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Eastbound and down:The United States, NATO enlargement, and suppressing the Soviet and Western European alternatives, 1990–1992

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When and why did the United States first contemplate NATO’s enlargement into Eastern Europe? Existing research generally portrays U.S. backing for NATO enlargement as a product of the policy debates and particular beliefs inside the William Clinton administration (1993–2001) starting in the mid-1990s. New evidence, however, shows that U.S. backing for enlargement began earlier, under the preceding George H.W. Bush administration (1989–1993). Moreover, the Bush administration favored enlargement for fundamentally realpolitik reasons, viewing it as a way of sustaining U.S. preeminence and suppressing challengers in post-Cold War Europe. The results carry implications for historiography, foreign policy, and international relations theory.

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