In order to deny Russia its due place in world affairs and contain it from all possible sides, the USA and its imperialist allies keep raising the bogey of Russian “intention” to revive the Soviet empire, even as the USA, NATO and EU make strenuous efforts to keep the former Socialist bloc of nations under its political and military control.
As Russia ventured military action in Ukraine and Syria, the Western powers cry oud about the return of Soviet empire under a “dictator” Putin. Russia annexed Crimea because it had been a part of Russia even before Soviet Union came into existence by adding neighboring nations and it did so in order to teach a lesson to Ukraine trying to be a part of western military alliance to target Russia.
Russia’s intervention in European Ukraine, followed by its annexation of Crimea, now direct intervention in West Asian Syria, among other Russo-US conflictual seeds, have sent unmistaken signals to USA and EU that Russia is back to reassert its super power status. In its military intervention in Syria, which is not a part of its backyard zone of former Soviet space, Russia has clearly let the USA know that it can’t , in order for securing its energy requirements on permanent basis , go on invading energy rich Arab nations like wild beast in modern times.
Most Russians feel Russian non-interference policy pursued since the end of the so-called Cold War did embolden the USA and its NATO allies to step up its unilateral military actions leading to invasions in Mideast after success in Afghanistan following the Sept-11 hoax. Russia’s reassertion of its military prowess now under strongman President Putin is meant to reveal its resolve to come out its “neutral” position of avoiding direct confrontational approach towards USA and reinvigorate the cold war phase.
The Kremlin has a point to make: it does not fear US military prowess as it is capable of directly challenging it easily but it perhaps expected if it stayed out of confrontation with the West international peace as consequence of ending Cold war could take shape. Now that USA and NATO team nations have clearly established full control over the world and its military plus energy resources in the absence of any other super power, Moscow has also decided to reactivate and step up its military presence by entering into the Syrian conflict.
Ever since Vladimir Putin became Russia’s president first in 2000 he has pursued aggressive foreign as well as domestic policy. Putin’s military intervention into Syria to support President Bashar al Assad’s failing regime against a broad US supported opposition, including the ISIS and al-Qaeda, certainly surprised many on both sides of the Atlantic. While that deployment is militarily modest so far politically, psychologically and geostrategically it has had far greater impact. And its launch of several dozen Kaliber cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea to attack Syrian opposition targets nine hundred miles away surely made certain political statements.
Russian antagonism against US military arrogance is well known but its military adventures in West Asia, besides Ukraine and earlier Georgia before that, expressed through a series of military actions, does not in any way indicate its love for Islamic or Arab world or it wants to defend energy rich Arab world its enemies in favor of Islam or Islamic world facing civilizational threat.
Not at all! Russian is not even protecting Syria or Assad in the real sense. It just challenges US/NATO militarism, though some experts feel USA and Russia coordinate their military operations in Syria and around with help from Israel. Russia just wants to showcase its military muscle to its former chief Cold war foe by trying to restrict the US/NATO military operations. Russia wants the West to know that it can intervene if the USA continues with its unchecked military interventions and invasions globally.
Russia does this mainly because USA, as per the secret agreement among veto members, would not attack Russia directly.
There is a fundamental difference between Soviet and Russian policies: while fighting USA, Soviet Russia also defended other weak nations, helped freedom movement in third world leading to independence of countries like Pakistan and India against the will of USA and UK; Russia today pursues its military operations only to announce its return to world stage as a virtual super power and to increase its military trade volumes. While earlier it has provided economic assistance to the needy nations, Russia only sells today and seeks service charges for any service it renders to another nation. This also explains Russian move today to strike economic and military deals with Pakistan, a traditional American ally. Moscow-Islamabad ties make both USA and India nervous and would coerce India to strike more military deals with Russia without hesitation. Putin’s message is loud and clear: consider Russia as a credible equal partner face our military opposition where necessary.
Not long ago (Soviet) Russia was a super power very actively opposing capitalist-imperialist policies of the other super power USA and its allies. In fact, USA then saw Russia as being a serious problem for capitalism and obstruction for the imperialist bloc of countries and sought to end socialist construction process globally. Western world succeeded in dismantling Soviet and socialist system as corrupt elements in Soviet Union deliberately spoiled the system, aided the Western efforts to destabilize Soviet Union and East Europe. Not only the Berlin Wall fell, but even the mighty Soviet Union broke into pieces- most of them now are with USA and NATO.
When Vladimir Putin assumed power in the Kremlin in 2000 following the incapacitation conditions, the first ever popularly elected president of new of Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, by cruelly dealing stock and barrel with the Chechen Muslim youths seeking freedom from Russian yoke, he, a former KGB man in civil dress, began reasserting Russian prowess lost with the collapse of USSR and socialist system, though he never initiated steps to revisit Socialist aspirations of many Russians. Putin does not want to annoy the West.
Not impressed by Russian efforts for “democracy” USA has not accepted Moscow as a truly equal partner because , according Washington, Russians do not share core “values” of USA and it wants to use Russia when needed and for which some “concessions” are readily provided off and on to Moscow. But USA refused to treat Russia either as an equal partner or a new super power. In fact, USA would never accept any power as its equal, not even the United Kingdom but Moscow refuses to accept that truth.
Today Russia and USA share terror values. Russian leaders have with enthusiasm made efforts to oblige and appease Washington. When a new Russia was born out of the collapse of the mighty Soviet Union, the new President Boris Yeltsin went all out to embrace western capitalism and even ready to share military based imperialist values. Later, following the Sept-11 hoax, Russia was quick to come forward to “stand” by the affected America and south US opposition to the Chechen problem and support for the action of the Putin government in Chechnya. However, while supporting Russia on Chechnya issue, USA was certainly not impressed by Russian support for USA and NATO military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.
That the USA still refuses to treat Russia as a trusted strategic partner sharing “values” annoys Russia which has, since the end of Cold War, made strenuous efforts to come closer to Washington by making maximum use of all available opportunities after the collapse of USSR. Both found a common enemy in Islam and Moscow sought US support to crush the Chechens seeking freedom. Disappointed by US cold attitude, eventually Yeltsin talked about US-Russia relations as being based on “Hot Peace” in place of cold war.
It might look strange that Russia has not yet come out of shame feelings that it had lost the WW-II to USA and then lost the Cold War also to USA again. Possibly, therefore, many Americans believe Russia has taught a valuable lesson to them by the Sept-11 hoax and they think Russia had engineered as part of winning the ideological and military rivalry with USA. Accordingly, the attacks well inside the USA would have given Russia the much needed victory and overall moral advantages. Although there were reports of terror attacks inside Russia a few years after the Sept-11 hoax, those were considered less important as they could not make Sept-11small or meaningless. Even the blasts in India, an emerging strategic partner of USA, particularly in Mumbai could not outwit the Sept-11 hoax.
Very important information should be shared here to explain the new post-cold war superpower rivalry clear. Russia is gradually making its arrival known to USA as a new super power. There is a clear agreement among the veto powers not to wage war against one another and each should, in case of mutual tensions, use diplomatic channels and threats along with hot lines to resolve them. Both USA and Russia use proxy wars in a third country by getting their allies on board to fight one another. That is why USA has never attacked Russia – or vice versa – over the Sept-II attack or tensions they create elsewhere even if it was convinced of American or Moscow’s role in it. For instance, USA did not attack Russia over Cuban missile crisis during the cold war or when Russia annexed Crimea deliberately; Moscow knows well USA can never attack Russia for whatever reason as it would never directly breach the Russian boundaries. Seemingly, USA does not seek to annoy Russia and rekindle the cold war rivalry.
The NATO is planning to expand its strength in Europe by getting more East European nations. The final decision is expected to be a priority for its Warsaw Summit in July. Russia has repeatedly opposed the NATO move to expand itself eastward by taking into its fold more East European states, thereby bringing its military directly to Russian borders.
Russia is genuinely concerned that the NATO has not given up its containment policy towards Russia. Even while expanding itself to reach the Russian borders, NATO tells Russia it does not have any hidden agenda against Russia.
One consequence of Putin’s expansive strategy has been a direct challenge to the West and to NATO and not just in Europe. So far, NATO responses to Russia’s increasingly active involvement in Europe and West Asia have been just tactical, not strategic.
USA uses former allies of Russia in East Europe to challenge the Kremlin and threaten Russia’s empire ambitions, if any, by taking them into NATO. In order to deter Russia, the Baltic States as well as Poland repeatedly asked for permanent NATO alliance’s forces deployment on their soil. From the strategic point of view provoking Russia with such steps may have serious consequences for the Baltic region and Europe as a whole. However, NATO is opposed to additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces, maybe to assure the Kremlin of any European aggression.
Poland and the Baltic States drive themselves into a corner insisting on permanent NATO troops’ deployment on their territories and create conditions under which NATO could even frustrate some of its short-sighted member-states preferring to calm Russia in order to prevent the new Cold War. Three small Baltic nations Lithuania that border Russian territory, Latvia and Estonia joined NATO in 2004 for gaining protection from any possible attacks from Russia. The Baltic States will willfully continue to urge the need for permanent of NATO forces regardless on possible political implications.
What does Russian president Putin’s challenge mean for NATO today? Do Russian incursions in Middle East through intervention in Syria mean anything significant for NATO? Is NATO ready or prepared to deal strategically with Russia in Europe and, as after the end of the Cold War, is the alliance prepared to look beyond Europe’s borders to the south and east and take a larger role in promoting global stability?
At times it appears Russia is aiming at a closer alliance with NATO. But Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intrusion into Ukraine, and now Syria indicate their tensions. Russia is trying to assure the NATO that Crimea was just one time affair and it does not have other agenda in store.
Russia, India, Pakistan: A “love triangle”
is playing its political “chess games” not only with the U.S. and Europe. It
also wants to play prominent role in South Asia, where Russia has its strategic
In early November, the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune reported on Islamabad’s decision to repay Moscow debt.
On December, 2 Russia and Pakistan signed an agreement on settlement of mutual financial claims and commitments on operations of the former Soviet Union, whereby Pakistan will repay the debt of $93.5 mln to Russia. The document was signed by Russian Deputy Minister of Finance Sergei Storchak and Pakistani Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Russia Qazi Khalilullah.
In the 1980s, Soviet enterprises purchased textiles and other materials from Pakistani companies. To ensure the functioning of barter trade, the USSR opened two accounts in the National Bank of Pakistan. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Pakistani exporters stated that part of their goods had not been paid, and the dispute led to the freezing of 105 million dollars from Russian accounts in the Bank of Pakistan in 1996.
According to The Express Tribune sources, the payment of the debt will allow Russia to invest in various sectors of the economy of Pakistan. In connection with this event it is worth considering the Pakistan’s strong interest to sign a deal to purchase military hardware worth billions of dollars from Russia.
According to some reports, the deal is expected to amount $9 billion under which Islamabad would purchase heavy and medium fighter jets, medium and short-range air defense systems, tanks, combat helicopters, and warships. Currently, China is the largest arms supplier to Pakistan. From 2014 to 2018, China sold weapons for 6.4 billion dollars. The second place in the supply of weapons is held by the United States, which concluded contracts worth 2.5 billion dollars. The third is Italy, which sold weapons in the amount of 471 million dollars. If the $9 billion contract would be signed, Russia will become the number one arms exporter to Pakistan.
In this case relations between two South Asia’s countries India and Pakistan would get even more complicated. While India and Pakistan share common historical, cultural, geographic and economic ties, their relationship is full of hostility and suspicion. The matter is some time ago India preferred French 4th generation Rafale fighters instead of Russian Su-30MKI fighters.
Probably, Pakistan wants to become Russia’s closer partner than India. It can be assumed that by repaying a debt, Islamabad dreams to gain loyalty from Moscow. Obviously, Pakistan wants to play on the contradictions between India and Russia and reduce the importance of India as a strategic partner of Russia while increasing its own importance.
This “love triangle” could change the situation on world arms market as well as political landscape in the region.
Russian Foreign Policy Moving into 2020: Today’s Achievements and Tomorrow’s Challenges
It has become a trend in recent times for politicians, experts and journalists alike to sum up the outgoing year in international relations by noting the decrease in global governance and the growing instability of world politics. And 2019 is no exception. We have witnessed a number of surprises and unexpected events across the globe this year — from the landslide victory of Volodymyr Zelensky in the Ukrainian elections and the launch of impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump in the United States, to a series of political upheavals in Latin America and the never-ending political crisis in the United Kingdom, as well as numerous armed attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and wild oscillations in U.S.–China relations.
Russia’s foreign policy has been an utter success compared to the chronic instability and volatility that has become characteristic of the international situation. Even Moscow’s most ardent critics cannot deny that Russia has pursued a consistent foreign policy over the past calendar year. While many on the international stage may not see Russia as a convenient partner, it certainly cannot be accused of being unreliable or inconsistent in this capacity. This is an indisputable advantage that Russia enjoys over some of the other great powers and, as such, it is respected not only by the country’s friends and allies, but also by its enemies and opponents.
All things considered, we can expect the global system to become even more unstable in 2020. I would, of course, like to be wrong here, but the energy produced by the collapse of the old system of international relations has not yet entirely dissipated. The chain reaction of disintegration that it has caused is unlikely to be arrested any time soon. We are not talking about a year or two of diligent work here, but rather about a long-term historical undertaking — a challenge that needs to be met not by a single state or group of leading powers, but by the entire international community, which for various reasons is still poorly equipped to deal with the problem.
Under these conditions, the temptation may naturally arise for Russia to minimize its participation in international affairs, isolate itself from the unpredictable and dangerous outside world and focus on solving problems at home. The reluctance to “import this instability” and become involuntary hostages to those negative processes and trends in world politics that neither we nor anyone else can control is quite understandable. Also understandable is the public’s demand that the authorities focus on problems at home — and, sad as it may be, we have more than enough of these.
However, the strategy of self-isolation, even if only temporary and partial, is dangerous in at least two ways. First, consistent self-isolation is virtually impossible in the modern, interconnected world (North Korea is a very rare exception here). Russia is deeply integrated into global political, economic and social processes, and any attempts to isolate itself will inevitably mean abandoning many of the country’s most significant foreign political achievements over the past 30 years. Moreover, isolation would considerably slow down the process of solving those domestic problems that require the most attention.
Second, the strategy of self-isolation would effectively involve Russia withdrawing from active participation in the creation of a new system of international relations and the construction of the new world order. And a new world order will be created regardless. The only question is the price that humanity will have to pay for it. When the era of instability is over and a form of global governance has been restored, Russia will have to play by rules that have been developed by somebody else — rules that ignore Russia’s interests and serve those of other participants in global politics.
For this reason, Russia’s foreign policy in the coming year should not be directed exclusively at resolving immediate tasks in various regions of the world, although these tasks certainly are important. Equally important is the development of new principles, models and mechanisms of international cooperation for the future. Figuratively speaking, while it may still be too early right now to start the construction of the building that will house the new world order, it is both possible and necessary to start picking out individual “bricks” and even entire building blocks of this future building today. This is a difficult task, but Russian foreign policy has already made some inroads in this respect.
For example, Russia has gained unparalleled experience in multilateral diplomacy in Syria that has enabled the country to align the positions of the most bitter of adversaries and reduce the intensity of armed hostilities. In Syria, Russia has managed to achieve what many people until recently believed was simply unachievable. It is clearly worth trying to expand this practice to the Middle East as a whole in the coming year. The region sorely needs a collective security system, and a concept developed and fleshed out by the Russian side could be just the ticket.
In Asia, Russia and its partners have taken serious steps towards the construction of a fundamentally new, democratic and transparent system of international institutions. Recent achievements include the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the promotion of the BRICS+ concept, the advancement of the RIC (Russia, India and China) format, and the progress made in work to combine the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. It is particularly relevant here to fill new institutional formats with real content. Russia will have the chance to solidify its leading role in expanding the “project portfolios” of BRICS and the SCO when it hosts their annual summits in 2020.
Russia–China relations are steadily becoming a driving force in the system of international relations. The further coordination of their actions on the international stage, including the security domain, will continue to strengthen their authority and influence in world affairs.
As for Moscow’s policies on the European front, while 2019 was not a breakthrough year in terms of improving relations with the EU, certain positives can be gleaned. Russia was welcomed back to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Russia and the West managed to agree on a common strategy to regulate the political crisis in Moldova. The Normandy contact group on the resolution of the situation in Donbass resumed its work after a long break. And trilateral talks between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union on energy issues started to move forward.
Europe has started to re-examine its model of regional integration fundamentally, and not only because of the United Kingdom’s impending withdrawal from the European Union. The continent also has deep-seated problems related to socioeconomic development, regionalization, security, etc. In this context, serious political dialogue on the future of relations between Russia and Europe is an absolute necessity. And this dialogue needs to be started now, without delay.
The 2020 election campaign in the United States is in full swing, so now is not the best time to try to start fixing relations. However, those who insist that Moscow should take a break in these relations until after the election, hoping that the United States will somehow emerge from the deep political crisis that split the nation three years ago, are simply wrong. History has taught us that we can spend our entire lives waiting for the “right moment,” and there will always be plenty of excuses to extend this break. Contacts with the Executive Branch of the United States are indeed objectively difficult at the moment, which means that Russia needs to step up its activities along other lines, including in terms of its Track II diplomacy.
A breakthrough was made in relations with Africa in 2019. The Russia–Africa Summit in Sochi demonstrated that there is interest on both sides in developing cooperation and that this cooperation holds great potential. The main thing now is to ensure that this momentum is not lost, which means that practical steps must be taken in 2020.
These are just some of the problems that Russian foreign policy will come up against in 2020. Russia has already demonstrated effective crisis management skills and has proven that it can cope with the most serious challenges of regional and global security today. Now it has the opportunity to show that it is also an experienced design engineer who is ready, alongside its partners, to develop individual components and entire nodes of the mechanism of the new world order that is still under construction.
Next year will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. Looking back, it is essential to note that those who emerged victorious in 1945 were, despite their deep-seated dissent on the most fundamental issues of global development, nevertheless able to agree not only on the rules of the game on the world stage, but also on the creation of an entire system of international institutions to guarantee global and regional stability. And, despite its many shortcomings and imperfections, this system has served humanity for decades.
Today, the international community faces challenges that are comparable in scale to those it faced in the middle of the 20th century. I would like to hope that, like their great predecessors, the politicians of today will realize their historical responsibility and demonstrate political savvy to resolve the most pressing issues of our time.
From our partner RIAC
The Intellectual Vector: Where Russian Interventionism Is Imperative
In an interesting contribution to a valuable volume, Prof T.V. Bordachev of the HSE Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies makes a superbly insightful point: “Russia in Asia should play the role that France played in Europe at the dawn of European integration— the main intellectual engine of the new format of relations between the states  .”
In a period characterized by hysteria over alleged Russian intervention in everything from conflicts to elections, I would like to point out a deficit or indeed absence of such intervention in a vector it should, could and indeed must intervene: the intellectual vector. Just as the USA and France, Russia has been a seedbed of ideas and concepts during the period of Modernity, and still is, but with a difference. Unlike France and the USA, it has seemingly abandoned the vocation of the globalization of its ideas and concepts; of its very perspective.
In this brief note, I wish to spotlight a few thematic areas in which a Russian intellectual intervention is imperative and feasible. These are the Cold war and the clash of contending world orders in the 21st century, the phenomenon and problems of globalization and the Greater Eurasia concept/project.
The Battle of (Big) Ideas
While a vast number of books on the end and the history of the Cold War have been published in the West, with widely diverse perspectives; of the Cold War seen teleologically, from the standpoint of how it ended, there isn’t a single major, recognized Russian work, even an anthology, in English—which for better or worse, is a quasi-universal language—on the same theme and topic. Thus, teleological western perspectives of contemporary history dominate if not monopolize, by default.
The same is true of perspectives of the post-Cold war world. The ‘big ideas’ framing the future of the post-Cold war world came from the West, from Fukuyama and Huntington (and others with less impact, like Robert Kaplan). There is a dearth of ‘big ideas’ from Russia for and of the world, in the English language. Were there counters in Russia to Fukuyama and Huntington? Were there the counter-perspectives from Russia to neoliberalism and neoconservatism as paradigms or even as conceptual frameworks? Was there an ideology or doctrine from Russia that is a counter to both neoliberalism and neoconservatism? Did the Third Rome venture a Third Ideology, a Third Doctrine, not just for itself, but for and of the world—not only Russian versions/variants of neoliberalism and neoconservatism, of either Fukuyama or Huntington? There cannot be a third space in ideas globally without such a Russian intervention in ideology and political thought.
(If I may strike a personal note, I have ventured an alternative narrative and explanatory framework from the global South. The Fall of Global Socialism—A Counter-Narrative from the South | D. Jayatilleka | Palgrave Macmillan).
Eurasia, Greater Eurasia
In the aftermath of the important recent conference “5 years of the ‘Greater Eurasia’ concept : issues and accomplishments” held at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow, and the question that was posed at the conference “What is to be done?”, I suggest that one of the intellectual tasks is to create a Eurasian/Greater Eurasian intelligentsia and a Greater Eurasian Idea, which I might add is not coterminous with the ‘The idea of Greater Eurasia’.
In developing a Greater Eurasian Idea, the future work requires both institutional and intellectual thrusts. The institutional work simply means that in a situation in which there seem to be no academic institutions, be they universities, think tanks, or centers of Advanced Studies, dedicated explicitly and specifically to Greater Eurasia or at least Eurasia itself, these should be created. A network of such institutions will be the material basis or substructure of the creation of a greater Eurasian intelligentsia.
But still more important is the Greater Eurasia Idea, which goes beyond the idea of Greater Eurasia, and develops an idea of a greater Eurasian perspective and world outlook. One of the most important means of a Greater Eurasian idea is that of excavation. By this I mean an exploration and auditing of the ideas of thinkers (including political leaders) past and present, of and from Greater Eurasia, about the existing world order and a more desirable world order. I refer not only to the ancient wisdom from this area, but much more importantly, the thinking from the period of Modernity, encompassing personalities such as Sun Yat-sen (China), Rabindranath Tagore, MN Roy (India), Renato Constantino (Philippines) and Soedjatmoko (Indonesia).
Such an audit can take the form of a multivolume anthology of writings and speeches, but would need to be extended to tracing the alternative models of a world order that was suggested by thinkers from Greater Eurasia, resulting in a conceptual reconstitution or ‘holographic projection’ of such an alternative world order.
The crucial questions concerning Eurasia and Greater Eurasia are those of architecture and organization. At the heart of such questions is that of the all-important ‘Primakovian’ triangle the RIC, i.e. Russia, India, China, which Lenin in his last published writing of March 1923, said would determine the direction of the world’s destiny. What are the structural relations that are possible in the ensemble R-I-C? Should or should not other powers be included in it? Should the architecture of Eurasia and Greater Eurasia be one of concentric circles and what criteria would determine which circle which power is in—or would that change situationally?
The history of the Russian Revolution of 1917 demonstrated the crucial strategic importance of organization exemplified by the two models or types: Menshevik and Bolshevik. The organizational or architectural question—though the two terms may not be identical—can also be used in the international arena. Decades after the Bolshevik-Menshevik split, the pith and substance of the Bolshevik organizational philosophy was summed up by Lenin in his later writings, with the phrase “Better Fewer, but Better”—meaning quality over quantity.
In today’s global context it will mean grappling with the problem that the Chinese Communists raised in the early 1960s, namely “friendly and fraternal”, which they posed as a choice “do you support the friendly or the fraternal states?” Thankfully in today’s context, such a zero-sum game is not necessary, but the question remains of priority and hierarchy. Should the relations ship between those states which face a military strategic, and in some cases, existential, threat from a common source, have a relationship of a qualitatively higher level than those who do not, however powerful and friendly the latter may be? Should a new global architecture or a new global policy privilege such relationships, especially in a context of real or attempted global encirclement of Eurasia?
The complex problem is made slightly easier when one recalls that the tighter and looser, qualitative and quantitative, Bolshevik and Menshevik organizational models were in fact merged in the 1930s formula of the Anti-Fascist Popular Front, which had a national and broader international version. Does the thinking of Stalin, Dimitrov, Gramsci and Togliatti have an international relevance and applicability today in the face of a project of global encirclement, grand strategic offensive to preserve unipolarity and wage globalized hybrid war? What would a global united front or bloc against unipolarity, war and intervention look like in the current context?
State, the Nationalities Question and Terrorism
The theoretical, strategic and policy questions that await a perspective by Russian and Eurasian thinkers are at least three:
How to reconcile the contradiction between state sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity on the one hand and the right of self-determination of nations and nationalities on the other. What are the limits of state sovereignty and of the right of nations to self-determination, respectively? Where does one stop and the other start?
How to reconcile the contradiction between the need for strong sovereign states, and forms of autonomy or regions and peoples? What are the non-federal forms of autonomy that can be designed for states in which federalization is strongly felt, for historical reasons, to be fissiparous?
What are the universal criteria by which legitimate struggles of resistance and for liberation can be distinguished from terrorism? Is it not possible for a global consensus reflected in a universal charter to be signed which unconditionally rejects the intentional targeting of unarmed civilians as a legitimate tactic of struggle, and registers this as the defining criteria of terrorism , irrespective of the causes involved, however legitimate, and while remaining agnostic of the issue of armed resistance/armed liberation struggles as such?
As Marx made clear in the Communist Manifesto, capitalism was a globalized and globalizing system (which Immanuel Wallerstein was to call a ‘world system’). What then is new about ‘globalization’? “Globalization” refers to the collapse of an alternative and parallel socialist system, and the incorporation of Russia and China in the world economy, which is essentially capitalist in character; a capitalist world economy. The problem, indeed the root of the crisis today is not globalization per se, it is the specific form of globalization which can be summed up as neoliberal globalization at the economic level and unipolar globalization at the geopolitical and geostrategic level. That is what I call asymmetric globalization.
The contradictions arising from these two specific forms of globalization has resulted in a hydra-headed reaction which threatens globalization itself. Therefore, globalization has to change if it is to survive and resume its pace. The dangerously false choice of “globalization or no globalization”, “globalization or de-globalization”, should be reframed. Thus, the question should be, what kind of globalization and who benefits from it? The search must be to define a model that is not an alternative TO globalization but an alternative model OF globalization. My own view is that the real choice must be framed as ‘neoliberal and unipolar globalization or Alt-globalization?’ as I call it, or ‘Asymmetric Globalization, Anti-Globalization or Alt-Globalization?’
There are two conceptual problems which have to be cleared up regarding multipolarity. The first is the increasing tendency to either conflate multipolarity and multilateralism and or to surrender the project of multipolarity and settle for multilateralism. The second problem is the question of how to arrive in a multipolar world. As for the first problem, it should be clear that a multipolar and multilateral world order is the desirable goal, but that these two aspects are separable and the multipolar aspect is more important than the multilateral one. In the post-Cold War period, the western liberals used multilateralism in service of the unipolar project, while the neoconservatives did so only exceptionally or hardly at all, but the essence was the same: a unipolar hegemonistic policy. Multilateralism is an institutional pathway which is preferable to unilateralism, but the central issue is not the institutional aspect of the world order, but the politico-military aspect of the world order; the aspect of power. The (Leninist) question is “which will prevail?” The unipolar project or the multipolar project will prevail?
The second problem area concerning multipolarity is that of the transition. How will we get from here to there? From the unipolar project to a multipolar world order? As in the old question of the transition from capitalism to socialism, there are the mechanistic and evolutionary interpretations; the ones that say that the transition will take place inevitably and inexorably, as a result of the working out of the process of historical change; indeed, as an evolution. A Realist interpretation would hold however, that the transition will involve a protracted struggle along all vectors, taking place over an entire historical period, and which will involve a tipping of the scales in favour of Greater Eurasia with Eurasia as its core.
The conventional attitude to the West in the world as a whole is either that it remains the fount of all enlightened norms and values or that it is in irretrievable decline and decay, incapable of yielding anything of value. There is, however, a third possibility, namely that the West is in deep crisis and from within that crisis a surprising new development may arise which Eurasia and Greater Eurasia may do well to regard with objectivity and open-mindedness. The great surprise arising from the West is that in the USA, recent polls show that 50% of millennials regard ‘socialism’ as positive, and that the mainstream US Democratic party has shifted to the Left. Similarly, in the UK, the mainstream opposition Labour Party is led by a leftwing anti-interventionist personality. Is this potential or latent transformation in and of the West, an essential component in the transition to a truly multipolar world?
Russia’s intellectual intervention in these and other areas of contemporary concern is imperative and needs to be globalized, in order for Russia to fulfil the role of the ‘intellectual engine of the new format of relations between the states’ (Bordachev, 2019).
These are the purely personal views of the author.
From our partner RIAC
 ‘What Russia can give to Asia?’, Russia in the Forming Greater Eurasia, Problems of Geography, Volume 148, eds. VM Kotlyakov, VA Shuper, Moscow Kodeks Publishing House 2019, p. 71
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