Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Nicolai N. Petro — The Surprising Allure of Russian Soft Power

The six Russian national security documents issued since Putin first became president in 2000 display a remarkable conceptual consistency.1
They argue that a polycentric world is emerging and shifting the balance of power from the West to the Asia-Pacific region.2The West is attempting to prevent this, according to Russia, and this will mean greater competition over values and less cooperation in combating global threats like migration, pandemics, global warming and resource scarcity. Unless the West alters course from confrontation to cooperation, the result will be chaos in the international system, which would be very bad for Russia.3
To provide greater global stability, Russia intends to pursue "an open, rational, and pragmatic foreign policy, eliminating the need for expensive confrontation in, among other things, a new arms race." Russia's objective is to "gain as many equal partners as it can, in as many regions of the globe."
Finally, Russia sees "returning to one's roots," as a global trend, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. If other civilizations respond to this by trying to impose their own values, a clash of civilizations is all but inevitable. Partnership among civilizations, rather than conflict, is much to be desired, but it would require a common framework of values. Fortunately, says Russia, such a framework can be found in the world's major religions.
A careful reading of these documents, the most authoritative statements of Russia's worldview publicly available, challenges several common Western assumptions....
The rejected assumptions are based on liberal fundamentalism.
Russia thus sees itself as that part of the West that perceives liberal fundamentalism as futile and seeks to establish a framework of global leadership around the values that the West shares with non-Western states. Prominent political theorist Boris Mezhuev has dubbed this approach "civilizational realism."
Civilizational realism differs from classical realism in that it recognizes the importance of values in international affairs. It differs from classical liberalism in that it sees value in the diversity of cultural communities, as well as individuals. Russia's approach can therefore best be described not as opposition to liberalism, but as a different form of liberalism, one that is divorced from Western hegemony and open to non-western traditions and influences....
Interestingly, President Xi is reviving Confucianism, and Putin is allied with the Russian Orthodox Church and also welcoming of the many other traditional religions in Russia.

Traditionalism is being pitted against liberalism after the fall of fascism and communism, as Alexander Dugin projected in The Fourth Political Theory.

There are two forms of traditionalism. One holds that a particular tradition is "right" and all others "wrong." The other values all traditions as facets of the same gem. The former is dogmatic traditionalism and the later is liberal traditionalism. Liberal fundamentalism is dogmatic.

American Diplomacy
The Surprising Allure of Russian Soft Power
Nicolai N. Petro | Silvia-Chandley Professor of Peace Studies and Nonviolence at the University of Rhode Island. As a Council on Foreign Relations fellow, he served as special assistant for policy toward the Soviet Union in the U.S. Department of State from 1989 to 1990.

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