At last Russian leadership has realized the importance of long-term strategic planning when it comes to foreign policy and issues of national security. Russia is too big and too important to ignore global trends and tendencies let alone not make any attempts to affects those trends and turn them around for its own benefit. The world today is going through a severe transformation - the old system is falling apart, giving way to a new world order. Right now global politics is a random combination of improvisations and impromptu, lacking any structuralized system of international relations or enforcement of international law. In such situation the long-term political and military planning is an indicator of the maturity and wisdom of any nation’s establishment.
However for Russia, such planning is especially difficult to achieve. On the one hand – for the last two decades its political class has been completely devoted to solving countries internal tactical issues. As a result, today Russia is the only big country in the world with immense natural resources and nuclear strength that still is on the fence about what kind of a state it wants to be. It is still in the process of searching for an effective system of governance at the same time seeing maintaining its territorial integrity as the main problem and goal of its national security. Russia still hasn’t acquired strategic allies, doesn’t have a vision of its place in the world and even lacks a stable system of internal national values and priorities. Russia’s establishment today thinks strictly short-term and shows but zero initiative to start caring about the country’s future overall well-being. On the other hand, however, it is important that when strategic planning is implemented in Russia it is taken seriously instead of being another attempt at imitation.
First thing required to be done is a change of perspective on public study, more specifically – political science, make it more respectable, relevant and depoliticized. It is important to understand that political science is not political technology. A country that is devoted to misinforming itself is doomed to loose global competition on all fronts. Political theory should be regarded as fundamental as theories in natural sciences.
Second, eliminate the pressure and influence of special interest groups, government organizations and non-public clans on the process of long-term political analysis. It is extremely damaging to the country, when its national interests are replaced with private interests of the few. For example the defensive needs of the country must never be dictated by the technical capabilities and financial demands of the defense industry.
Third – provide transparency and real internal competitiveness to the politics, especially when it comes to strategic planning and staffing issues. Today, the country is flooded with rumors and misinformation concerning the makeup and structure of the future government, while any real information has, for some reason, become highly confidential. At the same time any sort of strategic planning is impossible considering that all of the major decisions are made by a sole individual, who bases them on his own personal criteria and factors.
Fourth, despite the presence of a potentially strong political expert community, the leadership almost never pays any attention to its opinions. As a result Moscow has lost the intellectual initiative, which it used to have in the past, turning into a regional center that operates based solely on external factors. Naturally the creativity and effectiveness of the expert community ignored by the authority has decreased drastically, causing it to mindlessly quote political gurus of past decades. Collaborating with their foreign peers today is problematic, unfortunately, due to the wariness of the leadership of any potential foreign influence. All of this results in Russia turning into a political backwater.
Today the world is seeing the decrease of the US’s domination, of influence and appeal of the western model. On one hand, several decades in the future, the role of the United States will be so limited that someone eventually will decide to take its current place. Of course it is impossible to say whether it will be a single country, an alliance or a whole region united by the same culture, religion and economy. China seems to be capable of competing with the US economically in the near future, but when it comes to global politics, Beijing will not be up to the level of Washington for quite some time, instead expanding its influence on the regional neighbors, such as Russia and Central Asia. In this case Middle East and Islamic states seem more likely to get interested in becoming more influential in international politics.
On the other hand, by 2035 the global function of the US might be split between several competing regions and states, causing the world to split into several sections, with the Cold War becoming a multinational conflict. In such case instability witnessed in the world today may seem like no more than a high-school drama.
All of these outcomes put Russia in a losing position. Hence what will be the place of Russia in the world in the next decades depends heavily on whether the establishment of Moscow is ready to put serious and realistic effort into the country’s future. According to the survey of American political analysts by Foreign Affairs, strategic importance of China and Eastern Asia will grow from 50% to 85% in the next 20 years, while the say of Russia and Post-Soviet space in the world will drop to zero. If Moscow is not ready to face such miserable future, it is time to look realistically on what is going on and start taking measures.
Published in “Vedomosti” on April 23, 2012
Translated by Gennady Gladkov
Read in Russian: http://n-zlobin.livejournal.com/69557.ht