September 2, 2008

English summary

This double issue of Diplomaatia examines our increasingly dangerous world, from what might be called a new Cold War with Russia to the global arms trade.

In the opening article, the president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, argues that Europe’s current policy towards Russia does not function and calls for a pause – a reflection period that should last until at least the presidential elections in Russia and during which the West’s policy towards Russia should be one of benign neglect.

This double issue of Diplomaatia examines our increasingly dangerous world, from what might be called a new Cold War with Russia to the global arms trade.

In the opening article, the president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, argues that Europe’s current policy towards Russia does not function and calls for a pause – a reflection period that should last until at least the presidential elections in Russia and during which the West’s policy towards Russia should be one of benign neglect.

English summary

This double issue of Diplomaatia examines our increasingly dangerous world, from what might be called a new Cold War with Russia to the global arms trade.
In the opening article, the president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, argues that Europe’s current policy towards Russia does not function and calls for a pause – a reflection period that should last until at least the presidential elections in Russia and during which the West’s policy towards Russia should be one of benign neglect. He says, “As we head into a notoriously unpredictable and often even calamitous presidential election, [I suggest] a policy toward Russia of benign neglect. I choose these two words carefully. They come from the late U.S. Senator and scholar, Daniel P. Moynihan, which he used in 1966 and in a completely different context – U.S. race relations – but certainly one similarly burdened by overcharged and angry rhetoric, violence and mistrust. In the U.S. context Moynihan’s words were (often purposefully) misconstrued to mean ending federal assistance programs, though Moynihan himself spoke of treating rhetoric with benign neglect so as to avoid unnecessary escalation of tensions. In the context of Western/Russian relations, benign neglect means that we ignore Russian rhetoric, we ignore certain unsavoury behaviours – suppression of opposition groups, state control of the media – but only as long as these behaviours remain domestic and do not violate the convention of human rights. It would be a measured benign neglect with clear rules.”
The deputy Chancellor of the Estonian Foreign Ministry, Harri Tiido, discusses the new onslaught of authoritarianism, which defies the old notion that democracy will be the inevitable winner in the competition among political systems. He concludes that the best weapon democratic states have against this new trend of powerful authoritarianism is the creation of a functioning space of common values.
Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor-in-chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, analyses the anatomy of cold wars and looks for parallels between the current day and the start of the Cold War in the mid-20th century. “Lately, in the West, new talk about containing Russia has emerged although there are no objective reasons for a stand-off. There are no principal ideological contradictions. Neither is there military rivalry or an arms race,” he writes.
He decides that the West, frightened by the complicated reality of the 21st century, is trying to return to the plain and simple ideological explanations of the second half of the 20th century. But, according to Lukyanov, this is a dangerous road to take: “Attempts to squeeze [the complicated world] into the familiar pattern of an ideological stand-off are understandable psychologically, but extremely dangerous politically. These notions do not properly reflect reality, meaning that decisions taken on their basis will be wrong.”
Konstantin Eggert, the Moscow Bureau Chief of the BBC Russian Service writes about the recent changes in the power structure in Moscow. “Putin’s ultimate problem is that he cannot leave a weak successor in his stead for fear of the possible collapse of a carefully constructed system,” he states. “But he also cannot be succeeded by a strong politician who might, as Mr Putin himself did, very soon decide to jettison not only Mr Putin’s policies but also his chances of a comeback.”
The dean of the Baltic Defence College, Tomas Jermalavicius, writes about the utility, uses and abuses of certain popular concepts, such as ‘asymmetric warfare’ and the ‘war on terrorism’, that govern Western understanding of armed conflict. “Careful unpacking of the terms and concepts used in strategic discourse may well demonstrate how shallow and inadequate they are – or, on the contrary, how accurate and what rich meanings they carry,” he explains. “The terms ‘asymmetric conflict’ and ‘asymmetric warfare’ do not contribute to our knowledge and understanding, let alone lead us to workable, practical solutions. On the other hand, the ‘global war on terrorism’ contains a grain of truth by virtue of its reference to war. But we would be much better served and guided by the use of a framework of ‘global insurgency’ and ‘counterinsurgency’.”
Kaarel Kaas, a researcher at the International Centre for Defence Studies explains how military technologies invented and developed in and by the West are increasingly used by countries in other parts of the world to threaten that same West. The West is ever more vulnerable, but can realistically do little to stop this.
Margus Kolga, who heads the Estonian Foreign Ministry’s department of security policy, writes about the idea, history and problems of arms control. He acknowledges that until now, Estonia has viewed the various arms control agreements as big boys’ games in which Estonia had no business. But things may change if Estonia is finally invited to join the revised Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.
In this issue, Diplomaatia is also publishing Robert Kagan‘s recent article about the “end of dreams and the return of history.”
In the book review section, we look at books on American presidents, Afghanistan, the new Cold War and different interpretations of Soviet crimes in Estonia.

Filed under: Paper issueTagged with:

No comment yet, add your voice below!


Add a Comment