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Board of Military Experts:
Written by iamik.ru   
, 20 2002
Board of Military Experts: ‘Action through inaction’ is Russia's managing principle’
A regular meeting of the Board of Military Experts took place on December 17th of this year in the House of the Russian press on Bersenevskaya Embankment in Moscow. Discussed at the meeting were the preliminary results of the year in the political life of Russia.
The panelists agreed that the country is still controlled in accordance with the ancient Chinese principle of ‘action through inaction’. Thisis when managers do not know what to do or where to lead the nation, and so they prefer to pretend that they are managing somehow, if only to avoid inadvertently hurting themselves or those around them. Thefollowing are the assessments of the situation in the country by members of this board.
I.I.Antonovich: The main outcome of the year is that the country has stabilized in its stagnation. There were no positive changes in any process, or in any domestic or foreign policy. There is dynamic action, unfortunately, only in a series of man-made disasters and the increase in terrorism.
Western observers reported that President Putin has consolidated his hierarchy, which applies to Gref, Mironov, and the chiefs of the presidential administration, but not to Kasyanov. Putin, however, failed to curtail privileges of the bureaucracy, and has not put a stop to the union of the bureaucrats with the criminal underworld, nor has he offered any program to counter it.
All throughout history, there have been examples of effective policies to end a systemic crisis. Suffice it to recall the four pillars of Roosevelt’s anti-crisis policy: industrial, agricultural, and social revival, and a tax on the rich. Putin has not presented any program of this sort, and there have been no economic innovations.
Russia’s pro-Western orientation in foreign policy has yielded nothing: each time we wish to earn some prestige, such as when we asked to host World Expo 2010or the 2008European football championship games, doors were slammed in our face.
The Moscow visit by NATO Secretary General Robertson and his talks with Russian leaders shows that we are imposing a Western model of restructuring on our the armed forces in relying on rapid deployment forces. Asa result, there will be one world government, NATO, and Russia will be left with nothing to resist this bloc.
In the future, the major players in the global arena will be the governments of the United States, China, India, and perhaps, Iran, while Russia will be pushed into a niche of a regional power that is pro-Western. Itwill have no autonomy in foreign policy. Onegets the impression that Ivanov is the same sort of agent of influence for the West as Kozyrev was for Yeltsin.
Even a shadowy possibility of establishing a triumvirate of Russia, China, and India was destroyed by the openly pro-Western course of the Kremlin. Rudimentary of foreign policy successes in this area did not lead to any serious economic agreements. Aweek after President Putin’s visit to China, it was reported that the route of the Blue Stream Pipeline would be switched from China to Nakhodka.
The Yeltsin ‘family’ returned its positions in politics and economics. Thecountry has become even more divided, with 1% considered ultra-wealthy, 9% more or less affluent, and 90% living in poverty or barely making ends meet. Thegovernment is not interested in the economy, and is unafraid of protesters. Therulers do not know Russia, and most of the Russian population is indifferent to its rulers, so the rulers are quietly confident that Putin will win the 2004elections.
The President is clearly concerned about his historical image, but he is not pushing for the role of Russia’s reformer, but its pacifier.Unless there is a major breakthrough in the economy over the next 4years, history will not be kind to Putin.
A.I.Vladimirov: This year has shown that Putin has no people around him, and no ideas.
Robertson arrived in Moscow and gave us the latest American ideas on building a military antiterrorist front. Ourpresident said that he hoped to introduce this innovation into our military doctrine, but Chief of General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin went one further and was ready to amend operational-tactical and combat training in the Russian army.
This is clearly what the Americans want. Theyneed for all of Europe, including Russia, to start creating a mobile ‘Sonderkommandos’ numbering of 5060thousand and capable of conducting ‘sweeps’ against terrorists anywhere in the world, while above them, allegedly providing cover, will hang the powerful U.S. armed forces that can in Washington’s interests ‘sweep’ all and sundry, both Chechen terrorists and Russian ‘Sonderkommandos’.
In this light, it has become obvious our many problems are nothing when compared to the political failure of our senior leadership. Itcan be seen that we are even starting to abandon the CIS. Iwas recently in St. Petersburg and participated in a round table discussion on the Russia-Belarus Union. Igot the impression is that no one wanted this union. Noreasonable offers are even being considered either in the Kremlin or in Minsk, and there are no organizational structures being designed to facilitate the creation of this union. There is only talk about the benefits and so forth, on and on and on
The Kremlin no longer understands the outlying regions. St. Petersburg seems to have depressingly embellished its facade for its 300-year anniversary, yet on its margins this dying city is barely surviving and its young people are leaving for Moscow and other regions.
In the regions the people spit on the government and occupy themselves with their own survival. Thepeople are calm, but their calm is but a front. Thefen stillness can explode overnight, especially in regions where there are a lot of immigrants. Inthese places Russians are being displaced from their traditional homelands.
E.N.Komissarchuk: Every country has always been ruled by a ‘clan’, but these can only rule so long as there is something to rule. Themain outcome of this year has been the strengthening in the public consciousness of an understanding that this ‘clan’ is for Russia is foreign-born. Behind this ‘clan’ stands the United States, which determines its power.
The Russian Orthodox Church has even come to support the idea that the Russian government was chosen by outsiders.
M.D.Kramer: The basis of today’s policies is the creation of chaos in Russia, which is rigidly controlled by the ‘family’. The‘family’ rules so long as instability continues, and this year we have seen ample evidence of this in every socio-political process in Russia, such as regional elections and the redistribution of property.
G.S.Panfilov: The president does not lean on anyone. Thegovernment is merely a cover for the ‘clan’, and though governments may change, the ‘clan’ will continue.
The ‘clan’ is also evolving and changing its tactics and slogans. Realizing that a social explosion is in principle still possible, the government has been stealing from both the left and from the patriots, such as the resurrection of the old Soviet national anthem and putting the star on the banner of the Russian Armed Forces.
A.A.Solodov: The nation is frozen in its socio-political development. There is no movement, because the people do not know where to go, or even why. Related to this is the low voter turnout in the regions: there is no one to vote for, hence the vanity of an infinite number of emerging mini-political parties. These can neither give birth to a national idea, nor inspire the masses to ambitious, in a good sense, social projects. Theycannot even act as worthy representatives of the people. Theydo not understand the importance of having a positive ideological program, and there is no understanding that changes in the economy will occur only when they are supported by the masses.
For now the political field is in one way or another controlled by the personality of Putin.
E.G.Khamidulin: A year ago we said that Putin’s only power in the government was his ability to fire any official from any post. Ifat the beginning of his presidency Putin could have been dangerous to certain high-ranking officials, this is no longer the case. Theofficials quickly grew bolder as soon as they understood that the president would not replace them, and so the power of the president was, in fact, only virtual, and now in Russia those who run the show are those who have the real resources, such as finance and staffing. Thepresident ‘rules’, but does not rule.
L.S.Vartazarova: We are all trying to evaluate the past year based on the interests of the country and its citizens, but perhaps the assessment should instead be made on the government’s positions, on whether it implemented its tasks? Forall its lack of a strategic system, the federal government has still managed to achieve rigid centralization over major financial flows, and the almost total control over personnel policy. Inso doing, the government has created the basis for preserving itself in power. Society has disintegrated, and is busy with its basic survival, and there has been a degeneration of the democratic institutions and processes as well, especially parliamentary elections and the multiparty system. Theopposition is controllable in every way and social processes are to a high degree also controllable.
But in the absence of economic sustainability of the processes in the country, both political and economic, the government is heavily dependent on the election cycles. Thegovernment’s euphoria about having its hands at the controls of these processes at all times could also be an issue. Itmay be enough to analyze the content and tone of materials in electronic and print media, from former members of the ‘Berezovsky Empire’.
D.A.Rudyan: This year has confirmed once again that the U.S. has achieved every goal it set for itself vis-à-vis Russia. Inexchange for a ‘partnership’, the U.S. demanded that Russia not interfere with the expansion of NATO to the East, not interfere with the U.S. deployment of a national missile defense, and show no opposition to the adoption of U.S. resolutions at the UN or oppose U.S. interests in the international arena.
And what did Russia get in return? Recognition of her as a market economy, a promise from Washington to assist her entry into the World Trade Organization, and a promise to revoke the Vanik-Jackson amendment that allows the U.S. to discriminate against Russia.
As we can see, this imbalance was not in our favor. Moreover, the U.S. still allows itself to makes pronouncements over what the Americans consider Russia’s ‘democratic’ and ‘undemocratic’ internal policies. Onthe eve of the seizure of ‘Nord-Ost’ by Chechen terrorists, Bush signed the “Development of democracy in Russia Act.” From this document it is clear that everything positive in Russia has only been achieved with American help, and in the coming years, apparently to secure these “democratic gains of the American way,” the U.S. intends to only support Russia's so-called free press.
Russia needs a partnership with the West, but before we develop such partnerships with them, we need to understand the strategic meaning of these partnerships for ourselves.
V.K.Radchenko: After September 11th, the whole foreign policy game has been played on a field of “the war on terrorism”.We play this game because above our heads hangs Chechnya. There has been some progress in terms of world public positions, and there are elements of a partnership with the U.S. in the fight against terrorism.
We cannot delude ourselves, however, by talking about Russia’s prospects in the Asian sector. Thata triangle of Russia, China, and India can be constructed in the foreseeable future is an illusion: China is and will always be independent. Butwe need to keep playing on this field, because at least here Russia has some opportunity for political maneuvering.
It is worth noting another aspect in international life this year: NATO is already talking about its global role. TheNorth Atlantic bloc is looking for enemies all over the world, and it is possible that this is one of the symptoms a coming dissolution of the bloc. Ifit has lost its enemy, the question arises: against whom will they unite? Admittedly, though, NATO was and remains an anti-Russian construct.
December 20th, 2002

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