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NATO Partisans Started a New Cold War with Russia

December 27, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

When historians examine the first few decades of the so-called
post-Cold War era, they are likely to marvel at the clumsy and
provocative policies that the United States and its NATO allies
pursued toward Russia. Perceptive historians will conclude that a
multitude of insensitive actions by those governments poisoned
relations with Moscow, and by the latter years of the Obama
administration, led to the onset of a new cold war. During the
Trump administration, matters grew even worse, and that cold war
threatened to turn hot.

Since the history of our era is still being written, we have an
opportunity to avoid such a cataclysmic outcome. However, the
behavior of America’s political, policy, and media elites in
response to the latest parochial quarrel between Russia and Ukraine
regarding the
Kerch Strait
suggests that they learned nothing from their
previous blunders. Worse, they seem determined to intensify an
already counterproductive, hardline policy toward Moscow.

U.S. leaders managed to get relations with Russia wrong just a
few years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of
1991. One of the few officials to capture the nature of the West’s
bungling and how it fomented tensions was Robert Gates, who served
as secretary of defense during the final years of George W. Bush’s
administration and the first years of Barack Obama’s. In his
surprisingly
candid memoirs
, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,
Gates recalls his report to Bush following the 2007 Munich Security
Council, at which Russian President Vladimir Putin vented about
Western security transgressions, including the planned deployment
of a missile defense system in Central Europe.

“When I reported to the president my take on the Munich
conference, I shared my belief that from 1993 onward, the West, and
particularly the United States, had badly underestimated the
magnitude of the Russian humiliation in losing the Cold War …
.” Yet even that blunt assessment given to Bush did not fully
capture Gates’s views on the issue. “What I didn’t tell the
president was that I believed the relationship with Russia had been
badly mismanaged after [George H. W.] Bush left office in 1993.
Getting Gorbachev to acquiesce to a unified Germany as a member of
NATO had been a huge accomplishment. But moving so quickly after
the collapse of the Soviet Union to incorporate so many of its
formerly subjugated states into NATO was a mistake.”

Specific U.S. actions were ill-considered as well, in Gates’s
view. “U.S. agreements with the Romanian and Bulgarian governments
to rotate troops through bases in those countries was a needless
provocation.”

His list of foolish or arrogant Western actions went on. Citing
NATO’s …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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