This blog has not been prolific in recent months, but I am glad that my past articles stand the test of time:
1. When Russia's green men seized Crimea in February 2014, US and German politicians and pundits suggested different responses. I explained the reasons for these transatlantic differences: Misreading Ostpolitik and the Cuban Missile Crisis Screwed up German and US Foreign Policy
This article from March 2014 is still relevant and will most likely explain gut reactions to future crises as well. The current German and US governments cannot ignore their pundits and public opinions, but so far Merkel's and Obama's Russia policy has not been too much negatively influenced by the popular, but shallow and wrong reading of past US or German policy successes. The EU and the US have been balancing sanctions and diplomacy quite well. They have successfully maintained transatlantic unity, which is more important than higher sanctions or more diplomacy.
2. Three years ago, before and after NATO's summit in Chicago, a plethora of op-eds in the US and German media argued that the Alliance needs to be rescued, revitalized, resurrected, and reinvented. The think tankers wanted to reaffirm or renegotiate the transatlantic bargain and called for a revolution to overcome geostrategic irrelevance.
I wrote at the time that all those "R" words suggest either a look back or a reinvention, but instead, we need to go forward and keep our commitments to the ten year plan laid out in the Strategic Concept passed at the previous NATO summit in Lisbon in 2010. We do not need to save, rescue or reinvent NATO, but rather, to use a different “R” word, reinforce a strong commitment to implement the Strategic Concept faster and more thoroughly: NATO and the R-Words: 10 Takes on the Chicago Summit
The current conflict with Russia validates my criticism of the conventional wisdom in 2012
I had written another article at that time calling for more focus on NATO’s core mission of collective defense and taking issue with the many NATO critics, who wrote that NATO has to expand its global role and interventions: Accepting Our Limits Makes for a Stronger Alliance
NATO does not have to constantly go out of area to avoid going out of business, as Richard Lugar argued in 1993. I believe this constant pressure from many politicians and pundits for NATO to prove its relevance beyond the Article 5 guarantee is the biggest problem NATO faces today, and is out of sync with the public views on NATO. Solid majorities of both Europeans and North Americans have considered the Alliance "essential" to their country's security in each of the last ten years according to the Transatlantic Trends surveys.
This is an indication of NATO's success. To achieve security despite austerity, we have to get our priorities straight: let's avoid non-essential missions and focus on modernizing our militaries and improving interoperability, for when NATO, as a defensive alliance, is needed again.
3. I also look back with some pride (but without glee or Schadenfreude, quite the contrary) on a research project on international risk policy and the new dangers in international relations at the turn of the century. My article “Staatszerfall: Die riskante Stabilisierungsstrategie der Europäischen Union für den südlichen Mittelmeerraum” was part of a book published by my professors at the Freie Universität Berlin in 2002. Available at Amazon.
Soon, I will blog more often once again.
ENDNOTE: Last week was the tenth anniversary of Marla Ruzicka's death. Rolling Stone described her as a "youthful representative of a certain kind of not-yet-lost American idealism." I wrote: Tribute to Marla Ruzicka and the Nameless Aidworkers Around the World