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Articles & Chapters

In Sebastian Mayer, ed., Research Handbook on NATO, Edward Elgar, 2023

Collective defense is back at center stage for NATO. This is primarily due to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, its illegal annexation of Crimea, and the subsequent and more brutal second invasion of 2022, all of which prompted NATO to fundamentally reassess how it provided security to its members states. Since then, the alliance has had to relearn lost skills, refill the ranks, and reinvest in materiel necessary for territorial defense in a way that it has not since the late 1980s. This chapter puts NATO’s return to collective defense in historical context, examining how the alliance pursued security during the Cold War and the post-Cold War period through the mid-2010s. The chapter also briefly outlines some of the most significant challenges NATO has confronted since 2014 in adapting to the ‘cold peace’. The key question facing NATO today is whether the allies have the wherewithal to fully reembrace collective defense while simultaneously remaining committed to crisis management and cooperative security.

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Defence Studies, vol. 22, issue 4, pp. 644-665

September 25, 2022

The recent reconceptualization of national and/or defense strategies, hangovers from the sovereign debt crisis, and the impact of the pandemic-induced recession in four of the most powerful European countries – France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom – will have profound implications for the United States. Given recent changes in the grand strategies of America’s most important European allies and their shifting abilities to fulfill those strategies, Washington will have an increasingly difficult time fulfilling its own goals and objectives. American strategy relies on European allies for competition with near-peers as well as defense of the global commons and projection of hard and soft power overseas to favorably influence events. Shifting capabilities, capacity, and will within Europe – all framed within evolving European strategies – will make it difficult for Washington to rely on its allies.

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Atlantic Council Issue Brief, August 8, 2022

In response to Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden took the historic step of applying to join NATO. Both nations will bring modern capabilities that will help defend against malign actors. As Finland and Sweden's membership is forthcoming, Alliance leaders, NATO watchers, and transatlantic security experts need to consider how to fully integrate the new allies, include them in operational plans, and best enhance defense of a longer border with Russia.

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In Simona R. Soare, ed., Turning the Tide: How to rescue transatlantic relations, EUISS, 2020

In this chapter, John R. Deni explores the military dimension of transatlantic relations. He outlines the impact of President Trump’s ‘bifurcated transatlanticism’ and the concrete steps transatlantic partners need to take to rebuild political trust, reaffirm the political commitment to the transatlantic bond and renew European efforts in the area of burden-sharing.

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Parameters, vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 19-26

Summer 2020

Europe remains as important as ever for US security but several factors contribute to a degree of unsteadiness in the 2020 European security environment. The outcome of conflict between forces of stasis and change over the next two to four years will be determined by several dynamics including Europe’s response to the COVID-19 economic crisis, Russia’s desire to shatter transatlantic relations, the American approach to NATO, the impact of Brexit, whether German leaders will lead, and French efforts to address long-term economic malaise.

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Journal of Transatlantic Studies, vol. 17, pp. 157-73

Summer 2019

NATO’s endurance is unique relative to alliances and other intergovernmental organizations of the post-Westphalian system. The degree to which NATO endures or indeed thrives appears to be a function of the continued relevance of the old security agenda and the concomitant importance of the new agenda that member states have thrust upon it. The paradox is that it remains increasingly difficult for NATO to achieve its objectives in both spheres—that is, in terms of adequately deterring Russia and assuring the newest member states of Eastern Europe, while simultaneously safeguarding the south from an array of sub-state or non-state actor challenges.

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Orbis, vol. 63, no. 1, pp. 92-103

Winter 2019

This article assesses the strengths and weaknesses of NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) initiatives. While the EFP initiative represents a significant step forward in terms of NATO's deterrent posture, it suffers from many of the same challenges that other NATO operations have confronted in recent years. More broadly, this essay contends that the EFP initiative may not be the right tool for the most likely security issues facing Allies in northeastern Europe. The author concludes by making the case for a nuanced refinement that furthers security for all member states.

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In David Galbreath and John R. Deni, eds., Routledge Handbook of Defence Studies, Routledge, 2018

Security assistance has long been an important instrument of many states’ broader national security strategy.  When wielded successfully, it proves an effective, efficient means of achieving state objectives.  For security assistance contributors, providing training and equipment to other states can augment security regionally and globally, extend influence, develop future coalition partners, and/or promote security sector reform.  For recipients, security assistance represents a useful means of building military capabilities and capacity, typically more quickly than if they were to rely solely on domestic production or technology.  However, there are several challenges facing both contributor and recipient states as they pursue their respective objectives through security assistance, meaning that security assistance, while a useful tool for a variety of states, often remains a blunt, imperfect instrument.

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In Rebecca R. Moore & Damon Coletta, eds., NATO's Return to Europe: Engaging Ukraine, Russia, and Beyond, Georgetown University Press, 2017

Two and a half decades of a steadily declining Russian security threat to the heart of Europe has resulted in a diminished NATO force posture.  The seemingly relentless downsizing of the allied force posture in Europe reflected a realistic, if somewhat naïve, assessment of the security threat facing the West.  Today, in the face of a renewed Russian threat, the alliance is learning that its present force posture is probably incapable of deterring Moscow and evidently unable to effectively reassure nervous allied populations in the Baltic States and Poland. 

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Parameters, vol. 46, no 1, pp. 35-42

Spring 2016

Starting in 2017, Washington plans to begin heel-to-toe rotations of an armored brigade from the United States to Eastern Europe. In some respects, this represents a significant improvement over the assurance and deterrence steps taken by the United States and several of its NATO allies over the last two years. Although the administration’s plan is indeed a step in the right direction, it falls short of the hype ascribed by the media, not to mention Moscow. More broadly, the US approach to reassurance and deterrence still suffers from some strategic shortcomings.

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Orbis, vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 36-51

Winter 2016

According to the 2015 National Security Strategy, the United States continues to rely on Europe as its most likely, most capable military partner for dealing with the most vexing security challenges. However, the conventional wisdom in Washington holds that European allies are not terribly capable militarily or very willing to use force. So why would the United States rely on such lax partners? In fact, the evidence on European defense spending, capabilities, and willingness is decidedly mixed, with many positive trends among the negative ones.

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In Assessing Leadership in Transatlantic Security Cooperation, German Marshall Fund of the U.S., 2015

The Russian-induced security crisis that Europe now finds itself navigating has in many ways breathed new life into NATO.  The crisis presents both an opportunity and a challenge to address some fundamental problems in where and how NATO provides security for its member states.  The Wales summit was a resounding success in terms of identifying some of the ways in which NATO will seek to overcome these challenges and subsequently protect and promote the security interests of its members.  What needs attention now is the means, including the tools and structures, through which the alliance fulfills its missions.

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Parameters, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 47-60

Summer 2015

Despite disagreement among experts and policymakers over its significance, the foreign fighter threat to Europe is very real. Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), such as NATO, have an important role to play in countering this threat, including through information sharing. Even though the North Atlantic alliance has its hands full at the moment, member states can further leverage NATO’s unique advantages.

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In John R. Deni, ed., New Realities: Energy Security in the 2010s and Implications for the U.S. Military, U.S. Army War College Press, 2015

The role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in energy security has been growing in recent years, in practical terms and certainly rhetorically. However, the results of NATO’s efforts have been decidedly mixed. On the one hand, the alliance has clearly become engaged in what appears to many member states as a compelling security issue. On the other hand though, there remains a rather conspicuous lack of progress or activity much beyond the realm of operational energy security.

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Parameters, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 57-66

Autumn 2014

NATO is seeing something of a rebirth manifested by the Wales summit in September 2014. The summit did not fix all NATO’s woes, but it did address a number of them, especially the reconfigured security situation in Europe. However, it remains unclear how NATO can add to its already full plate, especially during a time of personnel cuts and zero-growth budgets.

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This chapter describes and explains how the force generation process developed and evolved, with particular attention paid to the role of operations in Afghanistan (and to a lesser degree, in Libya). The central argument is that both bureaucratic processes at the state level and international bargaining at the system level resulted in a force generation process that is perfectly flawed – that is, destined to fall short of providing sufficient forces in almost every instance, yet designed to do so in order to mitigate overall mission risk while still incentivizing member states to develop and maintain advanced, expeditionary military capabilities.

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International Affairs, Volume 90, Issue 3, pp. 583–600

May  2014

With the end of major combat operations in Afghanistan, how will the North Atlantic alliance maintain the unprecedented levels of interoperability developed over the last decade? One of the most effective means of building and maintaining interoperability—the forward-based presence of US military forces in Europe— has shrunk significantly over the last 25 years and is likely to shrink further in the coming years, meaning it will become increasingly difficult for American and European military forces to operate side by side.


In Transatlantic Energy Relations (edited with Karen Smith Stegen), Routledge, 2013

Given the dramatic defence spending cuts occurring on both side of the Atlantic, the time would seem ripe for greater transatlantic cooperation in operational energy security – that is, the energy necessary to train for, deploy to, conduct, and redeploy from combat operations. However, with few exceptions, the prospects for greater cooperation in this area – in terms of common strategies, plans, doctrine, materiel and training, for example – appear quite low. Europe remains hobbled by institutional, organisational, and fiscal limitations, while the USA – largely for cultural reasons – struggles to overcome an episodic commitment to energy security.

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European Security, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 181-96

March 2016

In early 2012, NATO's then-Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, unveiled the Connected Forces Initiative (CFI), an effort designed to increase allied interoperability and readiness. Through three lines of effort – training and education, exercises, and better use of technology – the CFI is intended to help the alliance maintain the operational and tactical interoperability it developed in Afghanistan. At first glance, the CFI appears to represent an example of the claims of some neo-institutionalist scholars that there is a shift in the locus of governance from member states to NATO. However, this article takes a deeper look and concludes that in fact the locus of security governance is not shifting, at least not in this instance. Member states of the alliance retain several means of controlling and influencing NATO, thereby preventing it from developing a significant degree of autonomy, in contrast to the European Union or United Nations.

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