Honoring the Mindset of A Generation: In Memory of Ronald Asmus Răspunde

Richard C. Hollbrooke (1941-2010) și Ronald D. Asmus (1957-2011)

Ronald Asmus was definitely, as Ivan Krastev highlighted in an article for opendemocracy.com, part of a generation “that emerged on the stage in the last days of the Cold War, it was baptized by the fall of the Berlin Wall, inspired by the thinking of dissidents and it never lost its belief in the transformative nature of democracy. It was a generation shaped by the end of the Cold War, the dilemmas of the Balkan wars and the success of the enlargement policy. It is a generation that came to importance at the moment when American power was at its height and American leadership was taken for granted”.

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The perils of arming Russia Răspunde

Mistral (L9013) at anchor in Brest harbor courtesy of Wikipedia

The last week’s visit to France of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev  has further strengthen Franco-Russian relations, while at the same time endangering European security. During this visit France and Russia concluded a series of economic agreements concerning the energy market (GDF Suez wil participate  in the Nord Stream pipeline project), a partnership between the French rail company Alstom and its Russian counterpart TMH and opened exclusive talks on buying four Mistral class amphibious assault ships (LHD). Although France has not yet decided to sell the ships, this military deal seems almost certain and the bilateral talks between France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev seem to confirm that few details remain to be settled before the green light is given.

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Romania will host elements of the US missile shield 3

Courtesy of Ria Novosti

Romania’s President, Traian Băsescu has announced yesterday the willingness of his country to host parts of US the ballistic missile defense system on its territory. The decision to allow the United States to deploy anti-ballistic missiles in Romania was taken in a meeting of the Supreme Defense Council (CSAT). According to Traian Băsescu Mrs. Ellen Tauscher the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security has formally proposed on behalf of the United States of America that Romania should host on its territory an anti-ballistic missile system. The US State Department has confirmed the agreement while the US embassy in Bucharest has saluted president Băsescu’s decision. Following the CSAT decision bilateral negotiations will be started, however the final approval for the deployment of the missiles must come from the Romanian parliament. The Romanian president has stated that the missile shield is not directed against Russia, but is designed to protect against other threats.

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US makes major strategic shift on Missile Defense 3

A ground-based interceptor lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 5, 2008. (DoD photo by Joe Davila, U.S. Air Force/Released)

A ground-based interceptor lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 5, 2008. (DoD photo by Joe Davila, U.S. Air Force/Released)

The President of the United States, Barack Obama has announced on September 17, a major shift in the policy of the US concerning the deployment of anti-ballistic missile defenses in Central and Eastern Europe in order to protect its European allies from a possible Iranian threat. In this article I will argue that this move is a part of a larger strategy of retrenchment, designed to make American power more flexible and adaptable in an international system defined both by symmetrical and asymmetrical threats. The move does not signal by any means a waning of America’s commitment to Europe’s security or for that matter, the security of Central and Eastern Europe. Canceling the deployment of the Ground Based Interceptors in Poland and the X band radar in the Czech Republic does not mean the United States is giving up on creating a national missile defense capability.

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Appeasement 2

Munich Agreement: Neville Chamberlain, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Edouard Deladier, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Galeazzo Ciano

Munich Agreement: Neville Chamberlain, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Edouard Daladier, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Galeazzo Ciano

The term appeasement is unpopular today both in politics and in academia as it is associated with the policy pursued by France and Great Britain towards Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The highpoint of this policy was reached on September 29, 1938 in Munich when the Western Powers gave in to Hitler’s territorial demands concerning Czechoslovakia. Since then the term has been associated with political and military weakness and treachery. This article represents the second installment in a series  dedicated to the commemorations of 70 years since the start of World War II and will deal with the political implications of appeasement. In the following lines I will outline the meaning of appeasement and its implications for the international system. My approach will draw upon the work of Robert Gilpin and of Mark R. Brawley and will concentrate on defining appeasement and explaining the political context in which it was implemented.

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Central and Eastern European fears 2

A group of Central and Eastern European intellectuals and former chiefs of state have published on July 16 an open letter to the President of the United States of America, voicing their concerns regarding the current state of relations between the countries of this region and the United States. The letter comes after the US-Russia summit and is signed by Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Emil Constantinescu, Valdas Adamkus, Martin Butora, Matyas Eorsi, Alexandr Vondra and other important figures who have played a part in the recent history of Central and Eastern Europe. In the letter they emphasize the role played by the United States in Central Europe’s (CEE) transition from authoritarianism to democracy, remind Washington of the contribution made by the countries of this region to the American war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, while deploring the fact that the CEE is no longer a priority for US foreign policy. The letter criticizes the new “realist” foreign policy of the Obama Administration concerning Europe and Russia, with the shadow of Yalta looming large in the minds of the signatories.

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Romania’s fighter dilemma Răspunde

As part of an ambitious 15 billion euros modernization plan, conceived in 2005, Romania should have replaced by now its aging fighter force with a new modern multipurpose aircraft. However, political difficulties, internal wrangling and the economic crisis of September 2008 have delayed these plans and threaten Romania’s ability to protect its airspace and fulfill its obligations as a NATO member.

The mainstay of the Romanian Air Force for almost forty years has been the Soviet built MiG-21 Fishbed, which has now become hopelessly outdated and needs replacement. A series of upgrades and overhauls in the mid 90’s have allowed the MiG-21 fleet to stay airborne until 2012 and maintain a decent degree of interoperability with other NATO partners. However the life expectancy of these air crafts is now almost over and they offer little military capabilities. Consequently in 2006 the Romanian Ministry of Defense decided to allocate 4.5 billion dollars to buy 48 new multipurpose fighters for the Air Force. The decision to buy these fighters should have been taken in 2008, but for political and economic reasons it has now been deferred most likely until 2010.

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