No. 36




Why has the world come unstuck?

07 December 2017


RiTo No. 36, 2017

  • Sven Sakkov

    Director of International Centre for Defence and Security

Director of International Centre for Defence and Security Sven Sakkov analyses the state of world affairs and its developments since the end of the Cold War.

He looks at the defining moments of the past 30 years and finds that one – 30 August 2013 – stands out as a symbolic starting point of the end of Pax Americana. That was the day when President Obama decided not to follow through on his “red line” promise about the chemical weapons use in Syria.

The apex of post-Cold War Western dominance and optimism came in 2003–2004. In April 2003, the American forces took Bagdad. In November 2004, the European leaders signed the European Constitutional Treaty. Iraq was soon engulfed by insurgency, and French voters rejected the Treaty.

The American retrenchment started with the Obama administration and continues under President Trump. Since 2008, the European Union has stumbled from crisis to crisis – the international financial crisis followed by the euro-zone debt crisis followed by the refugee crisis followed by Brexit.

Russia has meanwhile tried to undermine Europe’s security architecture in order to replace it with one where Russia is at the table and the US is not. When Russia was not included in the decision-making processes that affected its interests, it resorted to military intervention and indeed managed to regain a seat at the table. In 2008, Russia stopped Georgia’s attempts to move closer to NATO, and in 2014 it did the same in Ukraine. In 2015, Moscow got involved in Syrian civil war, and in 2016 it intervened in the US elections.

The author concludes that a small, militarily vulnerable and trade-dependent country like Estonia can survive and prosper only if the US is confident and committed to European security, and the EU is united and functions as it should. He further posits that Estonia’s foreign policy should concentrate on just two key topics – security and export. All other topics should either support those, or make room for these.