When raising the topic of European conventional arms control (CAC) these days in Washington, one should be prepared for quizzical expressions from interlocutors. With crises in Syria and Iran, the “rebalancing” to the Asia-Pacific, and Europe’s own pressing economic troubles, the response to expect goes something like this: why bother spending time on this issue? During the New START debate, some commentators even declared nuclear arms control less important than free trade with Central American countries. While that sort of hyperbole is not reflective of the current administration’s views on nuclear arms control, CAC is not nearly as high on the agenda.
And frankly that’s understandable. For all states in the Euro-Atlantic region, CAC falls in that unlucky basket of issues that are important, but not urgent; and, despite Eisenhower’s sage advice, all the region’s capitals seem to be driven by what is urgent these days. Additionally, CAC’s chequered recent history – the death of A/CFE while stillborn; Russia’s December 2007 “suspension” of CFE; the November 2011 NATO countermeasures; etc. – complicates matters further, especially at a time of deteriorating U.S.-Russia relations. No government wants to risk political capital on an issue that seems a tough slog at best and an outright loser at worst. […]
See the full post | © European Leadership Network 2013