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Cooperating for Peace and Security attempts to understand - more than fifteen years after the end of the Cold War, seven years after 9/11, and in the aftermath of the failure of the United Nations (UN) reform initiative - the relationship between US security interests and the factors that drove the evolution of multilateral security arrangements from 1989 to the present. Chapters cover a range of topics - including the UN, US multilateral cooperation, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), nuclear nonproliferation, European and African security institutions, conflict mediation, counterterrorism initiatives, international justice and humanitarian cooperation - examining why certain changes have taken place and the factors that have driven them and evaluating whether they have led to a more effective international system and what this means for facing future challenges.
In 1979, the evolutionary biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin gave a conference paper that was soon recognized as a classic in their field. At first, it seemed to have nothing to do with evolution at all. “The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptionist Programme” opens by observing that “the great central dome of St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice presents in its mosaic design a detailed iconography expressing the mainstays of the Christian faith.”
Three circles of figures radiate out from a central image of Christ: angels, disciples and virtues. Each circle is divided into quadrants, even though the dome itself is radially symmetrical in structure. Each quadrant meets one of the four spandrels in the arches below the dome. Spandrels – the tapering triangular spaces formed by the intersection of two rounded arches at right-angles – are necessary architectural by-products of mounting a dome on rounded arches. Each spandrel contains a design fitted into its tapering space. An evangelist sits in the upper part flanked by the heavenly cities. Below, a man representing one of the four Biblical rivers (Tigris, Euphrates, Indus and Nile) pours water into the narrow space below his feet.
This is noteworthy not only because the artistry in the spandrels is beautiful but also because its beauty can fool a tourist or art historian “to view it as the starting point of any analysis, as the cause in some sense of the surrounding architecture.
In July 2008, the Russian ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) set out proposals to consolidate – or supplant – Europe's patchwork of post–Cold War security institutions. These included a new forum to bring together NATO, the European Union (EU), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) with Russia's own institutional networks in the former Soviet Union. Although NATO's initial reaction was noncommittal, the initiative played on Western concerns about the incoherence of Europe's security architecture. Russia found a starker way to show the strains affecting that architecture less than a fortnight after its approach to NATO: going to war with Georgia.
Moscow claimed a rapid victory. But this was also a war of institutions. The fighting was the culmination of the erosion of the security framework put in place in Georgia in the early 1990s to freeze its post-Soviet civil wars. This framework included not only Russian and Georgian peacekeepers, co-deployed under the aegis of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in the separatist enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but also monitors from the OSCE in the former and the United Nations (UN) in the latter. This was one of the most convoluted collective security arrangements outside the former Yugoslavia. Its collapse was stimulated by new institutional dynamics – and in turn stimulated a vast amount of institutional activity.