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Global Security

Vol. 5 No. 1 | Summer 2018
In a World of...

In a World of War, Could it Be ‘From Russia

with Love’

A Conversation with Igor Istomin

Interviewed by Akshobh Giridharadas

Fletcher Security Review: When the Cold War ended, no real peace treaty was signed. What did this mean for the next phase of U.S.-Russia relations?


Igor Istomin: Well, first of all, the Cold War was not a real war. There were no direct hostilities, no military clashes between the Soviet Union and the United States. That is why there was no peace treaty signed, unlike at the end of hot conflicts. Although there were some conflicts, we had a couple of important declarations and important statements by leaders. Like the summit in Malta in the late 1980s, at which Soviet and American leadership said that they do not see each other as adversaries. In the late 1980s, and early 1990s, there was cooperation between the Soviet Union and the United States. Obviously, however, everything did not reach a positive conclusion. Today, the process of disillusionment continues on both sides. From the Russian perspective, throughout the 1990s, the United States tried to take advantage of the economic hardships in Russia. To an extent, it did this through U.S.-led institutions by creating norms and enacting policies often at the expense of Russia. In the 2000s, the message that started to come from Russia was: “it’s not going to continue.”

From the U.S. perspective, the thought was that because there is no longer a communist regime, Russia will become similar to the United States. Increasingly, however, we have a process of mutual frustration. This did not start in 2016. We are now in a cycle where this frustration is supplemented by specific problems in the relationship. These problems are making it harder to negotiate, or even facilitate, some of the existing treaties between Russia and the United States...


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Igor A. Istomin  

Igor A. Istomin is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Applied Analysis of International Issues at MGIMO University. He holds Ph.D. and M.A. degrees from MGIMO University as well as an undergraduate degree from Saint Petersburg State University. Istomin teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in methods of applied analysis of international affairs. He is an executive editor at International Trends, a leading Russian academic journal. He is also a visiting fellow at the School of International and Public Affairs at Jilin University in China. Istomin is the author of more than 50 publications on U.S. foreign policy, relations in the Euro-Atlantic space, and international security. His most recent book is The Logic of State Behavior in International Politics (2017). He has also prepared policy reports and papers for the Russian International Affairs Council, the Valdai Discussion Club, the Center for Strategic Research in Moscow, and the European Leadership Network.

Building Trust...

Building Trust and Confidence in International Security

A Conversation with OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger

Interviewed by Ryan Rogers

Fletcher Security Review: This July will mark a year into your first three-year term as Secretary General. What is the current state of the OSCE’s efforts at a time many have characterized as “the return of geopolitics”? Where have you been successful and what are you continuing to focus on moving into the second year of your term this summer?

Secretary General Greminger: The security environment is marked by unpredictability—by a historic low in trust and confidence among the key security stakeholders in Euro-Atlantic security. At the same we face complex global challenges like violent extremism, terrorism, cyber threats, irregular migration, etc. For us, the crisis in and around Ukraine is still our main priority and at the top of our agenda.

We are doing a good job in managing the conflict and preventing further escalation but, unfortunately, we are very much struggling when it comes to resolving the conflict. I think there is a political impasse in implementing the Minsk Agreements, but I think what we are doing is positioning the OSCE as the unique plat- form for inclusive dialogue—this is our comparative advantage—and wherever possible, joint action. We are inviting our participating States to identify a unify- ing agenda where specific interests of the participating States converge. There are many areas where we do see a convergence of interests. Cybersecurity, for instance, is such an area, as well as preventing violent extremism and combatting trafficking of all sorts, to name a few.


I believe participating States should try to identify areas within the political-military sphere where we could take concrete measures. The aim of the Structured Dialogue, the flagship dialogue process of the OSCE that participating States launched last year, aims exactly at that. It gives participating States an informal platform to exchange ideas on threat perceptions with an aim to diffuse tensions and rebuild some trust and confidence. The idea is to eventually identify very concrete measures to reduce military risk and to reinvigorate confidence- and security-building measures. The dialogue platform, as such, has been successfully launched. I think it is very much appreciated by the participating States, but it still has to produce concrete outcomes...

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OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger  

Ambassador Thomas Greminger was appointed Secretary General of the OSCE on 18 July 2017 for a three- year term. Ambassador Greminger joined the diplomatic service of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) in 1990 and has held numerous senior management positions during his career. Prior to his appoint- ment as OSCE Secretary General, he was Deputy Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, overseeing an annual budget of USD 730 million and 900 staff in Bern and abroad. From 2010 to 2015, Greminger was the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the OSCE, serving as Chair of the Permanent Council during Switzerland’s 2014 OSCE Chairmanship. Prior to his assignment at the Per- manent Delegation of Switzerland to the OSCE, Greminger was Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affair’s Human Security Division, Switzerland’s competence centre for peace, human rights, and humanitarian and migration policy. Thomas Greminger holds a PhD in history from the University of Zurich and the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (General Staff) in the Swiss Armed Forces. He has authored a number of publications on military history, conflict management, peacekeeping, development and human rights. His mother tongue is German; he speaks fluent English and French, and has a working knowledge of Portuguese. In 2012, he was awarded the OSCE white ribbon for his long-standing support for gender equality.

The Future of...

        We begin with a puzzle: the need for strategic analysis is more important than ever in this period of great flux and uncertainty, but the disdain for analysis of any kind has never been greater than under the administration of President Donald J. Trump. The very premise that leaders need reasonably objective intelligence analysis to inform their policy decisions – a premise that has guided every U.S. administration since World War II – is under assault. If we are to rebuild our capacity for strategic thinking, we need to go back to the beginning. When President Harry Truman created the strategic intelligence function at the end of World War II, he understood that the United States had been thrust into a global role for which it was not prepared. The world was simply too complex, and American interests too extensive, to operate on the basis of impulse or ad hoc decision making. Moreover, when Truman issued National Intelligence Authority No. 5 on July 8, 1946, instructing the Director of Central Intelligence to “accomplish the evaluation and dissemination of strategic intelligence,” he deliberately set up this function outside of the White House, the Department of State, and the military, so that strategic analysis would be kept at a critical distance from policy making.[1] Yet Truman, like every president since, was ambivalent about the role of strategic intelligence and the degree of autonomy it ought to have.

The story actually begins earlier, when President Franklin Roosevelt, in a military order of June 13, 1942, formally established the Office of Strategic Services with William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan at its head, and directed it to “collect and analyze... strategic information” and to “plan and operate special services.”[2] The cloak- and-dagger wartime operations of the OSS are the stuff of legend, as are the notable figures recruited to serve, including the poets Archibald MacLeish and Stephen Vincent Benét, the banker Paul Mellon, the psychologist Carl Jung, the philosopher Herbert Marcuse, the anthropologist Margaret Mead, and the movie director John Ford. Less well known is its role in strategic intelligence analysis through its Research and Analysis (R&A) Branch, led initially by James Phinney Baxter III, president of Williams College, and after 1943 by Harvard historian William Langer, identified in war correspondence as “OSS 117.”[3]...

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[1] C. Thomas Thorne, Jr. and David S. Patterson, eds., “Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1945-50 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996)
[2] Thomas F. Troy, Donovan and the CIA: A History of the Establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency (Frederick: University Publications of the America, 1981), 427; Amy B. Zegart, Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 166.

[3] Neal H. Petersen, ed., From Hitler’s Doorstep: The Wartime Intelligence Reports of Allen Dulles, 1942-1945 (College Station: Penn State University Press, 1996), 543.

Robert Hutchings  



Robert Hutchings is the Walt and Elspeth Rostow Chair in National Security at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. He was Chairman of the National Intelligence Council from 2003 to 2005 and is co-editor, with Gregory Treverton, of “Truth to Power: A History of the U.S. National Intelligence Council” (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2019).

Historical Traject...

Historical Trajectory of the U.S.-Russia

Relationship: Perception and Misperception

A Conversation with Professor Tatiana Shakleina

Interviewed by Ryan Rogers

Professor Tatiana Shakleina sat down with the Fletcher Security Review in November 2017 in conjunction with the Conference on U.S.-Russia Relations between The Fletcher School and Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). In a detailed and engaging conversation that spanned over 25 years of history, Professor Shakleina traced the post-Cold War origins of the current tension between the United States and Russia. While personnel within the Trump Administration have moved on to new positions or left government altogether since the interview, Professor Shakleina’s rich historical overview of post-Cold War U.S.-Russia relations remains extremely relevant in understanding the recent trajectory and current state of the bilateral relationship.

Fletcher Security Review: Professor Shakleina, thank you for sitting down with FSR today. You have written a lot recently on the state of U.S.-Russia relations, in many cases looking back to describe how we arrived at the current point in the bilateral relationship. I was hoping you could briefly trace the historical trajectory of the relationship since the Cold War? Were there missed opportunities for improved relations? What were the main turning points?


Tatiana Shakleina: What Russia expected from the United States after the Cold War was that NATO would not be enlarged. That Russia and the US would continue cooperation in arms control and security both internationally and regionally. The first disagreement came in 1994 when President Clinton first announced that NATO would be enlarged. President Yeltsin did not like it, but there were no steps taken at that time. What Russia also wanted was the United States not to interfere in its domestic policy or the so called ‘post-Soviet Space,’ giving Russia an opportunity to continue economic cooperation. You can imagine that after the Soviet Union we still had one system, meaning a unified transportation system, electricity system, economic and industrial system (for example, plants that produced parts of airplanes), citizenship, etc. There was no time to solve this problem of connection. Russia wanted all these countries, at least those who signed up, to stay together in the Commonwealth of Independent States in order to coordinate on both economic and security issues. In 1992, nuclear weapons were not only in Russia, but also spread across Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. It was necessary to solve this problem. Approximately at the same time, the beginning of 1994, Strobe Talbot signaled to Russia that “the post-Soviet space will not be this sphere of Russia’s exclusive interest. All countries will be working there and the United States will be one of them.” Russia did not like this, but it was clear that there would not be cooperation with the United States, rather competition. However, this was not the single event that radically changed the whole course of the bilateral relationship...

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Professor Tatiana Shakleina  


Professor Tatiana Shakleina is the Head of the Department of Applied International Analysis and is a specialist in international studies, American and Russian foreign policy, Russian-American relations. She previously worked for the Institute of the USA and Canada Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, where she was the Head of the Department of Foreign Policy Studies. In 2006 she received the Academician E. Tarle Award in History from the Russian Academy of Sciences as a coauthor of a 4-volume monograph Systemic History of International Relations (ed. by A.Bogaturov). She is the author of numerous books and articles on international relations, Russian foreign policy, and Russian-American relations and has participated in multilateral research projects at Georgetown University, the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland.

Western Foreign...

Western Foreign Fighters:

The Threat to Homeland and International Security by Phil Gursky

A Book Review by Houssem Ben Lazreg

        Islamic State (IS) has demonstrated unprecedented capabilities in attracting foreign fighters, particularly from Western countries. Between 2011 and 2015, Western foreign fighters coming from North America, Europe, and Australia traveled to Iraq and Syria in order to join IS and the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra.

As IS has been significantly weakened, authorities in many western countries are increasingly worried that returning fighters will come back to their home countries radicalized, battle hardened, and eager to commit terrorist attacks. This concern is clearly manifested in Phil Gursky’s book cover which features a striking image of a Belgian returnee from Syria, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who has been named by security officials as one of the architects of the attacks in Paris in 2015.

In Western Foreign Fighters: The Threat to Homeland and International Security, Phil Gursky, a former analyst at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, elaborates on the phenomenon of ‘Western Foreign Fighters.’ This book aims at addressing two fundamental issues: “why people leave their homeland to join terrorist groups?” and “do they pose a threat upon their prospective return?”[1] To answer those questions, Gurski relies not only on a detailed analysis of the excerpts and statements by the fighters recently engaged in violent extremism at home and overseas, but also on accounts that delineate historical parallels and differences with previous conflicts sharing similar dynamics.

Gurski divides his analysis into eight substantive chapters, an appendix, a glossary and a suggested reading list, using accessible, non-academic prose. He conducts the majority of his historical analysis in chapter three. His discussion of western volunteers—mainly Canadians and Americans—and their involvement in previous conflicts such as the Spanish Civil War and the Boers Wars provides informative and engaging insights, mostly for a general readership.[2] It also sets the stage for shedding light on why Westerners join terrorist groups like IS, and what threat they pose to homeland/international security. Obviously, these issues will be of most interest to intelligence officers, policy makers, scholars, and practitioners...

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[1] Phil Gursky. Western Foreign Fighters: The Threat to Homeland and International Security (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield), 2017, 4.

[2] Gursky, 35-36.

Houssem Ben Lazreg  


Houssem Ben Lazreg is a PhD candidate and a Teaching Assistant of Arabic and French at the University of Alberta. He also works as a freelance interpreter/translator with several agencies. He has recently won the Graduate Student Teaching Award in the Department of Modern Language and Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta. His research interests include politics and translation, Middle Eastern graphic novels, and Islamist militant movements.

Looking Inward...

Looking Inward to Improve National Security

A Conversation with Former Congressman Christopher Gibson

Interviewed by FSR Staff

Fletcher Security Review: A general question to start out with, we had a number of military leaders come and speak to the student body last semester. One such visitor was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dunford, he cited a fractured Congress’ lack of ability to pass a budget and ensure funding stability for the military as one of the largest issues the military is currently facing. Do you see this as a major issue and what other issues do you think the military is facing due to this fractured congress?

Chris Gibson: I agree with General Dunford and think that what we really need in order to establish a credible deterrence is a unified vision of how we are going to proceed strategically, and the resources to allow us to substantiate this vision. This is among the reasons why I published Rally Point. It is an attempt to get Americans on the same page on many issues, including our approach to national security. I think the president can play a key role. You mentioned how fractured Congress is, and I lived that. When the system is operating correctly, at least how the Founders envisioned, a good framework to understand its workings is the President as a point guard. The President can play a key role in shaping decisions or positions of Congress and helping members who may not be as knowledgeable on an issue or not ready to commit to a particular approach. The President can play a constructive role through persuasion.


What I explained in Rally Point is that over time we have moved too much power to the executive branch and to the presidency and I think that has been a detriment to many things, including, quite frankly, national security. That is not to say that the President cannot play a leadership role. Ultimately, in a government of the people, by the people, for the people, the Congress needs to play the instrumental role. To the general’s point that what we need is a major budget agreement that would not only impact national security but also the deficit and the debt, which I list in the chapter on national security as among our threats...

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Chris Gibson


Chris Gibson is a former Republican Congressman from upstate New York, and is currently the Stanley Kaplan Distinguished Visiting Professor of American Foreign Policy at Williams College. Prior to his congressional service, Mr. Gibson had a 24-year career as an Army officer before retiring as a Colonel. His services included tours in the First Gulf War, the Balkans, multiple combat tours in Iraq and a humanitarian tour to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. His new book Rally Point addresses the current divisions within U.S. politics and the risks we face if they continue to inhibit the U.S. government from fulfilling its necessary functions.

The Ghost

The Ghost:

The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton by Jefferson Morley

A Book Review by Brian O’Keefe

        In his new biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton, veteran journalist Jefferson Morley probes an enigma others have chronicled but none satisfactorily explained. Angleton, “a founding father of U.S. mass-surveillance policies,” joined the Agency’s predecessor, the OSS, in its early years and reigned as chief of its Counterintelligence Staff for an extraordinary two decades until his abrupt retirement in 1974.[1] His personal mystique and complicated tenure have given rise to a small but formidable contingent of biographies, novels, and film characters. What Morley adds to the intrigue is a refusal to be seduced by the beguiling charm of his subject, preferring instead to deliberately scrutinize Angleton’s expansive power, ideological intransigence, and lasting influence.

Morley’s timeline spans Angleton’s career, though he peppers his narrative with nods to formative experiences at Yale, post-CIA pursuits, and family affairs. The story unfolds chronologically through four tersely titled and equally distributed sections (Poetry, Power, Impunity, Legend), each of which is further demarcated under a dozen or more pithy subheadings (Mole, Oswald, Kim...). Readers might experience the rhythm as too serial for the genre, and while the chronological method is helpful in charting Angleton’s ascent, Morley rarely lingers long enough with a scene to breathe life into its cast. Save a few animated vignettes, the reader is less a participant in the sensory and internal worlds of Morley’s subjects than a recipient of his detective digging, sundry sources, and interpretive reflections...

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[1] Jefferson Morley, The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017), 261

Brian O’Keefe  


Brian O’Keefe is a researcher with The National Bureau of Asian Research in Washington, DC. He holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

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