Graduation Year

Spring 2011

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

P. Edward Haley

Rights Information

© 2011 Kaj Pedersen


My argument about NATO’s future is a combination of both neo-realist and constructivist thought, an adaptation of both neo-realist power struggles and constructivist institutional structures. Due to a lack of a significant threat, NATO will collapse as a military alliance. However, due to the longevity of the Trans-Atlantic Relationship, the similarities in the governmental structure of its members and the history of peaceful interactions between the allies on both sides of the Atlantic, the current “security community” will remain despite the collapse of the military aspects of the Alliance. NATO has been held together through organizational inertia and shifting the unifying threat to a variety of lesser threats. Nevertheless, the weakness of the new threat will be insufficient in maintaining the Alliance.

This argument is supported through three different period analyses of NATO. The first is an analysis of NATO in the Cold War and an overview of its creation as an answer to the threat of the Soviet Union. The second delves into the Alliance after the Cold War and the reasons for NATO’s continuation. The third section outlines NATO’s current missions, issues, and tensions within the Alliance.

The paper concludes that NATO will fall apart in the future, with a slow but sure break down of the military structures of the Alliance. It will, however, remain a political entity due to the strength of the security community created between the allies.