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The greening alliance: environment, development and the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization

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Scholars focussing on 20th century international development programmes have revealed how they often aligned to a diplomacy agenda (especially during the Cold War) and modernist stances underscoring the merits of science and technology in treating under-development. But NATO , the foremost defence alliance in the Western world, has so far been virtually absent from these reflections. This paper considers how, from the late 1960s and following one of its major crises, development and environmental degradation took centre-stage in debates within the alliance. And it documents attempts to mobilize its member-states to either economic assistance or environmental protection schemes. Notably both types of intervention were tied to the promotion of novel scientific research, and especially international collaborative projects. The paper concludes that while eventually NATO opted for an environmental agenda, its ‘greening’ was actually a political restoration project rather than a true attempt to embrace environmentalism.

This talk is part of the Twentieth Century Think Tank series.

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