Grigory Pasko: Three Degrees of Pragmatism

panorama012709.jpgBased on the results of a survey by the analytical center of Yuri Levada, carried out last year, Russians named as the countries most unfriendly, antagonistically disposed towards Russia:  Georgia, the USA, Ukraine, Estonia, the Baltic states and Poland.

And here are some other data. Based on the results of a survey of the inhabitants of the world, it became clear that out of all the countries in the world, Russia is least popular in such countries as Finland, France, Poland, and Great Britain. (I would also add the Baltic states). And the place where they have the best attitude of all towards Russia is in Nigeria. And also, no doubt, in Nicaragua and Venezuela. We will note that Belorussia does not belong to the countries that have a loving attitude towards its neighbor – Russia.

On some one or other of the websites I also read this kind of gradationof the attitude, of Russia now, towards other countries. Into thenumerically largest group – «amicable pragmatics» – by Russianspecialists on foreign policy are included Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria,Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia and Portugal.Not directly supporting the interests of Russia, these countries trynot to undertake actions that could evoke her displeasure, and gladlymake use of the possibilities of the Russian market.

«Restrained pragmatic» Ireland, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia,Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Great Britain have a critical attitudetowards Russia because of the situation with human rights anddemocracy, but they nevertheless strive to conduct business with herand do not keep silent if Russia violates their economic interests.

Into the group of «cold-warriors» as of today’s day have fallenPoland and Lithuania, constantly criticizing Moscow and proposing tothe European Union (EU) to conduct a tougher policy in relation toRussia.

Medvedev, the man counted as president of Russia, in the new-yearaddress to the people said: «In several instants the numbers on thecalendar will change, but what will remain unchanged are the valuesthat are our support in all times. This is love towards our close ones,friendship and fidelity, engagement and benevolence».

I don’t know about benevolence (most likely he blurted that one out inthe heat of the moment, because there isn’t even a whiff of benevolencecoming from the current power), but as for friendship with the pariahsof the world, this will surely stay in the number of «eternal values»for Russia.

Why is Russia friends with pariahs? After all, it’s obvious thatit’s not for the sake of economic or political advantage. Turns outthat it’s – to spite the rest of the world. To pique the West and theUSA. Russia’s allies – Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-Il, Ortega, Fidel…Speaking in the language of contemporary youth, the personages areclearly «otmorozki» [a word that’s quite impossible to translate, itcontains the same linguistic element as “frostbite”, suggestinginhuman, cold-hearted sociopaths–Trans.]

Of course, it’s hard to be friends with the smart and thecourageous: for that you need to be both smart and courageous yourself.Otherwise this will be not a friendship on equal footing, but fawningand emulation.

It’s easier to be friends with someone weak, covetous, and spiteful.All the more so if you yourself are like that. Putin, obviously, ishimself like that. It is precisely for this reason that he chose theabove-named personae as Russia’s friends.

But if all the «friends» enumerated above manifest guile andsagacity, then it’s hard to suspect our «leader of the nation» of this.Remember when while still being president Putin conducted negotiationswith North Korea and said that he had obtained a promise from KimJong-Il to stop the nuclear program of the DPRK, then Kim Jong-Il latersaid that he had been joking? Where here is the sagacity of Putin?

The chekists’ device of befriending HAMAS or Iran, and then sellingthis friendship to the West hasn’t worked for a long time already.Pariah countries are perfectly well able to sell themselves to the Westwithout any intermediation from Putin.

Really, the friendship of the pariahs with Russia too is not exactlypure and selfless. Like president Chavez. He needs [arms exported]«Rosoboronexport», and not Russia per se. He needs Russian submarines,planes, elements of an anti-aircraft defense system, hand-held grenadelaunchers, portable air-defense complexes, mortar launchers… If oneconsiders these contracts advantageous and for the long haul, then oneought not in so doing forget about something else as well. If Russia isshowing the whole world that she’s having dealings with terroristicstates, then she should hardly expect an influx of foreign investments.

Someone of the independent political scientists noted: the ultimatetransformation of Russia into a besieged fortress just might allowPutin to hold on in power for another few years more. But this — ispyrrhic politics, transforming Russia itself into a pariah country.

Image collage by the author