The need to rethink conventional approaches to international relations in the post-Cold-War world was the theme of a speech by Ferdinando Salleo, Italy's ambassador to the United States, delivered at the Michigan Union on December 3, 1996, and sponsored by the Center for European Studies. In the seven years since the fall of the Berlin wall the relative stability generated by the "balance of terror" between the two superpowers has given way to a more volatile situation in which local conflicts have proliferated. At the same time, according to Ambassador Salleo, this period has provided an opportunity for the formulation of new "long term objectives and priorities and for the concentration of energies on conceiving and building a stable world for years to come."

    Ambassador Salleo's career in Italy's foreign service stretches back to the 1960s, and he has also been a professor at universities in Florence and Rome. From 1989 to 1993 he was Italy's ambassador to the USSR, and his speech focused on the difficulties and opportunities posed by the collapse of the Soviet Union. He stressed the need to create an international system of mutual security which would include Russia and the other former Soviet republics, and asserted, in particular, the need to conduct the expansion of NATO into eastern Europe in such a way so as not to aggravate the "complexes of exclusion and encirclement that still haunt the Russians."

    The seeds of a new system of global stability, according to the ambassador, can be found in the "sophisticated political culture" and "web of strategic links and organic security institutions" that the countries of the transatlantic alliance constructed during their long confrontation with the Soviet Union. This network, in his view, must be extended to integrate Russia, so that it will play a constructive and stabilizing role in the next century.

    This process, Ambassador Salleo warned, will be both long and dangerous, and will make it necessary for the United States and the countries of western Europe to overcome the pessimism, shortsightedness and parochialism that obstruct the formation of effective long-term foreign policies. He called for an expanded notion of the shared values of western culture which would include, as a key component, multilateral and consultative search for compromise in the management of international relations. "Compromise among interests," he concluded, "is not compromise between principle and unprinciple but patient search for stability and evolution. Neither shall we see a disorderly world as calling by itself alternatively for interventionism or disengagement, but as a case for decisive collective advancement of our humanistic civilization and for the acquisition of larger areas of the world to the values we share."