October 9, 2008

English summary

The October issue of Diplomaatia resumes the discussion on the Russia-Georgia war after which the whole global order has shifted; in addition, the topic of the upcoming US presidential elections is also addressed.

The October issue of Diplomaatia resumes the discussion on the Russia-Georgia war after which the whole global order has shifted; in addition, the topic of the upcoming US presidential elections is also addressed.

English summary

The October issue of Diplomaatia resumes the discussion on the Russia-Georgia war after which the whole global order has shifted; in addition, the topic of the upcoming US presidential elections is also addressed.
In the opening article, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves analyses the underlying principles of Estonian foreign policy and the consequences of the paradigm shift in the global order that occurred on August 8, 2008. According to Ilves, one of the fundamentals of Estonian foreign policy is that it is based on values. “Let us admit that the value-based foreign policy – upholding democracy, market economy, the rule of law, and so on – is as pragmatic and unavoidable a solution for Estonia as silence is for some other countries in the relations with their strong neighbour. Estonia’s experiences, the isolation forced upon us due to the scarcity of democracy in the 1940s and our loneliness on a wider scale – all these factors have made it extremely difficult, even impossible for Estonia’s foreign policy makers not to feel solidarity with the states where these values – our own values and principles – come under threat,” states Ilves.
Yet Estonian foreign policy is marked by a contradiction. “When should we defend our values and when should we concede that there is nothing more to be done or that we can only make a dire situation worse? It is realism – our knowledge of what can be done to promote one’s ideas and values and what to do in order to accomplish the main task of the Republic of Estonia, which is to protect the people of Estonia – that provides a framework for the value-based policy which Estonian foreign policy makers pursue day by day and event by event,” argues Ilves.
A new dimension was added to these tensions on August 8, 2008, when Russia’s aggression against Georgia shattered the illusion that the Kantian idea of eternal peace between states could be realised. “On August 8, 2008, a paradigm shift occurred,” claims Ilves. “The post-1991 settlement was dismantled.” However, Estonia has been “created and shaped by this paradigm, we are its success story. This is all we know.”
All the consequences of the paradigm shift are still unknown, but Ilves warns us: “We must realise that the old assumptions and principles are not applicable any more. If we understand that, we can start anew, we can differentiate between the significant and insignificant factors, between the relevant content and empty words, and we can determine our position in the world today.”
Estonian Ambassador to NATO Jüri Luik also explores the topic of a Second Cold War. Luik states that “one of the differences between a Cold War and a ‘hot war’ is, among other things, that it is not very easy to determine its beginning”. Then again, Luik admits that the Russia-Georgia war will later probably become known for having signalled the start of a Second Cold War.
In addition, Edward Lucas, a journalist for The Economist, gives an account of all the possible focal points of a new Cold War. He lists 23 points, from Alaska to Finland and from the Arctic to the Antarctic.
Villu Zirnask, an economic journalist, analyses the global financial crisis, stating that “nobody knows when the spiral of decline will be stopped” and that “the world will not be the same after this crisis”.
Most articles in this Diplomaatia address the topic of the US presidential elections.
Kadri Simson, a Member of the Riigikogu, gives a general overview of the election campaign, claiming that the most important issue in this unusual campaign is credibility. By now, the campaign has reached a stage where “both politicians attempt to offset their weaknesses by trying to act like the other candidate. /—/ Both are accused ever more frequently of not being themselves anymore.”
In his article on the democratic presidential candidate, Jonatan Vseviov, a civil servant, claims that “the energy emanating from Obama reminds the old aficionados of the
Democratic Party of the way President John F. Kennedy enchanted his supporters in 1960.” Vseviov states that “the 2008 elections have turned into a referendum not on the current administration – as it usually happens -, but in particular on Obama as a candidate and a possible future president.”
Estonian former Prime Minister Mart Laar reminisces about the two meetings he has had with John McCain. The first one was in the summer of 2001: McCain visited Tallinn, he praised the Estonian Forest Brothers and when talking about Estonia’s accession to NATO, he promised that “we will do it”. The second meeting took place only a few weeks later in the autumn of 2001, when the two of them had a talk in the Congress Building in Washington, which was being evacuated due to the anthrax-scare. Laar’s verdict on McCain is the following: “He is a man who has principles, who has courage and who is calm and patient enough to carry through what he has planned.”
Journalist Barbi Pilvre gives a detailed description of Sarah Palin. She concludes that the fact “that the supporters of Hillary Clinton did not line up behind Palin, but instead the female Governor of Alaska scared the undecided women off, provides further proof that in politics female voters base their decisions on the world view, not the sex of a candidate.”
The book review section also explores the feminist perspective – Riina Kaljurand, Deputy Director of the International Centre for Defence Studies, gives a review of Susan Faludi’s book “The Terror Dream: What 9/11 Revealed About America”.

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