FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEI LAVROV: WESTPHALIA, SOFT POWER, AND NEW ...March 30, 2017
I have to apologize for devoting much of this weeks blogs to the remarks of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but as I indicated in part one, so many people sent the transcription of his remarks to the Military Academy of the Russian General Staff, reported on The Sakers website, that I had to comment. And certainly his remarks warrant the extended treatment, for they outline the salient feature of the Russian states political worldview and mentality in a way that few remarks from Russian leaders have. They deserve careful consideration and reflection, for the implications of Mr. Lavrovs remarks are both broad and deep, and very long-term oriented. (I hope, eventually, to do a webinar in the members area on the Russian cosmist philosophers as part of the culture webinars series, for it is in that body of work from the Russian intelligentsia that one sees clearly how closely allied culture and politics are in contemporary Russian thinking.) In part one, I reviewed the implications of Mr. Lavrovs extended references to the Peace of Westphalia, implications that spell out certain long term objectives of Russian foreign policy. Yesterday in part two, I reviewed the soft power/culture power connection of Russias foreign policy to that first Westphalian emphasis. Today I would like to focus on the third area: nuclear weapons and new non-nuclear strategic weapons. Heres the link to the article once again:
I want to direct your attention today toward the end of Mr. Lavrovs remarks, and to some truly astonishing implications contained in them: Recently, there has been a push towards forcing the nuclear states to abandon their nuclear arsenals and banning nuclear weapons altogether. It is crystal clear that this is premature. Let me remind you that it wasn’t for nothing that the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty wrote into it that the nuclear arsenals had to be fully scrapped but only in the context of general and complete disarmament. We are prepared to discuss the possibility of further gradual reductions in nuclear capabilities but only if we take all the factors influencing strategic stability into account and not just the quantity of strategic offensive weapons. Another reason why we’re prepared to discuss this issue is the growing sense of urgency about making this process multilateral. The restrictions on nuclear capabilities which Russia and the United States have repeatedly accepted for many years have led them to a situation where, essentially, they cannot proceed doing this on the bilateral basis. (Emphasis added) A little further on, Mr. Lavrov adds this: The formation of a polycentric international order is an objective process. It is in our common interest to make it more stable and predictable. In these conditions, the role of diplomacy as a tool to coordinate balanced solutions in politics, economics, finance, the environment, and the innovation and technology sectors has increased significantly. Simultaneously, the role of the armed forces as the guarantor of peace has increased too. Observe that these two statements are the logical implications of the whole soft power culture power Westphalian emphasis; in effect, Mr. Lavrov has stated that the old Cold War conceptions of armaments reduction talks - with their emphasis on bean counting the number of tanks, warheads, missiles, aircraft &c - is simply no longer viable, for the other components of stability are cultural in nature, and lest one misunderstands his statements, he spells out what culture in this context means: it means the whole constellation of domestic and international political institutions, historical memory and traditions, finance and economics, technological innovation and so on. Mr. Lavrov is correct here, for it is that constellation of factors that leads to the development of armaments and more importantly, the circumstances in which they are used.This brings us to remarks that Mr. Lavrov made in response to a question, and these are worth pondering long and hard: To a very large extent, President Trump’s position on the majority of key issues on the foreign policy agenda, including further steps to limit strategic nuclear weapons as you’ve mentioned, has yet to be finalised. By the way, if I remember right, Donald Trump mentioned the issue of cooperation with us in this field as an example. He was asked whether he would be prepared to lift sanctions on Russia. I believe that was the way the question was formulated. He responded by saying they should see if there were issues on which they could cooperate with Russia on a mutually beneficial basis in US interests, in particular, mentioning nuclear arms control. At the same time, as you know, the US president said the Americans should modernise and build up their nuclear triad. We need to wait until the military budget is finally approved under the new administration and see what its priorities and objectives are and how these funds will be spent.As for our further conversation, I briefly mentioned in my address that we are ready for such a conversation but it should be conducted with acknowledgment of all strategic stability factors without exception. Today, those who propose implementing the so-called nuclear zero initiative as soon as possible, banning and destroying nuclear weapons and generally outlawing them absolutely, ignore the fact that since the nuclear bomb was made and this new kind of weapon began to be produced on a large scale in the USSR, the US, China, France and the UK, colossal changes have taken place in military science and technology. What is being developed in the US under the codename Prompt Global Strike are non-nuclear strategic weapons. If they are developed (and this work is moving forward very actively, with the objective of reaching any point in the world within an hour), of course, they will be more humane than nuclear weapons, because there will be no radiation, no Hiroshima or Nagasaki effect. However, in terms of military superiority, my friends at the Defence Ministry tell me the effect will be more devastating than from a modern nuclear bomb. (Emphasis added) Note again that Mr. Lavrov has stated the Cold War Bean counting method of armaments limitations talks is not workable without a discussion and agreement on all factors - again the culture factor - are had. Note also that in his remarks Lavrov has ruled out nuclear disarmament, even on a bilateral US-Russia basis, since (1) there are other nuclear powers, but more importantly because (2) there is a whole class of non-nuclear strategic weapons, equally destructive as nuclear weapons for bombardment purposes. For those familiar with it, this is similar to the position that former US Army Lt. Col Tom Bearden maintains was a negotiating position of the former Soviet Union in arms negotiations, namely, that they wanted to ban weapons even more destructive than nuclear weapons, because of their sheer destructive power. The American negotiators, Bearden maintains, did not have a clue what the Russians were then talking about.This is a crucial factor, for what it indicates is that Russia is well aware of a whole class of secret weaponizable technologies -again, alluded to by Lavrov in his previous remarks - that have to be taken into consideration. In this specific instance, Mr. Lavrov is possibly referring to the rod of God kinetic space-based orbital bombardment technologies which literally propel an inert projectile at such extreme velocities to a surface target that the impact yields a colossal thermonuclear-sized explosion, but without any radioactive aftereffects. In short, think of a nuclear war, without radioactivity. Wars are thinkable again, and this is a de-stabilizing factor. This could also indicate that, at present, Russia is not involved in the development of a similar capability, but that if such weapons are not up for negotiation with western powers, then it will perforce have to develop them. (And there is an important side issue here, for two powers - Germany and Japan - have undertaken not to develop thermonuclear or nuclear strategic weapons, which they could easily and very quickly do. Such technologies afford an end-run around their treaty obligations, and since both are space-faring powers as well, this potentiality exists, and is yet another de-stablizing factor in Russias strategic calculations).If one parses Mr. Lavrovs concerns here closely, it is almost as if he is stating, as openly as he can, that negotiations on nuclear weapons is almost a moot point, since technological developments is quickly rendering them obsolescent if not obsolete. Its the secret stuff that Russia is (rightly) concerned about, and its the secret stuff that also is a de-stablizing factor and needs to be put on the table.If one now takes the concerns of all three parts of this blog together, then what at first might appear to be a kind of random grab bag of unrelated concerns is really a well-thought out connected policy. And that policy is one which, at its central core, is uniquely based in cultural concerns. And in this, in my opinion, its light years ahead of the create a crisis and then solve it approach of the West.
See you on the flip side...