What confuses me about modern political science (in the broad sense of the word) that studies international security issues is its irresistible fantasy.
This stems from superficiality in assessing events, analyzing the behavior of key players, and unwillingness to delve into the essence of "hot" issues. The result is quite sad: when unfounded projects become the political mainstream and determine the views of those who make important political decisions, the world has to pay a very high price.
If we look at the last 30 years, i.e., the period after the collapse of the USSR, Russia has been the most significant intellectual catastrophe of Western political thought. Or rather, the absolute misunderstanding of the nature of this country, its traditions, mentality, "culture," and history. It seems that the first person in the West who laid the foundation stone for creating this image of the "new" Russia, which is detached from reality, was Francis Fukuyama with his "The End of History...". His futurological predictions, which never came true, became very fashionable and were repeated in every possible way by numerous "Kremlinologists" who at one point turned into "Russophiles." Regardless of what was actually happening in Russia itself. The trend was set, and it was naively hopeful about Russia.
The hope was that it would become a democratic, liberal, legal, anti-communist, adequate, and acceptable member of the international civilized community. Concepts of common spaces from Vancouver to Vladivostok, covering political, economic, humanitarian, and security spheres, began appearing like mushrooms after rain. Ukraine was forced, in a rather rude and unfair manner (I mean, financial compensation), to give up its nuclear weapons and transfer them to Russia.
"Useful idiots" in the West has not decreased
Unfortunately, this "blackout" of common sense among our Western partners lasted until February 24, 2022. However, there were more than enough signals to sober up. From the shooting of the State Duma in 1993 (!) (a very "democratic" way to resolve political disputes, isn't it?) and the genocidal war against the Chechen people (if we are talking about Russia itself), to the seizure of 20% of Georgia's territory in 2008 and the annexation of Crimea and the beginning of the aggression in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Not to mention other "exploits" such as in Syria.
Despite this, we have witnessed Putin's "looking into the eyes," the "reset" of US-Russian relations, Germany and the whole of Europe being hooked on the Russian gas needle, and the West's complete toothlessness in countering Russia's hybrid war against itself.
My explanation for this political myopia is simple: the West does not know what Russia is, and the worst part is that it does not want to know. Until now. They do not desire to decide for themselves what to do with such a Russia.
The task is now simplified because it no longer needs to be studied: the whole world has seen that the imperial essence of the modern horde lies at the heart of this under-empire. It commits crimes of military aggression, continues genocidal actions, including against Ukrainians, and wants to destroy the Ukrainian state and the Ukrainian ethnic group as such. At the same time, it is completely destroying the system of international law.
It is sad to note that the number of "useful idiots" in the West has not decreased, either because of the incurability of the syndrome of acquired pro-Russian idiocy or because of the stimulation of this process by certain donations. Most likely, it is both. Some people would like to continue living in the grip of this idiocy, but the harsh reality forces them to react somehow.
This is the most challenging task for the post-liberal, or better to say, the current pseudo-liberal West. Decades of "warm baths" when one could live without making fundamental decisions have finally corrupted Western elites. Political omnivorousness has become the norm, filling their brains with a thick layer of cynicism, indifference, and irresponsibility. The reaction of the collective West, at least to the above-mentioned heinous crimes of Russia, should have been entirely different.
What to do with Russia? This question keeps the leaders of many Western countries awake at night and forces them to come out of their comfortable shell of "somehow it will be." Unfortunately for them, it will not be "somehow" anymore. We must finally make up our minds. To put it very simply, there are two options: to preserve Russia in its current configuration, slightly touching up its peeling neo-imperial facade and bringing to power another "reformer a la Yeltsin," or, thinking strategically, to work on changing the geopolitical situation of the entire northern hemisphere.
Unfortunately, our Western colleagues are clinging to any argument to avoid (God forbid!) even approaching the second scenario. What about nuclear weapons? What about "civil war"? What about an even more horrific dictator than Putin? And many more of the same "what ifs?".
Behind all of this, the unwillingness to pursue a proactive foreign policy that meets the West's national interests is starkly apparent. Instead, the tactic of "reactivity" has been chosen: when something happens, we will react. This is a constant game of black pieces, i.e., losing the initiative, voluntarily handing it over to the enemy, which he is happy to use. Is it wise? Hardly. Especially given the scale of the horrors of the war against Ukraine.
Meanwhile, to be perfectly frank, this is precisely what is happening now. Ukraine receives only the weapons that allow it not to lose, but also not to win. This reminds me of the time before the collapse of the USSR, which the West did not want to happen. They actively urged Ukrainians to get rid of their radical "nationalism" and continue to live under the Muscovite yoke. But history is a tricky aunt who does not ask permission even from the most influential (as they probably believe) world players, but acts fairly. The evil empire had to disappear, and it did because its time had come.
This time has also come for the current Muscovite under-empire. But to reach this obvious conclusion, one must still do some brainwork, not in creating the latest fictions about the "beautiful Russia of the future," but in terms of analyzing the actual trends in its development and understanding that the disappearance of the world's most crucial threat (if we take the security aspect) from the political map is a blessing. For the same civilized world.
I wrote about the domestic and foreign policy trends leading to the decline of Russia long before the start of the large-scale invasion. Today, the situation in Russia has become even more catastrophic. Provided that the West helps Ukraine with weapons and not only continues but also intensifies its sanctions, Russia will have no chance, even in the short term. It would be good if leading, unbiased Western think tanks joined this analysis. This would remove suspicions of "Russophobia" among Ukrainian researchers. I would suggest that they pay attention to two books published in Ukraine last year analyzing racism as a hateful ideology and practice. An unbiased assessment of Russia would help our Western colleagues in one way: to understand that it is impossible to negotiate with history because it lives according to its own objective laws.
Such a "discovery" would probably encourage them to rethink the role of the West in relation to what I hope will be called post-Russian territory in the near future. It would push them to develop realistic scenarios for transforming this space.
But first, a few obvious things will happen after Russia becomes history.
The global nuclear threat will disappear. For a relatively long time, China will be unable to withstand the combined nuclear potential of the United States, Britain, and France. How to denuclearize Russia? The same way as was done with Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in the 1990s. The new post-Russian states will be much more interested in solving their socio-economic problems than in keeping nuclear weapons on their territory (if properly stimulated). Of course, in exchange for real, not just lip service, guarantees.
What will happen to global totalitarianism? It will shrink significantly, because Russia plays a leading role in this global alliance of evil. It can be predicted that in the absence of the backbone of this alliance, its other elements, such as North Korea, Iran, and Cuba, will quickly realize where they belong. Not to mention such appendages of terrorism as the Taliban, Hezbollah, or the Yemeni Houthis. The world will seem quite different to China as well. Is this development beneficial to the West? The answer lies on the surface.
Will it affect the collective security of the West and its primary defense tool, NATO? Obviously, yes, and very positively. After all, the real threat to its eastern flank will disappear. After Ukraine's victory, it is unlikely that there will be a country to the east of Ukraine that will want to test the power and determination of its armed forces. Especially not Ukraine, a member of the Alliance. Moreover, NATO will be able to expand its sphere of responsibility to the Pacific region, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and possibly some Southeast Asian countries.
This, of course, will not happen within a year. Still, the prospect of transforming this strategic region for the interests of the civilized world into a space of fair economic competition rather than a military threat is worth serious efforts.
This is not to mention the positive security changes worldwide, where Russia is now weaving a network of counteraction to the West from the so-called Global South.
Important international structures such as the UN and the OSCE will get a chance to revive.
Ultimately, it will be confirmed that international law still has weight, and the aggressor must be punished for its crimes.
Of course, there is a whole range of economic benefits that humanity will receive by overcoming Russian imperialism: from new chances for the peaceful development of the Arctic instead of the arms race proposed by Russia there to the use of funds freed up from increasing military budgets to solve global and regional problems of hunger, ecology, medicine, etc., including assistance to the countries of the so-called Global South.
The Western political establishment should also abandon the illusion called "good Russians." They are not really good. There are complete imperialists and chauvinists who, due to certain political circumstances, can mimic "democrats" and "liberals," but only until they can again show their conquering, imperial nature. Read what these "democrats" are saying about Ukraine and Ukrainians, even now, during this brutal war by their country. "We are with the Ukrainians until the first turn..." says Russian "writer" V. Shenderovich. Do you know why? Because he is convinced that there are Nazis in Ukraine. The dream of these "good Russians" is primitively simple: wait until Ukraine overthrows Putin's regime and comes to power with the same chauvinistic slogans and plans.
Does the West need such a Russia again?
If Russia disappears from the world's political map, we will have a real beginning of history! A complex, non-linear one, with all its stops and zigzags. But a genuinely new one, one that will actually make humanity safe and successful.
Let's work together to achieve this.
Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine