Saturday, August 14, 2021

Future Conflicts Likely to Be Between Countries Capable of Responding to New Challenges and Those that Aren't, Shevtsova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 9 – Three new challenges – the pandemic, climate change, and growing inequality – are pushing aside the traditional bases of politics within countries and among them, creating the possibility that new international conflicts will arise “not over resources and territory but between those capable of responding and those not,” Liliya Shevtsova says.

            These challenges will require the replacement of elites who think only in terms of the old categories by those who can cope with the new ones, the Russian analyst says, something that the Moscow elite today seems incapable of doing. And its failure will leave it even more an outcast than it has become up to now (

            The spread of droughts and fires because of global warming, the problems associated with the coronavirus pandemic, and the difficulties that increasing income inequality are posing for almost all governments are no longer the subject of futuristic speculation, she says. This summer has shown that the apocalypse they present is “now.”

            “Today a new reality is arising,” Shevtsova continues. “The concentration of governments on internal risks is leading to a restructuring of international relations, including trade, communications, and migration.” At the same time, “the former priorities of security” are receding into “second place” among the populations of most countries.

            Governments need to find a new balance between restraint and support, with those ahead on these increasingly important issues helping those who are behind even if the latter pose challenges of their own because the goals of those ahead must become the goals of all if these problems are to be overcome.

            This shift also has consequences within countries because it requires searching for a new “balance between individualism and solidarity and feeling of community,” issues which unfortunately, “liberalism has so long ignored,” the Russian analyst continues.

            “World elites,” Shevtsova says, “formed during the period of oil and gas, nuclear conflict and the balance of power cannot cope with these new times. But replacing elites will be called forth not by technology but by the demand for a new accord between the powers and society,” something “the present elite” especially in Russia “is not capable.

            Indeed, “Russia in this new reality looks like an antique. The Kremlin mechanism of survival by searching for enemies, trade resources and threats are weapons from the arsenal of the past.” Some in Moscow recognize this, but the Kremlin’s policy doesn’t reflect this new awareness. Instead, it is focused on pursuing more of the same.

            Unless that changes, Shevtsova concludes, Russia is not only going to lag ever further behind those countries that do adapt but also going to be treated as an outcast by them, something that will make it even more difficult for Moscow to change course even as it provides additional reasons for it to do so. 


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