Since 2016, the EU and NATO are one and together. Thus certain European countries, the Little Americans Crew, have adopted towards Russia the same stance that RAND Corporation, the think-tank behind the humongous US war machine keeps towards them. This is of course problematic for both Russia and Autonomous Europe; as the United States’ stance on Russia is definitely oppositional (there are some windows for cooperation, especially in arms control and peacekeeping, but they are limited) while Autonomous Europe would benefit more from a Machiavellian approach of having good relations with their neighbouring countries, in order to strengthen and prolong their own lifespan.
In the recommended readings of NATO-EU HybridCoE (located in Helsinki), we find a RAND Corporation paper which tries to define Russia’s posture in the world; and while they say couple of correct things, given their own stance about global governance and issues ( = maintain hegemonic control) they wilfully misrepresent Russia’s fundamentally more ethical “moderate-rogue” posture as something which needs to be deterred, rather than endorsed.
In primis, we need to define what a rogue country is. A rogue country is traditionally defined as an authoritarian / totalitarian state who funds terrorists and tries to set the world ablaze. In this sense Russia is definitely not a rogue; but it is not in its traditional sense that RAND uses the term “rogue”.
“Russia is not a peer or near-peer competitor but rather a well-armed rogue state that seeks to subvert an international order it can never hope to dominate”
How many errors can there be in one sentence? Many, if you’re wilfully misrepresenting the situation. First things first: Russia is not trying (or hoping) to dominate the world order. Russia is pushing back against the West's tentative of subverting the world order by proposing a more fair multilateral system (a system where the global South has more possibilities to assert themselves, for example). They’re pushing back on the ability of the United States and its allies to start wars in their backyard without anyone daring to say anything. Think of the illegitimate invasion of Iraq , the disastrous Libya intervention - this is what Russia is pushing against. Countries’ sovereignty being trampled upon; certain countries going by the “rules-based-order” (a completely fabricated construct which just means “whatever the West thinks is good for their own strategic objectives is actually good for the world”) rather than actual international law. But let's examine a bit more in detail this issue.
When two countries / bloc of countries have opposing view on the way the world is governed, so to speak, it is always useful to be the one who's upholding the status quo rather than the one which is trying to subvert the already established order. This was the advantage of the United States VS the Soviet Union during the Cold War (as the Soviet Union wanted to subvert the order, intended as the political order, because they wanted the whole world to be communist). Today, the United States and think-tanks like Rand are still trying to paint Russia and China (but Russia especially) as rogue powers who want to subvert the pre-established world order. Let's digress a second here; what do I mean with world order? World order is the ensemble of international laws and principles and the global governance system which was put in place after WWII. Namely, the United Nations. The United Nations was born from the ashes of the failing League of Nations which was created after WWI. It has many different branches, but the two most significative of them in terms of war and peace (and political global governance) are the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN Security Council (UNSC). UNGA is the meeting of all nations part of the UN; the UNSC has five permanent members (the victors of WWII; France, the UK, the US, Russia, China) and ten non-permanent members. UNGA concerns itself with ordinary administration, while the UNSC manages urgent and special situations regarding maintaning the peace and / or taking action in dramatic situations). The United Nations has a charter; and that is, the basic law for peaceful and productive cooperation in between nations. All nations who want to protect the common peace and be a responsible "member of global society" need to respect the basic principles enshrined in the UN charter. So to determine who's the one upholding the status quo and who's trying to subvert it we need to quickly have a look at who's systematically breaching the UN charter and who's not. And because I am European, and I got to this piece by browsing and analysing a NATO think-tank in Helsinki, I will make the case for the European Union, and not the United States (as it is obvious that they are the rogue ones, I mean almost every war we have today was started by them, either directly [Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan] or indirectly [Ukraine, Syria, Yemen]) It'd be like shooting on the red cross, really.
The EU is of in my opinion the most problematic of them all, as in the Lisbon Treaty they declared that "democracy" is a value at the base of the European Union and they also claim that they'll pursue a "value-based" foreign policy. Let's see why this is problematic; from the Lisbon Treaty:
‘DRAWING INSPIRATION from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law,’;
This sentence, which includes a form of government (democracy) as a "value", is the legal clause which allows certain European countries to start wars, carry on operations like the creation of paramilitary networks in foreign countries, impose genocidal sanctions (like the ones which were imposed over Syria and Iran during the pandemic), and bully all other countries into changing their form of government to conform to ours. Yet, democracy is not a value, democracy is a form of government (and it is not even the most common form of government in Europe herself, as most governments are Republics, either presidential or parliamentary). So when the Lisbon Treaty states that Europe is based on democracy, and pursues policies which uphold "democracy" then regime-change wars ("democratic wars") for example, are legitimate, notwithstanding their non-compliance with the aforementioned UN Charter, which at Article 2, states:
1. The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
"sovereign equality" means that no country has the right to feel "superior" because of their form of government, and all nations, large and small, are equal notwithstanding their different forms of government. This principle is also enshrined in the 1975 OSCE Helsinki Final Act:
I. Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty
The participating States will respect each other's sovereign equality and individuality as well as all the rights inherent in and encompassed by its sovereignty, including in particular the right of every State to juridical equality, to territorial integrity and to freedom and political independence. They will also respect each other's right freely to choose and develop its political, social, economic and cultural systems as well as its right to determine its laws and regulations.
Therefore, all actions which the EU takes, aimed at "democratising" other countries are directly going against the principle of sovereign equality, as enshrined in the UN charter, which is the basic law of global peaceful cooperation. The EU is the one who's trying to subvert the global governance order, by disrespecting the fundamental right of all nations to sovereign equality. And more than this; the "democratising" process is selective; Assad needs to go because he's an autocrat (yet by Syrian law, he is the legitimate leader) but for example Mohammed Bin Salman, who's an absolute monarch who got to power by purging hundreds of opponents is ok, we won't say anything about that. Maduro must go, because we decide, that their process wasn't democratic (contrarily to the opinion of Venezuela's own Constitutional Court) but we didn't say anything when Anez took power with a coup in Bolivia, because the coup was supported by our Democratic Ally.
And more than this; upholding "human rights" doesn't, as a matter of fact, have anything to do with "democracy"; as for example death penalty is widely considered as a breach of human rights (so much that when Turkey was in line to become a EU member, the EU declared that Turkey had to scrap the death penalty if she wanted to be part of the Union) yet, the United States has the death penalty, and so does Japan, both Good Democratic Allies. Without even mentioning how the covert operation to arm and train the rebels in Syria which some European governments (Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark) were paying for ("to bring democracy"), is a definite breach of human rights (don't the Syrian have the right to live in peace and not in war? Is that a human right?).
So in this sense we can see that the Lisbon Treaty is non-compliant with the UN charter, and with the OSCE declaration (as both have "sovereign equality" enshrined in law. This is a disaster in itself; and showcases that definitely, by declaring to be committed to changing all governments of the world into "democracies" the EU is literally declaring to want to change the current world order; hence they are the rogue ones, not Russia. Moreover, the Lisbon Treaty, having being approved without popular consultation, is in itself non-compliant with the "democratic" values they claim to uphold in the text.
Now in fact we need to ask; is the Lisbon Treaty legitimate, under the purely democratic point of view? Not really, in my opinion. When the European leaders tried to approve a European Constitution(2005), it didn't really work, as people were adamantly against it (France and The Netherlands held a referendum about it, and the population refused it). So in order to impose their will over the population anyway, they just took the word "Constitution" out of it and they passed it by themselves, without consulting the population at all. Now, does this sound democratic at all? Can you imagine if other countries would do it? I mean we gave so much crap the whole summer to Russia because of their Constitutional referendum, while we just bypassed popular will altogether and we call this democracy? "Oh, Russia is such a Bad Dictatorship, when the population was allowed to vote for their Constitutional referendum, while we are such a Good Democracy, when we don't even bother taking popular will into consideration at all, we just approved the law by ourselves". Seriously?
So Russia is not trying to subvert the international order, we are doing that, and they are pushing back. But how are they pushing back here? Not by starting conflicts. The Russian Federation’s diplomatic body, in fact, has been making a point of establishing themselves as a reliable mediator and peace broker, so as a country who, when confronted with a political crisis / potential or overt conflict in other countries, always tries to promote broad internal political talks with the aim of getting the internal actors to agree on a common strategy for resolving the tensions / conflict, rather than pushing for "democratic" military intervention. This has happened for example in relation to Afghanistan, for whom Russia launched the Moscow Consultations (2017 , 2018 ) but unfortunately this internally and regionally inclusive process was ruined by Trump’s deeply flawed “Peace” Deal (I will talk in detail about this process later on). So in this sense we could say that Russia is a rogue, but only in relation to the fictitious and fully fabricated “rules-based-order”; as this "rules" (which are written nowhere) state clearly and strongly that it is the West, who decides of the fate of other countries, and not the inhabitants or the leaders of those same countries.
In a second instance RAND here mentions the fact that Russia is a “well-armed rogue” yet, there is some mystification going on also here. It is true, that Russia is well-armed; but their army is not constructed for long-term military occupation of large portions of the globe. Russia’s military power derives in primis from having being part of the USSR and having participated in the arms race - which means, that they have a lot of weapons (especially nuclear weapons, they’re on par with the US, with about 6000 nuclear warheads). During the Cold War the USSR and the US both pursued the mutually assured destruction strategy, which in the grand-scheme avoided bigger scale conflicts. In view of this, Russia is right now the only state which can match the US’s own military capabilities. And more than this; it would seem that Russia’s strategy for army development today points more on developing smaller quantities of innovative new weapons (with the aim of keeping in check the other big military power) rather than to mass-produce standard prepare for large scale occupation or conflict. We see then how RAND, who’s the mind behind the US’s military industrial complex’s ideology, would see Russia as a “rogue” here; as they challenge RAND’s vision of global governance, where the US Army holds hegemonic, unchecked military control and rather than respecting the international order as described by the UN charter, tries to subvert everything by proposing the fictitious "rules-based-international-order" as a real thing.
Let’s quickly summarise: Russia is hereby defined as a “rogue” because they oppose the current global governance system where “the West” holds hegemonic control over other countries’ fates and they are also a "rogue" because their military strategy aims at contrasting “the West”’s military supremacy over the globe. That doesn’t mean, however, that they will always and automatically hold an oppositional stance towards “the West”, as they're always open to cooperation; but they won’t help the West taking over the globe, either. It is the West, not Russia, who needs to get back to reality and start behaving responsibly. Autonomous Europe, of course, when it would pursue a foreign policy based on respect of other countries’ sovereignty and self-determination, would find a reliable partner in Russia; but alas, the EU has decided to help RAND and the US war machine instead. Yet, is this the Europe we want to be? Has anyone even thought of asking us what we really want?
In this article, RAND makes also some useful considerations, however, when they state:
“neither country [Russia and China, LC] has an exportable ideology”
this is somewhat correct, but not fully. In primis, Russia’s strategy is not based on an ideology per se (contrarily to the West’s fraudulent ideology of the Wars for Democracy and the Invasions for the Good of the People) but it’s based more on common sense and a series of principles and international laws (such as the importance of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs) which are not codified in a specific narrative and neither are easily exportable, especially in the West, where people seriously believe that War is Peace.
I mean how do you export "respect for international laws and the UN Charter" when most people don't have the faintest idea of what the UN Charter is? How do you make the concept of "sovereign equality" palatable to the masses?
In my opinion, Russia has a branding problem; they have good ideas, but they haven’t managed to codify them into a pre-determined narrative which can be sold abroad (but I have to note, that this is also due to the reactive nature of the country).
I’ll make you an example of this. Couple of months back I was browsing 9gag (of all places) and I found this video of Vladimir Putin talking about climate change (the topic here is not important, however). It is a very short clip (about 1min), and if you listen to it, you might notice how at some point he says:
“people in African and in many Asian countries want to be as wealthy as people in Sweden”
Eh. This is not ideology, this is a common sense consideration; yet, have you heard any Western politician saying anything even remotely similar? No you haven’t; because a big portion of the West’s strategy (which the EU is happily pursuing, together with NATO and with RAND's blessing) includes keeping the African continent in a state of constant conflict and underdevelopment. It is not, in fact, Russia’s prosperity and existence which is based on systematic exploitation of others (yes they are playing somewhat dirty on the energy market, but let’s face it, there are countries who, in order to play dirty on the energy market, have started wars, come on). On the other hand, the Western narrative is "we need to help the poor, poor Africans" which besides being very paternalistic and condescendent, is aimed at covering up the truly exploitative nature of the "foreign aid" system. That is more easily sold to the masses; "we are the good ones, because we help them" VS "they have the right to have the same life-quality as us"
So you see here that RAND is somewhat correct in its assessment, as common sense is not really an exportable ideology; as it doesn't really strokes the ego of the masses as the "we're the democracy bringers" sends them on an ego-trip. Of course if Autonomous Europe would also be trying to be a force for good, rather than being the Superintendent's lapdog, we’d also have someone who speaks like this. But alas, this is not happening, YET.
In conclusion, seen from RAND’s POV yes, we could say that Russia is a rogue; but only because they live in a fictitious world were an invented "rules-based-order" is at the base of global governance, rather than something actually existing, like the UN charter.
What would Autonomous Europe do?
Reform of the Lisbon Treaty. Democracy as a value needs to be stricken out and substituted by actual values, like respect for others, human fraternity, or peace. Something that will not allow the leadership to coerce and bully other nations in changing their government, something which is compliant with the principle of Sovereign Equality as stated in the UN Charter and the OSCE Helsinki Final Act. The European Union should also reject war (and this includes trade wars and covert wars) as a mean of coercion against other states.