October 25, 2006 (the date of publication in Russian)
Roman Bagdasarov, Alexander Rudakov
RUSSIA STOPS WARS
The capability to solve conflicts by peace is a historical feature of Russian geopolitics
ETHNOGENESIS, NOT ASSIMILATION
The major peculiar feature, distinguishing Russia from other nations with an imperial experience – namely Britain, France, and the United States – is Russia's high degree of internal integrity and self-sufficiency. The distance of French and British colonies from the empires represented a serious problem for both Paris and London, which has never been solved. This distance was not only geographical. It also involved a disparity in ethnic, religious, economic and political aspects . In Russia, on the contrary, the titular ethnos and other peoples could be smelted together into a single agglomerate.
Russia's treasury of natural resources, incomparable with any other country of the G-8, is one more unique advantage.
Since its birth, Russian statehood possessed a potential for initiatives which exceeded simple survival and competition. For that crucial reason, the expansion of Russia could not be described as a typical colonial overtake.
Meanwhile, European colonialism could be compared with mechanical assembling, in which the metropolis and the peripheries, in its relationship, don't generate any essential changes within one another. A comprehensive connection between the two takes place predominantly in the sphere of commerce, while other spheres are involved in the imperial mechanism only indirectly, and the attempt of the metropolis to expand this involvement turns a challenge for the whole empire. The scientific-technological progress and the new network architecture of economy don't more justify the metropolis’s domination. This well illustrates the crisis of neocolonialism, in which mechanisms of financial control are becoming less and less efficient, while the focal point is shifting to a more or less blunt military pressure.
The expansion of Russia's territory had been based on a more complicated principle of bifurcation, in which the borderline area behaves as a colloid medium, where energy exchange generates a new common organic substance. In this process, the objectives of expansion do not require strict steering control, being solved in a natural self-regulating mode.
The circuit of Russian expansion acquires a huge dimension already during Prince Oleg's rule in Kiev. The plans of Prince Svyatoslav and Prince Vladimir to achieve domination over two strategic routes of river traffic – from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and along the Volga to the Caspian, involved consolidation of Slavonic tribes within the Kiev-Novgorod power, elimination of the remains of the aggressive Khazaria, integration of the peoples of the Volga region, and construction of a defense barrier across the zone of steppes. The latter objective suggested a differentiation among the nomadic tribes, among which the Russian leaders were seeking for allies. The most complementary nomadic people, the Kipchaks, were impregnated into the state-building nation already by the mid-XIII century.
Favorable conditions for ethnogenesis thus emerged in the early times of Russian statehood. Preconditions for such a kind of process can hardly be reached artificially, by simple force – as Portugal and France would try to do in the later times, in both cases unsuccessfully. The fact is that a forced assimilation comprises a hostile overtake, while ethnogenesis is a process of fusion.
In its process of state-building, the United States have become famous as a "melting pot" of ethnic communities. By today, this process can't be regarded as really successful. The artificial, literally physical barrier, now being erected along the border of the US and Mexico, is the best evidence of the strategic failure of the ambitious design, as well as other restrictions for entry in the United States. The former imperial powers of Europe even more spectacularly appear unable to meet the challenge of immigration. At the face of this challenge, which could be easy foreseen, the states of the European Union are likely to return to a strict structuring of the society, being able to reproduce only the same "mechanical" pattern of control.
While in the Western empires, the ethnic elements are kept together in a mechanistic way, in Russia their relationship involves a kind of "thermal exchange". Compare the technosphere of Paris and London with St.Petersburg and Moscow in XIX-XX centuries. Ostensibly, the comparison is not in Russia's favor. Still, if we continue the comparative observation, with regard to the territorial dimensions, as well as the industrial development (especially in the Soviet period), we'll see that the Russian mode of integration is more successful. Great Britain and France were finally forced to abandon most of their long-time colonies, exactly due the lack of possibility – or rather the lack of intention? – to organize a full-scale technologically modern industrial development in those colonial states.
Industrialization, along with the development of energy and transport communications in the republics of the USSR and later in the countries of what was known in the postwar period as the "socialist commonwealth", was an unprecedented phenomenon in the European history.
In the expert community, the Soviet philanthropic program is often ridiculed. Still, beyond the reshapement of Europe in the 1990s, the former Soviet industrial circuit, to a large extent controlled today by Russian corporations, continues to exist as a powerful economic, social and even cultural phenomenon.
In case the mission of global administration is reduced to pure pragmatism, is focused on short-term advantages, such as the convenience of the third world’s cheap labor, a durable connection between the powers and their satellites can't be achieved. A leader with strategic thinking would not follow a mechanistic pragmatic approach.
An empire, successfully fulfilling the work of global administration, can't behave as a predator or a usurer. A high responsibility requires thoughtful patronage. In the first All-Russian Census (1897), Emperor Nicholas II identified himself as a "thoughtful master".
AREAS OF PEACE, AND ZONES OF ORDER
Traditional speculations over USSR's disintegration involve, first of all, a focus on zones of conflict like Karabakh, Tajikistan, Abkhazia, Chechnya or Transdniester. Their description is usually superficial. It fails to recognize the success of Russia's new civilizational control, which is also unique. Observing the colonial succession of the British Empire, a non-biased analyst would admit that this array of mostly backward and internally insufficient states comprises a belt of instability and permanent conflicts since the time of 1950s-1960s. The republics of the USSR, once shaped in a haste and often carelessly, display a striking contrast.
When the United States, in the boring mode of a voice mail, demands that Russia withdraw its military units from Abkhazia, Southern Ossetia and Transdniester, this prospective is seen with great alarm in the mentioned territories. The population of the areas of "frozen conflicts" just keeps wondering: is the global "guarantor of democracy" not enough satisfied with the present number "hot spots" of the world? Does it need more, and why?
The history of the last two decades demonstrates – though this fact may be unpleasant for a Western observer – that in all of those places where Russian peacekeepers are involved, warfare ceases. On the contrary, in the territories where the peacekeeping mission is fulfilled by NATO (which is more and more commonly perceived as a geopolitical pseudonym of the United States), warfare and violence expand even to a larger extent. If we compare the level of security in Kosovo and Afghanistan with that in Transdniester and Tajikistan, we'll easily see who is successful in his regional peacekeeping mission, and who fails to reach the declared goal.
This tremendous difference in efficiency is actually recognized by the international community. The best demonstration of that is the sincere and quite natural laughter of the international journalist audience of the now famous dialogue of George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin and the G-8 summit in St.Petersburg. "Today, I told Vladimir Putin about my intention to boost the design of democracy in the whole world", Bush said. "Take Iraq, where we now have freedom of press and freedom of religion. I know that many people would like to enjoy the same advantages in Russia". "Why, we are not very enthusiastic about enjoying a democracy like that in Iraq", replied Putin politely. The natural reaction of the audience revealed the winner of this debate – with no more comments required.
Can the American and European powers, regularly teaching Russia how to behave in a didactic intonation, boast of real achievements on an international scale to substantiate their right to teach lessons?
Look at Africa at the moment of withdrawal of European powers. Brutal warfare immediately started in a lot of areas, including Biafra, Zanzibar, later Uganda, Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone, etc. In the postindustrial era of 1990s, a medieval genocide was unleashed in Rwanda and Burundi, at the eyes of the whole "civilized" community – the most horrific massacre in the second part of the XX century, with over a million casualties.
One more flagrant example is Congo/Zaire, where since the assassination of Moscow's ally Patrice Lumumba, the situation has never been normalized. Today, the Republic of Congo hosts the most numerous contingent of UN peacekeeping forces, reaching 17,000 servicemen. In the current year, the European Union allocated 1 billion euros for support of the first ever free election in this state for the last 40 years. But after the first round of the democratic procedure, the election campaign turned a row of armed conflicts among the rivalling sides, acquiring a dimension of a civil war.
One more spectacular evidence of a catastrophic inefficiency of the peacekeeping efforts of Western powers is the miserable Somali and the adjacent Sudan's province of Darfur, which is, unfortunately, not the last bloody link in the chain of local post-colonial wars.
In the same Africa, war conflicts were efficiently solved in those places where the West, at a certain time, did not interfere in USSR's zones of influence – particularly, in Mozambique and Ethiopia. In adjacent countries, where Western powers got involved for the sake of "establishing order", a crater of instability would emerge immediately. As soon as the Soviet "philanthropic" control vanished from a number of African states, old conflicts would again come to surface, destabilization spreading from the epicenter to other regions and even to Western nations themselves, as it was in the case of Algeria.
A similar pattern is available on the scene of Eastern Europe. A bloody warfare broke out exactly in the region where the "hand of Kremlin" was present to the smallest extent – namely, in the Balkans. In case Comrade Stalin once managed to replace Comrade Tito with a more far-sighted leader, this territory could be as peaceful as today's Bulgaria or Romania.
FROM CONTAINMENT TO INTEGRATION
The Russian peacekeeping tradition emerges from the agenda of the Moscow Orthodox statehood, based upon the definition of Catechon, "the sustaining", once introduced by Apostle Paul. The Greek word κατέχω was derived from the lexicon of shipping, where it meant "to keep the course", to "pull in the haven". Other accents of this definition were "to reign", "to sustain", "to dominate", and finally, just to "be present", "to stay". In this term, one can easily identify the interpretation of "Catechon" as a crucial principle of a civilized empire.
Historical sources locate the first implementation of the Catechon principle (in the meaning of containment or deterrence) in the symbol of the Caspian Gate, which Alexander the Great once used for separation of the Oecumena (the Mediterranean commonwealth) from Barbarian tribes. The invasions of the Barbarians represented a fatal threat for the ancient civilization. In the world of today, a similar threat is represented by nuclear warfare. Not surprisingly, the doctrine, supposed to prevent a catastrophe, was determined as "nuclear deterrence".
The theological teaching of the "deterring state" (the Catechon), as well as the military strategic concept of nuclear weapons as "weapons of deterrence", amalgamating due to a rather accidental semantic coincidence, have combined and acquired a synthetic definition in Russia. It is well known that the nuclear shield of the USSR was mastered in the ancient town of Sarov, the very place where the greatest Saint of Russia once proclaimed his prophecy of the future Orthodox Tsardom (4).
Today, the superiority of the European civilization is under question. The escalating political and cultural crisis of Europe is taking place at the time when the "civilized" and "barbarian" peoples meet in a common universal space, as the borders are transparent and old-time protective barriers are inefficient. Therefore, another aspect of "Catechon" – sustainability – is achieving prior importance. Not deterrence, not keeping the course, but the ability to serve as a center of coordination is more and more required today.
A TEENAGE EXCITEMENT
The missing subject of global integration, which is becoming a strategic deficiency, is replaced today with a surrogate of the US doctrine of global dictate. Until 1991, America's status of a superpower was justified with the necessity to deter the Communist bloc ("the Czars of Rosh, Meshekh, and Thuval" in the prospect of Protestant eschatology). Afterwards, this status required a new substantiation, which it eventually achieved in a decade – rather from is own haughty and careless manner of behavior than from any "natural" development.
In the 1990s, the United States celebrated the disintegration of the USSR, as well as the weakening of Russia, in a strikingly shameless manner – as a "victory in the Cold War" – a victory in a direct sense, as if the historical Russia were really crushed by the US military force. Eventually, each US soldier who served in the period between September 1945 and August 1991, was honored with a medal, marking the "Cold War Victory".
In case this medal were introduced as soon as in 1991, such kind of a celebration could trigger a painful shift in the thinking of millions who sincerely viewed the West's intentions of rapprochement as partnership and mutual understanding, and not in the military terms of a winner and a loser, domination and subordination. The medal revealed the fact that the ideology of detente was not more than a trick, while its real agenda was determined by military strategists like Caspar Weinberger.
The view of the reshapement of the former USSR as a strategic victory of the West is no sensation. What is really striking is the careless manner of the supposed "winners". Their childish joy reveals the juvenile age of the US civilization – as juvenile as the age of Europe's barbarian kingdoms of VI-VII centuries. It would be more correct to deliver a Cold War Victory medal by air mail to Mikhail Gorbachov and his advisors, who had once been fatally sincere in their reliance upon America's declarations of "universal values".
The same self-assured behavior of a huge teenager is featured in the (often ridiculous) efforts of the United States to play a role of a global arbiter. On the whole post-Soviet scene, the teenager presents himself as a protector of "sovereign republics, offended by the Russian empire". Still, the cases of successful replacement of Moscow-loyal governments by local "democrats" too visibly reveal the miserable implications. Meanwhile, the teenager is not going to bear responsibility for the consequences of his own intervention, disastrous for the weak sovereignty of those unfortunate countries.
The teenager's propaganda is trying to ignore the fact that exactly the long-time status of USSR republics has allowed Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and other states, to a certain extent also the Baltic states, to achieve independent statehood. The embryos of these new nations were born in the womb of Great Russia, in which the ethnic and religious differences inside the proto-states had been solved on a higher level. Today's borderlines of the newly independent states, embracing vast new territories, donated by Moscow's decrees, represent a heritage of the Soviet Union.
Russia's patient behavior at the face of insinuations from the Western powers and the regimes, sponsored by them, is often interpreted as Moscow's weakness, softness, and lack of commitment.
This misjudgement is quite ridiculous. As a matter of fact, Russia is continuing to fulfil the integrating mission even in the conditions when its crucial role is deliberately neglected. This pacifying role of Russia should be recognized by other G-8 countries, if their own interest in ceasing the internationally multiplying conflicts is a bit sincere.
1. In the XIX century, France failed to solve the problem of territorial and linguistic integrity even within the metropolis. The debate over the Provence dialect exceeded the framework of an academic debate, emerging as a political issue.
2. See in more details: Russian Doctrine, part I, paragraphs 5, 6, 7.
3. Or, nuclear non-proliferation – the concept which is still followed by Russia, on the contrary to Washington with its strategy of absolute dominance. It is noteworthy that the term of "deterrence" was changed neither in the USSR, nor in the new Russia, though in international practice, it acquired new definitions – like MAD (mutually assured destruction).
4. The period of life of Rev. Seraphim of Sarov coincided with the crucial changes of Russia's geopolitical role. Exactly at that time, Russia liberated the Ukrainian and Byelorussian lands, and defeated the Ottoman Empire in a series of wars which eventually made Greece an independent state, and the Porta – "the ill man of Europe". At the time of St.Seraphim's spiritual endeavour, Alexandr Suvorov's troops crossed Europe, assisting to cease the march of the (anti-Christian)
Jacobin offensive, and predetermining the collapse of Napoleon's plan of global dominance. At that time, the once neglected "land of Muscovites" emerged as a guarantor of European stability – the role recognized even by those who denounced Moscow as "the gendarme of Europe".
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