Danger and Opportunity in Eastern Europe
--- macko says ---> for who? for the countries themselves or for US interests? <---by F. Stephen Larrabee
--- macko says ---> FULL DISCLOSURE he is Senior Political Scientist at RAND Expertise:NATO, Eastern Europe, Turkey, Russia
Has taught at Columbia, Cornell, New York, Georgetown University and the University of Southern California. Before joining RAND. served the U.S. National Security Council in the White House, as a specialist on Soviet-East European affairs.<---
--- macko says ---> The RAND Corporation = nonprofit policy think tank first formed to offer research and analysis to the US armed forces. The organization has since expanded to working with other governments and commercial organizations.
RAND has approximately 1600 employees. RAND was set up in 1946 by the United States Army Air Forces as Project RAND, under contract to the Douglas Aircraft Company.
RAND was incorporated as a non-profit organization to "further promote scientific, educational, and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare and security of the United States of America." Its self-declared mission is "to help improve policy and decision making through research and analysis", using its "core values of quality and objectivity."
"about one-half of RAND's research involves US national security issues."
Criticisms of RAND
The RAND Corporation has been associated with militarism and the military-industrial complex by some. Many of the events in which RAND plays a part are based on assumptions which are hard to verify because of the lack of detail on RAND's highly classified work for defense and intelligence agencies. Some RAND participants who have gone on to large roles in the military-industrial complex are often believed to have had a role in shaping RAND research.
--- macko says ---> AHA! here is the point of the whole article <---. Washington must ensure that the region's new politics do not damage the European project, for a strong and cohesive EU is in everyone's interest.
--- macko says ---> I wonder what he means by cohesive ... <---A STEP TO THE RIGHT Eastern Europe is undergoing important changes that could erode Europe's security and damage U.S. interests.
--- macko says ---> second mention... <---The enlargement of both NATO and the European Union was supposed to consolidate political and economic reform in the region
--- macko says ---> reform? again these terms are vague, Economic reform and market economies are in operation in all new EU member states so what other reforms? <---and aid its integration with the West. The recent rise of nationalist and populist forces in several countries in eastern Europe, however, threatens to undermine the reform process. Enlargement fatigue in the EU and growing calls for protectionism within western Europe could further hinder continued efforts to create a single European market and fully integrate the new EU members. At the same time, the balance of power is shifting on eastern Europe's outer periphery. The collapse of the "Orange coalition" (the group of political leaders who led the 2004 Orange Revolution) in Ukraine
--- macko says ---> due to public disenchantment <---has brought to power a government much less open to reform
--- macko says ---> of course Ukraine is not EU so again these cryptic reforms appear here too <---or eager for close ties to the West. This is likely not only to slow Ukraine's integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions but also to have a dampening effect on reform within the other former Soviet states. In addition, after a decade of weakness and passivity, Russia has reemerged as an important regional and international actor, especially in the energy field.
--- macko says ---> Not surprising, after US assertiveness lead to the loss of all the satellites worth having, this is hardly surprising. Russia is energy rich and it is using it to largely influence or blackmail its neighbours to insulate themselves from the US. Russia's energy is Russia's property and i cannot see what any other state can do if putin uses it in diplomacy<---These changes have gone largely unnoticed by policymakers in Washington despite the important implications they have for U.S. interests.
--- macko says ---> What exactly are these interests? they sound pretty ominous <---The United States has invested considerable energy and resources over the last several decades promoting a Europe whole and free that could act as a strong, cohesive partner and help the United States manage security threats emanating from beyond Europe's borders. If eastern Europe reverts to old patterns of nationalism and parochialism and the process of European integration falters, much of this investment will have been squandered.
--- macko says ---> its nice to know they see us as a wall to protect themselves with... <---REFORM FATIGUE In general, the last decade was a period of economic growth and increasing prosperity in eastern Europe.
--- macko says ---> Still is growth in Slovakia is speeding up! <---But the tide of liberal economic reform has recently turned. Pro-Europe and pro-market parties have lost ground throughout the region and have been replaced in several countries by coalitions championing nationalism and populism.
--- macko says ---> I slovakia's case pursuing left off centre politics, so what's the problem? <---Poland provides the most striking example of this trend, which began there with the victory of the conservative party Law and Justice (known by its Polish acronym, PiS), headed by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, in the September 2005 parliamentary elections. The PiS consolidated its electoral success by winning the presidential election a few weeks later, when Lech Kaczynski, Jaroslaw's twin brother, unexpectedly triumphed over Donald Tusk of the pro-market-reform and pro-Europe Civic Platform. The Kaczynski brothers are suspicious of free-market reforms and favor a strong role for the state in the national economy and in other areas such as education and the media. In foreign policy, the PiS seeks to enhance "Polish national interests," which has led to conflicts with the EU and some of Poland's neighbors, particularly Germany. Domestically, the PiS' positions on many social issues, such as gay rights, are at odds with the positions of many western European states and are a source of further tension. This rightward drift in Polish politics has been . . .
--- macko says ---> unfortunately i dont have more, but i hope you see what i mean
the tone is kind of sinister, as if the democratic choices are "not correct"... it reminds me the kind of godfather mutterings about making somebody "an offer he cannot refuse"...
it might be just me... i just don;t like these guys they give me the creeps, they constantly talk about their interests...
is it all in my head? or are these guys going to write one of these days that the WMDs are now being built in Nitra, and the Fico is in the axis of haluski?
hmmm original article here
--- macko says ---> These pentagon/state dept. types see Putin as the bringer of a new cold war, and themselves as saviours. In fact they are contributing to such a development in equal measure whether they dont know it, or doing so knowingly. After all without a new cold war, the US could hardly justify its massive military budget, and when you have standing armies... well you are much more likely to use them, not least to keep them battleworthy. Unfortunately these kind of ideologues dominate the american establishment and will do so for the forseeable future because they represent US intellectual decline in government. Bush's moronic dictum "you are either with us or with the enemy" sums it up as a template. No president of Russia is eternal, and personality matters. Prolonged monetising (ie turning into cash) and double standards US military/economic superiority and policy respectively brought much of the resentment that US now faces in Russia. The problem with the Americans in all strata is their unrelenting greed (aka enterpreneurialism). And during yeltsin era their diplomatic efforts were a bit like a fat kid that had broken into a sweetshop, stealing the candy and stuffing their face and pockets as fast as possible. That inevitably irritated russia in a resurgent nationalism statism that Putin represents, lets not forget that Putin was picked by pro-US Yeltsin, maybe at a time when perhaps the latter became disenchanted with the aggressiveness and insensitivity of the US in the region.
Its really annoying because the last thing we need is a new cold war with the borders moved a bit to east. The US is almost giving nationalists around the world all the arguments they need to convince their compatriots that they should guard themselves against the US and or get nuclear weapons ASAP. I frankly am not surprised, especially when the incumbent of the white house has conversations with GOD..
Where is a Helmut Kohl these days, leadership is lacking in west europe.
here is a more balanced one
The Backlash Against Democracy Promotion
From Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006
Article preview: first 500 of 4,736 words total.
Summary: Authoritarian leaders around the world have recently started to crack down on democracy-promotion efforts in their countries. The Bush administration's pro-democracy bombast has not helped matters, but has contributed to the false idea that liberalization is somehow a U.S.-driven phenomenon.
Thomas Carothers is Director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His most recent book is Promoting the Rule of Law Abroad: In Search of Knowledge.
THE AUTOCRATS PUSH BACK
In January, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a controversial new bill imposing heightened controls on local and foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the country. The new legislation, which requires all NGOs in Russia to inform the government in advance about every project they intend to conduct, is another marker of the country's dispiriting slide back toward authoritarianism.
The law is also a sign of an equally disturbing and much broader trend. After two decades of the steady expansion of democracy-building programs around the world, a growing number of governments are starting to crack down on such activities within their borders. Strongmen -- some of them elected officials -- have begun to publicly denounce Western democracy assistance as illegitimate political meddling. They have started expelling or harassing Western NGOs and prohibiting local groups from taking foreign funds -- or have started punishing them for doing so. This growing backlash has yet to coalesce into a formal or organized movement. But its proponents are clearly learning from and feeding off of one another.
The recent "color revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan and the widespread suspicion that U.S. groups such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), Freedom House, and the Open Society Institute played a key behind-the-scenes role in fomenting these upheavals have clearly helped trigger the backlash. Politicians from China to Zimbabwe have publicly cited concerns about such events spreading to their own shores as justification for new restrictions on Western aid to NGOs and opposition groups. Yet there is something broader at work than just a fear of orange (Ukraine's revolution came to be known as the Orange Revolution). The way that President George W. Bush is making democracy promotion a central theme of his foreign policy has clearly contributed to the unease such efforts (and the idea of democracy promotion itself) are creating around the world. Some autocratic governments have won substantial public sympathy by arguing that opposition to Western democracy promotion is resistance not to democracy itself, but to American interventionism. Moreover, the damage that the Bush administration has done to the global image of the United States as a symbol of democracy and human rights by repeatedly violating the rule of law at home and abroad has further weakened the legitimacy of the democracy-promotion cause.
Just as the sources of the backlash have been multilayered, so too must be the response. To remain as effective in the next decade as they have been in the last, groups that promote democracy must come to grips with how the international context for their work has changed. This will mean rethinking some of their methods. The Bush administration, meanwhile, must also face some unpleasant realities, specifically about how the president's "freedom agenda" is perceived around the world, and must engage seriously an effort to build credibility for its democracy endeavor.