13.10.2006
Real Sovereignty and Sovereign Democracy
№4 2006 October/ December



 

Today,
global politics and the global economy are characterized by a
struggle between two tendencies: “de-sovereignization” on the one
hand, and strengthening real sovereignty on the other. The latter
choice promotes much success in the economic, cultural and social
development of a country, and it is within this paradigm that
Russia wants to establish a worthy place for itself in global
politics.

 

Russia’s
past achievements in the realms of culture, science, education and
technology strongly suggest that it will continue to be a vital
contributor to global civilization. Russia, which boasts a
thousand-year tradition of statehood and outstanding achievements
in upholding national independence and territorial integrity, has
more than enough prerequisites for ensuring its real sovereignty.
It must be remembered that Russian citizens are accustomed to
viewing their country as an influential, authoritative power in
world politics.

 

REAL
SOVEREIGNTY

 

Real
sovereignty is valuable per se and as a major prerequisite for
achieving national competitiveness in the increasingly competitive
conditions of the globalizing economy.

In the
last few years, Russia has taken important steps at achieving real
sovereignty: it has restored its sovereignty in the Chechen
Republic and stopped separatist actions in other regions; in
Russian regions, legislation has been put into line with the
Russian Constitution; the country has paid off much of its foreign
debt, which just several years ago was a heavy burden; it has
diversified its foreign policy and established mutually
advantageous cooperation with the leading states of the world,
including China and India; important measures have been taken to
strengthen the country’s defense capability, including its nuclear
deterrence potential, the development of its space defenses and the
restoration of  combat training in the
general purpose forces. Among the larger part of Russian society,
and among our friends abroad, both in the former Soviet republics
and beyond, these initiatives were greeted with understanding and
approval. Yet, Russia’s efforts to achieve real sovereignty have
come up against active opposition by forces that are not interested
in Russia becoming an independent “center of force.” As Russian
political scientist Alexei Bogaturov wrote, “however hard Moscow
and Washington may declare their common and parallel interests, the
United States is interested in principle in Russia’s geopolitical
disintegration.”

Russia’s
efforts to achieve real sovereignty have yielded fruit, yet, to
follow up on these successes and to correct the mistakes of the
past Russia must make major new moves in this field. Without a
democratic political system in the classical understanding of the
term – with all its attributes, including strong and influential
political parties – Russia will not be able to gain a worthy place
in the world, nor acquire the status of a modern great
power.

 

In his
2005 Address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation,
President Vladimir Putin analyzed Russia’s efforts to build a
democracy and stressed the need to preserve national values and
indisputable achievements and confirm the viability of Russian
democracy. The president emphasized: “We had to find our own path
in order to build a democratic, free and just society and
state.”

 

The
Russian people must have a profound feeling of enlightened
patriotism and national self-esteem in order to maintain real
sovereignty and develop sovereign democracy. Russian citizens,
including young people, displayed these valuable qualities once
again during the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of victory in
World War II.

 

SOVEREIGN
DEMOCRACY

 

Sovereign
democracy should not be a matter of faith, but a form of government
that would ensure a higher degree of governance and self-regulation
within society and the state. A democratic tradition is not
something that can be introduced to Russia from abroad; rather, it
is a value hard won by our people, who view it on par with such
values as freedom and justice.

 

However,
rational and realistic views of democracy as a system of governance
that ensures greater efficiency are not yet widespread in Russian
society. Obviously, Russians pinned too much hope on democracy as
an ideology, especially in the late 1980s-early 1990s, and
idealized its attributes. No doubt those sentiments flourished
under strong external influences of various
kinds.

The
current decade has revealed another problem with the democratic
experiment: a large part of society has expressed a negative
attitude toward the “democratic ideology.” Again, opposition
between the notions of “democracy” and “non-democracy” is taking
place in the public consciousness on a more emotional plane than on
the basis of criteria regarding efficiency.

 

A major
task of a democracy is to ensure a stable feedback: impulses
governing the functioning and development of the system must move
in two directions – from top to bottom in the hierarchy of state
and political government, and from below. The weakness and, often,
actual absence of such feedback was a major factor behind the
degradation of a significant part of the Soviet economy and social
sphere in the 1970s-1980s.

 

The
presence of sovereign democracy in Russia (just as in many other
countries) is an important prerequisite for democracy in
international and interstate relations. Real sovereignty and
sovereign democracy are two pillars of Russia’s political and
economic development, which can secure for it a worthy place in the
international community.

 

THE ROLE
OF THE STATE

 

Russian
business must be national, operating in partnership with the state.
This partnership will ensure its internal and external
competitiveness in the face of formidable external rivals (many of
whom dream of marginalizing Russian business). There is no
contradiction between the desire to work in a modern and highly
effective market economy and feeling a sense of patriotism. Many
American businessmen, for example, are ardent patriots, which they
emphasize by displaying their national flag – a symbol of American
statehood – at their enterprises and in their
offices.

Russia
faces many vital national tasks, including overcoming its heavy
economic dependence on energy exports, which may be beneficial only
for a few economic centers of force in the
world.

The
Russian government must provide active support in projects for
developing the domestic high-tech industry, based on intense and
multi-faceted state-business partnerships. It will take a long time
before private capital is able to independently operate in this
field on a large scale. By the time this moment arrives, a huge
part of Russia’s research and technological potential, created by
the strenuous efforts of several generations, may be lost, and in
many respects irretrievably.

 

Therefore
the state must intensify investment not only in infrastructure
(which is a classical obligation of the state), but also in
high-tech and capital-intensive industries on the basis of
long-term
scenario forecasts.
This will serve the development of the global, regional and
national economy, as well as specific long-term programs of
action.

 

The state
must also play an active role in the formation of a knowledge
economy. The government’s involvement in economic processes and a
state-business partnership are a necessary condition for developing
a “new economy” of the 21st century.

 

The
state-business partnership will create new jobs in corresponding
industries, as well as in the services and infrastructure sectors.
This, in turn, will help reduce or even overcome the huge gap that
emerged between the rich and the poor in Russia in the 1990s. This
income disparity may pose a threat to our national security. Unless
this gap is reduced, there can be no talk of stability, however
attractive the macroeconomic indices may be. To this end, among
other measures, Russia can take avail of its position as a growing
“energy superpower,” whose energy supplies are vital for all the
main “centers of force” of the global economy – the United States,
the European Union, Japan, China and India. In the meantime,
Russia’s fuel/energy sector continues to have serious problems of
its own, which need to be solved in order for Russia to become a
leading force in this area. These include environmental problems,
which have grown particularly acute in many regions.

 

We must
proceed from the assumption that the demand for Russian
hydrocarbons in the world will continue to grow in the foreseeable
future, thus permitting Russia to set increasingly packaged terms
for their supply, proceeding from its supreme national
interests.

 

China and
India are becoming increasingly important factors in the global
demand for energy supplies, and they have been conducting
aggressive policies for securing long-term oil and natural gas
supplies.

 

To this
end, China, for example, provides economic assistance to energy
suppliers by helping them build roads, ports and stadiums, for
example, while increasing its imports of other goods from these
countries.

 

As a
long-term strategy, Russia’s economic growth must be ensured, above
all, by the high-tech industry, high-tech services, and the
comprehensive development of its “human capital.” We must
capitalize on the possibilities of domestic consumption, conquering
again and retaining Russia’s markets, while also pursuing a
consistent policy for promoting Russian products on international
markets.

 

Until
recently, the state conducted such a policy primarily in the realm
of Russian arms supplies. These policies yielded positive results,
helping some sectors of the Russian defense industry survive and
even further develop.

 

Of major
importance is the development of a national IT sector and a certain
range of biotechnologies (President Putin’s ruling of 2005 to
significantly raise salaries for research officers of the Russian
Academy of Sciences must play a major role in these efforts). The
strengthening of the state’s role in the Russian economy,
specifically by increasing the state’s involvement in strategic
industries, is a natural process for the present stage in Russia’s
development, and extremely important for ensuring Russia’s national
competitiveness.

 

The way
the market economy is developing in Russia is reminiscent of the
conditions in which some West European states developed in the
1950s – France, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands and
others.

 

In France,
for example, the state played a central role that was not limited
to the left-wing parties: state intervention was particularly
pronounced when the country was ruled by Charles de Gaulle and the
Gaullists who held predominantly right-centrist and
right-conservative positions. Amidst tough competition, this policy
helped France save its aircraft and car-making industries and
create its own nuclear power engineering, electronic, and
space-rocket industries, which ensured the country’s high economic
growth rates until the 1990s, thereby allowing it to rejoin the
family of great powers.

 

The
globalizing economy confronts Russia with an urgent need to
establish powerful national companies, capable of ensuring the
nation’s competitiveness on the European, Asian and global markets.
Few private businesspeople can create such “locomotives of national
success” without the active and strong support of the
state.

 

The state
also has an important role to play in building transnational
companies on the post-Soviet space, which is vital for meeting the
common competitive interests of Russia and its friends and
partners. In establishing such transnational companies, it is very
important to pay due account to the interests and opinions of
representatives of the member countries of the Commonwealth of
Independent States involved in this process.

 

However,
increased state involvement in the economy should not take the form
of direct business management from government offices.
State-controlled companies must operate as real autonomous players
in the market economy, according to market laws, while seeking to
make themselves profitable and efficient. The advantage of such
companies is that they can and must estimate their profitability on
a long-term basis, as well as forecast their prospects, promote
research and development, and constantly upgrade their
technological facilities and management systems. These efforts
require adequate mechanisms of control over the operation of state
companies by executive and legislative bodies.

 

National
businesses can be made effective only on the basis of a strong
intellectual basis, together with a comprehensive analysis of
issues pertaining to the development of all basic segments of the
global and regional markets.

 

These
intellectual efforts (to be made by both governmental and non-state
research centers with active support from the “political class” and
the business elite) are a major condition for Russia’s success in
global competitiveness. Examples of state-business success stories
were found in many European countries (especially in the
1950s-1960s), Japan (up to the early 1990s), Singapore, Taiwan and
South Korea. Meanwhile, research of this kind is actively conducted
by various research centers in China and India.

 

Unfortunately, the Russian business community and the
political class underestimate the need for such intellectual
efforts in their strategic decision-making (these efforts include
search of effective methods, data, and data reliability, which are
labor-consuming and require an extensive scientific, economic,
econometric and sociological base). Therefore, there is a lack of
motivation for costly interdisciplinary research and regular
exchanges of ideas, opinions, results of research, etc. among the
academic community, the branches of power and
businesses.

 

The
absence of a strategic vision, as well as strategic projects, in
the government seriously complicates the development of any
business in this country. Russian companies, when comparing their
resources with those of the major Western companies, understand
their smallness and insignificance. Obviously, the availability of
state resources would increase the resources and “fighting
stability” of Russian companies in the face of their formidable
rivals.

 

ENERGY
POLICY AND SOVEREIGNTY

 

In the
long term, Russia can achieve stable economic growth by using the
competitive advantages found in its research and industrial
potential. A reliance on trade in raw materials – even considering
that almost 30 percent of global reserves belong to Russia – will
not bring about acceptable economic growth. However, this huge
potential of natural resources must be used to stimulate other
areas of Russia’s economic development.

 

In the
last few years, Russia’s dependence on raw-material exports has
reached a critical level, jeopardizing the country’s security and
sovereignty; Russia’s interests could be seriously threatened by a
possible radical fall in world energy prices.

 

Without
reducing its energy exports (and in some cases even increasing
them), Russia should purposefully begin to change the structure of
its exports in favor of industrial goods and services, most
importantly in the development of high-tech products.
Simultaneously, it must further develop the processing of raw
materials and improve the structure of the import-export ratio. The
policies of individual companies should be increasingly
subordinated to national interests and to the state’s policy for
achieving real sovereignty.

 

Within the
framework of its energy policy proper, Russia should increase
electricity production by nuclear power plants. This requires,
above all, safe nuclear power engineering on the basis of fast
reactors. At a press conference on January 31, 2006, President
Putin set the goal of increasing the contribution of nuclear power
plants to the country’s electricity production from 16-17 percent
in 2005 to 25 percent in 2030. Energy producers must turn into
“global actors,” ensuring in many cases the fulfillment of not only
economic but also political tasks, thus meeting Russia’s national
interests in the international political system.

 

Energy
producers must be among the locomotives of the national economy,
supporting the development of Russia’s myriad machine-building
sectors on the basis of medium and high technologies. Russia’s
giant gas company Gazprom, together with several oil-and-gas
companies, have already helped dozens of defense enterprises to
diversify their production and preserve at least part of their
research and technological potential.

 

As
President Putin said at a December 22, 2005 meeting of Russia’s
Security Council, Russia’s economic development in 2004-2005
convincingly showed that the country is entering a new level of
influence and capabilities in global power engineering, and is
turning into a leading force in this most important
sphere.

 

The
peculiarity of Russia’s position in ensuring international energy
security is that it is a member of the G8 (where world energy
problems are discussed together with the most advanced net
importers of energy resources) and simultaneously belongs to the
group of the leading net exporters of energy resources that are
interested in stable revenues from energy exports at fair prices.
Russia has managed to establish stable constructive relations both
with Western net importers of hydrocarbons (the United States and
the EU countries) and with Eastern net importers (China, India,
Japan, South Korea, etc.).

 

A special
comment should be made about the unique role that China and India
play as fast-growing consumers of energy resources and actors in
the sphere of international energy security. Russia interacts with
India and China on energy issues on a bilateral basis and within
the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In January
2006, the SCO set up a special body to work out a common position
of the member countries on world energy issues.

 

If within
the next ten years Russia increases its contribution to the
international high-tech market from 0.3 percent to at least 3
percent, this will exceed the potential volume of its oil and gas
export.

 

BUILDING
UP RESEARCH POTENTIAL

 

Among
Russia’s national distinctions is its ability to develop and put
into operation large sophisticated technical systems based on the
achievements of exact sciences. This refers to civilian and combat
spacecraft and missiles, nuclear power plants, large surface ships
and submarines, civilian and combat aircraft, command and control
systems of the strategic nuclear forces, missile warning systems,
thermonuclear reactors, and so on. Today, Russian enterprises are
displaying their ability to master the production of platforms for
the extraction of offshore oil and gas, ships for transporting
liquefied gas, etc. Also, Russia has a large potential for
producing supercomputers and corresponding software.

 

Russian
businesses and the political class have not yet recognized this
national distinction. But this is vital, because this potential
must be taken into account when developing and modernizing Russia’s
educational system.

 

Apart from
Russia and the U.S., only two or three other countries have the
ability to carry out cutting-edge research. So, the development of
the basic sciences across the spectrum is a much more rare
phenomenon than commonly believed. Russia must preserve and
intensify this ability, while reorienting its achievements in the
military-technical sphere to applications in the consumer economy.
At the same time, it must remember one of the main lessons from the
history of the Soviet Union: an independent defense industry cannot
exist for long and without excessive expenditures as an isolated
enclave; in order to be successful, it must be an organic part of a
high-tech industry (with a highly profitable civilian segment
prevailing).

 

For Russia
to preserve and build up its research potential, science must take
center stage, and this can be achieved through the development of
high-tech industries.

 

The
fulfillment of this task requires greater attention and
high-priority funding from the state and private business. A
symbiotic relationship amongst fundamental and applied science and
industry, together with an efficient educational system, is a major
requirement for maintaining Russia’s competitiveness in the global
political, economic and technological competition. It is also
paramount for ensuring its national security and a worthy quality
of life for its citizens.

 

Scientific
knowledge, together with the ability to create new scientific
knowledge, is acquiring the greatest importance under the present
conditions. Today, technologies for developing the most profitable
products are mostly created on the basis of new scientific
knowledge, as well as from the discovery of new physical, chemical,
biological and other laws. Therefore, the integration of education
and science, together with the involvement of both teachers and
students in the process of professional scientific work, is yet
another critical factor for Russia’s future progress.

 

Unfortunately, over the years of reforms, fundamental and
applied science in Russia found itself in a most difficult
situation. This was largely provoked by sharp reductions in
funding, a loss of prestige in research activity, and a reduced
demand for scientific achievements on the part of businesses and
the state. For a long time, the amount of funds allocated for
fundamental science in Russia was much less than in the U.S. and
other developed countries. Just recently, there have emerged signs
of a change for the better in this sphere. The reduced funding has
caused many highly qualified scientists to seek employment in the
most prestigious universities and scientific centers in the U.S.,
Britain, Germany and other countries – a factor attesting to the
high level of excellence in Soviet and Russian science. According
to some estimates, 30 percent of the top mathematicians and 50
percent of theoretical physicists in the United States hail from
the ex-Soviet Union; the number of Russian molecular biologists
working in the leading American laboratories has been increasing in
absolute and relative terms as well. Apart from the developed
Western countries, Russia’s educational system, as well as its
fundamental and applied science departments, in many respects also
works for China and some countries in Southeast Asia. At the same
time, however, Russian science and education are becoming
increasingly dependent on foreign donors – according to some
estimates, to the tune of 75 to 80 percent. The results of the most
valuable research by Russian scientists (including several
potential Nobel Prize winners) are increasingly acquired as
intellectual property by foreign companies, foundations and
universities, which in the long term translate into billions of
dollars in losses for the Russian economy. Often this happens
because Russian research centers and design offices lack funds,
whereas the state does not provide them adequate support to protect
their intellectual property in the global economy.

 

The
disappearance of fundamental science, which may take place within
the next few years in a majority of branches of research, will have
far more serious consequences for Russia than the disappearance of
certain industries. History teaches that, unlike many industries,
fundamental science, if lost, can be restored only by the efforts
of several generations, if at all – even if the state allocates
sufficient funds for this purpose.

 

Another
important way for Russia to achieve economic might and real
sovereignty would be to enact radical initiatives to nurture a
modern agricultural industry. Russia’s large tracts of fertile land
remain one of its big advantages over other states. The more
far-sighted strategic analysts in China and India, for example,
understand that these two states will soon find themselves unable
to provide for their populations; therefore they assign a key role
to Russia’s resources in this respect.

 

MAINTAINING NATIONAL DEFENSES

 

Russia’s
real sovereignty is also provided by its national defenses, whose
cornerstone must be independent national forces and nuclear
deterrence forces, complemented with a “pre-nuclear deterrence”
system.

 

Nuclear
weapons now play a special political and defensive role for Russia.
Today and in the foreseeable future, they will be almost the only
visible factor ensuring superpower status for this country.
Importantly, the significance of the nuclear factor in the
hierarchy of world politics is beginning to grow again (although
largely in other forms than in the first few decades after World
War II) – first of all, as a result of the emergence of two new
nuclear states – India and Pakistan, whose populations exceed one
billion people in total.

 

Assessing
the status role of nuclear weapons for Russia, one must also bear
in mind the nuclear deterrence economy. Russia keeps a nuclear
arsenal and other elements of the nuclear deterrence system that
are commensurable with those of the United States, although
Russia’s GDP is 10 to 12 times smaller, according to some
authoritative estimates, than that in the U.S. Furthermore, each of
the three other members of the UN Security Council – Britain,
France and China – have gross domestic products several times
larger than Russia’s GDP, while their nuclear arsenals are much
smaller than Russia’s. Obviously, without a major breakthrough in
the economy, it is possible that within the next few years Russia
will be unable to maintain its nuclear potential, and therefore its
status, on the present scale.

 

In light
of these conditions, Russia must enhance the political, military
and strategic efficiency of its nuclear deterrence system and the
potential for multiple-choice actions (especially asymmetric
actions) for the top state leadership in crisis
conditions.

 

Meanwhile,
Russia’s nuclear forces are not only a means of ensuring national
security for the country, but also a major factor in guaranteeing
global strategic stability. This conclusion is based on the lessons
of the last 50 years and on a forecast for the development of
global politics until at least 2025-2030.

 

At the
same time, nuclear deterrence alone is insufficient for rebuffing
all the military threats to Russia’s security. Global and Russian
experience shows that nuclear weapons are not an
effective

political
instrument for preventing or winning limited wars and conflicts,
especially low-intensity conflicts. Meanwhile, it is the latter
type of conflicts that a majority of experts believe to be the most
probable threat to Russia’s military security.

 

Russia
needs modern, well-equipped and compact general-purpose forces
capable of carrying out operations, first of all on the Eurasian
space, including operations to ensure security for its friends and
allies. Such actions may also prove necessary for saving the lives
and health of Russian citizens living in foreign
countries.

 

To this
end, Russia must bolster both the strategic and tactical mobility
of the corresponding components of the general-purpose forces,
together with their backup informational and analytical support
systems. Special attention must be given to practicing the
employment of network control systems that integrate reconnaissance
and targeting data processing, command transmission and control
over command execution, and precision weapon control.

 

Russia
also requires a worthy naval might capable of ensuring its
political, defensive and economic interests in various regions of
the world, on land and sea (the Navy has always been one of the
most flexible multi-purpose military instruments for seeing through
policy).

 

Another
major task for Russia is to organize the rapid and qualitative
re-equipment of its Armed Forces and other security organizations.
Besides fortifying the defense of the country, this move will help
to preserve and develop the domestic high-tech industry.

 

The Armed
Forces and other components of the military must develop according
to a deep understanding of the laws and peculiarities of the
ongoing “revolution in military affairs” (certainly not the first
one in world history). This phenomenon has common and individual
features for specific states that are developing their defense
might within the framework of a policy for ensuring real
sovereignty.

 

Military
might can also serve to protect economic interests; this is why, in
the present conditions, it must be viewed also as a means to
increase capitalization of the national economy.

 

*   *   *

 

Russia’s
political and business elite and academic community must work for
the long term: what does not pay back today or tomorrow may be in
demand the day after tomorrow. A greater level of intellectual and
organizational effort must be put into secondary and higher
education. There can never be “too many educated people” in
society. The higher the educational level of the population, the
more chances the country will have for achieving great success in
the global economy.