Posts Tagged ‘SecurityCooperation’

Crisis in Eastern Europe: Origins, Putin’s Input, and Tasks Ahead

by Lutz Unterseher, 10 April 2014

Origins

During President Clinton’s first term he followed the advice of his Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott to resist proposals for eastward expansion of NATO. They understood that NATO expansion would alienate Russia. However, in the summer of 1994 Clinton changed his mind. He faced discouraging predictions of his party’s prospects in the mid-term elections in November. Clinton calculated that by directing America’s NATO allies to accept Hungary, the Czech Republic and, in particular, Poland as member states he could attract additional votes from US citizens with roots in those countries.

Domestic policy concerns had dictated US foreign policy — with far-reaching consequences for NATO and Eastern Europe. As Strobe Talbott had feared, Russia’s political elite felt alienated by the American move which in turn produced anxiety in the Atlantic Alliance. In response and in order to address estrangement with Russia the West created the NATO-Russia Council. However, the Council was perceived by the Russian leadership as a cosmetic move.

Tensions rose further as the United States announced plans to station elements of their ballistic missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Officially these installations were to be a part of a defense against a strategic nuclear threat from Iran. Since this challenge does not yet, and may never, exist and given that the missile defense sites would be installed closer to Russia than to Iran, Moscow has expressed strong objection to what it perceives as a destabilizing challenge to its strategic position.

Putin’s Input

Compared with the United States or the European Union, Russia in 2014 is an economic midget — with less than one tenth of the combined GDP of the two giants. With the exception of its energy supplies for Central Europe, Russia does not have much product to offer. So if Moscow wants to maintain the status of a globally-relevant actor, the credibility of its strategic potential is of prime importance. Applauded by representatives of his power machine, Vladimir Putin has declared himself the protector of this potential and defender against the perceived threat from the West.

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But he appears to have yet another agenda. To further accumulate legitimacy Putin has developed strong ties with the Orthodox Church and has adopted an ideology favoring centralist autocracy. This is conceived as an ‘enlightened’, not totalitarian autocracy, as originally outlined by Ivan Ilyin, a Russian philosopher driven into exile by Lenin. The essence of this national ideology is that Russia, through tradition and divine right, is entitled to offensively assemble all true believers (and/or Russian language speakers) under one flag — or, at least, to coerce submission of neighboring countries where these designated people live.

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Tasks Ahead

The West not only has to deal with Russia’s now provocative reaction to NATO expansionism, but is also confronted with Putin’s imperialism. It makes sense for Eastern Central European NATO members, including those with sizeable Russian-speaking minorities, to be reassured of their Alliance’s assistance in defense of sovereignty.

None the less, it is important to be clear that neither marching into endangered non-NATO countries nor violating Russia’s own territory are viable options. The results would be chaos in the region and a strengthening of Putin’s position.

Rather, a serious attempt at stabilizing this region is needed — using a holistic approach combining political, economic and – only in defensive non-provocative formations – military measures, along with encouraging and relying on indigenous parties to lead efforts for positive change.

Helping to establish a well-functioning democratic system in the Ukraine should be high on the agendas of all democratic nations — not just those in NATO or the EU. However, assistance should be cautiously offered, avoiding an impression of imposition by the West. Rather than funding political parties and trying to control them, emphasis should be on an exchange of ideas. Could not the Swiss federal constitutional model inspire those who work for an equitable and functional national modus vivendi of the different ethnic groups in Ukraine?

More direct measures of foreign influence are needed, however, when it comes to isolating and weakening dangerous right-wing elements in Kiev. Political stabilization is likely the precondition of economic recovery … and vice versa.

If there is a visible process of political stabilization, foreign investors may develop interest in Ukraine. Even more so if this country gets better access to international markets. When the EU and Ukraine negotiated an agreement of association, Moscow feared that this could divert its neighbor from trade relations with Russia. Such an exclusive economic association should be avoided.

Instead Ukraine can prosper as the economic highway between Russia and the EU. Presently, short-term measures to balance the Ukrainian government’s budget are most important. The recent IMF credit of 18 billion US dollars is helpful, but the credit is tied to significant austerity measures. As a result a decrease in the income level of Ukrainian public servants (including members of its military) is to be expected. Their salaries will fall further below those of their colleagues in Russia. This will make Putin’s attempts to win over Russian-speaking Ukrainians more attractive. It will prove counterproductive to make austerity a condition of financial investment and economic reform.

Political and economic stabilization is dependent on the integrity of Ukrainian territory. To improve this nation’s chances to protect itself, a strictly defensive military posture should be adopted: not provoking any neighbor, but making intrusions very costly for the invader. In this respect the defense of Finland, proven reliable and cost-effective, offers an inspiring example. To further foster its security Ukraine may seek – renewed – international guarantees of its status of a non-aligned, free nation – under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a scheme embracing all the relevant actors.

US doesn’t need more defense dollars to ease crisis in East China Sea

Charles Knight, letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, 24 Janurary 2014.

Preventing war with a rising China requires diplomatic wisdom, not additional US military investment. Nicholas Burns (“The trouble with China,” Op-ed, Jan. 16) cites a recent mini-crisis in the East China Sea as a warning sign for “congressional leaders in both parties supporting deep cuts in the State Department and Pentagon budgets.”

However, the modest budget reductions that have been proposed — next year the Pentagon is actually getting a $20 billion raise — would in no way prevent the United States from performing shows of force such as the recent flight of B-52s through China’s newly claimed airspace in the East China Sea. The Pentagon’s budget would have to be cut in half to get close to touching overwhelming US military dominance in the Pacific.

A quick look at a map of the region will reveal that China has critical national interests in unencumbered access to the shipping lanes off its coasts and through the passages to the south. Accommodating these interests is the best path to peace in the long run.

America will be much better served by helping to establish an inclusive cooperative economic and security zone in the region, rather than pursuing an ultimately losing game of indefinitely overmatching China’s military power in its own neighborhood.

The trouble with China: It’s the responsibility of the US to prevent war over East China Sea islands
by Nicholas Burns, Boston Globe, 16 January 2014.

As the White House struggles to cope with a burning Middle East, another vital challenge is arising on the far horizon — China is flexing its muscles with real consequences for America’s future in Asia.

In the East China Sea, the United States worries about a stand-off between our ally Japan and Beijing over conflicting, historical claims to small, uninhabited islands the Japanese call the Senkakus and the Chinese call the Diaoyu. China opposes Japan’s ownership of the islands and, in November, announced creation of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea that directly challenged the right of Japanese, American, and other aircraft to transit airspace in the area without prior notification to Beijing. China has made equally extravagant legal claims in the South China Sea against Filipino and Vietnamese territorial claims.

As my Harvard colleague, Graham Allison, recounts in the National Interest, China’s actions are playing out on a broad historic canvas with Beijing and Washington as the main actors. He reminds us of the “Thucydides Trap”— when, in past centuries, “a rapidly rising power rivals an established ruling power, trouble ensues. In 11 of 15 cases in which this has occurred in the past 500 years, the result was war.”

Conflict between the United States and China is far from inevitable. But the East and South China Seas crises illustrate the American challenge in working with China’s assertive new leadership. The United States and China are partners on a range of issues, from trade to climate change and proliferation. But they are also strategic rivals for power in Asia. That is why the White House should be firm that the United States and its allies won’t be bullied by China’s peremptory and unilateral territorial claims.

The immediate challenge is in the East China Sea. Tokyo defends its long possession of the islands through naval and air patrols while Beijing counters with its own naval vessels and aircraft to contest it. The obvious risk is potential collision by two powerful militaries at sea and in the air. The stakes are very high for the United States as our defense treaty with Japan obligates us to come to its assistance in the event of conflict with China.

The United States has rightly stood by Japan against China’s unilateral claims. Washington is also counseling China to gain better control of the often-willful People’s Liberation Army and submit its territorial claims to international adjudication rather than assert them by fiat and intimidation.

To be fair, however, Washington is also advising Japan’s nationalist Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, to lower the temperature in his rivalry with China. His recent visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, where war criminals from the Second World War are buried, as well as Japan’s refusal to acknowledge the horrific actions of its military during the Second World War, are unnecessarily provocative to the Chinese, South Korean, and Filipino peoples.

As the United States seeks to keep the peace in the East China Sea, the immediate danger is not so much that Japan or China will decide to launch a war for the islands but that they might stumble into conflict by mistake or miscalculation.

British historian Margaret MacMillan warns of such a risk in a recent Brookings Institution essay. She recounts the improbable and unplanned events that led to the outbreak of war in 1914 in which 16 million combatants and civilians eventually perished. Her essay is a direct warning — we can’t take the current Great Power peace for granted. Human folly, frailty, and hubris could lead the great powers of our time — among them China, Japan, and even the United States — into a conflagration we never believed was possible. “The one-hundredth anniversary of 1914 should make us reflect anew,” she warned, “on our vulnerability to human error, sudden catastrophe, and sheer accident.”

The East China Sea Crisis and the lessons of World War I remind Americans of a final stark reality — global peace and security still depends on us more than any other country. It is thus essential that we remain the world’s strongest diplomatic and military power. Congressional leaders in both parties supporting deep cuts in the State Department and Pentagon budgets should remember that in Asia, the Middle East, and beyond, we are still, as Madeleine Albright once rightly claimed, the world’s “indispensable” nation.

Nicholas Burns is a professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Public Opinion on Global Issues: A Web-based Digest of Polling from Around the World

Council on Foreign Relations, November 2009.
http://defensealt.org/HiOnep

Project website — http://www.cfr.org/thinktank/iigg/pop/

Excerpt:

Publics around the world—including in the United States—are strongly internationalist in orientation. They believe that global challenges are simply too complex and daunting to be addressed by unilateral or even regional means. In every country polled, most people support a global system based on the rule of law, international treaties, and robust multilateral institutions. They believe their own government is obliged to abide by international law, even when doing so is at odds with its perceived national interest. Large majorities, including among Americans, reject a hegemonic role for the United States, but do want the United States to participate in multilateral efforts to address international issues.

Defense Security Cooperation Agency: 2009-2014 Strategic Plan

Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), DoD, 29 September 2009.
http://www.dsca.mil/programs/CPO/DSCA_StratPlan_2009-2014.pdf

World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers (WMEAT) 2005

U.S. Department of State, 2005.
http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/180321.pdf