Asymmetrical Alliance Advantages

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In an asymmetrical alliance, an alliance in which there is a large difference in the relative power of its members, the desire for control tends to drive the actions of the greater power. The subordinate member, meanwhile, seeks to maintain the benefits it receives from the larger partner while gaining some say in the actions of the alliance as well. Although surrendering some freedom of action is generally a requisite condition for the subordinate partner, the less powerful nation will attempt to use any leverage it can find to maintain as much freedom of action as possible. These goals are apparent in the NATO alliance, both during and after the Cold War, in the actions of both the greater power (the United States) and the lesser powers (the…show more content…
From the beginning, the alliance, which in theory was meant to confer equal status among the allies, was dominated by the United States. The military commander of the alliance has always been an American flag officer and the United States essentially dictated the major diplomatic and strategic decisions of the alliance. This is evident through the several NATO enlargements which were driven by the United States against the objections of other European allies and US interventions in European affairs, for example during the Suez Crisis, when the United States forced two of the largest nations in NATO to pull out of the conflict. However, the extensive control that the United States had did not prevent the other allies from pursuing strategies to reduce their dependence on the United States. In 1966, France withdrew all of its armed forces from the NATO command and requested that NATO forces leave the nation. Disappointed by its lack of power in the alliance, France had developed its own nuclear deterrence and removed its military from the command structure of NATO to demonstrate to the United States that they were not entirely dependent on the United States. Although this attempt at reducing the need of the benefits provided by the United States was…show more content…
For this reason, in 1998, the United Kingdom and France attempted to create a join security arrangement that would not include the United States. To maintain its power, the United States would then be expected to respond by blocking such attempts to seek out other sources of security. Indeed, one year after the security arrangement was proposed, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave her famous “3Ds” statement regarding the NATO alliance. In it, she states that any deal among European nations must not “decouple” Europe from the NATO alliance, “duplicate” existing NATO assets or command structures, or “discriminate” against NATO members who are not members of the European Union. This was a clear ultimatum that Europe was strictly forbidden forming its own defense structures, a clear attempt of United States monopolization of the defense “public good.” [Albright] The behavior of the European allies following September 11, 2001 are also in line with the actions of a lesser partner in an alliance attempting to gain power in Blau’s model. After the terrorist attacks, European members of NATO invoked the alliance’s common defense clause for the first time in the history of the alliance and contributed troops to America’s mission in Afghanistan.

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