Partnership for Peace.
NACC has been seen by NATO as its main mechanism for implementing the content of its
November 1991 NSC91. It is further argued to be "the culmination of a number of earlier steps
taken by the members of the Alliance in the light of the fundamental changes that were taking
place in Central and Eastern Europe." (NACC, 1997). Extreme C&EEC opinions have seen it
though as a set of information sessions that could have been replaced by public TV broadcasts in
partner countries on NAC already taken decisions. Other less extreme views recognize its
objective merits, ranging from the success of its continuously increasing in scope and volume
program of joint NATO members - cooperation partners activities to the granting within NACC
of Article 4 type of consultations to all its members. CSCE/OSCE offers a similar framework but
as we have underlined above it is NACC that has apparently gained more prestige in terms of
actually having NATO's ability and effectiveness to back up solutions found within its
framework. Not that this has been tested in any way since there has been no known case of such
consultations. The prestige perception however says something on who would have probably
been consulted first had the need occurred.
NACC meetings, held at Foreign Ministers level at least once a year, usually following a NAC
ministerial, have been indeed resembling the concept of post NAC meetings information sessions
with cooperation partners. The positive contribution NACC has played in the implementation of
NATO's NSC91 (partnership-cooperation-dialogue) is however brought by its broad set of joint
members-partners activities, extending both knowledge and trust from one side to the other.
These range from military cooperation in peacekeeping exercises, going through political
consultations in crisis situations and economic issues, to information, scientific or environmental
issues. The cooperation between NATO members and their partners on defence-related issues, in
the military and peacekeeping fields, initially including mostly seminars but soon also exercises,
has originally made the object of the yearly NACC Working Plans. Later these activities would
become part of the attributions of the mentioned NACC's complementary body, the Partnership
for Peace program. NACC has made possible regular consultations on political and security-
related matters between its NATO and non-NATO members. The NAC and the Political
Committee have each met at least monthly with NACC (later also PfP) countries representatives
at Ambassador or experts level, this contributing significantly to the build up of trust among
former enemies. NATO's Economic Committee has addressed defense budgets issues or security
aspects of economic development or defense conversion issues with non-NATO member
representatives either in regular meetings or in seminars and workshops sponsored by NATO.
The dissemination of non-classified information on NATO into NACC countries has also been
among the attributions of the body. As it has turned out, such dissemination has proved to be
extremely useful considering the impressive results of opinion polls on NATO membership
conducted in Eastern countries during the late 1996 and early to mid 1997. Such polls showed a
NATO acceptance rate in the upper 80 to 90 percent. The Kosovo war has however caused
NATO to loose much of that image.
The North Atlantic Cooperation Council has not however been as successful as NATO, and the
US in particular, wanted it to be. The main reason for its shortcomings is that, even though a new
organization, it was still a patch up, a temporary and incomplete solution invented again in
Washington DC to buy some time for figuring out a better answer to the pressures for change
coming from the East.
In the same rather frustrated fashion has the PfP been perceived at its inauguration (as yet another
US initiative) at the January 1994 Brussels summit. Embraced rapidly by some countries, in the
hope that it will provide the engine to carry them into NATO sooner or later, other countries have
seen it with bad eyes for the very same reasons. Russia has been one of the last countries to join
formally and it has taken years of continuous and strenuous convincing and negotiations for it to
follow up in submitting its Individual Partnership Plan (IPP).
It has been very difficult for the West to use the PfP twofold depending on who was asking: (1)
for non-Russia Eastern countries it was a mean to get in shape for meeting later the NATO
membership criteria had NATO to ever decide on enlargement, and (2) for Russia it was a
program valuable in itself that not only had nothing to do with NATO enlargement but it was
actually replacing it altogether.
This double game policy has not really worked very well and was in fact bound to fail, since the
buying time strategy became soon apparent in Moscow. This is not to say that NATO had in
1994 a clear strategy of buying time for the later NATO enlargement. It had a buying time
strategy for just coping later, rather than sooner, with Eastern countries' pressure towards
membership, without knowing what it would do next. In this situation Russia, after reluctantly
having joined the PfP, has shifted its policy towards strongly supporting the PfP as a replacement
not only for NATO enlargement but for NATO itself, reiterating as such some positions it had
expressed several times before and we have pointed out earlier.
Briefly, while also pushing for NATO enlargement, partner countries were not content at all with
their lack of participation in the Alliance's political decision making process the NACC was
characterized with. Besides, PfP has been received (by some, Russia excluded at first) and has
worked so well that it has practically unbalanced the relationship between the available political
and military tools for cooperation between Allies and non-Allies.
With NATO's door soon to open, since enlargement was at the horizon ever since mid 1994, and
especially after the making public in December 1995 of the "Study on Enlargement" defining the
criteria for membership, Eastern countries kept pushing for more within the existing bodies they
were participating in. On the other hand, NATO and the US had to support more participation of
non-member countries within NACC and the PfP frameworks. This was necessary because of
(1) the almost simultaneously agreed upon Founding Act with Russia, that would have
unbalanced participation of the Russians at the expense of that of other NACC/PfP members,
making these latter not very happy, and
(2) the overall need to maintain the evolutionary character of partnership and dialogue relations,
or in other words, the West's aims at keeping their partners' interests in these institutions alive by
making them more and more attractive. The attraction these institutions have to offer is
important as part of the concession driven selective inclusion/exclusion participatory mechanism
explained in the previous sub-chapter.
Accordingly, NACC had to be reshaped. The NAC has agreed in December 1996 with the
NACC's dissolution and replacement with the newly established Euro-Atlantic Partnership
Council (EAPC). This latter has had its first inaugural ministerial meeting in Sintra, Portugal, on
May 30, 1997, immediately after the NACC has had its last meeting.
[The EAPC is] "a single new cooperative mechanism, which would form a framework for
enhanced efforts in both practical cooperation under PfP and an expanded political
dimension of Partnership. This new APC would be built on the elements of NACC and
PfP which [NATO members and] Partners deem most valuable". (NATO, 1997f).
The "new" body inherits thus the NACC attributions and procedures but it also incorporates an
enhanced PfP in it and, most importantly, gives more participatory rights to non-NATO members
in the decision making mechanism relative to issues of common concern on European security
matters. It is in wording a very good step further that at the time has been received accordingly
by its members22. However, it is also its members that realized, whether on the spot shortly after
its creation or in time, that the EAPC was created without the practical means for such increased
participation in the decision. To a significant degree, two years later it has failed to put some flesh
on nicely worded bones23, it has only managed to be yet another mechanism with no real decision
power, or effectiveness, the same way the CSCE (or for what that matters the EU/WEU too) has
proven to be on the occasion of its Yugoslav test run, for example.
While by no means a decision-making body, the EAPC fills nonetheless an essential role as a
cooperation and participation mechanism. It has two characteristics to make it attractive to its
participants, to a much higher extent than NACC ever could. These are (1) its being built on and
around a NATO core, and (2) its flexibility, meaning a la carte participation. It is through these
features that the EAPC is qualitatively fundamentally different from anything in the past,
inclusive from its own predecessor, the NACC. The a la carte flexibility feature would however
22 Interviews, NATO HQ, Brussels, 1997
23 Interviews, NATO HQ, Brussels, 1999
be better served if the overall institutional architecture for ensuring security in Europe were less
inertial, and if it were to take higher speeds of adaptation24.
In other words most of what has been dubbed as "revolutionary" decisions taken by the Alliance
after 1990 have been the result of often reluctant responses to political pressures coming from
countries in Central and Eastern Europe. These countries have been constantly pushing NATO
and its partner or associate western institutions to do more and more towards integrating them
into the western institutional structure. Only in response to these repeated pressures has the West
agreed to small incremental compromises. NATO is the first to have manifested this reluctance.
Instead of committing itself from the very beginning to accept Central and East European
countries in the club sooner rather than later, a US lead NATO has invented instead new
cooperation, partnership and dialogue mechanisms. Most of these have not managed to be a good
replacement for “the real thing”, membership. This is the way in which the NACC/EAPC and the
PfP have developed. As underlined above, some C&EEC have seen them as means of postponing
a major decision or action thereof on starting to give these countries equal rights in participating
in the shaping of policy that affects them as well. Other institutions such as the EU or WEU have
also done some steps towards adapting themselves to the new situation, including by opening
themselves up for new members from across the iron curtain, but these steps have not been very
revolutionary either. What is however of some interest here is the relative competition between
these organizations. Some institutions have granted more participation to newcomers, others less
in the beginning and more later by following examples of their partner institutions. This process
has benefited the candidates since it has fueled some policy competition and thus the occurrence
of mirroring or responsibility competition based policy initiatives.
In sum, my analysis of the institutional framework's evolution of the past decade leads to the
conclusions that
(1) A lot has changed much for the better since the end of the Cold War. It all started with the
creation of the NACC in December of 1991, and it continued with NACC’s evolution
throughout its years of existence, all the way to the creation of the EAPC in April of 1997.
This change has all but culminated so far with the acceptance of three new members into the
Alliance in 1999, while maintaining both a strong open door policy and a very flexible albeit
limited consultation and participation forum within the EAPC.
(2) While the institutional framework has indeed moved a lot towards allowing more
participation and cooperation with former enemies becoming partners, this increased
participation and cooperation does not always occur. Instead, the power status based
concentric circles decision making, disseminating, and adjusting mechanisms have been
developed within and around these institutions.
(3) If and when participation does occur, this does not necessarily happen within the created
institutional framework itself but either outside it, or within, as fit for the stage of and actors
taking part in the process. While the framework has facilitated to some degree better contacts
and understanding of procedures and constraints, it has often fallen short of providing an
adequate environment for direct participation in the decision making process. Rather, as
demonstrated earlier on in this chapter, the framework provides a window dressing
environment for otherwise exclusionary elite decision- making mechanisms centered on
outside-the-framework direct bilateral talks between a selected group of higher power
Upon analyzing the relative effectiveness of the component bodies making the institutional
framework available today, I suggest that there are significant differences in the effectiveness of
decision-making mechanisms employed by the four more established organizations depicted. I
have proposed that these differences can be explained primarily by two factors: (1) availability of
strong and consistent leadership, and (2) experience accumulated (or sometimes inherited) in the
24 This is one serious alternative set forth countless times by C&EEC in the past decade, but neglected to a certain degree
field the decisions are made. The main proxies for the two independent variables considered as
accounting for the differences are thus (1) membership structure, and (2) historical tradition.
The functioning of this argument is outlined in figure 1.
Leadership Weak Strong
Most ineffective
(failing to deal with Yugoslavia – Germany
acting alone recognizing Croatia -, same
with Bosnia)
Conditionally effective
(deciding upon and implementing alone a
solution to the Albanian crisis; sole case)
Conditionally ineffective
(failing to deal with Yugoslavia, later
relatively effective in its limited in scope
missions – fact finding, elections
monitoring etc.)
Most effective
(from implementing the no-fly zone in the
Mediterranean to implementing Dayton,
and most recently getting Serbia to the
table on Kosovo and coping with KFOR)
Figure 1: Effectiveness of Decision-Making and Implementation Processes by the Organization's
Degree of Leadership and Experience
First, and at the extremes, NATO is a one country (US) leadership organization, whereas in the
EU's case leadership and/or coordination are shared among some more prominent members that
do not always share the same positions on an issue. The same would hold true with the WEU,
and even more so with the CSCE/OSCE, in this latter case given especially the broad
membership to include countries with such opposing interests and historical traditions as the US
and the Soviet Union/Russia. Second, NATO's relatively long-lasting tradition on effectively
taking responsibility for European security affairs enables it to take incomparably more effective
decisions than the ones taken by EU member states under an almost "newly born" Pillar II
(CFSP) setting26. As the figure suggests, the quasi-stalling for several years of an European
solution to the Yugoslav, later on evolved into the Bosnian crisis, before the US’s leadership role
taken with Dayton and NATO’s (informal PfP based arrangements included) later
implementation expertise tested with IFOR, strongly tests our argument empirically.
Of course, NACC’s creation and evolution since 1991, later on the PfP initiative of 1993, and
finally the establishment on these grounds of the EAPC in 1997 have been all strongly related to
and part of the changes in the Alliance’s strategies initiated in 1991 (and constantly adapting ever
since). Moreover, all these institutional creation and enhancement events have steadily benefited
from experience gathered both outside and within NATO and its peer organizations making the
interlocking and mutually reinforcing institutions framework.
Upon expanding the argument by fine graining variance on both leadership and experience scales
with the ultimate goal of including in the argument the organizations that are the main focus for
25 The placement of the WEU in this quadrant is relatively forced. Indeed, the WEU has been relatively effective in cases
such as the Albanian domestic politics driven crisis in which the US decided not to interfere in any way. However, whereas
some degree of leadership was available in the Albanian case, it would simply be an overstatement to claim that availability
of leadership within the WEU is strong across the board of cases (there are not so many available either). Therefore this
leads to the need of refining the scale for leadership in figure 1 (as justified by other reasons as well, and actually done in
figure 2.)
26 A caveat is worth mentioning here: in policy analytical terms, the very placement of EU related decisions and
implementation processes in the weak leadership/short experience quadrant is determined by a problem definition choice
having determined the Yugoslav and Bosnian crises as being primarily a foreign and security policy concern. Had the
problem been identified as primarily one of direct economic relevance to the European Communities, the EU could have
used its much larger experience in this area to bring in much more effective decision-making procedures and implementation
expertise. The EU’s “variable geometry” governance however makes it a weak leadership and short experience actor in
CFSP related issues. Time has yet to prove whether or not the latest decisions of revitalizing an ESDI/P taken at the EU
Helsinki Summit of December 1999 will change this situation.
this project, primarily the EAPC, but also the NACC and the PfP. Figure 2 sketches the argument
accordingly extended27.
Leadership Weakest Weak … Strong Strongest
Shortest Most ineffective (1)28
Ineffective (2)
[NACC] Cond. ineffective (4)
[EAPC current] Cond. effective (5)
Ineffective (2) EU Somewhat ineff. (3)
OSCE Cond. effective (5)
WEU [PfP] Somewhat eff. (6)
Somewhat ineff. (3)
Cond. ineffective (4)
CSCE Somewhat eff. (6)
[EAPC future] Effective (7)
Longest Cond. ineffective (4) Cond. effective (5) Effective (7) Most effective (8)
Figure 2: Effectiveness of Decision-Making and Implementation Processes by the Organization's Degree of
Leadership and Experience (extended)
NACC’s short time of existence, and its relatively weak link to NATO (that made it unable to
inherit sufficiently from NATO’s experience), plus the weak leadership make it be placed in the
ineffective box. In spite of the US’s membership in NACC, the organization did not benefit fully
from US leadership due to lack of commitment by the US to make it work the way cooperation
partners were hoping it would, plus due to clear unsolved divisions of opinions between the US
and Russia. In the PfP’s case however, the US committed itself much more towards making the
initiative work, thus the higher degree of leadership available here. Besides, the PfP may be said
to have a longer time span, regardless of its actual youth compared with the NACC, because it
inherits from the latter and learns from its mistakes. Moreover, the PfP also builds on NATO’s
military expertise, albeit adapted to new tasks, more than NACC was able to build on NATO’s
political one.
I have placed some organizations more to the left (WEU, EAPC current) or right (PfP, CSCE,
EAPC future) of their respective boxes simply to underscore a finer actual variance in expertise
than the simple placement in boxes allows for. Scales for both experience and leadership are in
fact continuous, therefore a similar positioning could or should be done on the leadership side as
In view of the argument presented, I believe the conditions needed to make the EAPC move from
its current position closer towards the “high end” of the effectiveness spectrum in figure 2 are
met. The organization is therefore set on the road towards where “EAPC future” is placed close
to the lower right corner. Inheritance of expertise from relevant peer organizations is of course
only one of these conditions. I believe the EAPC starts right on this journey, with much stronger
leadership than was available in NACC’s case, including because of a good start in the
US/NATO – Russia relations along with the EAPC's start. The EAPC has indeed taken off along
with the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997, thus benefiting from a higher
commitment from Russia to participate in an European and Trans-Atlantic decision mechanism if
given the chance to do so on acceptable term. While some may argue that Kosovo has spoiled
this dream of a strong Russian participation, I believe this is not so, primarily because Russia has
still acted somehow responsible (Pristina can be considered an exception) compared to what it
could have done. Further, not only has the EAPC itself not suffered from the Russian opt out, but
27 The placement of the NACC, the PfP and the EAPC in the grid in figure 2 is only tentative. Its intention is solely
demonstrative. The results of the study might prove that the placement is different. Moreover, it is the intention of this
study to identify the conditions the PfP and the EAPC have to meet to enable them to make the shift across the grid’s lines
into cells situated closer to the high effectiveness (lower right) quadrant.
28 The numbers in brackets represent the assigned degrees of effectiveness on the following scale: (1) Most ineffective; (2)
Ineffective; (3) Somewhat ineffective; (4) Conditionally ineffective; (5) Conditionally effective; (6) Somewhat effective; (7)
Effective; (8) Most effective
quite on the contrary, it has strengthened its stance in the longer run. The EAPC has been used in
the Kosovo case as the mechanism of choice for implementing the concentric circles based
decision strategy decision - dissemination - opposition - adjustment of decision. This has enabled
participation and the rights to a voice--as necessary and deemed appropriate, whether rare or not--
for a broad range of Allied decision partners.
Moreover, the EAPC has sported solid successes also outside the crisis management mechanisms,
in the realm of more mundane day by day decisions. These successes are due to its flexibility,
including institutional (through the creation of programs and foci suited for each of its
participants or groups thereof upon their demands and if considered helpful29). For it to become
however truly effective, the EAPC needs to build further on its own accumulated experience and
on the experience of other more successful bodies it has links with. At the same time, leadership
has to be provided, whether fully or just partially shared with Russia, and effective participatory
and cooperative decision-making mechanisms have to still be designed, implemented and used.
29 Interviews, NATO HQ, Brussels, July 1999
Chapter III: Conditions for International Cooperative Decision Making
Theoretical Lessons Learned: A Pragmatic Blend of Paradigms
The theoretical approach that explains, albeit partially, the similarities identified in the analyzed
cases could be therefore called neo-realist institutionalism. It is not neo-liberalism because
institutions do not only help minimize transaction costs (equally) for (all) their participants. In
fact, institutions have distinct roles for each participant, roles varying with status, and a separate
use for each participant, as well as a perception of the institutions that differs with each
participant or sometimes group of participants thereof.30 And it is not simply neo-realism because
institutions do have a certain role, and a significant one, at least for some of the participants, as do
the norms and principles that are promoted and protected (at least in advocacy declaratory
fashion) by these institutions.
Powerful states take advantage of institutions in a neo-realist manner, while expecting the appeal
for them to attract lower power members in “follow the leader(s)” games much more through
their neo-liberal, far more idealistic (regime theory driven) qualities. [needs further explaining I
am sure]
This may cause serious problems as soon as the pay off (or the perception upon it) for
participation by the lower power members or potential members or simpler put participants31
decreases under their acceptable threshold, eventually minus their inertia potential. This decrease
can occur sooner if the communication/participation differential problem is not addressed.
In other words: first, on the practical front, there is nothing wrong with such differentiated
approach provided that the communication/participation differential does not cross over an
universally (unanimously) accepted threshold. Second, on the theoretical front, understanding the
differences in perception of, attraction towards and use of institutions by status with them helps
us build better-suited theoretical frameworks that get us closer to practical usability than current
available theoretical paradigms manage to do. Concluding, on the policy recommendations front,
such understanding leads us primarily to think of and justify the need to build means targeted at
avoiding letting the communication/participation differential allow the revert to a non-
cooperative stage for our decision making conditions. The strategic means that can be considered
for avoiding such relapse, referred to first in the previous chapter, are considered further herein.
Conditions for Cooperative Decision Making
Following the findings of this study, I believe the conditions necessary for ensuring the
cooperative nature of decisions taken internationally within and around the NATO Plus
institutional framework (could be said within the ESA) post the Cold War are of several
First, there are those conditions targeted at minimizing the communication/participation
differential by status that the concentric circles mechanism brings about, while still allowing for
the improved effectiveness of the core decision – dissemination – opposition – eventual
adjustment mechanism explained herein.
30 Evidence in favor of this approach abounds in the form of primary sources and/or secondary literature, but also from face
to face interviews conducted by this author with representatives of various types of participants in the NATO/EAPC
institutional framework.
31 Through NATO’s “open door” policy and through the interconnected web or distinct role organizations making the
webbed security institutional framework in the Euro-Atlantic space, the concentric circles are somewhat penetrable, in the
sense that membership in them may change in time, in at least two ways. First, members eventually advance individually or
in groups from one circle farther away from the core to another one closer to the core (NATO-Russia Founding Act, NATO-
Ukraine [special agreement], NATO enlargement). Second, new and more encompassing circles that facilitate an increase in
participation compared to previously existing levels are sometimes created (PfP, NACC, MAP) or revived or re-shaped
(Enhanced PfP, EAPC, OSCE), for various reasons consistent with this theoretical approach and discussed somewhere else
herein. By all means however, there is a dynamic within membership that makes membership in circles and thus use and
perception of institutions vary in time (or at least from case to case as proven in this study) for almost every participant.
Second, once the cooperative nature of the decision making processes is ensured through the
means above, there are those conditions needed for an increased alternatives building
environment, i.e. those conditions necessary for facilitating the use of devil’s advocate or
multiple advocacy or similar devices in international cooperative settings. Plus, on top of these,
conditions meant at ensuring the proper attention given to the voicing by lower status participants
of such concerns and opposing views that may constitute grounds for new or adapted policy
alternatives to be considered.
Safeguarding Cooperative Nature of Decision
The safeguarding of the overall cooperative nature of the decision is done mainly through
institutional means. The constant improving, creating or facilitating the necessary institutional
framework enabling a high constant regard for cooperation and participation, and primarily for
the maintenance of shared interests and attraction of participants to the institutional framework at
hand. Avoid frustration. Measure thresholds for its occurrence and ensure that they are never
Some of those measures have been clearly already identified, designed and even applied by now,
or they are so far in various stages of their implementation. Part of the results of applying such
means is the very flexibility of the EAPC that helps the organization in attracting membership
even from well outside the circle of countries simply interested in NATO membership, including
neutral countries. The momentum should be however maintained, and the trend should be
expanded, particularly towards meeting perceived needs from participants with less status,
whether lower power members or partners.
The measures needed for the maintenance of the cooperative nature of the decision-making
process transcend however beyond simply the institutional framework available internationally.
Certain behaviors of members of the core circle engaged in decision making should be avoided or
at least tempered if those may lead to increased frustrations in high numbers in the ranks of lower
status participants in decision making processes. The promotion of participatory mechanisms and
behaviors, combined with the refraining from and inhibiting exclusionary tendencies, should all
be favored within all the circles. Part of this process has to do with avoiding the abuse of status,
or using membership in core circles responsibly, only as a device meant at increasing decision
effectiveness, and safeguarding the control over the use of unevenly distributed resources
primarily by those making them available for the use in the joint interest.
Facilitating Quasi-Complete Alternatives Building Process
Once the communication and participation differential has been minimized, and thus the
cooperative nature of the decision making process has been ensured, measures meant at
guaranteeing a quality well informed decision making process need to be addressed.
First, the facilitation of receptiveness to and of building of alternatives inclusive out of concerns
and views coming from lower status members is a major step needed. Here, means belonging to
decision-making management for foreign policy decision-making (Alexander George) should be
extremely useful. Further, conditions belonging to strategic management in organizations in the
private sector (Henri Mintzberg) could be looked for, bearing in mind that the highest degree of
communication/participation occurs in a controlled/facilitated adhocracy.
Second, means belonging to avoiding problem definition related policy errors (letting an
incomplete problem definition mirror itself too much into the solution -- Raiffa, Mason and
Mitroff, Dunn) need to be consciously employed constantly by decision makers.
Next, pure organizational means, ensuring that the institutional framework facilitating
international cooperative decision making processes does not become too inertial (following
Lindblom’s prediction about any organization’s tendency towards disjointed incrementalism),
while ensuring the inclusion in the organizations’ structure of the engine for its own timely
adaptation to changed systemic conditions.
These means too, and the boundaries and differences between them, as well as their ordered
application within the strategic prescriptions underscored here, should not be taken too strict
either. Often, combinations of means applied in one stage only containing elements targeted at
more strategic steps at once may be needed, as a practical decision making situation may demand.
A Role for Post Cold War International Leadership
In view of the present findings, international leadership may have to assume a new set of roles,
meant at the management and proper handling of the conditions set forth herein, likely to enhance
international stability.
Such new role of Cooperative Leadership – based primarily on the avoiding of pitfalls from self-
pride or from uncontrolled self-interest, would be to:
Ensure Broad Cooperative and Participatory Nature of Decision Making Process. This
may require self-imposed refraining from abuse of self-power where not absolutely
Ensure Meaningful Consultation, facilitate and pay attention to opposing views; finding
decision management solutions for alternatives building and proper consideration of
Assume multitude of roles in decisions: direct role of participant, facilitator of Devil’s
Advocate, Multiple Advocacy and/or Strategic Assumptions Surfacing Techniques type
of devices, and Chair of the decision making “gathering”. The latter role would be
similar to that of ”Supreme Commander in Chief “, meaning the ultimate decider, if
anything else fails. This role would be used only as needed, with extreme caution against
overuse or abuse.
Strategic Moves: Invite/Promote participation in non-crisis situations to get parties (and
self too) accustomed to process, and to even build in support and image/perception of
more participation/consultation (Neustadt)
With these roles in mind, and if set forth to fulfill them, leadership of the current international
system may easily hope for the continuing maintenance of stability for times to come.
I hope I have managed so far to do a few things, which are calling attention to the following:
- the functioning of the status driven concentric circles based participatory international
decision-making/disseminating/adjusting mechanism defining the post Cold War era;
- the participation and communication differential that this mechanism facilitates;
- the threats such participation and communication differential may pose if frustrations of
lower level participants pass an acceptable threshold or if higher level participants chose
not to make or have run out of acceptable concessions in exchange for agreed upon
surrender of participation from lower status actors;
- the theoretical utility and practical positive effects the inclusion of devil's advocate and
multiple advocacy or similar devices in international decision making processes may have
on the optimality of the achieved decisions, through ensuring a quasi-complete set of
considered alternatives when making the decision;
- the practical means targeted at ensuring the conditions set forth herein for making
international decision making processes primarily cooperative and optimal solution
seeking, while ensuring broad participation and decision effectiveness at the same time;
- the decision making mechanisms should have constructed in themselves methods targeted
at keeping the context cooperative, methods targeted at maintaining more of the decision
making processes at the broad participation level rather than at the exclusionary (higher
status) level, and measures inhibiting exclusionary tendencies and elitist behaviors;
further, measures targeted at facilitating quasi-complete alternatives building stages of
policy decisions should be employed.
- the use of such measures is under way within the international community, but the
momentum has to be maintained and new means of participation and cooperation across
differences in power statuses need to be searched for, identified and implemented in a
constant manner.
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