Alexander Dugin on The Big Game – and its Greek and Cypriot “Chapter”
“Close” to Vladimir Putin, one of the top Russian geopoliticians, Alexandr Dugin speaks to the Greek magazine “Epikaira” on the international situation, and, especially, Greek and Cypriot crises.
Can Greece be supported by Russia, if it decides to overthrow the peculiar colonial yoke of “debtocracy”, under which it has fallen? What is the geopolitical aim of the attack against Cyprus? Those were two of the questions we put to Alexandr Dugin, a person close to Vladimir Putin, at least, if we believe anglo-saxon press and, anyway, one of the most influential “geopoliticians” of modern Russia. His books, among them, “The Foundations of Geopolitics” (1997) are taught in Russian and Turkish military schools. With Mr. Dugin we discussed also, among other things, the situation in Eastern Mediterranean, the probability of a war against Iran and of the destruction of the European integration project.
One of the main “architects” of new Russian geopolitics and “Eurasianism”, Dugin has contributed, in a rather important way, to the ideological orientation of Putin’s Russia, but also to the practical exercise of its foreign policy. Some of the main ideas he formulated in the ‘90s, first of all the creation of a Eurasian Union, with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus as its nucleus, have become official Russian state policy, since that time.
A dissident under soviet regime, Dugin has participated to the nationalist opposition against Yeltsin, cooperating with different currents of the right and of the left, from the “national- bolshevik” Eduard Limonov to the communist Gennady Zyuganov. His ideological-political quest pushed him finally toward the elaboration of a “Fourth Political Theory”, designed to overcome liberalism, communism and nationalism, the three big “schools” of modernism he considers obsolete. In the future we hope we will have an opportunity to refer in a more detailed way to the ideas of this current.
Such ideological fermentations and quests, as well as the whole political evolution of post-communist Russia, may seem quite strange to a Greek reader not accustomed with post-Soviet realities. Take for instance Vladimir Zhirinovsky, quite known to the Greek public for his extravagant, even clownish ways and who looked like a mad ultranationalist. In the atmosphere of real madness, which characterized the demise of the USSR and the transformation of “perestroika” into “katastroika”, when the dominant market “logic” was used to justify a huge catastrophe, not only a geopolitical one, as later recognized Mr. Putin himself, but also a demographic, economic, social and cultural one, in such conditions Mr. Zhirinovsky’s “madness” seemed rather logical!
It is impossible to apprehend correctly the dynamics of the different currents of ideas, if we just transpose and compare them with what they would mean in the context of European post-war political culture. We cannot judge the act or the belief of an Afghan, a Chinese, an African or Iranian, in exactly the same way we judge the act or the belief of a German or French. We cannot subtract the “meaning providing” context, that is the historical place and time. We cannot also subtract the pressure exercised by the armed United States of America and the economic and cultural “globalization” upon all states of the planet. If we proceed in such a way, we become ignorant.
Take for instance western press. It claims often that Putin’s “regime” is authoritarian. It claims that journalists are assassinated in Russia. But this same press was not much interested when such assassinations were taking place under Yeltsin’s “regime”, because Yeltsin’ s regime was “their” regime. The West has even encouraged Yeltsin to dissolve by bombing (!!!) the Congress of People’s Representatives, in 1993, probably the most democratically elected parliamentary body in the whole Russian history.
Take another example, the “humanitarian” action of the Council of Europe. It gave a ferocious struggle in order to forbid the death penalty for convicted criminals in Eastern Europe. But in the same time, it did not express any kind of interest to the fact that western economic receipts, exported massively to the ex-USSR after 1991, provoked the death of millions, including absolutely peaceful and honest retirees. It was completely oblivious to the whole drama of “ex-USSR in transition” – transition not towards “market and democracy”, but from a Dictatorship supposedly “of the Proletariat”, to a supposed “Democracy” of a Mafiosi Oligarchy. We, Westerners, after supporting and encouraging the domination of Russia by Berezovskys and Khodorkovskys, now we complain because the reason for a kind of Putin has arisen!
But even if we accept some merit to the critique of the “undemocratic” character of the Russian regime, we should not forget another very critical aspect. The very existence of the USSR in the past, of Putin’s Russia today is an extremely important factor of world democracy, counterbalancing in some measure the monopoly of the Empire. If you have any doubt, go and ask the inhabitants of ex-Yugoslavia. Not to speak even about the huge catastrophes and the immense human pain accumulated in the Middle East, as a result of the western campaigns “for Democracy”.
Currents like the one represented by Dugin are hard to comprehend and seem contradictory in our context. In last analysis, they are not but the product of the agony of a society which witnessed Marxism transformed from a revolutionary philosophy into the repulsing ideology of an ossified bureaucracy. And after the fall of this regime, it has made the experience of a “liberal” ideology and of the slogan “Freedom and dollars”, conducting it towards (and justifying in the same time) one of the biggest catastrophes in the history of industrial era.
Russians lived two collapses in a rather short period of time. First the collapse of the so-called “really (not) existing socialism” and of the official pseudomarxism that accompanied him, then of the (spurious, fake) liberalism that succeeded the previous system. This situation created an ideological void. It is this void that struggle to fill different currents, trying in different ways to oppose the decomposition of Russian society inside Russia, the emergence of a “totalitarian empire of globalization” outside in the world arena.
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos is a Greek journalist and writer, specializing in international politics. He has studied Physics in the University of Athens and he has got a DEA on Information Process from the University of Rennes, in France. Among other posts, he served as a special advisor in the Office of Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, specializing in East-West relations and Arms Control. He was chief correspondent for Athens News Agency in Moscow (where he represented also various other Greek and German media) from 1989 to 1999. He has traveled extensively covering crises in ex-USSR, Cyprus, Western Europe and the Middle East. He is the writer of one book on relations between Greek and Soviet Communist Parties and of two books on the Cyprus issue, the first focusing on the role of Cyprus in the US strategies towards Europe and the Middle East, the second on the relations between Nation and the Left. He is a member of the editorial committee of the international review “Utopie Critique” and of the scientific council of the French review “La Pansee Libre”. He had various political activities, among them he was elected and served as the Secretary of the Movement of Independent Citizens “Spark”(«Искра») created by resistant fighter and worldwide known music composer Mikis Theodorakis.
For centuries, Greeks and Russians looked to each other with great sympathy, feeling they shared something common and deep, in their respective destiny and historical perspective. But, at the same time, this “emotional” equation did not produce corresponding results. Why? What relationship can be built between Greece and your country now, in the given, rather dramatic conditions?
Dugin: First of all we should remember the immense role of Greece in Russian identity. Greece has given us almost all – faith, alphabet (prepared for us by two Greek Saints – Saint Cyril and Saint Matthew), culture,cosmic vision, political concept of Orthodox Empire (the Byzantine as an example), social ideal (κοινωνία), philosophy, law… The same could be said about all Europeans, but our ties are deeper and more organic and direct. So we Russians are absolutely indebted to the Greeks.
But in the course of history Greeks and Russians have seen different dramatic turns. Sometimes we were together (in faith we were and are brothers), sometimes separately… It is difficult in the course of an interview to make the sufficient survey of all these turns – let’s concentrate on the most important ones…
The world is changing around us, we are changing in accordance with it, but some things always remain the same. What are they? The deep and deeper identity. In the Greek vision of cosmos emphasis is put on the essence (ουσία), the eternal side of things. So let’s proceed in this way, that is to consider in Russian-Greek relations the most essential points related to these deeper identities and let’s try to construct the new era of our relations based on them.
So I think that we need to rediscover what Greece is as well as what Russia is. In the proper sense. Only then can we create the solid base for renewal of our real friendship. And I believe that the time has come to think in this direction and act accordingly.
Critical intellectuals and politicians in Greece believe that our country has been transformed, through the use of the “debt weapon” and via the agreements it has signed with EU, ECB and IMF into a kind of peculiar, original “debt colony” of the financial capital. The Greek state and people lost, indirectly, much of the sovereignty and independence they had had before 2010. If tomorrow, the Greek people and/or a Greek government decide to renounce this peculiar colonial regime and the agreements on which it is based, what is the support and the help they could expect from Russia?
Dugin: In order to predict the probable strategy of modern Russia in such a case (that I find possible and realistic) we have to understand what the Russian attitude is to the present post-modern financially-centric World Order. There are different factors:
1) Putin is personally the opponent of unipolar globalization controlled by the higher echelon of the cosmopolitan financial elite, and he always tries to react against its attempts to undermine the national sovereignty – especially when we are dealing with friendly countries, but his options are limited by circumstances, and Putin being a realist never insists in the cases he is certain to lose.
2) The wealthy elite of Russia is partly integrated in the World Order and despite all of Putin’s actions to stop the dependence mentioned, and his struggle against the oligarchs, it continues to follow orders from the Western centres. So this elite will apply pressure on Putin to stay away from Greece in critical circumstances, persuading him not to intervene.
3) The Russian people in general are becoming emotionally more and more anti-Western (in the sense of anti-cosmopolitan and anti-liberal values) and they would rather support Putin’s eventual hard line in the case of Greece revolting against global world order and its financial strategists.
4) Finally much will depend on the precise timing of the eventual “Greek revolt” and the balance of power in the near regions (Turkey, Syria, Middle East, Southern and Eastern Europe).
What is your assessment of the current crisis of the European Union? What are your predictions concerning the future of this Union (and of Greece inside the Union)? What will be the possible geopolitical consequences of this crisis, especially in Eastern Mediterranean?
Dugin: There are many aspects. First of all neither the USA nor the global financial oligarchy likes the stable, growing and independent continental Europe represented by the alliance of “French Gaullism” and “German industrialism”. So it is clear that they use their instruments to undermine this Europe, to shake its unity and to bring damage to its economy. The Southern European countries, and Greece above all, present the favorable conditions for such a play. The complicated and sophisticated situation in the Greek economy fits ideally to this end. The crisis starting in Greece can easily come to Italy, Spain and Portugal that are in some way in a similar situation. The exit of Greece from the EU could eventually trigger the chain reaction and inflict a deadly blow on the Union.
Geopolitically it could be considered as the loss of European Land Power (European “Heartland” being France and Germany) and the victory of the Atlantistic pole (Sea Power represented by USA, Great Britain and global oligarchy).
This is the main geopolitical framework but the issue is obviously much more complex. First of all there is difference in the positions of the USA as a State and the globalist financial circles (embodied by the likes of George Soros or Rothschild’s group). On the other hand Europe is not sufficiently conscious of its geopolitical identity and misunderstands the geopolitical value and significance of the Union interpreting it only in economic and liberal societal terms. Germany itself acts partly as European power defending Europe and the euro, but partly in its national “egoistic” interests. But nevertheless it remains the most continental player in these dramatic events.
If Russia wishes to be more active in the process it should act together with Germany and France in trying to save European unity as the necessary axis of a multipolar world – balancing the USA and overturning globalists dreams or (if you prefer) “conspiracies”…
How do you read “deep” Finance and US strategies concerning Europe?
Dugin: I don’t know the details and I presume that no one really does except for the small group of the “initiated”. At the geopolitical level I have already answered this question. Greece, as such, is of little importance for the USA or the global financial oligarchy. But Greece is the “solar plexus” or the “shatter-belt zone” (according to American geo-politician Collin Gray). So the minor Greek problem – on the world scale – could provoke major geopolitical consequences.
It remains to guess: whether in reality (not on the surface) the status quo is so dangerous for the World elite that it is ready to use emergency programs (as eventual dismembering of the EU and/or provocation of serious regional conflicts in the Mediterranean zone) or it is a positional war consisting in the augmenting tensions without really pulling threads apart…All that depends on many factors… Some of them are thoroughly hidden from us.
How do you assess the situation around Cyprus. For example, a geopolitical analysis I read recently claims that behind the Cypriot crisis there is a hidden geopolitical agenda: to “lock” Cyprus into an Israeli sphere of influence and to exclude Russia, as much as possible, from the Mediterranean. (interviewer’s not note: the interview was given before the recent climax of tension around Cyprus financial problems)
Dugin: There is some reality in what you are presuming in your question. Russia is considered by the USA (and atlanticism as a whole) as the opposing power in all “sensitive” regions. It is too big, too powerful and too independent (above all in Putin’s time) to be controlled by Washington or Wall Street. So the Sea Power logically seeks to make Russians withdraw from all strategically important areas. Cyprus is precisely such a case.
There are some analysts who interpret the incident of the Turkish ship attacked by Israel (which resulted in killing a few people) as a pretext to make Greece and Cyprus closer to Israel (all opposing Turkey) in order to rearrange the balance of powers in the Mediterranean region and eventually diminish Russian influence there. It is quite possible, if we evaluate the real empiric consequences.
There have been quite a few conflicts between Ankara and Tel-Aviv in recent years. How deep is the rift between Turkey and Israel? What is your prediction of the future of Turkish-Israeli relations?
Dugin: Israel and Turkey are both geopolitical focuses of sub-hegemony. They serve the strategic interests of the USA, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar do. The only situation when I would believe in the real freezing of Turkish-Israeli relations would be the Eurasian (so anti-atlantist) “turn” of Ankara. It was quite possible some years ago but after “Ergenekon Case” and repressions by Erdogan against the Eurasian and nationalist chiefs of Turkish military forces it is out of the question. So it could not be serious – they serve the same master. The future of the relations between two countries is fully predefined by their attitude to the third power – the USA. They are simply not sovereign enough to act on their own. That’s all.
We witness elements of a new “cold war” between the US and Russia, in the Middle East, but also of a new rapprochement in the region, or even a “new Yalta” according to some analysts. There is a rift over Syria and Iran, but at the same time Gazprom gets contracts in Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan. How are relations evolving between Russia and the USA, Russia and Israel in the Middle East?
Dugin: The geopolitical strategy of modern Russia is highly ambivalent. On the one hand there is the will of Putin to create the multipolar World order. That explains Russian attitude to the Syrian case and all other steps directed against the American hegemony. On the other hand there is, as I have just explained, the constant influence of the global elite on the Russian economy that is in the hands of the liberals and westerners. The opportunistic reasons can neither be fully excluded. That is the reason why the relations between Russia, the US and Israel (as well as other bilateral or multilateral relations involving Moscow) can not be understood linearly. All factors work at the same time creating a kind of multilevel game with moving (situational) goal posts.
What is the probability of a war against Iran? What form such a conflict could take?
Dugin: They say much about the possible war against Iran and it seems a highly probable issue. This threat works by itself – it helps to destabilize the political and economic situation in Iran, applying constant pressure. Insisting on the imminence of the war the West (US and Israel) facilitates the inner opposition to attack conservative Iranian circles (represented by Ahmadinejad) eventually corroborating the necessity of political reforms.
But I am not sure whether those who claim the war possible and probable really think so. Iran is not limited by its national borders – it is the core of the Shia world as a whole. Should Iran be attacked, the effects would felt in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Bahrain as well in Saudi Arabia itself. It will also consolidate the Iranian society and force Russia and China to take the side of the victim of the intervention. In this case it wouldn’t be as easy to handle as it was in the time of the second war in Iraq.
The reality of the war depends on the depth of the crisis, the actual extent of which is thoroughly held in secret. If the war starts it will signify that the present world order is disintegrating and will pass away soon.
It is too risky to start such an adventure if there are opportunities to conserve the “status quo” by less expensive means.
Are we living in the context of an “American Empire” or of a “Financial Empire”?
Dugin: Good question… Both overlap partly. American unipolar hegemony (in the sense of the realist school in International Relations – IR) is on the one side, and global domination of the cosmopolitan financial elite (also called “hegemony”, but in the Gramsci sense this time) on the other. There are realms where they act in perfect accord with each other. What is good for the USA is good for financial hegemony. It is not always so, but I am not inclined to overestimate their contradictions. It is a kind of conspiracy theory in the worse sense. There is in reality in the USA the group of decision makers that is guided by the national interest of their country – in the classical realist paradigm or in the neorealist way that doesn’t matter much. There are also liberals and neoliberals (transnationalists /globalists) who promote their concept of world government. There are many mixed or hybrid versions as well. But they all express their visions quite openly and their debates form the content of the very academic discipline called IR. The conspiracy theorists are dealing with caricature and delirious versions of IR.
So we could rework your initial questions: where are we today in the eternal debates between the realists and liberals? The quarrel continues but there is some profound consensus as well: hot discussions of the methods shouldn’t hide the unity of their goals and common values. These values are western, liberal, capitalist, universalist and racist in the broader sense (as English specialist in IR John Hobson has showed in his recent and brilliant analysis “The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics”).
How do you see Latin America after Chavez?
Dugin: Hugo Chavez was a kind of symbol. He has completed his mission. And he did that well. I think the ideas of the self-centered and anti-US trend will continue to develop in South America promoted by other leaders. Chavez was so important precisely because he represented on the high level what the absolute majority of Latin Americans think and so managed to immortalize himself. Great politician. He is going to survive his own death. I am sure.
What is your vision for Russia in the 21st Century?
Dugin: Russia will become the Eurasian Union – the great space united around the Russian nucleus, the vast territories of post-soviet countries, and affirming itself as the powerful and independent pole in the context of the multipolar world. This pole will be an important point of attraction for different European as well as Asian countries. I hope Orthodox Greece as well as some societies of Eastern Europe will one day enter the zone of Eurasian co-prosperity.
The relations with Europe will be close and friendly if Europe is continental (European), or rather cold if it follows the US and the atlantist line. Maybe it will split up and some of its parts will fall under Eurasian control. Iran will be best ally in the South as well as India. China represents the pole by itself. If it directs its demographic mass to the South and respects Russia’s Siberian weak point, it will become a reliable partner in multipolarity.
The Islamic world will probably be divided into the Saudi Wahhabi pro-USA part and the traditional Muslim societies. The first will be the opponent of Russia, the second – allies. North America will be the most important foe of Eurasia as classical geopolitics predicts. South America on the other hand is likely to become a close friend being inclined to the multipolarity.
The future is Eurasian and multipolar. The fact that Russians are Orthodox Christians gives their Greek brothers a good chance.
You seem skeptical about the very notion of Progress. If not progress, what meaning or ideology or belief could preserve humanity?
Dugin: Progress is a false idea. It is based on the supposition that Being depends on Time. It cannot be proved. So it is a kind of irrational myth. The notion that the future is better than the past is immoral because it humiliates the past. More than that the concept of Progress being Western and European was used and continues to be used to affirm the supremacy of the developed Modern West over the underdeveloped (Premodern) East/Rest. This attitude is racist. I consider that the root of all evils is precisely Modernist Eurocentric universalism. In terms of values it’s manifested today in the ideology of human rights, liberalism, individualism, capitalism, etc. On the geopolitical level it is embodied in the global financial oligarchy and the USA unipolar imperial hegemony. They are auto-proclaimed to be “the core of the Progress”. For me they are the bottom of the abyss.
My ideology is the Fourth Political Theory beyond classic political forms of Modernity (liberalism, communism and nationalism). My belief is in Christ and in Eternity, in his Coming and in his Suffering and in his Resurrection.
I believe also in the value of Sacred Empire and the symphony of the powers – Church and State.
I believe in man and his freedom and in his capacity to struggle up to the end against the Antichrist’s world that is precisely the one we live in.
And I can confess that my Faith is one that I have received from the Greeks. From the great teachers that brought the Light of the Truth to my people 1000 years ago. And I am still very grateful to them.
All honest people in the world are Greeks. So if Jesus Christ has saved us once and for all, Plato has taught us to think correctly.