Donald Trump’s inaugural address, pro-Kremlin news site RuBaltic.ru
claims the speech suggests that under his presidency, the
“anti-Russian buffer zone” in Europe—previously a pillar of
U.S. foreign policy—is no longer needed.
23 January article
on President Donald Trump’s inaugural
address posted by the
pro-Kremlin, Russian-language news site RuBaltic.ru
states that an anti-Russian buffer zone is no longer needed, and that
Trump will no longer take care of the Baltic states and other U.S.
allies in Europe.
The false fact or
false narratives are at work here: first, that previous U.S.
presidents maintained an anti-Russian buffer zone; second, the
implication that the concept of “buffer zones” or “spheres of
influence” is a part of U.S. foreign policy; and third, that since
the anti-Russian buffer zone is no longer needed, the Baltic states
will be abandoned.
on the ground:
Trump did not mention anything about
an “anti-Russian buffer zone” in his inaugural speech. Moreover,
claims by pro-Kremlin media that the address indicated the previous
existence of such a buffer zone in Washington’s calculations are
groundless. On the contrary, the United States has
been including Russia in its pursuit of a multipolar world for more
than 70 years. The
idea of a United Nations began in 1939 under the aegis of the U.S.
Washington also was a key player in the establishment of the UN
of the six
principal organs of
Nations—which gives veto power to
five countries, including Russia.
The North Atlantic
Treaty came into being in 1949 as an organization based on consensus
among all its signatories, large and small. Any country can block any
other in the alliance. By contrast,
decisions of the Warsaw Pact—created in 1955 as a counterweight to
NATO—were dominated by the Soviet Union. Since the end of the Cold
War, the United States has supported Russia’s accession of Russia
into several multilateral fora including the NATO-Russia Council, G8
and the WTO.
In addition, U.S.
cooperation with other NATO states is not based on the idea of a
“buffer zone” or a “sphere of influence” but on the North
states as follows: “The
Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in
Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them
all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs,
each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective
self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United
Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking
forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such
action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to
restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”
It also requires that each member state should “maintain and
develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed
NATO members renewed
this requirement at their 2014 Wales Summit, A declaration issued at
that summit stated
that “allies currently meeting the NATO guideline to spend a
minimum of 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Product on defense will
aim to continue to do so. Allies whose current proportion of GDP
spent on defense is below this level will halt any decline in defense
expenditure; aim to increase defense expenditure in real terms as GDP
grows; aim to move towards the 2 percent guideline within a decade
with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling
NATO’s capability shortfalls.”
Trump has previously
urged NATO member states to meet the required threshold of 2 percent
of GDP. According to NATO’s communique
Defence Expenditures of NATO Countries
, Estonia now spends 2
percent of its GDP on defense spending (and in its state
of 2017, it will
reach an all-time
of nearly 2.2 percent).
Even though Latvia and Lithuania haven’t yet reached the 2 percent
requirement, the same document shows that both countries have
dramatically increased their defense budgets since 2014 as agreed in
Russian speakers in the Baltic states
and around the world
Rubaltic.ru interpretation of Trump’s inaugural address says less
about the speech and U.S. interest than about the Kremlin’s
intentions. Restoring the Cold War era’s “buffer zones” or
“spheres of influence” and making the concept internationally
acceptable has been one of the Kremlin’s intentions for many years.
Nevertheless, in a liberal democracy, this concept is questionable;
it indicates that not every country has the right to define itself
and its goals, but accepting that its future may be defined by
agreements made by other, bigger or more powerful countries.
philosophy, this dichotomy between the rule of law and the rule of
power is illustrated by the dichotomy between John Locke’s idea of
a social contract between citizens and governments, i.e., a contract
based on commonly acceptable law and/or an agreement made by
example the North Atlantic Treaty, and Thomas Hobbes’ “war
of all against all,” i.e., agreements made by more powerful parties
over all others (for example, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact). One of
these concepts has a future; the other does not. Which one prevails
depends on future U.S. decisions and how European countries will