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Victory and Failure

The bi-centenial of the Battle of Borodino, which along with the great Patriotic War of 1941 to 1945, is one of the two great features of modern Russia’s historical identity, has prompted an understandable frisson of patriotic pride in the Russian nation.

It is well deserved.

The scholarly research of Dominic Lieven has shown us that Russia’s over- arching aim in chasing Napoleon all the way back to Paris was to establish peace in Europe. Alexander knew that as long as Napoleon was free, Europe was under permanent threat. In this, Castlereagh, the British Foreign Secretary, normally takes all the credit. But then, western scholars have a long tradition of ignoring the facts of Russia’s role in obtaining and maintaining the peace of Europe.

Witness the extraordinary ignorance among westerners of the unimaginable numbers of Russian losses in the Second World War, or the contribution of Zhukov to the defeat of the Nazi scourge.

Yes, most certainly, as Russia was the overwhelming force behind the defeat of the Nazi tyranny, so she was in the defeat of the Napoleonic one.

Surveys conducted across the US show thatthe majority of Americans, including senior citizens old enough to remember the US entry into World War II, regard the September, 11, 2001 drama as exceeding in historical importance the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. Speaking of the latter, these days it is an open secret that the US Administration was aware of the coming Japanese offensive and, instead of taking adequate measures beforehand, knowingly sacrificed around 1,500 lives to have the country drawn into a war as planned in Washington. US Secretary of War Henry Stimson rote in his diary following the November 25, 1941 government meeting: “The question was how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves. It was a difficult proposition”. 

The 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) annual summit is to take place on September 2-8 in Vladivostok. Today APEC is the largest economic forum for 21 Asia-Pacific nations accounting for 57% of world GNP and 48% of world trade. As is known India has requested membership in the organization. Russia strongly supports the urge of the «world’s largest Democracy» to accede. Moscow rightly believes that adding the dynamic economy of the Elephant to the Dragon (China), an active APEC participant, will open new opportunities for all those who have joined the forum… 

* * *

Pranab Mukherjee is regarded as one of India’s most experienced and authoritative politicians. Apparently his election as President of India will add the required logic and coherence to the Indian foreign policy, the qualities it has evidently lacked in the recent 5-7 years. First, such super large entity as India will promote strengthening of existing economic structures in the world’s most economically dynamic region. It will also counter the attempts to change the fundamental principles of international relations, first of all the presumption of unity and territorial integrity of states and societies. Second, India’s joining APEC will facilitate the efforts to solve the problem of strategic importance: strengthening horizontal economic ties in the Southwest Asia and enriching the content of external economic activities of regional actors. (The Indian experience of getting the best out of  «plan» and «market»  collectively may prove really invaluable under conditions of global economic slowdown). Third, India has already moved ahead substantially in this direction. It has done solid preparatory work in the form of «Look East» policy initiated in 1997. The Gujral Doctrine has become an effective instrument of strengthening India’s diplomatic ties with the states of Southeast Asia. The economic relations with these countries have also undergone  a qualitative evolution: today the region has become the largest market for India’s goods accounting for over half of exports (it was only 40% at the beginning of the century). The economic relations have solid political foundation. India has signed agreements with important APEC members like: Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. 

New generation rover with affectionate name "Curiosity» (Curiosity) NASA researchers launched in November 2011 and safely reached the Red Planet Aug. 6, 2012. It separated from migratory module. For the first time the technology has been tested Sky Crane unit descended from a flying platform on the surface of Mars with nylon ropes. Earlier rovers NASA «Spirit» and «Opportunity» delivered to Mars in a protective cocoon of air bags, and Soviet - with engines. August 17, 2012 at the Mars rover NASA «Curiosity» Russian instrument was included Dan and successfully joined.

Thus we have obtained the first scientific information about the composition of matter of Mars - the seventh the size of the solar system, and the radiation background in the landing area rover. As conceived, scientists, «Curiosity» examines samples of Martian soil and air in the region of the crater Gale - one of the largest craters in the world, whose age is more than 3.8 billion years, and the diameter of - 154 km.

One of the scientists of the project «Curiosity» - Tobias Owen - American astronomer, professor at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu author of many books about Mars told columnist of the magazine "International Affairs" to Elena Studneva about the nuances of the rover's next generation of expectations from his mission - to tell earthlings about possible life in the universe. It is possible that Mars can reveal other worlds.

The globalization actually encompasses all aspects of private and social life. It also has a dramatic and miserable side of the coin: the differentiation of society, the breakup of traditional interpersonal ties (the decline of family values is a bright example), the growing isolation of individual in the “global” world… 

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The current economic crisis has clearly demonstrated the instability of existing models of governance and generated the breakdown of many social and government structures. The process has brought to surface the fact that there is no adequate outlook model that would define the state of contemporary society and offer further development options.
 
Not a single “ism” term does present a view of the processes affecting human life. Old economic models and patterns of governance are no good for coping with crises, far from it, they don’t even serve the purpose in the times of relative tranquility… 
 
No doubt, the developed countries are affected to greater extent. The developing states are still subject to illusion related to neoliberal capitalist models. It’s only the threat that such a supra-state entity as the European Union would break up, something becoming more imminent with each passing month, that makes some individuals think about what has led to such a situation and look for answers outside the exclusively economic models. 

The collapse of the Romanian opposition's initiative to unseat president of the country Traian Basescu briefly drew heightened attention to the embattled political leader and, upon scrutiny, highlighted the ongoing erosion of the European unity. The critics of Basescu still credit themselves with the failed referendum as a major political feat, but it is clear that further attempts to displace the president via political procedures stand no chance and would trigger an escalation potentially involving violence.

 

The recent global developments – unrest in the Arab world, the rise of illicit arms business, the proliferation of terrorism – increasingly often turn the attention of global audiences towards Africa. The region seems to be loaded with a complete array of present-day problems and currently faces the consequences of the war in Libya along with the growing Islamist threat posed by such groups as Boko Haram and al-Shabaab.

It should be noted that the African continent featured prominently on the majority of geopolitical agendas. Halford Mackinder, a giant of the Anglo-Saxon geopolitical thinking, saw Africa as a composite of three major regions – the Sahara, Arab Africa, and the landmass stretching south of the Sahara (1). For German geopolitical scholar K. Schmitt, Africa – in contrast to Australia and both Americas - was a part of Eurasia (2). Schmitt's vision of a wider Eurasia represented a form of opposition to the Monroe doctrine of “America for Americans” which he criticized as American geopolitical voluntarism.  Schmidt held in response to the US quest for unchallenged dominance across the two American continents that it was up to the Eurasian nations to rule Eurasia. Interpreted against the background of Schmidt's geopolitical reckoning, the Monro doctrine acquires a broader meaning of a strategy aimed at the US global primacy, an approach best expressed by the slogan “The whole world for Americans”. No doubt, the above, in particular, applies to Africa.

Syria's crisis remains the focal point of the world politics as a new escalation in and around the country broke out last week. The root cause of the conflict unraveling in Syria since March, 2011 is that external forces provide crucial support to the  armed opposition groups which unleashed a terrorist war against the Syrian administration and civilians. The groups receive large quantities of armaments and ammunition from Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan with the assistance from NATO intelligence services and the financial backing from the Gulf monarchies.

Even Pentagon chief Leon Panetta admits that al Qaeda militants fight in the ranks of the opposition groups in Syria, meaning that the country is de facto fighting a war against internationally supported terrorists. As prescribed by existing contracts, Moscow continues to sell to Syria the armaments it needs for self-defense, particularly the anti-aircraft systems, and to service the Russian-made weaponry, including copters, already delivered to the Syrian army. By doing so, Russia draws biting criticism from Western administrations, notably, from US Secretary of State H. Clinton, who, for example, charges that the Syrian government plans to use the copters to crash popular protests. The West's cynicism over the matter is shocking: while Russia takes hammering for the supplies and maintenance of completely defensive weapons to the Syrian government which is forced to resist terrorist attacks, the Western countries help to illicitly feed armaments to the terrorists in Syria.

The June summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) highlighted China's swelling economic presence in Central Asia. Chinese premier Hu Jintao unveiled an ambitious agenda for the region, with $10b in loans to be infused into the corresponding projects. At the moment, the Chinese investments in Central Asian republics estimatedly total $20b, and Beijing evidently aims at the role of the main economic partner of the entire Central Asia, especially in the spheres of energy and transit.

China is open about being keenly interested in Central Asian energy sector and transit projects. At the summit, Hu Jintao called the Central Asian partners to move on to the formation of an integrated network of railroad and expressway transit, telecommunications, and energy supply and pledged China's assistance in the training of 1,500 specialists from SCO countries over the next three years, along with financial support for 30,000 students and professors plus perks like scholarships for 10,000 visitors from the Confucius Institutes scattered across the SCO countries over the next five. The above list shows that the Chinese soft power is meant to reinforce Beijing's already impressive economic influence in Central Asia.

Russian president V. Putin confirmed at the Russia-EU recent summit that the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline would begin by the end of 2013 and projected that it would take 1.5-2 years to bring the planned infrastructures online [1]. He mentioned that the project was seriously re-energized last year when Turkey OK'd the offshore section of the pipeline across its part of the Black Sea [2]. Currently, the South Stream target capacity is set at 63 bcm annually and the cost – estimated at Euro 15.5b.