Jacques Baud: “The goal is not to help Ukraine, but to fight Putin”

This interview comes to us through the kind courtesy of the Swiss journal, Zeitgeschehen im Fokus. In it, Jacques Baud brings us up-to-date on the Ukraine situation, while providing us with great insights, in his usual, inimitable way. He is in conversation with Thomas Kaiser. [Note: This English translation of the original German interview has been exclusively updated by Jacques Baud. Translated from the German by N. Dass.]

Thomas Kaiser-Zeitgeschehen im Fokus (TK): You cannot recognize Switzerland in a certain sense. Everything that was of importance to the state is being thrown away, almost hand-over-fist. What’s your view?

Jacques Baud (JB): We are indeed in a state of hysteria; and it is unbelievable how people forget the fundamental principles of the rule of law. This is a fundamental problem—you forget your own foundations, your own identity. Regardless of who is fighting each other, it is not our fight, and it is an advantage not to be involved in the fight, because that creates the opportunity to develop better solutions and help defuse the problem.

TK: A neutral state could make a positive contribution here?

JB: Yes, but that is exactly what Switzerland is not doing. It behaves as if it were a party in this conflict. This prevents Switzerland from finding a balanced, objective and impartial solution. This is a key point, nota bene for the international community as a whole, not only for Switzerland. The difference is only that Switzerland should be neutral.

TK: How is that relevant?

JB: This neutrality could be exploited, not to take sides, but to help solve the problem, regardless of who is guilty or innocent. These are different things. It’s like an arbitrator. He is not supposed to be a party. We have forgotten that. It doesn’t matter what the referee thinks about a participant, whether he finds him sympathetic or not, he must keep the same distance from both participants. Switzerland should be in this situation, but it does take advantage of it. I don’t mean financially, of course, but intellectually, legally and morally. The problem is that Switzerland forgets that it is not a warring party in this conflict.

TK: If you listen to the Swiss government or even to the narrative of some lawmakers, this neutral stance is completely blurred, even if they claim the opposite is repeatedly..

JB: It is also interesting that if one takes some distance to assess the conflict and does not immediately side with Ukraine, one is declared a ” Putin-Empathizer.” This is unbelievable. What I think about Putin has nothing to do with the assessment of the situation. That is the business of the Ukrainians. I have said this several times: if I were Ukrainian, I probably would have taken up arms. But that is not the point. I, as Swiss, will not give up my Swissness. In order to help Ukraine, I don’t have to become a Ukrainian; but I have to look at the big picture I have as Swiss to bring a less passionate but more constructive point of view. The journalists who criticize me are more Russia-haters than Ukraine-lovers.

TK: Where, then, might Switzerland’s role in this conflict lie?

JB: When an onlooker sees an old lady being attacked by a thug on the street, he does not encourage her to fight back, but tries to separate the two. We are in the situation of this onlooker; but our response is to give weapons so that Ukraine fights. For a Ukrainian it is legitimate to want to fight. But for a Swiss or another European, our role is to try to limit the damage. But no one is even attempting to do that in the West. When Zelensky was looking for a mediator, he turned to Turkey, China, and Israel. He did not choose a European Union country or even Switzerland. He understood that Switzerland is no longer an independent partner.

TK: Isn’t that the result of current Swiss foreign policy?

JB: Yes, it shows the nature of the problem. We have to make a difference between what we think about Putin and what we want to achieve politically. These are two different things. In addition, I always ask myself if are we so keen to blame the aggressor. Why didn’t we blame and sanction the U.S., the UK or France when they attacked Middle Eastern or African countries?

TK: Yes, this question really does arise.

JB: Paradoxically, everything we give to Ukraine today only highlights the help and compassion we have not given to those who have been unjustly attacked by the West in the Middle East and elsewhere. This will have consequences in the future. Many have noticed this with the refugees. The “blond, blue-eyed” refugees are gladly helped; the others are not. Maybe we can understand this, even if we cannot approve of it. But what is incomprehensible, remains the fact that we keep silent about one attacker, while another is punished with more than 6 000 sanctions.

TK: Is this not the well-known double standard?

JB: Yes, it is. It also doesn’t mean that you have to be in favor of Russia; that has nothing to do with it. If you look at Justitia, she is blind and holds a scale in her hand. That is exactly what is missing today. Western countries are partial and biased. The same applies to the European Union. A modern state should not be guided by passion, but by reason. These principles were established by Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau in the 18th century. Our “woke” culture has forgotten them. We let our feelings guide us and we follow them. That is the problem.

TK: Does that mean that the principles of the rule of law have disappeared?

JB: The rule of law means that decisions are not based on feelings or intuitions, but on the basis of facts. That is why modern states have intelligence services. This is about supporting decision-making based on facts and not on the basis of divine inspiration. This is a fundamental difference between enlightened governance and despotic obscurantism. Fighting a dictatorship does not entitle us to forget the principles of the rule of law. Since the Balkan War, the West seems to believe that the end justifies the means. It is irrelevant what individual ministers think as persons, they are allowed to hate Putin, that is their right as citizens —but not as ministers. Feelings cannot be the basis of their policy. Here I would like to refer to Henry Kissinger. He said in 2014, “Demonizing Vladimir Putin is not politics; it is an alibi for not having politics.” That’s what Henry Kissinger said; not Putin or Lukashenko. It behaves like a monarch, like Louis XIV who was guided by a divine inspiration.

“It is not about solving the problem of ‘war,’ but about eliminating the problem of ‘Putin.'”

TK: So, the Swiss government’s decision-making is more based on emotions than on reason?

JB: It is not the only one, unfortunately. This “management by Twitter” that has the upper hand in the entire Western world at the moment is absolutely inappropriate. It leads to this situation where you react before you know exactly what has happened.

Obviously, things don’t get better as a result. We close the doors. We do not communicate anymore. Diplomacy has stalled. In reality, it is not about solving the problem of “war,” but about eliminating the problem of “Putin.”

TK: Reacting before you know the details is common practice?

JB: Yes, after the missile attack on civilians at the Kramatorsk train station on April 8, the Swiss minister of Foreign Affairs summoned the Russian ambassador. At that time, however, only few details of the attack were known. Nevertheless, the Russians were accused. Today, factual evidence, such as the serial number of the missile, the direction of the launch, the type of missile and the strategy tend to indicate a Ukrainian responsibility. But without an impartial international investigation, a direct accusation of Russia means an endorsement of a possible war crime by Ukraine. That is not the way to run states. The fact that the political leadership is unable to take distance to the events is extremely disturbing.

TK: Without distance, it is probably extremely difficult to judge a situation adequately?

JB: In most cases, we are not able to distinguish between a war crime and “collateral damage.” In large part, this is because the media dictate an answer to us. What was provocation, what was reaction, what is propaganda? We don’t know. Despite everything, we accuse and sanction Russia. But if you want to condemn something, first you need an international and impartial commission of inquiry to find out what happened. What we are doing tends to exclude any possibility of dialogue, and that prevents the formulation of a crisis management strategy.

TK: So, the citizen and the state cannot have the same approach?

JB: The citizen can believe what he wants. What the ordinary citizen thinks is completely up to him. He can mean what he wants about Putin, about Russia. He can hate people if he wants to. But a state and state media cannot afford that.

TK: Why not?

JB: The role of a state is not to express the emotions of its people, but to represent their interests. Ukraine’s interest is to protect its citizens from an aggression. Switzerland’s interest should not be to support a war, but to support achieving a peaceful solution. Switzerland’s role should not be to blame or condemn. Today, Switzerland decided the second largest number of sanctions against Russia, but it didn’t apply any sanction against the US, the UK or Israel. In other words, we accept crimes when they are committed by some, but not when they are committed by others.

It has been known for a long time that Ukrainian militias commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. Switzerland has not condemned them. Currently, many Ukrainian war crimes are beginning to be denounced by Western witnesses and humanitarian workers. Their revelations are censored, like the revelation of Natalia Usmanova, censored by Reuters and Der Spiegel, which tells that it was Ukrainian militias and not Russians who prevented civilians from escaping through humanitarian corridors. By turning a blind eye to them, Switzerland is supporting practices that are prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, of which it is the depositary state.

“Kiev and the West are waging a media war against Russia and the Donbas republics.”

TK: This means that the West is promoting crises?

JB: Yes. In 2014, a similar mechanism was observed. Western “experts” and media downplayed the Ukrainians’ resistance to regime change. It had to be shown that the Maidan revolution was democratic. So, they built the myth of a Ukrainian army that was victorious against the rebels. After the defeat of the government in Donetsk, the excuse of a Russian intervention had to be invented to justify Western propaganda. This is how the first Minsk agreements came about (September 2014). Immediately after, Kiev broke the signed agreement to launch the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO). This led to a second defeat at Debaltsevo and the second Minsk agreement (February 2015). Once again, the Ukrainian defeat was attributed to Russian intervention. Therefore, Western “experts” continue to claim that these agreements were signed between Ukraine and Russia, which is not true. The Minsk Agreement was signed between Kiev and representatives of the self-proclaimed republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.

TK: What is the current assessment of the war situation?

JB: Today we can see that Kiev and the West are waging a media war against Russia and the Donbas republics. Russia, on the other hand, is waging a war on the battlefield. As a result, Ukrainians and the West are stronger in the information war, but Russia and its allies are stronger on the battlefield. Who will win? We don’t know. But what has been observed in Mariupol and the Donbas since mid-April tends to suggest that Ukrainian troops have been “abandoned” by their leadership. This observation is also made by Western volunteers who have left the battlefield due to the shortcomings of the Ukrainian command and are reporting this in the media.

TK: What does this mean specifically regarding Russian war objectives?

JB: Russia started with a limited objective. After that, the decision was made to go further. It wanted to demilitarize the threat over Donbas. Based on the first success, it wanted to start negotiations on the neutrality of Ukraine. This was a new objective, which was defined later. Putin saw a chance to achieve his goal through negotiations. If Ukraine did not accept it, he would adjust the objective accordingly. The Ukrainians don’t want negotiations; so Russia is proceeding incrementally until Ukraine agrees to a negotiated settlement.

“The Russians understand war from a Clausewitzian perspective: war is the continuation of politics by other means.”

TK: What were the original war aims?

JB: On February 24, Putin clearly stated the two war aims: “demilitarization” and “denazification,” to end the threat against the Russian-speaking population in the Donbas. Moreover, Putin stated that he did not seek to take over all of Ukraine. This is exactly what has been observed.

Russians understand war from a Clausewitzian perspective: war is the continuation of politics by other means. Therefore, they move fluidly from one to the other. The idea is to get the Ukrainian side to enter into a negotiation process.

TK: Has Ukraine seriously engaged in a negotiated settlement?

JB: On February 25th, Zelensky hinted that he was ready to negotiate with Russia. The European Union then showed up on February 27th with a 450-million Euro arms package to spur Ukraine to fight. On March 7th, with the goal of “demilitarization” and “denazification” nearly achieved and Ukraine having made no progress in negotiations, Russia added that Kiev must recognize the return of Crimea to Russia and the independence of the two Donbas republics. It made clear that its position could change if Ukraine did not want to negotiate.

TK: Has Ukraine responded to this?

JB: After the capture of Mariupol, the situation in Ukraine weakened, and on March 21st, Zelensky made an offer that was accommodating to Russia. But as in February, the EU came back two days later with a second package of 500-million Euros for weapons. The UK and the US subsequently put pressure on Zelensky to withdraw his offer. Negotiations in Istanbul subsequently stalled. This was a clear indication that de West didn’t want a negotiated solution.

TK: To what extent has Russia changed its goals?

JB: At the end of March, the goal of “denazification” was achieved with the capture of Mariupol and removed it from Russia’s objectives as part of negotiations.

On April 22nd, the Russians adjusted their goal. The Ministry of Defense announced that the new goal was to take control of the southern part of Ukraine up to Transnistria, where the Russian-speaking never felt being well treated.

As can be seen, the Russian strategy adjusts the goals depending on the military situation. What the Russians are actually doing is to turn their operational successes into a strategic success.

TK: Does this mean that the Russian targets reported by the media never existed?

JB: That’s right. Vladimir Putin never said he wanted to take Kiev. He never said he was going to take the city in two days. He never said he wanted to overthrow President Zelensky. He never said he wanted to take over all of Ukraine. He never said he was aiming for a victory on May 9th. He never said he wanted to declare that victory at the May 9th parade. He never said that he wanted to “declare war” on May 9th, in order to trigger a general mobilization.

So, by setting the objectives, the West can now claim Putin did not achieve them. The narrative that Russia is losing the war against Ukraine is based on these claims.

TK: What should come out of the military action at the end?

JB: Of course, we do not know what is going on in Vladimir Putin’s mind. But obviously there is a logic. The West is not making it easier for the Ukrainians, and the Russians are moving ahead. In the near future, we’ll see the Russian coalition “liberating” more territories. Some provinces have already decided to introduce the ruble as currency. So, things are slowly moving towards the “recreation” of some kind of Novorossiya.

TK: What do you mean by “Novorossiya,” and how should it look territorially?

JB: After the abolition of the official language law in 2014, not only the Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts rose up, but the entire Russian-speaking south of Ukraine. As a result, in October 2014, the Unified Forces of Novorossiya were formed, with units from the self-proclaimed Republics of Odessa, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, and, of course, Lugansk and Donetsk. Only Lugansk and Donetsk survived. The other “republics” have been brutally suppressed by the Kiev’s paramilitary forces. Today, the Russians are using the revival of the Novorossiya as an incentive for the Ukrainians to go to the negotiation table. If they don’t want, Russia will increase the pressure.

TK: Does Russia have a chance of success in this way?

JB: Nothing is certain. What can be said, however, is that the popular resistance to Russia in the territories it occupies is much weaker than Western experts estimated. Moreover, it is clear that the Ukrainian conduct of operations has not been effective. It seems that the Ukrainian military has lost confidence in its authorities, as it did in 2014.

TK: How do we know this?

JB: The testimonies of Western volunteer fighters who have returned from Ukraine confirm that the Ukrainian leadership is weak. It seems that the Ukrainian leadership itself is a victim of its own propaganda, which overestimates the performance of Ukrainian Forces. One gets the feeling that the political leadership is more satisfied with the messages conveyed by the West than with the actual results on the battlefield. Of course, the Western media uses the civilian and military casualty figures given by Ukraine to claim Ukraine’s victory and Russian upcoming defeat.

TK: What conclusions can we draw from this whole situation?

JB: Western activities will only prolong this war, while leaving no room for negotiations. This is exactly what the EU and Switzerland are doing. They are more part of the problem than of the solution.

TK: German Chancellor Scholz has said very clearly, “Russia must not win the war.” With that, the war will continue?

JB: That is childish. The operational situation shows that Ukraine is in a very difficult situation. I do not know whether Russia will “win” or “lose” this war. But I do know that Ukraine is no longer in a position to win militarily. On the political level, the situation may be different. This is debatable, and the future will tell. From a Western perspective, it is certainly a political defeat for Russia. However, for the rest of the world, this may not be the case. In fact, the new Eurasian bloc that will emerge from this conflict will be a significantly stronger contender for the West. We are used to see the fate of the world revolving around the West. But Asia will probably be the next “center of the world.” By isolating Russia politically from the West, you push it into the Asian bloc. In the long run, this could give Russia an advantage over Europe and the United States.

TK: You said that Ukraine cannot win the war. Is that because it is too weak militarily?

JB: There is almost no Ukrainian military left, so to speak. Most of the Ukrainian army is encircled in the Donbas and is being incrementally neutralized by the Russian coalition. The Ukrainian government just started moving territorial units from the west of the country to the Donbas. This has increased tensions, especially in the areas of the Hungarian and Romanian minorities, whose people do not appear keen to fight against the Russians. We see demonstrations of mothers and wives in the west of the country and in Kiev.

TK: Obviously, Western countries behave as if they do not want peace. No one urges caution. Before anything is known for sure, conclusions are drawn, condemnations are made, weapons are supplied. The war is kept alive. What do you think of the announced increase in arms deliveries?

JB: Regarding weapons, there are several things to consider. First, feeding a war and thus keeping it alive is not the job of the international community. By international community, I mean primarily organizations like the UN or the EU. Whether a country pursues this policy like the U.S. or Poland, that is their decision. But the purpose of an international organization is not to support international conflicts.

“Weapons disappear before they reach the front lines.”

JB: Second, it is not known where the delivered weapons actually go. Even U.S. intelligence agencies admit they don’t know. However, it is clear that all these weapons disappear before they arrive at the front. There are reports of a rise in crime in Kiev. In fact, Western countries are fueling what the Global Organized Crime Index calls “one of the largest arms trade markets in Europe.”

TK: So, what do the weapons bring to Ukraine?

JB: That’s the third aspect to look at. The weapons don’t help anything. The arms deliveries are based on the myth that Ukraine will win the war and Russia will lose. This idea is the result of the fact that the West has determined the objective of the Russians. Zelensky is demanding additional weapons because the Ukrainian army has already lost hundreds of battle tanks and artillery pieces. The few dozen supplied by the West will not change the situation. As in 2014, the main problem of the Ukrainian armed forces is not the determination of the soldiers, but the incompetence of the staff.

TK: How can Ukraine finance these weapons, or will the supplier states bear the cost out of solidarity?

JB: The weapons are provided to Ukraine on the basis of the “Lend-Lease” Law. This is a form of “leasing” that was introduced at the beginning of World War II to supply weapons to United Kingdom and the USSR. In other words, Ukraine will have to pay back for the weapons it receives. Just to give an idea, Great Britain and Russia ended the payment of their World War II debts to the USA in the year—2006!

Moreover, Ukraine is accumulating huge debts to international financial institutions (such as the IMF and the World Bank). The paradox is that, because of Western rhetoric about a country that is doing well and on the verge of defeating Russia, these institutions are reluctant to cancel its debt.

TK: So, the weapons supplied and the volunteer foreign fighters have no impact on the course of the war?

JB: They have only limited impact. Remember that, in Afghanistan the Taliban were able to prevail against the Western forces even though they were much more powerful. The Afghans had almost no heavy weapons, at most small arms. Neither the number of weapons nor their quality is decisive for victory. The biggest weakness of the Ukrainian armed forces is leadership.

TK: Why is that?

JB: The Ukrainian military leadership is bad because it is not able to integrate all parameters needed for planning and conducting battles. It makes the same mistakes as NATO forces in Afghanistan. This is not surprising, since the latter train the former. Besides, you have to master these weapons to get the most out of them tactically. They were developed for professional soldiers trained for months, not for casual soldiers trained in two weeks. That is completely unrealistic.

“The weapons that are being supplied to Ukraine have no military effect.”

TK: Do I understand you correctly—the efficiency of these delivered weapons is very low and leads to more destruction in Ukraine?

JB: The weapons being delivered, some of which are obsolete, will not affect significantly Russian operations or give an edge to the Ukrainian forces. They will only attract Russian fire to certain areas. For example, Slovakia has supplied Ukraine with the S-300 air defense system, which, as far as I know, has been moved to the vicinity of Nikolaev. Within a very short time it was destroyed by the Russians. The Russians know very well where this equipment is, and where the weapons depots are. In Zaporizhzhia were stored brand new weapons from the West. The Russians destroyed the depot with a missile, with pinpoint accuracy. The weapons delivered to Ukraine have no military impact on the course of the war.

A few howitzers are ineffective because the Russians can destroy them very fast. The Ukrainians, of course, have to get these systems to the front as quickly as possible. They have to do that by rail. The Ukrainians have electric railroads in the western part of the country. The Russians destroyed most of the electric substations of the network and the main railroads. Today, no electric locomotives are running on the network anymore. As a result, they have to bring weapons, such as tanks, to the “frontline” by road, one by one, using transporters. The problem is that these destructions affect not only military logistics, but also the economic life of the country.

TK: How did Russia react to these arms deliveries?

JB: It should be noted that before the Western arms deliveries, the Russians did not attack the railroad network. If the goal is to totally destroy Ukraine, then you have to do exactly what the West is doing now. If that is what we want. Whether it is what the West wants or not, I don’t know. But if this is the goal, this is the way to go.

Also, it is said that Russia currently has the largest inventory of Javelin missiles in the world. I don’t know if that is true, but it suggests that a large part of the weapons supplied by the West are not getting to Ukrainian fighters.

TK: The Gepard tank that the Germans want to supply has been decommissioned in the Bundeswehr. There is also no more ammunition for it in the Bundeswehr stocks. Isn’t that a point you mentioned earlier?

JB: The Gepard is an antiaircraft tank based on the chassis of the Leopard 1 main battle tank. It is a vehicle whose development goes back to the 1970s. It is a good weapon system, but it is no longer suited to modern threats. A weapon system also means logistics, maintenance and special training for the crews and mechanics. Furthermore, to be effective, such a system must be integrated into a command-and-control system. However, all of this cannot be accomplished in a matter of weeks. Basically, these weapon systems only draw Russian fire.

“A British volunteer fighter who returned from Ukraine speaks of the fighters sent to the front as ‘cannon fodder.'”

TK: Do Western countries have any hope that all this will help accomplish something?

JB: One thing is for sure—it doesn’t do anything. The British made a study of the weapons they had supplied to the Ukrainians. The results are extremely weak, and disappointing. They realized their weapons systems are too complicated, and the Ukrainian soldiers cannot operate them because they are not sufficiently trained. As for volunteer fighters, the picture is also disappointing. A British volunteer fighter who returned from Ukraine speaks of “cannon fodder,” of the fighters sent to the front. The British themselves realized that it was a waste of life and resources. That is why Boris Johnson started back-pedaling, after urging young people to fight in Ukraine. So, everything that is being done only serves to continue the war, without bringing a solution, or decisively winning over Russia. It only leads to the destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure.

TK: So, it is not a matter of helping the Ukrainian army?

JB: In theory, yes. In practice, no. Ukraine already has enormous logistical problems with its troops in the Donbas. It can hardly supply them with weapons and ammunition. And now they are creating a new problem with weapons that cannot be repaired. The mechanics are not trained to do this, nor are the crews trained to operate the equipment. Moreover, in the systems supplied by the West, the instructions and user manuals are in German, English or French, but not in Ukrainian. This sounds so trivial, but it is a problem.

That is why I say Germany also wants to stoke the crisis. This is the attitude of German politicians like Scholz, Baerbock, etc. They want to fight Putin “to the last Ukrainian.” That makes no sense.

TK: But if it is so obvious, why is the West going this way?

JB: I maintain that the West is using Ukraine against Russia. The goal is not to help Ukraine, but to fight Putin. In the English-language media, many analysts confirm that the West is waging a war against Russia through Ukraine. This is called a “proxy war.” This is the point. We are not helping Ukraine. Everything else is a lie. If I were Ukrainian, I would condemn Putin as much as Ursula von der Leyen or even Ignazio Cassis. Because instead of playing a mediating role, these politicians are satisfying their own ambitions by fueling the war in an unhealthy way.

TK: Guterres has let it be known that the war would stop, if Russia would stop the war.

JB: A war always has two parties, and in our case there are even three. We have Russia, Ukraine, and the so-called international community, that is, the Western world. It is clear that if the war is to be ended, it needs both parties, not just one. To this end, negotiations are underway in Turkey, but they are not really moving forward. Why has Ukraine withdrawn its own proposals? So, it is clear, the solution is not only on the Russian side.

TK: One has the impression that history is repeating itself.

JB: Yes, today we are in a similar situation as in 2014. The West does not want to talk to Putin because he is a dictator, and the West urges Zelensky not to make any concessions. Dialogue is therefore impossible. The problem is that Russia achieves operational success and increases its gains when there are no negotiations. The West hides behind the illusion of a Ukrainian victory. But the likelihood of it occurring is diminishing as time goes on, even though on a strategic and media level Russia appears to have lost.

TK: What should Ukraine have done?

JB: One only has to read the Minsk agreements to understand that their implementation essentially depends on constitutional reforms in Ukraine. These reforms, however, require dialogue with the autonomists. Kiev, however, has never taken these steps, and the West has never tried to get the Ukrainian authorities to do so.

What happened since 2014, happened because of Ukraine’s behavior. These agreements are not implemented, and the situation got worse and worse. That led to today’s situation; and this is a result of the previous history; the things that went on before.

TK: France and Germany were the guarantors of the Minsk agreements. What have they done to ensure that these agreements are implemented?

JB: The failure of the Western states is blatant. Ukrainians themselves have invented a new word. It is called “Macronize.” It means “doing everything to look worried, showing that to everyone, but doing nothing.” This sums up Western behavior.

No, the Western states have not taken up their responsibility in any way. Russia has now reacted to an armed conflict that has been going on since 2014 and started with the abolition of the official language law in February 2014. European states did nothing to bring peace. That is why Putin does not want to talk about war, because the war started in 2014. With the Minsk agreements, a solution was found. That is the situation. Guterres is a politician—and the problem is, we don’t have any space in the UN or in our country for politicians to express a balanced opinion. This is exactly as when George W. Bush said, “Whoever is not with us is against us.” We are exactly in that situation today—and there is no space in between at all; there is only good or evil.

TK: Are these developments intentional?

JB: The whole conflict is the result of a scenario carefully worked out by the West. Its basic components were laid out in 2019 in two papers published by the RAND Corporation, the Pentagon think tank, entitled, Overextending and Unbalancing Russia and Extending Russia. These describe the sequence of events that led to the Russian offensive in February 2022. In addition to that, promises were made to Ukraine that it would become a member of NATO if it instigated a war that led to Russia’s defeat, as Oleksiy Arestovych explained in an interview with a Ukrainian television station in March 2019. In fact, Ukrainians were lied to, as Zelensky noted on CNN on March 21, 2022.

As a matter of fact, the Russians knew for a long time that this confrontation would occur. That is why they prepared for it militarily and economically. This explains why they are withstanding the sanctions and pressure better than expected. This is also the reason why the West is using its imagination to elaborate new sanctions or new methods to impose them, such as abandoning the principle of unanimity in the EU. We have entered a phase of “cockfighting” between the West and Russia. As a result, the problem is that international institutions are no longer fulfilling their role as arbiters, but have become parties to the conflict.

TK: But then the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize a few years ago. Where is the commitment to peace?

JB: Obama got it, too. And Obama was the American president who kept his country at war from the first day of his mandate to the last. He started three wars, and the number of air strikes increased tenfold compared to his predecessor. I don’t think anybody takes the Nobel Prize seriously anymore at this point. It is purely political.

TK: Mr. Baud, thank you for talking to us.

A Philosophy of Victory

Essential internal reforms must logically begin in Russia. This is required by the Special Military Operation (SMO), which has intensified the contradictions with the West—and with the entire modern Western civilization—to the extreme. Anyone can now see that it is no longer safe to simply use the norms, methods, concepts, products of this civilization. The West spreads, along with its technology, its ideology, which then permeates all spheres of life. If we recognize ourselves as a part of Western civilization, then we must readily agree to this total colonization and even enjoy it (like in the 1990s). But in the case of the current confrontation, which is fatal!—such an attitude is unacceptable. Many Westerners and liberals have already become fully aware of this and have therefore left Russia just when the break with Western civilization had become irreversible. And it became irreversible on February 24, 2022, and even two days earlier—at the moment of recognition of independence of the DPR and LPR—on February 22, 2022.

In principle, everyone has the right to make a civilizational choice of loyalty or betrayal. At least with those who are involved, everything is clear—it is clear now and was clear before. At least they are consistent—after losing liberalism in Russia, they went off to their own.

It is more complicated with those who are still here. I mean those Westerners and liberals who still share the basic norms of modern Western civilization, but for some reason continue to stay in Russia, despite the rupture that has already taken place between it and the West. They are the main obstacle to real and full-fledged patriotic reforms.

Reforms were inevitable, because Russia found itself not only cut off from the West, but also essentially at war with it. On the eve of World War II, the USSR had a sufficient number of important strategic industries created by Nazi Germany. And relations between the USSR and the Third Reich were not particularly hostile. But after June 22, 1941 obviously the situation changed dramatically. Under those conditions, continuing cooperating with the Germans—legitimate and encouraged before the war—took on an entirely different meaning. Exactly the same thing happened after February 22, 2022—those who continued to remain in the paradigm of the hostile (liberal-fascist) civilization, with which we are at war, found themselves outside the ideological space that clearly emerged with the beginning of the SMO.

While the presence of Germany on the eve of WWII in the USSR was specific and single-pointed, the presence of the liberal-fascist Russophobe West on the eve of the SMO was well-nigh total. Western technologies of methodology, norms, know-how, and even, in part, values permeate our entire society. This calls for a radical revision. But who will carry it out? The people who were educated during perestroika? The liberal and criminal 1990s? The people of the 1980s and 1990s who were trained and educated in the 2000s? All of these periods were under the basic influence of liberalism as an ideology, as a paradigm, as a fundamental and comprehensive position in philosophy, science, politics, education, culture, technology, economics, the media, even in fashion and in life. Contemporary Russia knows only the inertial ruins of the Soviet paradigm and everything else is pure liberal Westernism.

There is no alternative paradigm; at least none in power or among the elite, at the level at which the civilizational confrontation should now unfold.

Today, we oppose the West as a civilization against a civilization. And we need to define what kind of civilization we are. Otherwise, no military, political and economic successes will help us. Everything will be reversible. The trend will change and everything will collapse (I’m not even talking about the necessity to explain to Ukrainians, who will henceforth be inside our zone of influence or directly inside Russia) who are we, after all? At the moment there is only the inertia of Soviet memory (“granny with a flag”), Western Nazi propaganda (“vatniki”, “occupants”), our—so far only initial—military successes and complete confusion in the local population. And here the voice of Russian civilization should sound. Clearly, distinctly, convincingly. And its peals must be heard in Ukraine, and on the territory of Eurasia, and in the whole world. It is not only desirable, it is vital, just as cartridges, missiles, copters and bulletproof vests are needed at the front.

It is most logical to begin the reforms with philosophy. It is necessary to form the General Staff of the Russian Logos, either on the basis of an existing institution (after all, not a single humanitarian institution can or will ever do this: liberalism and Westernism still dominate everywhere), or in the form of something fundamentally new. Hegel said that the greatness of a nation begins with the creation of a great philosophy. He said it, and he did it. This is precisely what Russian philosophers need today, not vague and out-of-touch agreement about the SMO. We need a new Russian philosophy. Russian in content, in essence.

And the reform of all other branches of humanitarian and natural science knowledge should start from this paradigm. Sociology, psychology, anthropology, culturology, as well as economics, and even physics, chemistry, biology, etc. are based on philosophy, are its derivatives. Scientists often forget this; but recall what “PhD” actually means, in any of the humanities or the natural sciences. PhD—“philosophiae doctor;” that is, “doctor of philosophy.” If you are not a philosopher, you are an apprentice at best, not a scientist (“doctor” is Latin for “scholar,” “learned”).

This is where the most important internal battle of starting civilizational reforms in Russia itself (as well as in the entire space of our expansion, in the entire zone of our influence) will unfold—the battle for Russian philosophy begins.

And here there is a clearly shaped pole of the internal enemy. These are representatives of the liberal paradigm—from analytical philosophy to the postmodern, to the completely feeble-minded cognitivists and transhumanists, who maniacally insist on reducing man to a machine. I’m not even talking about outright liberals and liberal progressives, proponents of the totalitarian concept of “open society,” feminism, queer studies, and the “queer culture” raised on sorority grants. This is pure “fifth column”—something like the Azov Battalion banned in Russia.

It is very easy to draw a portrait of the philosophical enemy of the Russian Idea and Russian civilization. It is not simply a question of connections with Western scientific and intelligence centers (which are often on quite close terms), but also of adherence to a number of quite formalizable attitudes:

  • belief in the universality of modern Western civilization (Eurocentrism, civilizational racism);
  • hyper-materialism—up to and including deep ecology and object-oriented ontology;
  • methodological and ethical individualism—whence the philosophy of gender (as a social option) and in the limit transhumanism;
  • techno-progressivism, the development of Artificial Intelligence and “thinking” neural networks;
  • hatred of classical theologies, spiritual Tradition, philosophy of eternity;
  • denial or ironic ridicule of identity;
  • anti-essentialism, etc.

This is a kind of “philosophical Ukraine,” scattered throughout virtually every scientific and educational institution that has anything to do with philosophy or basic scientific epistemes. These are signs of philosophical Russophobia, since the Russian Idea is built on the basis of directly opposite principles:

  • the identity of Russian civilization (Slavophiles, Danilevsky, Eurasians);
  • placing the spirit over matter;
  • communality, collegiality—a collectivist anthropology;
  • deep humanism;
  • devotion to Tradition;
  • careful preservation of identity, nationality;
  • belief in the spiritual nature of the essence of things, etc.

Those who set the tone in contemporary Russian philosophy vehemently defend liberal attitudes and just as vehemently reject Russian ones. Such is the powerful stronghold of liberal Nazism within Russia.

It is precisely this firing-point of the enemy, this high-ground, that we will have to take in the next phase. Moreover, liberal Nazis are defending themselves against philosophy no less fiercely than the Azov Battalion or the desperate Ukrainian terrorists from Popasna. They wage information wars, write denunciations of patriots, and use all levers of corruption and apparatus influence.

At this point, it is appropriate to recall a little—personal, but very revealing—incident about my dismissal from the Moscow State University (MSU) in the summer of 2014 (note the date).

From 2008 to 2014, at the Sociology Department of MSU, together with the Dean and founder of the department, Vladimir Ivanovich Dobrenkov, we organized the rigorous work of the Center for Conservative Studies, where we did just that—undertake the development of a Russian civilizational epistemological paradigm. Without hesitation, we supported a “Russian Spring.”

But, in response, we received a vicious letter from…Ukrainian philosophers (initiated by the Kyiv Nazi Sergey Datsyuk), demanding the “expulsion of Dobrenkov and me from MSU. And most strangely—but then, not very strangely—the leadership of MSU met the demand. Dobrenkov was removed from the post of Dean, and I, frankly, left of my own accord, although it looked like dismissal. I was asked to stay, but on humiliating terms. Of course, it was not Sadovnichy who resolved this issue, but he was rather gracious and open-minded and approved my appointment as the Head of the Department, which passed all voting procedures at the Academic Council of Moscow State University.

But then, something happened. The “Russian Spring” was curtailed. And the question of the Russian world, Russian civilization, and the Russian Logos was removed from the agenda altogether. But it was symbolic—the initiators of the abolition of the Center for Conservative Studies at Moscow State University were Ukrainian Nazis—theorists and practitioners of Russian genocide in Donbass and Eastern Ukraine as a whole. Exactly the same people with whom we are now at war.

This is how liberal fascism penetrates Russia. Or rather, it penetrated a long time ago; but that is how its mechanisms work. A denunciation comes from Kiev; someone inside the Administration supports it; and the next initiative to deploy the Russian Idea collapses.

Of course, you can’t stop me—over the years I’ve written 24 volumes of Noomachy, and the last three are devoted to the Russian Logos. But the institutionalization of the Russian Idea has again been postponed.

My example, of course, is not an isolated one. All or almost all thinkers and theorists involved in justifying the identity of Russian civilization have experienced something similar. We are dealing with a philosophical war. A real one—a fierce and well-organized opposition to the Russian Idea, supervised from abroad, but carried out by local liberals or just ordinary officials, passively following fashion and trends and a well-organized information strategy of direct agents of influence.

We are now at the point where the institutionalization of Russian Discourse is needed. Everyone has seen in our information war how controllable and manipulable the attitudes and processes in society are. But this is a consequence. The most serious clashes take place at the level of paradigms and epistemes. He who controls knowledge, Michel Foucault wrote, is the one who has true power. True power is power over the minds and souls of people.

Philosophy is the most important front line, and its implications are far superior to the news from Ukraine that every Russian is so avidly watching today—how are our people doing? What new frontiers have they seized? Has the enemy wavered? Herein lies the main obstacle to our victory.

What we need is a philosophy of victory. Without it, all will be in vain, and all our successes will easily be turned into defeat.

All true reforms must begin in the realm of the Spirit. And as news from the front is sought in the news—what about the institution of philosophy? Still holding its ground? Has it surrendered yet?

Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.

Featured image: “Fireworks on Victory Day,” by Mikhail Bobyshovl painted in 1961.

Civilization State, or the Multi-Polar World

The Special Military Operation in Ukraine (SMO) is widely recognized by competent experts in International Relations as the final and decisive moment in the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world.

Multipolarity often seems intuitively clear; but as soon as we try to give a precise definition or a correct theoretical description, everything becomes less obvious. I believe that my work A Theory of a Multi-polar World is more relevant today than ever before. But since people have forgotten how to read—especially lengthy theoretical texts, I will try to share the main points.

The main actor of a multipolar world order is neither a nation-state (as in the realist theory of International Relations), nor a unified World Government (as in the liberalist theory of International Relations). It is civilization state. Other names for it are “big space,” “Empire,” “ecumenism.”

The term “civilization state” is most often applied to China. Both ancient and modern. As early as ancient times, the Chinese developed the theory of “Tianxia” (天下), the “Celestial Empire,” according to which China is the center of the world, being the meeting place of unifying Heaven and dividing Earth. And the “Celestial Empire” may be a single state; or it may be broken up into its components and then reassembled. In addition, Han China itself acted as a culture-forming force for neighboring nations that were not directly part of China—primarily Korea, Vietnam, the Indochina countries and even Japan, which is quite independent.

The nation-state is a product of the European New Age, and in some cases a post-colonial construct. The civilization state has ancient roots and uncertain, shifting boundaries. The civilization state at times pulsates, expanding and contracting, while always remaining a constant phenomenon. (This is what, above all else, we need to know about our SMO.)

Contemporary China behaves strictly according to the principle of “Tianxia” in international politics. The One Belt, One Road Initiative is a prime example of what this looks like in practice. And China’s Internet, which cuts off any networks and resources that might weaken the civilizational identity at the entrance to China, demonstrates how the defense mechanisms are built.

The civilization state may interact with the outside world, but it never becomes dependent on it and always maintains self-sufficiency, autonomy and autarchy.

Civilization state is always more than just a state in both spatial and temporal (historical) terms.

Russia is increasingly gravitating toward the same status. After the beginning of the SMO, this was no longer mere wishful thinking, but an urgent necessity. As in the case of China, Russia has every reason to claim to be precisely a civilization. This theory was most fully developed by the Russian Eurasians, who introduced the notion of a “world-state,” or—which is the same thing—”Russian world. Actually, the concept of Russia-Eurasia is a direct indication of the civilizational status of Russia. Russia is more than a nation-state (which the Russian Federation is). Russia is a separate world.

Russia was a civilization in the era of the Empire, and remained so in Soviet times. Ideologies and regimes changed, but the identity remained the same.

The struggle for Ukraine is nothing less than a struggle for the civilization state. The same as the peaceful Union State of Russia and Belarus and the economic integration of the post-Soviet Eurasian space.

A multipolar world consists of civilization states. This is a kind of world of worlds, a megacosmos that includes entire galaxies. And here it is important to determine how many such civilization states can even theoretically exist?

Undoubtedly, this type includes India, a typical civilization state, which even today has enough potential to become a full-fledged actor in international politics.

Then there is the Islamic world, from Indonesia to Morocco. Here the fragmentation into states and different ethno-cultural enclaves does not yet allow us to speak of political unity. Islamic civilization exists, but the question of its assembly into a civilization state is rather problematic. Moreover, the history of Islam knows several types of civilization states, from the Caliphate (the First, Umayyad, Abbasid, etc.) to the three components of Genghis Khan’s Empire that converted to Islam (the Golden Horde, the Ilkhan and Chagatai ulus), the Persian Safavid Empire, the Great Moghul state, and finally, the Ottoman Empire. The borders once drawn are still relevant today in many respects. But the process of gathering them into a single structure requires considerable time and effort.

Latin America and Africa, two macro-civilizations that remain quite separate, are in a similar position. But a multipolar world will somehow push integration processes in all these zones.

Now the most important thing—what to do with the West? The theory of a multipolar world in the nomenclature of theories of International Relations in the modern West is absent.

The dominant paradigm there today is liberalism, which denies any sort of sovereignty and autonomy, abolishes civilizations and religions, ethnicities and cultures, replacing them by a forced liberal ideology, the concept of “human rights,” individualism (in the extreme leading to gender and transgender politics), materialism and technical progress elevated to the highest value (Artificial Intelligence). The goal of liberalism is to abolish nation-states and establish a World Government based on Western norms and rules.

This is the line pursued by Biden and the modern Democrat Party in the U.S., as well as most European rulers. This is what globalism is all about. It categorically rejects civilization state and any hint of multipolarity. That is why the West is ready for war with Russia and China. In a sense, this war is already going on in Ukraine and in the Pacific (the problem of Taiwan)—but so far via proxy-actors.

In the West, there is another influential school—realism in International Relations. Here the nation-state is considered a necessary element of the world order; but only those who have achieved a high level of economic, military-strategic and technological development—almost always at the expense of others—have sovereignty. While liberals see the future in a World Government, realists see it in an alliance of major Western powers setting global rules in their own interests. Again, both in theory and in practice, civilization state and a multipolar world are categorically rejected.

This creates a fundamental conflict already at the level of theory. And the lack of mutual understanding here leads to the most radical consequences at the level of direct collision.

In the eyes of supporters of multipolarity, the West is also a civilization state or even two—North American and European. But Western intellectuals do not agree with this; they have no theoretical frame for this—they know either liberalism or realism, and no multipolarity.

However, there are exceptions among Western theorists, such as Samuel Huntington or Fabio Petito. They—unlike the vast majority—recognize multipolarity and the emergence of new actors in the form of civilizations. This is gratifying, because through such ideas it is possible to build a bridge for supporters of multipolarity (Russia, China, etc.) to the West. Such a bridge would at least make negotiations possible. As long as the West categorically rejects multipolarity and the very notion of the civilization state, the conversation will be conducted only at the level of a clash of brute force—from military operations to economic blockade, information and sanction wars, and so on.

Finally, to win this war and defend itself, Russia itself must first clearly comprehend multipolarity. We are already fighting for it, but still do not fully understand what it is. It is necessary to urgently dissolve the liberal structures created in the Gorbachev-Yeltsin period and establish new multipolar structures. It is also necessary to restructure the educational paradigm itself—first of all at MGIMO, MGU, PFUR, the Maurice Thorez Institute, the Diplomatic Academy, and other specialized universities. Lastly, we need to really turn to a developed and fully-fledged Eurasian school of thought, which has proven to be highly relevant, but against which the overt and covert Atlantists and foreign agents, who deeply penetrate our society, continue to fight.

Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.

Featured image: “The Course of Empire: Consummation,” by Thomas Cole; painted in 1836.

Poland and the Partition of Ukraine

In regards to Poland… The plan to hand Western Ukraine over to Poland existed even before the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO) in the Ukraine, when the West was only considering the possibility of such a conflict. NATO believed that Russia would destroy the command center in Kiev at the very beginning of the SMO, and this would be the cue for Poland. The transfer of embassies from Kiev to Lvov was linked to this.

Russia’s strategy of focusing on Donbass and liberating Novorossia, with some delay in the operation as a result of Kiev-sanctioned terrorist (Syrian) strategy by the Nazis in eastern Ukraine, as well as the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kiev, modified the initial plan. For a moment, it seemed to the West that the Russian attack had fizzled out. In this situation, the Polish scenario was postponed.

It was revived after the sorry surrender of the neo-Nazis from the Russian-banned Azov Battalion. It became clear that Russia would sooner or later liberate Donbass and then Novorossiya, and that the Nazi front was about to fall. It was at this point that the West again turned to the “Western Ukraine as part of Poland” plan. Duda’s visit and Zelenski’s unprecedented moves to integrate Ukraine with Poland—in fact, the abolition of the border—are a watershed moment. The plan, ready from the start, has become valid again.

On the one hand, this greatly simplifies Russia’s task. Now it is obvious to everyone that the Western line in Ukrainian politics has reached a critical point, and the choice is no longer between a “non-independent Ukraine” and the return of Novorossia to Russia, but where Ukrainians will live—in Russia or in Poland. This is how the dream of the EU and NATO is realized.

But for Eastern Ukraine it is not acceptable at all. It will finally become clear to everyone here what Russia came for. And this means that the pro-Russian underground will revive, and the patriots will begin to exterminate the gravediggers of Ukraine little by little on their own.

There will also be some resistance in the west of Ukraine, but it is not yet clear what will come first—the slavish aspiration to join the EU and NATO, or straightforward Ukrainian nationalism. However, this is of secondary importance: Kiev is controlled from Washington, and the local population and its sentiments are irrelevant. Russia acts as the liberator of the united Russian people, which is what it has been since the 17th century.

Apparently, that is why the question of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and the banning of the deputy of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine has become so acute. Everything indicates that integration into Poland is being prepared at an accelerated pace.

This could have been advantageous, if it were only about Novorossia for us. We will liberate the territory from Odessa to Kharkov, and in one way or another we will annex it. This is already beyond question. Western Ukraine as part of Poland is, at first glance, acceptable. For us it is ours; and the other half of the failed Ukraine goes back to what it was hoping for.
But there is another side.

First, NATO will still expand in our direction, and significantly. Even if not to the full extent, but half as much.

Secondly, the introduction of Polish troops would mean the direct participation of NATO in the conflict, which means that everything moves to a new level of escalation. The likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons increases. The question again arises about the red lines, which Russia has established with such difficulty and at such a price. And the borders between Eastern and Western Ukraine, or more precisely between Poland and Russia, will have to be defined in battles with the NATO contingent. This is highly problematic and risks moving the situation into the category of World War III.

And finally, in the third place. Russia, by agreeing to Poland’s annexation of Western Ukraine, loses its status as friend and liberator of the fraternal Ukrainian people, albeit a status that is not yet obvious to many. The state “Ukraine” no longer exists. But there are Ukrainians; and there are Orthodox Ukrainians; and in Western Ukraine they are still a majority. This is a problem. It turns out that we exchange “our” half of the Ukrainians for “someone else’s” half. And that is a trade transaction, not the fulfillment of a liberation mission.

As a private matter: the withdrawal of Western Ukraine to Poland can serve as an excellent argument for captive Ukrainians to take our side with fervor and rage and liberate what they consider “their land” under our command.

After Duda’s visit, Moscow has to solve a new dilemma. How should one deal with the direct involvement of Poland in the war against us?

Historically, the Russian Empire and then the USSR expanded westward in stages. One zone after another was conquered from Poland and the Ottoman Empire, right up to the Great Patriotic War, when Western Ukraine was also included in the USSR. Of course, this is not a linear process—there were also partitions of Poland, which for centuries ended up under the direct rule of Russia. And even earlier, there were battles for Kiev between the princes of Vladimir and Galicia. There were also repeated attempts to establish in Western Ukraine a metropolis, separate from the Great Russian metropolis. Ukraine is a frontier; a zone between two civilizations—Russian (Eurasian) and Western European; and earlier a zone between three—the Turkish-Islamic, from which the Russian Empire recaptured Novorossia, populating it with its own—both Great Russian peasantry and brotherly Little Russian Cossacks.

Therefore, changing hands was the fate of Ukraine. Hence the dual identity of being Russian, or anti-Russian. Hence the loyalty and betrayal deeply rooted in frontier culture. Taras Bulba and his son. Bogdan Khmelnitsky and Mazepa. The border runs through families, through hearts.

The activation of Poland’s role in the conflict aggravates the degree of the war between Russia and the West, civilization against civilization.
Theoretically, there are two solutions:

Agree to partition Ukraine, while trying to take as much as possible, and allowing Poland to act for itself rather than on behalf of NATO;
or go all the way with the risk of escalating the confrontation to the level of nuclear confrontation.

From the beginning of the SMO, I assumed that we would come to exactly this dilemma at some point. But it seemed to me that it would come to the fore during the fighting for Kiev. Events are unfolding according to a somewhat different logic, which does not cancel the basic geopolitical regularities, only framing them each time in an original and unpredictable way. This is what living history is all about—both to follow the lines of destiny and to deviate from them. If one raises the question of ending the SWU and any negotiations before the complete liberation of Novorossia, it is pure betrayal—only a “foreign agent” can advocate this. But the question of Western Ukraine is not so clear.

If it were not for the risk of nuclear war, I would be inclined to establish control over the entire territory of Ukraine. This would coincide with the president’s stated goals of demilitarization and denazification—in order to realize them, full control over the territory is necessary. It is clear that we would get a time bomb inside our territory. But after the excesses inevitable during military operations, normalization of both eastern and western Ukraine would require extraordinary efforts, from our side in any case. Things have become too brutal and bloody to hope for simple solutions. All of Ukraine is a challenge to our very being, and if we can deal with Eastern Ukraine, we will somehow deal with Western Ukraine as well. And, very importantly, we will preserve the church.

But at the same time, to limit ourselves to liberating Novorossia—with or without Kiev—would not be a direct “betrayal.” This plan can be considered, without betraying Russian destiny. There is room here for political realism, weighing the pros and cons, and considering the consequences. But at the start of the SMO—there was no such opportunity. It is a question of to be or not to be; and it is decided in favor of to be. The foothold of traitors is undone; and most importantly, the decision is irreversible.

With Poland the situation is different. And in some ways, it is no less complicated. If the duty of a patriot is to demand from the authorities the complete liberation of Novorossia, no matter what, then, in my opinion, in regards to the situation with Poland, the duty of a patriot is to accept the decision that the Supreme Commander-in-Chief will make.

A true victory begins with the liberation of Novorossia. After that, it’s up to God.

Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.

A Stepping-Stone out of the Cave: An Interview with Daria Dugin

Here is a fascinating interview with Daria Dugin, the daughter of the philosopher Alexander Dugin. The conversation is wide-ranging and serves to contextualize what is currently happening in the world, namely, the struggle between globalist hegemony and multipolar alliances. This interview is made available through the kind courtesy of Breizh-Info.

Breizh-info (BI): Would you introduce yourself to our readers? Isn’t it difficult for you sometimes to bear the name of Dugin, and thus to be necessarily assimilated to your father?

Daria Dugin (DD): I graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy at Moscow State University with a degree in the history of philosophy. My research focused on the political philosophy of late Neoplatonism, a subject of endless interest. The main line of thought in the political philosophy of the late Neoplatonists is the development of the idea of an omology of the soul and the state and the existence of a similar threefold order in both. Just as there are three bases in the soul, so in the state (and the Platonists describe the Indo-European model, later perfectly theorized in the work of Georges Dumézil) there are also three domains—this model manifests itself in antiquity and the Middle Ages. The existential and psychic understanding of politics is in fact lost in many ways today. We are used to seeing politics only as a technique. But Platonism reveals a deep link between political and psychic processes. There is an urgent need today to restore such a comprehensive view of political processes; that is, to examine “existential politics.”

Daria Dugin.

I am honored to be in the same boat as my father (on the same existential ship), being the daughter of a great researcher of the Tradition, author of the 24-volume work Noomachia (“wars of the mind”—an analysis through the three logos of all the cultures of the world). The fact that we are under sanctions from the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom is also a symbol that we, Dugins, are on the path of truth in the fight against globalism. Therefore, I would say that it is an honor to be born in such a family.

BI: Tell us about your current work?

DD: I am a political observer of the International Eurasist Movement and an expert in international relations. My field of activity is the analysis of European politics as well as geopolitics. In this capacity, I appear on Russian, Pakistani, Turkish, Chinese and Indian television channels, presenting a multipolar world-view of political processes.

My areas of interest are both the European civilization space and the Middle East, where a kind of conservative revolution is taking place—from Iran’s constant confrontation with American hegemony or Syria’s struggle against Western imperialism, to Turkey, which is now showing interesting tendencies to move away from NATO and the Anglo-Saxon geopolitical bloc and is trying to build its foreign policy on a multipolar basis, engaging in a dialogue with the Eurasian civilization. I think it is important to follow the processes in the Middle East region; it is one of the stages of the struggle against imperialism.

On the other hand, I am also very interested in African countries; they represent “The Other” for Europe and Russia, from the analysis of which one can better understand his own civilization. Africa has always been an element of dream for Europeans as well as for Russians—remember Arthur Rimbaud’s Journey to Abyssinia and Harrar, or the Russian poet Nikolai Goumilev, who was inspired by Rimbaud (“African Diary”) and a series of poems about Africa, in which he actually reveals Africa as an unexplored civilization, full of meaning, which Western colonialism cruelly tried to undo and destroy. Today, tectonic shifts are occurring on the African continent, and the confrontation of civilizations: Western and authentically African (so different and unique) is extremely interesting.

For me, a particularly important topic is the development of the theory of a multipolar world. It is clear that the globalist moment is over. The end of liberalism is now at hand—the end of liberal history. At the same time, it is extremely important to understand that a new stage full of challenges, provocations and complexities has begun. The process of creating multipolarity, of structuring civilizational blocs and establishing a dialogue between them is the main task of all intellectuals today. Samuel Huntington, as a realist of international relations, has rightly warned against the risks of a clash of civilizations. Fabio Petito, a specialist in international relations, stressed that the construction of a “dialogue of civilizations” is the central task and “the only way forward.”

Thus, in order to consolidate the multipolar world, the border areas (intermediaries) between civilizations must be treated with care. All conflicts take place at the borders (intermediate zones) of civilizations, where attitudes clash. It is therefore essential to develop a “border” (intermediate) mindset, if the multipolar world is to function fully and move from a “clash” to a “dialogue” of civilizations. Without this, there is a risk of a “clash.”

BI: What is your view on the war in Ukraine? And on the reactions in the West and in the world?

DD: The situation in Ukraine is precisely an example of a clash of civilizations; it can be seen as a clash of globalist and Eurasian civilizations. After the “great geopolitical catastrophe” (as the Russian president called the collapse of the USSR), the territories of the once-united country became “frontiers” (intermediate zones)—those spaces to which the attention of neighbors increased, with NATO and especially the United States interested in destabilizing the situation on Russia’s borders.

In the 1990s, consistent work was initiated with the frameworks of the new governments, of the new states. Ukraine is no exception. The 2014 events in Ukraine, the Maidan, supported so fervently by both Nuland and the famous Bernard-Henri Levy (soldier of ultra-globalization), were a turning point; in fact, they opened the door to the establishment of a direct globalist dictate over Ukraine. Moreover, liberal and nationalist elements, which were more or less neutral before 2014, joined a united front with a globalist and pro-American agenda. For eight years in Ukraine, Russophobia was cultivated by various programs and history was rewritten, until the physical massacre of Russians—the same eibght terrible years for the Donbass with daily bombings. The French public can listen to the documentary filmmaker Anne Laure Bonnel, witness of these eight years in Donetsk, who is not afraid to tell the truth in her films and interviews.

The unanimous support of the West for Ukraine in 2022, the supply of weapons on an unthinkable scale—all this looks like agony—the agony of a globalist regime that is beginning to lose ground to multipolarity. For me, the most important pain is that Europe has succumbed to the influence of globalist propaganda, and instead of remaining neutral, has sided with the war. In many ways, this was certainly the plan of the United States, which had so systematically and continuously provoked the entire conflict by pumping weapons into Ukraine. From the U.S. alone (according to Transparency International), over $658 million was invested in aid to Ukraine between 2014 and 2017.

At the same time, we see that Latin American countries, the Middle East, China and India have not adopted a globalist position. Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said his country “firmly” adheres to Russia’s position. In Cuba, people were seen carrying Russian flags and Z-symbols during a demonstration on May 1, as mentioned by the German channel ZDF. Argentina has accused the West of having double standards. The country’s vice-president, Cristina Kirchner, said the country was in conflict with London over the Falkland Islands. In Brazil, presidential candidate Lula da Silva said in turn that Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky was responsible for what was happening in his country. China spoke out against NATO expansion and U.S. provocations. India tried to maintain its strategic neutrality (in the 1990s, India itself was the target of painful U.S. and Western sanctions for refusing to join the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty)—the country whose oxygen the West sought to cut off and deprive of high technology, then stood its ground (largely through cooperation with Russia, which did not join the sanctions and advocated their abolition).

A number of Middle Eastern countries supported Russia’s special military operation (Syria, a long-time Russian ally, knows the battle against globalism better than anyone). There are growing calls for NATO withdrawal in Turkey, and the president refused to approve the admission of Sweden and Finland to NATO.

Many African countries, especially those with strong antiglobalist sentiment, have not supported Western criticism of Russia (Mali, Sudan, CAR, Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo, Eritrea). These reactions indicate the end of the myth of a “single world space.” Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine has accelerated the formation of a multipolar world and catalyzed many geopolitical processes.

BI: Don’t you think that Russia is isolating itself? What do you think will be the consequences of all this?

DD: I think it is the opposite. Russia is finding new partners and the processes of sovereignty (e.g., economic de-dollarization) are starting to accelerate. Russia is trying to be “punished” by Western countries through sanctions. But the effect on the Russian economy is not very noticeable (“International sanctions against Russia do not seem to impact the daily life of Muscovites,” a journalist mentions in a report by BFM TV). The sanction-policy of the West has been a catalyst for the search for new partners and the de-Westernization of our country.

At the same time, these sanctions have hit European countries hard, becoming a kind of “hara-kiri” for many European economies. This is very disturbing news. But apparently that was also part of the American plot to destabilize the European continent. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that Budapest does not support the imposition of ill-considered sanctions against Russia. “Sanctions against Russia are like an atomic bomb; they could lead us not only to not being able to feed our population but also to receiving a mass of migrants at the border,” said the Hungarian Prime Minister.

New blocs have emerged. “Developing countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and others that refused to take sides, following Western sanctions against Russia, should consider ways to strengthen their economic coordination to withstand further shocks from the West. It is important to note that developing countries should seek a solution through financial and trade cooperation,” wrote a reporter for China’s Global Times. These are very interesting geopolitical processes. So, Russia has not been a victim of isolation—it has been the pioneer of a multipolar world order.

BI: How does the Russian population react to this war, which has obviously already caused a lot of losses on the Russian side?

DD: Any military operation always involves losses. It should be noted that the figures provided by Ukrainian sources (and they are the ones that are broadcast in the Western media) are not correct and should be verified. We are facing a situation of information war in which everything from military reports to figures is politicized.

In the Western media, there is unfortunately hardly any alternative view of events. In 2016, Ofpra produced a dossier on Pravy Sektor (“Right Sector”), an ultra-Ukrainian group: “Pravy Sektor is subject to allegations of anti-Semitism and xenophobia, homophobic demonstrations, illegal detentions and other abuses of power. It created an armed militia, the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps, which was involved in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass. Tensions between the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps and the authorities continued until the Corps was integrated into the regular armed forces.”

Those who were looked at with suspicion in 2016, have become heroes in 2022. The wives of the fighters of Azov (a group responsible for the cruel murders of Russians in Donbass) meet the Pope in the Vatican. It is very strange that something that seemed forbidden only two years ago has become mainstream in Europe. Or the meeting of BHL with Marchenko, the former head of the Russophobic and xenophobic radical battalion Aydar (a terrorist organization banned in Russia).

Today, liberalism goes hand-in-hand with xenophobia and Nazism. This is a paradox. But it can be explained if we understand the “totalitarian nature” of modern liberalism. This is the subject of manipulation of information and data.

As for the reaction of the Russians, the overwhelming majority supports the special military operation. In their eyes, it is an understandable defense of Russia’s geopolitical interests and a fight against Russophobia, because a regime has formed in Kiev that denies Russians the right to self-determination (language, culture, identity) and existence. Some elements of society immediately left the country after the outbreak of hostilities—they went to the United States, Europe and Israel. Significantly, Anatoly Chubais, former head of the Russian presidential administration and one of the ideologues and leaders of economic reforms in Russia in the 1990s, left the country. In the 1990s, the Patriotic Front called him a “traitor” and responsible for Russia’s economic difficulties. This is symbolic. There are such cases, for sure.

Everyone around me supports the special military operation, not only in words, but also, for many, in deeds, providing humanitarian aid to refugees and the region. Moreover, they have not only been doing so for the last few months, but for many years—over the same eight years that the West knows so little about.

BI: As a journalist, what do you think about the censorship of RT in the European Union, or of Sputnik, and the silence (if not approval) of a majority of European journalists?

DD: This is an unprecedented case of violation of the “freedom of expression.” Freedom of expression implies the possibility of different points of view, sometimes unpalatable to the authorities. RT and Sputnik are not instruments of Russian propaganda, but platforms for discussion. I watched many programs of RT France, and they were interesting because they included experts with an alternative point of view to that of the mainstream media. The fact that journalists in Europe did not react in any way to these blockades shows the “totalitarian” nature of the entire Western media world. This is very sad. Let’s hope that the re-information media will remain active and will hasten the destruction of the disinformation block.

BI: In France, the economic consequences are already being felt (notably the increase in gas prices). How can a vicious circle be avoided?

DD: The anti-Russian sanctions are beginning to drain the European economy. Le Pen, during the debate with Macron, rightly called them “hara-kiri” for the French economy. But let’s think—who needs a weakened Europe? Afflicted after COVID, weakened by anti-Russian sanctions, Europe will have to focus all its forces on the issue of rescuing its own economy. In such a situation the beneficiaries are the USA, which will manage to establish its control over the continent.

An independent Rimland is unacceptable for the Anglo-Saxon civilization. The growing anti-American and anti-NATO sentiment (in France, note, Mélanchon, Le Pen, Zemmour and many other candidates have actively criticized France’s membership in NATO and called for an almost Gaullist scenario of 1966) is a threat to the world domination of the USA. Therefore, the idea of anti-Russian sanctions was implemented with the self-serving aim of weakening the region. The EU elites have acted as intermediaries, proxies of the globalists in this enterprise, and have dealt a blow to the welfare of peoples and European populations.

BI: A final word?

DD: I urge all readers to think critically and question the reports published by the media. If the Western liberal elites insist so much on supporting Kiev and demonizing Moscow, it is because there is a profit logic behind it. Everything must be questioned. This is an important principle that allows us to keep a sober eye.

In a society of spectacle, of propaganda and of the totalitarian nature of Western systems, doubt is a fundamental stepping-stone to get out of the cave.

Featured image: “Plato’s Cave (Study for a Monument),” by Tom Hopkins; painted in 1986.

Martin Heidegger, Russia and Political Philosophy

Martin Heidegger’s writings have recently attracted a great deal of interest in various countries. Interpretations of his texts differ. But what is interesting is the constant criticism of his legacy by liberals, no matter where it occurs, no matter what the object of this criticism is (whether his work as a university professor, his interest in ancient Greek philosophy and related interpretations concerning modernity, or his position on the German political regime before and after 1945). One gets the impression that liberals want to deliberately demonize Heidegger and his writings—the depth of thought of the German philosopher does not give them peace of mind. And it is clear why—his work contains a message to create a counter-liberal project that can be implemented in many different forms.

Dasein and the Political

This will be discussed in more detail below, but for now it is necessary to make a brief excursus into the history of the study of Martin Heidegger’s ideas in Russia.

In the Soviet Union, Martin Heidegger’s ideas were not known to the general public. First, because his activities peaked in the period when the Nazis were in power in Germany. Heidegger himself, like many ideologues of the conservative revolution in Germany, criticized many aspects of National Socialism, but in the Soviet era all philosophy that did not follow the Marxist tradition was considered bourgeois, false and harmful. The only exception is perhaps the work of Vladimir Bibikhin; but his translations of Being and Time and On Time and Being were published in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. In addition, these translations were repeatedly criticized for their simplistic approach, misinterpretation of terms, linguistic errors, etc. And the lecture courses on early Heidegger at Moscow State University were given by Bibikhin in 1990-1992—the time of late perestroika, when much was allowed in the USSR. Nevertheless, it can be noted that in Moscow, in the late 1980s, a circle of followers of Heidegger’s ideas formed in the scientific community. There was a similar situation in St. Petersburg, which was later reflected in translation and publishing activities.

Since the late 1990s other works of the German thinker have been translated and published. The quality of the translation has improved considerably (other authors have been doing this), and Heidegger’s legacy began to be taught at various universities in the country. For philosophy departments, Heidegger’s basic concepts have become compulsory for students to know. However, the study of philosophical ideas does not mean that students will become philosophers or that they will refer to certain concepts in relation to political processes. Plato and Aristotle are studied in high school—but who now seriously uses the various ideas of these philosophers of ancient Greece when discussing socio-political issues?

Interest in Heidegger’s ideas, in the context of Russian politics, was stimulated by articles and speeches by the Russian philosopher and geopolitician Alexander Dugin in the mid-2000s; and later these ideas were systematized and presented in voluminous texts.

In 2010, Dugin’s book, Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning, was published by the Academic Project; and the following year its logical sequel, Martin Heidegger: The Possibility of Russian Philosophy, was published. In 2014, the same publisher published both books in a combined volume entitled, Martin Heidegger. The Last God.

Dugin’s interpretation of Heidegger’s ideas is also linked to the history of Russian ideas, Orthodox Christianity, and the particular path of state development (including the theory of Eurasianism).

Of course, it makes no sense to retell Heidegger’s philosophical teachings in a journal publication. About a hundred volumes have been published in Germany, including entire works, lectures and diaries. Let us dwell only on a few points which, in our view, are applicable to the political context.

First, Heidegger has many neologisms that he introduced to describe the unfolding of time and being. The key concept is Dasein, often translated as “Here-Being.” The French philosopher Henri Corbin translated the term as “human reality.” But to fully understand many terms, it is better not to translate, but to try to fathom in the original by finding something similar in the native language. For example, das Man expresses the inauthentic Dasein, which has fallen into the everyday. And in authentic existentialism, Dasein has the property of being to death, Sein zum Tode, which represents essential horror. Terror is the opposite of fear, which fills the world with external things and the inner world with empty experiences.

Interestingly, modern Western politics and liberalism as such are built on fear. This tendency goes back centuries and is directly linked to the formation of Western (European) philosophy.

Let us add that one of the properties of Dasein is spatiality, since space depends on Dasein. But on the other hand, it is not a function of time. Conditionally Dasein is between the external and the internal, the past and the present; it is borderline and instantaneous.

And Dasein has existential capacities—being-in-the-world (In-der-Welt-Sein), being-in (In-sein), being-with (Mitsein), care (die Sorge), abandonment (Geworfenheit), disposedness (Befindlichkeit), fear (Furcht), understanding (Verstehen), discourse/telling (Rede), mood (Stimmung).

Another important element of Heidegger’s philosophy is the theme of the fourfold (Geviert), which is Heaven, Gods, Earth and People. They are depicted in this way: Heaven at the top left; Gods (immortal) at the top right; People (mortal) at the bottom left’ and Earth at the bottom right. There is an axis between the humans and the gods, as well as between Heaven and Earth. The bosom of the quadruped is the most authentic modus vivendi of Dasein existence.

It should also be noted that Heidegger separates the former from the past, the present from what is now, and the future from what is to come. Dasein, according to Heidegger, must make a fundamental choice—between the coming and the future, i.e., the choice of authentic existentialism and questioning of Beyng (Seyn) directly. Then the coming will become the future. If it chooses non-authentic existentialism, then the future will only be the future, and therefore it will not exist.

Describing all these elements of Heidegger’s philosophy in detail, Alexander Dugin asks the question—Can we speak of a specifically Russian Dasein? What are its existential potentialities? How does it differ from the European Dasein? He comes to the conclusion that a specific Russian Dasein exists. And not only Russian. At the basis of every civilization there is a special “thinking presence,” Dasein, which predetermines the structure of the Logos of that civilization. Consequently, each nation (civilization) has its own special set of existentials.

It is telling that in 2016 Heidegger’s diaries Ponderings II-VI, known as the Black Notebooks, 1931-1938, were published in Russia, and were issued by the Gaidar Institute, a liberal organization that in conservative circles in Russia is considered an agent of Western influence in the country (Yegor Gaidar was the author of liberal economic reforms in Russia under President Yeltsin. He was the Minister of Finance in 1992, and also served as Acting Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation and Acting Minister of Economy of Russia in 1993-1994. Because of his reforms, inflation started in the country, the process of privatization was launched, and many sectors of the economy were destroyed).

It is considered Heidegger’s most politicized work, since in his diaries he speaks not only of the philosophical categories that troubled him, but also of the role of the Germans in history, upbringing and education, and the political project of National Socialism.

The Gaidar Institute was probably aiming at yet another attempt to discredit Heidegger’s teaching; but it worked the other way around. The publication of the diaries was received with great interest.

It is also paradoxical that it was in this book that Heidegger criticized liberalism, noting that the “liberal” sees “connectedness” in his own way. He sees only “He sees only ‘dependencies’—’influences,’ but he never understands that there can be an influencing which is of service to the genuine basic stream of all flowing and provides a path and a direction” (45, 106, p. 28).

Here are a few more quotations from this work, which, in our opinion, are interesting in the framework of the topic under consideration:

“The metaphysics of Dasein must become deeper in accord with the innermost structure of that metaphysics and must expand into the metapolitics “of” the historical people” (22, 54, p. 91).

“The worthiness for power out of the greatness of Dasein—and Dasein out of the truth of its mission” (7, 22, p. 83).

“Education—the effective and binding realization of the power of the state, taking that power as the will of a people to itself” (17, 45, p. 89).

“At issue is a leap into specifically historical Da-sein. This leap can be carried out only as the liberation of what is given as endowment into what is given as task” (35, 98, p. 173).

As Dugin points out, while early Heidegger assumed that Dasein is something given, later Heidegger concluded that Dasein is something that must be found, justified and constituted. And in order to do this, a serious thought process must first be undertaken (see, Heidegger’s What is Called Thinking).

It is important to understand that although Heidegger’s ideas are considered a kind of completion of European philosophy (which began with the ancient Greeks—and this is symbolic, since Heidegger built his hypotheses on an analysis of the texts of ancient Greek philosophers), he was often classified as a thinker who overcame Eurocentrism. For this reason, many of Heidegger’s concepts were positively received during his lifetime in regions where a critical direction of philosophy was developing in relation to the European heritage as a whole.

In the twentieth century, for example, there was great interest in Heidegger’s work in Latin America. In Brazil, Vicente Fereira da Silva, in Argentina Carlos Astrada, Vicente Fantone, Henrique Dussel and Francisco Romero, in Venezuela Juan David García Bacca, and in Colombia Rubén Xierra Mejía turned to Heidegger’s work.

The Iranian philosopher Ahmad Fardid’s words that Heidegger can be perceived as a figure of world significance, and not just as a representative of European thought, also confirm this.

Since Fardid himself was a consistent critic of Western philosophy (his concept of Gharbzadegi— intoxication with the West—is well known), which he said contributed to the emergence of nihilism; this admission is quite revealing.

Not only in Iran, but also in other Asian countries, Heidegger had followers. In Japan, his student Nishida Kitaro founded the Kyoto School of Philosophy in the 1930s, although Heidegger himself was recognized in this country as a carrier of the European spirit (after the Meiji reforms in Japan, there was an excessive fascination with everything European, especially German culture and philosophy). However, it is interesting that the concept of “existence” applied by Heidegger was reinterpreted in Japan in the Buddhist spirit as “actual being” (genjitsu sonzai), and the Nothing was interpreted as “emptiness” (shunya). That is, the Japanese took Martin Heidegger’s basic concepts as they understood them and often mixed his terms with those of European existentialists, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Gabriel Marcel. Another Japanese philosopher, Nishitani Keiji, also adapted Heidegger’s ideas to traditional Eastern models, as was often done in the East.

Parallels between Eastern traditional philosophy and Martin Heidegger’s analysis have also been drawn in Korea (Hwa Yol Jung).

In this respect, Russia and the study of Martin Heidegger’s legacy is a kind of bridge between Europe and the East, between the rigid rationalism that began to consume European consciousness from the Middle Ages and the abstract contemplative thinking characteristic of Asian peoples.

To be blunt—Eurasianism and Heideggerianism are, in a sense, interrelated and spiritually close trends among contemporary ideological currents in Russia.

There can only be a profound understanding of the one when the other is understood; although separately the two schools can also be seen as independent philosophical teachings (which is often done by secular scholars and opportunistic political scientists).

Leonid Savin, is Editor-in-Chief of the Geopolitika.ru Analytical Center, General Director of the Cultural and Territorial Spaces Monitoring and Forecasting Foundation and Head of the International Eurasia Movement Administration. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitika.

Featured image: “Heidegger,” by Fabrizio Cassetta; painted in 2012.

Geopolitical Procrastination

Carl von Clausewitz’s formula that war is the continuation of politics by other means is reinforced in the 21st century by geoeconomics, where supply chains, promising technologies and control over financial and other assets simply compel decisions to be made quickly and to consider the cascading effects that can arise in a complex situation. The special operation in the Ukraine is a good proof of this thesis. If Russia had not launched this operation, Ukrainian troops, supported by NATO, would have launched a massive attack on the Donbass and even the Crimean Peninsula in the very near future. Conflict could not have been avoided, but Russia was ahead of Ukraine and its Western sponsors.

All the while that this situation was brewing, some of Russia’s assets continued to be held in the West. Now they are frozen and will probably be confiscated. It was possible to start withdrawing them back into Russia in December, when proposals on reformatting the European security architecture were sent from the Russian side to the United States and NATO. However, this was not done. It is difficult to imagine the collective West would have approved the Russian operation in Ukraine; or at the least stayed away. Signals of support for Kiev (and, consequently, indirect threats against Moscow) had been coming from Washington and Brussels for the past eight years. Russia’s armed forces were quite prepared; but it must be admitted that on some issues Russia was too late. And now it has to make up for lost time, which is much more difficult in the current circumstances.

Such procrastination is not unique to Russia. Many states, both in the West and in other parts of the world, often suffer from inflated expectations, unfulfilled promises from partners, and unfulfilled hopes of the cargo-cult that someone on the outside will solve their problems and make them happy in the very near future. Some political powers rely on their natural resources, which can be valuable and attractive. Others rely on technology, such as El Salvador, which has even converted some of its national reserves into cryptocurrency. Others rely on an exceptional geopolitical position, as in the case of Panama. And the fourth, like many Western countries, on the endless status quo of their own hegemony, which is now rapidly eroding.

The current crisis highlights numerous nuances and allows us to see how other actors act on the basis of their interests and capabilities. India has decided to sharply increase the purchase of Russian oil, taking advantage of huge discounts, which indicates independence in the choice of decisions with a clear political connotation. Some Arab countries are active, reacting flexibly to economic changes, but not taking sides definitively. In ASEAN, they are pragmatically calculating moves, perfectly aware of the growing power of China.

The U.S. is trying to maintain solidarity in NATO and even to extend politico-military mechanisms into the Asian region, closer to the Celestial Empire. The EU countries are floundering, rationally calculating future losses but afraid to take sovereign decisions contrary to U.S. guidelines and the assertions of the Brussels bureaucracy. Britain, it seems, is counting on a long-term confrontation with Russia; so, it is already taking measures for its energy supply. It has decided to abandon the construction of wind turbines, which were planned as a transition to green energy. Instead, new nuclear power plants will be built. It is assumed that up to a quarter of all electricity by 2050 will be produced in nuclear power plants. This decision is logical, since gas supplies from Russia may stop.

But we cannot say that the lack of a visible response is geopolitical procrastination. There is also the factor of strategic culture, as in the case of China. Although analysts and observers in the West have made hasty conclusions about China’s role and function in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine (supported by the West), necessarily pointing to Taiwan as some kind of parallel, this case is much more complex and interesting than it might seem at first glance. The stratagems of Sun Tzu and Wu Tzu are uncomplicated, but they refer to certain historical events, and so in the Chinese mind they are associated with the past. When Western authors tie these or other Chinese stratagems to some current events they make the typical mistake of misperception of Eastern culture, superimposed on their own pride. Chinese strategy is much more multilayered, and the political leaders there are more patient. But their agility is the envy of even the nimblest countries.

The Solomon Islands is a case in point. In 2019, the islands’ leaders severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Ties were soon established with China. Parallel to the diplomatic tensions on the islands, the old inter-ethnic conflict flared up again. Since no help was forthcoming from neighboring Australia and New Zealand to fight the insurgency (and the prime minister did appeal to these states), China was chosen as the future protector. The planned treaty between China and the Solomon Islands allowed Chinese ships to call at ports and make logistical replenishments. Australia and New Zealand immediately threw a tantrum, accusing China of establishing a military base near them, although there is no such provision in the draft treaty.

But if we are talking about the confrontation between Russia and the West, what is urgent now is to completely cut off deliveries to unfriendly countries of those products that are critical to their industries or are involved in production chains. Why go into geopolitical procrastination and wait until they themselves find an alternative solution and arrogantly impose new sanctions on these products? It is better to be proactive. Russia is not as consumer-centric as the West; so temporary restrictions will not pose a threat to Russian statehood. On the contrary, it will help to mobilize and consolidate the people and the authorities in the face of external challenges.

Leonid Savin, is Editor-in-Chief of the Geopolitika.ru Analytical Center, General Director of the Cultural and Territorial Spaces Monitoring and Forecasting Foundation and Head of the International Eurasia Movement Administration. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitika.

Featured image: “Procrastination,” by Yana Chenya.

Sweden in NATO

Unlike Finland, Sweden does not share a border with Russia, so its membership in the North Atlantic Alliance might not be perceived as problematic. On the other hand, any strengthening of NATO is a challenge, as this bloc itself is a threat to Russia and Belarus (and not only to these two).

Sweden’s neutrality is questionable. To see this, it is enough to look at official statistics of NATO.

Cooperation between them began when Sweden joined the Partnership for Peace program in 1994 and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (a multilateral forum for dialogue that brings together all allies and partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic region) in 1997.

Sweden is one of six countries (known as “Partners with Enhanced Capabilities” under the Partnership Interoperability Initiative) that contribute particularly significantly to NATO operations and other Alliance goals. Thus, the country has increased its capacity for dialogue and cooperation with Allies.

There is now regular political dialogue and consultation between NATO and Sweden in the form of sharing information about hybrid warfare, coordinating training and exercises, and raising general situational awareness to address common threats and develop joint actions, if necessary.

Sweden first contributed to a NATO-led operation in 1995, when it sent a battalion to the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has further supported the NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo since 1999.

Swedish personnel worked alongside NATO forces in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from 2003 until the end of the ISAF mission in 2014. Sweden also supported the follow-on Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to further train, assist and advise Afghan security forces and agencies, until its conclusion in September 2021. Sweden has contributed more than $13 million to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund.

In April 2011, Sweden contributed to Operation Unified Protector (OUP), the NATO military operation in Libya, under UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973. Sweden is also participating in the NATO Mission in Iraq.

In addition, Sweden has signed a memorandum of understanding for host nation support, which, subject to a national decision, allows logistical support to Allied troops on, or transiting through, its territory during exercises or in a crisis.

Sweden also supports a number of NATO Trust Fund projects in other partner countries that focus on areas such as training and assessment of military units, medical rehabilitation of wounded soldiers, explosive ordnance disposal and countering improvised explosive devices, and professional development of security-sector personnel.

Sweden participates in the Planning and Review Process, which helps the country develop its military capabilities and improve the interoperability of Swedish Armed Forces with allies and other partners.

Sweden participates in the NATO Operational Capability Concept, which uses an assessment and feedback program to develop and train partner land, sea, air or special operations forces that strive to meet NATO standards.

Sweden participates in numerous exercises and has also participated in the NATO Cyber Coalition exercise.

Sweden is cooperating with several other countries to develop a multinational rapid reaction force for European Union (EU)-led peacekeeping operations.

Since 2014, as part of the Interoperability Partnership Initiative, Sweden has participated in the Interoperability Platform, which brings together allies with selected partners involved in NATO operations.

Sweden participates in two strategic air transport initiatives: the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) program and the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS).

NATO values Sweden’s role in training the armed forces of other NATO partner countries. The Swedish Armed Forces International Centre (SWEDINT) conducts exercises and training with a focus on humanitarian assistance, rescue services, peacekeeping operations, civil preparedness and democratic control of the armed forces. The Nordic Center for Gender in Military Operations is also located at SWEDINT.

Sweden has close ties with other Nordic countries and participates in the Nordic Defense Cooperation (Nordefco), a regional defense initiative that promotes cooperation between Nordic armed forces.

In other words, Swedish-NATO cooperation is very active and longstanding. And Stockholm has helped NATO in every way possible to carry out military aggression in other countries.

It should be noted that a broad debate about the possibility of Sweden joining NATO began in late December 2012, when Swedish Defense Minister General Sverker Joransson stated in a widely circulated interview that if Sweden were attacked, it could defend itself for only one week before foreign aid was needed.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen later added that although Sweden is NATO’s most active and most capable partner, it cannot count on assistance in case of attack because the security guarantee in Article 5 of the Alliance applies only to members of NATO, an organization Sweden had refused to join.

But Swedish Defense Minister Karin Enström said in a later interview that Sweden can count on EU assistance because the Lisbon Treaty includes a solidarity clause, Article 42.7, obliging EU member states to assist other EU members in case of catastrophic events or attacks.

Naturally, in 2014, after the situation with Crimea, the U.S. began to actively incite Sweden to join NATO, along with actively circulated statements about possible “Moscow’s aggression.” American experts believe that in a NATO conflict with Russia, for example, “during a Russian invasion of the Baltic states, Sweden would be deeply involved.” Since Finland acts as a buffer against Russia, an attack from the land is highly unlikely.

In fact, Sweden would face three defensive tasks: defense against Russian air and missile attacks, defense of its vast territory against Russian infiltration, and defense of the island of Gotland and other key infrastructure so that NATO armed forces can use them to defend the entry of troops into the Baltic states and other places. This requires prepositioning aircraft and air defenses to cover Gotland and a number of positions in Sweden. It would cost U.S. $3.2 billion, and NATO would need to add another $6.4 billion.

The number of supporters of the country joining NATO in Sweden has been growing steadily year-by-year. While 10 years ago, in 2012, polls showed that only 18% thought they should become a member of the alliance and 44% were against it, in 2015, 38% were already in favor and 31% were against it.

It was not only external propagandists and their agents, like Carl Bildt, who worked on NATO’s image. Many Swedish international scholars also contributed to the pro-NATO discourse. They argued that the change in popular support for NATO in Sweden was made possible by appealing to the dominant discourses of “idealism” and “active internationalism.”

Once an integral part of Swedish state identity, the theme of “neutrality” was replaced by justifications for the continued existence and expansion of NATO in the post-Cold War period. The meaning of “solidarity” was also changed to imply that states that care about peace should not act as “stowaways,” but should be willing to act in solidarity with other European and democratic states against tyrants and terrorists.

Even in 2015, active cooperation between NATO, Sweden and Finland was seen in Stockholm as a kind of new norm necessary for security in the Baltic, though previously , in practice, Sweden had effectively used informal bilateral cooperation with the United States and other European states to ensure its security.

Therefore, the myth of the country’s “armed neutrality” policy during the Cold War was not the key obstacle to gaining public support for NATO membership.

As in neighboring Finland, panicked rumors and Russophobic sentiments have been spreading in Sweden of late. Gunilla Gerolf of the Swedish Institute for International Affairs told The National News that “the Russians will not respect Swedish territory. They will make sure that on the first day we can’t use credit cards or have electricity. That’s what people expect and prepare for.”

According to her, Swedes are buying special water tanks, handheld radios, camping stoves and extra food in case of conflict. The Swedish government is also making plans to replenish the large Vattenfall oil reservoir and to use the power plant built during the Cold War.

Gerolf also believes that the island of Gotland, which was militarized again a few years ago, will serve as a support base to “deter the Russians”—or perhaps as provocation and attacks?

Most recently, Sweden took part in cyber maneuvers under NATO auspices, in December 2021. And in March-April of this year, military exercises (VIKING 22) were held on Swedish territory, where representatives of Ukraine were also present. In February 2021, the Swedish Ministry of Defense established the Centre of Special Operations Research, whose leadership included representatives from NATO headquarters and the U.S. Air Force.

As for the defense industry, Sweden’s defense industry possesses “significant advanced technology and combat capability,” having strong industrial alliances with Great Britain, the United States and Germany. This allowed it to develop systems such as the NLAW anti-tank weapon, which was used in Ukraine against Russian forces, in conjunction with Great Britain.

The products of the Swedish military-industrial complex also include the Gripen multi-role warplane, advanced electronic warfare, aerial surveillance, intelligent artillery and counter-battery radars, all of which will be useful for future NATO allies, presumably against Russia. Therefore, the response must represent more than the standard protest notes and/or IKEA store closures.

Leonid Savin, is Editor-in-Chief of the Geopolitika.ru Analytical Center, General Director of the Cultural and Territorial Spaces Monitoring and Forecasting Foundation and Head of the International Eurasia Movement Administration. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitika.

Featured image: “Triumph of Charles X Gustavus over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth,” anonymous, ca. 1655.

Disaster Capitalism and the War in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine is a tragedy. Few can fail to be unmoved by the daily accounts of suffering. Equally it is clear that war crimes have been committed. But what a reading of recent Postil articles reveals is that this was could and should have been avoided. If Jaques Baud is right (Postil April 11 and May 1, 2022) then this conflict makes no sense whatsoever. It seems that the USA, the UK and France, after having successfully sabotaged the Minsk agreement, are now fighting a proxy war with Russia. They encouraged Ukraine to poke the Russian Bear. Putin had been reluctant to rise to the bait but eventually felt he had no choice but to intervene.

To some scholars of USA Foreign policy, the current war is part of a global strategy to establish unchallenged world-wide dominance. Some 20 highly-credentialed analysts contributed to Lendman, S. 2014 book, Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US drive for hegemony risks World War III. They argue that Obama’s pivot was global, in pursuit of unchallenged worldwide dominance, leading to multiple direct and proxy wars. Neocon-dominated Washington seeks to marginalize its Russian and Chinese rivals, surrounding both countries with US bases. Ukraine is in the eye of the storm, the crown jewel of NATO eastward expansion, the last step in Washington’s drive to incorporate all former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries into NATO and install missile defense sites on Russia’s very border. We should not lose sight of the fact that Joe Biden was not just Obama’s vice-president—he had an active hand in the shaping of US foreign policy during Obama’s presidency. It seems that he is picking up where Obama had left off. Yet I cannot help but ask “who benefits from this war?”

There does not seem to be much of a benefit for Western Europe and indeed the rest of the world as the conflict threatens global shortages in food supply. Europe still relies heavily on Russian oil and gas and that too is now placed at risk; if the conflict is not resolved in time, it can create domestic tensions as the price of energy rises. The price that Europe will be paying will be in the form of very expensive energy and food shortages—it may be bearable during the Northern Summer but winter could be a different story. It seems that this is a risky venture in which no-one benefits.

However, let us consider three factors: the military industrial complex, the global energy shortage, and disaster capitalism. Our understanding of all three will enable us to make some sense of the Ukrainian conflict.

The Military-Industrial Complex

World War I introduced the world to a total, global tragedy. The belligerents made full use of their global resources. Neutral countries helped to maintain the industrial violence by shifting to the industrialized production of munitions, food and other supplies. War had become a profitable business.

The First World War may be regarded as the origins of the military-industrial complex. Free trade had been the cornerstone of liberal democracies—the war changed that. Governments now placed restrictions with whom one could trade. In the past such restrictions had been imposed to protect local industry; now they were imposed to protect the nation. However, the war also changed one other important element. In times of war, governments relied on securing their resources from either their domestic suppliers or from neutral or friendly foreign suppliers. Government contracts are lucrative. Little wonder that by1961 President Eisenhower saw fit to warn: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

The military-industrial complex relied on governments to do two things: firstly, lubricate the wheels of international diplomacy to gain access to foreign markets, and secondly have a willingness to place the nation on a permanent war-footing.

In the current conflict, the three nations that have been most active in providing support for the Ukrainians have been the USA, UK and France—these three nations are responsible for 57%, 9% and 5.3% of global arms sales. Thus, the $33 billion that President Biden is providing to the Ukraine is effectively a grant to the USA manufacturers. This underlines that these three nations are not disinterested parties in this conflict—the funds promised to Ukraine for weapons will be spent domestically. It also means that by presenting this war as a fight for democracy there will be very little criticism of this expenditure.

Eisenhower’s concerns were well founded. The military-industrial complex has become a significant part of the USA economy; but whilst a substantial player it is not in the top 15 manufacturing companies. However, that can be misleading. Table 1 below shows that some of the top 15 manufacturing companies also have interest in war. Car and electronic component manufacturers would be interested in tendering for a range of government contracts. All these companies will be lobbying government to ensure that the political climate remains conducive for their businesses.

The fact that so many global corporations stand to benefit from government spending on the war effort means that those corporations will have a vested interest in ensuring that the West does not falter in its prosecution of the war. If we add to this the anti-Chinese policy, we can see that the West is being softened up to see Russia and China as two enemies who must be stopped at all costs.

In that context, simply note the double standards that apply to human rights violations. Russia and China are portrayed in the media as being despotic and anti-democratic. Much is made of the way religious minorities are treated. The challenge for any commentator is to contradict that narrative, for there is much that is reprehensible about the way people are treated in China and Russia. But—we have to ask why do we hear so little about the internal politics of countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Hungary or Poland? The same countries who are welcoming Ukrainian refugees with open arms have been less than welcoming to refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, or Burma. One cannot help but feel that the confected moral outrage will be limited to actions by nations that do not support Washington’s crusade.

Global Energy Shortage

In 1972, the Club of Rome Report, The Limits to Growth, posited that the world was heading for a global energy shortage. At the time, it was dismissed as another Malthusian chimera. However, in 2009, Turner published, A comparison of the limits of growth with thirty years of reality. Given the complexity of the Report, it is rare for its forecast to yield such uncompromising confirmation. The Report had predicted that the world was heading for a global collapse by the second decade of the 21st century.

Meanwhile, Kjell Aleklett in another peer-reviewed work demonstrated that the world had reached the state of peak oil. This basically means that the cost of extracting various oil and natural gas was becoming less and less profitable—we would need to become accustomed to a world of energy shortages. The global corporations had grown and expanded on the back of plentiful and comparatively cost-effective energy.

For a time, Covid had hidden the advent of peak energy. The conflict in the Ukraine provides the world with another means of disguising the reality. The countries which are the most reliant on plentiful cheap energy are also the ones who are engaged in what could reasonably be referred to as a crusade against Russia. Thus, all energy shortages may be sheeted home to Russia; there can be no question that it is due to the failure of the various Western governments to protect their people from the energy crisis.

But that is not all. The USA and the West have not abandoned their Cold War rhetoric—Putin has been a road block to the Americans. The incessant speculation that the war will hasten the end of the Putin era is a mixture of wistful thinking and propaganda. The removal of Putin could open up the vast resources of Russia to the West.

Disaster Capitalism

In his book, Capital and Ideology, Piketty argues that “every human society must justify its inequalities: unless reasons for them are found, the whole political and social edifice stands in danger of collapse.” Piketty justifies this proposition by referring to the long-term history of the ways in which regimes in different polities established what he refers to as the “inequality regime” which comprises “A set of discourses and institutional arrangements intended to justify and structure the economic, social, and political inequality of a given society” (p. 2). The justifications for inequality are not open ended—“what determines the level of inequality is above all society’s ideological, political, and institutional capacity to justify and structure inequality” (p. 267). The levels of inequality generated by neo-liberal policies have thus far been justified on the grounds “that a rising tide raises all boats.” However, that claim is sounding increasingly hollow.

Nevertheless, what Piketty’s work has also demonstrated is that contemporary neo-liberalism seems to be an ideology free zone. Between 1980 and 2018, the share of the top decile (the 10% highest incomes) in total national income, ranged between 26% and 34% in 1980 in the different parts of the world, and from 34% and 56% in 2018. From his data it seemed immaterial where one lived. A democracy like India showed the sharpest growth, closely followed by the USA, Russia and China. (See, Piketty’s website)

The reason there is a global trend towards inequality may be attributed to the influence of Milton Friedman from the Chicago School of Economics. Friedman won the 1976 Nobel Prize in economics for what was referred to at the time as monetarism but is today better characterised as neoliberalism. It was this theory that guided the policies of the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank. Their policies were focused on increasing the richness of the economy rather than on enhancing the richness of human life. The argument was summed up by President Clinton who argued that human well being was dependent on the economy—”it is the economy stupid” that should guide public policy.

For those who advocate adherence to a neo-liberal economic narrative, the real problem has been that governments are concerned about the public backlash of promoting policies that seek to fully implement a neo-liberal economic agenda. However, disaster capitalism presents governments with a solution. Disaster presents an opportunity to implement policies that would, under normal circumstances, be resisted. Milton Friedman opined: “Only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.” If the ideas of the Chicago School of Economics are the only ones lying about, then they will be readily embraced, for they seem to offer a well thought out constructive way to respond to the crisis. Disaster capitalism was the solution in response to the impact of Hurricane Katrina. The tragedy is that the solution served to create what Adams has referred to as Chronic Disaster Syndrome—where alienation becomes a way of life:

New Orleans points not to the failure of a particular set of policies but, rather, to the success of these policies in achieving other goals pertaining to the growth of the private sector and debilitation of the public sector, the erasure and eradication of the poor, and the rendering invisible of the true recovery needs of communities post disaster. In the wake of such successes, we witness the trauma of lost lives, families, and cities. (Adams, V., T. Van Hattum, and D. English, “Chronic disaster syndrome: Displacement, disaster capitalism, and the eviction of the poor from New Orleans”)

It may seem a callous approach, but for the supporters of a neo-liberal democracy, disasters provide the opportunity to implement the economic objectives that will supposedly lead to a better world. In his article for the Postil Dugin states that Fukuyama claims that: “The United Nations Security Council has proven once again to be useless. The only helpful thing was the General Assembly vote, which helps to identify the world’s bad or prevaricating actors.”

In this thesis, Fukuyama is referring to the need to dissolve the UN and create in its place the League of Democracies; that is, fully subordinate to Washington, states that are willing to live under the illusion of “the end of history.”

It is tempting to dismiss this as yet another conspiracy theory; but there is no need for an elaborate conspiracy theory. Instead, we need to see it as the logical outcome of a chain of reasoning that assumes that in order to enjoy the full benefits of living in a liberal democracy, everything must be subordinated to the creation of a free market economy. The argument is based on Adam Smith’s idea that in a free-market economy there is an invisible hand that ensures that the best interests of society as a whole are fulfilled. Individual self-interest and freedom of production and consumption will ensure that the best of all possible worlds is created. With the end of the cold war, it was assumed that a new era would be ushered in: an era where globalization under the auspices of the USA would see an end to national sovereignty—the world would become a collection of free markets.

So, Who Benefits?

The problem is of course that the utopian vision of a global collection of free markets, markets guided not by government but by the invisible hand of what was regarded as enlightened self-interest, has not eventuated. There are several reasons for this. The end of the Cold War has not been the end of history. The end of the Cold War represented an opportunity for the revival of nationalism—not only for countries which were part of the Soviet bloc, but also for the national minorities within Russia itself. Secondly, whilst the rhetoric of democracy became widely accepted, the way it was interpreted depended very much on the culture and history of the various countries. It is fair to say that it did not herald a global commitment to human rights, or political transparency. Furthermore, one can discern strategic manoeuvring, as the various major powers attempted to ensure that the outcome of elections corresponded with their interests. Much of the pre-history of Ukraine needs to be viewed through this spectrum.

Ukraine is of strategic interest both to the West and Russia. Russia has always had to face the problem that for much of the year it was icebound; Ukraine gives it access to the Mediterranean. A Ukraine that is sympathetic to the West is a major strategic problem. Little wonder that the post-Cold War history of the Ukraine has been one of interference in its democratic processes.

For the West, the Ukraine presents an opportunity to encircle Russia, giving it extra leverage as it seeks to control Russia’s resources. Furthermore, in encouraging and facilitating the war in Ukraine, it provides a boost for the sale of US, UK and French armaments.

It is here that we see disaster capitalism at work. The narrative of Ukraine being the unprovoked victim of naked Russian aggression has ensured that there are virtually no voices raised in opposition to the way the West has behaved in the conflict. The war has been reduced to a war against evil; I have lost count of the number of attempts to frame this in terms of Hitler’s road to war.

The war plays into another narrative that supports the cause of neo-liberalism. Although governments remain largely committed to neo-liberalism, some economists have sought to develop alternative narratives. Thus, we find that Raworth has developed an alternative economic model—so-called “doughnut economics”—her argument is to show that there is an ecological ceiling that we cannot afford to overshoot.

In a similar vein, Trebeck and Williams make a compelling case that the unrelenting pursuit of growth poses a great risk both to our own well-being and that of the planet. They propose an alternative economic narrative—that of arrival—their idea is that as the benefits of continued growth are experienced by fewer and fewer people, we should be aiming for a fair distribution that will enable us to all live well. Furthermore, in central Europe a group of thinkers have established what they refer to as Common Good Economics; like the models of the other economists, it represents a departure from the neo-classical paradigm and offers the hope for an alternative way forward.

The Nobel prize-winning economist Stiglitz has undermined another aspect to the dominant economic narrative. He argues that the economy is our creation, that there is no “invisible” hand that guides the free market; economic systems are our creation and hence we can change them at will. In a world where most people in democracies are concerned about climate change these systems offer a credible alternative.

This also provides the most important benefit of the war. The war means that Russia and Ukraine, the two biggest producers of wheat, will struggle to provide the world with food. In that event the world will be facing an unprecedented disaster. But we also know that there is enough food to feed the world—it will be a matter of distribution. The global disaster will create the conditions that will facilitate the implementation of these policies that foster the growth of the private sector and debilitation of the public sector.

Has this all been thought out to this extent? Of course not. All that we can say with some degree of certainty that the decision to encourage the war in Ukraine is based on a belief that Russia and Putin are evil and must be stopped. The reason that they must be stopped is that they are a roadblock to the full development of a global neo-liberal ideology. To quote Alexander Dugin:

But the proponents of the end of history have not been complacent. They are so enmeshed in their fanatical models of globalization and liberalism that they do not recognize any other future. And so, they began to increasingly insist on a virtual end to history. As in… if it’s not real, let’s make it look like it is. In essence, the policy of controlling consciousness, through global information resources, network technology, the promotion of new gadgets, and the development of models for merging people with machines, has been bet on. This is the “Great Reset” proclaimed by the creator of the Davos Forum, Klaus Schwab, and adopted by the U.S. Democratic Party and Joe Biden. The essence of this policy is as follows: while the globalists do not control reality, they completely dominate virtuality. They own all the basic networking technologies, protocols, servers, etc. Therefore, based on a global electronic hallucination and total control over the consciousness, they began to create an image of the world in which history had already ended. It was an image. Nothing more. But the tail seriously decided to wag the dog.

This view is consistent with Rawls’s critique of neo-liberalism who argued that the problem is that neoliberalism is undemocratic in that it allows “very large inequalities in the ownership of real property…so that control of the economy and much of political life rests in a few hands” (Justice as Fairness, p. 138). Rawls was concerned that neo-liberalism diluted the capacity of citizens to retain control over the levers of economic and political management.

The reality is that we, the Ukrainians, and the Russians are pawns in a game of global chess that is being prosecuted on behalf of that 10% of the global population whose lives will remain largely untouched by the war. The millions of refugees, the food shortages and energy shortages, the people who will die of hunger—these will be the victims of a conflict that is being prosecuted to gain control of increasingly scarce resources. Already Russia and the West are promoting a narrative that seeks to blame these miseries on the protagonists. For the West it will be Putin who is responsible and in Russia it will be the USA and Europe. As flies to wanton boys are we to the superpowers, they but kill us for their sport.

John Tons is Professor at Flinders University (Australia) and specializes in Rawlsian theory. His recent book is John Rawls and Environmental Justice.

Featured image: “View in Perspective of a Perfect Sunset,” by Eugène Berman; painted in 1941.

Our Interview with Jacques Baud

In this penetrating interview, Jacques Baud delves into geopolitics to help us better understand what is actually taking place in the Ukraine, in that it is ultimately the larger struggle for global dominance, led by the United States, NATO and the political leaders of the West and against Russia.

As always, Colonel Baud brings to bear his well-informed analysis, which is unique for its depth and gravity. We are sure that you will find this conservation informative, insightful and crucial in connecting the dots.

The Postil (TP): We are so very pleased to have you join us for this conversation. Would you please tell us a little about yourself, about your background?

Jacques Baud (JB): Thank you for inviting me! As to my education, I have a master’s degree in Econometrics and postgraduate diplomas in International Relations and in International Security from the Graduate Institute for International relations in Geneva (Switzerland). I worked as strategic intelligence officer in the Swiss Department of Defense, and was in charge of the Warsaw Pact armed forces, including those deployed abroad (such as Afghanistan, Cuba, Angola, etc.) I attended intelligence training in the UK and in the US. Just after the end of the Cold War, I headed for a few years a unit in the Swiss Defense Research and Procurement Agency. During the Rwanda War, because of my military and intelligence background, I was sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo as security adviser to prevent ethnic cleansing in the Rwandan refugee camps.

During my time in the intelligence service, I was in touch with the Afghan resistance movement of Ahmed Shah Masood, and I wrote a small handbook to help Afghans in demining and neutralizing Soviet bomblets. In the mid-1990, the struggle against antipersonnel mines became a foreign policy priority of Switzerland. I proposed to create a center that would collect information about landmines and demining technologies for the UN. This led to the creation of the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining in Geneva. I was later offered to head the Policy and Doctrine Unit of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. After two years in New York, I went to Nairobi to perform a similar job for the African Union.

Jacques Baud, Darfour.

Then I was assigned to NATO to counter the proliferation of small arms. Switzerland is not a member of the Alliance, but this particular position had been negotiated as a Swiss contribution to the Partnership for Peace with NATO. In 2014, as the Ukraine crisis unfolded, I monitored the flow of small arms in the Donbass. Later, in the same year I was involved in a NATO program to assist the Ukrainian armed forces in restoring their capacities and improving personnel management, with the aim of restoring trust in them.

TP: You have written two insightful articles about the current conflict in the Ukraine, which we had the great privilege to translate and publish (here and here). Was there a particular event or an instance which led you to formulate this much-needed perspective?

JB: As a strategic intelligence officer, I always advocated providing to the political or military decision-makers the most accurate and the most objective intelligence. This is the kind of job where you need to keep you prejudice and your feelings to yourself, in order to come up with an intelligence that reflects as much as possible the reality on the ground rather than your own emotions or beliefs. I also assume that in a modern democratic State decision must be fact-based. This is the difference with autocratic political systems where decision-making is ideology-based (such as in the Marxist States) or religion-based (such as in the French pre-revolutionary monarchy).

Jacques Baud with the New Sudan Brigade.

Thanks to my various assignments, I was able to have an insider view in most recent conflicts (such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria and, of course, Ukraine). The main common aspect between all these conflicts is that we tend to have a totally distorted understanding of them. We do not understand our enemies, their rationale, their way of thinking and their real objectives. Hence, we are not even able to articulate sound strategies to fight them. This is especially true with Russia. Most people, including the top brass, tend to confuse “Russia” and “USSR.” As I was in NATO, I could hardly find someone who could explain what Russia’s vision of the world is or even its political doctrine. Lot of people think Vladimir Putin is a communist. We like to call him a “dictator,” but we have a hard time to explain what we mean by that. As examples, people come up invariably with the assassination of such and such journalist or former FSB or GRU agents, although evidence is extremely debatable. In other words, even if it is true, we are not able to articulate exactly the nature of the problem. As a result, we tend to portray the enemy as we wished him to be, rather than as he actually is. This is the ultimate recipe for failure. This explains why, after five years spent within NATO, I am more concerned about Western strategic and military capabilities than before.

Jacques Baud.

In 2014, during the Maidan revolution in Kiev, I was in NATO in Brussels. I noticed that people didn’t assess the situation as it was, but as they wished it would be. This is exactly what Sun Tzu describes as the first step towards failure. In fact, it appeared clear to me that nobody in NATO had the slightest interest in Ukraine. The main goal was to destabilize Russia.

TP: How do you perceive Volodymyr Zelensky? Who is he, really? What is his role in this conflict? It seems he wants to have a “forever war,” since he must know he cannot win? Why does he want to prolong this conflict?

JB: Volodymyr Zelensky was elected on the promise he would make peace with Russia, which I think is a noble objective. The problem is that no Western country, nor the European Union managed to help him realize this objective. After the Maidan revolution, the emerging force in the political landscape was the far-right movement. I do not like to call it “neo-Nazi” because “Nazism” was a clearly defined political doctrine, while in Ukraine, we are talking about a variety of movements that combine all the features of Nazism (such as antisemitism, extreme nationalism, violence, etc.), without being unified into a single doctrine. They are more like a gathering of fanatics.

After 2014, Ukrainian armed forces’ command & control was extremely poor and was the cause of their inability to handle the rebellion in Donbass. Suicide, alcohol incidents, and murder surged, pushing young soldiers to defect. Even the British government noted that young male individuals preferred to emigrate rather than to join the armed forces. As a result, Ukraine started to recruit volunteers to enforce Kiev’s authority in the Russian speaking part of the country. These volunteers ere (and still are) recruited among European far-right extremists. According to Reuters, their number amounts to 102,000. They have become a sizeable and influential political force in the country.

The problem here is that these far-right fanatics threatened to kill Zelensky were he to try to make peace with Russia. As a result, Zelensky found himself sitting between his promises and the violent opposition of an increasingly powerful far-right movement. In May 2019, on the Ukrainian media Obozrevatel, Dmytro Yarosh, head of the “Pravy Sektor” militia and adviser to the Army Commander in Chief, openly threatened Zelensky with death, if he came to an agreement with Russia. In other words, Zelensky appears to be blackmailed by forces he is probably not in full control of.

In October 2021, the Jerusalem Post published a disturbing report on the training of Ukrainian far-right militias by American, British, French and Canadian armed forces. The problem is that the “collective West” tends to turn a blind eye to these incestuous and perverse relationships in order to achieve its own geopolitical goals. It is supported by unscrupulous far-right biased medias against Israel, which tend to approve the criminal behavior of these militias. This situation has repeatedly raised Israel’s concerns. This explains why Zelensky’s demands to the Israeli parliament in March 2022 were not well received and have not been successful.

So, despite his probable willingness to achieve a political settlement for the crisis with Russia, Zelensky is not allowed to do so. Just after he indicated his readiness to talk with Russia, on 25 February, the European Union decided two days later to provide €450M in arms to Ukraine. The same happened in March. As soon as Zelensky indicated he wanted to have talks with Vladimir Putin on 21 March, the European Union decided to double its military aid to €1 billion on 23 March. End of March, Zelensky made an interesting offer that was retracted shortly after.

Apparently, Zelensky is trying to navigate between Western pressure and his far right on the one hand and his concern to find a solution on the other, and is forced into a ” back-and-forth,” which discourages the Russian negotiators.

In fact, I think Zelensky is in an extreme uncomfortable position, which reminds me of Soviet Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky’s during WWII. Rokossovsky had been imprisoned in 1937 for treason and sentenced to death by Stalin. In 1941, he got out of prison on Stalin’s orders and was given a command. He was eventually promoted to Marshall of the Soviet Union in 1944, but his death sentence was not lifted until 1956.

Today, Zelensky must lead his country under the sword of Damocles, with the blessing of Western politicians and unethical media. His lack of political experience made him an easy prey for those who were trying to exploit Ukraine against Russia, and in the hands of extreme right-wing movements. As he acknowledges in an interview with CNN, he was obviously lured into believing that Ukraine would enter NATO more easily after an open conflict with Russia, as Oleksey Arestovich, his adviser, confirmed in 2019.

TP: What do you think will be the fate of the Ukraine? Will it be like all the other experiments in “spreading democracy” (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc.)? Or is Ukraine a special case?

JB: I have definitely no crystal ball… At this stage, we can only guess what Vladimir Putin wants. He probably wants to achieve two main goals. The first one is to secure the situation of the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine. How, remains an open question. Does he want to re-create the “Novorossiya” that tried to emerge from the 2014 unrests? This “entity” that never really existed, and it consisted of the short-lived Republics of Odessa, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov and Lugansk, of which only the Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk “survived.” The autonomy referendum planned for early May in the city of Kherson might be an indication for this option. Another option would be to negotiate an autonomous status for these areas, and to return them to Ukraine in exchange of its neutrality.
The second goal is to have a neutral Ukraine (some will say a “Finlandized Ukraine”). That is—without NATO. It could be some kind of Swiss “armed neutrality.” As you know, in the early 19th century, Switzerland had a neutral status imposed on it by the European powers, as well as the obligation to prevent any misuse of its territory against one of these powers. This explains the strong military tradition we have in Switzerland and the main rationale for its armed forces today. Something similar could probably be considered for Ukraine.

An internationally recognized neutral status would grant Ukraine a high degree of security. This status prevented Switzerland from being attacked during the two world wars. The often-mentioned example of Belgium is misleading, because during both world wars, its neutrality was declared unilaterally and was not recognized by the belligerents. In the case of Ukraine, it would have its own armed forces, but would be free from any foreign military presence: neither NATO, nor Russia. This is just my guess, and I have no clue about how this could be feasible and accepted in the current polarized international climate.

I am not sure about the so-called “color-revolutions” aim at spreading democracy. My take is that it is just a way to weaponize human rights, the rule of law or democracy in order to achieve geo-strategic objectives. In fact, this was clearly spelled out in a memo to Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s Secretary of State, in 2017. Ukraine is a case in point. After 2014, despite Western influence, it has never been a democracy: corruption soared between 2014 and 2020; in 2021, it banned opposition media and jailed the leader of the main parliamentary opposition party. As some international organizations have reported, torture is a common practice, and opposition leaders as well as journalists are chased by the Ukrainian Security Service.

TP: Why is the West only interested in drawing a simplistic image of the Ukraine conflict? That of “good guys” and the “bad guys?” Is the Western public really now that dumbed down?

JB: I think this is inherent to any conflict. Each side tends to portray itself as the “good guy.” This is obviously the main reason.

Besides this, other factors come into play. First, most people, including politicians and journalists, still confuse Russia and the USSR. For instance, they don’t understand why the communist party is the main opposition party in Russia.

Second, since 2007, Putin was systematically demonized in the West. Whether or not he is a “dictator” Is a matter of discussion; but it is worth noting that his approval rate in Russia never fell below 59 % in the last 20 years. I take my figures from the Levada Center, which is labeled as “foreign agent” in Russia, and hence doesn’t reflect the Kremlin’s views. It is also interesting to see that in France, some of the most influential so-called “experts” on Russia are in fact working for the British MI-6’s “Integrity Initiative.”

Third, in the West, there is a sense that you can do whatever you want if it is in the name of western values. This is why the Russian offensive in Ukraine is passionately sanctioned, while FUKUS (France, UK, US) wars get strong political support, even if they are notoriously based on lies. “Do what I say, not what I do!” One could ask what makes the conflict in Ukraine worse than other wars. In fact, each new sanction we apply to Russia highlights the sanctions we haven’t applied earlier to the US, the UK or France.

The purpose of this incredible polarization is to prevent any dialogue or negotiation with Russia. We are back to what happened in 1914, just before the start of WWI…

TP: What will Russia gain or lose with this involvement in the Ukraine (which is likely to be long-term)? Russia is facing a conflict on “two fronts,” it would seem: a military one and an economic one (with the endless sanctions and “canceling” of Russia).

JB: With the end of the Cold War, Russia expected being able to develop closer relations with its Western neighbors. It even considered joining NATO. But the US resisted every attempt of rapprochement. NATO structure does not allow for the coexistence of two nuclear superpowers. The US wanted to keep its supremacy.

Since 2002, the quality of the relations with Russia decayed slowly, but steadily. It reached a first negative “peak” in 2014 after the Maidan coup. The sanctions have become US and EU primary foreign policy tool. The Western narrative of a Russian intervention in Ukraine got traction, although it was never substantiated. Since 2014, I haven’t met any intelligence professional who could confirm any Russian military presence in the Donbass. In fact, Crimea became the main “evidence” of Russian “intervention.” Of course, Western historians ignore superbly that Crimea was separated from Ukraine by referendum in January 1991, six months before Ukrainian independence and under Soviet rule. In fact, it’s Ukraine that illegally annexed Crimea in 1995. Yet, western countries sanctioned Russia for that…

Since 2014 sanctions severely affected east-west relations. After the signature of the Minsk Agreements in September 2014 and February 2015, the West—namely France, Germany as guarantors for Ukraine, and the US—made no effort whatsoever to make Kiev comply, despite repeated requests from Moscow.

Russia’s perception is that whatever it will do, it will face an irrational response from the West. This is why, in February 2022, Vladimir Putin realized he would gain nothing in doing nothing. If you take into account his mounting approval rate in the country, the resilience of the Russian economy after the sanctions, the loss of trust in the US dollar, the threatening inflation in the West, the consolidation of the Moscow-Beijing axis with the support of India (which the US has failed to keep in the “Quad”), Putin’s calculation was unfortunately not wrong.

Regardless of what Russia does, US and western strategy is to weaken it. From that point on, Russia has no real stake in its relations with us. Again, the US objective is not to have a “better” Ukraine or a “better” Russia, but a weaker Russia. But it also shows that the United States is not able to rise higher than Russia and that the only way to overcome it is to weaken it. This should ring an alarm bell in our countries…

TP: You have written a very interesting book on Putin. Please tell us a little about it.

JB: In fact, I started my book in October 2021, after a show on French state TV about Vladimir Putin. I am definitely not an admirer of Vladimir Putin, nor of any Western leader, by the way. But the so-called experts had so little understanding of Russia, international security and even of simple plain facts, that I decided to write a book. Later, as the situation around Ukraine developed, I adjusted my approach to cover this mounting conflict.
The idea was definitely not to relay Russian propaganda. In fact, my book is based exclusively on western sources, official reports, declassified intelligence reports, Ukrainian official medias, and reports provided by the Russian opposition. The approach was to demonstrate that we can have a sound and factual alternative understanding of the situation just with accessible information and without relying on what we call “Russian propaganda.”

The underlying thinking is that we can only achieve peace if we have a more balanced view of the situation. To achieve this, we have to go back to the facts. Now, these facts exist and are abundantly available and accessible. The problem is that some individuals make every effort to prevent this and tend to hide the facts that disturb them. This is exemplified by some so-called journalist who dubbed me “The spy who loved Putin!” This is the kind of “journalists” who live from stirring tensions and extremism. All figures and data provided by our media about the conflict come from Ukraine, and those coming from Russia are automatically dismissed as propaganda. My view is that both are propaganda. But as soon as you come up with western data that do not fit into the mainstream narrative, you have extremists claiming you “love Putin.”

Our media are so worried about finding rationality in Putin’s actions that they turn a blind eye to the crimes committed by Ukraine, thus generating a feeling of impunity for which Ukrainians are paying the price. This is the case of the attack on civilians by a missile in Kramatorsk—we no longer talk about it because the responsibility of Ukraine is very likely, but this means that the Ukrainians could do it again with impunity.

On the contrary, my book aims at reducing the current hysteria that prevent any political solution. I do not want to deny the Ukrainians the right to resist the invasion with arms. If I were Ukrainian, I would probably take the arms to defend my land. The issue here is that it must be their decision. The role of the international community should not be to add fuel to the fire by supplying arms but to promote a negotiated solution.

To move in this direction, we must make the conflict dispassionate and bring it back into the realm of rationality. In any conflict the problems come from both sides; but here, strangely, our media show us that they all come from one side only. This is obviously not true; and, in the end, it is the Ukrainian people who pay the price of our policy against Vladimir Putin.

TP: Why is Putin hated so much by the Western elite?

JB: Putin became Western elite’s “bête noire” in 2007 with his famous speech in Munich. Until then, Russia had only moderately reacted to NATO expansion. But as the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002 and started negotiations with some East European countries to deploy anti-ballistic missiles, Russia felt the heat and Putin virulently criticized the US and NATO.

This was the start of a relentless effort to demonize Vladimir Putin and to weaken Russia. The problem was definitely not human rights or democracy, but the fact that Putin dared to challenge the western approach. The Russians have in common with the Swiss the fact that they are very legalistic. They try to strictly follow the rules of international law. They tend to follow “law-based International order.” Of course, this is not the image we have, because we are used to hiding certain facts. Crimea is a case in point.

In the West, since the early 2000s, the US has started to impose a “rules-based international order.” As an example, although the US officially recognizes that there is only one China and that Taiwan is only a part of it, it maintains a military presence on the island and supplies weapons. Imagine if China would supply weapons to Hawaii (which was illegally annexed in the 19th century)!

What the West is promoting is an international order based on the “law of the strongest.” As long as the US was the sole superpower, everything was fine. But as soon as China and Russia started to emerge as world powers, the US tried to contain them. This is exactly what Joe Biden said in March 2021, shortly after taking office: “The rest of the world is closing in and closing in fast. We can’t allow this to continue.”

As Henry Kissinger said in the Washington Post: “For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.” This is why I felt we need to have a more factual approach to this conflict.

TP: Do you know who was involved and when it was decided by the US and NATO that regime change in Russia was a primary geopolitical objective?

JB: I think everything started in the early 2000s. I am not sure the objective was a regime change in Moscow, but it was certainly to contain Russia. This is what we have witnessed since then. The 2014 events in Kiev have boosted US efforts.

These were clearly defined in 2019, in two publications of the RAND Corporation [James Dobbins, Raphael S. Cohen, Nathan Chandler, Bryan Frederick, Edward Geist, Paul DeLuca, Forrest E. Morgan, Howard J. Shatz, Brent Williams, “Extending Russia : Competing from Advantageous Ground,” RAND Corporation, 2019; James Dobbins & al., “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia,” RAND Corporation, (Doc Nr. RB-10014-A), 2019]. .This has nothing to do with the rule of law, democracy or human rights, but only with maintaining US supremacy in the world. In other words, nobody cares about Ukraine. This is why the international community (that is, Western countries) make every effort to prolong the conflict.

Since 2014, this is exactly what happened. Everything the West did was to fulfill US strategic objectives.

TP: In this regard, you have also written another interesting book, on Alexei Navalny. Please tell us about what you have found out about Navalny.

JB: What disturbed me about the Navalny case was the haste with which Western governments condemned Russia and applied sanctions, even before knowing the results of an impartial investigation. So, my point in the book is not “to tell truth,” because we do not know exactly what the truth is, even if we have consistent indications that the official narrative is wrong.
The interesting aspect is that the German doctors in the Charité Hospital in Berlin, were not able to identify any nerve agent in Navalny’s body. Surprisingly, they published their findings in the respected medical review The Lancet, showing that Navalny probably experienced a bad combination of medicine and other substances.

The Swedish military lab that analyzed Navalny’s blood—redacted the name of the substance they discovered, which is odd since everybody expected “Novichok” to be mentioned.

The bottom line is that we don’t know exactly what happened, but the nature of the symptoms, the reports of the German doctors, the answers provided by the German government to the Parliament, and the puzzling Swedish document tend to exclude a criminal poisoning, and therefore, a fortiori, poisoning by the Russian government.

The main point of my book is that international relations cannot be “Twitter-driven.” We need to use appropriately our intelligence resources, not as a propaganda instrument, as we tend to do these days, but as an instrument for smart and fact-based decision-making.

TP: You have much experience within NATO. What do you think is the primary role of NATO now?

JB: This is an essential question. In fact, NATO hasn’t really evolved since the end of the Cold War. This is interesting because in 1969, there was the “Harmel Report” that was ahead of its time and could be the fundament of a new definition of NATO’s role. Instead, NATO tried to find new missions, such as in Afghanistan, for which the Alliance was not prepared, neither intellectually, nor doctrinally, nor from a strategic point of view.

Having a collective defense system in Europe is necessary, but the nuclear dimension of NATO tends to restrict its ability to engage a conventional conflict with a nuclear power. This is the problem we are witnessing in Ukraine. This is why Russia strives having a “glacis” between NATO and its territory. This would probably not prevent conflicts but would help keep them as long as possible in a conventional phase. This is why I think a non-nuclear European defense organization would be a good solution.

TP: Do you think that NATO’s proxy war with Russia serves to placate internal EU tensions, between conservative Central/Eastern Europe and the more progressive West?

JB: Some will certainly see it that way, but I think this is only a by-product of the US strategy to isolate Russia.

TP: Can you say something about how Turkey has positioned itself, between NATO and Russia?

JB: I have worked quite extensively with Turkey as I was in NATO. I think Turkey is a very committed member of the Alliance. What we tend to forget is that Turkey is at the crossroads between the “Christian World” and the “Islamic World;” it sits between two civilizations and in a key region of the Mediterranean zone. It has its own regional stakes.

The conflicts waged by the West in the Middle East significantly impacted Turkey, by promoting Islamism and stimulating tensions, in particular with the Kurds. Turkey has always tried to maintain a balance between its desire for Western-style modernization and the very strong traditionalist tendencies of its population. Turkey’s opposition to the Iraq War due to domestic security concerns was totally ignored and dismissed by the US and its NATO Allies.

Interestingly, when Zelensky sought a country to mediate the conflict, he turned to China, Israel and Turkey, but didn’t address any EU country.

TP: If you were to predict, what do you think the geopolitical situation of Europe and the world will look like 25 years from now?

JB: Who would have predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall? The day it happened, I was in the office of a National Security Adviser in Washington DC, but he had no clue about the importance of the event!

I think the decay of US hegemony will be the main feature of the next decades. At the same time, we will see a fast-growing importance of Asia led by China and India. But I am not sure Asia will “replace” the US strictly speaking. While US worldwide hegemony was driven by its military-industrial complex, Asia’s dominance will be in the research and technology area.

The loss of confidence in the US dollar may have significant impact on the US economy at large. I don’t want to speculate on future developments in the West, but a significant deterioration could lead the United States to engage in more conflicts around the world. This is something that we are seeing today, but it could become more important.

TP: What advice would you give people trying to get a clearer picture of what is really driving competing regional/national and global interests?

JB: I think the situation is slightly different in Europe than in North America.

In Europe, the lack of quality alternative media and real investigative journalism makes it difficult to find balanced information. The situation is different in North America where alternative journalism is more developed and constitutes an indispensable analytical tool. In the United States, the intelligence community is more present in the media than in Europe.

I probably could not have written my book based only on the European media. At the end of the day, the advice I would give is a fundamental one of intelligence work:

Be curious!

TP: Thank you so very much for your time—and for all your great work.

Featured image: Detail from the “Siege of Sevastopol,” by Franz Roubaud; painted 1902-1904.