When it comes to security, let us first be clear: I am referring to world security designed to preserve life and make progress in the whole planet mainly by meeting three challenges: cyber security, artificial intelligence and climate change. This approach might be one of the major debating issues on the tables of scientists, researchers and decision-makers worldwide. However, the decision-makers seem to be far away at least from grasping its relevance as the first step and then suit actions to the words as the second one.
In our time, the key concept is how to define “national and regional security”. I belong to those scholars who define and provide it with a relative meaning. In this sense, while “regional security” implies a relative meaning for a long time, the “national security” definition goes far beyond: Over the time, it is to lose its sense.
Why, How, and When?
The history of human existence and its development tells us that firstly the families and later on the communities survived through millenniums by defending themselves or attacking others. They extended their borders progressively. As an outcome, they moved their “border security” from time to time, by destroying or assimilating other ones. In modern times, “security “ clearly means to be militarily strong enough to cope with other States, Powers or Group of States. Accordingly, a huge budget is necessary in order to be able to destroy others in the name of “defending life at home”. The same attitude or policy is also pursued by those others – named at least “adversaries”, thus both sides have been conducive to clashes and wars until to date.
Meanwhile, there is another approach or policy. In more concrete terms, let us try and perceive the above-mentioned brief description from another angle. Using force and violence has resulted to border expansion and thus “national security” is periodically restored. That means “inners components” are step by step taking shape as “peaceful components” at home. This “home” has become larger and larger over the centuries. Generally speaking, this process is largely based on inter-action and the co-existence of three major elements: the same culture, languages, geographical proximity and within the same race as well. This tableau has been evaluated also from one stage to another and currently, there are developed countries that united naturally making headway albeit their different languages, cultures and races.
If we consider and follow up this analysis (the second stage) we may come to the conclusion and “dare” predict that “security” should be defined as a collective undertaking. It is true that the future seeds are there, but politicians face two alternatives: either to follow the “inners and natural evaluation” or disregard and ignore them since the “inners” will pursue their route straight forward. If we want the first one to take its route easier, let us refer to the second idea: in the present World, all State policies and their relations must be driven by Trust and Win-Win principle. Once this approach comes true, then national and later regional security will lose sense. Very simply: if you trust your partner and your cooperation in all areas is based on this principle, then other supplementary security elements or instruments would be out of order and “your home” would become “ours”.
A background of Inter-State relations
The World is composed by various cultural, traditional, economic, social and military States and Group/Alliances of States which have produced on regular basis very complex relations among them. Despite this complexity, States have always tried to establish and maintain lasting peace by employing two basic mechanisms: bilateral/regional and multilateral relations. The latter implies all international organizations, and UN as a chapeau. Despite the performance of these mechanisms, clashes, conflicts and wars have been our co-travelers, we live with and see others as potential enemies or, if not as an invasion, at least as a likely concurrent affecting continuously our security or welfare. Therefore, governments should be permanently cautious for their security.
But why do States and their politicians display such behavior? Why are they “heroes at home and enemies abroad”? Or are they running their countries and fighting against others to become richer and thus improve their people’s welfare? To me, the answer is very obvious: many of them are under-qualified to understand how the World has made progress through history and is currently moving on, how States could have better relations and look for common rather national interests and even worse, defend them at the cost of others; par consequence, they are far from being visionary and lack far – sightedness. Or, still worse, they cannot follow this new approach due to lack of new theories and ideas in this regard.
Guided by the famous “balance of powers policy” which in essence refers to setting up a sustainable balance of national interests, the World “enjoyed” during the last two centuries the so-called the “International Order”
Russia – “eternal enemy of the west”
Russia-West chapter is not the only one in present multilateralism. If we have a glance on the current “World pillars” there are other chapters as: China-Russia, China – USA, USA-EU, China-EU, India-China and Pakistan, Arab League and West, Latin America and USA, Russia- Japan and China, Turkey-EU, Turkey-Russia-Iran, and so on and so forth.
But, in our case, let us deal with West-Russia pillar, which in my opinion, is the most interesting.
Guided by the famous “balance of powers policy” which in essence refers to setting up a sustainable balance of national interests, the World “enjoyed” during the last two centuries the so-called the “International Order” (starting with Vienna Congress). First, when Russia was invited to the “European/Western Club” during the Russia-Turkey War (1877-1878) and the following events, while the West aligned with Turkey when the latter was “at the Vienna door” for hundred years.
The second time refers to the communist regime established in Russia (to some extent being sponsored by West to force the Emperor fall). What was the West policy like? Abandon Russia and put sanctions to her and other punitive measures! The subsequent effects: Russia became a more repressive regime with each passing year. The third time: during the WWII, Russia (ex-Soviet Union) was the most important ally of the West in defeating Nazism. After the victory, Soviet Union aggressively worked hard and invested a lot to install communist regimes in the World. The West responded in different forms, mainly by sanctions, embargo and other means. However, the more the West was abandoning Soviet Union, the more repressive it became. The best illustration was the deportation of millions of people and hundreds of thousand prisoners. To defend its own regime, Russia did also resort to its military might. Again, the more the West isolated Russia, the more repressive became its regime. Apart from some cooperation steps, notably in the security area (nuclear weapons) other aspects of relations were ignored.
The fourth case refers to the time when communism collapsed and Russia embraced Democracy. However, democracy could not come overnight and the same applies to the eradication of the roots of Communism. However, while Russia was becoming richer thanks to democracy, market oriented economy and Western assistance; some elements of former communism came back and took roots again. What was the West position in such circumstances? Again, although this policy had failed twice before, the West put sanctions; it abandoned the Russian people hoping that things would change for the better at home. True, the regime there is based on private ownership, market economy and some democratic principles; yet, the risk of restoring previous repressive practices and elements of its repressive does exist.
Thus, there are evidence of Russian intervention and support for destructive and extremist political forces in Europe, Balkans and elsewhere or even worse the military intervention in Eastern Ukraine, Crimea invasion and others. And what about the West? It continued to “play the same old tune”: protect the victims of those interventions, expand NATO influence area and others. The outcome: fear and insecurity are spreading out through Europe and even in USA which cannot fail to remind us of the Cold War.
The question arises: do these historic conflicting relations between West and Russia represent the Western policy also for the future? Or they are likely to change and be replaced with a new approach: dialogue, talks and discussions in view of finding out ways of cooperation instead of forcing Russia to change its policy by isolation and sanctions?
Finally, is it possible to have another approach vis-à-vis Russia? In my opinion, even if the current political establishments in both sides would try to keep the status quo for a long time, they would yet change because of “inners” elements; these will continue their route leading to an all – inclusive security, where common interests will converge to our home security – the World.