February 1, 2014

Summary

In the opening story of the final issue of Diplomaatia in 2013, Richard Weitz describes what guides Russia’s strategy regarding the rogue states of Syria, Iran, and North Korea. “Moscow generally adheres to several consistent principles – avoiding foreign military intervention, minimizing sanctions, limiting Western influence, and advancing Russian economic interests,” writes Weitz. “With Iran and the other rogues, Moscow wants to be seen as a swing state, capable of siding with one party or the other as Russian interests evolve. Under Putin’s steady pragmatic realism, Russian diplomacy will likely continue this ‘leverage maximization’ approach for the indefinite future.”

Erik Männik, senior researcher at the ICDS, analyzes the last developments in the Syrian civil war. He writes that there seems to be disorder among the insurgents and that the groups with connections to Al-Qaeda have forcefully extended the territory under their control in northern Syria. However, Männik asserts that the West’s decision to refrain from attacking Syria has turned out to be a real blow to the insurgents.
Freelance educator Georg Merilo takes a look at the main ideological schools prevalent in the Arab world. He writes that anti-Westernism and anti-imperialism are the oldest ideological stances in the Arab world, whereas Islamism, nationalism and the mix of those two is currently the most potent one and will remain so in the near future. “The success of the Islamists in free and open elections is no longer a miracle but a very probable outcome,” writes Merilo.
Political scientist Andrew A. Michta writes about the re-emerging geopolitical struggle between the West and Russia. “The end of the Cold War did not make geopolitics disappear forever and ever. It was not a secular version of a messianic age,” states Michta in the article that was originally published in the journal The American Interest. “The United States and Europe have been slow to recognize the return of Russia to the geopolitical game in the eastern periphery of Europe; both became lazily habituated to Russian weakness as the new norm.” In his opinion, the resurgence of Russian influence in Belarus and Ukraine plays an important role that threatens to warp the entire region’s security prospects.
Harry Liivrand, an art historian and the Estonian cultural attaché in Germany, takes a look at cultural policies as a tool for public diplomacy.

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