The war in Bosnia raged on for years without any substantial commitment on behalf of the international community to end it. When NATO finally intervened and ended the war in 1995, the Clinton administration defended its decision to involve the United States in the war in terms of a need to ensure the alliance s continued relevance in the post-Cold War world. When its main adversary dissolved and the Cold War ended, many scholars predicted that NATO would also dissolve, or that it would at least cease to remain an important institution in European security. Through NATO the United States had contributed heavily to European security, and it was expected that the country would be less willing to do so when the Soviet Union was no longer threatening US interests in Europe. By deciding to take NATO out of its traditional area and intervene in Bosnia, however, the Clinton administration signaled that the United States was not backing away from its European allies. Why did the Clinton administration wish to keep NATO in business? This thesis sets out to test one possible explanation to that question:
The arguments put forth by the Clinton administration to intervene in Bosnia to save NATO were rooted in a belief that keeping and transforming the alliance would be beneficial to US post-Cold War interests.
The hypothesis is tested within a classical realist theoretical framework by looking at the possible effects of keeping and transforming NATO on a set of classical realist foreign policy goals. Could keeping NATO in business, despite the heavy financial costs, be beneficial to the United States? Would a transformed NATO make it easier for the United States to attain its post-Cold War foreign policy goals?