Madeleine Albright: Speaking on cue or speaking out of turn?



Kommersant, Russia

Madeleine Albright Instructs Russians to 'Know their Place'


"Russia is just one of the partners, and it should not be the tail that wags the dog."


-- Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright


Translated By Yekaterina Blinova


January 28, 2010


Russia - Kommersant - 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 about Russia to the European Parliament were noticed in Moscow.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen calls for a new Russia-NATO partnership, Sept. 18, 2009, 00:00:48RealVideo

In Brussels on January 28, Madeleine Albright, chairwoman of the NATO Strategic Concept Expert Group, gave a speech to the European Parliament. During her discourse, she criticized the position of Russia in relation to the North Atlantic Alliance and reminded lawmakers that Russia is just one of the organization's partners, concluding that Russia "should not be the tail that wags the dog."


In her speech to the European Parliament, Madeleine Albright, speaking of NATO's New Strategic Concept, touched on the subject of relations with Russia. The former U.S. secretary of state called them "functional" and said NATO was "in the process of taking inventory." At the same time, Albright expressed dissatisfaction with the position of Russia, which in her view, tends to forget its place. "Russia is just one of the partners, and it should not be the tail that wags the dog," Albright said.


[Translator's Note: In Russian, Albrights comments translated as, "eggs don't teach the hen," which is an age-old Russian saying.]


In her report, Albright, the chairwoman of the Strategic Concept Expert Group, pointed out that NATO is ready to expand. The organization will accept as members, countries with European-style democratic systems if they are prepared to assume the obligations of the Alliance. Albright stressed, however, that NATO is, "not a philanthropic organization, but a security alliance."


Let's recall that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has set out to improve relations between NATO and Russia - as demonstrated during his first official visit to Moscow in December 2009. His meetings with senior Russian Federation officials resulted in mutual assurances that it was time for the parties to take relations to a new stage, and thus overcome the suspicion that has prevailed since the confrontation between the USSR and the West, as well as those which arose in the aftermath of last year's war between Russia and Georgia.


"It would be foolish to hide differences in our views. But we came to the conclusion that despite our differences in certain areas, we need to concentrate on those where our interests coincide," Rasmussen said during his visit to Russia. The areas of commomality identified by Rasmussen were fighting piracy, countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combating terrorism and stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan. At the time, he called for the, "development of a real strategic partnership in all these areas." [Rasmussen's quotes are translated.]


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The new NATO secretary general's visit to Moscow is unlikely to seriously effect NATO relations with Russia. Such relations can't even be assessed as being in crisis, since in reality, for the entire post-Soviet period, they were never sufficiently normal. So, the current situation is just another phase of this "abnormality." Which is, however, completely natural, given the differences in views both military and political, and in the interests of the parties.


Let me remind you that the North Atlantic Treaty was established as a military coalition directed at the USSR (Russia). Today, despite of all the geopolitical changes in Europe and the world, NATO still has as its main objective, the collective military defense of the nations of Europe, which includes its new members from Russia. More precisely, it can even be said that if there was no Russia in the world, there would be no NATO.



[Editor's Note: The author is using Russia as if it were synonymous with the USSR. He refers to the former members of the Warsaw Pact, most of which are now members of NATO.]


From Moscow's point of view, the transformation of NATO over the past decade and a half hasn't addressed the essence of the Alliance. Undoubtedly, NATO is trying to adapt to the "fashion" trends of contemporary military activity, such as the fight against terrorism, joint peacekeeping and stabilization operations, and so on. However, let's ask ourselves: why is this being done? Could it be to find new goals and ways of maintaining the coalition, in the name of continuing its essential function - the containment of Moscow?


It's beyond question that NATO and Russia have common ground: cooperation in combating international terrorism, stabilizing Afghanistan, as well as measures for the building of mutual trust, including work within the framework of the still existing Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.


But the significance of these points of conversion shouldn't be overestimated. With regard to the joint fight against the threat of terrorism, the main challenge for Russia is that posed by the activity of Islamic extremists in the North Caucasus [which includes Chechnya].


In their turn, the United States and NATO are far more interested in stabilizing Afghanistan than Russia, which is a country on the periphery of Moscow's political interests. The question of whether total victory for the Western alliance in Afghanistan is in Russia's interests remains a controversial question.



The Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) is in fact in a state of collapse. It's clear that in the field of conventional arms, Western countries want to maintain freedom of action for themselves while maximally restricting Russia's capacity to act. However, it's also perfectly clear that such an attitude was bound to lead to a destabilization of the Treaty itself.


The Western countries must answer this for themselves: what do they see as the role of the CFE in its relations with Russia - like the Treaty of Versailles or, symbolically speaking, the Locarno Treaties? And if it is to be Versailles, then how does NATO expect to maintain for itself its winning bargaining position?


[Editor's Note: The author seems to be warning that the imposition of an unfair treaty on Russia could have a monstrous outcome, in the way the Treaty of Versailles, imposed on Germany after World War I, led to the emergence of Hitler's Nazi regime.]



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US February 2, 3:55am]


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