(Russia Direct) Numerous mantras and truisms about “predictable unpredictability” have become commonplace among pundits and politicians today. Paradoxically, quite predictable moves from global and regional stakeholders make the world less predictable and more vulnerable today. Here are three examples to illustrate the trend, from the United States, Russia and China.
U.S. President Donald Trump seeks to modernize America’s nuclear arsenal and increase its military budget by $54 billion (which is about 80 percent of Russia’s entire military budget in 2015). The White House announced this plan on Feb. 27 and the Kremlin might have seen it as a warning signal. Yet, in fact, Trump makes no bones about his desire to negotiate with partners from a position of strength. And this move should surprise neither politicians nor experts.
Likewise, Russia’s policy in Eastern Ukraine seems to be no more astounding. Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Feb. 18 decree to recognize Donbas passports, Eastern Ukraine’s separatist republics — probably, with the tacit approval of the Kremlin — announced that they would adopt the Russian ruble as their official currency. By the same token, the West and Ukraine might first see the stance as a warning and only later as a predictable signal. […]
Sergey Medvedev … the mantra about the need to defend national interests oversimplifies the complicated nature of the globalized and networked world. It cannot meet the challenges of the 21century… According to him, Russia and other countries “should think beyond the box of traditional and realistic thinking.” He describes the focus on national interests as “the Russian backward game, a parochial response to the complexity of the globalized world.” Attempts to stick blindly to national interest lead to autocracy and the domination of the state. And prioritizing the interests of a state (or rather a separate ruler and his clique) over the interests of an individual might be flawed and dangerous, Medvedev warns. He gives an example: Russia. By controlling the media consumption of the Russian people, the Kremlin tries to impose an idea on the population that there is “a Russia that has a certain national interest and projects this interest onto the external world. This is the geopolitics that ‘zombies out’ the population,” concluded Medvedev.
Sergey Markedonov … doesn’t believe that the concept of national interest is outdated. On the contrary, recent events in the 21st century — including civil wars in Libya, Syria and Ukraine as well as Brexit and the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. — indicate that realpolitik is in demand as an effective tool. “The national interest will still be dominant,” he told Russia Direct during the Feb. 17-18 Meeting Russia event, a public diplomacy program for young leaders. “High expectations [for a new open and liberal global order] are also dangerous, because they might lead to high disappointment.”
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