American Geopolitical Strategy in Europe Since 1990 

The "End of the Cold War" and German Unification /
NATO in Europe: Expansion in 1990, 1999, 2004, 2009 -  and what's next?

Map of a part of Europe, showing the addition of new members of NATO since 1952.


It is obvious that at present, in the spring of 2014, we are facing a crisis of major proportions in Europe that affects "world politics" - in other words, the political and economic situation of humanity. For some it is a crisis "in Ukraine" (a country that a majority of U.S. citizens cannot locate on a map of the world), for others, a crisis unleashed by what they term Russian occupation of the Crimean peninsula (an occupation that in fact, occurred but that has a complex background which requires to be considered); for still others, it is a conflict between the U.S. and Russia that has been noticeable for quite a few years already, and that has come to our attention with great force, as events in Ukraine unfolded this year, 

It cannot be overlooked that all of these interpretations are, to some extent, justified. As human beings, as citizens rooted in what amounts to a specific socio-cultural history (and often tied to particular interests), people tend to view historical developments - and the social reality they face in a given moment - from specific perspectives. Many factors influence our perception, and it can turn our that this perception is too narrowly focused, or too generalizing. Oral history, family history but also school books, the media, the prevailing type of discourse in our specific society come into play. It is perhaps a fiction that a sober, objective, impartial analysis is possible in a world where the material interests of different "powers" and different classes are divergent, if not antagonistic, and where ideological coloring of discourses is often unnoticed by speakers (and the listeners) but nonetheless all the more present.

If different perspectives of the crisis of 2014 are possible, this attempt to situate it in a bigger, more profound, ongoing development that deserves to be called a "long, ongoing, antagonistic crisis" (or conflict) clearly presents one of several possible view. Those who live in the Baltic countries, or in Poland  (countries that were subjected by Czarist Russia, and later on experienced the Soviet reality in a painful way while also adding to the pain of [Soviet] Russian citizens)  obviously have their own story to tell and tend to have their own perspective. 

Outsiders may well understand the trauma that resulted and the specific "security interests" (in the face of a big Eastern neighbor) that have let them favor "integration" into NATO and the European Union, while resenting perhaps even the thought of Russian membership in either NATO or the EU. 

But historical experience has not only produced a trauma; it has also produced resentment. And as happens so often  (for who, in which country, is exempt from it? perhaps very few, a minority, in most cases, in our present world),  it has resulted in a selective memory that privileges the retelling of one's own suffering while largely ignoring the suffering afflicted on others. Or how would it be otherwise possible to feel no shame, in countries like Latvia, in view of the staunch participation of Lativian SS-troops since 1941, side by side with the Nazi-aggressor, in genocide against Jews and Slaves and in the fight against the alliance of Britain, the U.S. and the Soviet Union? How would it be otherwise possible in Poland to forget that country's expansionist eastward drive, its intervention in the Russian civil war, its war against a weak and defensive  Soviet Russian Republic, in the years after the end of World War I? Strife between neighbors rarely has no "pre-history" and it seems that in most cases, it would rarely allow us to put the blame squarely on one side. 

This said, it seems fair to point out that of course feelings of insecurity in the Baltics and Poland have to be respected, and the same is true of the wish (if it exists) of the majority of the people in these countries to belong to a neo-liberal politico-economic union directed by a Commission that is endowed with exceptional prerogatives (based on treaties, not popular will) and a parliament with no right to pass laws on its own accord. But so have the feelings of concern about an increasingly insecure global situation, that exist in many countries of the world. They are based on an analysis of NATO expansion since 1989 that implies a different perspective, by putting this expansion into the context of US-Russian relations and privileging a view of persisting tension between the US, as the only remaining  superpower since about 1990, and Russia. 

For those who do not desire an unipolar global constellation, the further strenghtening of the remaining superpower and the additional weakening of Russia must be a cause of concern. The Soviet reality has not only been painted in dark colors by Western Cold War rhetoric; even those who shared the ideals underlying the October Revolution question a lot of what went on in the Soviet Union and within its orbit. But the remaining superpower has a record that is not as favorable as it has been painted, at least by most Western media most of the time.  A Pax Americana might well be seen as the era of dominance of a country where an oligarchic, tiny elite quite ruthlessly pursues its particular interests. This does have repercussions, and not necessarily favorable ones, all around the world.

As far as Russia is concerned, it's not only the Western media (whose owners and editors - and with them, quite often, many of the employed  journalists -  make us stubbornly ignore the inadequacy and endangered reality of democracy in the U.S. and the EU) who point out the inadequacy of formal democracy in present-day Capitalist Russia. In Russia, there is a lot of discontent, too, just as in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, and a few other European countries. But 70 or 80 per cent of the adult Russian population, according to an article of the New York Times, favor the present Russian government's stance in the case of the present crisis over Crimea and its stance regarding the present Ukrainian leaders in Kiev. Even Gorbachev sees the reintegration of the Crimea into Russia as an understandable and historically justified act, and like the Russian president, he would not like to see a NATO presence in Ukraine and the Ukraine's informal or formal integration into that military alliance.

Like various observers in the West, Russian leaders see the NATO presence in the Baltic countries, its moves to integrate the Ukraine and Georgia, and the determination to establish a "missile defense shield" as a policy to establish a US nuclear first-strike capability. If achieved, it would subject future Russian governments to the diktat of the U.S. elites. And by eliminating the voice of Russia as a (potentially) independent voice, it would make a similar move against China even more likely, warding off every attempt of countries in the South to create a more evenly balanced, fairer, more democratic multi-polar constellation. 

Pessimists may see in the present crisis a symptom, comparable to the crises that foreshadowed World War I. So-called realists will try to paint such pessimism as unwarranted; they tell us that "deterrence" has "worked" quite well, that no nuclear power will risk a suicidal big war; and they forget how close the world was repeatedly, after 1945, to an accidentally or consciously unleashed World War. The Cuban Crisis should not be forgotten. If the stationing of missiles on Cuba had proceeded, everything would have been possible. Likewise, we must asks at least the question whether a cornered Russian leadership, faced with the on-going attempt to move nuclear attack weapons (bombers, warships, missiles) so close to the Russian front door, might not, in desparation, opt for a "first strike" before the other side does it? A scary question, and human reason should keep both sides from considering such steps. But which war was unleashed in this century that was not driven, in hindsight, by an absurd and criminal rationale

Promised Detente, Promises of Cooperation, and the Seeming End of the Cold War

In the 1980s, the crisis over the stationing of median-range missiles in Germany and Italy and the immense economic and human cost of the arms race unleashed by the Reagan administration, but also the promises inscibed in the tactics of Ostpolitik, pursued by West German governments (Bahr, Genscher, Brandt, finally even Genscher and Kohl) led the Soviet leadership to rethink certain positions.(1) The unwinnable war waged in Afghanistan against US-supported insurgents contributed to this process. Internally, a strategy to broaden popular support by increasing the standard of living had brought results in the 70s and early 80s but the arms race had increasingly made the strategy ineffective and thus internal dissatisfaction increased. (The negative social consequences of the arms race in the U.S. should not be ignored here, they included the deterioration of public infrastructure and a vast budget deficit.) The rise of Gorbachev and the increasingly socioal-democratic positions that replaced the "old thinking" among parts of the classe politique in the Soviet Union prefigured the diplomatic rapprochement that found expression in the promise to withdraw from Afghanistan and also in the ralks that lead up to the so-called Two Plus Four Treaty.

The Pre-history of the Two Plus Four Talks

July 1986
"In July 1986 six regiments, which consisted [of] up to 15,000 troops, were withdrawn from Afghanistan. The aim of this early withdrawal was, according to Gorbachev, to show the world that the Soviet leadership was serious about leaving Afghanistan. [...]The Soviets told the United States Government that they were planning to withdraw, but the United States Government didn't believe it. When Gorbachev met with Ronald Reagan during his visit the United States, Reagan called, bizarrely, for the dissolution of the Afghan army [...]"(2)

April 1988
On 14 April 1988 the Afghan and Pakistani governments signed the Geneva Accords, and the Soviet Union and the United States signed as guarantors; the treaty specifically stated that the Soviet military had to withdraw from Afghanistan by 15 February 1989.

January, 1990
“Gorbachev's worries[regarding the possible consequences of German unification][...] were eased by promises from the American, French and German government that NATO would expand no further to the east. Perhaps he was lulled by the fact that Time magazine chose him as the "Man of the Decade" for the first January issue, 1990, and in an accompanying essay  editor-at-large Strobe Talcott mused that "[i]t is about time to think seriously about eventually retiring [i.e. dissolving] the North Atlantic Treaty Organization." [...] (3)

Peter E. Quint mentions  “a crucial early suggestion of German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, advanced in January 1990, that eastern Germany [would] forever remain free of NATO troops. The purpose of Genscher's proposal  was to help make German membership in NATO palatable to the Soviet Union by assuring that after unification   NATO forces would not move closer to the borders of the Soviet Union  than they had been  before unification.”(4)

August, 1990:  The United States launched Operation Desert Storm. On August 7, 1990, the first U.S. troops arrived in Saudi Arabia.

The Two Plus Four Talks

September 12, 1990  The Two Plus Four Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), the German Democratic Republic (GDR), and the Four Powers that occupied Germany (US, UK, F and USSR)

"Two Plus Four" Treaty Signed in Moscow 
The "Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany" more commonly known as the "Two Plus Four Treaty" was the final peace treaty negotiated between the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic, and the Four Powers that occupied Germany at the end of World War II in Europe - France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union.The treaty was signed in Moscow on September 12, 1990. The treaty paved the way for the German re-unification, which took place on October 3. Under the terms of the treaty, the Four Powers renounced all rights they formerly held in Germany and re-united Germany became fully sovereign again on March 15, 1991. The Soviet Union agreed to remove all troops from Germany by the end of 1994. Germany agreed to limit its combined armed forces to no more than 370,000 personnel, no more than 345,000 of whom were to be in the army and air force. Germany also agreed it would never acquire nuclear weapons.  [...]

The countries shown in dark blue are "core" NATO countries. The countries depicted in green were "communist countries" in 1990.  West Germany (the FRG) is depicted in bright blue; East Germany (the GDR) in dark green. East Berlin was the capital of the GDR; West Berlin had a special status.  The promise given at the time to Mr. Gorbachev and Mr. Shevardnadze was that NATO troops other than a limited number of  West German NATO units would not be stationed East of West Germany's borders.
The question whether the Two Plus Four Treaty and other agreements between Western governments and the Soviet Union precluded eastwards expansion of NATO has given rise to controversy.
Quite obviously, Soviet leaders at the time understood the treaty (and other assurances they were given) as a clear commitment of the West that NATO would not expand.
Western diplomats have later said that no precise assurances were given. The treaty and the assurances could be read in the way the Russians read them, but they included enough gaps unnoticed by the Russians to allow eastward expansion later on, after the unification of Germany (and Soviet approval of unified Germany's membership in NATO) had been achieved. There exists, however, a general consensus that the West, in 1990, wanted the Soviet leaders to believe that a promise precluding NATO's further expansion had been made.

September 14, 1990  The German - Soviet Russian "Treaty on Good Neighborliness. Partnership and Cooperation"

On September 14, 1990, Serge Schmemann wrote in the New York Times that 
“[t]he Soviet Union and West Germany today initialed a broad ''treaty on good-neighborliness, partnership and cooperation'' setting a framework for relations between Moscow and a united Germany.Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher of West Germany and Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze of the Soviet Union, who initialed the document, hailed it as something of a historic breakthrough. [...] [T]he treaty [...] consisted largely of pledges of peace and cooperation. [...] [T]he document had been part of the package sought by the Soviet Union in exchange for its agreement to German unity. [...] [It amounted to a]  broad statement on the shape of future relations. [...] [A] united Germany was prepared to put its peaceful intentions on paper. […] The preamble declared that both sides were ''resolved to continue the good traditions of their centuries-old history,'' and spoke of ''historic challenges on the threshold to the third millennium. […] The document included statements banning aggression against each other and calling for annual summit meetings, consultation in times of crisis and expanded trade, travel and scientific cooperation. Though it had no detailed projects, officials said separate treaties detailing economic relations, including German financial aid for the Soviet Union and incentives for trade and investment, were under negotiation.  ''The treaty leads both our countries into the 21st century marked by responsibility, trust and cooperation,'' Mr. Genscher said. Mr. Shevardnadze called the treaty a ''historic document in spirit and content,'' adding: ''Now we can rightly say that the postwar era has ended. We are satisfied that the Federal Republic and we again appear as partners. This is a great thing.''
Serge Schmemann, “Moscow and Bonn in a 'Good Neighbor' Pact,” in: The New York Times, September 14, 1990

September 28, 1990
Meeting of the Representatives of the Baltic States, [in] Riga, Republic of Latvia September 28, 1990 To the members of the United States Senate: 
On September 12, 1990, the Two-Plus-Four Treaty was signed in Moscow as a result of negotiations on Germany’s reunification. On September 13, 1990, a bilateral Treaty on "Goodneighborliness, partnership and co-operation" was initiated in Moscow by the Soviet Union and the Federal Republic of Germany. Proceeding from those documents and taking into account the results of the Helsinki 90 Summit between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Baltic States welcome the reunification of Germany. 
However, Article 2 of the Soviet-German Treaty of September 13, 1990, contains principles that may be considered as acknowledging the Conquest of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union towards the end of World War II. 
The Baltic States draw attention to the dangers inherent in the unconditional ratification of Two-Plus-Four Treaty, which should settle the problems and borders of Germany, but should not be allowed to freeze the USSR western borders in further bilateral treaties, thus perpetuating a dangerous precedent. 
The Baltic States further consider that border issues in post-war Europe should not be solved only on the basis of Soviet territorial claims without participation of the Baltic States, but by opportunities provided within the framework of the CSCE process, and through negotiations with the Two-Plus-Four participant states. 
The rapid formation of a new security structure in Europe, based on bilateral treaties requires us to ask the United States Senate to express its sense in a legally binding conditional form as to the Two-Plus-Four Treaty and the United States’ non-recognition policy in regard to the forceful incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union. 
Endel Lippmaa
On behalf of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia 
Andrejs Krastins
On behalf of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia 
Ceslovas Stankevicius
On behalf of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania 
photocopy from original from the Popular Front of Latvia . 
(Source: “To the members of the United States Senate”, in: LETTONIE - RUSSIE, Traités et documents de base

“During 1990-91, the  […] Warsaw Pact disappeared.” [Joseph Laurence Black,  Russia Faces NATO Expansion: Bearing Gifts Or Bearing Arms? Lanham MD / Oxford UK (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.) 2000, p.6]

January 12, 1991
"U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing the use of military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait."

January 1991 
Evidence of the  "illegal arming of [secessionist] Croatia and preparations for the war [was] aired on TV." 

May - June 1991
Rising ethnic violence [erupted] in Croatia. Slovenia and Croatia declare[d] independence. 

September 1991
JNA forces openly attack Croat areas (primarily Dalmatia and Slavonia), starting the Croatian War of Independence. Battle of Vukovar begins. 

November  1991
“In November 1991, at the Rome Summit, the Alliance approved a new strategic concept, which was marked by a shift from the primacy of collective defense and a decision” in favor of interventionism; for instance in “intra-state conflicts” (as was to happen in Yugoslavia). "The concept emphasized the danger of instability on NATO'S periphery […] Territorial disputes, ethnic conflicts, and economic crises […] were among the potential unsettling forces NATO decided to monitor" and deal with. "It was at the Rome Summit [of 1991] that the Alliance created an institutional mechanism for dealing with members of the rapidly disintegrating Warsaw Treaty Organization [...]"  In order to draw Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Baltic into the orbit of NATO, it was decided in 1991 to set up the "North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC)" that would orchestrate informal military cooperation and coordination as a first step towards full integration. [Joseph Laurence Black, ibidem, p.8] 

December 1991
The Soviet Union was dissolved on 26 December 1991

“the government headed by Boris Yeltsin "maintained a strongly Western and reformist orientation. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev pushed integration with the West" [...]”  [ Joseph Laurence Black, ibidem, p.9] 

Joseph L. Black claims that the Yeltsin  “government "was forced to retreat"” from its "strongly Western" course in 1993. In Black's opinion this must be interpreted as a result of the “elections of 1993 [that]  weakened its position internally.”  [ Joseph Laurence Black, ibidem, p.9] But at the same time, Black is compelled to admit that in 1993 the Russian  leadership was concerned that “Romania might make a grab for Moldavia, [...] and the Baltic states could follow the Visegrad group (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia) into the [NATO] Alliance” into which they had been informally integrated as recently adopted members of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC).[ Joseph Laurence Black, p.9] 

In 1993, “NATO enlargement was already perceived […] as  the creation of a buffer zone in reverse, a means to isolate the new Russia from continental Europe.” 

February 1994
“In early 1994, the unrelenting  character of NATO'S plans to recruit new members  began to trigger responses at the highest level in Russia.  In February of that year, Yeltsin felt so threatened by the possibility of NATO expanding without consulting Russia that he emphasized his country's opposition to it in his annual message to the Federal Assembly, and in a separate television address to the nation.[...] The presidential statement was much stronger  than an earlier recommendation by Kozyrev that Russia work with NATO's North Atlantic Cooperation Council "to strengthen  mutual trust and developing cooperation" as an alternative to a "faster expansion of NATO."[…] Interestingly, in 1994 there was a feeling within [Russian] military circles that Russia might eventually join NATO itself.” (Joseph Laurence Black, ibidem,  p.9)

Late 1996
Madeleine Albright is named first female US Secretary of State. As UN ambassador, Albright had argued in favor of early military intervention in Bosnia. 

January 31, 1997
“Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin of Russia assailed the expansion of NATO today [...] ''We are warning today that NATO has not changed,'' Mr. Chernomyrdin said, referring to the Western alliance's formation as a military bulwark against Soviet expansion during the cold war. ''Any movement of NATO infrastructure to the Russian boundary would do no good. Rather it would do bad.''
Edmund C. Andrews, “Russian Hints at Compromise Over NATO”, in: The New York Times, Jan.31, 1997.

December 1996
In December 1996, NATO foreign ministers agreed to seek an agreement with the Russian Federation on arrangements to deepen and widen the scope of NATO-Russian relations, primarily to offset the largely negative impact on those relations caused by NATO's decision to enlarge

March-July 1997
“Despite stern Russian opposition, the Western alliance is planning a July summit in Madrid at which it expects to invite former Soviet satellites Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join by 1999 [as full members of NATO]. […] 
Solana said in London last week that NATO and Russia were about to start work on the text of a new strategic security partnership. Citing unidentified diplomatic sources, Agence France Presse said Monday that Solana had submitted to Primakov a draft "framework agreement" aimed at easing Russian concerns about NATO. […] 
Solana is to visit four Central Asian republics -- Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan [an indication of the West's attempt to establisg a foothold in Central Asia and recruit new strategic "partners"]-- before returning to Brussels on Saturday.”  (Ian MacWilliam, “NATO, Russia Upbeat After Solana Visit,” in: The Moscow Times, March 11, 1997).

May 14, 1997
“NATO and Russia reached tentative agreement Wednesday on a new charter to govern relations after NATO begins its eastward expansion, a move Moscow has opposed.  The deal worked out after a second day of talks between Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana follows months of tough negotiations between the two former Cold War foes and must still be approved by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and ambassadors from NATO's 16 member nations. Final details were not immediately available so it was not clear if all differences had been fully resolved. Both sides hope the deal can be signed at a ceremony May 27 in Paris.” 
“Until now, a breakthrough had been blocked by disagreements over whether the pact should include written guarantees that NATO will not station military structures and nuclear weapons on the territory of new member states. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been reluctant to give such guarantees in writing. Shea said the deal provides assurances to Russia that "the forthcoming enlargement of NATO is not going to lead to any negative military consequences for Russia."  […] Yeltsin has said he would not sign an unsatisfactory agreement and told Primakov to take a tough line in the sixth round of Russia-NATO talks on the pact. Yeltsin had also said repeatedly that Russia would not back NATO's plans to invite some Eastern European countries to join the alliance at a summit in Madrid in July. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are expected to receive the first invitations to join NATO, though Romania and Slovenia also hope to be in the first wave. Moscow regards enlargement as a security threat. ” 
(N.N., [with Moscow Bureau Chief  Jill Dougherty, Correspondent Betsy Aaron and  REUTERS all contributing to this report], “NATO and Russia reach partnership pact,” in:    CNN, May 14, 1997.

May 27, 1997: The Founding Act

“On May 27 in Paris, Russian President Boris Yeltsin joined President Bill Clinton and the leaders of the 15 other NATO member states in signing the "Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation."”

[...] the Act "defines the goals and mechanism of consultation, cooperation, joint decision-making and joint action that will constitute the core of the mutual relations between NATO and Russia."
The Act establishes a NATO-Russian Permanent Joint Council which is to begin functioning by the end of September 1997]. The Act also contains NATO's qualified pledge not to deploy nuclear weapons or station troops in the new member states and refines the basic "scope and parameters" for an adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.”
“[...] In the second section, which contains the only concrete action in the Act, NATO and Russia establish the NATO-Russian Permanent Joint Council. The Council is intended as "a mechanism for consultations, coordination and, ...where appropriate, for joint decisions and joint action with respect to security issues of common concern."
“In the final section of the Act, which deals with political-military matters, NATO restates that it has "no intention, no plan and no reason," [at the moment] to deploy or store nuclear weapons on the territory of new members. [...]
“[T]he Act notes that NATO will "carry out its collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces." [...] But, the Act cautions, NATO "will have to rely on adequate infrastructure commensurate with the above tasks."

“[D]espite its intention "to overcome the vestiges of past confrontation and competition and to strengthen mutual trust and cooperation" (in the words of Solana), the Founding Act was and is viewed by many in Russia [...] with decided ambivalence.

“The first section of the Act elaborates the basic principles for establishing common and comprehensive security in Europe. These principles include strengthening the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), responding to new risks and challenges "such as aggressive nationalism, proliferation..., terrorism, [and] persistent abuse of human rights...," and basing NATO-Russian relations on a shared commitment to democracy, political pluralism, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and the development of free market economies. 
NATO and Russia also pledge to refrain from the threat or use of force against each other or other states, to respect the independence and territorial integrity of all states and the inviolability of borders, to foster mutual transparency, to settle disputes by peaceful means and to support, "on a case-by-case basis" [...], peacekeeping operations carried out under the UN Security Council.

“At the signing ceremony, [...] Yeltsin described the Act as containing "an obligation not to deploy NATO combat forces on a permanent basis near Russia," and as "a firm and absolute commitment for all signatory states." [US-]Administration officials, on the other hand, made it very clear they consider the Act to be only politically, and not legally, binding and therefore not requiring Senate approval. Jeremy Rosner, Special Assistant to the President for NATO Enlargement, said, "the Founding Act itself states explicitly that the Act does not limit NATO's ability to act independently, and it does not apply—it's not legally binding —doesn't apply any limitations on NATO's military policy from the outside."

In 1998 the Duma adopted a statement which made it clear “that Russia's security arrangement and relations with the [North Atlantic Treatry Organization] Alliance would have to be reviewed if NATO changed its stance towards the Baltic countries, especially Latvia.” 
The Russian reaction was partly due to the fact that the Latvian government “granted permission  to veterans of the Latvian voluntary SS Legion to celebrate its 55th anniversary (Interfax, 16 March).”  Soon after the old members of the SS  had received permission for an official celebration of their voluntary and eager  participation in Hitler Germany's war of aggression and in repeated acts of genocide, a war memorial that served to remind people of the fact that the Red Army had paid a high price in order to defeat Hitler's Wehrmacht, was vandalized in Latvia. (Joseph Laurence Black, ibidem,  p. 215) 
NATO emissaries and Western diplomats nonetheless continued their concerted effort to integrate Latvia (as well as Lithuania and Estonia) into the Western alliance. In July 1998, “Strobe Talbott's participation in the first session of the Commission for Partnership between the United States and the Baltic Countries” [Black, ibidem, p.219] was an indication that the US were working determinedly to achieve NATO integration.  “Talbott endorsed a communiqué which implied that the Baltic countries were prepared for entry into NATO.” (Black,ibidem,  p.219)  Clearly, “the United States was ignoring Russia's hope for a “blockless” European security system.” (Joseph Laurence Black, ibidem,  p.219) 

J.L. Black mentions “Russia's [...]  proposals, in Stockholm, of a northern secturity system”  and the fact that this was “summarily dismissed by Sweden and the Baltic states [….]”. 
In 1998, Norway expelled five Russian diplomats on charges of spying,  as that country got ready for “a large scale NATO military exercise (Strong Resolve 98), the venue of which was Norway, the North Sea, and the Norwegian Sea […].”   For observers in Russia it was clear that “the expulsion of Russian diplomats” was linked “directly to the war games.” (Joseph Laurence Black, ibidem, p.216)

“In May [1998], Adamkus informed a Russian interviewer that Lithuania's aspiration to join NATO should not be viewed as opposition to Russia. He went on to predict that Russia itself would eventually join"NATO as the all- European security system." [...] 
Solana told a Russian NTV audience on 26 May that whereas “every country has the right to choose security structures in which it wants to participate,” NATO will “take Russia's opinion [about Baltic entry] into account.”[...]
In June, he went so far as to moot Russian membership and spoke tentatively, while visiting the Baltic capitals,  of the possibility of a separate security scheme for the Baltic region to include Russia. This concept, even though speculative, cheered some Russian observers.[...] 
Russia itself was encouraged to play a greater role in NATO activities, a fact evidenced by an agreement that a platoon of Baltic Fleet marines would join a military exercise in Northern Denmark in late May, and that Russia would send observers to the Baltic Challenge 98, a NATO maneuver scheduled for Lithuania in July.[...]” (Joseph Laurence Black, inbidem, p.217)

In view of the obvious fact that the West was bent on including Lithuania, Latvia and Estland in its NATO military alliance, Russia's government made it quite clear that “military integration of the Baltic countries with NATO was unacceptable.” (Joseph Laurence Black, ibidem,, p.219)

The US elites wanted the continuation of a bloc dominated by them, and they wanted to exclude Russia from membership in that bloc. 
“A large-scale NATO exercise near Klaipeda was being projected and NATO's plans to set up  a corps headquarters in Poland's Szczecin were ominous. Spokesmen for the Russian military claimed that the new corps represented a direct violation of Article IV of theFounding Act. [Joseph Laurence Black, ibidem, p.219]

Jan. 13, 1998
Renewed crisis in Iraq as President Saddam Hussein bans weapons team led by US inspector. 

Feb. 23, 1998
US diplomat Robert Gelbard publicly calls KLA [Kosova Liberation Army = UCK] "without any question a terrorist group"

Aug. 20, 1998
US launches cruise missile attack on Afghanistan and Sudan 
in response to Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam embassy bombings. In polls, significant numbers of Americans say they believe the attacks were staged to divert attention from the Lewinsky scandal. 

Sept 23, 1998
UN Security Council approves Resolution 1199  demanding cease-fire, Serb withdrawal and refugee return and calling for unspecified "additional measures" if Serbia refuses to comply. 

Sept.24, 1998
In Vilamoura, Portugal, NATO Defense Ministers give NATO's Supreme Commander permission to issue an activation warning (ACTWARN) -- the first real step in preparation for airstrikes. 

Sept. 30, 1998
At principals committee meeting, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright pushes for airstrikes against Serbia. Administration briefs Capitol Hill on the plan. Meeting Congressional resistance, the Administration notes it has no plans to send ground troops to Kosovo, even as peacekeepers. 

March 9, 1998
"Contact Group" countries (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Russia) meet in London to discuss Kosovo.

Jan.15, 1999
The Racak Massacre. In retaliation for KLA attack on 4 policemen, Serb security forces kill 45 Kosovo Albanians. KVM Director William Walker arrives on scene following day, forcefully blames Serbia in front of television cameras. Milosevic refuses to allow war crimes prosecutor Judge Louise Arbour to visit Racak. 

Jan. 19, 1999
In light of Racak massacre, National Security Adviser  Sandy Berger   reconvenes Principals Committee. Albright's push for military ultimatum wins the day. At same time, NATO SACEUR Wesley Clark and NATO military council chairman Gen. Klaus Naumann meet with Milosevic in Serbia in tense seven-hour meeting. Milosevic claims Racak was staged by the KLA, calls Clark a war criminal. 

Jan. 27, 1999
Joint statement on Kosovo by Albright and Russia's Ivanov. Clinton meets with foreign policy team to discuss post-Racak strategy. 

Mar.24, 1999   The Kosovo air war begins.

April 28, 1999
House of Representatives votes largely along party lines to reject a resolution supporting air war, demonstrating continuing mistrust of Clinton and his Balkans policy

May 7, 1999
In night of extensive bombing, NATO planes [...] target Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing 3 and wounding 20. [...] In a separate incident, a NATO cluster bomb misses an airfield and strikes a market and a hospital near Nis 

May 11, 1999
Chernomyrdin and Jiang Zemin confer in Beijing, criticize bombing. 

May 27, 1999
In secret Bonn meeting, US Defense Sec. Cohen meets with NATO defense ministers to discuss possible invasion; allies conclude that governments must decide soon whether to assemble ground troops. International War Crimes Tribunal announces indictment of Milosevic and four other FRY and Serbian officials. 

May 30, 1999
NATO bombs a bridge in Varvarin, killing and wounding civilians on board a passenger train that was crossing the bridge.. 

June 1, 1999
Final round of talks between Talbott, Chernomyrdin and Ahtisaari begins. Discussion continues up until negotiators depart for Belgrade two days later. FRY informs Germany of its readiness to accept G8 principles for ending bombing. 

June 8, 1999
During G8 talks in Cologne, allies and Russia reach agreement on possible UN resolution to sanction the peace deal. 

June 9, 1999
After more discussions, NATO and FRY officials finally initial a Military Technical Agreement  to govern the Serb withdrawal from Kosovo. 

June 10, 1999
Solana requests suspension of NATO bombing, and the Security Council adopts resolution 1244  permitting the deployment of the international civil and military authorities in Kosovo.

June 12, 1999
In a move that surprises allied commanders, approximately 200 Russian troops leave Bosnia, travel through Serbia and enter Kosovo before NATO, taking control of Pristina airport. 

Oct. 7, 2001
October 7: (9 p.m. local time): the United States, supported by Britain, begins its attack on Afghanistan, launching bombs and cruise missiles against Taliban military and communications facilities and suspected terrorist training camps. Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat were hit. 

In 2002, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which called for Iraq to completely cooperate with UN weapon inspectors to verify that Iraq was not in possession of WMD and cruise missiles.

[March 2003]
The Second Gulf War usually refers to the Iraq War (March 2003 to December 2011), a two-phase conflict comprising an initial invasion of Iraq led by US and UK forces and a longer, seven-year phase of occupation and fighting with insurgents. 

[April 22-23, 2010]
“Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with president of the USA think tank the Brookings Institution and former American under secretary of state Strobe Talbott and former foreign policy leader of the European Union Javier Solana to discuss Estonia’s activities in NATO and the European Union and developments in Russia, Ukraine and Georgia. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that Strobe Talbott’s work as an important creator of American foreign policy during the presidency of Bill Clinton set a foundation for Estonia and many other nations to join NATO. “Now, as a member of NATO and the European Union, Estonia has become a strong supporter of extending of the values of these organisations,” said Paet. We feel it is especially important to share our experiences with acceding states. Estonia and other like-minded nations are attempting to support the European Union’s Eastern Partners and keep them in focus. Within the framework of these endeavours, we plan to establish an Eastern Partnership training centre at Tallinn’s Estonian School of Diplomacy,” said Foreign Minister Paet. Paet noted that co-operation and exchanging ideas with various think tanks, including the experts at the Brookings Institute, will certainly be helpful for the establishment of the training centre. Another topic discussed was European Union-USA co-operation. According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, close co-operation between the European Union and the USA is the basis for stability, economic growth, and lasting development in the Euro-Atlantic region.[...]” (N.N.,“[Estonian] Foreign Minister Paet Met with Javier Solana and Strobe Talbott”, in:  [Press Release on the occasion of an official meeting in Talinn, April 22-23, 2010])

Olivier Zajec, "The Good Ones, the Brute and Crimea: The Anti-Russian Obsession,"
in: Le Monde diplomatique, Vol. 61, No. 721 (April, 2014),  p. 1 and p.4.

September 2012
In 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney as saying that Russia is a geopolitical adversary […] My own view is that Russia has a very different agenda than ours and that we ought to recognize that, and that we should pursue our interests, but recognize Russia as having a different course.” (Mitchell Landsberg and Robin Abcarian, “Mitt Romney Calls Russia 'Geopolitical Adversary',”  in: The Los Angeles Times, Sept.10,2012

March 23, 2014
Russia's adversarial behaviour neccesitates a strategic response, General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) has said. […] As for NATO's future, he said Crimea means: "changing our deployment, readiness and force structure. We have moved F-16s from Italy to Poland and the Baltics and we have shifted some of our naval assets to be engaged in the Black Sea. There are other things we are considering but I cannot make that public right now." Asked if the alliance should put countervailing pressure on Moscow by conducting exercises close to the border of Kaliningrad, its enclave in the Baltic region, Breedlove said no. "I don't think that would be a good idea. There are lots of ways we can position forces by moving them eastward to reassure our allies. But having an exercise around Kaliningrad would be very escalatory and not help things," he said. ” (Brooks Tigner, “Russia behaving 'like an adversary', says SACEUR,” in:  IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, March 23, 2014

In March, 2014, “Mr. Romney's assertion in the 2012 presidential debates that Russia was America's top geopolitical foe […]” was practically a repeat of what Romney had said in 2012. (Mark Sappenfield, “Mitt Romney: Russia not an enemy, it's 'our geopolitical adversary.',” in: The Christian Science Monitor, March 23, 2014

March 24, 2014
“MADRID – Even Mikhail Gorbachev, who presided over the dissolution of the Soviet Union with scarcely a shot fired, has proclaimed his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea. The people of Crimea, he says,  have corrected a historic Soviet error. Gorbachev’s sentiment is widely shared in Russia. [...]”
Javier Solana, “Stabilizing Ukraine”, in: Project Syndicat, March 24, 2014.

April 1, 2014
“Although Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s saber rattling is attempting to restore some of the splintered Soviet Empire, and restoring its grandeur as a Eurasian power to be reckoned with, that train has long passed. […] as a long-term adversary to the U.S., Russia is no match. […] The obvious ascending economic superpower of this century’s second half is destined to be China. Its incredible growth is also, surprisingly, developing a consumer demand populace, second only to the U.S. today. Even in the military sector, which the U.S. has dominated since the second world war, China is rapidly expanding, while the U.S. is diminishing. What seems to make China less of a geopolitical threat than Russia is that Beijing does not now harbor confrontation with the European Union, or the West in general. It is thereby not threatening the U.S.’s integral NATO and Eurocom Alliance, or other direct interests. But this could change [...]”  (Morris Beschloss, “Is Russia or China America’s Most Dangerous Geopolitical Adversary?,” in: The Desert Sun (A Gannett Company newspaper), April 1, 2014

April 6, 2014
N. Krainova points out different assessments of “the new government in Kiev, which Moscow has said is illegitimate but the West recognizes.”  She then goes on to say that “EU foreign ministers met in Athens to discuss the ongoing Ukraine crisis [...] as NATO prepares to boost its military presence in Europe” “Concerned about possible military aggression from Russia, Poland has asked NATO for protection. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Saturday that "the strengthening of NATO's presence [in Poland], also military presence, has become a fact and will be visible in the coming days, weeks," Reuters reported. NATO will draft a plan for the deployment of its forces by mid-April. NATO's plans for Poland were publicized a day after Russia recalled its top military representative to NATO, General Valery Yevnevich, for consultations.  Russia, for its part, apparently sought to ease Poland's fears last Thursday.” (Natalya Krainova, “Protesters Storm Buildings in Ukraine as West Ponders Next Move,” in: The Moscow Times, Apr. 6, 2014)



Regarding the Soviet débâcle in Afghanistan that was one of the factors leading to Gorbachev's decision to seek an end to the Cold War, see for instance:

- Jan van Houten (compiler)

Go to Art in Society # 14, Contents


(1) In hindsight, it is possible to say that Ostpolitik and the arms race, employed by the West, functioned like the proverbial carrot and the stick.
(2) Source: N.N., “Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, ”, in:

(3) Joseph Laurence Black, Russia Faces NATO Expansion: Bearing Gifts Or Bearing Arms? Lanham MD / Oxford UK (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.) 2000, p.7
 (4) “[A] crucial early suggestion of German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, advanced in January 1990, [was] that eastern Germany [would] forever remain free of NATO troops. The purpose of Genscher's proposal  was to help make German membership in NATO palatable to the Soviet Union by assuring that after unification   NATO forces would not move closer to the borders of the Soviet Union  than they had been  before unification.”
(Peter E. Quint, The Imperfect Union: Constitutional Structures of German Unification, PrincetonNJ (Princeton Univ.Press) 1997, p.273.)
In January, 1990, thus during the period leading up to the Two Plus Four Treaty, “a crucial [...] suggestion” regarding the “military status of eastern Germany had been made by German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher” in a conversation with Gorbachev. Genscher had said  “that eastern Germany [should] forever remain free of NATO troops. The purpose of Genscher's proposal  was to help make German membership in NATO palatable to the Soviet Union by assuring that after unification NATO forces would not move closer to the borders of the Soviet Union than they had been  before unification. But "as a result of western – particularly American – influence," the final agreement did not make as much of a concession to the Soviet Union on this point as Genscher had originally proposed.” Gorbachev agreed that Germany should be fully sovereign but no NATO troops other than a limited number of German units integrated in NATO should be stationed in what had been the GDR (so-called East Germany). (Peter E. Quint, The Imperfect Union: Constitutional Structures of German Unification, PrincetonNJ (Princeton Univ.Press) 1997, p.273.)

“The "Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany" more commonly known as the "Two Plus Four Treaty" was the final peace treaty negotiated between the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic, and the Four Powers that occupied Germany at the end of World War II in Europe - France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union.The treaty was signed in Moscow on September 12, 1990. The treaty paved the way for the German re-unification, which took place on October 3. Under the terms of the treaty, the Four Powers renounced all rights they formerly held in Germany and re-united Germany became fully sovereign again on March 15, 1991. The Soviet Union agreed to remove all troops from Germany by the end of 1994. Germany agreed to limit its combined armed forces to no more than 370,000 personnel, no more than 345,000 of whom were to be in the army and air force. Germany also agreed it would never acquire nuclear weapons. [...]” 
(The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

“[T]he four Allied powers [...]declared that they "hereby terminate their rights and responsibilities relating to Berlin and to Germany as a whole" [….] Consequently, "the united Germany  shall have … full sovereignty over its internal and external affairs." [...]” (Peter E. Quint, The Imperfect Union: Constitutional Structures of German Unification, PrincetonNJ (Princeton Univ.Press) 1997, p.275)

“In accordance with the agreement reached by Kohl and Gorbachev in the Caucasus, article 6 of the Two Plus Four agreement permits united Germany to belong to “alliances, with all the rights and responsibilities arising from them.” (Peter E. Quint, The Imperfect Union: Constitutional Structures of German Unification, PrincetonNJ (Princeton Univ.Press) 1997, p. 273)

“[According] to article 5, section 3 [of the Two Plus Four Treaty], German troops, including German troops integrated in NATO, could be stationed in former GDR territory after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, but foreign troops may never be stationed in that territory, nor may they be "deployed" there. Thus, after the departure of Soviet troops, only German NATO forces, but not NATO forces of other nations, may be stationed or deployed in eastern Germany. Accordingly, one part of unified Germany – the territory of the former GDR – will remain  under permanent limitations with respect to the presence of foreign armed forces.” (Peter E. Quint, The Imperfect Union: Constitutional Structures of German Unification, PrincetonNJ (Princeton Univ.Press) 1997, p. 273) 

“As a consequence of German unification, “NATO's domain was extended eastward to include the territory of the former GDR.” [Joseph Laurence Black, Russia Faces NATO Expansion: Bearing Gifts Or Bearing Arms?  2000, p.6] 

Commenting on the German Soviet Treaty of Sept 14, 1990, Serge Schmemann also noted that "Western diplomats" played down the significance of promises of partnership and cooperation, saying that the wording of the treaty "was for domestic consumption [in Russia], to demonstrate to a nation reared on the accounts of Soviet sacrifices in World War II that a united Germany was prepared to put its peaceful intentions on paper." The New York Times probably echoed statements by U.S. diplomats when it emphasized that "the treaty included few concrete agreements" - suggesting in fact that the "pledges of peace and cooperation" were mere words without much concrete significance. (Serge Schmemann, “Moscow and Bonn in a 'Good Neighbor' Pact,” in: The New York Times, September 14, 1990)

In January 1992, the so-called Vance peace plan was signed that was supposed to lead to the  creation of 4 UNPA zones for Serb-controlled territories, and that brought an end to large-scale military operations in Croatia. UNPROFOR forces arrived to monitor the peace treaty.

In February-March 1992, the Carrington–Cutileiro peace plan marked an attempt to prevent Bosnia-Herzegovina from sliding into war. It proposed ethnic power-sharing on all administrative levels and the devolution of central government to local ethnic communities. On  March 18, 1992, all three sides signed the agreement but ten days later, Alija Izetbegovic,who represented the Bosniak (Muslim) side, withdrew his signature and declared his opposition to any type of partition of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A day later, the government led by  Izetbegovic declared independence and the war began.

“[T]he German government's efforts to create national military command and planning structures, or a Fuehrungs- kommando [...]” [p.228] [had] “the purpose […] to facilitate German particpationin  multilateral out-of-area military operations that are not under NATO  command.  [….] No longer restricted to the defense of German territory, the Bundeswehr has been deployed for an increasingly wide range of out of area missions. [...] [H]owever, one must […] differentiate between […] willful use of force  [a] in the pursuit of national interests” and  [b] German participation in military interventions “dictated by the pressures [….] and […] expectations of Germany's partners” – notably the U.S. [or France, in the context of interventions in the Sahel zone]. [p.229]
(John S. Duffield, World Power Forsaken: Political Culture, International Institutions, and  German Security Policy After Unification. Stanford CA (Stanford University Press) 1998.)
Peter Rodman of the Nixon Center, echoing conservatives in Congress and the press, argued that the Act "promises to complicate NATO decision-making in future crises in Europe or the Middle East." He acknowledges, "it's not at all clear that we bought Russian acquiescence in NATO enlargement..." but concludes, "having paid this price to the Russians, we have no choice but to go forward. The worst of all worlds would be to have paid this price and then not proceed with the NATO project to be launched at Madrid."
The Act's reception among Russians was equally diverse. While in Paris, Yeltsin praised the document. But on the eve of the Act's signature, Yeltsin cautioned that NATO would "fully undermine" its relations with Russia if it expanded to include any of the former Soviet Republics, generally understood to pertain to the Baltics and Ukraine. (Foreign Minister Primakov said Russia remains "categorically against" NATO expansion to include any former Soviet republics.) Sandy Berger, the president's National Security Advisor, when briefing the press four days after the Paris Summit, said, "We have made it very clear in the Founding Act and in all of our discussions publicly and privately with the Russians that we don't believe that any nation is or should be excluded from potential membership in NATO if they meet the criteria and they seek to be members."
Yeltsin, in his radio address to the Russian people on May 30, described the Act as an effort "to minimize the negative consequences of NATO's expansion and prevent a new split in Europe." He then described the agreement—inaccurately, according to Western officialsas "enshrining NATO's pledge not to deploy nuclear weapons on the territories of its new member countries, not [to] build up its armed forces near our borders...nor carry out relevant infrastructure preparations."
(Jack Mendelsohn, “The NATO Russian Founding Act,” in:
The Arms Control Association

Viktoriia Ivanova, “Rasshirenie NATO bylo i ostaetsia nepriemlemym” [NATO Expansion Was and Remains Unacceptable], in: Nezavisimaia gazeta, May 14, 1998.

Aleksei Baliev, “Protiv kogo druzhat Amerika s Baltiei?” [Against Whom Did America Become Friendly  with the Baltics?], in: Rossiiskaia gazeta, July 17, 1998.

Nikolai Lashkevich, “NATO uzhe pod Klaipedoi” [NATO Already Near Klaipeda], in: Izvestiia, July 10, 1998.

Igor Korotchenko, “Al'ians ukrepliaet pozitsii na Baltike. Formirovanie datsko-pol'sko-germanskogo korpusa pereshlo v zavershaiushchuiu fazu” [The Alliance Strengthens Its Position on the Baltic: The Formation of a Danish-Polish-German Corps Moves towards Completion], in: Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie, No, 48, Dec.17-24, 1998.

As editor-at-large of Time magazine, Strobe Talbott had said (in the first January issue of 1990)  that "[i]t is about time to think seriously about eventually retiring [i.e. dissolving] the North Atlantic Treaty Organization." (Joseph Laurence Black, ibidem, p.7) As a member of an important Cold War think-tank and a career diplomat, Talbott may have been playing his pre-meditated role of "lulling"  Gorbachev whom he made "man of the year" in January 1990. Others involved in such sweet-talk were Mr. Genscher and Mr. Kohl. Gorbachev was deeply concerned that the arms race and the concomitant tension could lead to accidental unleashing of a nuclear holocaust. He, like others in the Soviet leadership, had also become thoroughly social-democratic ideologically, seeking a "third way" characterized by democracy and a "socialist market economy" - the latter a tendency that took into account "consumerist" desires of the common people, sweeping aside rigorous bureaucratic central planning.The decisive weakening of rigorous central planning and  the transformation of the plan into a broad framework that left much to the dynamics of the market had been the central objective of the economic reforms that were based on proposals by Prof. Liberman. Gorbachev and others seem to have thought that the West German welfare state that had been strengthened by the Brandt government came pretty close to their own idea of reformed "socialism."  They took the promises of West German Ostpolitik at face value, and as fairly idealistic humanists they hoped for a real understanding, a true entente, and especially - quite concretely - stepped-up economic, scientific and cultural cooperation with an eventually united Germany. It was clear to them that real entente required the dissolution of military alliances (both the Warsaw Pact and NATO had to be dissolved). This, to them, was a matter of good will and honesty. 

[The Gulf War of 2003ff.]
Prior to the war, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom claimed that Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed a threat to their security and that of their coalition/regional allies.[...] 

In 2002, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which called for Iraq to completely cooperate with UN weapon inspectors to verify that Iraq was not in possession of WMD and cruise missiles. Prior to the attack, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) found no evidence of WMD, but could not yet verify the accuracy of Iraq's declarations regarding what weapons it possessed, as their work was still unfinished. The leader of the inspectors, Hans Blix, estimated the time remaining for disarmament being verified through inspections to be "months".

After further investigation  had been  undertaken, subsequent to the illegal  invasion, the US-led Iraq Survey Group concluded that Iraq had ended its nuclear, chemical and biological programs in 1991 [...].