This policy brief begins by presenting a battery of arguments against NATO expansion and ends by questioning whether the Atlantic alliance should continue to exist at all. Carpenter, the head of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and a long-time skeptic of entangling alliances, is a zestful polemicist and entertaining writer, though he tends to wield a pickax when a stiletto would do nicely. He is most effective in highlighting the dangers attending the more extravagant versions of NATO expansion (those, for example, that would bring in the Baltics and Ukraine) and is refreshingly iconoclastic on all Balkan miseries. Least persuasive is his scorn for the "alleged" community of interest that links the United States to Western Europe and continues to justify a critical role for the alliance. In a book notable for its profound skepticism of utopian assumptions, his optimistic view of the security arrangements Western Europe would adopt in the absence of American power seems, well, utopian.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.