The United States, Russia, Europe and Security - A new Transatlantic Perspectives from Isabelle Francois
Transatlantic Perspectives 2
The United States, Russia, Europe, and Security: How to Address the “Unfinished Business” of the Post–Cold War Era.
By Isabelle Francois, Distinguished Research Fellow, CTR
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Defense published Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities
for 21st Century Defense. In this strategy document, the Defense Department outlines the new
focus of U.S. efforts on threats emanating primarily from South Asia and the Middle East, spelling
out the U.S. commitment to address them by working with allies and partners, acknowledging
Europe as the “home to some of America’s most stalwart allies and partners.” It clearly states that
the United States “has enduring interests in supporting peace and prosperity in Europe as well
as bolstering the strength and vitality of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization], which is
critical to the security of Europe and beyond.” Moreover, the document characterizes engagement
with Russia as important and reiterates U.S. commitment to continue efforts toward building a
closer relationship in areas of mutual interest, encouraging Russia to be a contributor across a
broad range of issues. The strategic environment will therefore remain one of partnership with Europe
and Russia as nations work out the consequences of a rebalancing of forces in the near future.
In addition, the United States will be hosting the next NATO summit in Chicago on May
20–21, 2012. This will be an opportunity to send a strong message of Alliance solidarity in the
face of budgetary restraints and will provide a concrete commitment to “smart defense” through
pooling and sharing limited resources. The NATO summit might also provide an opportunity
to consider what this means for NATO-Russia cooperation in an age of austerity. Immediately
following Russian elections, there may be a case for reviewing the state of play between NATO
and Russia, should the new Russian president seize the opportunity to refine his approach toward
security cooperation with the West.
This paper, completed in February 2012, provides concrete ideas for the United States,
Russia, and Europe to take account of the 2012 agenda, and refine their relationships toward the
goal of partnership and the ultimate emergence of an inclusive European security community.
The paper first provides an honest assessment of the NATO-Russia cooperation of the past 20
years and concludes that this relationship has yet to deliver a truly “strategic partnership” in line
with the current rhetoric, many documents, and political declarations. It attempts to shed light
on the Russian outlook and reviews the limits of the current partnership. It points to a significant
level of “unfinished business” from the post–Cold War, which will have to be addressed if
there is any hope of building a whole Europe that is free, undivided, and at peace.
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