Preventing Dangerous Military Incidents in Peacetime

Publication Date: 
March 2018
Description: 

CSIS Discussion Paper

Document Type: 
Articles and Op-Eds

In determining the appropriate actions to stabilize the U.S.-Russian relationship, it is advisable to reexamine previous interactions and methods of deescalating tension. Specifically, this paper draws upon Cold War interactions to identify parallels—and contrasts—to contemporary U.S.-Russian military interactions. This is achieved primarily through the examination of the 1972 Incidents at Sea (INCSEA) Agreement and the 1989 Agreement on the Prevention of Dangerous Military Activities. It is critical to examine the events that demanded these agreements as well as to explore the process of drafting and enforcing them. Further, this paper analyzes the effectiveness and longevity of such agreements.

Following an examination of the circumstances and conditions that successfully established and allowed for a largely successful execution of these agreements, this paper recommends how to best apply past experiences to the modern relationship between the Russian Federation and the United States. In particular, it seeks to understand why the Incidents at Sea Agreement has remained largely successful more than four decades after it was signed. Yet this examination also highlights deficiencies of INCSEA and proposes avenues for exploration that will ensure the future prevention of dangerous military incidents in peacetime.