Yesterday I began this two part blog on the following important article that many here sent me: the speech of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the military academy of the Russian General Staff:
As I noted yesterday, Mr. Lavrov placed his remarks about the Peace of Westphalia 'front and center ', toward the very beginning of his speech to the academy, and this, I argued, was a strong clue about Russia 's long term agenda. One might summarize that agenda in the form of two propositions: (1) if there is to be a 'global world order' then to ensure it does not become a tyranny, it must be based on some 'congress ' system or mutual recognition of the sovereignty of states, coupled with (2) the notion that such states are to be wholly secular, with no one religion dominating, or conversely, excluded. From the standpoint of domestic policy, this is a logical road for Russia to pursue, for though its religious-cultural heritage is Eastern Orthodox, it has significant populations of Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and so on. And this 'Westphalian' approach has been stressed by Mr. Putin repeatedly in his remarks. But Mr. Lavrov goes on to mention, in this context, something else quite important: the 'soft power ' or 'culture power ' card, and he does so, notably, immediately after mentioning the Peace of Westphalia: Of course, it takes more than just the size of a country’s territory for it to be considered “big and strong” in today’s world. There is also the economy, culture, traditions, public ethics and, of course, the ability to ensure one’s own security and the security of the citizens under any circumstances. Recently, the term “soft power” has gained currency. However, this is power as well. In other words, the power factor in its broad sense is still important in international relations. Its role has even increased amid aggravated political, social, and economic contradictions and greater instability in the international political and economic system. We take full account of this fact in our foreign policy planning. (Emphasis added) What does this mean, or rather, how does this translate into action and policy? A couple of years ago I had a private discussion with a friend who is in the 'financial and investment counseling ' profession. I told him that one would have to watch future Russian foreign policy statements very carefully, because all the signals I was seeing at that time pointed to a massive increase of Russian use of the 'soft power/culture power ' card. At the time, I was basing this observation on the way Russia was handling the GMO issue by calling (and later implementing) a complete ban, while calling for genuine l0ng-term studies on its cost-to-benefit aspects, environmental and human health risks and benefits, and so on. At the same time, Mr. Putin was openly speaking against the GMO issue, and from time to time was commenting on the health risks of western vaccine products. In other words, he was not responding to the issues but rather, aligning Russia with the domestic opposition within the West . Or, to be even more blunt about it: he was playing to the growing sense of many in the West that their concerns were simply not being allowed in the media, in the halls of power, or even being allowed a level playing field and representation. That was just a a few years ago. Now that program has expanded to represent the cultural concerns across the board: the collapse of morality, the assaults on the Christian basis of western culture, the so-called 'war on terrorism ' and the covert support by western intelligence agencies of terrorist groups... all of it has come under review by Mr. Putin in recent remarks; consider only his Christmas Eve message. In a certain sense, he was speaking for what many in the west have been calling 'populism ', but I believe a more accurate term or phrase might be 'traditional culturism '. And he does raise a valid point: many in the west, this author among them, have grown tired of the shell game being played out in the so-called political parties: there are parties of the 'hard ' left, the Dummycrooks, Labour, the Social Democrats, and there are parties of the 'right ' - the 'fake opposition ' parties - that are really 'soft ' left: the Republithugs, the Tories, the Christian Democrats, and so on. Both 'sides ' are infested with globalists, that is to say, with crony crapitalism and with corporate socialists. And that has produced the frustration that, if one pays close attention, Mr. Putin has been addressing in some of his recent remarks. To put this as plainly as possible: in playing the soft power/culture power card, Mr. Putin has been positioning Russia as 'the voice of the opposition ', unique among the powers that can be considered 'western '. It 's a decidedly clever strategy, for it accounts for the growing popularity of Russian media among the West, particularly from the disenfranchised 'populists ' or 'traditional culturists ', and the response of the oligarchs of the West is very 'non-western ': to attempt to shut down that media and continue to demonize Russia and anyone paying attention to it or its media. And this too has occasionally brought forth a comment or two from Mr. Putin. It is this strategy of becoming 'the voice of the opposition ' that I submit might be the real motivation for all the 'Russian interference in the election ' stories one sees in the USA, and even a few trial balloons on that score in Germany. It 's an attempt, and a very weak one at that, to break and combat this Russian strategy. Inevitably, matters in the article turn towards defense and security matters, as Russia is, of course, with the USA, one of the world 's two premier thermonuclear powers, and by some lights, the premier one, with modern updated delivery systems and by some counts, just slightly more deliverable warheads. But that will have to wait part three, tomorrow...
See you on the flip side...
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