Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Westphalia, Soft Power, And New…[Part 3]

Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.
March 30, 2017

I have to apologize for devoting much of this weeks blogs to the remarks of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but as I indicated in part one, so many people sent the transcription of his remarks to the Military Academy of the Russian General Staff, reported on The Sakers website, that I had to comment. And certainly his remarks warrant the extended treatment, for they outline the salient feature of the Russian states political worldview and mentality in a way that few remarks from Russian leaders have. They deserve careful consideration and reflection, for the implications of Mr. Lavrovs remarks are both broad and deep, and very long-term oriented. (I hope, eventually, to do a webinar in the members area on the Russian cosmist philosophers as part of the culture webinars series, for it is in that body of work from the Russian intelligentsia that one sees clearly how closely allied culture and politics are in contemporary Russian thinking.)

In part one, I reviewed the implications of Mr. Lavrovs extended references to the Peace of Westphalia, implications that spell out certain long term objectives of Russian foreign policy. Yesterday in part two, I reviewed the soft power/culture power connection of Russia’s foreign policy to that first Westphalian emphasis. Today I would like to focus on the third area: nuclear weapons and new non-nuclear strategic weapons. Here’s the link to the article once again:

Speech of Lavrov at the Military Academy of the General Staff

I want to direct your attention today toward the end of Mr. Lavrovs remarks, and to some truly astonishing implications contained in them:

Recently, there has been a push towards forcing the nuclear states to abandon their nuclear arsenals and banning nuclear weapons altogether. It is crystal clear that this is premature. Let me remind you that it wasn’t for nothing that the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty wrote into it that the nuclear arsenals had to be fully scrapped but only in the context of general and complete disarmament. We are prepared to discuss the possibility of further gradual reductions in nuclear capabilities but only if we take all the factors influencing strategic stability into account and not just the quantity of strategic offensive weapons.

Another reason why we’re prepared to discuss this issue is the growing sense of urgency about making this process multilateral. The restrictions on nuclear capabilities which Russia and the United States have repeatedly accepted for many years have led them to a situation where, essentially, they cannot proceed doing this on the bilateral basis. (Emphasis added)

A little further on, Mr. Lavrov adds this:

The formation of a polycentric international order is an objective process. It is in our common interest to make it more stable and predictable. In these conditions, the role of diplomacy as a tool to coordinate balanced solutions in politics, economics, finance, the environment, and the innovation and technology sectors has increased significantly. Simultaneously, the role of the armed forces as the guarantor of peace has increased too.

Observe that these two statements are the logical implications of the whole soft power culture power Westphalian emphasis; in effect, Mr. Lavrov has stated that the old Cold War conceptions of armaments reduction talks – with their emphasis on bean counting the number of tanks, warheads, missiles, aircraft  – is simply no longer viable, for the other components of stability are cultural in nature, and lest one misunderstands his statements, he spells out what culture in this context means: it means the whole constellation of domestic and international political institutions, historical memory and traditions, finance and economics, technological innovation and so on.

Mr. Lavrov is correct here, for it is that constellation of factors that leads to the development of armaments and more importantly, the circumstances in which they are used. This brings us to remarks that Mr. Lavrov made in response to a question, and these are worth pondering long and hard:

To a very large extent, President Trump’s position on the majority of key issues on the foreign policy agenda, including further steps to limit strategic nuclear weapons as you’ve mentioned, has yet to be finalised. By the way, if I remember right, Donald Trump mentioned the issue of cooperation with us in this field as an example. He was asked whether he would be prepared to lift sanctions on Russia. I believe that was the way the question was formulated. He responded by saying they should see if there were issues on which they could cooperate with Russia on a mutually beneficial basis in US interests, in particular, mentioning nuclear arms control. At the same time, as you know, the US president said the Americans should modernise and build up their nuclear triad. We need to wait until the military budget is finally approved under the new administration and see what its priorities and objectives are and how these funds will be spent. As for our further conversation, I briefly mentioned in my address that we are ready for such a conversation but it should be conducted with acknowledgment of all strategic stability factors without exception. Today, those who propose implementing the so-called nuclear zero initiative as soon as possible, banning and destroying nuclear weapons and generally outlawing them absolutely, ignore the fact that since the nuclear bomb was made and this new kind of weapon began to be produced on a large scale in the USSR, the US, China, France and the UK, colossal changes have taken place in military science and technology. What is being developed in the US under the codename Prompt Global Strike are non-nuclear strategic weapons. If they are developed (and this work is moving forward very actively, with the objective of reaching any point in the world within an hour), of course, they will be more humane than nuclear weapons, because there will be no radiation, no Hiroshima or Nagasaki effect. However, in terms of military superiority, my friends at the Defence Ministry tell me the effect will be more devastating than from a modern nuclear bomb. (Emphasis added)

Note again that Mr. Lavrov has stated the Cold War Bean counting method of armaments limitations talks is not workable without a discussion and agreement on all factors – again the culture factor – are had.  Note also that in his remarks Lavrov has ruled out nuclear disarmament, even on a bilateral US-Russia basis, since (1) there are other nuclear powers, but more importantly because (2) there is a whole class of non-nuclear strategic weapons, equally destructive as nuclear weapons for bombardment purposes.

For those familiar with it, this is similar to the position that former US Army Lt. Col Tom Bearden maintains was a negotiating position of the former Soviet Union in arms negotiations, namely, that they wanted to ban weapons even more destructive than nuclear weapons, because of their sheer destructive power. The American negotiators, Bearden maintains, did not have a clue what the Russians were then talking about.

This is a crucial factor, for what it indicates is that Russia is well aware of a whole class of secret weaponizable technologies -again, alluded to by Lavrov in his previous remarks – that have to be taken into consideration. In this specific instance, Mr. Lavrov is possibly referring to the rod of God kinetic space-based orbital bombardment technologies which literally propel an inert projectile at such extreme velocities to a surface target that the impact yields a colossal thermonuclear-sized explosion, but without any radioactive aftereffects. In short, think of a nuclear war, without radioactivity.

Wars are thinkable again, and this is a de-stabilizing factor. This could also indicate that, at present, Russia is not involved in the development of a similar capability, but that if such weapons are not up for negotiation with western powers, then it will perforce have to develop them. (And there is an important side issue here, for two powers – Germany and Japan – have undertaken not to develop thermonuclear or nuclear strategic weapons, which they could easily and very quickly do. Such technologies afford an end-run around their treaty obligations, and since both are space-faring powers as well, this potentiality exists, and is yet another de-stablizing factor in Russias strategic calculations).

If one parses Mr. Lavrovs concerns here closely, it is almost as if he is stating, as openly as he can, that negotiations on nuclear weapons is almost a moot point, since technological developments is quickly rendering them obsolescent if not obsolete. Its the secret stuff that Russia is (rightly) concerned about, and it’s the secret stuff that also is a de-stablizing factor and needs to be put on the table. If one now takes the concerns of all three parts of this blog together, then what at first might appear to be a kind of random grab bag of unrelated concerns is really a well-thought out connected policy. And that policy is one which, at its central core, is uniquely based in cultural concerns. And in this, in my opinion, its light years ahead of the create a crisis and then solve it approach of the West.

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About Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Westphalia, Soft Power, And New…[Part 2]

Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.
March 29, 2017

Yesterday I began this two part blog on the following important article that many here sent me: the speech of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the military academy of the Russian General Staff:

Speech of Lavrov at the Military Academy of the General Staff

As I noted yesterday, Mr. Lavrov placed his remarks about the Peace of Westphalia  ‘front and center ‘, toward the very beginning of his speech to the academy, and this, I argued, was a strong clue about Russia ‘s  long term  agenda. One might summarize that agenda in the form of two propositions:

(1) if there is to be a  ‘global world order’ then to ensure it does not become a tyranny, it must be based on some  ‘congress ‘ system or mutual recognition of the sovereignty of states, coupled with (2) the notion that such states are to be wholly secular, with no one religion dominating, or conversely, excluded. From the standpoint of domestic policy, this is a logical road for Russia to pursue, for though its religious-cultural heritage is Eastern Orthodox, it has significant populations of Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and so on. And this  ‘Westphalian’ approach has been stressed by Mr. Putin repeatedly in his remarks.

But Mr. Lavrov goes on to mention, in this context, something else quite important: the  ‘soft power ‘ or  ‘culture power ‘ card, and he does so, notably, immediately  after  mentioning the Peace of Westphalia: Of course, it takes more than just the size of a country’s territory for it to be considered “big and strong” in today’s world.  There is also the economy, culture, traditions, public ethics and, of course, the ability to ensure one’s own security and the security of the citizens under any circumstances.

Recently, the term “soft power” has gained currency.  However, this is power as well. In other words, the power factor in its broad sense is still important in international relations. Its role has even increased amid aggravated political, social, and economic contradictions and greater instability in the international political and economic system.  We take full account of this fact in our foreign policy planning. (Emphasis added)

What does this mean, or rather, how does this translate into action and policy? A couple of years ago I had a private discussion with a friend who is in the  ‘financial and investment counseling ‘ profession. I told him that one would have to watch future Russian foreign policy statements very carefully, because all the signals I was seeing at that time pointed to a massive increase of Russian use of the  ‘soft power/culture power ‘ card. At the time, I was basing this observation on the way Russia was handling the GMO issue by calling (and later implementing) a complete ban, while calling for genuine long-term studies on its cost-to-benefit aspects, environmental and human health risks and benefits, and so on. At the same time, Mr. Putin was openly speaking against the GMO issue, and from time to time was commenting on the health risks of western vaccine products. In other words,  he was not responding to the issues but rather, aligning Russia with the domestic opposition within the West . Or, to be even more blunt about it: he was playing to the growing sense of many in the West that their concerns were simply not being allowed in the media, in the halls of power, or even being allowed a level playing field and representation. That was just a few years ago.

Now  that program has expanded to represent the cultural concerns across the board: the collapse of morality, the assaults on the Christian basis of western culture, the so-called  ‘war on terrorism ‘ and the covert support by western intelligence agencies of terrorist groups… all of it has come under review by Mr. Putin in recent remarks; consider only his Christmas Eve message. In a certain sense, he was speaking for what many in the west have been calling  ‘populism ‘, but I believe a more accurate term or phrase might be  ‘traditional culturism ‘.  And he  does  raise a valid point: many in the west, this author among them, have grown tired of the shell game being played out in the so-called political parties: there are parties of the  ‘hard ‘ left, the Dummycrooks, Labour, the Social Democrats, and there are parties of the  ‘right ‘ – the  ‘fake opposition ‘ parties – that are really  ‘soft ‘ left: the Republithugs, the Tories, the Christian Democrats, and so on. Both  ‘sides ‘ are infested with globalists, that is to say, with crony crapitalism and with corporate socialists. And that has produced the frustration that, if one pays close attention, Mr. Putin has been addressing in some of his recent remarks.

To put this as plainly as possible: in playing the soft power/culture power card, Mr. Putin has been positioning Russia as  ‘the voice of the opposition ‘, unique among the powers that can be considered  ‘western ‘. It ‘s a decidedly clever strategy, for it accounts for the growing popularity of Russian media among the West, particularly from the disenfranchised  ‘populists ‘ or  ‘traditional culturists ‘, and the response of the oligarchs of the West is very  ‘non-western ‘: to attempt to shut down that media and continue to demonize Russia and anyone paying attention to it or its media. And this too has occasionally brought forth a comment or two from Mr. Putin. It is this strategy of becoming  ‘the voice of the opposition ‘ that I submit might be the  real  motivation for all the  ‘Russian interference in the election ‘ stories one sees in the USA, and even a few trial balloons on that score in Germany. It ‘s an attempt, and a very weak one at that, to break and combat this Russian strategy. Inevitably, matters in the article turn towards defense and security matters, as Russia is, of course, with the USA, one of the world ‘s two premier thermonuclear powers, and by some lights, the premier one, with modern updated delivery systems and by some counts, just slightly more deliverable warheads. But that will have to wait part three, tomorrow…

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About Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.

Breakaway Post Of 2016: How A Generation Lost Its Common Culture by Professor Patrick Deneen

[Editor’s Note]

Out of all the articles/news/information mirrored, this was the most incisive by far.

Professor Patrick Deneen speaks at length as to the myriad reasons why the culture is declining and what type of transformation is taking place in society.

If there’s one thing you read today, let it be this, for the concerns shared by Professor Deneen do not only seep into our present state, but will echo into the future, whether we like it or not.


Professor Patrick Deneen
February 2, 2016

My students are know-nothings. They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.

It’s difficult to gain admissions to the schools where I’ve taught – Princeton, Georgetown, and now Notre Dame. Students at these institutions have done what has been demanded of them:  they are superb test-takers, they know exactly what is needed to get an A in every class (meaning that they rarely allow themselves to become passionate and invested in any one subject); they build superb resumes. They are respectful and cordial to their elders, though easy-going if crude with their peers. They respect diversity (without having the slightest clue what diversity is) and they are experts in the arts of non-judgmentalism (at least publically). They are the cream of their generation, the masters of the universe, a generation-in-waiting to run America and the world.

But ask them some basic questions about the civilization they will be inheriting, and be prepared for averted eyes and somewhat panicked looks. Who fought in the Peloponnesian War? Who taught Plato, and whom did Plato teach? How did Socrates die? Raise your hand if you have read both the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Canterbury Tales? Paradise Lost? The Inferno?

Who was Saul of Tarsus? What were the 95 theses, who wrote them, and what was their effect? Why does the Magna Carta matter? How and where did Thomas Becket die? Who was Guy Fawkes, and why is there a day named after him? What did Lincoln say in his Second Inaugural? His first Inaugural? How about his third Inaugural?  What are the Federalist Papers?

Some students, due most often to serendipitous class choices or a quirky old-fashioned teacher, might know a few of these answers. But most students have not been educated to know them. At best, they possess accidental knowledge, but otherwise are masters of systematic ignorance. It is not their “fault” for pervasive ignorance of western and American history, civilization, politics, art and literature. They have learned exactly what we have asked of them – to be like mayflies, alive by happenstance in a fleeting present.

Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. The end of history for our students signals the End of History for the West.

During my lifetime, lamentation over student ignorance has been sounded by the likes of E.D. Hirsch, Allan Bloom, Mark Bauerlein and Jay Leno, among many others. But these lamentations have been leavened with the hope that appeal to our and their better angels might reverse the trend (that’s an allusion to Lincoln’s first inaugural address, by the way). E.D. Hirsch even worked up a self-help curriculum, a do-it yourself guide on how to become culturally literate, imbued with the can-do American spirit that cultural defenestration could be reversed by a good reading list in the appendix. Broadly missing is sufficient appreciation that this ignorance is the intended consequence of our educational system, a sign of its robust health and success.

We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders. What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”

Our students are the achievement of a systemic commitment to producing individuals without a past for whom the future is a foreign country, cultureless ciphers who can live anywhere and perform any kind of work without inquiring about its purposes or ends, perfected tools for an economic system that prizes “flexibility” (geographic, interpersonal, ethical).

In such a world, possessing a culture, a history, an inheritance, a commitment to a place and particular people, specific forms of gratitude and indebtedness (rather than a generalized and deracinated commitment to “social justice”), a strong set of ethical and moral norms that assert definite limits to what one ought and ought not to do (aside from being “judgmental”) are hindrances and handicaps.

Regardless of major or course of study, the main object of modern education is to sand off remnants of any cultural or historical specificity and identity that might still stick to our students, to make them perfect company men and women for a modern polity and economy that penalizes deep commitments. Efforts first to foster appreciation for “multi-culturalism” signaled a dedication to eviscerate any particular cultural inheritance, while the current fad of “diversity” signals thoroughgoing commitment to de-cultured and relentless homogenization.

We Must Know…What?

Above all, the one overarching lesson that students receive is the true end of education: the only essential knowledge is that know ourselves to be radically autonomous selves within a comprehensive global system with a common commitment to mutual indifference. Our commitment to mutual indifference is what binds us together as a global people. Any remnant of a common culture would interfere with this prime directive:  a common culture would imply that we share something thicker, an inheritance that we did not create, and a set of commitments that imply limits and particular devotions.

Ancient philosophy and practice praised as an excellent form of government a res publica – a devotion to public things, things we share together. We have instead created the world’s first Res Idiotica – from the Greek word idiotes, meaning “private individual.” Our education system produces solipsistic, self-contained selves whose only public commitment is an absence of commitment to a public, a common culture, a shared history. They are perfectly hollowed vessels, receptive and obedient, without any real obligations or devotions.

They won’t fight against anyone, because that’s not seemly, but they won’t fight for anyone or anything either. They are living in a perpetual Truman Show, a world constructed yesterday that is nothing more than a set for their solipsism, without any history or trajectory.

I love my students – like any human being, each has enormous potential and great gifts to bestow upon the world. But I weep for them, for what is rightfully theirs but hasn’t been given. On our best days, I discern their longing and anguish and I know that their innate human desire to know who they are, where they have come from, where they ought to go, and how they ought to live will always reassert itself. But even on those better days, I can’t help but hold the hopeful thought that the world they have inherited – a world without inheritance, without past, future, or deepest cares – is about to come tumbling down, and that this collapse would be the true beginning of a real education.

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Patrick Deneen is David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at Notre Dame.