November 21, 2014

The End of Lost History

Reuters/Scanpix

On 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall—probably the most powerful symbol of the Cold War — was demolished. Several politicians and analysts dubbed 1989 annus mirabilis — the year of wonders. Back then, it did seem for a moment that history had ended.

Today, 25 years later, there is almost no point in believing in wonders anymore. People are wondering, rather, whether the Cold War will return. Others are asking whether the era of classic geopolitics and spheres of influence is coming back.
History did not, alas, end. Diplomaatia might not even need to be published if it had. Right now, however, we have to write about the problems and dangers near the Estonian border and further afield. Not only do we need to look into the past, but we also have to try and understand what the future holds for us in view of the past.
This is what Diplomaatia is doing. Jaanus Piirsalu, a journalist at the daily Postimees, has a fascinating and thought-provoking interview with the Russian intelligence specialist Andrei Soldatov. The interview reveals that the KGB’s way of thinking may be more deep-rooted in Russia than we could ever guess.
Russia is an inexhaustible subject, and there is more to read about our eastern neighbour in this issue. The US analyst Richard Weitz looks to the future and explores the hybrid war tactics of Russia. As we know, this is a phenomenon Estonia has to face every day. In addition to classic military action, a hybrid war includes many other elements. You can read about these in the pages of our monthly.
Both Weitz and Kalev Stoicescu, a researcher at the International Centre for Defence Studies, underline the fact that Russian actions may be tailored in such a way that they will not qualify as a violation of NATO’s Article 5. What should be done in this case?
Diplomaatia also publishes the full Newsweek article about the private life of Vladimir Putin that caused a commotion in the international and Estonian media in the summer. We can only guess how difficult it was for the author, Ben Judah, to interview the people who know Putin.
Martti Kalda, who lectures on the cultural history of India and Central Asia at the Department of Middle-Eastern and Asian Studies at Tallinn University’s Estonian Institute of Humanities, provides a really interesting overview of developments in Maoism. This is one type of communism, and it should be interesting for Estonian readers, who had an immediate and tragic connection with communism, to learn how the teaching has fared in the world. Communism did not come to an end 25 years ago, as many hoped at the time.
The end of history is not within our reach anymore. What is? Geopolitics? The painful shaping of a new balance of power? What should Estonia do? These articles may provide a partial answer. Unfortunately, other types of wonders may be in store for us 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Better safe than sorry.

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