The World War II Allies defeated a common foe by harnessing two apparently conflicting forces: international cooperation and national self-interest. As world leaders gather in Moscow to commemorate the victory over Nazism, they should apply this lesson to repair a dysfunctional relationship.
Three years ago, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin began the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, seeking to devote $20 billion over 10 years to dismantle many of the world's most dangerous weapons. The partnership is under the aegis of the Group of Eight, or G-8 - the major industrial democracies plus Russia - and 13 other countries are involved.
But the partnership has reached an impasse. It is short of the funding goal. It has not spent enough of the money that already has been raised on dismantlement. And, alarmingly, it has yet to formulate a prioritized plan for tackling the deadliest threats in the shortest period of time.
Instead of the usual routine of rounding up donors to make general contributions, the partnership can gain more by exploiting selfish giving. That is, tie a nation's commercial interests and feelings of insecurity from particular threats to specific contributions.
To some extent, this is happening. Fear of chemical warfare on the Korean Peninsula has sparked South Korea to meet its obligations to dismantle its chemical weapons and to think creatively about how to dismantle North Korea's chemical weapons. Concern about decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines polluting the Barents Sea - prime Norwegian fishing grounds - has convinced Norway to contribute more than $30 million to clean up Russian nuclear waste.
But this matchmaking can be conducted more systematically. The greatest unmet needs are in Russia, where there are hundreds of tons of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium in need of disposal and massive stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons that must be dismantled. The existing Russian uranium could fuel about 10,000 crude nuclear bombs - a type of weapon that some terrorist groups could build.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin should undertake a personal diplomacy campaign to meet with their counterparts in the partnership to address these urgent needs.
Japan and China should have an interest in disposing of Russian uranium. Converting it to nuclear fuel can provide substantial energy for electricity generation. In fact, half of the electricity produced by nuclear reactors in the United States comes from Russian uranium.
Japan remains strongly committed to nuclear power and wants to ensure its energy security because it lacks significant natural resources. But it has not invested in disposing of weapons-grade uranium.
Similarly, China has ambitious plans to expand its commercial nuclear power program. But China has stayed outside the partnership. As the world's most populous nation, with a fast-growing economy and a stated commitment to nuclear disarmament, China should join this partnership to support its own - and the world's - vested interests.
Russia has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons - about 40,000 tons - but lags behind all other nations in dismantling this arsenal. Unlike disposition of highly enriched uranium, dismantlement of chemical weapons does not have a direct commercial payback. Nonetheless, many nations have pledged money to help destroy Russian chemical weapons. But the pledged amounts fall far short of the more than several billion dollars in estimated cost.
A major barrier to rapidly destroying Russia's chemical weapons is the inadequate number of disposal facilities. Given the current rate of disposal facility construction and international assistance, Russia will not meet the 2012 Chemical Weapons Convention deadline for chemical weapons destruction. Britain, Canada and Germany, in particular, have been pushing for greater progress in building the needed disposal facilities.
Britain should also develop a targeted marketing campaign that would identify new donors that have a specific interest in chemical and biological weapons destruction and persuade current contributors to increase their giving.
Leaders of these nations could lobby their constituents to support increased contributions by recalling past experience with the horrors of these weapons. For example, France has donated about $12 million to chemical weapons dismantlement in Russia, but the French public would likely support an even greater donation if they were reminded of chemical weapons use during World War I.
Ideally, countries would make charitable contributions without expecting commercial or psychological benefits. But let's not fight human nature. Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin should find creative ways to meld cooperative efforts with selfish giving.
Charles D. Ferguson, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is co-author of The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism. Daniel Keegan is a U.S. foreign policy research associate at the council.