The American Orthodox Institute Observer linked to an ongoing online debate between Brazilian Olavo de Carvalho and Russian Alexander Dugin regarding the role of the United States in contemporary world affairs. Both men are influential, public intellectuals, and it is interesting to see their divergent views on American influence. You may follow the debate: “The U.S.A. and the New World Order.” Some posts are in English, but others are in Portuguese. While not perfect, Google’s language tools can provide a rough translation.
I was interested to read more about Dugin. He is evidently the chief architect of the new Russian nationalism. He distinguishes the foreign policy that he champions from both the Soviet and the pro-American stances of previous decades, where Russians sought imperialist domination or suffered foreign diplomatic colonization. Instead of these ideologically based foreign policies, Dugin offers what he calls Eurasim, or Eurasianism, though I hope that the word sounds better in Russian. I do not know if it was Hegel or Marx who destroyed Russia’s facility with political terminology, but progress is surely needed in that area. Eurasist foreign policy appears to be foreign policy pragmatism that aims to serve Russian national interests and increase Russia’s regional power. One of its principal goals is to achieve a “multipolar world” where key powers hold hegemony over their respective regions and where these key powers and their alliances balance international influence. In short, it appears that Dugin offers a Congress of Vienna for the twenty-first century in order to secure peace and continued authority for the most powerful nations. You may read a more detailed account of Dugin’s proposed global order: “Main Principles of Eurasist Policy.”
For a decade, the Russians have repeatedly and incessantly pushed this multipolar model, and Dugin appears to be its foremost evangelist. Having read him, it is easier to make sense of Russia’s recent foreign policy. When the Russians take contrarian approaches to Iran, they do so to counteract American power, not because Duginian Russia sees America as an eternal ideological enemy but because America remains the biggest threat to the multipolar balance, which is Russia’s goal. Dugin wants to restrict American hegemony to North and South America. The Kremlin does not necessarily think that Tehran is a rational political player, but it does recognize that the Iranian regime is an enemy to the United States. Therefore, increasing Iran’s power weakens or complicates American influence in the Middle East, which the Russian regime sees as a good thing.
What is refreshing about Dugin’s approach is that it makes sense. It frankly recognizes national self interest and the consequences of power in the international arena—that Hobbesian state of nature where might makes right. The multipolar arrangement does not bother me, either. I would rather the United States remain a regional power that refuses to play the policeman, paramedic, and banker of the world. Let other nations deal with their own problems, while we establish cordial ties at a distance and help out every now and then when something truly catastrophic comes along. If we see the world as a neighborhood, then it is right for all households to help out a family when their house burns down. However, we should not expect every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the street to concern themselves with every home’s plumbing issues, family arguments, and dinner plans. There is a third way between isolationism and neoconservative imperialism in foreign policy, and we should pursue such an alternative.
Nonetheless, I doubt that a model of international national interest can adequately predict the behavior of states, given the missionary zeal of ideologues. In America today, we have our leftist ideologues that want to transform the world into the Castro District. We also have neoconservatives who think that every savage tribe is a potential New England town meeting waiting to be liberated. In South America, there are Marxists who still want to spread brown, proletariat revolution. Overseas, the Mohammedans have never forgotten their fourteen hundred year jihad, though the strength of Christendom had thwarted such hopes for centuries. Alas, European civilization has been emasculated by cultural rot, and the fevered masses of the Third World are on the march. When faced with such conquests, it seems as though a nation must think beyond a model of self interest to understand global affairs. For there are other forces that animate rulers—and their armies.