Center for Strategic Decision Research


Building an International Coalition and Integrating Russia into the West

Dr. Sergey Rogov
Director of the Institute of the USA and Canada,
Russian Academy of Sciences


Minister Scharping said something that concerned me in his excellent speech to the Workshop. He talked about and emphasized the need for a much better relationship with Russia and described Russia as the closest neighbor of Europe. He called for a partnership between the Euro-Atlantic community and Russia. But it seems to me that we must move beyond this kind of thinking. We must understand that Russia belongs to Europe. There are many countries that are not going to be members of NATO or the EU, but this does not exclude them from the Euro-Atlantic community. 

In April 2002, my institute made several reports on this issue, one with the RAND Corporation on the Russia-NATO relationship, and one with the U.S. Atlantic Council on the Russia-America relationship within the transatlantic community. For the first time these reports defined these relationships as a triangular relationship. 


I would now like to address terrorism. I mostly agree with what has been said so far in this Workshop about terrorism. But let me give you my view about why I consider the present challenge as something that could be described as the "new terrorism," which is different from previous forms of terrorism.  

First of all, this new form of terrorism is very obviously a response to globalization. There are winners in the process of globalization, and there are losers. And there are many ways the losers can react, one of which is international terrorism, or the new terrorism. It is said the terrorists who practice this are different because they are not steeped in traditional political left-wing or right-wing ideologies. They come instead mostly from disintegrating traditional societies under the pressure of modernization. And they respond by relying on fundamentalist religious routes and go to extremes. The Oklahoma bombing in the U.S., by the way, was not carried out by an Islamic terrorist organization, but by Protestant, right-wing fundamentalists. 

What is new about the new terrorists is that they are not so much interested in building a paradise in this world as, for example, the Bolsheviks were, but are looking for a shortcut to a paradise in heaven. Fulfillment is therefore reached through suicide. They want to die. And this is what makes this kind of threat very difficult to deter. You deter a threat by threatening to deliver unacceptable damage. But what is unacceptable damage for people who want to die? 

The most threatening stage in the growth of the new terrorism is terrorists gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. Thus we should focus not simply on how to resist and how to fight this terrorism, but how to prevent it from developing into hatred armed with weapons of mass destruction. The terrorists have already demonstrated evil brilliance-they showed that a heavy civilian aircraft is a much more powerful explosive than any conventional weapon. No Tomahawk cruise missile could have done as much damage to Manhattan as an ordinary Boeing with a full tank of fuel did. Using that plane was the equivalent of using a tactical nuclear weapon in Manhattan. We can only imagine what could happen if terrorists get hold of weapons of mass destruction. 


In terms of an international response, it is now said that we live in a post-post-Cold War world. But in the decades prior to September 11, we wasted opportunities. In my view, the '90s were a time when the West tried to consolidate its victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War. 

The first priority was to maintain and strengthen the cohesion of NATO, so the winning coalition did not disintegrate because there was no longer a clear and present danger. The second priority was to absorb former Soviet satellites, to admit them to the community of Western nations. This was also quite legitimate. But that meant that integrating Russia was not a high priority. In fact, there was no strategy to integrate Russia. A lot was said about strategic partnership between President Clinton and President Yeltsin, but the mechanism to develop such a partnership was not created. As a result, 10 years after the end of the Cold War, Russia remains an outsider, somebody you treat as a close neighbor and with whom you should have a relationship, but not on the inside. 

And Russia is not the only outsider. If you look at the international community 10 years after the end of the Cold War, you will see other very important outsiders, such as China, India, and most of the developed nations. That is a very, very serious problem, because it would be a great mistake to equate the international community with the small nucleus of 30 to 40 Western countries that are members of the OECD. If this is done, and if this nucleus alone tries to respond to challenges such as the new terrorism, then we will see a clash of civilizations. 

It is extremely important to build a truly international coalition. And it is very likely that the U.S. is trying to lead this coalition. It was a pleasant surprise, at least for me, that a Republican administration with very strong unilateralist trends became the leader of a multinational coalition. But let us face it, it is a very special coalition. It is based on the principle of "Follow me." It is like the sheriff deputizing whoever wants to go after the Indians or the robbers. And that is a very big problem. 

 It was a very big surprise for many NATO members, even for the Americans, when Article V was activated. But the Americans said thanks, but no thanks. Why? Because even consulting with her closest allies and trying to arrive at a consensus was perceived as limiting the freedom of American action. So while America leads this coalition, it is leading a confused reaction. On the one hand, it is emphasizing homeland defense, but on the other hand, it is probably moving toward the true end of American isolationism, something that started at Pearl Harbor and ended on September 11. But the U.S. cannot become a Fortress America. It must be internationally engaged, and on terms with other members of the international community. 

Russia-America relations are therefore very important. And here I think President Putin should be given credit for trying to lead his country toward much closer cooperation with the U.S. and the West in general. But why? Because today the gap between Russia and the West, as far as their political and philosophical values and economic systems are concerned, is smaller than ever in the history of the relationship. But Russia is still not a mature democracy, it does not have a mature market economy. However, it is also not a country that is denying Western values. It is a country that wants to join and that needs help but that can also give help, which we demonstrated in the campaign against terror. Our help, especially in the very first months of the campaign, was probably much bigger than the help of all of NATO. 


President Putin and President Bush seem to recognize that Russia and the U.S. do not just have parallel interests, but common enemies as well. We now should realize that having common enemies can help to form a partnership and even an alliance. That is what happened between Stalin's U.S.S.R. and the U.S., though of course today's Russia is very much different. But it would be a big mistake if we limited the list of common interests only to international terrorism, so if bin Laden were killed tomorrow we would go back to the trenches. We have other very important common interests, the most important of which is non-proliferation. And here Russia could be criticized, but the U.S. has also recognized the nuclear status of both India and Pakistan without forcing them to commit to playing by the rules. The consequences of that could be very, very serious. 

We now have a great opportunity to fix the new relationship. The Reykjavik ministerial meeting, the Bush-Putin summit in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and the Rome summit all are opportunities for us to create a new mechanism of interaction. We can now define common interests, and have a joint decision-making mechanism for implementing common efforts. 

If a new relationship is not forged, we could see much more serious consequences than we saw 10 years ago. And if we do not use this opportunity, the way we did not use the opportunity to forge a new relationship 10 years ago, the consequences for Russia, the U.S., and the West are going to be very serious. They will be very serious not because Russia and the U.S. should impose the rules of the game, but simply because if there are very bad Russia-U.S. relations, we will not be able to build a truly global multinational coalition that can respond to the global threat. 


Top of page | Home | ©2003 Center for Strategic Decision Research