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Russia Should Avoid Western Anti-Terrorist Coalitions and Forge Its Own

Russia needs a regional anti-terrorist initiative for Eurasia

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The author is a professor at the Higher School of Economics

There are, so to speak, two ‘wars against terror’ today – a macro-scale war and a micro-scale one, which contradict each other in terms of content and orientation.

The macro-scale war against terrorism consists of political statements, coalitions, declarations, conventions, etc. It almost always produces a lot of enthusiasm because politicians refrain from hype over it.

The micro-scale war against terrorism consists of specific actions, sometimes technological, but almost always requiring the mobilization of society. Sometimes these actions are unpopular with the general public, and are not always successful. Suffice it to say that Nice was full of security cameras, Europe’s panacea. As such, it lacked elementary police measures and organization.

The problem is that recently— more exactly, under Barack Obama’s rule, we have faced a ‘crisis of consent’ in the macro-scale war against terrorism, The anti-terrorist consensus of the early 2000’s, that created the basis for cooperation, is starting to break down. Of course, the US has always divided the world into good rebels and bad terrorists, but never as directly as now. The manipulative elements in the war against terror have never been as obvious as now.

It’s naïve to hope that a common approach to confronting terrorism will emerge anytime soon in this situation of growing distrust.

Under these circumstances, Russia needs to avoid involving itself in a ‘macro-scale’ war against terrorism. Of course, given the recent acts of terrorism, we are unlikely to have a new global anti-terrorist coalition – neither the US nor the EU have resources for that, besides, the EU has no political will.  

Clearly, however, for several reasons, the US is interested in forming a new anti-terrorist coalition, especially, if they have a chance to connect it to a sensational occasion. And taking into account US history, we know that if they need an occasion, they will create one. Perhaps, this time the US won’t decide to bomb anyone, but, there’s no doubt that serious forces in the West are ready to unleash more bloodshed under anti-terrorist slogans. Russia would do best to avoid participation in these totally dubious projects, even if they have a bright political cover.

In any case, it is not expected that Russia will gain any ‘plusses’ by participating in a noisy new anti-terrorist campaign. (Although we cannot doubt that our partners in Washington will present Russia’s participation in the new antiterrorist coalition as the only way for Moscow ‘to escape from  ‘international isolation’)…

Russia’s anti-terrorism strategy should start with the expansion of a ‘space of trust’ with its partners, which objectively is the New Eurasia – country-partners of the Eurasian Economic Union and CIS. Trust flows from macro- and micro-wars against terrorism, consistent political declarations and practical actions, and to a large extent from transparent relationships and goals. With all its difficulties and peculiarities, it’s much easier for Russia to achieve transparency with its partners in the CIS countries than to have endless talks with the US and its European satellites.

Russia needs a regional anti-terrorist initiative for Eurasia and an action program to support policies. Apart from the obvious goal of building relations with key partners in the war against terrorism, this initiative should preserve and strengthen the space in which political manipulations of the issue will fail. In other words, there should be no long discussions as to who should be considered terrorist and who not.

Unlike the Western countries, Russia’s partners in the  New Eurasia are really concerned with preserving stability and sovereignty, rather than defeating it with fake phantoms. This means that if there is a political consensus, cooperation with them will strengthen Russia’s security around around its neighborhood.

Cooperation would include deliveries of Russian anti-terrorist technologies to friendly countries of New Eurasia — a kind of a political, military and technical antiterrorist lend-lease. And spending on the war against terrorists in other countries will be repaid a hundredfold with peace in the Russian cities.

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