Russia's Revival and the World Situation
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation is the largest political party in Russia today. Together with other communist parties which emerged following the break-up of the Soviet Union, it is now part of the movement to form a new CPSU.
In the following article, the party's Chairman, Gennadi Zyuganov, presents ideas for a Russian foreign policy in the current world situation and on the background to the setbacks to socialism in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe. His article is part of the ferment of ideas now going on throughout the international communist movement.
It may surprise and even provoke disagreement. It may also, hopefully, stimulate debate.
Gennadi Zyuganov is also chairman of the parliamentary coalition "Popular and Patriotic Forces of Russia".
This article was originally published in Pravda on December 10, 1993.
A comprehensive understanding of the processes shaping the current era of world politics is a sine qua non for a practical and effective Russian foreign policy doctrine. Today, we think, the pattern of international relations is determined by the following vital factors:
1. Snowballing global crises in each and every field of human activity, be it economy or politics, culture or religion;
2. The breakdown of the geopolitical balance, historically guaranteed by Russia (including the USSR) for the last three centuries;
3. The first practical steps to bring to life the blueprints for a "New World Order" that essentially provides for a planet-wide regime of political, economic and military dictatorship of the west with the USA at the helm.
Snowballing global crises at the current stage are caused, first and foremost, by the existing system of the world economy. Within its framework the consumption of non-renewable natural resources, destruction of the environment, population growth and social stratification are happening at an increasing rate that now threatens human civilisation with an Apocalyptic self- destruction.
The path of development taken by the rich western nations whose population may be called today a "golden billion" of pampered consumers, is unacceptable and impossible for the overwhelming majority of the human race. Attempts to follow suit can only aggravate the situation and bring the end closer, for the biosphere of the earth simply can no longer withstand such an overload of energy and technology.
Even now, in our times, every person born in a "developed" western country consumes on the average 20 times as much natural resources as a citizen of a "developing" country of the so-called Third World. Three fourths of the earth's population share only a seventh of the world's income, while the USA, with only 5 per cent of global population, consumes almost 40 per cent of the planet's raw materials and swamps the environment with over half the total garbage of our civilisation.
According to the projections of UN experts, such "economic growth brings about an unprecedented standard of wealth and power for the rich minority", yet, at the same time, it is fraught with "risks and imbalances". They believe that "this model of development and the corresponding pattern of production and consumption are unstable...This path may lead our civilisation to a downfall." There are statements by Maurice Strong, Secretary General of the UN Conference on Environment and Development.
Such alarming forecasts have more than just a ring of truth about them, and it makes the west earnestly look for and develop a strategy that would allow it to bypass the danger zone of development at the cost of others, without sacrificing its wealth or bringing down their consumption levels. This end cannot be achieved without a shift in the balance of power.
The scenario of destroying the Soviet Union and eliminating it from the world arena with the aim of upsetting the historically established geopolitical balance, was the key element of this strategy.
This operation of an unprecedented magnitude was also unique, if we consider the ways and means that brought about such far- reaching results. Probably for the first time in modern history, a great power destroyed an equally mighty opponent without an armed conflict. A decisive political shift, which only decades ago could have been effected through an all-out world war, has been achieved by organising an ideological collapse of the opponent, and cleverly implementing the social techniques of "creeping catastrophe" and "low intensity civil war" on the enemy's territory.
A conclusion of great significance must be made: humanity has entered a new phase of its existence. For the first time in its history it has reached the level of science and technology that makes practicable a centralised, all-embracing control over the vital functions of the world community, purposeful ideological "programming" of whole peoples and nations, clever and insidious manipulation of "grand politics" on a global scale.
The disappearance from the world arena of a stable and powerful Soviet Union, a natural geopolitical heir to the Russian empire, has wrought irreparable damage to the fabric of international relations and undermined the centuries-old interstate balance of interests and forces that made it possible to keep world politics within the bounds of evolutionary and foreseeable development.
The powerful Russian state had always been a guarantor of international equilibrium. Several centuries of voluntary accession of numerous peoples – from Moldavians and Georgians to Kyrghyzs and Turkmens – bear testimony to this. Russia, already a complex and diverse microcosm, preserved that internal wealth and tried to harmonise the outside world likewise. Naturally, there is no intention of presenting a simplified impression of Russian foreign policy history, which had its share of controversies and black pages.
The 20th century, cruel and unmerciful as it was, has put its inescapable seal on international relations. The dramatic and twisted history of the USSR, both epic and tragic, cannot be interpreted unequivocally. Yet, it is absolutely obvious that for decades it continued to play a generally constructive geopolitical role.
What has collapse brought?
What have we got as a result of "perestroika" and the collapse of the Soviet Union?
- The de facto loss of great power status and a new dependency on outside forces;
- The loss of all former allies and the curtailment of co- operation with most of our friendly political and economic partners;
- A sharp drop in all the major national security parameters, i.e., military, political, economic, ideological;
- Strategic destabilisation of a vast geographic area – from the Baltics to the Caucasia, from Cicineu to Dushanbe.
Still, this in only the beginning. The collapse of the USSR has sent thunderous echoes around the world. The dangerous crisis in the Persian Gulf, the civil war in Yugoslavia, the chaos in Afghanistan, the intervention in Somalia, ever greater expansionist claims by NATO and its leading member countries, the slow transformation of the UN and other international organisations into tools of the west's imperial policy, serious infringement of the interests of the "Third World's" developing nations, and so on and so forth – these are but some of those echoes. This is to say nothing about the "near abroad", for the former Soviet republics are ablaze with inter-ethnic conflicts and sometimes full-blown wars.
Simultaneously, the role of the United States has expanded sharply, and they now stake an open claim for world hegemony. Erstwhile territories of the USSR are declared the sphere of vital interests of the US (the Baltics are the case in point), while the American president has already appointed a "co- ordinator" for settling disputes "between former Soviet republics".
Washington is cynically driving a wedge between Russia and the Ukraine, it dictates to Russia the conditions for high technology transfers abroad, it imposes wasteful disarmament pacts on Moscow, it instigates rabid Russophobia among the peripheral "national-radicals".
Plans for establishing a "New World Order" have entered the implementation stage. Actually, the behind-the-scenes forces of the world have initiated decisive actions to shape a rigid centralised system of strict control over the development of human civilisation.
The term, the "new world order", was openly implanted into the social consciousness immediately after the Gulf war, which demonstrated to the world at large that henceforth the USSR had become a junior partner of the United States on all strategic issues of international politics. The Iraq massacre vividly marked the end of the traditional bipolar world, founded upon the balance between the two superpowers, as well as the dawn of a new era in world politics. It was to characterise this era that the term was coined.
Later, however, things went on at a slower pace, bogged down by a number of problems: the stable billion-strong China, heroic resistance by tiny Serbia, guerrilla war in Somalia, "Third World" apprehensions. Yet the main obstacle was the unexpected survival of Russian state-hood in the tornado of catastrophes that had ripped apart the Soviet Union, and despite the best attempts of the west and its "fifth column" inside the country.
According to available information, several variants of using Russia in establishing a "new world order" are under consideration.
The first boils down to making Russia a US backyard for raw materials and brain power by bringing it ever closer to the orbit of US policies. In this way the Americans could overtake their competitors for good and spurt out of reach of Germany, Japan and China, which are quickly gaining influence.
The idea is to plant a cosmopolitan regime in the country to represent the interests of world capital and its stooges in the form of a local bourgeoisie. Thereafter, it is proposed to utilise Russia's military and scientific potential and recruit Russia as a junior ally and gendarme promoting the "new world order".
The second option. In case the development of "democracy" in Russia goes wrong and the so-called "conservative forces" win, military conflicts would be unleashed throughout the former USSR and along Russia's borders in the breakaway parts of the Soviet Union in order to pin Russia down.
What are the principal conclusions from the above?
First, a serious readjustment of Russia's foreign policy is needed. Let us call a spade a spade: today's foreign policy, pursued by a narrow circle of top officials on Russia's behalf, does not answer its genuine national interests and is actually aimed at becoming a party to establishing the "new world order" on the planet.
Only thus can one explain some specific steps by the senior officials of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which clash with the country's national interests. This "good tradition" took root in the foreign office since the times of the ill-famed Shevardnadze.
Secondly, there are, by and large, but two possible ways for the situation to develop. We have been confronted with a tough alternative. Either we succumb to the outside diktat and lose our homeland, honor and dignity, betray our people, our ideals and things we hold sacred, our stately ancestors, or we "take up arms against a sea of troubles", as Prince Hamlet said. It means, as has happened before in our history, we gird up our loins and start building a new, independent and great Russia on the ash- heap of past glory.
Therefrom, in a logical and inescapable way follows the third conclusion.
We need a strategy to overcome the crisis. It should be consistent, clear and practicable. The foreign policy doctrine of a revived Russia should be the cornerstone of such a strategy.
Russia's foreign policy can only be based upon the idea of national interest. Incidentally, the geopolitical stability of the planet must be provided only through a balance of the national interests of different states.
Close interconnection and interdependence of the modern world will not let anyone pursue either the policy of national egoism or that of national nihilism. Such extremes upset the balance of forces on the planet.
Russian foreign policy doctrine should be centred around the concept of "healthy national pragmatism", which would envisage a foreign policy commensurate with our interests and means. Within the framework of this doctrine one should be guided by Russia's political and economic gain. Minding lessons of the past, we should avoid actions that could claim too high a price for the country, whether politically or economically, or cause direct damage.
At the same time, such pragmatism should not evolve into political opportunism and should have a solid foundation of universal morality and the tenets of international law.
The proposed doctrine should, we believe, include the following vitally important principles:
- The country's foreign policy heritage. A new doctrine cannot appear out of thin air, it should encompass all the valuable and positive elements inherent in the international affairs of both pre-revolutionary Russia and the Soviet Union.
- Unconditional independence in foreign policy making. This, naturally, does not preclude consultations with other interested parties.
- Self-sufficiency. Naturally, this does not preclude reasonable foreign aid on acceptable conditions.
- Rejection of an ideology-driven foreign policy, which was, in particular, so characteristic of the Soviet era, with often groundless geopolitical claims stemming from it. Thus, the desire to promote the ideology of the "socialist model of development" at any cost was often too costly in political and material terms. One cannot but notice that the present foreign policy of Russia is tightly bound by ideological shackles, albeit of the opposite nature with a tinge of foreign accent around them.
- Development of foreign policy ties in all directions. Russia has a vested interest in developing relations with different regions of the planet.
- Defence sufficiency, meaning here, the maintenance of Russia's military potential at a level ensuring its effective use as a flexible, mobile and multipurpose foreign policy tool. This done, we should pursue a policy that would preclude the country being dragged into a new round of exhausting global military confrontations.
Our foreign policy should be aimed at creating international conditions to ensure optimum opportunities for the country's stable onward development, the progress of the national economy and the uplifting of the peoples' living standards. In general, the government of every sovereign state, regardless of its political, social and economic orientation, faces similar tasks in the sphere of foreign policy. Yet, this task is ignored in Russia today.
The hasty withdrawal (in fact almost a retreat) of the Russian forces from east Europe and the Baltic, failing to safeguard even a modicum of our interests, has brought about not only strategic damage, but also colossal material losses amounting to dozens of billions of US dollars. The sum total of this huge loss is still to be ascertained. Its burden inescapably falls upon the shoulders of ordinary Russians. Enormous are the losses caused by Russia's irresponsible support of the sanctions imposed by the West through the machinery of international organisations against Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya. These alone have cost our economy at least $US18 billion, according to available data.
To formulate and implement an effective foreign policy in line with the basic national interests, we must establish such conditions that different political forces, including the opposition, could actually take part in discussing, adopting and supervising the implementation of foreign policy decisions. The history of this country's diplomacy, including the latest period, gives convincing proof that international actions decided behind closed doors by a narrow circle of leaders often result in serious damage. Unfortunately, we are yet to put this negative experience behind us.
Russia's foreign policy on the territories of the erstwhile USSR should be aimed at the restoration of a unified state as a renewed union of fraternal peoples, open for voluntary accession by all those who wish to live peacefully in a common home.
The collapse of a superpower and mad sovereignty fever did no good to any people. Social and economic cataclysms, a drop in living standards, bloody fratricidal conflicts, huge losses of life, limb and property, millions of refugees -- this is what the Soviet people "gained" from the destruction of the USSR. The fragmentation of the Union and severance of close ties between peoples who had for centuries lived as a family, looks even more unnatural against the backdrop of the integration process in the world (West Europe, Arab countries, some other regions). This integration stems from objective imperatives of social progress.
Obviously, the restoration of a unified state should be done on a totally different and absolutely voluntary basis and provide for real equality of all the constituent peoples, making it possible to fully meet their legal and national aspirations.
We think that there should be no predetermined specific forms and ways for such a union to exist and function. It can have federation or confederation-type ties, or a combination of both structures.
Such matters ought to be resolved by those peoples who express their wish to come closer and by their authorised representatives. We believe that the process of the Union's restoration should not be rushed. Let it develop naturally.
A priority task of Russian foreign policy at this stage is to re- establish economic links between different republics of the former Union, which were ruptured as a result of the Belaya Vezha conspiracy. (Belaya Vezha is a hunting reserve in Belorussia where the leaders of Russia, Belorussia and the Ukraine – Yeltsin, Sushkevich and Kravchuk – decided to dissolve the USSR) It is no less important that a common cultural, scientific and information area is ensured.
We are of the opinion that it is Russia's right and duty to show concern for the interests of Russian and Russian-speaking populations who unwillingly found themselves on the other side of Russia's borders. We declare that any discrimination against this population, be it political, legal, economic or other, is inadmissible and should evoke an adequate reaction by the Russian authorities and the international community.
As far as regional conflicts in Transcaucasia, the Central Area and Transdniestria are concerned, we think that Russia can and ought to take part in breaking the impasse, mostly by political means. At the same time no encouragement should be given to those bankrupt national rulers who want to stick to power at the cost of Russian soldiers’ blood.
Within the framework of Russian policy in the "far abroad" area, Russia-West relations naturally have a principal significance, thanks to the west's role in the modern world.
Certain western circles and the media they control, distort the position of Russia's leftist and patriotic forces in this matter. We think that they do it on purpose, as they conjure near- apocalyptic scenarios if these forces should come to power. Our radical "democrats" also make their contribution to such misinformation.
Actually, Russian leftists and patriots wish no confrontation with the west. We are free from prejudice as regards the USA, Germany, Britain, France or any other country of these vital regions of the planet. We highly value the achievements of western civilisation and favour a creative adoption of everything valuable and useful that has been developed within its framework. Russia's leftist and patriotic forces stand for the development of broad co-operation with western states in diverse fields on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
Yet, any relationship between states is a two-way street. Its nature, therefore, directly depends on the position of not one side alone, but that of the other party as well.
We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the "new world order" that the USA and their western allies are trying hard to impose, objectively impinges on the national interests of Russia and many other members of the world community.
In this context, I would like to stress once again that it would hardly be possible to preserve for long the current situation of a "unipolar", i.e., an American world. Even if Russia for some time fails to re-establish its great power status, the vacuum that appeared on the world arena as a result of the USSR's collapse will inevitably be filled.
The political and economic weight of the giant Chinese state keeps growing. Incidentally, it shows no inclination to toe the American line. Great is the strategic potential of India, and as years pass, it will be felt more and more. Russia, too, and we firmly believe in this, shall fully restore its might and its voice will again be heard with respect by the world community. So the bid to establish long-term western and American diktat in world affairs is obviously unsound. The earlier it is understood in western capitals, the more favourable political climate will prevail on the planet.
The west’s policy of unceremonious interference in our internal affairs, actually the policy of Russia's national denigration, cannot but evoke disdain in all decent Russians. One gets an impression that the present policy of the western powers is aimed at totally blocking the creation of an independent and strong Russia, whatever the political, social and economic vectors of her development.
The makers of western policy should be aware how dangerous, not only on the regional, but on the global scale, are the attempts to ignore and infringe upon the underlying national interests of such a power as Russia, let alone to dismember it.
All the patriotic forces of Russia point out with concern that the NATO military bloc is not only preserved despite the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Treaty, but it is widening the scope of its activities. Independent Russia cannot but stand out against this in order to overcome the "bloc mentality".
We believe it necessary to pay full attention to Russia's co- operation with the states of east Europe, which had long been closely related with our country in various spheres, especially in the last decades. The preservation and development of these ties is in the interests of Russia as well as the east European states.
Russia's leftists and patriotic forces attach special significance to developing our relations with such important parties in international affairs as China and India. These relations have a good tradition and a centuries-long history. They may become a powerful factor for stability in the world and exert a beneficial influence on the world situation.
We are convinced that Russia should pursue an active policy in the "Third World" as well, through multifaceted co-operation with developing states of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In order to create a more favourable political climate and proceeding from its own interests, Russia should support the developing countries' demand to reshape the world economic relations to make them more just, to overcome the practices of neo-colonialism and unequal trade.
All citizens of Russia, standing for statehood and patriotism, regardless of their political views, be they rightist, centrist or leftist, are interested in an effective and independent foreign policy. In other words, the overwhelming majority of Russians are interested in such policies. This presents an opportunity for a broad and long-term co-operation of different political forces for the main goal: to restore Russia in a fraternal union of free peoples to the power and glory of her former stately might and ensure her a decent standing in the world community.