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Dayan Jayatilleka

Ph.D., Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the Russian Federation

What is unfolding today is not the New Cold War. The New Cold War was during the Reagan years, in the 1980s, as critically elaborated most notably by Noam Chomsky and Fred Halliday in their published books of that decade. So, what is happening currently has to be the New, New Cold War, or Cold War 3. Or has there been a Long Cold War at least since 1917, a century of Cold War, a single Protracted Cold War, within which there have been short periods of partial relaxation and stabilization? The strategic moves we see today—political, military and economic—when taken together, seem to suggest that the goal and objective of the West is to initiate the endgame of the Long Cold War and to win it, imposing a zero-sum outcome. What was thought to be its end with the collapse of the USSR and unilateral retrenchment of Russia, did not amount to the sustainable victory that the West thought it would be. It now appears that a final gamble on the military advantage of the West has inspired a drive that goes beyond ‘containment’ to one of active encirclement and ‘roll back’ (to use a hawkish concept which had a short shelf-life in the 1950s). US policy is intended to wrest and retain the global strategic initiative at this time, in a project to reverse and shift the correlation of forces on a world scale so as to prevail in establishing what it would call ‘world leadership’.

There were elements in the West, who were satisfied with the way the Cold War seemingly ended, because it looked like the Russian side had unilaterally surrendered. Even then, there was no attempt to implement the Kissingerian formula of drawing in Russia and China into co-managing a world order that was unstable because of the emergence of or transition to multipolarity. The evidence was in 1991 itself, when the last-ditch Franco-Russian formula to avoid or delay a war in the Gulf was brushed aside or ignored. The world order was no longer seen to be in a crisis of transition to multipolarity, because the unipolar moment had arrived. While western liberals thought that history had ended, the target states of the West, namely the Eurasian core states, thought that Imperialism had ended. This, I might add, was not a mistake that was quite so prevalent in the global South.

The West sought to assert unipolarity in two different modes. The neoliberals strove to reassert unipolarity by coupling it with multilateralism—examples being the manipulation and bypassing of the UN in the Kosovo war of 1999, the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect using the UN system as instrument, and the expanded intervention in Libya. The neoconservatives sought to reassert unipolarity through unilateralism. Both strategies were offensive ones, which unraveled the Yalta and Potsdam arrangements and pushed NATO to the borders of Russia. There was no effort to accommodate and manage a transition to multipolarity on the part of either the neoliberals or the neoconservatives.

What is already feasible for Russia today is the extension of the Primakovian “multi-vector” concept to the domain of ideology, and the evolution of a soft power that is truly multi-vector: right, left and center, Janus-faced, looking back to the civilizational heritage and forward to an alternative modernity and universality. Russia can rediscover its role as a vanguard— this time, of a new historic project bearing a new synthesis of ideas and values.

In a remarkable but little remarked upon address to the graduating class at West Point in May 2019, US Vice President Mike Pence told his young audience that at some time in their career they would fight for their country. “It will happen” he emphasized, laying to rest any ambiguity, and went on to list names of the possible theatres and adversaries: “It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life. You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen...Some of you will join the fight…in the Indo-Pacific, where …an increasingly militarized China challenges our presence in the region. Some of you will join the fight in Europe, where an aggressive Russia seeks to redraw international boundaries by force...And when that day comes, I know you will move to the sound of the guns and do your duty, and you will fight, and you will win.”

Meanwhile, the concrete challenge facing the Eurasian core states today is made amply clear by Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanaghan’s message in the US Defense Department’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Report entitled ‘Preparedness, Partnerships, and Promoting a Networked Region’ (01 June 2019): "The Indo-Pacific is the [U.S.] Department of Defense’s priority theater...Inter-state strategic competition, defined by geopolitical rivalry between free and repressive world order visions, is the primary concern for U.S. national security...The National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy articulate our vision to compete, deter, and win in this environment. Achieving this vision requires combining a more lethal Joint Force with a more robust constellation of Allies and partners…Achieving peace through strength and employing effective deterrence requires a Joint Force that is prepared to win any conflict from its onset…Our unique network of Allies and partners is a force multiplier to achieve peace, deterrence, and interoperable warfighting capability…The Department is strengthening and evolving U.S. Alliances and Partnerships into a networked security architecture to uphold the international rules-based order."

How is one to interpret this; how to make sense of this? The discourse matches the action in the material sphere: the great military arc around the Eurasian heartland, ranging from the extension of NATO to the western borders of Russia, through the Persian Gulf deployment right to the Indo-Pacific maritime encirclement; the exit from multilateral arms control agreements; the trade wars and escalation of sanctions; and of course the aggressive and explicit character of official discourse. What kind of picture does emerge?

What is unfolding today is not the New Cold War. The New Cold War was during the Reagan years, in the 1980s, as critically elaborated most notably by Noam Chomsky and Fred Halliday in their published books of that decade. So, what is happening currently has to be the New, New Cold War, or Cold War 3. Or has there been a Long Cold War at least since 1917, a century of Cold War, a single Protracted Cold War, within which there have been short periods of partial relaxation and stabilization? The strategic moves we see today—political, military and economic—when taken together, seem to suggest that the goal and objective of the West is to initiate the endgame of the Long Cold War and to win it, imposing a zero-sum outcome. What was thought to be its end with the collapse of the USSR and unilateral retrenchment of Russia, did not amount to the sustainable victory that the West thought it would be. It now appears that a final gamble on the military advantage of the West has inspired a drive that goes beyond ‘containment’ to one of active encirclement and ‘roll back’ (to use a hawkish concept which had a short shelf-life in the 1950s). US policy is intended to wrest and retain the global strategic initiative at this time, in a project to reverse and shift the correlation of forces on a world scale so as to prevail in establishing what it would call ‘world leadership’.

It is a mistake to assume this is decisively to do with President Trump, one way or another. It wasn’t really to do with President Reagan, as it turned out. Had it been up to the latter, the deep cuts of nuclear weapons would have taken place in Reykjavik in 1986, but that didn’t happen. That was enough of a warning sign of the determinant drivers of the system, but nobody really wanted to read it. The failure to sign the agreement that was at hand and make a real breakthrough, which would have ended the logic of the Cold War, and which outcome President Reagan himself was inclined to, was the best evidence of the West’s Cold War goals. The intention of the Soviet side in 1986 was to end the Cold War, but the intention of the Western side was not merely to end it even on favorable terms, but to win it.

There were elements in the West, who were satisfied with the way the Cold War seemingly ended, because it looked like the Russian side had unilaterally surrendered. Even then, there was no attempt to implement the Kissingerian formula of drawing in Russia and China into co-managing a world order that was unstable because of the emergence of or transition to multipolarity. The evidence was in 1991 itself, when the last-ditch Franco-Russian formula to avoid or delay a war in the Gulf was brushed aside or ignored. The world order was no longer seen to be in a crisis of transition to multipolarity, because the unipolar moment had arrived. While western liberals thought that history had ended, the target states of the West, namely the Eurasian core states, thought that Imperialism had ended. This, I might add, was not a mistake that was quite so prevalent in the global South.

The West sought to assert unipolarity in two different modes. The neoliberals strove to reassert unipolarity by coupling it with multilateralism—examples being the manipulation and bypassing of the UN in the Kosovo war of 1999, the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect using the UN system as instrument, and the expanded intervention in Libya. The neoconservatives sought to reassert unipolarity through unilateralism. Both strategies were offensive ones, which unraveled the Yalta and Potsdam arrangements and pushed NATO to the borders of Russia. There was no effort to accommodate and manage a transition to multipolarity on the part of either the neoliberals or the neoconservatives.

It is important to understand that on the question of unipolar hegemony, the liberals and conservatives in the West are on a continuum. When the ‘correlation of world forces’ in the post-Vietnam, post Angola period was running against the West, it is a liberal administration of a sincere President, Jimmy Carter, which ideologically weaponized Human Rights, declared the Persian Gulf as an area vital to the core interests of the US, initiated the Rapid Deployment Force, and above all, acted to create a quagmire which would draw the USSR into Afghanistan. In other words, the Brzezinski project of going on the counteroffensive began under a liberal Democrat, even before the Reagan presidency.

There is a belief in the Eurasian core states that conservative administrations in the West are Realist and therefore easier to negotiate with than liberal ones. While that may be true tactically, it is an error to exaggerate that distinction. That error derives from the experience of “High Détente” of the early-mid 1970s. This obscures two complex facts: the imperatives that underlay this détente and the discrediting and rollback of détente immediately after the relevant crisis had passed. The crisis for the West was that of the Vietnam War and North Vietnam’s successful pushback of US intervention. The Kissingerian attempt resulting from the imperatives of the crisis was to negotiate with the USSR and China, and leverage the competition between them, to act as a restraint on North Vietnam. The Kissingerian tactic worked to a limited extent and explained the timing: the toasts raised in Moscow and Beijing by the US delegation while B-52s were engaging in the Christmas bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong. The Vietnamese got the SAM 2s and SAM 3s from the USSR but had to be satisfied with the multi-barreled ZSUs rather than the more advanced SAM 7s, which they never obtained. Mao for his part advised the Vietnamese to revert to guerrilla warfare and to strive to “sweep only to the extent the handle of their broom permitted”.

The Vietnamese rightly disregarded the advice and pressed on, determined not to repeat the mistake of Geneva 1954, where they were prevailed upon by the USSR and China to accept a partition. And they won. As the global balance started shifting with that victory, a shift which permitted and was illustrated by the developments in Angola, the backlash against détente started under President Gerald Ford, with the abandonment of the very term itself. What Dr. Kissinger himself advocated in Angola, with the South African proxy intervention, was far more successfully put into practice, beginning two years later, by his rival and successor, Prof. Brzezinski, in Afghanistan.

Attention must shift to an analysis of the driving force behind global events and big power relations today. If President Carter’s Presidency saw the US shifting to the counter-offensive, what was the reason? President Reagan stopped short of signing a breakthrough agreement at Reykjavik. Why was that? If President Trump is opposed to war, what drives US militarism? Is it merely “the hawks” in every US administration? If so, how to define and distinguish them and what makes them hawkish when in office? Is it the Deep State? Or is it that the “hawks” or the “deep state” are merely the agencies or bearers of something else, something more systemic?

The driving force is not based on presidents’ intentions, the influence of hawks and doves, nor the “deep state”, but the underlying and material matrix that is imperialism as a system—of which the deep state, the hawks and doves, the neoconservatives and the neoliberals, are superstructures, ‘bearers’ and epiphenomena.

A prophet of our time foretold all this as far back as 1973, with great lucidity. Rejecting the theory articulated Libya’s Muammar Ghaddafi at the Non-Aligned Summit Conference in Algeria, of equating the “two superpowers”, both of which should be opposed by the Nonaligned Movement, Fidel Castro made the following prediction: “With the anguishing and increasing needs for power resources and raw materials which the capitalist and developed countries are experiencing to maintain the absurd consumer societies they have created, if the extraordinary restraining power represented by the socialist movement did not exist, imperialism would parcel out the world, humanity would suffer the scourge of new wars and many of the independent countries which today form this movement would not even exist. In high U.S. Government circles, there are even now those who openly advocate armed intervention in the Middle East should U.S. oil requirements so demand.” (Fidel Castro, Algiers NAM Summit, September 1973).

What we see today is the working out of Fidel’s prediction, deriving from his grasp of the theory and historical practice of imperialism as a world-system: how it would return to its original predatory character in the intertwined and interactive economic and military realms; revive its habit of carving and re-carving out the world through military means, without the restraining factor of the USSR and the socialist camp, if it were neutralized or removed.

To be reminded of this is to be able to put everything into perspective. Why is the US moving on all fronts against China when just a few years ago, its strategists and policy intellectuals were patting themselves on the back for having guaranteed that the Crash of 2008 did not turn into a Great Depression precisely because China had been incorporated into the world economy? Why is the plaintive hope that the absence of an ideological dimension to the competition between the US, Russia and China, should restore harmonious dialogue, essentially utopian?

The answer is that for imperialism as a system, contradictions and wars were not primarily generated by reasons of ideology, and therefore the warlike character of imperialism could not be abolished or neutralized by the absence of the clash of ideologies. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, a Soviet economist named E. Varga, wittingly or unwittingly recycled the theory of Karl Kautsky, of ultra-imperialism, in which imperialism had effected such a convergence and integration that there would no longer be inter-imperialist wars. Varga opined that in the post-World War 11 imperialist systems consolidated under US leadership, there could only be wars between the two systems, capitalism and socialism, but not within capitalism. In his last published work, “Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR” (1951), Stalin contradicted this thesis (without however mentioning Varga by name) and pointed out that even in the postwar world, wars within imperialism, wars among capitalist powers, was perfectly possible.

Applied to the contemporary world, it would mean that the absence of a systemic and ideological clash between the West and core Eurasian states, and indeed the incorporation and participation of the Eurasian core states in a single world (capitalist) economy, in no way attenuates the drive towards war of imperialism and prevents the possibility of war in general.

Thus, the West catches the Eurasian core states in a pincer. On the one hand, the latter states become targets as rival powers, economic and politico-military, within the same system. On the other hand, a new clash of ideologies and even of systems is constructed simply by re-defining the issue as one of “freedom/free markets” versus “unfree/authoritarian/statist” regimes or systems. For their part, having unilaterally renounced a clash of ideologies, not to mention systems, the Eurasian states have retrenched from the ability to project soft power into the societies of the West, winning over young people and the intelligentsia, as they did, during the Cold War.

At least one answer to the ‘master-question’ of Chernyshevsky and Lenin, namely, “What is to be done?” seems to be a move towards some form of United Front and some type of politico-strategic unity of the Eurasian core states. At present, the Eurasian core states are operating with a ‘concert of nations’ approach; a multipolar model which contains the danger of keeping open gaps through which an adversary can encircle and dominate or threaten each Eurasian core state at a time.

Today, objectively and concretely, there is no choice as between ‘unipolarity’ and ‘multipolarity’. A degree of multipolarity exists but it is not sufficient to halt, still less reverse a purposive drive for the restoration of unipolar hegemony. The only thing that can counterbalance the unipolar project is a United Front amounting to what is commonly termed a “new bipolarity”. The ‘new bipolarity’ and ‘multipolarity’ are neither choices nor polar opposites. Indeed, a new bipolarity is the necessary intermediate form of the more or less long historical transition to a new multipolarity. Unipolarity is the thesis, while multipolarity is not the antithesis; a new bipolarity is. Multipolarity is the synthesis which can be reached only via the new bipolarity. As I said earlier, multipolarity and bipolarity must not be understood as choices or polar opposites. Indeed, one may envisage the multipolar within the bipolar, which is the precise sense in which Palomiro Togliatti used the concept “Polycentrism” in the 1950s—as a polycentric camp, polycentrism within the camp, not the abolition of the two camps and the demarcation between them.

In the first decade of the Cold War, two crucial strategic concepts, perhaps better understood as grand strategic concepts, were outlined by that supreme realist, Stalin. The first was that World War II had yielded a great strategic result, namely the existence of a camp in which the two main components were the world’s largest and the world’s most populous nations which were contiguous in geographic terms. The second concept was that these two powers were capable of constituting a parallel world market and a parallel world economy with its own division of labor which would not only multiply the economic potentials of that camp but also diminish the economic strength of the camp of the aggressors, by subtracting from it.

There is yet another, earlier, grand strategic concept which arose in the USSR and is well known, which also remains salient in the present context but has to be integrated with the two above mentioned concepts. This is the idea of Lenin, in his very last published article in Pravda in March 1923, which said that in the final analysis the outcome of events on a world scale will be determined by the fact that Russia, India, China etc. contain the overwhelming majority of the world’s population. This is of course the root of the Primakovian ‘RIC’ formula. It is necessary though, to recall the use of “etc.” by Lenin, which means there are other such states which can be included in this category. Since, in his famous article/speech “imperialism” in 1915, he had listed Persia and Turkey in a distinct (sub)category, it may be said that the “RIC” formula can be extended to include –interchangeably, perhaps—many of those “emergent” or “pivotal” powers (Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, Mexico) belonging to the intermediate zone.

The multi-vector concept articulated by then Foreign Minister, Academician Primakov in the post-Soviet years, having its roots in Togliatti’s “polycentrism” and De Gaulle’s “tous azimuths”, is still germane to Russia in the present context, but needs to be developed and refined in the new historical situation, distinguishing between the ‘main’ and the ‘basic’, the ‘dominant’ and the ‘determinant’, vectors. While the main vector was said to be, and still probably remains that of the tendency towards multipolarity, is it also the fundamental and determinant vector, or should a United Front of the Eurasian core-states be regarded as the fundamental and determinant vector?

What of the residue of the bitter memories of the Sino-Soviet schism and the determination to avoid a return to a bad, even traumatic cold-war alliance? An extremely pertinent question is whether there was an illusion about the West; one which returned in the late 1980s and the decade of the 1990s, but had its roots in 1956 and after. There were at least three major sources of the Sino-Soviet split, and one of them was the attitude to the US or a perceived tilt on the part of one partner towards the US and away from the other partner. After the 20th Congress in 1956, the international perspective that prevailed up until then in the first Cold War decade under Stalin, Molotov and Kaganovich, and which was broadly complied with by the Chinese Communist leadership, was drastically altered. The Leninist policy of peaceful coexistence between states with different social systems was transformed, or sought to be transformed, from the realm of inter-state relations into the political line of the “Socialist camp” and the world communist movement as a whole. The Chinese leadership perceived this shift in Moscow’s policy both as an imposition as well as a privileging of Moscow’s relations with Washington. Beijing perceived Moscow’s outreach to Washington in the realm of arms control as taking place over the head of and at the expense of the core national security interests of China in particular, and as a downgrading of the Sino-Soviet relationship in general. In a bitter irony of history, China which originally objected to such a tilt towards the US became a quasi-ally of it in the 1970s and ’80s.

This factor no longer prevails today and has been reversed. Today, there is a congruent and convergent view about the Atlantic alliance among the core Eurasian states, and therefore the main causative factor of the schism which was a historical and normative factor, of the late 1950s and 1960s has been eliminated. As for the second causative factor of the schism, the attitude to Stalin’s historical role is very different today, to the one that prevailed in the USSR in 1956 and after, contributing to the Sino-Soviet split. The third factor was the role of ideology which too is irrelevant today— given that the ideological factor is not shared, there is no ground for doctrinal and quasi-religious disputation as to who the true legatee of Lenin and Stalin and the leader of the ideological camp is.

However, does the present level of security cooperation between the Eurasian core states constitute a sufficient security architecture—a sufficient defensive superstructure— to safeguard the ambitious economic architecture of the integration of the Greater Eurasia economic project and the BRI? When faced with the explicit prospect of “Joint Force” and “new security architecture” of “Alliances and partners”, is the current level of security cooperation between the Eurasian heartland states adequate or is a new, qualitatively more cohesive and integrated security equation, broadly along the geostrategic lines envisaged 70 years ago, an existential imperative?

The main factor which the Soviet leadership of the first Cold War decade thought would tilt the scales of the world balance of forces in its favor was the political unity of Russia and China i.e. the Eurasian heartland. The political split in that unity and the antagonism between the two Eurasian core powers was in fact the tectonic event that resulted in the “biggest geopolitical tragedy” in the 20th century. Today that antagonism is no more present, and there has been a pivot towards each other, a drawing together, though not yet a convergence of the Eurasian core-states. The stage is set for the determined, realistic optimism of the first post-WW II decade.

The dilemma that Moscow faced in 1962, as between the “friendly” and the “fraternal” Asian powers, which was one of the main factors that led to the disastrous Sino-Soviet schism, may yet again be relevant to the relationship between the Eurasian states. A Realist analysis indicates that a common threat and a fairly congruent or compatible domestic model (of state capitalism) make the Eurasian core states share far more substantive geostrategic interests than do any other Asian, Eurasian or global powers An anchorage in a framework of strategic unity of Russia and China, in a situation of encirclement, will minimize the geostrategic vulnerability of both Eurasian core states.

Furthermore, contrary to received wisdom, contemporary history proves that the tendency towards non-alignment and autonomy even of Afro-Asian powers is enhanced, rather than inhibited or retarded by a Eurasian ‘core-state counterweight’ to the West and the space provided by such a bipolar balance. The Bandung Conference of 1955 which marked the conception of nonalignment, took place in the year after the Vietnamese victory over French colonialism at Dien Bien Phu (1954), which was possible only because of the strong Sino-Soviet rearguard, while the official birth of the Non Aligned Movement in Belgrade in 1961 was possible because Marshal Tito was balancing between the two camps and seeking a third road. The (Indian-supported) Sri Lankan slogan of the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace arose only because of Admiral Gorshkov’s blue-water power projection.

Realism dictates that the Russia-China equation must move from the extensive to the intensive and make the leap from the quantitative to the qualitative.

US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanaghan’s demarcation of the present struggle as between the “free and repressive world orders” leaves the Eurasian core states exposed to a neoliberal globalist discourse, without a competing ideology or narrative of their own regarding their notions of world order since their unilateral withdrawal from “ideology” in general and “universalist ideology” in particular.

Today, there is no peace movement or antiwar movement in the West. This is because the Eurasian core states are caught in an ideological pincer today: their adversaries see them as on a continuum with the Cold War communist enemies, in their allegedly totalitarian, authoritarian or repressive/unfree forms of state and/or regime, while their potential supporters, the intellectuals , artists and idealistic youth, see them no longer as incarnations, however distorted, of universal ideals, but (in the case of Russia), as a tsarist autocracy of the sort that evoked the hostility of educated youth in the 19th and early 20th centuries!

Today, while the West has soft power and a soft power projection capacity which has a range and reach world-wide and even within the target Eurasian societies, the Eurasian states have a minimalist or ‘thin’ conceptual and ideational stockpile of soft power. There is a limit to the resonance of “civilizational” and “nationalist” ideology, in that it does not readily cross boundaries and motivate—unlike universalist ideologies. Though the core Eurasian states are very much global in their thinking and always were—though not always in their behavior—the idea and ideology of “internationalism” and its apparatuses of production are not included in their discourse today. Instead, it is the West that practices it, as a soft power tool of its global leadership strategy. ‘Conservatism’ and claims of being “status quoist” work unevenly or even counterproductively at a time of change and felt need for change.

At present in Russia, there is no consensus over the question of whether tradition or modernity is the main driver and leading force. Are the lines of demarcation tripartite, between what is seen as the decadent postmodern west, the pre-modern Islamist jihadists, and a Eurasia that is the vanguard of an alternative modernity? One view is that Russia is picking up the banners of the best of Western modernity which have been abandoned by the West. Another one sees Russia as a traditionalist, conservative power. Anyhow, Russia’s history shows that a synthesis was achieved, when Stalin embraced patriotism and the religious and historical heritage during the Great Patriotic War, yet did not abandon the universalist aspect of the socialist message, and effected a combination instead. It would be interesting to see what a re-set of that wartime policy could bring but with a twist, i.e. a patriotic-statist hegemony, with an anti-imperialist Left as the ‘subaltern’ partner, in Russia itself and on a global scale.

The Eurasian ‘heartland’ or core states could learn from recovering, revaluating and reabsorbing its own intellectual and conceptual contribution to the heritage of the 20th century, modernity and political ideas and thought in general. While theories of capitalism and class struggle have been understandably set aside as far too destabilizing internally, the vast storehouse of the ‘external’ theory, the holistic or totalizing theory of the global system, i.e. anti-imperialist (as distinct from anti-capitalist) theory, strategy and tactics, contains valuable resources to formulate a response to the global offensive encircling those Eurasian core-states. The thinking and rich experience, positive and negative of the entirety of socialist, Communist, and national liberation movements of Greater Eurasia and the global South, from Lenin and Gramsci, to Stalin and Zhou Enlai, Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro, provides ammunition for the “battle of ideas” (as Jose Marti and Fidel Castro called it) if the Eurasian core states choose to enter it.

The US, France and China have clear marker dates of their founding as modern states: 1776, 1789, and 1949. That all these dates mark ‘revolutions’ of some sort, endow them with a certain romantic appeal in the universalist sense. Russia had the most dramatically recognizable if them all: 1917, which had triggered so many waves of history and touched so many minds and moved so many hearts, influenced so much of human thought and actions. By the abandonment of 1917, the Russian state has unilaterally deleted some of its sources of soft power.

The word ‘Revolution’ still has a magic among the young and the educated. In his last speech, Stalin memorably said that the bourgeoisie, the West, had abandoned the banners of national independence and democracy that it once wielded, and urged the Communists to pick it up. In a dialectical inversion, in recent years the word ‘Revolution’ has been abandoned by those who once wielded it and has been picked up by the West and deployed in the service of a hegemonic global project. With the heritage of the Russian Revolution abandoned or allowed to lapse, only the American and French democratic Revolutions are still invoked and weaponized.

While there is a widespread historical rehabilitation of Stalin—a necessary rebalancing and corrective—it is ironic that the father and founder figure of the modern Russian state Lenin, during whose tenure much less repression took place, is not rehabilitated. A judicious restoration of Lenin in the manner in which China critically evaluates, salutes but limits Mao, would take Russia-China relations to the next level by partially resorting a shared intellectual heritage in which Russia took the pioneering and founding role, i.e. that of the vanguard.

What is already feasible for Russia today is the extension of the Primakovian “multi-vector” concept to the domain of ideology, and the evolution of a soft power that is truly multi-vector: right, left and center, Janus-faced, looking back to the civilizational heritage and forward to an alternative modernity and universality. Russia can rediscover its role as a vanguard—this time, of a new historic project bearing a new synthesis of ideas and values.

These are the purely personal views of the Author.


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  1. In your opinion, what are the US long-term goals for Russia?
    U.S. wants to establish partnership relations with Russia on condition that it meets the U.S. requirements  
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     30 (28%)
    U.S. wants to dissolve Russia  
     24 (22%)
    U.S. wants to establish alliance relations with Russia under the US conditions to rival China  
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