The Russia Forum 2009: the postmodernist paradigm as the future of international politics

The first day of work at The Russia Forum 2009, an investors’ conference organized by the Troika Dialog Group, finished with the discussion “Foreign Policy: Towards a New Security Architecture.”

Participating in a discussion of current changes in the global political arena were Paul Wolfowitz, Ambassador, Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, previously President of the World Bank and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, Sir Anthony Brenton, Former British Ambassador to Russia, UK Foreign Office, Sergey Karaganov, Chairman, Council of Foreign Defense Policy, Alexander Kramarenko, Foreign Policy Planning Department Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Christopher Granville, Managing Director, Trusted Sources, and Lanxin Xiang, Professor, International History and Politics, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

Will Russia’s new, active role in the international arena lead to a renewed cold war, or will it become an impetus to a fundamentally new system of international relations? Which countries and regions will prevail early in the 21st century? These questions were debated among “prodigious lecturers, practitioners, and researchers of international relations, outstanding intellectuals,” as the discussion moderator, Andrew Kuchins, Director for Russia and Eurasia, Centre for Strategic Studies, presented its participants.

The thoughtful presentations of all the participants showed that politics is not just cold calculation, but sincere belief in one’s position. For example, Sir Anthony Brenton, who reprimanded Russia for “wielding the energy weapon,” nevertheless acknowledged that “Ukraine is even guiltier” as concerns the situation with gas deliveries to Europe. Returning the discussion to its stated topic, Alexander Kramarenko expressed doubt that conversations are possible today about a new international paradigm, adding that the world appears to be returning to Westphalian principles of sovereignty. Lanxin Xiang ventured even further into history, pointing out that China’s increased role as a political and economic superpower is merely a return to positions established thousands of years ago. Furthermore, Mr. Xiang says, China is “peacefully integrating into the international system, sharing in general values.”

The panelists made note of substantial changes in global affairs over the past ten years: economic and political rallies in Asia alongside a slump in the West, surges in the cost of resources as well as in their shipment from the “commodities” regions to the industrial ones, an intensified struggle for influential territories, an economic and political rally in Russia based on high commodity prices, and deteriorations in the management of international relations. Shifting attention to the future, the panelists noted that the present crisis gives chances to look for contact points and mutual interests.

Despite the “multi-polarity” of the highlighted positions, Paul Wolfowitz, the Republican strategist, Christopher Granville, the cautious observer, and a skeptical Sergey Karaganov all agreed that tomorrow the world will have to formulate a new, postmodern paradigm of international relations: establishing collective leadership in international affairs, creating common approaches to world politics, and building an institution capable of representing the interests of all participants in political processes.

Troika Dialog

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