In Central Asia, It Is Better to Speak of Confrontation than of War 1

Map Central Asia

On December 28th, 2012, Arielle Thedrel published in the French newspaper Le Figaro an article entitled Une Guerre de l’Eau Menace l’Asie Centrale, alluding to the uneasy situation of water-management in Central Asia, at the several occasions of (past and future) confrontation and at the political acrimony among the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. For the purpose of clarity, by Central Asia here is meant as formed by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. There is indeed a lot of talk about “water wars” in Central Asia, about a possible collapse of the region, about the likely unravelling of the stability of the area due to clashes over hydro resources.

To me, what we observe in Central Asia is more a confrontation than a war in perspective, a confrontation kept as such by diplomatic efforts made by the state leaders, by the role of international organisations, by the systemic and prospective danger of Afghanistan spilling over and by the presence of Russia, albeit weaker than in the past. There is acrimony, there is conflict, but there are also attempts to scale down risky behaviours, sharp statements and disruptive actions. While weak and perhaps superficial, these attempts should be considered in a thorough analysis of water problems in Central Asia from a political-diplomatic perspective. What I am suggesting, therefore, is not foolish or naïve optimism, but a more thorough and less emotional assessment of the overall regional balance of interests in the region. A proof of this is that a water war in Central Asia has been claimed for at least ten years if not more, and still these states not only have avoided it, but have been able to reach a legal agreement as that of 2008, then abandoned. The hope for the future, therefore, is not that war will be avoided, but rather that these diplomatic and political stalemates will develop in concrete action to make water management in the region better in the interest of all parts concerned. More…

Reclame

Ronald Asmus: Russia is a revisionist, but also a declining power Răspunde


In one of the last interviews he gave to the press, the late Ronald Asmus reiterated the importance of strategically reassuring NATO’s vulnerable allies against threats coming from inside and outside Europe. The security guarantee provided by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty needs to be strengthened in order to maintain the cohesiveness and the credibility of the Alliance in a new security environment. Ronald Asmus argued that the strategic reassurance of NATO’s Central and Eastern European allies should have been a precondition of reset policy with Russia. More…

Ronald Asmus: The Little War that Shook the World Răspunde

In March 2010 I interviewed the late Ronald Asmus about his last book published in 2010, A Little War that Shook the World: Georgia, Russia and the future of the West. The book discusses the circumstances that lead to the 2008 South Ossetia War which pitted Georgia against Russia, and its implications for European security.

Which was the message and aim that Russia intended to send to NATO and to the West more generally using as leverage the war with Georgia from August 2008? More…

Strategic Thinking and Foreign Policy in the European Union 6

Catherine Ashton visiting war-thorn Benghazi

What EUrope is today increasingly depends on where one sits and assesses the situation.  I’m afraid this is quite a prosaic thing to say; an American will surely see a different thing in the EU than a Sub-Saharan African or an Asian. However dull this may sound Europe should consider applying this approach every time the question of a common European Union strategy in world affairs comes up.  What I mean by this can be considered to be a double-edged sword, as too much concern on how one sees you and what one wants from you may lead you to have doubts about your own identity.  But still, EU has enough doubts in this respect already, so maybe it is high time to try a thorough process of self-assessment through the eyes of others.

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Ronald Asmus: If the threats change, we must change how we defend ourselves against them Răspunde

Ronald Asmus (1957-2011)

How can you describe the present state of the transatlantic partnership? In early 2003, the notion used was the drift. Now, after president Bush’s second term it seems that we have a revived transatlantic alliance capable of projecting its power far beyond Europe and assuming global missions. On both sides of the Atlantic we have political elites with an advanced euro-Atlantic mindset. In this context, can NATO became once again a tool of first choice, a natural first choice since the alliance is the only interface between the euro-Atlantic societies and the threats of the XXI century? Or coalitions of the willing of NATO members (but not using NATO as a whole) would be a more realistically scenario because we are living in an article 4 world of discretionary commitments (Richard Haas)?

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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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How useful is it to characterise the presence of foreign states in Central Asia as a new ‘Great Game’? 1

The States of Central Asia

The recent resurgence of the geopolitical and geostrategic importance of Central Asia (hereafter CA) has led to the re-adoption of the Great Game discourse[1], recalling the strategic rivalry which opposed the British Empire and the Russian Empire in the XIX century.

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The Weimar Triangle – Between a moderate regional success and an uncertain future Răspunde

Angela Merkel, Bronislaw Komorowsky and Nicolas Sarkozy

Where Does It Come From? What Is It? Where Is It Going?*

Motto: Tres faciunt collegium [three makes company]

The Weimar Triangle is soon to celebrate its twentieth anniversary. With a mixed record of relevance (due often to the leaders themselves) and a relatively strong level of cooperation as regards regional and local actors, it is in a process of redefinition. Through policies adopted at its February high level summit (EU budget, ESDP, etc.) and its prospective integration of Russia it might become a viable and highly influent organization at the European level.

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NATO’s developments 1

In my opinion, one of the most interesting developments in the international politics scenario will be a massive change in the role, the identity and the purposes of NATO. Moreover, as the need for a new strategic plan becomes clearer, I suggest that this development will be both welcomed and inevitable, especially for the reasons I outlined below.

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The blue-print of the future NATO strategic concept: future missions and capabilities Răspunde

I continue the presentation and analysis of the experts’ report on the future NATO strategic concept, an endeavor which I have began in May, with the section dedicated to the future missions and military affairs. The final section of the experts’ report deals with NATO’s future missions and the development of future military capabilities required to fulfill them.  Section five of the report provides an analysis of the current needs and capabilities and makes recommendations on what missions and capabilities should be provided in the future strategic concept of the Alliance.

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The blue-print of the future NATO strategic concept: organizational and political issues 1

Three months a go I have published on this blog an analysis of the experts’ report concerning the future NATO strategic concept to be adopted in Lisbon, in late 2010. That analysis dealt mainly with general comments and observations concerning the threat environment, NATO’s core tasks and partnerships. The second installment of the analysis of the experts’ report on the future NATO’s strategic concept will deal with political and organizational issues.

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The blue-print of the future NATO Strategic Concept: Some comments and views 2

NATO has released last week a report containing the outline of the future NATO Strategic Concept that will be adopted at the Alliance summit this year in Lisbon. Although this is not even a draft of the new Strategic Concept, it is a blue print that offers a glimpse of NATO’s strategic thinking. Following its publication  consultations and heated negotiations between member states will follow in order to draft the NATO’s new Strategic Concept. This article is first in a series dedicated to analyzing the outline of the Alliance’s future strategy. In this part I will summarize and analyze the chapters dedicated to the threat environment, core tasks of NATO and partnerships.

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