Ph.D. Student Highlights Results of Research about NATO’s Current Crisis


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) formed in 1949 as an alliance to counter the rising threat of the Soviet Union in Europe. Seventy years later, the alliance has faced harsh criticism from both sides of the Atlantic. President Donald Trump has called the alliance “obsolete,” while President Emmanuel Macron of France has called it “braindead.”

What has caused this crisis that focuses on the distribution of the security and deterrence burden for Europe? Tad Schnaufer, a second-year doctorate student in the Security Studies program, thinks he found a critical part of the answer. His research points to the lack of incentive for allies to spend on defense compared to other national priorities. This underspending by many of the European allies has caused the recent tension among alliance leaders. The results of Schnaufer’s work shows that tension within NATO may be an impetus to get allies to spend more on defense.

Schnaufer recently presented his findings at the 91st Annual Meeting of the Southern Political Science Association (SPSA) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Within the conference, he presented his research on the Alliance Politics Panel composed of scholars working on similar issues. Schnaufer said, “There are three valuable takeaways from conferences like these. First, the feedback from the audience and fellow panel members help to hone a research project. Second, the great networking opportunity to meet people who are reading and writing on a topic similar to yours. Lastly, you get to see what other scholars are working on and their approaches to an issue.”

Schnaufer is not the only student attending conferences. Ph.D. students from the Security Studies Program in the School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs at UCF have had the opportunity to present their work at conferences around the world. Previously, students have shown their work at conferences in locations like Toronto, Washington D.C., Montgomery (Alabama), Tampa and others. Later on this semester, Ph.D. students will attend conferences in Chicago and Honolulu, furthering their research and the impact of the Security Studies Program at UCF.

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