samedi 30 mars 2013

Tweets with American Accent

Our president Ilves either likes small scandals or is simply unaware that he sometimes causes them. Not only irritating economists, but also Latvians and Russians with his sayings or tweets. Once there were doubts whether his knowledge of Estonian is good enough for the head of Radio Free Europe Estonian service. Now he speaks good Estonian, although he would do better not teaching Estonians how they must engineer and renovate their language. But this is an internal matter of the Estonian Republic. His tweets about Russia are not. In his book "The Next Hundred years" the political analyst George Friedman writes that one clear aim of the US has always been to oppose the rise of a superpower in Eurasia, and America's next challenge will be the reemergence of a more self-assured and aggressive Russia trying to regain it's former sphere of influence in
Central Europe. Estonia where NATO, i.e. the US can have military bases only one hundred kilometres from St. Petersburg is definitely a country that Russia would very much like to turn into its satellite or at least "finlandise". This is something Estonian politicians are aware of, and have tried to avoid, first of all doing everything possible to integrate Estonia into the Western political and military structures. Estonia is a member of both the European Community and NATO, but neither of these can give us complete guarantees of security, partly due to a kind of an actual or potential special relationship between Russia from the one and Germany and France from the other side. Only the US is able to defend the Baltic states, and soon after Estonia restored its independence our politicians made a strategic decision: to sacrifice some of our independence for security. Such a decision was behind Estonia's signing of a propagandistic letter of support to looming American intervention in Iraq and sending a symbolic contingent of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. I wonder whether such a decision also plays a role in our president's undiplomatic tweets about Russia. Although he now speaks Estonian nearly without any American accent, he expresses his views, willingly or not with a noticeable American accent. As Friedman and some other analysts have written, America would be (and perhaps already is) interested in avoiding too close a rapprochement between Russia and Europe, the emergence of a "Eurussia" advocated by some politicians on both sides. Thus, America tries to use the East Europeans as a buffer or a wedge to hinder such a development. They try to use anti-Russian sentiments still very much alive in the former Soviet republics and satellite states to block any movement toward "Eurussia". However, sentiments are not something lasting, to use them as an instrument in international politics, they have to be boosted, manipulated, re-ignited. In the Baltic states, the younger generation grown up in the post-Soviet era, doesn't always share the strong anti-Russian feelings of their fathers and mothers. Actually Estonians and Russians are moving close to signing a treaty on their common border. Here, the initiative on the Estonian side has been taken by some of our younger politicians. And it seems to find support of the general public. Most people are tired of the anti-Russian rhetoric of previous decades, and embracing the common sense approach: it is not in the interest of a small country to have unfriendly relations with its big neighbour. But can we exclude the possibility that preserving or even increasing tensions between the Baltic states and Russia are now or in not too distant future in the interests of American global politics? Perhaps not. Steps taken by Russia in its "near abroad", especially if they can be interpreted as simply aggressive and expansionist, can help America to put pressure on its West European allies, forcing them to avoid establishing too close relations with Russia. There are at least two main obstacles on the way to "Eurussia": the (possibly waning) anti-Russian attitudes in Eastern Europe and the extreme nationalists and Stalinists in Russia itself. The latter have a non-negligible influence on the Russian public and consequently on politics, and are relatively easy to provoke. Even by tweets of a president of a small country. Thus, I have the feeling that the tweets of our president about Russia he admonished for not saying its excuses for the annexation of Estonia are first of all interpreted as a provocation by influential people in Russia, and can obstruct the normalization of relations between Estonia and its big neighbour. Thus serving o the geopolitical interests of the US, as far as these are correctly analysed and interpreted by George Friedman and his colleagues. Thus, the interests of Estonia and the US are not always identical. It is hard to believe that a serious conflict between Russia and a small country like Estonia would serve the interests of the latter, but it is quite possible that it would be welcome to the Americans. America can make serious mistakes, and recover from them easily, any serious mistake in foreign policy can do serious damage to Estonia, even put in danger its very existence.

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