At the end of the 1940s, the United States and several West European states allied to defend themselves against invasion by the Soviet Union. Balance-ofpower theory predicts the recurrent formation of such balances among states. But it says little about the precise nature of the balance, the principles on which it will be constructed, or its institutional manifestations. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been a peculiar mix. As a formal institution, NATO has through most of its history been distinctly nonmultilateral, with the United States commanding most decision-making power and responsibility. At the same time, NATO provided security to its member states in a way that strongly reflected multilateral principles. Within NATO, security was indivisible. It was based on a general organizing principle, the principle that the external boundaries of alliance territory were completely inviolable and that an attack on any border was an attack on all. Diffuse reciprocity was the norm. In the terms set out by John Ruggie, NATO has generally scored low as a multilateral organization but high as an institution of multilateralism.