• Articles,  Defense One

    US and Russian Military Leaders Are Meeting Again, Breaking a Long and Dangerous Drought

    Over three years had passed without direct senior-level contact between the world’s preeminent nuclear powers. The military leaders of the world’s most lethal nuclear-tipped states met in February, the first such meeting in three years. The two generals got together again earlier this month, once more in relative obscurity that belied their meetings’ tremendous importance. Long projected, but politically and geographically difficult to finalize, the Feb. 16 meeting was a personal first for Gen. Joseph Dunford and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, respectively the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Russia’s chief of the General Staff. They met in Baku, Azerbaijan, and frankly but cordially discussed the overall diminished…

  • Articles,  Defense One

    Breaking Down US-Russian Distrust With Time, Talk, and Meals

    A recent session of the long-running Dartmouth Conference shows how non-governmental dialogue can ease tense relations. I was a recent participant in the Dartmouth Conference, one of the few remaining Track 2 — that is, non-governmental — dialogues between the U.S. and Russia. Its results may be especially interesting in the wake of the recent victory of President-elect Donald Trump and for those paying close attention to the difficult relations between our two countries. The oldest dialogue of its kind, the Conference has for 56 years enabled senior American and Russian citizens to seek mutual solutions to our shared political and geostrategic challenges. The three-day symposium I attended in late October was the 146th…

  • Articles,  Defense One

    In Aleppo, Echoes of Guernica and Global Disorder

    Nearly 80 years ago, a shattered town rang a death knell for international order. We must not let it happen again. In 1937, the Third Reich’s expeditionary Condor Legion obliterated the Spanish town of Guernica. This cynical proxy bombing, immortalized in Picasso’s iconic painting, was an early death knell of the League of Nations, and came to symbolize the violent rending of the post-WWI international order. Today, nations must act so that Aleppo does not become a Guernica for our own age. The Russian and Syrian government assault on anti-regime rebels in Syria’s second-largest city goes far beyond any reasonable military action. This isn’t about the merits of the various rebel groups,…

  • Articles,  Defense One

    Death of the GRU Commander

    An American general remembers Russia’s complex military intelligence chief, who shaped the Ukraine incursion — and worked hard to bridge the East-West gap. In February 2014, contact ceased between U.S. and Russian military intelligence as part of an overall shutdown of defense relations in the wake of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. It was the right policy move at the time, but it’s time to get U.S. and Russian military leaders, including intelligence officials, talking to each other again. One unlikely and subtle advocate of the value of personal communications was the chief of Russian military intelligence, Igor Sergun, who died suddenly on Jan. 3 of a probable heart attack.…

  • Articles,  Defense One

    It’s High Time for US, Russian Militaries to Start Meeting Again

    It is increasingly dangerous in this cyber-fast world for the nuclear-tipped nations to have such a dearth of contact.  In January 2014, the U.S. and Russia’s highest military leaders and their staffs met in Brussels to discuss important security issues. The turmoil in Kyiv’s Maidan Square was intensifying, and the Sochi Olympics and Ukrainian President Yanukovych’s ouster were just weeks away. That was the last time senior U.S. and Russian military leaders met face-to-face — and the end of several years of active, though guarded, engagement between our militaries. It is of urgent importance, particularly in the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, that our two countries reopen these…