This week’s Russia Profile Experts Panel takes a look at Russia’s new European Security Pact:
Last week, the Kremlin published its draft of the European Security Treaty, first proposed in June 2008 as President Dmitry Medvedev’s first major foreign policy initiative. Moscow has been criticized for offering few specifics of this proposal, and thus failed to move its European partners toward a meaningful discussion of its initiative. It has now taken this step by putting forward a draft treaty, consisting of 14 articles. […] Is it possible to imagine that this treaty could serve as a viable replacement of or a substitute for the existing security structures, particularly those offering specific security guarantees, like NATO or the Collective Security Treaty? Would it improve the efficiency of the existing conflict resolution mechanisms in Europe? Would it restrict NATO’s ability to operate in Europe? Would it increase Russia’s influence over security decisions in Europe? Will it receive a broader discussion among European and Transatlantic powers, or will it die the quiet death of many other grand plans for European security?
Srdja Trifkovic, the Director of the Center for International Affairs at the Rockford Institute in Rockford, Illinois, contributed this to the discussion:
Quite apart from its details and nuances, Moscow’s proposal can be taken seriously because it comes after a notable shift in U.S. rhetoric and behavior over the past year. This shift reflects U.S. President Barack Obama’s evolving strategic priorities caused in part by the ongoing crisis in Pakistan and the escalation of fighting in Afghanistan. The two key elements are his U-turn on missile defense deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic, and the quiet acceptance on both sides of the Atlantic that there will be no NATO expansion along the Black Sea coast anytime soon.
The problem is still what to do about NATO, and the Russian proposal offers ambiguous guidance. The alliance has morphed into something it was never intended to be: a vehicle for the attainment of American ideological and geopolitical objectives outside the core area. It is necessary to halt and reverse NATO’s recently invented mission as a self-appointed promoter of democracy and humanitarian intervention and guardian against instability in strange and faraway places.
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Bill Clinton’s air war against the Serbs marked a decisive shift in that mutation. The trusty keeper of the gate of 1949 had morphed into a roaming vigilante in 1999. This event had a profound effect on Russian thinking. A decade later, the National Security Strategy approved by President Medvedev last May identified the two gravest threats facing Russia as Ukrainian accession to NATO and predatory Western designs on its energy and other natural resources. The paper explicitly called the United States a major threat to Russian national security.
Such a conclusion was unsurprising. By virtue of its location, Russia controls the crossroads of Eurasia and therefore access to its fabulous natural resource wealth. Washington craves cheap and easy access to that wealth, and under the presidency of George Bush, the United States had developed an ideology to complement such geo-strategic ambitions. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described it succinctly 18 months ago: in U.S. foreign policy there is no distinction between ideals and self-interest. U.S. foreign policy is its values, and America will stop at nothing to ensure that its values prevail. The world is divided into two camps: one is made up of states that share U.S. values; the other of states (implicitly Russia and China) which were consigned to a lesser status because their relations with the United States are rooted more in common interests than in common values. Washington has changed its tone since, and that change appears to be for the better. Obama now has an opportunity to execute a paradigm shift and inaugurate a process in which the East-West Security Pact would be just the first step on a long journey, not its conclusion.
In principle the Russian proposal is not ranged against NATO, but it could help the United States sort out the incoherent mess NATO has become by restoring the alliance’s proper legal mission as defender of the territory of its member states. The proposal’s shortcoming, however, is that it neglects the potential scope in Europe for a robust and independent EU defense capability under the auspices of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP).
To devise a more inclusive European security architecture — one that includes NATO, but more than just NATO — would require the establishment of an organization that would replace the moribund OSCE. A new security architecture embracing the main parts of North America, Russia and Europe, would allow for the collective reallocation of forces so as to counter threats emanating from outside: cross-border terrorism, drug trafficking, sex slavery, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and — most importantly — efforts to export jihad.
These threats, unconventional yet real, are a factor for unity from Vancouver to Vladivostok. That vast region is united above all by the moral, spiritual and intellectual values derived from the Judeo-Christian and Greek tradition, values that are far deeper than any issues which divide it. The real threat to the security of pan-Europa thus defined comes from Jihad, from the deluge of inassimilable immigrants, and from collapsing birthrates. All three are caused by the moral decrepitude and cultural decline, not by any shortage of soldiers and weaponry.
Strategy is the art of winning wars, and grand strategy is the philosophy of maintaining an acceptable peace. In considering Moscow’s proposals in good faith, Western powers would display an aptitude for grand strategy, an inspired grasp of the essential requirements of the moment which has been sadly lacking in Washington for the past two decades.