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30 Mar, 2009 10:51

ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, Mar. 30

ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, Mar. 30

This Monday ROAR offers various opinions on one of the key international problems of the day: cooperation in Afghanistan, and presents an academic’s view of the future of global international relations.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA publishes an article ‘Under the Taliban’s Heel’ by Vladislav Vorobiew who says humankind has become a hostage of Afghanistan. He writes that the Afghanistan issue is becoming the key issue of international relations, as two conferences are consecutively organized in Moscow (last weekend) and in the Hague (starting tomorrow), in an attempt to find an answer to the question, what is to be done in Afghanistan to solve the problem.

The writer says that so far, the analysis of the documents of the Moscow conference and the predictions of the outcome of the Hague gathering show that nobody knows what is to be done there, while everybody understands that something has to be done, and fast.

The writer quotes a high official of the U.S. administration who says that without the support of the local population, it is impossible to win in Afghanistan. He says nothing can be more true, but at the moment the situation is the opposite: the illicit drugs that were a trickle a decade ago, have turned into plentiful rivers that flow through, and endanger Russia, the EU member countries, and the United States of America among many others, while the local population holds the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden with his Al Qaeda network in high esteem and generally oppose the presence of foreign troops in Afghani territory. In addition, illicit drug proceeds represent for whole provinces of the country their sole income and their only economy.

The writer says that America’s and Europe’s habitual way of solving problems (throwing money at them) is going to cost more and more while solving nothing. The Russian idea of ‘teaching the Afghans to fish rather than giving them fish to eat’ has so far gained few supporters. That is, actually, the main conclusion of the Moscow conference, which decided that introducing new jobs in Afghanistan, as well as training to those who need it would be a better weapon against the influence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda than weapons of war.

It is not yet known in which proportion the Hague conference will put the military and non-military methods in its ideology of the future Afghan operation, but a good sign has come from Washington already, writes the author: the U.S. may be ready to include not only the EU, Russia, China, India, and Pakistan into the pool of nations that would cooperate on Afghanistan, but to invite Iran as well. That means, says the writer, that the U.S. is now occupying a position very different from the previous one, and very promising too.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI gives more detail about the Moscow conference, concentrating on the absence of representatives of Uzbekistan and a ‘minor sensational occurrence’ when some newspapers interpreted an un-careful statement by a U.S. official as confirmation of new negotiations over the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan. The rumor proved false, says the writer, while the whole media agitation about it turned out to be a tempest in a teapot.

Apart from that, the article makes a conclusion that the agendas of the Moscow and the Hague conferences are very similar, and that both are convened to find ways of co-implementing a total elimination of the terrorism and illicit narcotics threat presented by Afghanistan with a policy of social development supported by the international community.

KOMMERSANT writes on the same issue, that U.S. president Barack Obama has expressed his wish to share the process of solving the Afghanistan problem with Russia, China, and Iran.

The paper says that the new U.S. strategy to be presented at the NATO summit on April 3-4 contains such clear-cut definitions as ‘our goal is to destroy Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and prevent its proliferation into other countries,’ ‘Al Qaeda is not at all only an American problem, it is a high challenge to international security,’ and ‘a shift towards diplomatic and civilian efforts in the Afghanistan strategy is necessary.’

The paper says that Barack Obama’s offer to share the responsibility for the Afghanistan issue among major powers, the very multi-lateral character of this offer, is a demonstration by Washington in order to silence its critics who say that America is involved in Afghanistan only for the sake of increasing its own political and military influence in Central Asia.

In NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA Deputy Rector of the Diplomatic Academy, Russian Foreign Ministry, Professor Evgeny Bazhenov writes that international relations is a sphere of human activity that is moved by national interests and ideologies, and often presents unpleasant surprises to those who try to predict its future.

The academic offers as an example a mistake by outstanding British historian Arnold Toynbee who concluded in 1911 that a major war is a total impossibility for Europe, united by trade and overall friendliness of the cultures. WW I started in 1914, and came as a great surprise for many.

After a period of ideological confrontation, by the end of the XX Century, humankind entered one more period when not ideology but national interest was the moving force of international relations, continues the academic. If in the early 1990s, everyone hoped for true brotherhood, friendship, and cooperation, by the end of that decade, it was clear that the powerful nations are again entering confrontations with each other – due to the difference in their national interests.

In the XXI Century, after 9/11, the terrorist threat brought the nations back together for a while, but after two years of cooperation the confrontations resumed, driven by national interests and powered by America’s belief in its ‘messianic’ mission. Then, writes the academic, the situation quickly deteriorated to become truly threatening and unstable.

It was disarmed by the economic crisis which hit every major nation-state and forced everyone to cooperate. Their economic and military capabilities at risk, every nation understood that a global crisis has to be solved by a global effort involving everyone. The problem here, says the author, is which of the human instincts will have the upper hand after the toughest period of the crisis is behind us: the instinct of cooperation or the instinct of rivalry?

Regarding Russia-U.S. relations, he quotes from W. Churchill, who used to say that we can trust America to go the right way – after it is done with all the alternatives. If America chooses the right way, continues Bazhenov, then Russia, China, and others would go the same right way – the way of deepening cooperation. And finally, we may end up with a future which would suit us all – and every one of us.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.