Tag Archives: nato

Russia’s Evaporated Soft Power

Yesterday’s surprise endorser for Georgia in NATO was Angela Merkel. Today’s in Eduard Shevardnadze:

War could have been prevented, says Sheverdnadze – The Irish Times – Mon, Aug 18, 2008
But Shevardnadze supports the enlargement of Nato to former Soviet republics: “There was a referendum in Georgia and 70 per cent of Georgians said Yes to joining NATO. It’s true the Russians don’t like it . . . But I don’t consider Nato an aggressive organisation.

The Atlantic alliance had its reasons for dampening Georgian and Ukrainian hopes for rapid membership at the Bucharest summit in April. “Our democratic development didn’t correspond to their standards,” Shevardnadze said.

“But if we had been members of Nato, what is happening today would not have happened. All the countries who refused support our membership today.”

As if to confirm Shevardnadze’s words, German chancellor Angela Merkel, who arrived in Tbilisi yesterday afternoon, said Georgia should join Nato.

Shevardnadze (the former President of Georgia, and before that the Soviet Union’s Foreign Minister) is, along with Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Islom Karimov of Uzbekistan, and Viktor Yushchenko, part of a constellation of post-Soviet leaders that were formerly closely tied to Russia. Russia’s “soft power” was made possible by Boris Yeltsin, the last President of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the first President of hte Russian Federation. Yeltsin, along with Lukashenko, Karimov, Yuschenko, and others, grew up in the Soviet system, and were used to a world where Moscow acted as a model and guide for the smaller republics in eastern Europe and central Asia.

Unfortunately for Russia , this web of soft power was dismissed as the oligarchs by internal revolutionaries, such as Vladimir Putin. Similar to the British National Party after the fall of the British Empire, or the National Front after the fall of the French Empire, Putin’s factions set about building a national identity by destroying the remnants of the old cosmopolitan empire. One should give thanks for Putin to the extent that one has suspicion of Russia’s ability to function in the global economy neighbor.

Putin’s invasion of Georgia is only the latest of his seemingly calculated attempts to weaken Russia as much as possible. With Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein dead, Vladimir Putin must have decided thank the world needed another incompetent goon for everyone to unite against.

Obviously, such an analysis is predicated on other actors behaving rationally. But as we’ve seen from Russia’s former employee and client Eduard Shevardnadze’s endorsement of Georgia-in-NATO, a rational reaction may be just what Russia gets.

Kosovo Day

Congratulations to Kosovo, the newest country in the world!

“Kosovo is a republic – an independent, democratic and sovereign state”

Kosovo’s independence was made possible through military support from NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the EU, or European Union. Fittingly, Kosovo’s independence will be announced through the “Ode to Joy,” Europe’s national anthem.

The Political-Military Ruleset

The Political-Economic Ruleset

Kosov’s independence is another milepost in NATO’s and the EU’s expansion into the lands of the fallen Communist empire. The latest central remnant of that empire, now called the Russian Federation, It also is just the latest bit torn from Yugoslavia, a country hapless enough to decide to be a Russian satellite

The Remains of Yugoslavia

Kosovo, welcome to freedom!

On the web:Catholicgauze, Zenpundit

Good and better ways to secure East Asia

Joacy, M. (2007). Giuliani Visit to London Aims to Bolster Credentials. Wall Street Journal. September 20, 2007.

My preference is to keep NATO as a keep-Russia-out-of-Europe club, and build up a Pacific NATO. Still, multilateralizing America’s security guarantee to the geostrategically chaotic states of the western Pacific (Japan, South Korea, North Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, etc.) would not be a bad thing, and Giuliani’s calls to expand NATO into the Pacific are not foolish.

While Tom disagrees, this seems to be a case of the great (waiting for a Pacific Treaty Organization that includes all the western Pacific states) becoming the enemy of the good (providing east Asia’s first institutional security guarantee).

Maps of Potential Soviet Military Theatres During the Late Cold War

The Middle East and Soviet Military Strategy,” by Michael MccGwire, Middle East Report, No. 151, Mar.-Apr. 1988, pp 11-17, http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0899-2851%28198803%2F04%290%3A151%3C11%3ATMEASM%3E2.0.CO%3B2-D.

While working on my literature review, I stumbled on this great article by Michael MccGwire on Soviet military strategy from the late 1980s. If you have access to jstor it’s definitely worth reading, but what struck me are the maps. The boys over at Coming Anarchy have been doing great work with time-series maps of Armenia, Ethiopia, Europe, and other neat places, so here is a series of maps from one moment in time, but of different regions:’


The prospect of regional war with the US in the Persian Gulf region has prompted Soviet planners to take a fresh look at the military doctrine prevailing through the 1970s. At least until recently, it is the contingency of world war that has determined the structure and posture of the Soviet armed forces and shaped their war-related requirements beyond their borders. These requirements are organized in theaters of military action (TVDs), which are constructs for planning in peacetime as well as for conducting operations in war. As the accompanying maps show, TVDs extend from inside the Soviet Union to as far beyond its borders as makes military sense.

Western TVD


In Soviet planning for the contingency of world war (which the Soviets absolutely want to avoid but can not afford to lose), the Western TVD is by far the most important. This encompasses NATO’s central region and the southern part of Scandinavia.

Southern TVD


The core of the Middle East lies in Moscow’s Southern TVD, which looks south from the Caucasus and Turkistan out across the eastern half of Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Its western boundary cuts through the middle of Turkey and runs south between Cyprus and the Levantine coast to Egypt. In the east, the boundary is likely to follow the line of the Himalayas flanking Pakistan and then turn south to Cape Comorin at the tip of India.

The Southern TVD is, including the Persian Gulf, becomes important only in the second phase of a general war, once NATO has been defeated in Europe, because of the need for the sea-line of communications with Moscow’s Fat Eastern front. The Southern TVD would have no significant role to play in the first phase of a world war, unless US forces had previously been drawn into the Gulf area, when the requirement would be to prevent them from redeploying to the European front.

Southwestern TVD


The Mediterranean comes mostly within the Southwestern TVD, which includes North Africa.

In the Southwestern TVD, the immediate objective would be to pin down the NATO forces so that they cannot be deployed to reinforce NATO’s central region and to secure the Turkish straights against NATO incursions. Once it was certain that operations in the Western TVD would be successful and some Soviet forces would be available for redeployment, the Soviets would then seek to force Italy out of the war and to gain physical control of both sides of the Turkish Straits. This effort would parallel political attempts to maneuver Greece and Turkey out of the war.

Read the whole thing

The Increasing Obviousness of a Pacific NATO

Pressure Mounts on Pyongyang to Return to Talks: U.S.: Maintain 6-party framework even without North Korea,” by Heo Yong-beom, Digital Chosunilbo, http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200502/200502160038.html, 16 February 2005 (from One Free Korea).

Korea, U.S. in Marathon Talks with China,” by Cho Jung-shik, Digital Chosunilbo, http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200502/200502170037.html, 17 February 2005.

The U.S. and other world players are virtually ignoring North Korea’s declaration last week that it has nuclear weapons. Instead, they are trying to bring the country back to six-party talks on its atomic program through a mixed carrot and stick approach.

U.S. deputy secretary of state nominee Robert Zoellick reiterated Tuesday that the U.S. would stick to the basic format of the six-party talks, saying, “It is important for the United States to stay constant with the core strategy here.” Zoellick made the comment during a Senate confirmation hearing, where he also said it was important to convey messages simply and clearly to the world’s most isolated country.


In a hectic round of meetings, the heads of the South Korean and U.S. delegations to six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program on Thursday pressed China to persuade Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.

After writing on the Concert of Asia and Bush’s multilateral Korean policies, I was struggling with how to “frame” this. It’s so obvious we are setting up a Pacific NATO, in fact if not in name. It’s not quite the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, but when the club to deal with North Korea no longer needs to talk to DPRK, it’s pretty clear what “dealing” means.

It’s also obvious North Korea wants to break this up. It has struggled to unseat the governments that are hostile to it. In both the United States (through John Kerry) and Australia (through the Labour party) it is hoping the Five Parties wil fall apart.

To me, it is so clear that I happy letting the articles speak for themselves

Meanwhile, Australian media reported that Pyongyang’s Ambassador to Australia Chon Jae-hong on Wednesday told the Australian Labor Party’s foreign affairs spokesman the best way to secure a peaceful solution was direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea. He is reported to have asked the Australian foreign minister to convey that message to Washington.