The Age of Uncertainty
|Thursday, 1. April 2010 1 comment(s)||
Researcher - The EU's Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia research programme
For many commentators, the blasts in the Moscow underground signified the final end of the period of stability of the past ten years in Russia. First the confidence in economic growth was swept by the recession of 2008; then a series of mass protests have put to question the perception of a wide social support to the government and approval of its policies. The terrorist attacks, not only in Moscow but most recently in Northern Caucasus in their own right pose a serious threat to social stability. The media commentary both in Russia and worldwide reflected on this by stating that Russia once gain has entered the age of uncertainty.
Despite the fact that even during the best years of Putin’s presidency all the risks that now make Russia appear uncertain have been well pronounced, only a few concerned critics made an issue of them. Furthermore one should point out that Russia is really not a special case as the entire world is submerged in the age of global uncertainty. The risks of terrorism and economic recession and of cultural and ideological uncertainty are common to any country, be it the US, Finland, China or India. The EU is one actor that finds it extremely difficult to respond to uncertainty that plagues it in a constructive manner. Energy security, relations with neighbors, economic development are just a few areas in which the factor of uncertainty looms so large that even individual member states fail to produce consistent policies on the national level, the EU as a whole. Another example of an organization which is often presented as somewhat lost in the post-Cold war uncertainty is NATO.
Interesting that the initial reaction to the Moscow bombing among some Russian policymakers was to put the blame on some unidentified anti-Russian forces originating in the West and supporting the suicide bombers. This anti-Western rhetoric contrasts with some hopeful voices who recently speculated that Russia and NATO might find it possible to build a more cooperative relationship. The reason for hopes is again uncertainty over the rise of China, terrorism, drug trafficking from Afghanistan and basically anything from economic modernization to energy security.
If one can attach the only merit to the phenomenon of uncertainty we all have to deal with it would probably be the sense of possibility. Since nothing can be deemed certain, anything might be possible; things may develop in most unthinkable directions.
In this regard, the western response to the bombings in Moscow, should not be limited to stating that Russia’s future is uncertain, or criticizing those in Russia who think that the West was behind the attacks. Perhaps one way to tackle Russia’s – and the world’s - uncertainty would be to propose to increase the already existing Russia-NATO cooperation against terrorism and expand it towards Russia’s membership in this organization. It might seem unthinkable but little as we know about the future, it is worth the try.
Texts reflect the opinions of the individual authors