In This Review

Mortal Friends, Best Enemies: German-Russian Cooperation After the Cold War
Mortal Friends, Best Enemies: German-Russian Cooperation After the Cold War
By Celeste A. Wallander
Cornell University Press, 1999, 240 pp

Can one develop a theoretical perspective on German-Russian relations by studying their interaction over three years, from 1992 to 1994? Can academics use a single relationship to help settle a major debate over whether international institutions alone make a fundamental difference, or whether they merely echo power politics? Wallander's defensible answer to both is yes -- if the three years in question are as seminal as those from 1990 to 1992, and if the test is whether rules and regimes beyond the state can shape a sphere jealously guarded by the state: national security policy. She argues in a lucid, succinct fashion, showing along the way the impact of institutions on Russia's exit from East Germany, Russian and German military power in the context of European arms control, and Russo-German perspectives on European security threats. Two problems intrude, however. First, the analysis travels less well when the subject moves from Russia and Germany to Russia and elsewhere, particularly to its immediate neighbors. Second, able as Wallander's argument is, the debate itself (which is so central to the book) has become increasingly arid and constraining -- even for its largely academic audience.