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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest


A Strategy for Stable Peace: Towards a Euroatlantic Security Community
James Goodby, Petrus Buwalda, Dmitri Trenin

Washington: USIP, 2002
205pp, ISBN: 1-929223-32-3

In a security community, as articulated by Karl Deutsch, a group of nations will not fight each other, but instead settle disputes through other means. As applied to the Euroatlantic area by James Goodby, Petrus Buwalda and Dmitri Trenin, this can be the basis for a lasting and stable peace.

The question is how Russia is to be involved in extant western institutional arrangements, and indeed how it will progress domestically. This is critical, the authors argue, to achieving a “Triad” in Euroatlantic relations. In this model, the United States continues to globalize a powerful economy, Russia moves toward democracy and institutional development and the European Union is deepened and widened. But the Triad model is challenged by domestic problems and nationalist objection in Russia, lack of common purpose in US-EU relations and potential conflict in Asia -- all of which seem at the moment to be in the ascendancy.

The cure lies in the integrating potential of international institutions. This requires planning. Comprehensive long-term strategies need to be formulated for NATO and the EU. The EU should be deepened to overcome the perceived democracy deficit and build real institutional capability, and then expanded. Furthermore, EU accession should precede NATO enlargement. This order of accession is seen as critical to communicating to Russia the benefit of operating in peaceful and closer cooperation with these institutions.

An internal imbalance in the tripartite relationship suggests a competing model of U.S. dominance. To move toward the Triad, the West needs to be more consistent in relations with Russia, encouraging Russia's involvement in international organizations. For its part, Russia needs to affirm its identity as a western nation and pursue internal reform. These can occur simultaneously. Indeed, the strengthening of international organizations, along with anti-proliferation and the maintenance of a predictable international order, which does not undercut national interest, is key in regional conflict prevention. In this area, a stable Triad can be effective.

In a preface, the authors write that the manuscript was completed before the September 2001 terrorist attacks. They contend “the Russian leadership has concluded that the situation is propitious for making strides toward Russia's integration into Western political, economic, and military structures on mutually acceptable terms.” (ix) Hence, the United States and Western Europe are given a chance to solve the “Russia problem.”

Yet the security community ideal is equally threatened by another competing model, that of US-EU competition. This has been a prime feature of recent developments. Furthermore, this has manifested itself as a competition for Russia. As the debate on potential military action against Iraq has become daily more vitriolic, two power centers have engaged in the search for allies of convenience. Developments since this book was written, do not indicate progress toward the Triad. The authors' recommended course for institutional expansion has not been followed, and the model of US-EU competition leads. The uncertain place of Russia has only exacerbated this. A stable peace remains an ideal, one requiring greater attention than ever before.

The authors, well pedigreed in think tank, academic and diplomatic circles, are based in Washington, The Hague and Moscow. Their writing is generally smooth, and forceful at times. The broad approach of the book means that ethnic conflicts are dealt with in the context of regional issues. Policy prescription is limited to supporting the strengthening of non-specific international organizations, which can act to manage or prevent conflict. While the methods are not greatly developed, this is seen as a critical role for a Euroatlantic community bound by a stable peace.

Jon Levy, The Johns Hopkins University

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