03 August 2018

James Jay Carafano, Heritage Foundation vice-President: I would like to see Georgia joining NATO, an association of free nations

Indira Crasnea | Laura Buciu

NATO is an „association of free nations”, which should maintain „an opened policy approach”, said, in an interview for Defence and Security Monitor (MAS), James Jay Carafano, Heritage Foundation (USA) vice-President .

We are presenting the interview offered by Heritage Foundation’s (USA) vice-President, James Jay Carafano for the Defence and Security Monitor.


Reporter: can we talk, at this moment, about a new long-term Cold War?

James Jay Carafano: no, I do not think that Cold War’s heritage works at all. First of all, Russia’s relation with the West is very different. During the Cold War, there was not just no physic wall. There were no economic relation, politic relation, personal, diplomatically. The two parts were practically separated.

Today, the world is different.

We compete with the Russians, there are economic relations, cultural connections, everything is different, the purpose is different and I think that this is what the US and the Western Alliance share in common.

During the Cold War, we looked at the Soviet Union and we said: this is a society which is detrimental in the future of humanity, there is no freedom, there is no opportunity for the people to realize their potential, and the strategy in the Cold War was essentially that one day we would like to see the Soviet Union go away, because it was a massive oppressive to people.

President Reagan called it an evil empire and he said it will not stand forever. You know, people look at Russia and they may not like the Russian government, they are rightfully concerned about Russia’s foreign policy regarding about other countries, they are actually invading countries, like Ukraine and Georgia, but on the other hand, Russia is not going anywhere, it is geography is the same. What we want Russia to do is stop destabilizing Western Europe. If they want to live under Putin and have a terrible economy, that is their business, right? So, in the cold was it was about seeing an end to an evil empire; today is about Russians leaving other people alone, so they can live their live.

Reporter: Metaphorically speaking, where do you think the new NATO border will be? Concretely, which is the Russia-NATO agreement’s future? It is just suspended or it is expected to be cancelled?

James Jay Carafano: So, NATO is an association of free nations, so I do not think is a border to that, right? Countries can freely join NATO if they want and I think that should remain the NATO opened policy. And I think, for example, someday I would like to see Georgia join NATO, and I think the relationship between Russia and the US really depends on Russia. I think the Western commitment to a free and opened transatlantic community is not going to change. Russia can live with that or not. We actually did not see the bottom of the NATO- Russia relationship. I think, for example, that the future Intermediary Nuclear Forces International Treaty between NATO and Russia it is an opened question. I do not expect Russia-NATO relationship to improve anytime soon, and I would place the blame on that to Russia. I do not think NATO is opposed to better relations, but if Russia wants better relations essentially has to be a better neighbor to Western Europe.

Reporter: Do you think the dominate position will be disturbed in Black Sea region? It will be a „no1” at military level and another „no1” economically?

James Jay Carafano: Black Sea’s security, peace and stability is obviously a very complex question, because of the multiple players. Much depends on the position Turkey holds and also on how other countries respond to Russian influence. What I am trying to say is that Russia tries to increase its control position over Black Sea and if that goes unchecked they will continue to do so. I think, in part, the ball is on the court of Romania and other countries around the Black Sea, so developing capacities in order to defence their interests it is a very important matter. I think the US is more concerned about Black Sea’s peace and security and the southern flank of NATO, so I think the US is anxious to partner with countries in the region, to help bring peace and stability, part of that will also depend on the policy Turkey’s using in the future.

If Romania and our NATO partners stand up and better protective defenders to their territorial space that will actually contribute to long term stability in the region.

Reporter: How do you see Russian Federation’s new actions in the future, in this region? Do you think it will be military reasons or rather offensive diplomacy?

James Jay Carafano: Largely, what we have seen from Russian’s is to look to regions of weakness, where they can exploit the intern tensions or lack of security and focus on the Western Europe communities, NATO or the EU. So, I think many people look, for example, at the Baltic area and say that NATO has done a good job of reassuring and bringing peace and stability in Central Europe. Most people look at areas of concerns: Number one being the Western Balkans, as an area where potentially Russia’s influence may exacerbate the tensions and destabilize regions and they would bring problems in the Black Sea. Yet, whether is for NATO, the US or the EU, those are also the areas where people are looking at for bringing more assurance, stability, looking more with the regional partners to ensure the stability in the region, economic growth and more confidence. That will create a more stable situation.





Reporter: how will the balanced power will be presented in Black Sea’s region, considering a friendship between Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan?

James Jay Carafano: Well, I think that, along with US’s increased accent over the regional partners regarding bringing peace and security in the Black Sea region, probably we are entering a relative stable period.

The real question is how long we can keep that.

Putin is in Syria, has forces in Ukraine, and must be concerned about Belarus. The Russians are in multiple places and their economy is not that strong, so the question is if they can keep that over time, against a series of confrontations from us and our allies to protect our own interests. And I guess they cannot.

Reporter: how do you see the relation between the US and Russia in 5 years?

James Jay Carafano: I think a future US-Russia relation stays on Russian’s hands. If we look at how president Trump approaches the foreign policy- and everyone else the US competes with: Iran, Koreans, Chinese’s or Russians- he always makes an offer.

What I am saying is that Trump says “we do not have to have a tense relation with the other and we can understand each other”, but some people see that as being “weak”, especially regarding Russia.

If we look at what Trump says after that is “Look, we can get to an agreement if you respect my next interests”.  That is how you know that the Americans insisted a lot on Russia destabilizing the influences, either we are talking about Ukraine, Georgia, nor everywhere in the Western Europe or the Middle East.  And that it has to stop. If this stops, then we can have productive, constructive relations between Russia and West, which depend on Putin- who influences the foreign policy in Russia- so that more constructive relations to be created. So, my answer would be yes, but depends on Russia.

Reporter: how do you comment president Trump’s decision to ask to taxes on steel and aluminum imports?

James Jay Carafano: I think the situation is not pleasant. I understand why the president does that.

If we look traditionally, when the American approach the economy they go to using taxes and there are three reasons why they do that.

One would refer to the past, when America was created.

When Alexander Hamilton wrote the first report about America’s manufactures activities, he said: you can have (customs) taxes to acquire money, you can have (customs) taxes to protect your intern industry for national security reasons- in the country- and you can have taxes to create better commercial relations with you neighbors.  

This is how the American thought about taxes and this is how we continue.

Obviously the purpose is not to acquire money.

The president speaks a lot about raising the customs taxes so that we can rebuild the American industry.

I do not think that is true. It is not about the national security. The president is very concerned about prosperity, better commercial relations.

The problem in using taxes to attract commercial relations is like wanting people’s attention by using a grenade. Someone could be hurt.

I am concerned on how the taxes will be implemented.

The implementation cannot just hurt our friends, but can also affect other industries. For example, more American iron and steel industries have a specific niche, some industrial capacities and are really dependent on these.

In other countries we build capacities and then we offer some niche steel products. If we “sanction” someone else’s product, we will not be able to build new steel manufactures in the US, and the niche companies will be out of the businesses.

So I think there are concerns about how the president uses taxes. I think the effective implementation, if not careful, will be in Americans’ economy detrimental and also out friends’ economy and allies.

We hope that, as the administration advances, they think about what they do.

(The Global Studies Center of “Lucian Blaga” University in Sibiu organized on 1-2th of June, 2018, the international conference “Emerging Importance of Wider Black Sea Area Security”, with the support of Romania’s President, Romani’s ambassador in the US, being co-financed by Sibiu’s City Hall).