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Negocios Estrangeiros is a journal of the Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal with a reputation for geopolitics analysis and insights into Portuguese foreign policy, external economic relations, and cultural activities worldwide. Two issues of Negocios Estrangeiros are released annually and offer opinion pieces in Portuguese or, occasionally, in English. The 18th issue which saw the light of day recently features a collection of essays with themes ranging from current analysis pertinent to the realm of international politics to extremely thought-provoking basic studies.

  • Category: Experts |
  • Date: 16-05-2012, 16:32
  • Views: 3 508

THE EUROPE MEETS RUSSIA conference in Berlin brought together young leaders from the European Union and the CIS. Its very tight schedule was smartly developed by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy. However, culture was not discussed much and there were few Russia's speakers.

Taking part in this year's Europe Meets Russia discussions were two former foreign ministers of Estonia, one of whom is a current member of Estonia's parliament, and, for some reason, Moldova's ambassador to Germany. One of the speakers on the last day of the conference was former Russian Premier Mikhail Kasyanov. Europe's delegates also included former high-profile officials and NGO delegates from Germany, Great Britain and Sweden. I attended two discussions and gave a talk.

The most delightful part, however, was to see and hear young delegates who continue as students of European higher schools or lead their independent public organizations. They asked direct questions, without false political correctness, to indicate they were eager to comprehend the complex subject of relations between Russia and Europe.

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky said that there is a certain type of people who require it to be explained to them every time, why a bad smell comes from a dunghill. "It stinks!" - They are told, but they either do not really understand, or pretend not to. To argue with such people is a waste of time. For this reason, discussions about the unfortunates, who staged a dance in the church of Christ the Savior, is fruitless. What is only surprising is when we had the time to acquire such a crowd of semi- cultured and semi-educated people without any moral sense of smell. But it's not about them, they are not interested.

American author Anne O'Hare McCormick (1880-1954), whose life experience was interwoven with both world wars, packaged into a single phrase the lessons to be derived from the tumultuous epochs when she famously wrote: “Today the real test of power is not capacity to make war but the capacity to prevent it.” The new paradigm that fleetingly appeared to take shape crashed in no time, and it transpired that great power statuses would be steadily re-expressed in terms of nuclear deterrents, potentials for assured mutual destruction, and the abilities to sustain multiple regional armed conflicts in remote parts of the globe. Recurring in every serious military doctrine, the criteria outlived the Cold War and, slightly diluted, continue to underlie today's international politics.

OVER THE PAST SEVEN YEARS, the number of physical reprisals and terrorist acts against Christians in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East has increased by 309%.

The Arab Spring has added momentum to this process, causing it to snowball. By the end of last year, 200,000 Copts had left their homes to escape the repressions of the new Egyptian authorities. Notwithstanding the NATO contingents deployed in the country, the reprisals aimed against Christians in Iraq have reduced their numbers from one million to less than 500,000. According to UN data, in South Sudan, in spite of the world community's intermediation, between 53,000 and 75,000 people have been forced to leave their historical place of residence. Furthermore, they, like thousands of other Christian refugees from the East, have little chance of returning - their homes are being torn down and plundered.

Whereas at the beginning of the 20th century, 25% of Christians of all confessions lived close to their main shrines in the Middle East, today this number has shrunk to less than 5%. It is worth noting that acts of vandalism and physical reprisals are frequently carried out with the tacit support or direct assistance of the governments of Muslim countries.

Late in December 1921, the people's commissariats and other depart¬ments of Moscow and Petrograd were informed: "Subscription to the periodicals of the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (NKID) is going on. The NKID Bulletin has been replaced with the Mezhdunarodnaia zhizn journal, a much wider publication in which N. Iordansky, M. Litvinov, I. Maysky, M. Pavlovich, K. Radek, and G. Chicherin will be personally involved." This was obviously suggested by the new economic policy. The publishing department of NKID deemed it necessary to "inform all Soviet departments as well as Party and public structures that starting with January 1 free distribution of NKID publica¬tions will be discontinued... all organizations should subscribe to these editions well in advance." The circular quoted the prices: 2 rubles 65 kopeks in prewar rubles or $2.65 for subscribers abroad.

As distinct from its predecessor the new publication was a journal in the true sense of the word: it carried signed articles stamped with indi¬vidual style, commented surveys of events in other countries and of emi¬gre publications, foreign press comments, political calendar, and official information.

A recent TV film about Zhukov, for all its conventionality and weightiness, unexpectedly sharply raised the issue of the need to "defend" the defenders. One can read the biographies of great generals, Suvorov for example, and you will see hardly anyone of them avoid disgrace.

It is not just about protecting the prestige of the military class, because it was high enough in the days of Suvorov, and in the times of Zhukov.

The paradox is that the army is one of the most "vulnerable" institutions in society. Its structure consists of a mass of interconnected parts, and each of them is important. Ideally, the structure combines the most sophisticated philosophy of war with the everyday life of the common soldier. Even in an over-democratic society, the army is always hierarchical. In these circumstances, any changes, not to mention reforms, affect not only the individual parts of the body, we call the "army", but its condition as a whole.

Oil embargo of the European Union on Iran: punishment with postponement - “War of nerves” in the Persian Gulf -  Oil import embargo on Iran    January, 26, 2012  There are a number of factors nowadays which demolish the War Conceptions,  well-established from the Clausewitz times on. The conception and practice to conduct the so-called “ Total Wars”, have passed away. The main purpose of those wars was to annihilate the enemy man-power as well to annihilate the man-power resources, able to compensate for the losses, incurred within long-distance front lines. To gain efficient threatening effect, the abolishment of the civilian population was well acceptable here too. As a matter of fact, Hitler was following the conception of Total War verdadero.

Disorganization, destruction of the vitally important infrastructure and communications, blinding of the enemy means of detection – here are the essential methods to conduct a modern war. The main idea here is not to annihilate the enemy manpower but to gain the maximum shock effect,  destined  to suppress the enemy will-power and ability to resist. Exactly a similar scenario was written  for Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and which now seems to be being prepared for Iran too.      

At least, the formula, which says that “the war means the continuation of politics but with other means” is still vivid, at the first glance. But under the present situation and circumstances this phrase is far from being able to surely determine every time the motivation of this or that war or find what or whose interests are provided with the certain hostilities. In other words, it still presents not easy at all today to answer the following question: “ The continuation of whose or what politics or interests may  provide some certain war?” 

The European Council Resolution, that imposes  embargo on the Iranian oil import, has abruptly aggravated the situation around Tehran and even if it does not bring Iran on the edge of War, then it surely pushes it this way. The Leader of the British Laborites, Mr. Miliband, has already named this process as “Lunatic sliding down to War”.

150 years ago, on the 3rd of February 1862, in the old style calendar, or 15th of February in the new calendar *Savva Timofeyevich Morozov was born in the Bogorosky district of Moscow.

 I always wondered how small Gorky’s characters, such as Clim Samgin and Bulychov stand next to a boulder such as Savva Morozov. But, would it not seem to be just as easy to draw from real life, especially for someone like Maxim Gorky, who knew Morozov very well. But such is the property of denunciation of socially charged literature from all times - the living image ruthlessly bent under the stilted idea. However, the truth of life always takes its toll, and often fails to sound the trumpet in triumphant hymn, but in evidence of bitter loss and devastation.

Not long ago, before the tragic events in Syria began, Anglican pastor Padgett went to Homs, Aleppo and Damascus, to study the situation of the Christian communities there. He mingled with people of different social status and religion. He wrote in the wake of his fresh impressions "Everywhere in these places Bashar Assad is seen as the" right "or only person capable of implementing gradual reforms, or at worst as the most preferred of the candidates that could guarantee social stability and freedom of religion ... Have we learned nothing from our previous experiences of interference in the Middle East?”  So exclaimed the pastor.

One cannot say that the "hysteria" in the West about the veto of Russia and China in the anti-Syrian resolution at the Security Council indicates that they flatly refuse to understand the logic of Moscow and Beijing’s actions. If it is”hysteria", then it is controlled and managed.

The unpreparedness of the opposition to put forward a more or less coherent program for the rebuilding of Syria, except for the slogan "Down with Assad" is obvious to Washington and its allies. Today the Syrian opposition does not have a leader acceptable to the West and willing to provide a unifying platform. "In some cases, they hate each other more than the regime," said an expert from the Henry Jackson Society.