April 20, 2009

English summary

The April issue of Diplomaatia deals with NATO, which celebrated its 60th anniversary. In addition, the first steps and challenges of the Obama administration are analysed in this issue.

The April issue of Diplomaatia deals with NATO, which celebrated its 60th anniversary. In addition, the first steps and challenges of the Obama administration are analysed in this issue.

English summary

The April issue of Diplomaatia deals with NATO, which celebrated its 60th anniversary. In addition, the first steps and challenges of the Obama administration are analysed in this issue.
Sven Mikser, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament, writes about NATO: “The key challenge that NATO faces at the moment is to maintain the unity of its vision and goals. An alliance that promotes consensual decision-making cannot be strong, if its members are not able to reach an agreement on who should be protected, and against what. The fact that the common denominator of the consensual position seems to be lower today than during the Cold War might tempt the challengers, but it also increases insecurity among those Allies that feel most at risk.”
Still, Mikser is convinced that since the restoration of Estonia’s independence, the best thing that has happened to our security is accession to NATO because “our current defence costs, the highness of which is often complained about, make up only a fraction of our GDP. It would be impossible to imagine how a defence capability of any consequence at all could be acquired for the same amount of money without the help of our Allies.”
Harri Tiido, Deputy Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, states that “if the principle of collective defence were abandoned by the Allies, we could as well declare the Alliance dead and bury it.” He continues: “One of the tasks of Estonia and of other similarly minded and similarly endangered member states has been, and will be, the upholding of some principles in the Alliance, which might otherwise be forgotten.”
Riho Terras, a reservist and Secretary General of the Ministry of Defence, analyses the history of NATO and the challenges it currently faces – territorial defence vs. expeditionary missions. He concludes that there are plenty of problems: “In addition to the issue of political will, the problem of whether fighters with military training are suitable for leading massive reconstruction efforts is still unsolved. From the military and technological perspective, the hugely expensive state-of-the-art technology makes it almost possible to wage war against UFOs; yet the actual modus operandi of the troops rather resembles that of the Roman legions.”
Sten Allik, a member of the General Staff of the Estonian Defence Forces, explains the reasons behind France’s withdrawal from and rejoining NATO’s military structure. Allik asks what is the real meaning of France’s reintegration into NATO and whether it is a symbolic move to legitimise the current situation.
Jonatan Vseviov, a defence ministry official, analyses the administration, which Barack Obama is currently putting together. Vseviov claims that it is obvious that this administration will not be interested in merely maintaining the status quo, but will be ready to launch simultaneous political offensives on several fronts. However, the challenges faced by the USA are, if not unprecedented, then at least historically most complex in terms of the multidimensionality and intertwinement of the problems. Looking at the various appointments that have been announced so far, he concludes: “The inclusion of numerous leading experts will not decrease the main risk of Obama’s extensive foreign policy programme – the long list of priorities might lead to attention deficit, which could ruin the implementation of even a very well thought out strategy.” On the other hand,
Vseviov asserts: “So far, Obama’s public performance has demonstrated that he understands that the president must focus his attention on certain issues and that he will try to do so.”
Kaarel Kaas, an analyst at the International Centre for Defence Studies, writes about the US missile defence policy. Kaas claims that it is wrong to consider the missile defence shield to be built in Europe only an extravagant security political gesture by the neoconservative administration of George W. Bush. In fact, this is a programme based on the long-term national security interests of the USA, in which Obama will probably make only minor, skin-deep changes, if the need arises. Kaas insists: “It is reasonable to assume that although the Bush administration is dead, missile defence is still alive.”
Liis Jemmer, a defence ministry official, analyses the relationship between the USA and Iran. She is certain that it is too early to rejoice over reconciliation: “It is true that Iran could be forced to be more constructive, but only if the USA does not make any mistakes. However, in order to achieve a transformation of Iran’s identity and behaviour, the entire political system of the country must be reformed.”
And last but not least, Indrek Elling, an analyst at the International Centre for Defence Studies, describes Obama’s new strategy in Afghanistan. He hopes that the year 2009 will be remembered as a year when the international community and the Afghans started to believe in themselves again.

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