Russia's military gain seems to compensate for relative weakness in other factors of strength.
Russia headed for military gain. At the same time, the military external threat is unprecedentedly low. But the course with variations will continue. It fits into the emerging new international realities and meets the internal logic of the current development of the country. The question is how to optimize it.
We - and, it seems, the leaders of the country - do not explain ourselves to ourselves and, perhaps, do not fully know why we need military force and how much we need it.
Does force lose value?
It is generally accepted that military power loses its meaning. This thesis is especially popular in Europe, bursting on its Samoyed stories wars
Indeed, most of the main problems of the modern world — climate change, the demand for greater well-being from the activating masses, the state of world finances, the growing relative shortage of raw materials and food — are not solved by military force. The changed political culture and economic structure make it economically meaningless to seize and retain territories and the population living there.
The use of military force is to a certain extent delegitimized. If before the war, paraphrasing Clausewitz’s formula that was imposed on his teeth, was a normal continuation of politics, now, after two world wars and the emergence of nuclear weaponsethical evaluations have shifted. The use of military force is considered a failure of politics.
The thesis of the uselessness and futility of military force in the modern and future world both as an instrument of policy and as an indicator of the power and influence of states also reinforces the experience of recent years. The most powerful military state - the United States - loses two consecutive wars that it initiated (Iraq, Afghanistan).
But the idea of diminishing the role of military force in the world and its devaluation as the leading tool of public policy is contradicted by a different set of factors and arguments.
Wars are still won. The West won in Yugoslavia and - with a murky result - in Libya. Russia won, albeit at a terrible price, in Chechnya and, of course, in Georgia.
Nuclear deterrence works without major wars. And nobody seriously reduces nuclear weapons. And only modernizes - and increases. New world leaders such as China or India, who seem to be winning in peaceful competition, are rapidly arming themselves.
There are constant talks about future wars over resources, water.
Such conversations can be considered remnants of the old thinking. And it is. State and scientific spheres related to security policy are overflowing with good-looking gentlemen who have passed their peak of life, who are unable and unwilling to think otherwise than as categories of the times of their youth. And they pull back. Who - through inventing endless threats. Who - through calls for the return of the blessed times of the arms limitation process. Which was one of the engines (albeit decent) to continue the arms race.
If one of the readers of this article considers me one of these gentlemen, I will not be offended. Although with them for the most part and do not agree. But called gruzdem - get into the body.
Talk about threats apparently have objective grounds.
Dreams - liberal (about world government) or reactionary (about a new concert of powerful nations that would rule the world) - do not come true. The world is moving towards ordinary chaos, aggravated by interdependence.
Many ethical norms of the international community are undermined. Many people justified the attack on Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya with humanitarian considerations. But the main thing is the result. Countries have seen the weak beat. And at least some strong - do not beat. Non-nuclear Iraq was smashed under false pretenses. And even less pleasant from a humanitarian point of view, but the North Korea that has managed to acquire nuclear weapons is not touched.
The old principles of political morality also go away - “they don’t give up”. First, "their" passed the Soviet Union. Now the West began to take over its “own” Mubaraks.
In the new world, the seizure of direct control over the territory and the resources located on it does not work. But the closure or opening of access to them by military methods can be ensured. It is not by chance that the "new" is almost the main direction of the buildup of armaments - the naval forces. If countries develop a tendency to overlap the headwaters of the rivers, especially dangerous for Indochina and India, then this problem can also be solved with the help of military force.
The renaissance of the role of military force in international relations is also served by the long-established proliferation of nuclear weapons. New and potential nuclear powers put their neighbors in a vulnerable position. They are trying and will try to compensate for it.
Structural changes in the international system are also pushing towards greater reliance on military might. Faced with global challenges while weakening global governance institutions, societies rushed under the protection of their usual institution — the state. The re-nationalization of world politics and part of the economy began.
But states have weakened. They are less able to control informational, financial, economic, and hence political processes, even on their own territory. While they are increasingly dependent on the outside world. One more incentive is being created for greater reliance on the instrument that states still almost completely control, military force.
In the medium term, the global re-militarization of world politics can also be caused by the global economic crisis that is dragging on for a decade. He limits the appetites of military lobbies. But at the same time it strengthens the radicals within countries and creates powerful incentives to start wars in order to distract from internal despair. The war in Libya - with all due respect to the people whom Gaddafi had turned against - looked like a classic small victorious war.
Russia and military force
And Russia began to build up this force. While in terms of military security, it is in an unprecedented situation in its history. The country that has been forming the millennium around the main national idea - protection from external threats and ensuring its physical sovereignty - no one threatens and cannot threaten in the medium term.
The last possibility of military confrontation existed before 2008, while the expansion of NATO threatened to involve Ukraine in the union. What could create the vulnerability of Russia, intolerable from the point of view of military security, was fraught with the emergence in Ukraine of a split and conflict in which all of Europe could be drawn with a high degree of probability.
The expansion of the union was stopped, alas, by no appeals to reason and persuasion. A blow to the military fist in Georgia. Moscow must be "grateful" to the current Georgian leadership and those who pushed him for his attack on South Ossetia. It, by its war and defeat, prevented a much more dangerous scenario.
Russian foreign threat propagandists often point to NATO’s formal superiority in the field of general-purpose forces. But they cunningly fail to see that these armed forces and spending on them in Europe have been declining for two decades and there is no end in sight.
China, anticipating the deepening of its rivalry, including military-political, with the United States, is doing everything so as not to threaten Russia. There is, of course, the problem of China's gain, which could lead in the absence of a super-energetic policy on the new development of Transbaikalia to the “Finlandization” of Russia. But this is not a military threat.
The real threats of conflict are multiplying in the southern periphery of Russia. And these conflicts will have to be prevented or stopped, including by military force. But this threat is qualitatively different from the existential threat that determined the entire history of Russia.
Even in perspective, the obvious traditional large-scale military threats are not visible. Unless, of course, intimidating oneself with the threat of the United States creating the ability to deliver a massive strike at Russia with non-nuclear ultra-precise missiles. Even if the missiles are created, the threat of hitting the Russian territory looks ridiculous. The answer can only be nuclear. If, of course, do not let yourself be drawn into an arms race in this obviously unfavorable direction.
You can intimidate yourself and the European missile defense system following the example of the Soviet, frightened by the absolutely mythical Reagan star wars. I hope that those who are leading the current campaign against Euro-PRO, pursue more rational goals: to politically tie the hands of the Americans, to get a convenient and convincing excuse for refusing any further treaty steps to reduce any nuclear weapons.
But despite the absence of a military threat, the continuation of the course of military reinforcement is inevitable. Not only because of the need to have modern armed forces to contain potential challenges.
I think that in the eyes of the current Russian leadership, the need for military reinforcement is determined primarily by the factors of the international positioning of the country, taking into account the prospects for its development. Four years of sweet curls about modernization in the almost complete absence of any concrete actions, except for Skolkovo, clearly indicate that neither society nor the elite have matured for a modernization breakthrough.
With such a vector of internal development, a country may not hold the position of the third of the great powers. Despite all the luck and skill of diplomacy. And, apparently, the need for "greatness" lies not only in the ambitions of the leaders, but also in the majority of Russians.
Economic weakening threatens and weakens sovereignty. Not only Vladimir Putin, but also other Russians received in the 1990-ies. confirmation of his confidence that the weak are beaten. And society, it seems, is again almost at the gene level ready to defend its sovereignty at all costs. What it has done with a rare desperate courage throughout its history. Then to crawl into poverty, and even slavery. It is regrettable that, for the most part, we cannot and do not want to “live like everyone else”, to be a “normal” country. And I still do not see such changes on the horizon that could break this type of behavior.
Military reinforcement, it seems, is intended to compensate for the relative weakness in other factors of power - economic, technological, ideological and psychological.
It is easy to condemn such a bet as not corresponding to the modern world. This is in many ways. But the modern world is changing so quickly and unpredictably, which is very likely that this rate is adequate.
Military reinforcement is inevitable
The risk of errors is increased by the fact that there are practically no institutional arms race limiters.
The most interesting and illustrative in the beginning of the military reform - its success. All other proclaimed reforms stand still, crawling at a snail's pace, or simply fail. It is not only the claimed defense appropriation figures. Behind them clearly are not fully thought out rearmament plans.
There is a truly revolutionary reformation of the armed forces. From the huge, traditionally mobilized Russian, Soviet army, designed primarily for a large land war with the West, in favor of a compact, more professional army of constant combat readiness, which would be aimed at low and medium intensity conflicts. To prevent major conflicts, reliance on nuclear weapons is increasing, which is also being upgraded.
Powerful nuclear weapons, although difficult to apply, are still needed so that no one tries to achieve superiority in conventional forces. In addition, the nuclear sword of Damocles is necessary for the "civilization" of hotheads. Especially now, when unprecedented in depth and speed changes in the world lead to the loss of strategic landmarks, common sense.
It is already obvious that the army is rapidly professionalizing and a complete refusal of the conscription or its further sharp reduction and transfer to a voluntary basis is not far off. Began, albeit unevenly, slowly, the humanization of military service. But the main thing is that the armed forces, despite the wild resistance, are honed under the real challenges and problems of the present and the future.
Rearming comes with a creak. MIC is drained of blood. But the main thing - almost not reformed. And it remains the shadow of the Soviet Leviathan. As recently as the pale shadow of the Soviet was the Russian army.
I will not list achievements. A lot of them. The list of problems and errors will not be shorter. Moreover, the reforms were deliberately not discussed and not worked out. Apparently, the military-political leadership of the country concluded that any discussion would lead to such an opposition that the reform would be ruined once again. Even the fundamental documents - the national security strategy of 2009 and the military doctrine of 2010 practically did not reflect the processes going on in the armed forces. Just located in other, few intersecting planes.
How much and how much
Continuing the course of military reinforcement is not only generally desirable for the ruling elite, and perhaps for the country, but also inevitable. The question is how and how much. It is necessary not to overspend money, having ruined the budgets for development, but it seems that the course has already been taken for a suicidal for the country to reduce — instead of a sharp increase — expenditures on education. Destroying even trans-horizon opportunities for modernization spurt.
It is foolish, peretrativ and re-armed beyond reasonable measure, to create their own enemies, fearing Russia.
The risk of mistakes is increased by the fact that there are practically no institutional arms race limiters. While only two limiters. Finance ministers - past and present - are trying not to give as much as they require. And the Minister of Defense is trying to limit the appetites of the hungry and, apparently, corrupt, like almost all of us, the remnants of the military-industrial complex. The parliament in the current political system cannot play a serious role in determining military policy and budget formation.
No less alarming, there is still virtually no scientific and public debate around the definition of military policy priorities. And in a limited form, it existed even in the late USSR. The then created academic groups of specialists physically and morally aged. Now, to the right - from the liberal side - the current military policy is criticized, as far as I know, by literally two or three publicists. Honor and praise them for their courage. But they do not have sufficient knowledge and are politically engaged. In the center there is a group of specialists close to the Ministry of Defense, who, of necessity, praise all his actions and do not pay attention to mistakes. On the left - in the media, fortunately, not reaching the mass reader at all - dozens, if not hundreds, of specialists representing the remnants of the monetary and intellectually bloodless academic part of the Soviet military-industrial complex write. I will not surprise the reader with the phantasmagoric threats with which these experts scare themselves and our country. Very often, their descriptions have no conjugation with reality, are a caricature of Soviet inventions. It seems that they do not listen. But they are crushing by the masses and cannot fail to shape public opinion in the multimillion human environment associated with defense. Among some of these specialists, both Serdyukov and Putin behind him are considered to be almost traitors, limiting insane appetites, trying not to successfully impose competition, any modern methods of management.
The article is not a note to governing bodies. Therefore, I will not give detailed recommendations. Many of them, I think, are obvious. Some are not obvious to me. But in order to understand what needs to be done, it is necessary to artificially create an independent public, political, and scientific examination of the processes taking place in the military sphere. Or there will be too many extremely costly mistakes.