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President Obama on campaign: Does his administration's stance

toward Europe mean that the NATO alliance is weakening?

 

 

Gazeta, Russia

'Un-European' Obama Demonstrates Why Europe Needs Russia

 

"Obama, for whom all of Europe cheered passionately during the election campaign, has turned out to be 'un-European' in action. The U.S. and China increasingly decide the global political atmosphere. This creates a fundamentally different situation for two other players used to being the center of attention - Russia and Europe."

 

By Fyodor Lukyanov*

 

Translated By Yekaterina Blinova

 

February 4, 2010

 

Russia - Gazeta - Original Article (Russian)

No mincing words: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, at the Conference on the NATO's New Strategic Concept at Cernin's Palace, Prague, Jan. 12. Her most undiplomatic comments that, 'Russia is just one of the partners, and it should not be the tail that wags the dog,' were not appreciated in the Kremlin.

 

RUSSIA TODAY NEWS VIDEO: Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says European security in decline, Feb. 5, 00:05:25RealVideo

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and two of her deputies have commented on Russia's idea for a new security architecture for Europe. While raising the inadequacy of the existing system won the approval of the American diplomats, they rejected this proposed method of solving the problem - no new institutions are needed, and it would be enough to perfect the existing ones: NATO, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), and the CFE (Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe). Earlier, in the same vein, albeit with slightly greater interest, European politicians responded to Dmitry Medvedev's proposals. Does his initiative have a future?

 

In the year and a half of discussions over the Russian president's proposal, the European situation has changed. And we aren't referring to the issue of the Caucasian War [Georgian War], which took place exactly two months after the release of the idea for a "new architecture."

 

The presidency of Barack Obama, for whom all of Europe cheered passionately during the election campaign, has turned out to be "un-European" in action.

 

Washington is concerned about the situation in the Middle East, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, South and East Asia. Europe is a partner everywhere - and everywhere, a secondary one. The only exception is, perhaps, Afghanistan, where the United States must rely on NATO, but mostly because of the background of this war, not a desire to fight alongside the allies.

 

Speaking in Paris recently, Hillary Clinton sought to dispel European concerns. She repeated traditional arguments about how transatlantic relations remain the cornerstone of U.S. policy: commitment to the allies, common values, similar approaches to solving global problems, "unfinished work" in regard to the democratic development of Europe and Eurasia. The secretary of state assured listeners that U.S. troops would remain in Europe and ensure that NATO has a plan of action to address any threats or dangers. This was meant to reassure the Baltic countries, which are sounding the alarm over the absence of a rapid deployment plan for their protection. Separately, Hillary praised the European Union for its efforts to further promote integration in the light of the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon.

 

The positive effect was smeared two days later, when Madrid (Spain now holds the rotating presidency of the European Union) found out that Barack Obama isn't planning to come to Spain for a routine E.U.-U.S. summit. A State Department official noted that because the structure of the union has changed, with a rotating president leading the Council of the European Union and a permanent president of the European Commission, the White House doesn't know who to meet. Meanwhile, the Treaty of Lisbon was supposed to strengthen the E.U.'s position within the global arena.

 

The most interesting part of Hillary Clinton's Paris speech was her answer to the question of whether, in order to address the global challenges confronting Europe and America, non-Western countries like India and Brazil should be allowed to join NATO.

 

Clinton noted that within the Alliance, there is a clear reluctance to go beyond the traditional scope of responsibility, especially because there remain unresolved issues - such as the Balkans, and the future of Ukraine and Georgia.

 

As for other missions, "It's completely clear that there are countries other than NATO members that are concerned about the fate of Afghanistan." [translated quote] Yes - and on many other issues, especially new threats, it's impractical to be limit to the framework of the Alliance.

 

Work is being done on NATO's New Strategic Concept - and results are expected by the end of the year. But what Clinton said is unambiguous: the idea of the 1990s to transform the North Atlantic Alliance into a global force isn't destined to materialize. And so NATO has only one option: to remain a regional security organization, which is what it has been throughout most of its history. If so, then Medvedev's initiative has little chance, because its central component is precisely to prevent the transformation of the Alliance into a common European security organization.

 

But the situation has a flip side, which leaves Russia room to maneuver. It consists of the fact that the differences between the strategic interests of Europe and America remain quite great. And so neither side wants to completely discard the Russian "architecture."

Posted by WORLDMEETS.US

 

Next week in Moscow, as part of the preparations for NATO's New Strategic Concept, a group of "wise men" headed by Madeleine Albright will arrive, which is in itself a sign of the times. For America, the Kremlin initiative is an opportunity to engage Russia in addressing outstanding strategic issues in Europe and Asia. Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote about this a few months ago, although he made it clear that Moscow is only a mediator of sorts, the main objective being Beijing. The United States is trying to find any way to draw China into some kind of binding relationship, and if it (China) can be reached by linking NATO the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, then why not try? Although Russia itself is also potentially interesting: it is, after all, difficult to deal with Afghanistan and Iran without it. This is a hypothetical construct. But even a year ago, imagining anything like this was impossible, and now such discussions are legitimate.

 

Madeleine Albright: Going to Russia to discuss NATO's 'New Strategic

Concept', her recent comments on Russia have not pleased the Kremlin.

 

SEE ALSO FROM RUSSIA:

Kommersant, Russia: Madeleine Albright Tells Russians to 'Know their Place'
Gazeta, Russia: 2009: Another 'Chinese' Year
Kommersant, Russia: U.S. Reversal - Romania to Host Anti-Missile Shield
Vedomosti, Russia: Kremlin Must Take 'Full Advantage' of Obama's Presence
Gazeta, Russia: Stop Blaming America for Russian Shortcomings

 

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Europe, for its part, doesn't entirely understand America's plans, and therefore is trying to hedge its bets for the future. Of course it's difficult to imagine that Washington would entirely abandon Old Europe to its fate. But leading European states will have to get used to the new situation, as they become less and less able to determine the direction of global development, and more dependent on it.

 

So in order to craft a new identity, if it is to arise at all, a new format for relations with Russia may be required.

 

Dmitry Medvedev's idea is long-term in character. And as European issues increasingly recede into the background of global strategic change, the greater the chance that this "architecture" will be translated into reality in some form.

 

At the annual international conference on security in Munich this week, all attention will be fixed on Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi [see video below]. This is the first time a Chinese delegation will participate in an event on this level, where the lead fiddles are traditionally played by those discussing Euro-Atlantic issues - and this is symbolic.

 

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the 46th Conference on

Security Policy in Munich, February 5.

[CLICK HERE OR CLICK PHOTO TO WATCH]

 

According to the conventional assessment, China overcame the acute phase of the crisis with relative ease, maintaining the dynamism of its economic development. Because of this, Beijing feels confident and hasn't declined to participate in discussions about issues of international security, as it has in the past. Amid the current tensions between the United States and China, the minister's behavior will provide an indicator of Beijing's mood.

 

The field of attraction and repulsion between the two most influential world powers is increasingly deciding the global political atmosphere.

 

This creates a fundamentally different situation for two other players used to being the center of attention - Russia and Europe.

 

*Fyodor Lukyanov is Chief Editor for the magazine Russian in Global Affairs

 

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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US February 9, 6:29pm]

 







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