Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Ralph S. Clem

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Richard S. Olson

Third Advisor's Name

Mohaiddin Mesbahi

Fourth Advisor's Name

Elisabeth Prugl

Date of Defense



The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a product of the Cold War through which its members organized their military forces for the purpose of collective defense against the common threat of Soviet-backed aggression. Employing the terminology of regime theory, the creation of NATO can be viewed as the introduction of an international security regime. Throughout the Cold War, NATO member states preserved their commitment to mutual defense while increasingly engaging in activities aimed at overcoming the division of Europe and promoting regional stability. The end of the Cold War has served as the catalyst for a new period of regime change as the Alliance introduced elements of a collective security regime by expanding its mandate to address new security challenges and reorganizing both its political and military organizational structures.

This research involves an interpretive analysis of NATO's evolution applying ideal theoretical constructs associated with distinct approaches to regime analysis. The process of regime change is investigated over several periods throughout the history of the Alliance in an effort to understand the Alliance's changing commitment to collective security. This research involves a review of regime theory literature, consisting of an examination of primary source documentation, including official documents and treaties, as well as a review of numerous secondary sources. This review is organized around a typology of power-based, organization-based, and norm-based approaches to regime analysis. This dissertation argues that the process of regime change within NATO is best understood by examining factors associated with multiple theoretical constructs. Relevant factors provide insights into the practice of collective security among NATO member states within Europe, while accounting for the inability of the NATO allies to build on the experience gained within Europe to play a more central role in operations outside of this region. This research contributes to a greater understanding of the nature of international regimes and the process of regime change, while offering recommendations aimed at increasing NATO's viability as a source of greater security and more meaningful international cooperation.




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