Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gorbachev: How to Avoid a New Cold War

Mikhail Gorbachev, who by the way allowed the collapse of the Soviet Union, without massive bloodhsed, writes in a new paper:
The Cold War’s end was supposed to mark the beginning of a path toward a new Europe and a safer world order. But, instead of building new European security institutions and pursuing the demilitarization of Europe – as promised in NATO’s London Declaration of 1990 – the West, particularly the United States, declared victory. Euphoria and triumphalism went to Western leaders’ heads. Taking advantage of Russia’s weaknesses and the lack of a counterweight, they refused to heed warnings against claiming a monopoly on global leadership.

The events of the past few months are the consequences of shortsightedly seeking to impose one’s will while ignoring the interests of one’s partners. A shortlist of such faits accomplis would include NATO enlargement, the war in Yugoslavia (particularly Kosovo), missile-defense plans, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. As a result, what was a blister has now turned into a festering wound...

Fortunately, the experience of the 1980s suggests a way forward. The international situation at the time was no less dangerous than it is today. Yet we succeeded in ameliorating it – not just normalizing relations but ending the Cold War confrontation itself. This was achieved primarily through dialogue. But the key to dialogue is political will and setting the right priorities.

Today, the foremost priority should be dialogue itself: a renewal of the ability to interact, listen to, and hear one another. Promising signs are now emerging, though initial efforts have yielded only modest and fragile results: the Minsk agreement on a ceasefire and military disengagement in Ukraine; the trilateral gas agreement concluded by Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union; and a halt to the escalation of mutual sanctions.

We must continue to move from polemics and mutual accusations to a search for points of convergence and a gradual lifting of sanctions, which are damaging to both sides.

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