Stronger than you think !

Un article très intéressant paru hier , sous forme d’une interviw de Gleb Pavloski

02 November 2009
By Gleb Pavlovsky
Western leaders and observers persistently repeat, like a mantra, that Russia is “weak.” This judgment is based on a flawed comparison between Russia and the Soviet Union.  Measured by Soviet standards, Russia has weakened, but as former United States National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft noted, Russia still “has enormous capacities to influence the U.S. security strategy in any country.”
A country with such influence over a military superpower cannot be considered weak. In fact, the issue is not Russia’s strength per se, but whether Russia intelligently concentrates and applies it.
The new Russia has transcended its Soviet identity and managed to put down uprisings in the post-Soviet space as far away as Tajikistan. It has dealt with a new generation of security threats on its own territory — most prominently Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev — and prevented them from turning into a global force like al-Qaida.
Moreover, Russia has helped other new nations in Eastern Europe create their own identities.
Does this not demonstrate Russia’s global know-how? Is it not a contribution to international security?
The United States has recognized the Russian factor in post-Soviet state-building processes. Russia has not been the only beneficiary of its activities in the Caucasus, especially since 2000. By bringing recalcitrant minorities into a new security consensus, Russia helped transform local ethnic conflict into a constructive process of nation building.
So Russia’s claim to being a central element in Eurasian security, on par with the United States and the European Union, is not the blustering of a spent Leviathan. Rather, it is a demand for a fair international legal order.
The debate about whether the United States should allow Russia to have “special interests” in Eastern Europe is pointless. Russia’s interests are by necessity becoming global. The agenda of U.S.-Russian relations includes issues such as treaties on the reduction of strategic weapons and on nuclear nonproliferation, NATO, Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia, North Korea and the post-Soviet space. These are all global issues, not local ones.
Russia can be effective in dealing with these issues only if it becomes a competent global actor.  Yet many assume that world politics should be designed to bypass Russia. Everywhere Russians are expected to support something without participating in creating it. We are supposed to help stabilize the region around Afghanistan, for example, but only in order to create a “greater Central Asia” that will not include Russia.
It is clear that modern Russia lacks a “global status” in the Soviet sense. But the United States has also been unable to achieve the global status of a “Yalta superstate.” The U.S. global military power is undisputed, although it is used with decreasing frequency.
Sprawled over 11 time zones — five of which border China — it is impossible to expect Russia to remain merely a regional power.
A state that is involved in four global regions — Europe, Central Asia, the Far East and the Arctic — and borders several others cannot be considered “regional.”
Moreover, because the regions in which Russia has interests face a number of problems, it must seek influence over the strategies for those regions pursued by other powers of various sizes, from China and the United States, to the EU and Iran. Russia is expected to act in ways that are beneficial to U.S. and Western interests. But it is in Washington’s interest to enhance Moscow’s capacity to act and to strengthen a globally competent Russia. This would be a Russia that acts in pursuit of its own interests — the same way that the United States and the EU act.
Americans sometimes suggest that Russia has a hidden strategic agenda. But the consensus that Vladimir Putin has created in Russia since he became president in 2000 is more than a question of interests. It is a value-based reality. It is based on the possibility of a free life in a secure environment — something that Americans take for granted.
For many years, we had to deal with the problem of Russia’s very existence rather than that of the quality of its governance.
Putin’s consensus made it possible to resolve both problems without foreign assistance and interference.
Now in order to solve other problems, we need to go beyond Russia.
Gleb Pavlovsky is head of the Russia Institute. © Project Syndicate

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *