NATO Membership and the Democratization of Post-Communist Countries
I have always been interested in studying the influences international organizations can have on a country's domestic policy. Last summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Brussels, Belgium and tour many headquarters of powerful international organizations, but the one that stood out most was NATO. After the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union disbanded, several countries formed new governments. Some became democracies and others did not. I looked at a potential explanation for a country’s democratization: NATO membership. Many post-communist countries became NATO members and with its last three expansions, the organization has nearly doubled in size, with all the new members being former communist states. I compared six countries’ levels of freedom based on Freedom House data from 2014 and concluded that on average for those six countries NATO members had greater levels of freedom than nonmembers. This study supports the theory that NATO membership influenced countries to democratize and is a small step in the path to better understanding international organizations influence on domestic policies. It is impossible to prove anything with a small case study, but I hope to expand my analysis in the future.