Europe's Eastern Promise

Rethinking NATO and EU Enlargement

Courtesy Reuters

In the early 1990s, after the Iron Curtain lifted, Western leaders seized a historic opportunity to open the doors of NATO and the European Union (EU) to postcommunist central and eastern Europe. By consolidating democracy and ensuring stability from the Baltics to the Black Sea, they redrew the map of Europe. As a result, the continent today is more peaceful, democratic, and free.

This accomplishment was the result of a common U.S.-European grand strategy that was controversial and fiercely debated at the time. The goal was to build a post-Cold War Europe "whole, free, and at peace"; to renew the transatlantic alliance; and to reposition the United States and Europe to address new global challenges. But as successful as the strategy of enlargement has been, the world has changed dramatically since it was forged. The United States and Europe face new risks and opportunities on Europe's periphery and

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