Monday, September 15, 2008

Prioritizing: Baltics and Zimbabwe

The theme of today's post is consolidation and prioritizing. If the U.S.--and by extension the West is--to use Derek Reveron's phrase about superpower not superhero--limited in what problems it can address, then it is interesting to speculate on whether we are going to see some retrenchment in the months ahead.

First is the ongoing discussion as to whether the U.S. and Europe, when it comes to NATO, ought to retrench and refocus efforts on stabilizing the alliance rather than pursuing further expansion. In particular, getting the "Baltic front" consolidated and getting this consolidation to serve as the basis for a renewed trans-Atlantic consensus--and accepting that Georgia and Ukraine may be, at present, a "bridge too far" for the alliance. How this debate plays out will be interesting to watch.

Second, on the heels of the power-sharing agreement in Zimbabwe. Rhetorically, far short of the regime change it seemed the West wanted. Also, given the pretty harsh criticism South Africa came under from the U.S. for its activities in Zimbabwe, it will be interesting whether the West will accept what is, yes, a flawed agreement (and not possible stable) under the rubric of "African solutions". If so, will the EU and the U.S. begin to scale back their sanctions? Will they decide this agreement is "good enough"?

Just some Monday observations.

And pray tell me what would "the West" do (or could do) if it does not accept the power sharing agreement in Zimbabwe?
Nothing, anonymous 12:19, but it does expose the hollowness of US threats.
Valuable resource of zimbabwe news summaries:
I'm a little puzzled what the "Baltic front consolidation" means in practical terms. Bringing nukes to Baltics? Ethnically cleansing their Russian population? By the way, is that front particularly weak?
It means that the other NATO countries might want to start doing some strategic planning for how they'd defend the Baltic states, since no one has a clue right now how to do that ...
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