Dates and Life

21 september 2015

Fyodor Lukyanov is Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and Research Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

Resume: Two important anniversaries celebrating major diplomatic accomplishments are marked in the summer and fall of 2015 – the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Organization and the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act. The former laid the foundation for the postwar world order; the latter formalized its core element – the European order.

Two important anniversaries celebrating major diplomatic accomplishments are marked in the summer and fall of 2015 – the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Organization and the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act. The former laid the foundation for the postwar world order; the latter formalized its core element – the European order.

Historical dates are a good opportunity not only to remember but also to compare. What is happening to the legacy of that era? Is it still relevant now that the global configuration of power is changing dramatically?

Andrei Bezrukov and Andrei Suchentsov believe that the world is on the verge of a major political realignment, prompted by the West’s relative deceleration, the emergence of other centers of influence, technological revolution, and, most importantly, the depletion of the previous ideology of development. Russia has unknowingly become one of the key factors of these changes, and this fact begets both opportunities and risks. Sergei Pavlenko points out that the current developments in Europe reveal a new phenomenon – a continuous crisis where the state (as vividly seen in the case of Greece) has no resources to overcome it regardless of the circumstances.

Boris Kagarlitsky speaks about the crisis of neoliberal state models, which in his opinion is irreversible. He explores the return of Marxism as an ideology of development. There is a historical chance for the left-wing ideas pronounced dead a quarter of a century ago to spring back to life. In this context the author pins hopes on the BRICS association.

Ivan Kurilla studies the underlying principles of the world order that was established in 1945 and tries to understand where the reevaluation of historical events dating back to the middle of the twentieth century may lead. Richard Sakwa insists that the ideology of Atlanticism conceived at that time is undergoing transformation to become a much more conspicuous political weapon.

The authors point to the erosion of security in various spheres. Pavel Zolotarev wonders why in the absence of acute objective contradictions Russian-U.S. relations have rapidly degraded to a level reminiscent of the worst years of the Cold War. To avoid unnecessary risks, he suggests recalling the precautions Moscow and Washington took at that time. The same issue was debated at a roundtable hosted by the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. We offer excerpts from those discussions.

Vladimir Orlov describes the latest NPT Review Conference and arrives at a sad conclusion that the nonproliferation regime is going through hard times and is actually at risk. Oleg Demidov and Yelena Chernenko ponder over how to ward off confrontation in a new but very important sphere – cyberspace.

The shift in the global balance of power towards Asia necessitates Russia to rethink its policy. Salvatore Babones believes that Europe has never accepted and will never accept Russia as an equal and desirable power and that its future lies in Asia. Sultan Akimbekov puts the question squarely: Russia must decide whose periphery it wants to be, Europe’s or Asia’s. Victor Larin doubts that the turn to the East is a well-conceived move since there is too much general but too little specific about it. Konstantin Ilkovsky addresses a purely practical issue and emphasizes the need to create a new school of sinology that would be geared towards a completely new quality of cooperation between Russia and China as part of the Silk Road and Eurasian economic integration projects.

Vladimir Tchernega calls for drawing lessons from the Ukraine crisis, which he views as Russia’s major international defeat in its post-Soviet history. At stake is not only the country’s geopolitical position but the nation’s self-awareness –  where the borders between Russian and European mindsets run and to what extent the nation is part of European processes. Vadim Mezhuyev maintains that the secret of a community’s becoming a nation lies in the maturity of its culture and openness. This is the only way for a community to become a unified entity, he argues.

Alexander Konkov turns to doctrinal postulates in an attempt to understand whether Russia has the conceptual basis for construing its national interests. Apparently, it has yet to build it, and the awakening of civic initiative stirred by the Ukraine crisis will help refocus attention on“people’s thought.”

Anniversaries provide a good opportunity to assess the work done. But it is much more important now to understand what has yet to be done as we set out on the road to go further and, above all, where this road will take us. But this is something we will expound in our future issues.

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