With the end of the Cold War, both the United States and Russia are in a position to use force more selectively and with less risk. Absent a global superpower rivalry, neither feels the same compulsion to intervene almost everywhere to protect or secure a competitive advantage. At the same time, intervention almost anywhere is now safer because there is no danger of escalation to apocalyptic levels. Despite these similarities, however, the differences in the respective post-Cold War security circumstances of the two countries are more striking than the similarities and have weighed more heavily in their intervention decisionmaking.

The end of the Cold War and the collapse of Soviet Communism left the United States as the world's only superpower--a status that, for some Americans, entailed a responsibility to create a "new world order," if need be by periodic resorts to force to curb regional instability. In contrast, post-Soviet Russia emerged from the disintegration of the old order with a sharply reduced international power position and an extended zone of instability along its southern and western flanks, as well as with internal threats to its own territorial integrity. In consequence, Russia has used force exclusively within the former Soviet Union, while the United States has intervened in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America.

At the same time that differences in power and reach between Russia and the United States have become more pronounced, the institutional and procedural differences between them have diminished as a result of Russia's slow but continuing democratization. How far this process of convergence has gone in the area of intervention and force employment decisionmaking is one of the central issues examined in the concluding chapter of this book. The earlier chapters present case studies of nine instances of regional military intervention undertaken by the two countries since 1991, and one analogous case study from the late Cold War era--of American peacekeeping in Lebanon in 1982-1984. For the United States, in addition to the intervention in Lebanon, these case studies cover the former Yugoslavia, Panama, Haiti, and Africa, as well as a cross-cutting look at how the Bush administration approached its intervention and force employment decisionmaking. For Russia, the case studies describe the decision-making process that led to the use of force in Ossetia-Ingushetia, Trans-Dniestria, Tadjikistan, Abkhazia, and Chechnya.

These case studies are, first and foremost, descriptive in that they revisit events chronologically and highlight the issues at stake, as well as the interplay of individuals and institutions that accounted for the flow of events. However, they are written from an analytic perspective with a view to the formulation of useful generalizations about the decision-making practices of the two countries. Their value as inputs to such an undertaking is enhanced by the fact that their authors were either direct participants in or first-hand observers of the events described.

A word is in order about one important unexamined case: Operation Desert Storm, which provides an all but prototypical example of "mature" intervention decisionmaking with respect to such key considerations as objectives planning, consensus-building, coalition formation, and operational discipline. It has been excluded from consideration here because the force employed was quantitatively and qualitatively different by several orders of magnitude from that employed in all other post-Cold War instances.

Since most of the interventions described below have not previously been subjected to detailed analysis from a decision-making perspective, this volume should fill an important gap in the scholarly literature on post-Cold War crisis interventions. Hopefully, it will also provide Russian and American policymakers with a better understanding of how decisions on security issues are made in the other's country. If so, it may help not only to avert misunderstandings but also to strengthen cooperative security relations between the two countries. Nuclear issues excepted, neither country is a pivotal factor in the other's security planning today. This may not be true in the future, however, and now is certainly an appropriate time to capitalize on unprecedented opportunities to forge close links between security analysts and practitioners in the two countries and to break down barriers of ignorance and mistrust that could complicate bilateral relations and prevent the emergence of a meaningful security partnership.

Contents page
First chapter