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On the failures of western-Russia policies and what to do about them

Europe must disengage from US policy, initiating a comprehensive political process patterned on the common security tenets agreed at the 1975 Helsinki Summit, comprising the protection of individuals as citizens.

lead Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, the venue for the Helsinki Accords conference, 1975. Wikicommons/Finlandia-talo. Some rights reserved.

The analyses of international relations need to understand cause and effect between as well as within countries. Out of the political polarization and looming chaos of current domestic politics in the US and in some European countries grows a dangerous distortion of foreign policy. Western-Russia policy now primarily revolves around western, especially US, domestic politics, not a tough look at security and what it actually takes to become more secure. The consequence is deteriorating security for all states. How is this so and how could it change?

The following analysis I base on conversations with researchers and officials from Russia, but also Iran, Turkey Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries – people whose voices rarely reach the ear of western policy makers. For their protection, I apply Chatham House rules. What they say may be quoted, but their identity not revealed. I therefore offer no more details.

Their voices are important not because they are right. In my view, they are mostly not. They are important for the obvious reason that they offer us insight into how “the other side” sees the world. This we need to understand, because Russia and other states follow their own set of assumptions, their mental model of the world, not ours.[1] In our domestic politics, their views may not matter much, but in the complex reality of international relations that affects our security, their views are decisive.

To understand how we can affect our future by our current choices, the past is all we have got. In the words of the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”.

This insight by the vintage Danish existentialist philosopher came to mind when, on the plane returning form a seminar at the university in Minsk, Belarus, I realized what the matter with current western policy is. The West is ‘sleepwalking’, the term denoting a failure of policies similar to the situation prior to World War 1.

Christopher Clark coined this phrase and made it the title of his book on how all powers stumbled inadvertently into World War 1, through a series of mutually reinforcing misjudgments and misunderstandings. One source of misunderstanding, Clark points out, was precisely that apparent foreign policy statements were actually a domestic discourse,[2]  as is the case today.

Avoiding ‘sleepwalking’ in the Cuban Missile Crisis

In other words, their real problem was not the adversaries’ intentions and political projects, but that all states lost control over events. This realization was to bear decisively on preventing nuclear war forty-eight years later. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, President Kennedy read the bestseller, Barbara Tuchman’s book[3] on the same topic as Clark’s. She made him a lot more cautious in the dangerous brinksmanship of the US strategy to contain Soviet advances in the western hemisphere.[4] Her point was that as the European political crisis escalated in 1914, military strategies took precedence over diplomatic efforts to prevent war. The fears of war therefore became self-fulfilling.

Problem Russia

The confrontation now emerging over Syria, and Iraq, after the territorial elimination of the IS Caliphate is serious cause for concern for much the same reasons. The current situation bears some ominous resemblance to the Europe described by Clark and Tuchman.

Then as now, Russian moves set events in motion. In 1914, the ill-advised and internally disputed Russian mobilization, intended as a response to perceived threats, ignited a chain reaction among other states’ mobilization plans that inexorably led to all-out war. These plans all had the purpose to deter and if need be defeat attack; in other words, they were defensive.  Then, as now in the current confrontation, the risk is being overlooked that fear of war can lead to war through just two wholly defensive measures: preemptive strike, destroying a threat before it can destroy you,[5] and strategic depth, if you have to fight, you do it on somebody else’s territory to spare your own.[6]

In the Middle East now, the effects of the current Russian military posture are contradictory. On the one hand, Russia has combined its military support of Assad’s regime with a regional diplomacy to establish working relationships with all the regional powers now in volatile confrontation over Syria.[7] In this sense, Russia’s policies in the Middle East stand in stark contrast to the confrontational policies in Europe.

In stark contrast to the European scenario, in the Middle East Russia is now the power in the best position to broker a new regional political order. On the other hand, by teaming up with Iran to prop up a universally despised dictator in defiance of all the western and regional powers, Russia isolates itself while its military power projection entails serious risks, with Russian and western forces operating on different sides in a chaotic war. In the absence of a climate of political dialogue[8] over crisis management, violent incidents in Syria could conceivably escalate into Europe, exposing to grave danger people caught in the middle. Could the current political fault line in Europe turn into a front line?

My friends in Belarus come to mind. They now watch how Russia’s political confrontation with the west affects them by limiting their space for cooperative relations with the rest of Europe, thanks to EU reactions the Belarusians find unjustified. They even fear what further aggravation of tensions could bring. With their soil drenched in the blood of millions of victims of war and political violence, they formed part of what Timothy Snyder has termed the killing fields of the 1930s and ’40s.[9] With about 27 % of their territory affected by radioactive fall-out from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986, they are involuntary experts on the unacceptable risks of any nuclear arms strategy, now brought ominously close by new short-range Russian missiles presumably under the control of frontline commanders.[10]

‘Sleepwalking’ West

In response to these Russian policies, the west is ‘sleepwalking’. Western policy goals are invariably regional political arrangements accommodating western security interests and ideas of democracy and human rights. So far, this has invariably failed; hence, western strategy should change. Political decisions are applied analyses. Therefore, when decisions fail to produce the intended result, the reason is that the analyses are wrong, or at least inadequate.  

To explain Russia’s seemingly expansive foreign policy in the Ukraine and Syria, there are two predominant western narratives about Russia’s military projection, one now largely forgotten:

  • - Putin needs the west, and especially NATO, as an external enemy to deflect the seething rage of his constituents suffering the dire effects of his domestic political failures.
  • - Putin is obsessed by rivalry with the United States to heal the blows to Russian identity after the humiliations following the end of the Cold War. He now even wants to overtake both in overall military posture, in the ability to affect domestic political processes in other countries, and in the regional conflicts.

These narratives now drive western policies of rhetorical confrontation, sanctions and budding rearmament. Since its inherent disposition drives Russian policies, there is no room for political engagement through dialogue. In fact, any western attempt to show good will may make matters worse by feeding Russian illusions that their power projection works. In these narratives, Putin is a sinister figure. In the KGB during the Cold War, he honed his skills as a cunning manipulator of gullible westerners, like me, who now find political dialogue more important than ever.

There are two serious problems with these now predominant narratives. First, they offer no solution to either side, at best a tenuous balance via a stalemate. Second, the last time similar narratives led to almost identical responses, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, they proved extremely dangerous, in 1983 unwittingly bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war through misunderstanding and misjudgment.[11] 

The alternative narrative regarding Russia

The third western narrative about Russian polices is that their current anti-western strategies are a predictable response to western policy misjudgments, especially the expansion of NATO in blatant contravention of assurances to the contrary. This expansion of NATO, in the Russian perception, is aggravated by US and NATO persistence in pursuing ballistic missile defense in defiance of Russian concerns about the implications for nuclear deterrence,[12]and their abhorrence of the western idea of forced regime change because of the ensuing chaos in Iraq and Libya, a trajectory they intervened in to prevent in Syria.[13]

This is the narrative of a shrinking pool of professionals, like myself, whose formative experience was the unexpected end of the Cold War and its sadly mismanaged aftermath. Former US Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, in his book My Journey on the Nuclear Brink, sets out a thorough argument for this view, analyzing his own experiences in various policy-making capacities.[14]

In this narrative, Russian military projection may appear more understandable, but certainly no less dangerous. The smart response, however, is to engage in a political dialogue. The goal of this dialogue is political partnership, a return to the immediate post-Cold War sense of joint interest, a promising development derailed by political misjudgment. The most pressing issue for such a political dialogue is now over a post-conflict political order in the Middle East, especially to prevent possible inadvertent clashes in Syria from spilling over to Europe. The last significant case of Russian US partnership was the cooperation in 2013 to remove Syrian chemical arms, which President Obama rightly claims as a major foreign policy achievement.  The last significant case of Russian US partnership was the cooperation in 2013 to remove Syrian chemical arms, which President Obama rightly claims as a major foreign policy achievement.

Europe must disengage from dangerous US policy

Unfortunately, current western strategy, as set out most authoritatively and exhaustively in the Posture Statement by the US Central Command, if taken at face value, seems to accept the risk of new military confrontations. This strategy foresees changing by projecting military force the policies of three other major powers, not only Russia but also Iran and Turkey.

In this strategy, local allies, for all practical purposes Kurds, shall muster the necessary military force. Pursuant to this strategy, the NATO ally Turkey becomes an adversary imperative to contain in its deeply rooted threat perception of the current US main ally in military operations. The source of this Turkish animosity is of course the internal rifts with the Kurds in Turkey that Turkish authorities have gravely mismanaged. To make matters worse seen from the Turkish perspective, the Kurdish forces that the Posture Statement sees as allies are aligned with the Syrian offspring of the vintage militant resistance movement against Turkish rule over Kurds, the PKK. Turkey argues that up until the point US strategy found their Syrian branch useful, the PKK was universally considered a terrorist organization, albeit with a recent record of political dialogue with President Erdogan until he broke it off.[15]

Iran, the Posture Statement portrays as the omnipresent adversary necessary to contain by force to solve the regional conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. This description ignores the complex internal factionalized power struggle in Iran in which the faction behind Iran’s operations in regional conflicts, the Revolutionary Guard’s arm for foreign operations, the Quds force, is but one among several. As a case in point, the Revolutionary Guard supported a different candidate for President than the incumbent.

A relevant analogy to understand how an internal factionalized power struggle affects the foreign policy of a state like Iran is Ian Kershaw’s analyses of Japan on the eve of World War II. He designates the political system of Japan a factionalized authoritarianism.[16] The leadership was unable to overcome strong internal pressure groups, which led to fateful policy mistakes to counter crippling sanctions that had the unintended consequences of precipitating territorial expansion for alternative sources of supply, and preemptive attack on US forces in Pearl Harbor. In Iran, the Revolutionary Guard has a similar role as the nationalistic officers in an Imperial Japan. 

A rule of thumb is that confrontation strengthens the internal position of such forces while dialogue and cooperation increases the internal advantage of their domestic rivals more amenable to cooperation across fault lines in joint interest. By implication, a more effective US strategy than the confrontational approach set out in the Posture Statement would be to deliver on the Iranian expectations. They thought their compromise in the agreement to eliminate the option of nuclear arms in their nuclear program should ease trade and foreign investment.

The Posture Statement also ignores the complexities of Iranian motives. Their foreign operations may not be a revolutionary project as much as self-defense against anti-Shia Sunni extremism and terrorism as well as a fear of the imposed regime change they most recently saw in Libya.  The “Shia Crescent” from Iraq to Lebanon can also be a “strategic depth” to keep imagined and real enemies away from their borders.[17] This is a misjudgment, of course, and self-defeating, a course of action that by provoking fear precipitates countermoves that in their turn Iranians perceive as a threat. By way of example, the Posture Statement is, for all its misjudgments and distortions, a serious problem for Iranians, regardless of faction.

However, whatever the Posture Statement’s reservations about Turkey and Iran, a regional political solution, including Kurdish polities in Syria and Iraq, is not feasible without their cooperation. Put differently, under the constraints imposed by the current circumstances, the regional political solution that is the goal of the Posture Statement is what Turkey and Iran can agree, Saudi Arabia and Israel can accept, and Russia can facilitate. The regional political solution that is the goal of the Posture Statement is what Turkey and Iran can agree, Saudi Arabia and Israel can accept, and Russia can facilitate.

Projected binaries. With us or against us.

As of now, US and western strategy in the Middle East, as set out in the Posture Statement, is far from this realism. Its upbeat tenor cannot change the fact that it that it undermines the only feasible option, to invite dialogue across the faultlines with the goal of partnership in spite of differences.

To the contrary, the Posture Statement simplifies and distorts complex and dynamic political conflicts to maintain a clear-cut division of friend and adversary, right or wrong. This works well as domestic political discourse, but invites disaster as a foreign policy strategy. For these reasons, the Posture Statement, taken at face value, is both unrealistic and dangerous. With Clark’s and Tuchman’s analyses of the ‘sleepwalking’ prelude to World War 1 in mind, it reminds me of the infamous strategies and entanglements of European countries that worked only until implemented, when they failed their purpose and instead produced a disaster.

Therefore, a pressing European agenda is to disengage from the US Middle East policy as set out in the Posture Statement and initiate a much more effective political process towards a post-conflict political order in the Middle East with Russia, along with the regional powers now engaged in proxy wars, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel.

Idealism, realism, optimism

Such an engagement with Russia will not be easy, as relationships have evolved away from the nascent partnership. It takes a rare combination of idealism, realism and optimism. The German statesman and Social Democratic leader Willy Brandt comes to mind. The combination of idealism, realism and optimism was a hallmark of his personality. His most recent biographer, the veteran German journalist Peter Merseberger, tells the story of his dramatic, at times dangerous life and herculean political effort that only succeeded after years of persistent effort.[18] He fled Nazi Germany as a leftist revolutionary for Norway and then Sweden, an experience that turned him into a modern Social Democrat. With his close advisor and operative Egon Bahr he managed to change first the unrealistic irredentist German foreign policy and then Soviet foreign policy to make Europe a more secure place and people’s lives easier.

Their persistent long-term strategy led eventually to the Helsinki Summit in 1975. There all European states with the Soviet Union, the US and Canada agreed on principles that may be summed up, in the words of the Palme Commission in 1982, in which Egon Bahr was a member, as common security in the sense that, for all its shortcomings and imperfections, all states felt more secure thanks to the agreement.

Chancellor Willy Brandt talks to Egon Bahr, in June, 1972.SVEN SIMON/Press Association. All rights reserved.This was not to last. Only four years after the Helsinki Summit in 1975, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 provoked the west to resort to much the same reactions as today against Russia’s irredentist policies in the Ukraine. Not only are these cases of Russian territorial expansion unacceptable by universally agreed standards for state behavior: they are grave policy mistakes for their unintended consequences. The costs of confrontation with the west, sanctions, boycotts, and countervailing rearmament, come on top of the strong resentment generated by the appearance of scheming, interference, manipulation of social media, conniving with European anti-democratic populists, and overt violence in Eastern Ukraine. As a result of such Russian blunders, domestic political discourse in western countries too easily taints with suspicion any attempt, such as mine here, to enter into a dialogue in the current climate. As a result of such Russian blunders, domestic political discourse in western countries too easily taints with suspicion any attempt to enter into a dialogue in the current climate.

The full implication of this Russian error is now evident in northern Norway, in the border region to Russia, Finmark. A strong local affinity for their Russian neighbors after the Red Army liberated them from Nazi Rule and then withdrew, has been reinforced by current cross-border contacts and cooperation. As a result, politicians in the region now pressure the Norwegian Government to maintain friendly relations and defy calls for political confrontation. They have invited Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and Russia’s President Putin to join them in their celebration of the anniversary of the Red Army’s liberation during World War II. Had Russia conducted a policy in the Ukraine, the Baltic countries and Georgia that produced similar pressure groups for good neighborly relations in the regions bordering Russia, both Russia and the rest of Europe would have been much better off. Unfortunately, this is not so.

The question is what to do about the current escalating political and military tensions? All parties now need a way out. A rule of thumb is that overt coercion is counterproductive because it makes compromises less feasible. Put differently, the only thing Putin cannot do about sanctions is to give in to them. He can appear conciliatory and reasonable, but not weak. On the other hand, unacceptable policies must not appear to succeed for lack of reaction, thus reinforcing a dysfunctional pattern. Neither confrontation nor accommodation work for us with Russia. With the obvious options unfeasible, for the third option we should revisit Willy Brandt’s and Egon Bahr’s successful policies for common security in the early 1970s. They followed certain superintendent policies that would work today with Russia:

*   Dialogue with Russia is not an alternative to a strong alliance between western democracies. It is the other way around. Dialogue will not work without the alliance, and the alliance will not provide security unless we balance force with political dialogue.[19]

*   Proposals will only work if all parties see they enhance their own security.[20]

  • *   In discussing security, stick strictly to the issues. Do not raise other issues to try to persuade the other side that you are right and they are wrong.[21]

Many will reject these principles out hand for being either unrealistic in their optimism or naïve in expecting that they will not make the political climate more oppressive. The recent historical record does not bear these reservations out.

While the recent confrontations may lead to a new round of nuclear rearmament, the climate of cooperation that persisted for some time following the end of the Cold War enabled the removal of Soviet nuclear arms from the new independent states, among them Belarus and, most significantly, the Ukraine.[22] It is also doubtful if confrontations as in 1979 and today are the most effective strategy to reverse the effects of unacceptable territorial expansion. To the contrary, with lower political tensions, the border issues may become more resolvable. The principle I have heard argued by a representative of the EU is that if borders are undisputed they can become permeable and thus lose their significance.

The 1975 Helsinki Summit

For the political process to become more effective than currently in the Middle East by competing western and Russian conveners, European conveners should model a comprehensive political initiative on the 1975 Helsinki Summit, the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe, comprising all concerned states. Now as then the political process should have interconnected sub-agendas of common security, economic cooperation and human rights. In fact, the older President Bush in the Middle East in the window-of-opportunity after the end of the Cold War initiated a multilateral process modelled on the European conference.[23] The reason this process soon foundered was that parties did not follow Willy Brandt’s and Egon Bahr’s principle of only putting forth proposals that all parties would see enhanced their security. Instead, the process became a lever for the parties to the conflicts to force the other side to accept their view. This does not work.

Helmut Schmidt, Erich Honecker, Gerald Ford and Bruno Kreisky at the Helsinki Summit, 1975. Wikicommons/ Horst Sturm, German federal Archives. Some rights reserved.

Instead, the process became a lever for the parties to the conflicts to force the other side to accept their view. This does not work.

Realistic political process

A political process is realistic if based on the principles of Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr. Fortunately, the two predominant western narratives of Russia’s intentions, deflection of internal failure and superpower rivalry, is not born out by a recent joint report by a Russian and an Iranian think tank.[24] Quite the contrary.

In this report, Russia and Iran share the western perception of the main threats: political chaos, extremism and terrorism. Even if they hold the US and the West responsible for the current threats, by expansion of military force and regime change, they agree that Washington is a necessary partner in establishing the new political order. They see the US as weakened, but still the most powerful state in the world.

Significantly, the report also explicitly addresses the issues where Russia and Iran diverge. Specifically, Russia wants good relations with Iran’s defined enemies in the region: Israel, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States. In Syria Russia wants a secular state accommodating all religions and groups, not the current minority regime of Alevites supported by Iran. This shows that Russia positions itself as a broker of regional political agreements.

The imperative, but difficult human rights agenda

Unfortunately, in the Russian Iranian report the human rights agenda is missing, in particular the protection of the individual. In the polarization generated by conflict, confrontation and war, women and minorities have become especially vulnerable. We urgently need to develop a human rights discourse that will have as its effect to improve the protection of individuals. This takes some critical reconsidering of predominant assumptions.

In the predominant post-Cold War narrative, the west managed to undermine its Eastern adversaries by imposing human rights on them. This narrative would, if applied to the current Middle East, effectively block an all-embracing political process. By contrast, the tenet of Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr not to challenge adversaries led to the actual improvement of human rights, if incrementally and gradually.

In his analyses of European ethnic removal and genocide under Hitler and Stalin, Timothy Snyder shows that the most dangerous circumstances were caused by state destruction in areas in which Nazi and Soviet rule alternated in the course of conflict and war.[25] Snyder maintains that it was in areas where state authority disappeared that most people were forcefully removed or killed. He calls these especially vulnerable areas the killing fields.[26]

Therefore, from these observations he infers that the state with the inherent individual status of citizenship provided the most effective protection for the individual against the risk of ethnic removal and genocide. Citizenship he defines as a relationship between an individual and a sheltering polity.[27] He argues that even literally murderous dictatorships, such as Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, were better for the individual when the alternative was destruction of the state.

Today, a critical look at some of the states that need to inform the political process that I now discuss shows that they all offer individuals a varying degree of protection as citizens. This protection, for all its obvious and very serious shortcomings, still by far exceeds the level of protection that Snyder found saved lives in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet regime. Therefore, the protection of individuals as citizens by the various regimes should form the basis for the regional human rights agenda with the purpose to improve the actual situations towards democracy and human rights.

Vintage conference diplomacy the solution

This Russian-Iranian report shows that the west can engage adversarial states in a vintage process of negotiation to agree on a post-conflict political order, a tradition starting with the Westphalian Peace following the Thirty Years War,[28] to the Congress of Vienna following the Napoleonic Wars[29] to the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe during the Cold War.[30]

The discourse of such negotiations persuades on two levels: the specific denotation of the words we employ, and their subtext of connotation, tapping into cultural, relational and emotional contexts, which construct identity.

Conclusion

Unrealistic, this is the predictable argument against substituting military power for a vintage conference diplomacy.  However, holding a policy to be unrealistic is a self-fulfilling assumption because it blocks the first step in making a course of action feasible, the effort to make it possible. In fact, their European political project of transformation appeared no less impossible in the initial phase when Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr defied seemingly overwhelming resistance.

None of the current western policies is more realistic as strategy than a conference diplomacy. The conference discourse is complementary to a more feasible military strategy than currently set out by the US Central Command by combining deterrence with limited security enforcement; in fact, such a military strategy may prove an indispensable backing.

 

Bibliography

Axworthy, M. , and P. Milton. "A Westphalian Peace for the Middle East. Why an Old Framework Could Work." Foreign  Affairs, no. Oct. (2016).

Bahr, E. »Das Musst Du Erzählen«: Erinnerungen an Willy Brandt. Propyläen Verlag, 2013.

—. "Ostwärts Und Nichts Vergessen! Kooperation Statt Konfrontation." Hamburg: VSA: Verlag Hamburg, 2012.

Brandt, W. Erinnerungen. 1 ed.  Berlin: List, Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH. Berlin, 2013 (1989).

Clark, C.M. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914. Allen Lane, 2012.

Fischer, Benjamin B. "A Cold War Conundrum: The 1983 Soviet War Scare." CIA.

Heuer, R.J., and C.S. Intelligence. Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. Center for the Study of Intelligence, 1999.

Kaye, D.D. Beyond the Handshake: Multilateral Cooperation in the Arab-Israeli Peace Process, 1991-1996. Columbia University Press, 2012.

Kennedy, R.F., and A.M. Schlesinger. Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis. W. W. Norton, 2011.

Kershaw, I. Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World 1940-1941. Penguin Books, Limited, 2008.

Kissinger, H. A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh, and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22. Houghton Mifflin, 1973.

Koch, Christian, Gulf Research Center Foundation, and Christian-Peter Hanelt, Bertelsmann Stiftung. "A Gulf Conference for Security and Cooperation Could Bring Peace and Greater  Security to the Middle East." In Gulf Paper: Gulf Research Center, 2015.

Lyttelton, Adrian. "Mad Men?". Survival 53, no. 1 (February-March 2011 2011): 153-66.

Merseburger, P. Willy Brandt: 1913-1992. Visionär Und Realist. Pantheon, 2013.

Perry, W. My Journey at the Nuclear Brink. Stanford University Press, 2015.

Snyder, T. Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. Random House Incorporated, 2015.

—. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. Basic Books, 2013.

Talbott, S. The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy. Random House Publishing Group, 2007.

Tuchman, B.W. The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series. Random House Publishing Group, 2009 (1962).

[1] For an analysis of how mental models affect decisions R.J. Heuer and C.S. Intelligence, Psychology of Intelligence Analysis (Center for the Study of Intelligence, 1999).

[2] C.M. Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (Allen Lane, 2012). P. 226 - 235

[3] B.W. Tuchman, The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series (Random House Publishing Group, 2009 (1962)).

[4] R.F. Kennedy and A.M. Schlesinger, Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis (W. W. Norton, 2011). Kindle loc. 126

[5] This was the dangerous logic behind the crisis in 1983 Benjamin B. Fischer, "A Cold War Conundrum: The 1983 Soviet War Scare," (CIA). Most succinctly, this logic was presented to Egon Bahr by the Soviet nuclear arms negotiator Kwizinski:  You can have as many Pershing missiles as you want (new controversial nuclear missile), we are prepared to circumvent them. Whoever pushes the button first has an advantage. E. Bahr, »Das Musst Du Erzählen«: Erinnerungen an Willy Brandt (Propyläen Verlag, 2013). P. 187. The Soviet War Scare of 1983 has also been confirmed to me in conversations with a staff member of the US National Security Council under President Reagan and a close advisor to the German Federal Chancellor Helmuth Kohl

[6] This is the assumed goal of offensive Soviet and then Russian strategies. In the Middle East, I have heard the same argument by both Iranian and Israeli representatives.

[7]  http://russiancouncil.ru/common/upload/RIAC-IRAS-Russia-Iran-Report29-en.pdf Conversations with Russian and Iranian researchers.

[8] Current US military operations have an operational coordination with Russian forces  http://www.centcom.mil/ABOUT-US/POSTURE-STATEMENT/

[9] T. Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books, 2013).

[10] Conversations in Minsk, 2018

[11] Fischer.

[12] W. Perry, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink (Stanford University Press, 2015). Kindle Loc. 2936

[13] Conversations with Russian researchers.

[14] Perry. Chapter 20. See also the memoirs of President Clinton’s close Russia advisor, Strobe Talbott S. Talbott, The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy (Random House Publishing Group, 2007).

[15] Conversation with Turkish researchers

[16] I. Kershaw, Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World 1940-1941 (Penguin Books, Limited, 2008). P. 302. For a brief presentation of Kershaw’s argument see Adrian Lyttleton’s review Adrian Lyttelton, "Mad Men?," Survival 53, no. 1 (2011).

[17] Conversations in Teheran

[18] P. Merseburger, Willy Brandt: 1913-1992. Visionär Und Realist (Pantheon, 2013).

[19] W. Brandt, Erinnerungen, 1 ed. (Berlin: List, Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH. Berlin, 2013 (1989)). P. 187  E. Bahr, "Ostwärts Und Nichts Vergessen! Kooperation Statt Konfrontation," (Hamburg: VSA: Verlag Hamburg, 2012). P. 88-90

[20] Close advisor to Egon Bahr

[21] Close advisor to Egon Bahr

[22] Perry. Chapter 13

[23] D.D. Kaye, Beyond the Handshake: Multilateral Cooperation in the Arab-Israeli Peace Process, 1991-1996 (Columbia University Press, 2012). On the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe as model p. 86

[24] http://russiancouncil.ru/common/upload/RIAC-IRAS-Russia-Iran-Report29-en.pdf

[25] T. Snyder, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (Random House Incorporated, 2015). Kindle location 3623 For a short version, this interview in Der Spiegel http://www.spiegel.de/einestages/timothy-snyder-ueber-babi-jar-und-den-holocaust-interview-a-1113924.html

[26] Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. Kindle location 96, 129, 232

[27] Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. Kindle Location 3788

[28] M.  Axworthy and P. Milton, "A Westphalian Peace for the Middle East. Why an Old Framework Could Work," Foreign  Affairs, no. Oct. (2016).

[29] H. Kissinger, A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh, and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22 (Houghton Mifflin, 1973).

[30] Christian Koch, Gulf Research Center Foundation and Christian-Peter Hanelt, Bertelsmann Stiftung, "A Gulf Conference for Security and Cooperation Could Bring Peace and Greater  Security to the Middle East," in Gulf Paper (Gulf Research Center, 2015)

About the author

Torgeir E. Fjærtoft is a Norwegian diplomat and now a Visiting Research Fellow with the Centre for Islamic and Middle East Studies at the University of Oslo. His latest posting was to Saudi Arabia, but his longest experience has been of the UN, EU / EEA and German issues. His current research project is on collective security in the Middle East.


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