jeudi 22 octobre 2009

Once again...

A quotation from the Stratfor analysis of Vice-President Biden's hawkish performances in Eastern Europe:

"The United States has effectively given Moscow notice that it intends to actively push against its entire periphery and that it intends to conscript the Central European members of NATO as its foot soldiers."

Many politicians here are happy: the Big Brother encourages us to tease the Russian bear. I am not relieved. I think geography is still more important than political constellations. Estonians have already some experience in being foot soldiers of foreign powers. We should take care. Take care. Once more Sinimäed, and there will be no Estonian people capable of maintaining its own state, its own culture...

dimanche 18 octobre 2009

What guarantees our security

I wonder in what a world live our president Ilves and our former prime minister Laar. The former launches a passionate appeal to NATO to conduct military exercices in the Baltic states, the latter says that the European report on the causes of Russian-Georgian August war was flawed falsely accusing Georgia of initiating the conflict. I think that teasing the Russian bear is not the most intelligent thing an Estonian politician can do. Declaring that the enemies of Russia are nearly automatically our friends and allies is not an example of political wisdom. We must ask why do the Russians not react more aggressively to such militant rhetoric. Because Estonia is a member of NATO, is the common answer, and most people seem really to believe it. I don't. I think that the Russians are pragmatic, and the main reason for their moderation is just the fact that they do not consider Estonia to be a military threat. Although St Petersburg is only about 200 kilometres from Estonian border, the Estonian armed forces as well as the armed forces of our two Baltic neighbours are not something to be taken seriously. So far, NATO is not much of a presence here, and Russians have more important concerns elsewhere. Thus, our security is better guaranteed by the absence of NATO forces than any military exercices on our soil. Any real military moves in the Baltic region would change the situation, and in no sense increase our security. Let's hope there will be no US or NATO bases here. My sources indicate that the red line for the West lies in the Botnia bay, not further East. And our politicians should perhaps try to compare the developments in the Caucasian and Central Asian region with the "Big Game" between Britain and Russia a hundred years ago. We have no reason to rush into the big games of big powers for the domination of oil, gas and pipeline regions.

mardi 13 octobre 2009

Religious threats

I often think that the US and some other politicians have made a big mistake in using religious movements to combat communists and leftists, specifically, of course, the Soviet Union. SU was a power one could deal with, and was evolving toward becoming more liberal and pragmatic. In fact, the distance from Stalin to Gorbachev is as big as the distance from Robespierre to Clémenceau. It is hard to say how much this fast evolution was influenced and accelerated by the pressure put upon the Soviets by the US. I suppose that in the mid-forties it helped Stalin to become more Stalinist, and to relaunch fierce repressions, but after the death of the dictator, the leaders in Moscow were determined to find a modus vivendi with the West. It was a view shared by Khrushchev as well as by his arch-rival Beria. To a great extent, the necessity to reform and to liberalize was dictated by the situation in the country itself, the fast evolution was dictated by the weaknesses of the system. A state of emergency cannot last forever, people must either be given a chance to live a normal life, or to give a motivation, an ideal in the name of which to suffer. Communism was not such an ideal, it was losing its appeal in one or at best in two generations. With religious ideals its different: here, people can be motivated and manipulated to suffer endlessly in the name of some holy virtues or an afterlife in paradise. Religious fanaticism can be, and often is, much more tenacious than communist or fascist one. Communism is dead in the SU, in Afghanistan, in South Yemen, but the islamic extremism is there, and shows little signs of becoming more moderate. Partly, it is the creation of the Americans, as Al-Qa'ida. In the Near East, HAMAS has been nurtured by the Israelis for whom the OLP seemed extremist and impossible to negotiate with. History proved that Arafat was more flexible than the HAMAS, although the Israelis realized it too late. Now, both the Americans and the Israelis have enemies they don't know well how to deal with. The wait-and-see tactic of containment partly unwillingly adopted during the confrontation with the USSR has no guarantees of success: enemies motivated by Islam are much more tenacious than the Communists. And making serious war to them cannot be very successful because it threatens both the Western standard of life and the Western values. Neither the Americans nor Europeans are ready for an armed conflict lasting for several generations. The Islamists are. And the Islamists are not as much restricted by rules and regulations adopted by the Western world. There has been a big outcry about the Guantanamo prison, but we must remember that in Guantanamo prisoners' throats were not cut...

dimanche 11 octobre 2009

United States of Europe...

This dream of the people who initiated the process of European integration is still far from becoming reality. But for us in the Baltics it would be a real guarantee of our security and a stable development. We should adopt an explicitly Federalist policy. It's an illusion to think that Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania can be really independant and secure. If we prefer independance to security, we lose both. Being a state in the European Federation would still give us enough power to keep our house in order. We cannot expect to have more.