Publication details

Beyond bare numbers : the qualitative subtleties of free-riding on NATO’s engagement in the Middle East



Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Defense & Security Analysis
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Web article - open access
Keywords NATO; free riding; Middle East; NATO’s Eastern flank; Romania; strategic interests
Attached files
Description This paper closely scrutinises NATO engagement, particularly the The Eastern Flank countries in the Middle East. Our main argument is that the quantitative approach to free riding is useful only when it comes to black-and-white policy choices and either-or policy decisions. Simultaneously, it fails when we are faced with more complex situations in which evaluations go beyond the very simple numerical markers, such as the 2% threshold of defence spending. By bringing together a unique regional focus (the European East and the Middle East), theoretical dilemmas (free-riding) and policy issues (NATO's multilateral framework of co-operation understood in terms of strategic interests and practical engagement), we are able to show that Romania is a subtle free rider, which cannot be verified by merely looking at numbers alone, but can be ascertained by a careful qualitative analysis which reveals a discrepancy between the country's strategic interests and its level of engagement.
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