Subscribe: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Dmitri Trenin
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade C rated
Language: English
cold war  europe  foreign policy  foreign  great power  power  russia  soviet union  soviet  union  united states  united  west  western 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Dmitri Trenin

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Dmitri Trenin

Last Build Date: Sun, 09 Jul 2006 00:34:38 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

Russia Leaves the West

Sun, 09 Jul 2006 00:34:38 -0600

The Kremlin's new approach to foreign policy assumes that as a big country, Russia is essentially friendless; no great power wants a strong Russia, which would be a formidable competitor, and many want a weak Russia that they could exploit and manipulate. Accordingly, Russia has a choice between accepting subservience and reasserting its status as a great power, thereby claiming its rightful place in the world alongside the United States and China rather than settling for the company of Brazil and India. The United States and Europe can protest this change in Russia's foreign policy all they want, but it will not make any difference. They must recognize that the terms of Western-Russian interaction, conceptualized at the time of the Soviet Union's collapse 15 years ago and more or less unchanged since, have shifted fundamentally. The old paradigm is lost, and it is time to start looking for a new one. A HALF-OPEN DOOR The West deserves some of the blame for the shift in Russian foreign policy. The sudden collapse of Soviet power and the speed of German reunification took the United States and Europe by surprise. European governments, led by France, responded by transforming the European Community into a more tightly knit European Union (EU), while deferring the question of what to do about Eastern Europe and Russia. Washington, meanwhile, focused on managing the ever-weakening Soviet Union and rejoicing in its victory in the Cold War, neglecting to define a strategy for post-Soviet Russia. President George H. W. Bush's "new world order," articulated when the Soviet Union still existed, asked only that the Soviets stop their meddling around the globe. Only later did policymakers start thinking about organizing a true post-Cold War order, and when they did, their approach to handling post-Soviet Russia almost guaranteed failure. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, Western governments created a multitude of partnerships with their former communist adversaries in an effort to project their values and influence beyond the ruins of the wall. They hoped that some countries would quickly join Europe, now "whole and free," while others would gravitate toward it more slowly. The conflict in the Balkans dampened this early enthusiasm and demonstrated the United States' aloofness and Europe's weakness in the face of the forces released by the end of the superpower confrontation. From the beginning of the post-Cold War era, the West saw Russia as a special case. Armed with nuclear weapons, its great-power mentality shaken but unbroken, and just too big, Russia would be granted privileged treatment but no real prospect of membership in either NATO or the EU. The door to the West would officially remain open, but the idea of Russia's actually entering through it remained unthinkable. The hope was that Russia would gradually transform itself, with Western assistance, into a democratic polity and a market economy. In the meantime, what was important was that Russia would pursue a generally pro-Western foreign policy. Moscow found such an offer unacceptable. It was only willing to consider joining the West if it was given something like co-chairmanship of the Western club -- or at the very least membership in its Politburo. Russian leaders were not willing to follow the guidance coming from Washington and Brussels or to accept the same rules that its former Soviet satellites were following. Thus, despite all of the talk about Russia's integration into Western institutions, the project was stillborn from the beginning. It was just a matter of time before that reality became obvious to both sides. As other former Warsaw Pact countries were being drawn into the expanding West, Russia, considered too important to ignore, was offered new arrangements, but it was still kept at arm's length. Bringing Russia into the G-7 (to make it the G-8) was intended to tie Moscow to the West politically and to socialize its leaders. The NATO-Russia Council was supposed to harmonize security agendas and to promote military reform in Russia. The[...]