Periods of poor U.S.-European relations are nothing new, and times of mutual criticism go back to the beginnings of this country. Even times of predictions that the relationship is on the point of fracture are not all that infrequent. But today's poor relations hold major consequences not only for the transatlantic relationship, but for the world as a whole.
The fierce partisan political warfare that has characterized Washington policy issues since the mid-1990s has now thankfully subsided. All hope that the new spirit will last beyond the current crisis. But principled disagreements on key issues remain, particularly on missile defense. There is no bipartisan consensus.
After a year-long review, the Bush administration has announced plans to continue U.S. efforts to deal with the nonproliferation risks posed by the state of the Russian weapons complex. It remains to be seen how all threat reduction programs will fare in the next budget, but it appears that the administration has overcome its initial skepticism regarding these programs and their benefits for U.S. security.
UN Under-Secretary General Jayantah Dhanapala said January 22, "The terrorist acts of 11 September have shaken the world out of a dangerous complacency. The public, concerned groups, and legislators are now starting to take much more seriously not only the threat of terrorism but also the danger that WMD may actually be used against military or civilian targets." Read excerpts from his speech to the Arms Control Association.
Unless the international community pursues a regional strategy for rebuilding Afghanistan, the security of the Central Asian states and Pakistan will be so compromised that new terrorist groups with global reach soon will be using Eurasia as their launching pad again.
Kyrgyzstan is really coming to a turning point. Any further deterioration in its political conditions will justifiably earn it the label of an authoritarian state. Many already consider it to be one, although most would grant that it is the softest of the region's authoritarian regimes.
The Process of democracy building in Kyrgystan has faltered. Kyrgyzstan must open up again politically and work toward greater economic transparency both through the creation of an independent judiciary and through a more directed and far reaching campaign against corruption.
The United States will soon become the first nation since World War II to withdraw from a major international security agreement. President Bush's abrogation of the ABM treaty will undermine President Putin in Russia, alienate U.S. allies, antagonize China, polarize domestic debate and weaken national security. Ironically, it will also expose the fragility of missile defense plans. It has been technology, not treaties, limiting effective defenses.
The United States and Russian Federation reached an important arms control milestone on December 5 when both sides completed reductions in the strategic nuclear arsenals to 6,000 accountable weapons each, as required under the START I Treaty. These reductions are a massive reduction from the size of the nuclear arsenals both countries deployed when the agreement was signed in 1991, and demonstrate the value of negotiated, verified arms reduction agreements in U.S. security policy.