Defensive Realism and the Logic of NATO's Existence after September 11

Document Type : Original Article


1 Assistant Professor of International Relations, Kharazmi University, Tehran, Iran

2 PhD Graduate of International Relations, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


The September 11, 2001 incident has entered NATO in a new phase in its political life. In
addition to the various issues, terrorism, expanded the agenda of this security organization
and led to a new interpretation of NATO's constitution, especially its fifth article. The theory
of realism in the context of a research program and defensive realism as an advance in this
program research addresses the expansion of the NATO expansion after 9/11.
This study, considering the rationalist theory of international relations as an attempt to
explain the causes of the events and with applying the theory of defensive realism, has used
a descriptive-explanatory method to advance the purpose of the research.
1. Defensive realism as an advance in realistic research program:
Defensive realism by adding complementary propositions to the core of realist research
program used this great theory of international relations to explain the specific behaviors of
governments and security alliances.
2. September 9, 2001 and Norm-making in International Politics:
The September 11, 2001, along with the great effects on great power relations and the
redefinition of concepts such as power, preventive and preemptive war, Has led to a review
of some international norms such as legitimate defense.
3. Changing concepts in international politics and changing the agenda of security
The dynamics of the events in the international environment, especially in the military –
security arena, has led to the redefinition of concepts such as national security and power,
which has changed the agenda of security institutions.
4. Defensive realism and the persistence of security allies:
This research shows how defensive realism by adding auxiliary propositions to the core of
realism, as a research program, explains the process of transforming and changing the
principles of international institutions , why international security institutions be continued
after Solving it’s the existential threat has been durable question in the literature of realism;
defensive realism is trying to answer this question.
This research takes into account NATO developments in its evolution after World War II,
Particularly; the changes made to this important security institution after 9/11 And has used
the theory of defensive realism as an advance in the research program to explain NATO
The findings of this study show how defensive realism with preserve of realism hard core
as the Great Theory of International Politics And only with some adjustments in its protective
belt, It can turn into a theory to explain the foreign policy behavior of countries and
international security institutions. To prove this claim, based on this theory, NATO's
developments after September 9, 2001, have been explained.