O que é este blog?

Este blog trata basicamente de ideias, se possível inteligentes, para pessoas inteligentes. Ele também se ocupa de ideias aplicadas à política, em especial à política econômica. Ele constitui uma tentativa de manter um pensamento crítico e independente sobre livros, sobre questões culturais em geral, focando numa discussão bem informada sobre temas de relações internacionais e de política externa do Brasil. Para meus livros e ensaios ver o website: www.pralmeida.org.

Mostrando postagens com marcador geopolitics. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador geopolitics. Mostrar todas as postagens

sábado, 7 de julho de 2018

Russia-EUA; as relacoes ambiguas ou indefinidas - Carnegie Endowment

Os EUA de Trump configuram o primeiro caso de um império quase universal que renuncia deliberadamente à liderança em seus próprios termos – que no caso da América tradicional deveriam ser os de uma ordem liberal democrática fundada sobre a liberdade de mercados – e adere a uma visão do mundo introvertida, introspectiva, de abandono de suas obrigações com os satélites.
Curioso caso de suicídio imperial...
Paulo Roberto de Almeida 
Brasília, 7 de julho de 2018

Can the Trump-Putin Summit Restore Guardrails to the U.S.-Russian Relationship?

President Donald Trump’s habit of challenging the Washington establishment and upending decades of U.S. foreign policy conventions is by now well documented. Equally well documented is his desire to change the course of U.S.-Russian relations. Therefore, his meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16 should not come as a surprise to anyone. Trump’s many pronouncements on Russia and Putin over the years leave no doubt that he is eager to turn the page on any number of hot-button issues, including Putin’s annexation of Crimea, the wars in eastern Ukraine and Syria, the multiple rounds of sanctions, and Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
Moreover, Trump’s desire “to get along” with Russia is hardly unprecedented. Since the end of the Cold War, every U.S. and Russian president has similarly attempted to develop a cooperative bilateral and personal relationship. Each attempt has ended in bitter disappointment, leaving U.S.-Russian relations in even worse shape. The relationship has been through a series of booms invariably followed by busts, highlighting very real differences between them that no amount of presidential bonhomie can overcome.
What is needed today is not another symbolic handshake or commitment to move past the old differences, but rather a sober look at the root causes of successive crises in U.S.-Russian relations as well as a clearer understanding of why major disagreements have lingered despite both sides’ attempts at reconciliation.
Putting those disagreements aside is not the same as resolving them. The underlying causes of past crises have been ignored. If the relationship between Moscow and Washington is to move beyond the boom-bust cycle, the key question is whether these differences and their causes can be addressed. Observers are skeptical that the meeting in Helsinki can accomplish that but hope that the two presidents can launch a much-needed yet long-delayed dialogue about the true state of the U.S.-Russian relationship. That alone could be a major accomplishment of the first full-fledged Trump-Putin summit.

A Clash of Visions

At the heart of the long-standing conflict between Russia and the United States is a disagreement about their respective approaches to the conduct of foreign affairs. Until Trump arrived on the scene, the United States traditionally championed (even though admittedly it has not always adhered to it) the international liberal order—including political liberalism, economic liberalism, and liberalism in international relations—and actively promoted liberal values beyond its borders. Russia has adhered to a very different—realist—philosophy and stressed the importance of national interests rather than liberal values in the conduct of its foreign policy. As much as the United States has sought to promote the international liberal order, Russia has resisted its expansion, especially in areas that could touch on Russian interests.
This fundamental disagreement has hardly been addressed, let alone resolved in the course of the entire post–Cold War history of the bilateral relationship. (While there are abundant signs that Trump sees the international liberal order as fundamentally harmful to the political and economic vitality of the United States, he is learning that its continued existence is hard to wish away or dismantle overnight.)
The U.S. national security establishment—buoyed by a perceived victory in the Cold War and the failure of the Soviet Union and its discredited ideology—took largely a laissez-faire approach to this problem, firmly believing that Washington was on the right side of history. The establishment believed that any opponents would sooner or later realize the errors of their ways and embrace its worldview. And if they did not, they would eventually pay the price for resisting the forces of history.
Their Russian counterparts rejected the proposition that they had lost the Cold War and refused to accept the consequences of the West’s victory. Moscow’s vision has been deeply affected by its experience at the end of the Cold War and guided by a firm resolve to prevent it from being repeated. Since the mid-1990s, resistance to the U.S.-led liberal order has been the centerpiece of Russia’s foreign policy. With neither side willing or able to compromise and each convinced that it has chosen the only viable path, their fundamental disagreement has put a powerful brake on successive attempts to repair the relationship and set it on a sustained, mutually beneficial track.

Cycles of Frustration

And such attempts by U.S. presidential administrations have been made repeatedly. Bill Clinton’s administration’s partnership for reform with Russia was intended to help Russia transform itself into a market economy and democratic society, which was expected, in turn, to make it a willing member of the international liberal order. The offer of partnership with NATO was intended to assuage Russian concerns about NATO as a threatening military alliance, as it expanded into Central Europe. These pursuits were premised on the expectation that Russia would change and follow the U.S. lead.
George W. Bush’s administration had hoped to transform the relationship in the wake of 9/11 and redefine the strategic nuclear relationship with Russia by moving away from the concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD) and the legacy of what it believed were obsolete, binding arms control agreements inherited from the Cold War. As a practical matter, the United States withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which the Russians regarded as a cornerstone of strategic stability. The underlying logic of this approach was that if the two countries were no longer in an adversarial relationship and no longer threatened each other, they could dispense with that legacy. Beyond the nuclear realm, the Bush administration engaged in democracy promotion as a means of spreading stability and prosperity. Russia rejected both the idea of moving past MAD and the historical inevitability of democratic change as profoundly threatening to its interests.
Barack Obama’s administration’s attempt to “reset” the relationship with Russia in the aftermath of the 2008 Russian-Georgian war also paid little heed to the underlying causes of the conflict between Russia and the United States. With “modernization” as its principal theme, this policy, just as its predecessors, was premised on the idea of encouraging domestic change in Russia that would ultimately lead to changes in its foreign policy and acceptance of the U.S.-led international liberal order. None of this happened.
U.S. policymakers were not the only ones frustrated. Their Russian counterparts too had many frustrations and complaints about U.S. handling of the bilateral relationship, which they have voiced repeatedly over the past three decades. The Russian narrative includes broken U.S. promises not to expand NATO, interference in Russian domestic politics and use of double standards when criticizing it for its democracy deficit, refusal to treat Russia as a peer, reliance on economic sanctions to achieve desired political and diplomatic outcomes, withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, unilateral use of military force, and regime change and destabilization under the guise of democracy promotion in countries within Russia’s self-proclaimed sphere of interests or that are simply friendly to it.

Different Approaches, Same Result

Aside from unrealistic expectations, the successive attempts to improve U.S.-Russian relations often had a significant structural flaw, reflecting important differences between U.S. and Russian policymaking. The U.S. approach to the relationship typically favors small steps and modest initiatives that bubble up from within the national security establishment and seek to promote understandings on a relatively narrow set of issues. If progress is achieved, it can serve as a springboard for expanding the conversation and hopefully achieving further progress on a broader agenda. Eventually, the series of incremental successes will build up to a broad, U.S.-driven strategic agenda and rise to the level of a presidential deliverable.
The Russian approach to the relationship is exactly the opposite. It begins with a broad understanding about the quality of the relationship at the highest level, which provides strategic guidance for lower-level policymakers to reach agreements on individual components of the jointly designed overall agenda. It is an approach that favors grand bargains among equals and unvarnished realpolitik rather than small steps.
Regardless of whose approach is more likely to result in an improved relationship, it is dubious that the Kremlin or the White House is actually in a position to test it at the moment. Instead, both appear poised to sustain the tensions, each blaming the other side for the current state of affairs. The political atmosphere in both capitals is such that any proposal for a compromise with the other side is certain to trigger charges of surrender and betrayal of national interest. A corrosive lack of trust is omnipresent.
In Russia, the United States is widely portrayed as a country governed by a “deep state,” an entrenched elite guided by profound antipathy toward Russia and intent on marginalizing Russia on the world stage, destabilizing its domestic politics, and undermining its economy. This entrenched elite is so powerful, according to this narrative, that it can thwart presidential initiatives aimed at improving relations with Russia. Under these circumstances and congressional moves to tie Trump’s hands, the Kremlin appears to have written off the United States as a potential partner for the foreseeable future. Consequently, there is very little chance for another reset, and the current state of affairs between Moscow and Washington is here to stay.
In the United States, Russia has emerged as both the “geopolitical enemy number one” and, in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s, not just a source of external threats to U.S. national security and interests abroad but also a threat to its domestic political order. The list of U.S. concerns includes, but is not limited to, Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the use of social media by Russian state-sponsored actors to sow internal U.S. political divisions, Russian cyber intrusions aimed at disrupting U.S. critical infrastructure and networks, the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, support for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, suppression of civil liberties in Russia, and, more broadly, Russian efforts to undermine the U.S.-championed international liberal order. Taken together, these concerns amount to a powerful indictment and, quite understandably, help cement doubts in many quarters about the wisdom of seeking better relations with Russia.

Emphasis on Managing

Nevertheless, further tensions between Russia and the United States are fraught with dangers that neither side would welcome. As demonstrated by the choreography involved in U.S. and Russian activities in Syria, neither side is seeking an outright military confrontation. Should such a confrontation occur, it would be as a consequence of a miscalculation or an accident. Both sides’ interests would be better served by mutual efforts focused on managing an inherently competitive, and oftentimes adversarial, relationship rather than engaging in brinkmanship.
Such efforts could build on some modest accomplishments that have already proved effective in tense and potentially dangerous situations. For example, military-to-military contacts at the highest level—between Russia’s Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov and his U.S. counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford—have created an effective channel for communication and for lower-level efforts to deconflict the two militaries’ activities in Syria. (A deadly incident in Deir Ezzor on February 7, 2018, involving Russian private military contractors was a crucial exception to the rule.) A similar effort is urgently needed to manage U.S. and Russian military activities in the airspace and at sea in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. With neither side willing to cease its military activities in either region yet evidently not interested in an outright collision, both sides should, in theory, have incentives to avoid an accident there.
In the words of Dmitri Trenin,
The issue is not that Russian daredevils are performing acts of hooliganism in the air or that NATO pilots in international airspace are unaware that they are coming too close to Russian borders or assets. Each side seeks to make a point to the other, and neither is willing to step back, thus continuing the dangerous game. The only way out of this situation lies in a mutual understanding to stop testing each other’s nerves and aerobatic skills and instead to observe a protocol under which neither party provokes the other. This could be a first, relatively easy step toward military de-escalation.
Beyond the immediate danger of an unintended military confrontation on Europe’s southern and northern flanks, one other issue requiring immediate attention is arms control. Mutual accusations of violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the approaching expiration of the New START Treaty in 2021 underscore the precarious state of the entire bilateral arms control structure the United States and Russia have inherited from the Cold War era. Even though it is increasingly inadequate to constrain the reemerging arms race between the two nuclear superpowers, and leaves out other nuclear powers, including China, that structure could provide an indispensable foundation for future efforts to manage and contain their arms race, as well as possibly involve other nuclear powers in these efforts. The collapse of that structure would cause irreparable harm to future bilateral and multilateral arms control and U.S.-Russia strategic stability. It would not serve the interests of either side.
Although the political climate in both capitals is not propitious for seeking compromises, there is no plausible argument for not engaging in dialogue about the INF Treaty, each side’s charges of the other’s violations, the future of arms control, and strategic stability. It would be unrealistic to expect such a dialogue to produce a resolution of the dispute about the INF Treaty. However, if conducted in good faith, it could clarify each side’s position and concerns and, potentially, lead to the development of a conceptual framework for resolving the dispute. It is difficult to see the risk entailed in such a dialogue, while it could produce substantial benefits. U.S. and Russian official delegations met in September 2017 for strategic stability talks. Another meeting was scheduled for April 2018 but postponed without a new date. This dialogue should be resumed. The potential agenda should comprise new issues, including the risk that new cyber capabilities pose to strategic command and control and long-standing Russian concerns about U.S. missile defense deployments and conventional strategic systems.
Moreover, official dialogue should be supplemented by Track II or Track 1.5 engagement between U.S. and Russian experts. In the past, such contacts were useful for testing concepts and exploring new ideas in an unofficial setting, which subsequently fed into official exchanges. In the current atmosphere of tensions reminiscent of the Cold War, unofficial contacts could once again prove useful, assuming that they actually have buy-in from officials on both sides.
While useful and urgently needed, none of the measures sketched out in the preceding paragraphs is likely to repair the relationship or amount to more than minimal steps necessary for managing it and preventing it from deteriorating further and causing irreparable damage to its key components. Moreover, while necessary, they may not be sufficient to avert further setbacks in the relationship.
The real work to repair U.S.-Russian relations will have to be done at the political level. It will have to begin with lowering the heat of political rhetoric in both Washington and Moscow and conducting a high-level dialogue about the nature of major disagreements and mutual grievances and about their goals, expectations, and desired rules of the road for the relationship. Such a dialogue could can be advanced by more informal discussions between senior U.S. and Russian figures who are less constrained by official roles.
In preparation for political dialogue, each side could take some significant steps to signal the seriousness of its intent and lack of interest in further escalation of tensions. Such steps would not have to be symmetrical but could instead be aimed at addressing some of the other side’s more significant concerns. Conceivably, both sides could take proactive steps to signal their interest in deescalating tensions and halting the destructive cycle.
For example, the military stand-off between Russia and the West is becoming a permanent feature of increased tensions between the two sides. This is a direct result of Russia’s ongoing military modernization efforts and troop deployments and NATO’s efforts to reestablish the credibility of Article 5 commitments for frontline member countries in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. It is unlikely that either side will have an incentive to scale back or defer deployments or training activities along the NATO-Russia frontier any time soon. Still, it is possible that Trump will make a grand gesture akin to his spontaneous decision at the June 2018 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to suspend major military exercises with South Korea.
It’s also conceivable that the Kremlin could begin to exercise greater restraint in deliberate harassment of U.S. ships and aircraft operating in international waters and airspace in the Baltic and Black Sea regions. Such a move by the Kremlin would be cost-free and entail no permanent changes to its operations in either region but would send an important signal to Washington about the Russian leadership’s desire for deescalation or at least not escalation. For its part, NATO could underscore that the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act’s “three no’s” commitment—which pledged that no nuclear or substantial combat forces would be deployed on the territory of new member states as long as NATO and Russia “build together a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area on the principles of democracy and cooperative security”—is still in effect and that the alliance’s post-2014 forward deployments constitute a response to Russian actions.
Sanctions, which have become the central tool of U.S. policy toward Russia, represent an even more complicated challenge. For the Kremlin, the U.S. sanctions constitute both a challenge and an opportunity. They restrict Western investment and technology transfer, but they also have a rallying-around-the-flag effect that consolidates Russian elites. Furthermore, they prompt Moscow to look for partners beyond the West and redefine Russia’s position as a non-Western global player operating from its base in northern and central Eurasia.
On the one hand, the sanctions program has provided an effective tool for curtailing business as usual, punishing Russia for various actions, and, some would claim, probably deterring future disruptive behavior (at least, on the margins). On the other hand, Western sanctions are not, in and of themselves, a substitute for an effective policy unless they are paired with a coherent diplomatic strategy. For example, the Iran nuclear deal, now abandoned by the Trump administration but otherwise viewed widely as a diplomatic success, was achieved with the help of a dual-track approach that combined increasingly severe sanctions with sustained negotiations. The diplomatic track included a multilateral road map with sanctions relief and other incentives. Such concepts are conspicuously missing from current U.S. policy toward Russia. Policymakers must begin to articulate practical policy outcomes that inform the future use of sanctions.


The current state of affairs between Russia and the United States is somewhat of a paradox. There is a deep reluctance in both capitals to admit that they are once again in a Cold War. Yet there is broad consensus that the differences between them are real and profound. Voices in both capitals point out the dangers associated with the current state of affairs, the lack of reliable political channels of communications, and the risk of unintended escalation. These sensible voices are realistic about the likelihood of the relationship being repaired overnight as a result of a brief meeting between the two presidents.
The experience of the Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore suggests that such a brief encounter cannot resolve the differences that have accumulated in the course of decades. But the experience of the Singapore summit also suggests that such encounters can create a positive atmosphere for the real hard work of repairing relations to begin. The Trump-Putin summit potentially can accomplish the same, very important results. It can empower the reasonable voices to begin the conversation in earnest about the state of the relationship, about ways to repair it, and, at the very least, a mutually acceptable way for managing it. If that is the outcome of the Trump-Putin summit, it should rightly be called a success.

domingo, 6 de maio de 2018

A Russia e o resto: a nova guerra fria - Book review, Richard Sakwa

'Russia against the Rest: The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order' [review]

Richard Sakwa. Russia against the Rest: The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. ix + 362 pp. $84.99 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-107-16060-6; $24.99 (paper), ISBN 978-1-316-61351-1.

Reviewed by Gerard Toal (Virginia Tech) Published on H-Diplo (May, 2018) 
Printable Version: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=51562

Richard Sakwa does not like the term the “new Cold War.” To him, the label is misleading and obscures a much broader shift in global politics since 2014. His new book, Russia against the Rest: The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order, is an account of that larger shift, and Russia’s place within it. Sakwa is Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent and an associate fellow at Chatham House. He is a remarkably productive scholar. This is his seventh book on Russian politics since 2008, and there is another, The Putin Phenomenon, in the works (cited p. 119). Sakwa, who is of British Polish decent, is also no stranger to controversy. His 2015 book, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands, argued that Euro-Atlantic expansionism and Ukrainian nationalism were key negative forces contributing to the Ukraine crisis of 2014. The book was strongly criticized by some Ukraine scholars though critically appreciated by others. Sakwa is part of a select group of scholars regularly invited to the Valdai Discussion Group (which includes the chance to hear Vladimir Putin in person) and his latest book reflects his deep knowledge of Russian elite thinking on world order and geopolitical change.
Sakwa provides a comprehensive account of post-Cold War geopolitics, with a decided emphasis on great power diplomacy, institution-building, strategic competition and its baleful results. He dubs the twenty-five years between 1989 and 2014 an era of “cold peace,” one characterized above all by the failure of Western security organizations to transcend Cold War institutions and habits. Russia was shut out of negotiations over the creation of a post-Cold War security order in Europe as NATO and the EU saw matters in terms of enlargement of their own existing structures, not the creation of something new in dialogue with Russia. By denying “the logic of transcendence,” Sakwa argues, this enlargement precipitated the result it sought to avert. “Europe could not be ‘whole and free’ if Russia was effectively excluded” (p. 6) is an arresting early claim (repeated p. 165). Throughout Sakwa uses a distinctive vocabulary of contrasting geopolitical visions to describe this dynamic. The EU and NATO represented the Historical West; they viewed themselves as victors in the Cold War. Afterwards, they wanted to create a Wider Europe based around extended and radicalized Historical Western norms and practices (what others term an expanded liberal empire). Russia’s aspiration, however, was to become a founding member of a transformed Greater West that would establish a Greater Europe on the Eurasian landmass. Mikhail Gorbachev’s “common European home” and Charles de Gaulle’s Europe “from the Atlantic to the Urals” are expressions of this vision. Greater Europe is ostensibly pluralist, open to political regimes of many different types. The European Union is only one of many different visions of being European. The problem of the cold peace, according to Sakwa, was that NATO and the EU represented monological visions of security and prosperity. The Historical West viewed the United States as the security lynchpin on the European continent and liberal market democracies as normative for the domestic structure of states. Willing only to enlarge not to change, the Historical West generated accumulating frustration, disillusionment, and resistance on the part of an excluded Russia. With Greater Europe off the table, Russia sought instead to create a Greater Eurasia (the Eurasian Economic Union). In 2014, the cold peace impasse on the European continent gave way to a hot war in Ukraine. Russian neorevisionism emerged as a predictable backlash against the expansionist logic of Euro-Atlantic liberal hegemony. Today, Russia and China are both neorevisionist powers. It is not, in the end, Russia against the Rest but Russia as part of the Rest against the Historical West.
Sakwa documents this thesis in great detail in the book, providing an impressive synthesis of international relations theory, post-Cold War history, and in-depth discussion of contemporary contentious issue areas. The great value of Sakwa’s work is its thorough articulation of Russian leadership perspectives and commentariat writings on the dilemmas of cold peace geopolitics alongside those of select Western observers, usually political realists but not exclusively so. Sergei Karaganov, dean of the faculty at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and honorary chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, and Henry Kissinger are liberally quoted through the text. Karaganov argued in 2016 that the West after the Cold War sought to continuously limit Russia’s freedom, sphere of influence, and markets while expanding its own. The West “used Russia’s weakness to take away its centuries-old gains and make it even weaker” (p. 39). Sakwa sees this argument as “going too far” for the West was open to Russia’s inclusion in Western security structures but “it wanted a different Russia to the one on offer; while Russia wanted to join the community, but on its own terms” (p. 39). Kissinger argued that Russia should have been engaged by the West in traditional realpolitik terms. The goal should not have been transformation of Russia but the development of a strategic concept that could manage their differences within an emerging multipolar world order.
There are some standout chapters in Russia against the West. Using English school international relations theory, Sakwa provides a compelling account of the Kremlin’s geopolitical attitude towards world order. This distinguishes between two levels of the international system, the primary institutions of international society which are states, and the secondary level of institutions which are collective organizations that seek universal practices and norms. Russia is a clear supporter of the primary level of institutions, which rest on state sovereignty and bargaining between great powers in a multipolar system. The secondary level is the realm of international organizations, regimes of norms, and systems of global governance. These bind and constrict state sovereignty in the name of universal norms and aspirations. Russia and other non-Western powers object to what they see as the capture of this second level by liberal internationalist norms and values, which ultimately advance the self-interest of Western states. Sakwa argues that Russia is not a revisionist power seeking to tear up the current international order. Rather, it is a neorevisionist state, critiquing the hegemonic ambitions and double standards of the liberal international order but, at the same time, defending the autonomy of an international society organized around state sovereignty. “Moscow assumed the paradoxical position of challenging the practices of the liberal order while defending the principles of international society” (p. 129). Putin is a traditionalist, not a radical; a “legitimist,” not a revolutionary. Neorevisionism is “an unstable combination of attempts to modify the structures and practices of the hegemonic global order while remaining firmly ensconced in that order” (p. 132). International law has different meanings in this contest. To neorevisionist states, international law belongs to the primary level of international society. It is or should be delimited by respect for state sovereignty above all else. To liberal hegemony, international law is an expression of universal values and rules. It can and should be used against states that violate these.
Sakwa also gives us a succinct chapter on Russia’s grievances against the West, one that is empathetic without being uncritical. NATO enlargement gets a full discussion but so does missile defense, critique of Western interventionism, and objections to “trans-democracy.” This latter notion describes how democracy got absorbed into Euro-Atlantic visions of security. The spread of democracy and the pursuit of security became fused in practice. Democratic peace theory became dogma: “the security of the Atlantic power system is best advanced by creating a system of states moulded in the Western image and committed to liberal internationalism, the ideological foundations of post-war American power” (p. 99). This liberal imperial compound generated a Kremlin backlash that saw “colored revolutions” as Western-sponsored active measures, interpreting popular protests against autocratic and kleptocratic rules on Russia’s borders as Western plots. Implicit here is a Kremlin domino theory wherein the West is toppling autocratic regimes as a means of eventually knocking over the final piece: Putin’s Russia. Sakwa will infuriate many when he writes: “In a philosophical sense Putin was right: popular democratic revolutions have become a way for the Atlantic ideological and power system to advance. There is plenty of evidence that Western agencies have prepared for, funded and provided ideological support for pro-democracy movements whose ideological orientation is Atlanticist” (p. 102). But he also writes that this denies independent agency and popular demands for free and fair elections, less corrupt administrative systems, and, above all, civil dignity (p. 102). This mode of reasoning—affirming a Kremlin-friendly position yet articulating criticism also—is one he adopts on the all-important question of Crimea: “Crimea’s return can legitimately be considered a ‘democratic secession,’ since the overwhelming majority of the population (as later independent opinion polls confirmed) favored being part of Russia; although the view that it represents an ‘imperial annexation’ is justified to the degree that it lacked agreement with the country from which the territory seceded” (p. 157). Sakwa also writes that the armed insurgency in the Donbas was “covertly assisted by activists and some state bodies in Russia” (p. 157).
Sakwa’s work is impressively comprehensive. He discusses in relative detail the evolution of Russian foreign policy and European Union diplomacy, Eurasian integration, the Ukraine crisis, Western sanctions, Russia’s evolving military doctrines and modernization efforts, NATO’s responses to Russia, the breakdown of arms control regimes, US foreign policy and Russian interventionism in the Syrian civil war, information warfare, and Russia’s aspirational pivot towards China. The book concludes by outlining what he describes as a “global impasse.” This is a new “normal” of wide-ranging and increasingly deeply rooted confrontation between Russia and the United States. The United States is concerned to maintain its hegemonic status while China, Russia, and other powers are forcing a global realignment of power and the rules governing international affairs. He sees a rising of McCarthyism in the United States which is having a chilling effect on the quality of public debate, with those advocating “dissident” views condemned as “Putin apologists” (p. 313). On the central issue inflaming elite opinion in the United States (Russia’s information operations during the 2016 presidential election), Sakwa is skeptical that Russia’s role has been fully proven. The Steele dossier “hit a new low in its puerile collection of unsubstantiated allegations” (p. 241). Instead, he sees a renewed “Russian threat” as generating considerable budget increases for US and NATO agencies to fight Russian “information warfare.”
Sakwa’s work has some clear weaknesses. First, his focus is largely on great power politics. As a result, he has little to say about the strategic dilemmas faced by post-Soviet states next to Russia. There is some discussion of Ukrainian crisis but little about Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, or Armenia, nor of the enduring territorial conflicts in the near abroad. Central Asia is discussed but only as it relates to the great powers. He shows little interest or empathy for the position of these states. Instead his arguments are shaped by conversations on panels at Valdai, Moscow, London, and Brussels—not Kyiv, Tbilisi, and Tallinn. Sakwa’s book is valuable in terms of enriching the quality and depth of debate over topics that tend to quickly polarize interlocutors, but debate should extend to consider the historical experiences and aspirations of small and medium states too. This does not mean privileging that experience over Russian experiences, as often happens in the West where curated nationalist versions of subaltern experiences, and traumas, are a means of establishing superior victimhood. Rather, the conversation need to include everyone and hold all to the same critical standards of reasoned debate.
Second, Sakwa’s schemas and categorizations tends to structure debate toward Russian standpoints and positions. In some ways, this is a function of his desire to be a correction to widespread antipathy against Russia. But this correction itself needs a critical check. For example, Sakwa makes frequent use of the distinction between “monological” and “pluralist” perspectives, with the former standing in for Western liberal hegemony or Ukrainian nationalism whereas the latter expresses tolerance for diverse regime types and civil nationalist traditions. In practice, however, this reduces divergent traditions of politics—liberal, center-right and social democratic—into a singularity while creatively configuring acceptance of autocracy as “pluralism.” Indeed, autocracy is a category that is largely missing from Sakwa’s discussion. It deserves greater consideration as do variant kleptocratic state arguments made by scholars of Eurasian states. Sakwa does articulate positions that are critical of Russian government behavior, but in a mild manner. The Duma election of December 4 2011, is described as “flawed” (p. 115). Putin’s lies to Angela Merkel early in the Crimea crisis were his “being economical with the truth” (p. 217). Russia’s endorsement of European populists has damaging reputational consequences (p. 276). Because he is much more a hermeneutist of Putin than critic, Sakwa’s arguments shows considerable empathy for Russian government positions. This leads him to re-present arguments more than probe them for contradictions. Thus, for example, he writes that “Russia is not so much concerned with changing international hierarchy, but to defend a space for the conduct of international relations for itself, through the universal application of international law and respect for state sovereignty throughout the international system” (p. 129). Needless to say, many of Russia’s neighboring states would scoff at this.
Third, Sakwa engaged throughout his work with international relations theory but only the most traditional kind: realism (offensive and defensive), liberalism, and some constructivism. Emergent issue areas like cyber warfare and climate change are discussed in passing. There is little consideration of gendered practices or the role of affect, of feminist analysis, or of contemporary scholarship on visuality, memory, and nonhuman agency. This is not because it is absent in the speeches, debates, and practices he discusses. Rather, it is not called out and given separate analytical treatment by him. We need to think deeply, after all, about the micro- and macrosociological dynamics of respect, humiliation, frustration, anger, fear, and reassurance, as well as about the gripping power of spectacles of revolution, “self-determination,” and national glory. Sakwa’s work is more a deliberative approach to Russia-explaining, focused on presenting contentious debates and divergent practices based on clashing conceptualizations.
Finally, some may find the book frustrating because its key concepts and arguments are discussed again and again in the text. Because the book strives to engage with nearly all aspects of current debates on Russia, it sometimes feels like Sakwa has written too much and that his chapters are not as joined up as they could be. In sum, however, Russia against the West is a valuable addition to the growing literature on the “new cold war” (that may not be a new cold war). It deserves to be read,  debated, and criticized.
Citation: Gerard Toal. Review of Sakwa, Richard, Russia against the Rest: The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order. H-Diplo, H-Net Reviews. May, 2018. URL: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=51562
This work is licensed under a Creative Common

quinta-feira, 10 de agosto de 2017

Geopolitics in Latin America, old and new - Detlef Nolt, Leslie E. Wehner (2015)

I have just downloaded this interesting paper:

Detlef Nolt, Leslie E. Wehner: 
Geopolitics in Latin America, old and new
Routledge Handbook of Latin American Security
London: Routledge, 2015
Accessed on 9 Aug 2017


quinta-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2016

Geopolitics of the Global South: changing patterns of development (USP, 1/12/2016) - Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Participei, na manhã desta quinta-feira, 1/12/2016, dia no qual, em princípio, a Venezuela perdeu seu status de "membro pleno" do Mercosul (uma ficção, obviamente, criada pelos dois grandes do Mercosul, e pelas próprias lideranças chavistas), de uma conferência internacional animada por acadêmicos hungaros da Universidade de Pec (o c de Pec com acento circunflexo invertido em cima do c, o que faria algo como "petch") e da Universidade de São Paulo, em torno do tema acima indicado: 
Geopolitics of the Global South
Não me perguntem se concordo com o conceito de Global South. Não, não concordo, como parece implícito a essa pergunta sem sentido. Não existe esse tal de Global South, assim como não existe um Global North, nem um Global West, nem tampouco um GLobal East. O que existem são países, nações soberanas, que de vez em quando, por mútua conveniência e interesse partilhado, formam blocos, grupos políticos (União Europeia, Brics, Unasul), econômicos e comerciais (UE outra vez, Nafta, Mercosul, com restrições neste caso), ou militares (Otan, o finado Pacto de Varsóvia), etc. Enfim, acho que tem tudo para todos os gostos, a serviço dos clientes.
Em todo caso, a minha mesa estava interessante, mais pelo primeiro painel, pelo fato de o economista ter feito uma digressão prática a partir da Taylor Rule e sua aplicação aos casos do Brasil e do Chile.

Como eu tinha de fazer a conferência de abertura, passei os últimos dias preparando um texto, que aliás me serviu para debater com alunos e professores da FAAP, curso de Economia e Relações Internacionais, e do Instituto de Relações Internacionais da USP. Já postei as minhas 18 páginas de argumentos sobre o Itamaraty e a nova política externa na minha página da plataforma Academia.edu.
Só na véspera da conferência acima recebi o programa parcialmente transcrito acima e aí fiquei sabendo que a conferência teria de ser feita em inglês. OK, passei metade da noite escrevendo seis ou sete páginas em inglês, e é o que figura abaixo, ainda sem revisão, e provavelmente com vários erros, por estar dormindo em cima do teclado. Depois eu reviso. 
Boa noite, zzzz
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Itamaraty and the new Brazilian Foreign Policy

Paulo Roberto de Almeida
 [Conference: Geopolitics of the Global South; USP, December 1, 2016]

First of all, I would like to thank the organizers for this pleasant invitation to be with you, today, in this conference, joining together some of our representatives from this most important Brazilian university, and our foreign friends from Hungary. I’m not sure if my name was advanced to open this conference, by some of the Brazilian co-organizers, as the current Director of the Institute for International Relations Research, a think tank that works within the Alexandre de Gusmão Foundation, or only in my personal capacity, as a professor and also as one of the researchers in that field in Brazil. Anyway, I will be speaking only in my personal capacity, as I find this more in line with I have to say, today, to our foreign guests. My Brazilian colleagues from academia already know very well what I have to say about our Foreign Policy, in its regional context and our very recent changes in concepts, ideology and priorities, from the previous government to the current transitional one. Probably I’ll have to tackle a little more in detail some characteristics of Brazilian political scenario, both domestically and in its external relations, in order to give to our foreign guests an idea about what is going on in Brazil currently.
Before that, though, there are some questions to be dealt with: what is IPRI, what is Funag, and what Itamaraty does in terms of dialogue between academy and diplomacy? The Alexandre de Gusmão Foundation is the intellectual branch of our Foreign Ministry, an autonomous public body, created 45 years ago, in 1971, with the task to increase the awareness by the civilian society about international relations of Brazil. Besides organizing seminars and other activities linked to the current agenda of Itamaraty, Funag became, probably, the most important publishing house for works dealing with diplomatic history, international relations in general and external policy of Brazil in especial; better, all these books are freely available, more six hundred of them, totally open to a single click of the mouse. Funag has two agencies, or subsidiaries: one is my IPRI, in theory a think tank, in practice much more a tank than a think, at least up to now; I intend to shackle a little this small research institution; and there is in Rio de Janeiro, the Center for History and Diplomatic Documentation. IPRI deals with the present, CHDD with our diplomatic archeology, that is the past, from Portuguese times, passing the Empire, in the 19th century, and the Republic in Rio, up to the transfer of the capital to Brasilia, in 1960. IPRI will be commemorating, next year, its 30th anniversary, as we were created in 1987, to become a more active bridge between academy and our ministry. Besides that, we also had, in the past, the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, ABC, but it became independent from Funag more than 10 years ago.
And now, what is Itamaraty? Itamaraty, the Brazilian Foreign Service, is a respectable institution of ancient traditions, taking its initial steps from the good Portuguese diplomacy, which has negotiated some of the oldest bilateral treaties in the world, with England, even before Westphalian times. Itamaraty descends directly from the old State Secretary for War and External Affairs, created by King John the Fifth, in the middle of Eighteenth Century. At the Brazilian independence, in 1822, the two services, War and External Affairs were still together, but were subsequently separated with the building up of the new State by our Founding Father. Itamaraty takes its name from the old palace in Rio de Janeiro, residence of Baron of Itamaraty, an indigenous word, a beautiful house that served as temporary residence of the vice-president at the beginning of the Republic, donated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shortly before the ministerial inauguration of our patron, Baron of Rio Branco, the diplomat national hero.
Notwithstanding these old, historical traditions, it is important to stress now that Itamaraty is not directly responsible for the definition of the main features and positions taken by the Brazilian Foreign Policy, which falls under the presidential competence. Itamaraty is a highly skilled bureaucracy, and could establish by itself the main lines of that Foreign Policy, if allowed to do so. But Itamaraty is somewhat like the Vatican: guided by the principles of discipline and hierarchy, it is totally obedient to the Head of State, who in Brazil is also the head of government. In this sense, Itamaraty is highly dependent of the personalities and parties that have the temporary hegemony of the political game in town. And, for the last thirteen years, from January 2003 to May this year, the hegemonic party was the Worker’s Party, PT, and the great hegemon, the most important figure in the Brazilian politics was Lula, before being indicted by a small province judge in a number of crimes that Brazil and the whole world are discovering just now, and believe me, those crimes are horrible, cleptocracy in its worst form.

Well, talking about a NEW Brazilian Foreign Policy implies that an OLD one, the former foreign policy, existed and prevailed for some times, before being replaced by the current one, to which I’m associated, after exactly 13 years of being outside of Itamaraty during the whole period of PT rule in Brazil. It also means that those two diplomacies are distinguishable one from the other. That is not a normal situation: throughout its history, Brazil has known a high degree of consensus, that is, a real continuity between its successive foreign policies, which happened to be essentially molded, fashioned and implemented by Itamaraty. That time was over in 2003: from that very moment, up to last May, we started to have a very different situation, never before seen in our history, a period that was object of my most recent book, the fourteenth that I wrote in international relations of Brazil, called, precisely, Never Before Seen in Itamaraty: Brazilian external policy in non conventional times. And believe me again: those were not conventional times, but a period of clear subversion and break down of traditional patterns under which our diplomacy was being directed, formulated, implemented, since our Independence.
One single word could define PT’s foreign policy, or what I call lulopetista diplomacy: a party diplomacy, in fact, a sectarian one, functioning under motivations and interests that were in a clear disruption with long held traditions and patterns of Brazilian diplomacy for almost two centuries of its existence.

1. Itamaraty: just the operator or a true decision maker in Brazilian diplomacy?
Being one of the most admired foreign services in the Hemisphere and perhaps even elsewhere, Itamaraty can be recognized by its quality and excellence both in terms of formulation and conduction of the official foreign policy. The brilliance of its career personnel, and some other outstanding features in the inner functioning of Itamaraty, are probably at the basis of an over exposure of Brazil in the international scenarios, much more than could be allowed by some of its modest accomplishments in terms of trade, finance, inventiveness, innovation, and other scientific discoveries and breakthroughs. Anyway, our diplomatic GDP is higher than our economic, or material, GDP, but probably not so high as our soccer (football), musical or fashion models GDPs. Brazil became a great exporter of football players, composers and musicians, and models.
There is, nevertheless, a clear distinction between our crude assets, based on the huge amount of resources that Brazil has, as a result of its territory, population and other natural assets, including individual ones, such as those I have just mentioned. But we do have less desirable results in terms of the most striking features of globalization, financial and commercial flows, technology improvements and scientific education and other human development criteria. Indeed, our respectable presence in the world could be considered a direct result of the good qualities of Brazilian diplomacy, including the recent success of Mister Lula and his intense presidential diplomacy for the eight years of his two mandates. Lula became the most popular, or successful president in the world not only due to his personal qualities but also because of a strenuous work of Brazilian diplomacy, which, for the whole duration of his presidency was totally mobilized to serve his megalomaniac personality, a kind of great czar, a mixture of Louis the 15th and the general De Gaulle. Like Louis the 15th, Lula always thought that L’État c’est moi, and like De Gaulle he talked of him in the third person: Lula thinks that, Lula has done that, Lula is the cleanest politician in Brazil, the greatest, the perfect one.
So, Lula and his PT’s apparatchiks dominated Brazilian diplomacy in a manner never before seen in Brazil, and in Itamaraty. There were some external links and relations maintained by Lula, or by those apparatchiks, that remained unknown by Itamaraty and isolated from its documental records. Some initiatives, some relationships – especially with the so-called Bolivarian countries, Venezuela, Bolivia, and others, including Cuba – were taken outside of Itamaraty, without the interference or even without the knowledge of Itamaraty, which was maintained totally at the margin of those operations. One big example is of course the tripartite agreement, in fact a simple declaration, that of Teheran, in 2010, between Brazil, Turkey and Iran, concerning the nuclear clandestine program of this last country, its secret enrichment of uranium and other activities in the nuclear field. Few people know that Itamaraty had almost nothing to do with this affair, which was conducted personally by the minister and a few of his assistants, without adequate preparation or technical expertise by Brazilian diplomats or specialized personnel in this domain.  
There are other examples like this one, in many cases involving Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, some African countries, operations that are being examined nowadays by our accounting staff or judiciary prosecutors, to verify if all rules were strictly observed and the best practices in financial management were properly followed. We could have some big surprises in the near future, with some of Latin American and African deals and contracts of the big Brazilian construction companies, the same that are involved in current investigations under Car Wash operation by federal prosecutors. You know very well that big construction companies are genetically corrupt, in many countries, and Brazil is no exception: what is new in Brazil is the extension and the profound, very deep dimension of this gigantic scheme of corruption managed, conceived, conducted by PT and other associated parties and movements inside the Brazilian State, its big public companies, and many big Brazilian private corporations, the crème de la crème of the crony capitalism in Brazil.
Itamaraty was maintained relatively immune from this festival of corruption, and continued to be a very professional and dedicated group of high officials of the State, a kind of mandarins of the Republic, but of course the same cannot be said of the external policy, which was used for the personal objectives and interests of Lula and some high Party apparatchiks, the more equals among the equals during our Orwellian experiment for the last 13 years. All that is history now, but it is a story that is not very well known by the common people, not in the knowledge of the Brazilian society, and perhaps even unknown by the diplomats themselves. Unhappily for future historians, some delicate aspects of our diplomacy during those Lula’s years will remain in the dark, as there is not enough documentation about those bizarre episodes and special operations.

2. The new Foreign Policy and Itamaraty’s diplomacy
First thing to be said about the new foreign policy, that classified by minister José Serra as one affirmative diplomacy, is precisely the fact that it no more represents a party diplomacy, but one resuming the old pillars, beliefs, principles and values of the traditional Itamaraty’s diplomacy: that was always consensual among public opinion and the field specialists alike, especially those in the academia, even if most of our academia was, I recognize, very fond of lulopetista diplomacy. We could discuss for a very long time about this, but I will retain only some of the guiding principles of this new Foreign Policy.
I have already mentioned the party character of PT’s diplomacy, disregarding its old national character, and the fact that there was a complete inversion of the decision making process of formulation and implementation of the main postures by Brazil in the regional, bilateral and multilateral endeavors and agendas. Perhaps we could remember the meaning of a “shadow cabinet”, or a “parallel diplomacy”, being operated by side channels of the normal State institutions. Well, that is now over: Itamaraty regained the control of the policy implementation of Brazilian diplomacy, even if its formulation and the ultimate decision making rest with the supreme commandant, that is, the president himself, as always. If this is true, perhaps we could establish a new division in Brazil’s political historiography: in the same manner that we distinguish, in our Christian or Western Civilization tradition, between a BC, and AC, Before and After Christ, we can make a similar division, in our history, between BC and AC, Before and After the Companions, as the comrades of the PT were known in Brazil. Before 2003, and after May 2016, we have had normal Brazilian politics and diplomacy, perhaps the same corrupt practices as always, as Brazil endures its patrimonial political traditions. You know that Brazilians love the State, by itself; we want more State, everyone in the country want to become a public official. In the middle of those years, between 2003 and 2016, we lived in special times, unconventional ones, a kind of Gramscian State without even reading Gramsci, or Marx, or Lenin. Pure practice, without any kind of theory. But who wants to be a philosopher?
Now, in the quandary of a very deep economic recession, the biggest, the worst in our history, even worse than the Great Depression of the Thirties, which I call the Great Destruction, we are trying to rebuild the economy and also rebuild the diplomacy. As minister Serra said in his inaugural speech, May the 18th, as its first directive:

[Q] Brazilian diplomacy will reflect again, in a transparent manner and in a resolute way, the legitimate values of the national society, the interests of its economy, at the service of Brazil as a whole, no more serving the ideological preferences of one political party or of its foreign allies. Our external policy will be determined by the values of the State and the nation, not of a government and never of a single party. This new foreign policy will not break with the good traditions of Itamaraty and of the Brazilian diplomacy, but, conversely, will put them to a better use [UQ].

His second guiding principle is also worthwhile to stress, although, as in the case of the nine other following principles, it corresponds to what should be expected from any normal diplomacy, in the case of Brazil expressed in the principles and values inserted in our Constitution. Our constitutional chart has embedded many of the patterns and instruments of the International Public Law, the same that were disregarded by president Lula himself, with his political support for many leftist candidates in the region and elsewhere, which is contrary to the very known precept of no interference in the domestic affairs of other countries. Minister Serra said:
[Q] We will be very alert in terms of defense of democracy, of freedoms and human rights in any country, in every political regime, in accordance with our assumed obligations under international treaties and also with respect to the principle of no interference [UQ].

The return to a new professional diplomacy means, among other things, that Itamaraty, and no more party apparatchiks, acting under non transparent criteria, will take over again – which in fact has already occurred – the central role in Brazilian diplomacy, with due notation and documentation of every action and initiatives as was always the case in our institution. This does not means that the foreign minister, and the president himself have a small role in the big undertakings by Brazil in its external relations. Minister Serra, for instance, acting under the guidance of president Temer, has invite all his colleagues from Southern Cone countries, and their security and defense ministers to a recent meeting, convened in our Brasilia headquarters, to deal with the most serious problems of all countries: drug and arms trafficking, money cleaning, traffics of all kinds, illegal immigration, trans-border criminality and other criminal activities. He also decided, with his colleague from Defense ministry, to establish a joint consultation and coordination mechanism, to settle a common agenda between the two ministries, in order to examine joint actions and initiatives of a political-strategic nature (especially in South America) and of a technological and industrial interest. South America, of course, and developing countries in general, will continue to be at the forefront of Brazil’s priorities, including our African partners, especially Portuguese speaking countries in that continent.
To sum up, and I finish here, the short cycle of the bizarre diplomacy of Lula and PT came to its end, and Brazilian foreign policy is resuming its national, not party, character, benefitting from its normal, traditional, consensual nature. Itamaraty renews with its professional dedication to excellence in diplomacy that was always its high mark throughout the times. We do this offering to our minister, and to the president, of course, the best available technical expertise, in order to allow the defense of national interests of our country, without any ideological bias, or party preferences. It is the best we can do, as public servants.
Many thanks for your attention. All the best in this conference.

A selection of some works by the author is available at:
Paulo Roberto de Almeida: “Uma seleção de trabalhos sobre a política externa brasileira na era Lula, 2002-2016”; disponível na plataforma Academia.edu: https://www.academia.edu/26393585/Trabalhos_PRA_sobre_a_politica_externa_brasileira_na_era_Lula_2002-2016_; blog Diplomatizzando (http://diplomatizzando.blogspot.com.br/2016/08/trabalhos-pra-sobre-diplomacia.html).
Paulo Roberto de Almeida 
São Paulo, December 1st, 2016