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International Affairs Capstone Project Focuses on NATO

January 16, 2009

Capstone students in DCEight students worked with Dr. Gabriela Thornton and Bush Library Foundation director and the first U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Ambassador Roman Popadiuk, on a capstone project regarding Ukraine’s possible NATO membership and the implications for the U.S. and the security of the region. The report was prepared for the Atlantic Council, a think tank that promotes transatlantic relations. As part of the project, the class traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with the client and experts with whom they could discuss their developing views on NATO expansion, and specifically the possible inclusion of the Ukraine. They met with Ambassador William J. Burns, undersecretary for political affairs at the State Department; Oleh Shamshur, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S.; Admiral Edmund Giambastiani, NATO’s first supreme allied commander transformation (SACT); and Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.

Capstone students in DCGiven the fact that past, current, and the incoming U.S. administrations have indicated support for NATO expansion, it is likely that countries like Ukraine and Georgia will gain membership. This capstone class reviewed the consequences and repercussions of such membership for Ukraine, and agreed on four recommendations that might be implemented prior to Ukraine acquiring NATO membership. These include modernizing the military, strengthening and building institutions, leveraging Ukraine’s geopolitical location to its advantage, and seeking neutrality.

As with all capstone projects this one was designed and directed by the students in the class. An initial presentation of the final report was presented in November to Bush School students and faculty, who offered comments and suggestions. The final version of the report will be presented to the Atlantic Council in January 2009 by several of the students in the capstone class.  The students in this capstone were Andi Allen, Brooke Biddle, John Bungo, Kathleen Grout, Jim Harbridge, LB Lockley, Julia Paslavska, and J.R. Starch.

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