Theoretical Premises of Support of and Opposition to NATO Enlargement

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This article analyses the theoretical premises behind policy conclusion on NATO’s enlargement. The analysis proceeds through three phases: 1. Machine-generated elaboration of premises that could predict prescriptions on NATO enlargement. 2. Qualitative investigation to reveal the plausible logics from these premises to geopolitical prescriptions on NATO expansion. 3. Correlation tests to assess how systematically these premises lead to their expected prescriptions. The three differences that best predict whether an argument ends up supporting or opposing NATO enlargement are as follows: 1. Focus of analysis: Should we analyse international relations by focusing on agents or relationships? 2. Level of analysis: Is it morally or ontologically meaningful to consider intrastate realities, such as the level of democracy, when analysing international relations? 3. Role of power: Should the analysis focus on security methods based on changing the behaviour of others with power, or can security be built by neutral or power-negative (self-restrained) methods?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
Early online date5 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jun 2024

Data Availability Statement

The analysis of the article is based on data stored as the University of Bath Research Data Archive at


I am grateful to Hugh Miall, Oliver Ramsbotham, Daniel Rothbart and Imogen Thompson as well as for the anonymous reviewers of Geopolitics for the encouragement and constructive comments on earlier version of this article.


  • NATO
  • Relationalism
  • power-centricity
  • level of analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations

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