As of today, the strategic advantage given to Washington by a social technology of “soft power” has worn thin. But this does not mean that the USA will abandon new attempts to use this tool in planning the new color revolutions.
Representatives of the Western political establishment tend to increasingly recognize that the geopolitical system built in the late 20th century is going through a severe crisis, the consequences of which are difficult to predict. And there is nothing surprising in these confessions. The current balance of power on the world stage is fundamentally unlike the expected one, shared in the 1990s by the winners in the Cold War. Meanwhile, a few decades ago, the Western victory seemed fair and square, achieved through better organization of the economy, more advanced technologies and a more flexible system of motivation of allies.
However, today’s speeches on the crisis are mainly aimed at assessing the economic situation. First of all, the attention is focused on the issue of the excessive, to put it mildly, USA debt, which came close to $20 trillion.
“The Americans are quickly getting poorer, and it is ever more difficult to hide. Statistics demonstrate this vividly: in a total volume of goods and services produced in the USA the share of wages has fallen to historic lows. According to the American experts, the level of prosperity of the American middle class fell back to the level of 1958,” says Vladimir Yakunin, PhD (Political Sciences), Head of Department of Public Policy at the Lomonosov Moscow State University1.
Experts working outside the pro-Western information field, talk about this crisis in a much freer manner and suggest considering it more broadly: apart from economic perspective, in political and cultural science perspectives as well. “Today it has become clear that the expectation of universal peace based on shared democratic values and full realization of the principle of cooperation in international law had been an illusion,” says Dmitry Pashentsev, Professor of the Department of Theory and History of State and Law at the Moscow State Pedagogical University2.
The political default of the system of Western values is perfectly exemplified by how the USA is trying to build relations with China in the new realities. For example, in October 2015 Washington insisted on signing the agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which included the USA, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Peru. But not China.
Beijing responds with the general change of the vector of international development. “Pacific direction is being changed to Asian, but a broad belt of potential and actual tension appears between China and the USA allies. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea, as well as disputes with Japan are only the first harbingers of future conflicts,” says Vladimir Yakunin.
The confrontation points have already been mentioned: in addition to the territorial claims, it is a competition for the production of steel and aluminum, intellectual property matters, bans on investment in strategic sectors. “The USA and China have begun a race to edit genes”, “China will outrun the USA in the number of nuclear reactors in 10 years”, “China will respond to the US missile defense deployment in South Korea”, the politicized media headlines savor the widening conflict of interests.
Imposing the American Order as a Goal in Itself
If we agree with the assessment that the current world order is undergoing a protracted crisis, the main reasons pushing the USA to “export democracy” become clear. There are at least three of them.
The first one is financial. Washington is simply forced to export tension to the outside world and artificially “fuel” conflicts around the world as a way to “write off” the accumulated debt. And for that it is necessary to see opponents in all areas of the world where the dogmas of the Department of State are put under a slightest doubt.
“Even the modern post-Soviet Russia is still under suspicion of the West as a potential “troublemaker” in the entire non-Western world. If, for example, the mighty China is seen today only as an economic and – potentially – a military competitor or opponent, then Russia is still expected to provide ideas that can confuse the minds in the West,” notes Konstantin Kosachev, Cand. Sc. (Law), Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs3.
At the same time, the USA propaganda machine, living by the rules of self-generation, requires more and more new hostile characters. Otherwise, there is a risk of loss of spectators’ interest. Accordingly, the second (culturological) reason is the need to find the global villains and to endow the elected regional leaders with grotesque features of such monsters.
The crisis is forcing the Western model to exist by the “law of the bicycle”. They cannot stand still, they need either to move or fall. More precisely – the system can exist only as long as it has an advantage over its neighbors. As soon as the inequality sinks into oblivion, the foundations of the system will collapse. “Fixation of the global inequality, imbalances in the global distribution of resources and wealth is becoming one of the most important foreign policy objectives of the West in order to maintain its lead over the rest of the world for as long as possible,” says Konstantin Kosachev. “Soft power” of the West in practice inhibits any alternative solutions in the world, causing potential competitors to feel inherently flawed compared with a highly developed part of civilization, and as a result, give it a notorious superiority and rightness in international affairs. And a “hard power” begins to manifest itself as a guardian of this situation, stopping any attempts of self-organization of the international community on the other, multipolar – or rather polycentric – principles”.
Simply put, the USA cease, not only financially, but also ideologically, to be a self-sufficient power. Any enemy becomes necessary for Washington as a remedy, as a survival tool. Only the presence of foreign, albeit fictional, enemies helps the country to stay afloat.
Supposedly Nonviolent Globalization
Thus, a nexus of “color revolutions” that has swept across the planet turns out to be a symptom of the disease for the West – a symptom of the crisis. This does not mean that in the future the US efforts to continue imposing its world order would be “painfully” weakened. On the contrary, the chosen policy leads to an increase in the number of “disease sites”.
It's another matter that the disease will increasingly mimic the common cultural values. And the resources of “soft power” are used as the main tool of such mimicry.
As explained by Alexander Naumov, Cand. Sc. (History), Associate Professor of Public Administration Faculty of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, “soft power” is the ability to achieve goals in the international arena through persuasion and gaining foreign affection. It is the spread of influence of one state to the other by means of mass media, popular and high culture, provision of education services, favorable economic environment, amplification of attractive humanitarian and political ideals, its own original system of values that the other international entities would like to import.
“Soft power” has already had a significant impact on the development of international processes and the course of world history, especially during the last quarter of a century. It played a pivotal role in the collapse of the USSR, and later gave birth to the concept of “democratic intervention”, “responsibility to protect” and “human security”, has become the script core of “color revolutions” and the “Arab Spring”, says Alexander Naumov4.
Many political analysts add that almost all conflicts of modern times, be it Kosovan, Georgian, Ukrainian or Syrian ones, are portrayed as conflicts of values. It is quite understandable: one thing is a clash of geopolitical or economic interests, and quite another – countering the “wrong” values with the “right” ones. In fact, it looks like a stand between the obvious good and the notorious evil.
Then again, the “hand of Washington” can be seen in all conflicts of recent times. More specifically, the behavioral strategy of the USA, as well as the countries moving in its wake in terms of foreign policy, constantly demonstrates the fact that the “soft power” of the West does not promote the notorious Western values and only serves the vested interests of the ruling elite of the West.
This, for example, is indisputably shown by the events of the “Arab Spring”. Moreover, many experts are confused by the hard-hitting conclusion that countries that are democratic in their internal structure do not necessarily advocate democratic relations in their foreign policy.
Meanwhile, such manipulation of values is so much stuck in everyone’s throats that it is losing supporters even in the United States proper. “Realism again takes precedence over ideology. At this time it takes over the messianic globalism inspired by the Wall Street banks, pharmaceutical companies, private military companies, dishonest members of the media, expensive universities stuffing the students of economic departments with mathematized nonsense, and the like,” summarizes Alexander Salitsky, PhD (Economy), Chief Scientific Officer of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences5. “I stress that despite the personality of Donald John Trump, his rise to power is quite natural, as is the desire of the overwhelming majority of the planet population to drastically change their lives for the better and find at least some hope for a better future for their children.”
Nevertheless, we must be prepared that Washington will never voluntarily give up its chosen path. Within the framework of the crisis it has very few resources to maneuver.
Color Revolutions at the European Threshold?
“The process of globalization that has determined the main vector of development of the world economy and trade in recent decades, began to slip,” agrees Pyotr Yakovlev, PhD (Economy), Director of the Center for Iberian Studies at the Institute of Latin America (ILA) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, professor of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics6. “The first signs of deceleration showed themselves during the crisis of 2007–2009, when dozens of countries have resorted to protectionist measures in an effort to protect domestic producers from foreign competition”.
Meanwhile, the use of “soft power” by Washington leads not only to local success and political instability in some regions. US allies deprive themselves of independence, which is bound to cause protests from the population.
The unintended consequence of the policy of multiculturalism is a violation of political stability in the European countries that have seemingly long forgotten what social protests look like. A frightening evidence of ripening protests is the growing popularity of extreme right-wing political movements. They take the top lines in the polls. In Germany, it comes to the formation of self-defense militias. And all this is happening against the background of a tacit ban on public discussion of inter-ethnic clashes.
Nevertheless, in spite of total silence, there is an unprecedented increase in the popularity of non-parliamentary, extreme left and extreme right, and even the ultra-right parties, closed with a fascist ideology. In Spain 20.7% of the votes were cast for the “Podemos” party in the parliamentary elections of 2015, in Italy 28% of respondents are ready to vote for the anti-globalization advocates and eurosceptics from the “Five Star Movement”, and 15.5% support the right-wing eurosceptics of the “Northern League”, in Germany 11.5% support the party of eurosceptics “Alternative for Germany”...
“We are witnessing a political dogmatism contradicting not only the economic laws, but also the laws of nature. And the recession gives rise, among other things, to general political instability: the mere existence of this vicious circle is very little comprehended,” judges the expert. “The most far-sighted representatives of the Western political elites are already talking about the fact that the liberal-democratic model fails”.
A quotation of the famous political scientist Jacques Attali will be in order, according to whom the changes are vital, “until the crisis has gone so deeply that nobody can trust the market and democracy will be unable to cope with the “golem” it has created”7.
But the USA strongly inhibits changes. Manipulation techniques honed on the real and imaginary opponents inevitably give rise to the temptation to use them on allies.
And this is not surprising. After all, since the “color revolutions” are a symptom, there is a “threat of infection” of all objects exposed to the source of the disease. And this risk, ironically, is quite relevant for the European Union.
Moreover, the United States – by and large – do not need allies. This, for example, can be seen by how easily the bureaucracy of Brussels can be exhibited guilty when making unpopular decisions. Globalization “the American way” involves turning Washington into a single global center of power. Europe, followed by the Middle East, has found itself in a hostage situation.
The clash of different paradigms in the European Union has significantly increased terrorist activity in Europe. But the media attacks of Washington keep going on everywhere along the borders of our country. Accordingly, the anti-terrorist opposition can be considered the first line of defense of the Russian Federation. And it is well understood in the Kremlin.
“In recent years we have seen the intensified efforts of different, sometimes public, forces to use various forms of extremism (from the conduct of “color revolutions” to wars and committing armed aggression) in order to achieve their local, regional or geopolitical goals,” says Alexander Bastrykin, General of Justice, PhD (Law), professor, Chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russian Federation8. “In these circumstances, the main reference point for us is to link the work in the area of international relations with the solution of the country’s security as closely as possible, to bring it as much to the real needs as possible”.
In particular, a bill on the introduction of criminal liability of legal persons, without which Russia cannot perform extraterritorial prosecution of foreign organizations that finance terrorism and sponsor the destabilization of the political situation, as well as other transnational crimes committed on the territory of Russia, has been prepared. In fact, it is a tool to counter the instruments of “soft power” that have already infiltrated into Russian territory.
The second line of defense is the Russian own studies for the discussed issues. It should be noted that the theory and practice of the Russian political science systematically adopted the concept of “soft power” in 2011–2013. This tool has been identified on the basis of the analysis of the actions of those states that have most actively used it in their foreign policy.
And then the State program “Foreign Political Activity” approved by the Decree of the Russian Government No. 325-10 dated 15.04.2014 was complemented by a document titled: “The implementation of activities in the fields of international humanitarian cooperation and international development assistance”. This document had the status of an independent sub-program No. 3, and was largely a kind of a “road map” in implementation of national “soft power” potential in a number of directions.
Simply put, no state or group of states has a monopoly on “soft power”.
But, of course, to maximize its efficiency, Russia’s “soft power” must be backed by real force, for which the military-industrial complex is directly responsible.
No one doubts that the “color revolutions”, just like any other socio-political phenomenon, have their clients, contractors, customers and beneficiaries both at the micro and macro levels. However, experts have questioned the sufficiency of such an explanation. They agreed that the high demand for a revolutionary approach, the success in carrying out a string of revolutionary upheavals, the high probability of their furtherance and easy availability of this tool lie not only and not so much in the power of mercantile and foreign interest, but in some much more serious power shifts – the processes of meta-social order.
It is, as noted by Vladimir Shultz, PhD (Philosophy), Director of Security Problems Research Center of RAS, and Sergey Bochkarev, Cand. Sc. (Law), Acting Head of the Laboratory of Political and Legal Studies of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, the fracture of traditional notions of integrity of the world, state, society and the individual that happened in the individual and public consciousness9.
Their weakening or loss led to an emergence of fertile ground for revolutionary moods and manifestations as one of the ways to construct new wholes. Due to mainly latent character of those changes, most of the countries similar to Ukraine (Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and others) have been overwhelmed by color revolutions, as the national legal means of monitoring did not work in the crisis situation. Human rights mechanisms intended for bonding of society and the preservation of its integrity did not fulfill their task. Their Achilles heel was the complete dependence on political prudence, readiness, and adaptability.
Surveillance means of the law enforcement could not keep track that internal contradictions, which for a long time had remained unresolved, came under the third parties’ interest and began to be used by them as a convenient pretext for the destabilization of societies and eventually led to the collapse of some of the political regimes. The justice system was not ready for the fact that most social parameters have changed. At the moments of public stress the bureaucracy was unable to assess the scale of the threat, the format of the problems, to determine the agents and the extent of their activity. It came as a surprise to it that with little external influence the ever “smoldering” inconsistencies swiftly transformed into uncompromising contradictions and destructive conflicts. The government, in other words, had difficulties with the perception of communities living in the country and uniting their cultural, historical, economic, political and legal values, note Vladimir Shultz and Sergey Bochkarev.
Both those states that have already “fallen”, and those which are still trying to resist the pressure of the new trends of the time faced such difficulties. Each of the latter will have to go through the relevant changes. That being said, the above-mentioned transformations concern not only public entities and their bureaucracies. At the same example in Ukraine, experts can make sure that a vast number of ordinary members of internecine processes encountered very similar problems. Many of them have expressed inability to measure the total of individual and collective interests.
- Yakunin V.I. Stability of Political Systems Under Conditions of the Developing World Crisis // Russian Journal of Legal Studies. No. 1 (6), 2016.
- Pashentsev D.A. “Color Revolutions” as a Result of Information Warfare: State-Legal Dimension // Russian Journal of Legal Studies. No. 1 (6), 2016.
- Kosachev K.I. “Soft Power” with Hard Consequences // Russian Journal of Legal Studies. No. 1 (6), 2016.
- Naumov A.O. “Soft Power” and the “Color Revolutions” // Russian Journal of Legal Studies. No. 1 (6), 2016.
- Salitsky A.I. The Root Cause of Trump’s Victory is the Exhaustion of Globalization // [Electronic resource]: Strategic Culture Foundation. URL: http://www.fondsk.ru/news/2016/11/18/glubinnaja-prichina-pobedy-trampa-ischerpannost-globalizacii-43065.html
- Yakovlev P.P. Transatlantic Partnership: Context, Meaning, Problematic Aspects // [Electronic resource]: Online edition of the “Perspektivy” Center for Research and Analytics of the Foundation of Historical Perspective. URL: http://www.perspektivy.info/oykumena/ekdom/transatlanticheskoje_partnerstvo_kontekst_znachenije_problemnyje_aspekty_2016-09-27.htm
- Attali, Jacques. A Brief History of the Future. “Piter”, 2014.
- Bastrykin A.I. Threats of Extremism and the Role of the Investigative Committee of Russian Federation in Ensuring Legal Stability // Russian Journal of Legal Studies. No. 1 (6), 2016.
- Shultz V.L., Bochkarev S.A. Revolutionary Measuring of the Integrity of Law // Russian Journal of Legal Studies. No. 1 (6), 2016.