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RUSSIA XXI

Issue No 1 from 2000 yr. >

Between Utopianism and Fatalism: Russian Elite as a Participant in the Euroatlantic Expansion

In recent years, Moscow's relations with Nato evolved along a vicious cycle of love and hate: musings about potential Russian membership in the Alliance were followed by Nato's eastward enlargement and mutual animosity. This essay analyzes Russia's internal debate on its relations with Nato over 1990s and the reasons behind Russia's contradictory policies on Nato expansion. These were determined to a large extent by Russia's authoritarian modernizers' craving for a seat in the Alliance perceived as a military-political equivalent of "the West" and of the center of the world system. This holistic image neglected the controversial status of Nato and its expansion within Western world, not to speak of the rest of the global community, and the intensity of debates between Euroatlantic expansionists and their domestic opponents. This misperception, along with the Kremlin's short-term interests, enabled Western expansionists to engage Russia on their terms in a bargaining process, which made the bulk of Russia's foreign policy elite an often unconscious participant of Nato expansion and intervention. Russia's policies oscillated between utopian embrace of a North Atlantic community from Vancouver to Vladivostok (which, if ever achieved, might lead to an institutionalization of the North-South divide, thus pitting Russia against its own southern neighbors), and, on the other hand, fatalistic resignation before an enlargement that was perceived as inevitable, however unpleasant, geopolitical development. In addition, Moscow's approach to Nato was driven by internal cold war between Russia's authoritarian reformers and the parliament, which was not to be allowed to set the agenda and emerge as a decision-making force in foreign policy. This helps explain Moscow's consent that the Nato-Russia Founding Act be in fact an executive agreement rather than a legally binding treaty. These internal and self-imposed constraints on Russia's diplomacy helped to shape an outcome that, judging by Western sources, was far from predetermined.

The Russian Civilization: Utopia or Reality?

In contradistinction to A.J.Toynbee, O.Spengler and S.Huntington, the author maintains that the civilization is the culture's "body" while the culture is the civilization's "soul". Russia's main search for the idea consists in overcoming of the gap between the civilization and culture and the principal aim of the country consists not of becoming a part of the West or achieving and defining its essential difference from the West but, in collaboration with the West, to create an universal human supranational civilization which is the only alternative to the dissociation of civilizations. According to the author, "the society of culture" is the sole acceptable model of the global civilization.

On the Eurasian Idea as the Culture-centered Weltanschauung

The Eurasian idea which emerged as a reaction of the Russian national conscience to upheaval of 1917 in Russia involved in its orbit prominent figures of the Russian culture and aristocracy who emigrated from Russia. The proponents of the Eurasian idea were distinguished by a clear understanding of the fact that the power of Russia was determined by its culture while a habit to pay attention to external achievements of civilization (in an attempt to catch up with the West) would lead to a gross undervaluation. That, in its turn, made Russians doomed to the blind imitation of foreign samples and models. All that would bring about the degradation of culture. The proponents of the Eurasian idea saw the Russian culture creators' irresponsibility, their predisposition to imitation, their inability to evaluate the Russian originality properly as the principal cause of the Russian revolution. The Eurasians did not accept changes of the political order or fundamental ideas if these changes were not accompanied and even caused by cultural changes.

Russian-Crimean Relations in the "Times of Trouble"

Taking relations between Russia and the Crimean khanate in the early 17th century as an example, the author demonstrates the importance which the Tsars of Russia imparted to contacts with the world outside of Russia. The period under consideration was characterized by the exceptionally difficult situation inside Russia. In ten years five supreme rulers succeeded each other in Russia, yet each of these autocrats (including the so-called "impostors", or false Tsars) devoted a great attention to the foreign policy. The author considers all messengers and embassies sent to the Crimean khanate as well as the reciprocal diplomatic missions and demonstrates the importance these relations had for Russia.

The Sixth Soviet Prime-Minister

The author considers the carrier of N.A.Bulganin who ascended from a security guard at a provincial manufacturing plant to the position of the chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers. The author also considers the wreckage of this brilliant carrier which happened after the attempt to demise Khruschev when Malenkov, Molotov and Kaganovich, members of the so called "anti-Party group", succeeded in winning Bulganin over. The author points out that Bulganin was one of the most educated members of the government of those times (anyway he graduated from the "real" public school) but did not plume himself on his superiority, was loyal to comrades and was not avid for leading positions.

On Some Tendencies of the World War I, Revolution and Bolshevism Comprehension by Contemporaries (the end)

With reference to considerations on peculiarities of contemporaries interpretation of the Russian history tipping point connected with the World War I the author draws the attention to perception of patriotism problem prior to 1917 and afterwards, to various interpretations of Bolshevism as a political phenomenon. Characterization of schism deepening among the culture celebrities includes analysis of A.Blok and other so called “intellectuals-turncoats” social and political positions. The author puts the question whether it is possible to understand “acceptance” of October as the complete approval of Bolshevist ideology. Furthermore, the author substantiates the conclusion that the power of observation and insight of writers immersed in the life of new Russia allowed them in some instances to define the vector of the Soviet state and society development with a greater accuracy than that was done by ?migr?-changers of landmarks and Eurasians.

1945: The National Interest as Viewed by Americans

As World War II was drawing to a close, U.S. policymakers, diplomats and publicists worried about the future of the international system but, even more than that, about the American national interest in each of its components. Given their country's overwhelming power, they now expected to refashion the world in America's image and establish "the American century". They intended to promote world peace, foster international stability, safeguard national security, perpetuate American power and prosperity in spite of the growing strength of the Soviet Union and its new role in the European affairs and geopolitical situation as a whole. The Hamilton Armstrong's memorandum for the Secretary of State (E.Stettinius), written on the eve of the Yalta conference, reveals the new global view of the American foreign policy ideologists, convinced in the superiority of the American values, as well as economic and military power.

The Russian Political Economist of the 19th Century (translated by I.Diakonova)

The author deals with N.Mordvinov, the thinker and statesman. It is unknown to the general public that as early as in the very beginning of the 19th century there were Russian scientists who contributed to the world economic science. Having meticulously studied works of foreign economists, Mordvinov applied their discoveries to Russian reality and developed these discoveries, with the Russian peculiarities taken into consideration. According to the author, Mordvinov's essay on private provincial banks is of particular interest, for Mordvinov in that work stated his opinion on the monetary system and budget, i.e., on the issues which were within the sphere of his official duties (for some time Mordvinov was the chief of the State Economy Department of the Russian State Council).