Changes are sweeping the world, denying opportunities for the countries to focus on anything in earnest. They have only time to react to new and unexpected twists and turns, but no time to contemplate and devise strategies.
The paradox of the modern world is that democratization of society has ironically led to voters' loss of power and the rise of social inequality while globalization liberated the elites but deprived them of legitimacy and capacity to govern.
The human rights debates, which have been high in the past two decades, have proven futile. They increasingly make it clear that it is impossible to change attitudes that are enrooted in centuries-old specific cultural, religious, and other underpinnings.
It would be more logical to recognize only settler colonies as colonies per se and refer to all other results of expansion as dependencies. The loss of colonies is incomparably more dangerous for empires than the loss of dependencies. Trying to hold on to dependencies is meaningless, but to neglect the colonies is reckless.
If the Arab Spring were to bring about meaningful changes to Arab societies, what is needed is a political order that is not only democratic but also inclusive. To be credible, the Arab world, including its Islamists, will have to tread the long and painful path of consensus building. This method is inclusive and hence more enduring than electoral democracy.
Tendencies will continue – a geopolitical shift towards Eurasia and the Asia Pacific Region; symbolic ‘sovereignization’ of Russia and its further distancing from the U.S. and Europe; and the erosion of a foreign policy consensus. The fourth edition of Putin’s foreign policy will most likely differ significantly from the previous three.
The Russian geopolitical code is shifting from Western-centric to non-Western-centric, and from global to regional. The formation of a new center of power around Russia may not be smooth. It will inevitably face resistance from countries which Moscow considers to be part of its geopolitical space.
Eurasia is not the same as the post-Soviet space, and its borders cannot be regarded as fixed once and for all by the Soviet past. Whereas the post-Soviet space can indeed be the best region for integration in certain aspects, other options might envision a different combination of countries.
The interaction within BRICS has drawn a variety of comments – from sarcasm to the expectation of miracles. But the aggravation of problems with the sustainability of global development in 2008-2013 has brought the role of those states into the limelight to show that global decisions will not be necessarily found inside Bretton-Woods institutions or the OECD.
Russia will remain a crucial interlocutor on nuclear policy, space, and various regional matters. As in the past, it will be able to block and delay global action with its Security Council veto. If its leaders want more than that, the changes this will require are relatively clear.
The profound transformations occurring in the global economy are inevitably causing disruption, confusion and tensions. The proposal for the establishment of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and the EU might seriously exacerbate the situation and lead to the establishment of rival economic blocs.
The experiment to federalize Europe, which many discussed in full seriousness in the 1990s, will be declared unsuccessful, and the European states will gradually shift over to other means of enhancing their viability in the restless and troubled world of the 21st century.
The EU has encountered an unforeseen deformation of market mechanisms. While the EU is rethinking what has happened and working on a new strategy for economic development, Russia is returning to the “good old” practices that imitate democratic institutions and market mechanisms.
The current trend is such that military force is gradually turning from a foreign policy tool into a military power potential. The purpose is to solve political tasks without using military force but relying entirely on the superiority in military potential.
Nunn-Lugar should be replaced with a new Russian-American program that should involve fewer projects and less funding. Let us call it New Partnership. Its main principle should be equality, rather than patronizing through money infusions from donors.
If Russia consistently pursues its policy of cooperation with Arctic countries on the basis of the Law of the Sea and with due regard for their common interests in the region, there will be no grounds for attempts to justify NATO’s more active involvement in Arctic affairs.
Rejection of anti-migrant mythology should not lead to an underestimation of the risks associated with migration, but help develop a sober constructive policy that would minimize migration risks and maximize its benefits.
Ethnic nationalism cannot be a strategic ally of the forces interested in Russia’s modernization. Realizing the impossibility of a purely elitist modernization, these forces will inevitably need mass support and national consolidation. Consequently, they will need nationalism, although of a different strain – the civic one.
This report was prepared following the conclusions of XI annual Valdai Discussion Club meeting.