Common Security

From the Foundation's 1994 Annual Report


Building a world in which security is cooperative rather than accidental requires tremendous exertions of minds, hearts, bodies, bank accounts and more. It requires a sense of noble historical purpose and a willingness to make some sacrifices now so that gains can be enjoyed later. Only a few nations of the world possess the power and resources to make this happen. Unfortunately, in 1994, the leaders and publics in these states felt neither rich nor powerful. They felt insecure, hard pressed and self-absorbed. Trying to preserve the value of their homes, they watched as the neighborhood went to hell -- Bosnia, Somalia, Rwanda, Chechnya. They scrambled to build walls around their homes and arm themselves against the bad elements coming into the neighborhood. It was an illusory, reactive response that promises only more of the same, but it seemed easier than the more farsighted alternative of rebuilding the neighborhood.

The Cold War brought a massive build up of nuclear weapons in the name of security: the United States and the Soviet Union alone produced more than 130,000 nuclear weapons. Now to eliminate the risk of nuclear war, states ultimately must find non-nuclear means to secure themselves. This represents a fundamental departure from decades of adversarial and self-regarding practice and habits. The motivation to reduce threats will not emerge unless and until leaders and publics recognize that they will not be secure if their neighbors are insecure.

This is the essence of Common Security. It will take time for leaders, vested bureaucracies and publics to feel comfortable pursuing paths to security without these weapons. For reform to occur, leaders must place a premium on reducing threats, rather than building up forces to meet unreduced threats. States must make their military and political intentions known to their neighbors, and make their capabilities transparent so as to begin allaying fears and worst-case planning. Nations must evince a willingness to act decisively to reduce their offensive military capabilities, and to fashion clearly defensive strategies and forces.

The Foundation's Common Security Initiative began as the Cold War ended. Optimism about a New World Order encouraged the Foundation and others to design blueprints and instigate coalitions to begin the building. At the end of 1994 there is no reason to question the original intention and design. Indeed, the frustration that people around the world feel at the current state of affairs is proof that human beings desire and can conceptualize a better way. It would be ignoble and inhuman for those with vision and means not to continue pursuing improvements that lead toward Common Security. The challenge is merely greater at the end of 1994 than it was a few years earlier, during the optimistic and active dissolution of the Cold War.

In 1994 it became clearer that Common Security would have to be achieved region-by-region. During the Cold War the superpowers imposed a significant level of order on the entire world. When this bipolar order collapsed it unleashed grave uncertainties and simmering ambitions in key regions around the world. Longstanding ethnic and national disputes re-emerged. States struggled to balance the power and ambitions of traditional rivals in the less structured post-Cold War environment. Thus the Foundation was prompted to concentrate on promoting dialog and confidence-building at the regional level in the areas of the world where the threats of nuclear weapon competition appeared most pressing: Russia and the Newly Independent States, the Middle East, Northeast Asia, and South Asia.

Russia and the NIS

For Europe and the United States, the evolution of Russia remains a limiting factor in the capacity to create Common Security. If Russia becomes secure and determined to integrate into the international community, it will rely less on military power which will in turn allow the U.S. and Europe to diminish arsenals and embrace cooperation. Conversely, if Russia gives up on integration and finds it easier or more desirable to revert to a fortressed outsider role, Western security establishments will eagerly revert to their Cold War-styled approaches to security. Western ambivalence on this score in 1994 was seen in the U.S. Defense Department's Nuclear Posture Review which rejected major changes in U.S. nuclear policy in favor of "hedging" against a re-emergent Russian military threat. For their part, Russia and Ukraine, the two key states which must be able to cooperate in security affairs if military threats are to be reduced in the East, made halting progress toward a modus vivendi.

In 1994 the Foundation continued to support projects to develop independent experts in Russia and Ukraine who could analyze military policies and recommend steps to reduce threats and heighten cooperation. Special attention was paid to training and supporting journalists who could provide independent, critical reporting on security issues. American organizations dedicated to maintaining lines of communication and cooperation between Russia and Ukraine and the West were also supported.

The Middle East

The inspirational signing of the Israeli-Palestinian accords in September 1993 gave way to dismal suicide bombings and internecine conflict in Israel and the disputed territories in 1994. Egypt's beleaguered and corrupt secular regime appeared vulnerable to rising militant Islamic movements which made cooperation with Israel more difficult. Syrian-Israeli negotiations on a resolution of their intense conflict halted. The forces of extremism put the forces of cooperation on the defensive. Over time, of course, the extremists cannot prevail because they cannot meet the needs of their societies. But in the near term, the courageous indigenous and outside voices of cooperation will be hard-pressed to influence official policy and will instead concentrate on preparing the society-to-society basis for cooperation in the long term. These are the people and projects that can mitigate pressures for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Despite the ominous developments of 1994, a strategy of gradual peace-making remains the only tenable way for the people of the Middle East to improve the lives of their children.

The Foundation's Middle East grant-making in 1994 continued to support Track II diplomacy across a range of issues -- human rights, economic cooperation, security. The historic animosity and pain afflicting the peoples of the Middle East must gradually be redressed and healed if leaders are to be able eventually to reduce the burden and threat of militarism in the region.

Iran occupies a special place in the Middle East. With its large size, historic legacy, and unique cultural and religious identity, Iran has great ambitions which, paired with the specific practices of the revolutionary regime, cause deep discomfit among its neighbors. Iran's reported quest for nuclear weapons capability adds to international concerns. At the same time, for recent historical and political reasons, the United States has pursued an unrelieved strategy of isolating Iran, at the expense of efforts to address broader and longer-term questions about Iran's inevitable role in Persian Gulf and Middle East security relationships. It is unwise to ignore Iran's hostile behavior or to loosen constraints on its efforts to import nuclear weapon capabilities, but at the same time it is shortsighted not to try to engage Iranians and representatives of neighboring states in dialog about possible ways to promote security in the region over the long term. Iran, whatever the character of its government, has security needs which if not met will add to the insecurity of neighbors.

Recognizing that the private sector can undertake initiatives which governments, for political reasons, cannot, the Foundation in 1994 supported several small-scale projects designed to assess Iran's military capabilities and intentions and to explore how security might be improved in the Persian Gulf and the broader Middle East.

Northeast Asia

Northeast Asia contains some of the world's most dynamic economies -- China, Japan, and South Korea. It also contains the potential for terribly destabilizing nuclear proliferation among these states and Russia and North Korea. The states in this region lack conceptions and institutions of regional security. Until these states think and act in regional terms, and pursue stability through communication and cooperation, danger will lurk.

In 1994 the Foundation supported projects intended to reduce North Korea's historic isolation from the international community and promote a negotiated resolution of the serious nuclear proliferation challenge on the Korean Peninsula. The Foundation also supported a major collaborative project of prominent American and Japanese specialists to identify ways in which Japan could play a more active role in promoting Common Security in Northeast Asia. Another effort was to brief regional officials and experts on the long-term feasibility of achieving a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Northeast Asia.

South Asia

India and Pakistan are the two largest states in South Asia. Beset by conflict since their independence and separation in 1947, India and Pakistan remain passionately at odds over the disputed territory of Kashmir, the role of intelligence services in subverting each other's internal affairs, and deeper questions of identity. Both states have developed significant nuclear weapon capabilities and the means to deliver nuclear weapons by missile and aircraft. In this volatile environment, the leaders of each country are embroiled in passionate polities which make them reluctant to take bold steps toward rapprochement. In such circumstances, leading private citizens and the international community must demonstrate avenues of eventual cooperation so that some day the governments themselves can move productively forward.

In 1994 the Foundation supported several projects to foster communication and confidence between Indians and Pakistanis. Some of these projects engaged prominent retired military and civilian leaders and eminent commentators in dialog on concrete security issues to foster transparency and explore where breakthroughs might eventually be made. Reflecting the reality that China causes India serious security concerns and is a patron of Pakistan, the Foundation also supported a pathbreaking quadralateral dialog in Shanghai between eminent Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and American security specialists. Finally, the Foundation also continued programming to bring future leaders of India, Pakistan and China together for intensive discussions of regional security and arms control. This educational dialog provides these promising young people a unique opportunity to escape the traditional isolation from one another and to become familiar with each other's homelands and interests. The result has been the kind of positive engagement on which Common Security ultimately depends.
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