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I tend to agree that the Russian insistence in that issue is not on solid grounds.

From what I've read on the matter (and it's way more that few journo articles) it is hard to say whether the American 'promise' was given for E. Germany or for E. Europe as a whole, and either way it was never put through relevant paperwork and transformed into solid deal. Even if it was blatant lie, which it probably wasn't since Baker at the time had no vision on NATO's expansion, an even if Genscher was more direct on the same matter, Russians came of more as a sore losers than anything else.

In the end one could easily point the finger at Gorbachev and Shevardnadze for not doing their jobs on that matter. Very poor statecraft performance from that lot.

by Prospero on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 10:51:22 AM EST
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Can't argue that the Russians has good statecraft there, but, still, it was an opportunity we walked away from. However, that was inevitable once the 'shock doctrine' crew got to work in Russia for Wall Street. But almost all of my current understanding of economics and, especially finance and development, has only come since 2008, so I had few clues as to what was afoot.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 02:50:26 PM EST
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Spiegel has a (far as I can tell) good write-up on it. The ending:

NATO's Eastward Expansion: Calming Russian Fears - SPIEGEL ONLINE

In late May 1990, Gorbachev finally agreed to a unified Germany joining NATO. But why didn't Gorbachev and Shevardnadze get the West's commitments in writing at a time when they still held all the cards? "The Warsaw Pact still existed at the beginning of 1990," Gorbachev says today. "Merely the notion that NATO might expand to include the countries in this alliance sounded completely absurd at the time."

Some leading Western politicians were under the impression that the Kremlin leader and his foreign minister were ignoring reality and, as Baker said, were "in denial" about the demise of the Soviet Union as a major power.

On the other hand, the Baltic countries were still part of the Soviet Union, and NATO membership seemed light years away. And in some parts of Eastern Europe, peace-oriented dissidents were now in power, men like then-Czech President Vaclav Havel who, if he had had his way, would not only have dissolved the Warsaw Pact, but NATO along with it.

No Eastern European government was striving to join NATO in that early phase, and the Western alliance had absolutely no interest in taking on new members. It was too expensive, an unnecessary provocation of Moscow and, if worse came to worst, did the Western governments truly expect French, Italian or German soldiers to risk their lives for Poland and Hungary?

Then, in 1991, came the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the war in Bosnia, with its hundred thousand dead, raised fears of a Balkanization of Eastern Europe. And in the United States President Bill Clinton, following his inauguration in 1993, was searching for a new mission for the Western alliance.

Suddenly everyone wanted to join NATO, and soon NATO wanted to accept everyone.

The dispute over history was about to begin.

by fjallstrom on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 04:36:33 PM EST
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How quickly we forget the zeitgeist of an earlier era, and thus the conclusions which naturally follow there from. Plus, at that time, much of my knowledge of modern Germany were based on the very first edition of Geoffrey Barraclough's "Orgins of Modern Germany", which really started with a single short summary of the developments prior to the emergence of Prussia and then proceeded to describe the subsequent process of accretion for a brief to the Imperial War College in
Britain during WW II. I had found a copy of this in the Oklahoma State University library, while History was only my second minor subject and was fascinated. (I would very much like to find a copy as it is vastly different from the later editions.) The rest of my then knowledge of German history was from the course work I had in Russian, French and English 'national history course sequences. Add to that the fact that I was working 60+ hours a week and had a pre-school child at home, often missed the evening news on TV and primarily relied on the LA Times, which, at the time, had a fairly good foreign news section. Even so, little of what was in the Spiegel article was covered in any detail, mostly just the fact of the conferences.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 7th, 2015 at 08:02:47 PM EST
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