Seen from the Soviet empire and what followed it, America mattered more than any other country. For the Soviet leadership, America was the ‘chief adversary’. For the peoples they held captive, America was the best hope of liberation. After the Iron Curtain fell, America retained pride of place: it was America that could get the Russian troops out, America that would expand NATO, America that had the most important voice in the IMF and the World Bank.
In response, I would like to relate an old story. Several decades ago, in 1975, I wrote my first policy oriented piece in a magazine that very few of you would recognize. I’ll show it to you: This was the way Foreign Policy magazine looked then. It was printed this way so that people traveling on the Washington Metro or in New York City on the train or subway would be able to read it, but it didn’t work out. Yet the magazine is still around. In any case, my policy advocacy piece for this magazine was called “The Forgotten Region” and it dealt obviously with what we then called Eastern Europe. The State Department did not like it at all, but I got a phone call from Zbig Brzezinski, who really liked the piece. He said you are doing something important; you are keeping Eastern Europe on the agenda. This is what I want to say now to Wess and to CEPA and of course to Larry and Susan Hirsch: You are keeping Central and Eastern Europe on the agenda, and you are doing a fantastic job. I would not have imagined this much progress a few years ago when Larry was my student at SAIS (he did get an A by the way). So I should thank you now for putting Central and Eastern Europe on the political map. I’ll only add that Wess did make one mistake earlier today. I asked him how long I should speak and he said as long as you want to, as long as you are provocative. Well, Wess, you do not say this to a professor.
The landmark NATO summits that occurred in November 2010 and in May 2012 have potentially created unprecedented opportunities for the most important U.S. collective defense alliance to address 21st century security challenges. NATO’s new Strategic Concept affirms a commitment to keep NATO “effective in a changing world, against new threats, with new capabilities and new partners.” But the most difficult challenge lies ahead – the process of refining and implementing the Concept when Allied defense resources are scarce and focused on other priorities, including the United States, its most powerful member, which is pivoting toward Asia.
This issue of Diplomaatia is mostly dedicated to the only remaining political-military superpower in the world, the United States of America. In connection with the US November elections, this 24-page issue offers assessments of the campaigns, the candidates – President Barack Obama and his contender Mitt Romney – and the main areas of debate during the presidential race. This number also contains analyses of the United States’ relationship with Europe (its central and eastern parts in particular), a commentary on the October elections in Ukraine and a review of the memoirs by the late diplomat and foreign policy thinker George Kennan.