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04-How to Enlarge NATO

Episode Summary

In this episode, we discuss the interesting history and legacy of the debate inside the Clinton Administration on how to enlarge NATO. Twenty-five years ago, supporters of a relatively swift conferral of full NATO membership to a narrow range of countries outmaneuvered proponents of a slower, phased conferral of limited membership to a wide range of states. What was at stake in this debate and why did “swift conferral” win the day? What were the main drivers, and who were the key decision-makers? How can the history of NATO enlargement help explain transatlantic politics, conflict in Ukraine, and US-Russia relations today? Listen to find out!

Episode Notes


Mary Elise Sarotte is the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Distinguished Professor of Historical Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Douglas Lute is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. Ambassador Lute is also the former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO from 2013 to 2017, as well as a career Army officer who retired from active duty in 2010 as a lieutenant general after 35 years of service.

International Security Article:

This episode is based on M.E. Sarotte, “How to Enlarge NATO: The Debate inside the Clinton Administration, 1993-95,” International Security, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Summer 2019), pp. 7–41.

Additional Related Readings:

Originally released on January 15, 2020