Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Warning on Nationalism | The Soul of the East

Three years ago I met Oleg Kalugin, the ex-KGB general whose well-known case of defection earned him the ire of the Russian authorities. In an interview, Kalugin once stated his belief that Vladimir Putin was “a temporary twist in history”, and perhaps this belief is why he found so much support among his American associates. I personally spoke with Kalugin on the future of Russia and its people, he told me it would be inevitable that Russia would collapse and break apart. Knowing the consternation that Americans often come to when dealing with the New Russia, is this the implicit goal of the Atlantic powers?

Even with the experience that Mr. Kalugin acquired in his time working for Soviet intelligence, he could not have not predicted Putin’s rise to power, describing the President as “a mere operative, one of the 3,000 who walked along our corridors”. It was twelve years ago that General Kalugin was found guilty in absentia for high treason. A known critic of the Putin administration, he became a naturalized citizen of the US and has remained there since. It seems like US government officials and turncoats alike are betting on the collapse of Russia, and it’s not uncommon to hear about a “crumbling” Russia from media commentary. But why does this mentality remain, and why are so many hopeful for the demise of the Russian state?

At the time of my meeting with Kalugin, before Ukraine and before Syria, I found no credence in spy’s forecast. Today the world has set its sights on Kiev as the cornerstone in determining who will take the lead in defining the century. Lines are being drawn and the terms of the game are being set. Make no mistake, a contest for hegemony is underway, and actions take precedence over ideology. Russia is not surrendering, and it is prepared to challenge the West in a way that perhaps only China has also done. Today, Ukraine is where methods of exerting influence from either side are put to the test. As propaganda becomes more sophisticated, the ways in which competing powers confront each other evolve as well. This much is certain: the protests on Kiev’s Maidan cannot be taken for face value.

What can be said of the nationalists of Ukraine, whose employment of Nordic symbols and rhetoric runs directly opposed to some of the stated goals of the country’s new leadership? Although the Maidan riots began as the result of many groups participating, the breakthrough of Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) as the face of the Ukrainian uprising has attracted political fanatics of the right from other parts of the continent to join the protests. This was a deliberate move on the part of outside elements to lend them exposure and resources, knowing that European nationalists are usually on the side of Russia against the West. The matter is currently one of the most divisive topics among reactionary and nationalist political circles at the moment, and it has almost succeeded in undermining Putin’s most profound forms of overseas support. For all of the Russian media’s claims that the Ukrainian nationalists are the Wahhabists of Europe, the conclusion has solid premises, as unfortunate as that may sound. How is inviting foreign elements to fight in Kiev different from radical Islamists from the UK and US joining their brothers in Syria?

There is also the testimony of a former activist from Pravy Sektor, who admits the group’s cooperation with American military officials in (allegedly) trading looted documents for money, or the presence of Chechen militants side-by-side with the Pravy Sektor protestors on the Maidan. From a diplomatic perspective, even the Pravy Sektor’s meeting with Israeli officials wouldn’t have seemed so suspiscious if it wasn’t announced with enthusiasm from the group’s leadership. Respectable far-right organizations from other countries, such as Hungary’s Jobbik, have condemned them. But this is a sidenote in a time of soft power. Political extremists are now convenient tools of geopolitical influence, regardless of what the they themselves might think.

Complete story at - A Warning on Nationalism | The Soul of the East

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