People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 09

March 04, 2007

Putin’s Plainspeak

Growing Demand For Multipolarity


Nilotpal Basu


A SPECTRE is haunting United States, or more precisely, the Bush administration. The spectre of a renewed Cold War. So much so, that the new US defence secretary, Richard Gates, himself a Cold War warrior and an ex-CIA man who specialised on Soviet affairs, formally expressed the fear. The provocation for him to make this observation was Russian president Putin’s unprecedented candour while he spoke in the high profile international security conference at Munich on February 10, 2007. 


But was president Putin really so offensive? Did he really say anything, which would recreate the Cold War ethos? It is true that he reflected on the present state of affairs and shared his introspective mood: “I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security”. President Putin did not flinch from candidly putting his disapproval of the manner in which the global security architecture is being unilaterally managed today. He pointed out that, “An almost unrestrained hyper-use of force in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts…”. Of course, such a policy stimulates arms race. 


Putin went on to trace the roots of hegemony. He observed: “We witness growing trampling of international law” and “One state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders to impose its laws and its entire legal system on other states in all spheres – economic, political and humanitarian..who likes this?” He shared his agony while identifying with the helplessness of many a nation – “Nobody feels safe any more because nobody can find shelter behind the stone wall of international law. This policy fuels the arms race. …pushes the countries to get weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, new threats that have been around for sometime, such as terrorism, are acquiring global dimension”. 


Unfortunately, for the US and the Bush administration, the world will not construe this as Cold War language. The questioning of the US and its crude unilateral hegemonistic approach towards global and regional issues does not constitute a call for harking back towards a bipolar world. The end of Cold War had raised hopes that the ‘peace dividend’ will be evenly and equitably available to one and every in the world. But, unfortunately, that has not happened. And, precisely, this reality of an increasingly iniquitous distribution of resources is accentuating inequalities. Such a course of development in the present day world is being sustained by the post-Cold War sole superpower United States and the existing security architecture that it is seeking to perpetuate. 


That the superpower had to behave responsibly and unequivocally to ensure that the post-Cold War situation benefits all was not a lazy yearning. Multi-polarity replacing a bi-polar world was the natural course of development. If today, it is otherwise, it is those forces which indulge in ‘almost unrestrained hyper use of force’ impedes that natural course. Pointing this out is not to recreate the Cold War ethos but to try and underline the urgent necessity of allowing the world to traverse its natural course. And, president Putin did just that in Munich! 


That his observation was not just a flash in the pan becomes apparent when we go through the joint communiqué on the results of the trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of India, Russia and China held in New Delhi on February 14, 2007. This was the second meeting after the first held in St Petersburg on July 17, 2006 on the sidelines of the G-8 Summit. 


The ministers observed that this event “demonstrated the willingness of the three sides to carry forward consultations on issues of shared interest, at the highest political level, with the aim of promoting the development objectives of the three countries as well as peace, security and stability in the region and the world. They went on to express their conviction that democratisation of international relations is the key to building an increasingly multi-polar world order that would be based on principles of equality of nations – big or small, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries, international law and mutual respect. The ministers acknowledged that the UN is an appropriate instrument for promoting and attaining such a world order. The three sides stressed the importance of reforms at the UN, including the UN Security Council, in order to deal with the myriad challenges of today’s world more effectively. They shared the view that member states should aim to make the UN more transparent, efficient and reflective of contemporary realities.” (Quoted from the official communiqué)


Yes, it is true. The unmistakable signs are clearly evident. The course of development on global and regional issues cannot be dictated from a single centre. The balance has not yet changed. The world is still unipolar. But that it is unacceptable, that it is not able to deliver what was promised at the end of the Cold War, that is what president Putin states: “Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not resolved any problems. Moreover, they have caused new human tragedies and created new centres of tension….wars as well as local and regional conflicts have not diminished…. And no less people perished in these conflicts, even than are dying than before. Significantly more!” Therefore, it is this alternative vision of a multi-polar world that is getting articulated by not only president Putin but a combination of three emerging important nations like China, Russia and India. Far from recreating, it is this vision of a multipolar world that will take our dear planet towards a more democratic and humane global order. Sorry, Mr Gates. You have marked yourself as the Cold War warrior. But, eventually, your approach is doomed.