WELCOME TO THE REAL(ISTS’) WORLD !

Tisdag, 2. September 2008     0 kommentti(a)
Arkady Moshes
programdirektör – forskningsprogrammet EU:s östra grannskap och Ryssland

The only theory that I studied systematically was Marxism-Leninism. But early on in my career I worked for one American, who had been a close colleague of Henri Kissinger and who taught me the fundamentals of classic Kissingerianism. Some say, these two teachings are different. From my point of view, they are easy to combine. They both place power – hard power, or “correlation of forces”, to be precise – in the centre.

We’ve been flirting with other ideas for a while. Europeans thought that the soft power, the power of attraction, would be an effective tool of foreign policy. The reality check ruled differently. 2008 brings us back to the world of actions, not talk, where things are done because they CAN BE done. The West recognized Kosovo independence not because it was necessarily a right decision, but because it thought it was implementable. Russia was not going to war with Europe because of Kosovo, and so, its objections could be ignored. The boomerang returned. The West was not going to militarily support Georgia, and that was the only thing that mattered last month.

Russia won the military campaign against Georgia, but lost at least the first phase of the information war for the sympathies of the Western audience. Its reputation was ruined. No wonder, actually, since whereas the Russian troops were occupying the Georgian land, president Saakashvili was occupying the English-language media, among other things drawing absolutely false parallels with the Winter War.

Some years ago, such a result could have affected the decision-making in Moscow. Not now. As James Sherr, the Director of the Russia and Eurasia programme at the Chatham House once put it, today’s occupants of the Kremlin simply do not care what the West thinks. Moscow went ahead, recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia and presented the world with a fait accomplit. I do not know if it’s a winning long-term strategy, but currently the choice of acting, the image losses notwithstanding, over discussing the action, seems to many Russians to be a winning tactic. And in geopolitical games tactical gains are important and encouraging.

With one, though considerable, exception – NATO is reluctant to go to war, I mean – any war, not only THE war - this is the world that I knew. With UN paralyzed, CSCE existing as a discussion club at best, EC being an economic organization with limited police functions, and individual European countries fit to be exploited in the context of “intra-imperialist contradictions”. It is so tempting to feel 25 years younger. But I would not like to return to that world.

And let me conclude with the following. I’ve always thought that “unacceptable” means something that one cannot accept. If something can be accepted, it’s called “acceptable”, at least in the real world. It may be though, that my Constructivist colleagues and discourse analysts have long ago proven that this is the same thing. I do not know. I am not educated enough to judge.

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