Collapse of the Soviet Union and allied victory in the Persian Gulf War
James W. Peterson
The two unrelated events of the break-up of the Soviet Union and the allied victory in the Persian Gulf War made the year 1991 a significant turning point for both Moscow and Washington. A full fifteen nations emerged from the shell of the former Soviet Union, while revolutions in the formerly communist managed states of East Europe led to the emergence of democratic forms in all of them. The resulting Russian state was much smaller and weaker than the Soviet state that it supplanted. In contrast, American power surged forth with the coordinated victory in the Persian Gulf War over Iraq, after its invasion of Kuwait, that restored U.S. military credibility after the quagmire of the War in Southeast Asia. New doctrinal formulations emerged on both sides with the new Russian Constitution of 1993 that paralled the rise of the Yeltsin government, and with the New World Order as articulated for a time by the George H.W. Bush administration. The resulting imbalance of power was a major change from the dynamics of the Cold War but also a prod to the ambitions of Russian leaders like Vladimir Putin. However, balance remained with the mutual negotiations that characterized START diplomacy.
The Introduction will present key themes of each of the ten individual chapters to follow, in an effort to highlight the twists and turns of the Russian-American relationship in each. There will be particular importance placed on five analytical models as well as five theories that illuminate the key aspects of this evolving relationship. To what extent do the case studies, models, and theories explain either the convergence between the two powers or the erosion of good feeling between them? The images of their two symbolic eagles and parallel anthems will make memorable the analysis.
The historic Russian interest in the Balkans cmpeted with the American-led, changed NATO mission to generate considerable conflict in the immediate aftermath of the 1991 break-up of Yugoslavia. During the ensurng Balkan Wars, American and Russian interests clashed continuously during the Bosnian civil war of 1992-95. Further, the distinctiveness of the Kosovo republic within the shrunken Yugoslavia intensified these American-Russian differences. NATO air strikes took place both under the sponsorship of Operation Allied Force in Bosnia and in response to Serbian military incursions its own republic of Kosovo that included a 90% Muslim population. Conversations continued sporadically after completion of the NATO-Russian Founding Act in 1997, but military initiatives by the West threw them off the tracks.
Both Russia and America perceived critical events in the 2007-09 period in different ways. President George W. Bush made the Missile Shield proposal in an effort to defend against rogue states that were developing a nuclear capability. Both the Czechs and the Poles were keystones in implementation of that proposal, bud Russian reactions were highly negative. They responded in many ways and threatened to build up defensive capabilities in their enclave of Kaliningrad. However, in fall 2009, President Obama cancelled the U.S. backed proposal and called for a substitution. The Arab Spring of 2011 created more controversy between Russia and America, for American support for revolutionary forces clashed with Russian anxiousness about popular demonstrations in Arab Spring states that were similar to the flower revolutions in former Soviet republics in the 2003-05 time frame. The war against Khadaffy in Libya was an allied engagement that provoked sharp Russian criticism. Further, both the uprising in Egypt and the civil war in Syria pushed Russian and American leaders apart and created misunderstandings that percolated into their future relationship.
In the 1990s, Russia’s wars in Chechnya alientated the officials in the Clinton administration, for they deemed the response by the Yeltsin government to be an overreaction to the acts committed by Chechnyan terrorists. However, the Twin Towers attacks in 2001 created a certain common understanding between the two powers. In spite of the contrasting attitudes of the two towards bin Laden and al Qaeda during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, responses to global terrorism put them on the same page in the new century. With the support of NATO’s Article 5, the American decision to invade Afghanstan and dislodge the Taliban met with allied approval and support. However, there was considerable controversy between Moscow and Washington over the Iraq war that America commenced with the Coalition of the Willing in 2003. Russian leaders condemned this invasion as an illustration of an American overreach as well as an inappropriate response to the 9/11 attacks. One commonality in the effort to contain terrorism was considerable administrative centralization within both political systems.
Why did the Russian take-over of Crimea come as a surprise to so many observers in the academic practitioner and global-citizen arenas? The answer presented in this book is a complex one, rooted in late-Cold War dualities but also in the variegated policy patterns of the two powers after 1991. This book highlights the key developmental stages in the evolution of the Russian-American relationship in the post-Cold War world. The 2014 crisis was provoked by conflicting perspectives over the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, the expansion of NATO to include former communist allies of Russia as well as three of its former republics, the American decision to invade Iraq in 2003, and the Russian move to invade Georgia in 2008. This book uses a number of key theories in political science to create a framework for analysis and to outline policy options for the future. It is vital that the attentive public confront the questions raised in these pages in order to control the reflexive and knee-jerk reactions to all points of conflict that emerge on a regular basis between America and Russia.Key topics include struggles over the Balkans, the expansion of NATO, the challenges posed by terrorism to both nations, wars fought by both powers in the first decade of the twenty-first century, conflict over missile defence, reactions to post-2011 turmoil in the Middle East, and the mutual interest in establishing priorities in Asia.
Models of power, systems theory, critical junctures, legacies, realism, and realism revised
James W. Peterson
There are five models that analysts have utilized in efforts to depict accurately the evolution of the Russian-American relationship from the late Cold War through the first part of the twenty-first century. While bipolarity characterized the early days of the Cold War, it yielded to a multipolar model in the last decades of that period. Post-Cold war patterns have centered on early American-centered unipolarity, re-emergence of multipolarity, and at times complex or chaotic patterms. In addition, five theories cast light on many of the details of the relationship. While legacy theory displays how some features of the communist past carry over into the post-communist period, the concept of critical junctures pulls our attention to key transitions in the political life and relationship of both powers. Debates about individual foreign policy decisions by both often center on the dialogue between realists and post- or revised-realist theoreticians.
Rejection of assistance from the European Union (EU) and reliance instead on increased Russian connections, by the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych led to the 2014 crisis in Ukraine. As a result, the Russian ethnic group that held majority status in the Crimean Republic pushed for a referendum that led to its detachment from Ukraine and attachment to Russia. Russia held continuing military exercises along its border with Ukraine, and that activity fed the instability in the eastern border region of Ukraine. Western responses included a range of steps that entailed both diplomatic and military dimensions. Diplomatic contacts centered on two four-party Minsk Summits that resulted in an agreement called the Minsk Protocol. NATO led the military response that included relocation of western troops from southern Europe to the jeopardized area of northeast Europe. In addition, NATO also created a Spearhead Force of 5,000 troops that could quickly move into any threatened area in the future. Finally, western nations imposed economic sanctions on Russian personnel and institutions in an effort to bring about changed policies.
Presidents Putin/Medvedev and Georgia W. Bush both adopted basically unilateralist approaches towards the three wars. There was commonality in all three wars, for each took place within ethnically divided states: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Georgia. Russia was wiling to permit American access to Central Asian air bases in republics that had previously been part of the Soviet Union. However, there was considerable controversy between the two over the Gergia war as well as the war in Iraq. Presidents Bush and Obama both utilized a common surge strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the final results in each were disappointing in terms of the continuing turmoil within the two nations. One positive feature of the effort in Afghanistan was support by NATO through its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), whereas no allied naions provided help to Russia in its incursion into Georgia. Both nations incurred considerable costs, the Russians in global public opinion and the United States in considerable depletion of its treasury.