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    Montenegro's Foreign Minister Igor Luksic (at table, 2nd R) delivers remarks with Defense Minister Milica Pejanovic (3rd R) after Montenegro was welcomed as a new member at the NATO ministerial meetings at the NATO headquarters in Brussels December 2, 2015

    US Needs Russia as Partner Rather Than Out-of-Control NATO - Former Envoy

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    Nine years on from President Vladimir Putin’s Munich Security Conference speech, it is long past time for US leaders to recognize they need Russia as a partner to address the dangers of the world, former US Ambassador Chas Freeman told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Chas Freeman is a lifetime director of the Atlantic Council and served as US Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires at the US embassies in Beijing and Bangkok. Freeman also held several senior level positions at the US Department of Defense.

    "Dismissing Russia as a has-been power has been a mistake," Freeman stated on Tuesday. "The question Americans now have to face to address is how to secure Russian cooperation where we have common interests, even as we oppose each other where our interests still may conflict."

    Allowing NATO to expand wildly to include every country in Central and Eastern Europe had been an irresponsible and disastrous mistake, Freeman insisted.

    "Over the past quarter century, in the absence of any identifiable military threat to Europe, NATO has grown from 16 to 28-eight — soon to be 29 — members. And the United States has now extended America’s defense responsibilities right up to the borders of both Russia and China."

    Successive Washington administrations had even insisted upon their unilateral right to keep order in all the territories and seas beyond those borders, and they had aligned the United States with every country that has a border dispute with either Russia or China, Freeman added.

    "Americans are now the self-proclaimed protectors of Georgia and Ukraine from their Russian neighbor. We are in the process of developing a commitment to protect Vietnam from China: This time, all of it, not just its southern half."

    The United States so far has failed to win a single war in the 21st century, yet Americans seem willing to bet their future on the proposition that no bluff they make will ever be called, Freeman said.

    On the other hand, "Perhaps we really are prepared to go to war with nuclear-armed adversaries over constitutional arrangements in culturally schizophrenic Ukraine or who can perch where on the uninhabitable rocks and reefs of the East and South China Seas?" he asked.

    None of these expanded defense commitments reflected any considered national judgments on the part of the American people, Freeman insisted.

    "They are not anchored in our constitution. They are the product of ingrained habit, institutional inertia, hubris and blindness within the Beltway to the realities of a changed world order."

    The United States needed to take up President Putin’s offer of serious dialogue and compromise rather than continue down the dangerous paths he warned against in his Munich speech, Freeman added.

    "Without Russian cooperation or acquiescence, it is hard to imagine any success in the management of affairs in Europe, the Middle East, post-NATO Afghanistan or the Arctic. Demonizing and dissing Russia’s leader is puerile posturing, not a policy."

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