is a leading researcher of the Institute of the World Economy
and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
member of the YABLOKO party.
The war of the US-led coalition against Saddam Hussein's regime
seems to be inevitable. How is Russia supposed to behave in a
situation which it hadn't provoked and in which, let's be frank,
hardly depends on it? However, Russia does have some concerns
of its own in this international crisis, which could have considerable
complications. In my opinion, three factors are essential here.
Firstly, the economic climate in Russia, the speed of growth,
budget revenues, and social payments ultimately depend on maintenance
of relatively high and stable oil prices.
Secondly, Russia is concerned about retaining political stability
in a nearby region. Thirdly, implementation of the foreign policy
announced after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which
hasn't yet, unfortunately, become irreversible, is the most general
concern for our society and state.
Significant, though subordinate interests can replenish this
list: recovery of the Iraqi debt, implementation of promising
projects in this country. Most often, Iraq's defenders from "American
aggression," - the influential forces, which are used to
interpret any event in international life through the prism of
opposition and rivalry with the United States, are bring these
factors to the foreground, by speaking about infringement of Russia's
Meanwhile, the potential capacity of the current Iraqi regime
to acquire weapons of mass destruction which do not require complicated
delivery systems poses a serious threat to global peace and security,
including Russia's security.
We are told that Saddam, who has been chosen for execution,
is not the only one of his kind in the world. It appears the "axis
of evil" is not a lurid invention of American PR, but a reflection
of global realities in the 21st century - when small states headed
by irresponsible and unpredictable rulers, or extraterritorial
organizations like Al Qaeda or Aum Shinrikyo, which have state-of-the-art
destruction weapons, rather than the opposition of two superpowers,
pose a real threat to the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
The international community is only beginning to realize the scale
of the new danger and take countermeasures against these threats.
Undoubtedly, overthrowing Saddam's regime by force will involve
substantial cost and danger. The cost of the military operation
v in human lives and material destruction - is not known; neither
is it known how long it will take. It is hard to predict the echo
of the war in neighboring states. In some of them, the medieval
forms of social and political organization clash with modernization
processes, and under the influence of an external incentive this
volatile mixture could have consequences similar to the anti-Shah
revolution of late 1970s in Iran. Finally, the consequences for
the global economy, the oil market, and our export revenues are
unknown. (I'll only note that when they describe how Iraqi oil
controlled by the Americans will flood the world market, Russian
supporters of Baghdad's regime for some reason do not show any
concern about what might happen if the UN lifts its sanctions.)
We have to make our choice anyway. The pacifist position always
has some advantages; an endeavor to squeeze out everything possible
without a war is discreet - until a certain point, however. It
is hard to tell where this boundary lies. However, there's a boundary
we should not consciously cross. Using the veto in the UN Security
Council if the matter is put to the vote (if war is inevitable,
let it begin with UN approval) or insane attempts to create an
anti-American coalition with Germany and France (which will eventually
reach an agreement with the Americans) are beyond this boundary.