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Rediscovering geography in NATO defence planning

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This article explores the relevance of geography in NATO defence planning. Historical analysis of strategic concepts and other planning documents suggests a pendulum movement from treating geography as the central organising principle within the alliance, to downplaying its role in favour of functional considerations, and back. In view of mounting tensions alongside Europe’s eastern and southern flanks, this argument acquires contemporary relevance with regards to how alliance responsibilities can be (re)distributed. Rediscovering the early principle that allies should concentrate on those tasks for which they are the most geographically suited offers a promising approach for a new division of labour.

This article was first published in Defence Studies, Volume 18, 2018 – Issue 3 (Tandonline).

(Photo credit: NATO)