This chapter presents the central framework of the book and its two driving questions: why has the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance persisted in the post-Cold War era? And why is NATO persistence important to the United States? The 1999 Kosovo intervention, the 2001 war in Afghanistan, the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the 2011 intervention in Libya signified watershed moments for the alliance, and analysis of these events reveals a connection between the alliance’s persistence and its US relationship. Each engagement allowed the allies to regroup and reassess NATO’s political and military needs. Empowered in part by its hegemonic status and its historical relationship with the alliance, the United States used these moments to shape an institution favorable to its interests. Because the allies accepted American demands for institutional reforms, the United States perceived it as increasingly more capable of engaging in conflict. Further, as each case reveals, the United States derived tangible and intangible benefits from NATO in the form of legitimacy enhancement, appearance of conformity to international norms, and political and military capability enhancement. Thus, the United States continues to value the alliance, provide monetary and military resources to improve the alliance’s utility in conflict, and ensure its persistence.
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