Thursday, December 22, 2016

Putin Needs a New Cold War for Same Reasons Soviet Leaders Did -- To Stave Off the End of the Empire, Karelian Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 22 – The Soviet leaders in the 1940s initiated the first cold war to delay the disintegration of their empire; today, Vladimir Putin needs a second such war to prevent the further disintegration of that entity, a requirement that severely restricts his ability to change course and open up Russia once again, according to Andrey Tuomi.

            In a new commentary for a Karelian portal entitled “The Empire of Chaos,” the analyst argues that “the cold war was provoked only in order to preserve the Soviet empire in its borders so that the existing status quo in the USSR would last as long as possible” (

            Soviet leaders then fully understood that they couldn’t absorb the countries of the Warsaw Pact into the USSR because that would create tensions within it just as the occupied Baltic countries did and that only tensions with the West could keep it all together. (On Stalin’s views, see

            “Unlike present-day Russian politicians,” he continues, Soviet leaders as long ago as the 1940s and 1950s understood that “the Soviet Union as an empire had achieved its limits” and that expanding it would cause its demise, although most of them appear to have been less aware that the internal empire was moving in that direction as well.

            According to Tuomi, “the USSR could not withstand the tests of a long peace.” It had to fight with someone to maintain itself and it tried to do otherwise as with Mikhail Gorbachev, it rapidly fell into pieces. But at that time, “the Soviet Union did not fall apart to its logical end.” It lost the union republics but “the nucleus of the empire as before retained the status quo, thereby entering into a still greater contradiction with the surrounding world.”

            And the Russian Federation remains an empire not so much because of its ethnic, religious and other diversity but because “the instruments of administration and suppression” Moscow uses today “are practically unchanged” from those of earlier times, the Karelian analyst says.

            There is a metropolitan center surrounded by a ring road and colonies “which have completely different statuses and levels of inclusion” in the empire ranging from Chechnya which is allowed to act more or less independently and Karelia which is completely suppressed on all issues.

            “But!” Tuomi says, “the neo-Russian empire has entered into such contractions with the rest of the world” that it cannot long continue to exist.  It has been left behind economically and politically by the rapidly globalizing world, and it missed a chance to join that world by the choices its rulers made in 2000. There won’t be a second chance, he says.

            As a result of Putin’s years in office, “all this enormous empire has been converted into an enormous wasteland with dying cities and villages, shuttered factories and the collapse of entire branches of the economy, a population that is dying out, corruption,” and the list of tragedies goes on and one.

             There is no force or mechanism that can reverse this by inspiring the population to heroic acts, Tuomi continues, because “in Russia has been established an unprecedented social-political formation, a mixture of the soviet and oligarchic capitalism, pseudo-religious nationalist ideology … and completely baseless pretensions to world leadership.”

            The powers that be in Moscow can only think to try to establish something which it is in principle impossible to do – the USSR. “There is no basis for this” in Russia; and there is no desire for it anywhere else.  Moscow elites live on “illusions” that things are otherwise, but they like their soviet predecessors will be disabused.

            No one can create a Russian nation by fiat “if there is no single nation in the country” and if there are no preconditions for it visible in the future.  And there is no sense in trying to use laws to do anything in a country where laws and even the Constitution are ignored or completely politicized.

            Consequently, some in Moscow think they may be able “to create a terrible empire by force of arms, repressive laws, and the creation of ever more force structures to defend the power of those with property.  But money in an empire cannot grow on trees or fall from the sky.” And no one is going to give Moscow what it would need.

            What is coming is therefore predictable, Tuomi says.  Sooner or later the powers that be are going to run out of money to pay the force structures; and when that happens, the entire house of cards will collapse because the Kremlin will give orders to suppress the population and these orders will be disobeyed.

            There was a prequel to this in August 1991, and it led to the demise of one ring of the empire. When it happens again, this will lead to the demise of all or at least a significant part of what remains.

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