The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

NATO and Russia

geadBy Gareth Evans, President, and Alain Délétroz Vice President (Europe) of the International Crisis Group. Any views expressed are the authors' alone.

The biggest unresolved challenge facing the NATO countries’ leaders when they meet on the Rhine this week is how to manage the organization’s relationship with Russia. Nobody wants to relive the Cold War, but habits of mind from that era persist on both sides, continuing to influence behaviour and inhibiting the clean break from the past that would be in everyone’s interest.

Russia’s invasion of Georgian territory last year seemed to confirm every latent NATO fear about the aggressive resurgence of the beast-from-the-east which the organization was formed sixty years ago to counter. And it is hard to argue that Moscow’s response to the situation in South Ossetia was not an indefensible overreaction, whatever judgment one makes about President Saakashvili’s contribution to the course of events. But what was missing from nearly all the Western reaction was any thoughtful reflection on what its own leaders’ contribution might have been, over the years since the USSR collapsed, to Russia’s newly assertive posture.

It is not fully appreciated, even now, in most NATO capitals how strongly Moscow feels that the organisation’s expansion, deep into the former socialist camp and the former USSR itself, was a brutally insensitive and confrontational response to the quick and generous Soviet withdrawal from Eastern Germany and Central Europe. The West rightly argues that all new NATO members have joined freely, and certainly not under pressure from the U.S. or EU member states. But the vast majority of Russians see NATO as an offensive military alliance, bombing Belgrade in 1999 without UN Security Council approval and now trying to surround Russia in spite of promises made to Mikhail Gorbachev not to expand eastwards.

from The Great Debate:

Obama honeymoon ends in Europe

Robin Shepherd

-- Robin Shepherd is Director, International Affairs at the Henry Jackson Society. His areas of expertise are transatlantic relations, American foreign policy, Middle Eastern relations with the West, Russia, eastern Europe, NATO and the European Union. The views expressed are his own. --

It is to be hoped that President Obama has a developed sense of humour. The man heralded by many as the new Messiah of political renewal lands in London this week not to the chorus of approval he might have expected on his first official trip to Europe but to crowds roaring with anger and frustration at the global economic system which his country underpins.

from The Great Debate:

Obama and the Afghan narco-state

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

To understand why the war in Afghanistan, now in its eighth year, is not going well for the United States and its NATO allies, take a look at two statistics.

from The Great Debate:

Obama: plus ça change?

Robin Shepherd is a senior research fellow at Chatham House in London. The opinions expressed are his own.

robinshepherd-cropped1Which part of the word “change” did Barack Obama not understand? A year from now it is a question that many outside America will be asking about his foreign policy.

from The Great Debate:

Obama must redefine success in Afghanistan

Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Barack Obama says he will make Afghanistan the central front in his fight against terrorism but the incoming U.S. president will have to scale back the war aims he inherits from George W. Bush and redefine success.

Bush ordered the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 to oust a Taliban government that was harboring al Qaeda militants blamed for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

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