Indeed, NATO is forced to change its attitude towards Russia as the international context is changed dramatically and challenges such as terrorism, Iran, or energy are largely influenced by the Russian state. More precisely, in terms of Iran, Russia has solid influences, as for Afghanistan. As for energy security, Russia is one of the most important players on the market and can thus influence decisively the European energetic security. From this point-of-view, Kupchan suggests that, given history, it is better to have your enemies closer than to isolate them and enable them to eventually strike back.
The prisoners dilemma is one of the most important game theories applicable to international politics and relations. However, this theory plays differently, depending on the approaches it entangles. In this sense, from the point-of-view of the realist theory, the best choice for the prisoners is to both defect. This is largely due to the fact that the realist theory is based on a rational line of thought. Realism deals with realist and rational actors (Guzzini, 1998). Their choices are not based on feelings, emotions, or unquantifiable measures, but rather on practica, pragmatic, and rational choices. In this sense, cooperation is not possible and given the prisoners dilemma, the only choice available for a realist prisoner is that of maximizing its gain and defecting, in hope of the lightest sentence.
By contrast, the prisoners dilemma as played by a liberal takes into account cooperation and thus split gains. Liberal political thought is prone to cooperation as a modus operandi. Thus, the actions and choices are not rational from the point-of-view of the reference result. The ultimate aim in liberal politics is development which may need compromise but clearly cooperation. Thus, for the liberal, the best choice for its gain would be not to defect, but rather to keep silence in hoping the other prisoners do the same. In these conditions, all have a certain gain to achieve and are thus motivated to make this choice.
Guzzini, Stefano.. Realism in international relations and international political economy: the continuing story of a death foretold. London: Routledge,1998.
Kupchan, Charles A. “NATOs final frontier: Why Russia should join the Alliance.” Foreign Affairs . May June 2010. Retrieved online from http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66217/charles-a-kupchan/natos-final-frontier
Nye, Joseph. Understanding international conflicts: an introduction to theory and history. New York: Pearson, 2005.