Remains of the Cold War Melting ; Russia Deepens Its Integration with Former Rival NATO, as President Carter Tries to Pry Open US Doors to Cuba
Peter Grier writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
The cold war has been over for years. But it may be only now - after a decade of false starts, tentative handshakes, and bruised feelings on both sides of the old Iron Curtain - that the lukewarm peace that will replace it is finally developing.
Since the Berlin Wall fell during the administration of the first President Bush, some of the greatest strategic issues of modern European history have been resolved. Germany is one nation again, and has been integrated into the political structure of the continent. Eastern Europe is free from domination by any neighboring great power. There's even some progress toward stability in the Balkans - albeit progress made in the wake of brutal regional wars.
Still, the integration of Russia with the West continues. And this week, that grand, uncertain enterprise was boosted by two remarkable events - the US-Russian nuclear-arms deal, and NATO's acceptance of Russia in a closer partnership.
To see how far relations between the nations formerly known as superpower rivals have come, consider two scenes that played out on opposite sides of the world this week.
In Cuba, former President Jimmy Carter met dissidents. He lectured Fidel Castro - a living icon of the cold war - about human rights. He called for an end to the 40-year-old US embargo on Cuban trade.
All-in-all, Mr. Carter focused on issues that have been central to US - Cuban relations (such as they are) since John F. Kennedy was in the White House.
Meanwhile, at a meeting of foreign ministers in Reykjavik, Iceland, US Secretary of State Colin Powell smiled broadly as he shook hands with his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov.
Mr. Powell noted that one of the hottest US-Russian issues was frozen chicken parts. Cheap American poultry - mainly the dark meat - has flooded Russia, hurting domestic producers. In response, Russian authorities slapped an embargo on the imports last month. They've loosened a bit since, but new shipments have not yet begun to move.
"I'm more worried about chickens going back and forth then missiles going back and forth," said Powell. "This is good."
This week's sense of a page turning in the book of world geopolitics began with President Bush's surprise announcement of an agreement between the US and Russia on a deal to slash their remaining nuclear arsenals by two-thirds. …