Book review



Book review

Andreï Gratchev

Un nouvel avant-guerre?

des hyperpuissances à l'hyperpoker

Alma éditeur, Paris, 2017






Russian Kissinger’s Cold War and after

or Andreï Gratchev’s pre-next war


Andreï Gratchev studied in Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), "Harvard of Russia" in Henry Kissinger’s terms. After having served in international relations functions of the Soviet youth organisations he moved to the International Department of the Soviet Communist Party in the late 1970’s. There he eventually became an assistant to Mikhail Gorbachev, party Secretary General since 1985. He even got into the party Central Committee, but his career ended on December 25. 1991. That day Gratchev was close to his superior when he announced the end of the Soviet Union.


Gratchev has published books about Gorbachev's time as well as an autobiography. His latest work is Un nouvel avant-guerre? des hyperpuissances à l'hyperpoker, i.e. The new pre-war time, from hyper powers to hyper poker. It is an eye witness story of our time from the beginning of the Cold War to the present. Gratchev's method resembles A.J.P. Taylor’s and Henry Kissinger's way of advancing from the inside understanding of the decision-makers and their interactions. Compared to conventional histories, the taste comes from his close relation to one of them and therefore better understanding of the others, too.


Gratchev characterizes himself as a West oriented Russian as an alternative to President Vladimir Putin's Asian orientation. It is complemented by his quarter-century residence in Paris as a writer, journalist, and confident of Mikhail Gorbachev. Raisa Maksimovna Gorbacheva had hoped that Mikhail and their two daughters would celebrate the new millennium in Paris on the Avenue des Champs-Élysée. It was done, and Andrei was with them. When the fall of the Berlin Wall was commemorated on November 9. 2014, Mikhail Gorbachev was in Berlin as an honorary guest and Gratchev accompanied him.



When did the Cold War begin?

Gratchev's new book begins with the Cold War, and therefore its first question is when did it begin. The most common answer is Winston Churchill's speech on March 5. 1946 in Fulton, Missouri: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent." Gratchev, however, suggests Churchill’s and Stalin’s meeting in the Kremlin on October 10. 1944. There Churchill put a paper on the table and wrote a proposal of new frontiers of Europe: Hungary and Yugoslavia half and half, Romania to the Soviet Union 90% and Bulgaria 75. Greece entirely to the West. There was nothing about Finland, because at that time the deal was already done.


However, there are good arguments for Churchill’s Fulton speech as a starting point of the Cold War. And it is not just an academic question, but opens up the whole landscape of the epoch.


At the time of Churchill-Stalin meeting in October 1944 the Second World War was already at its final stages, and much had happened before it. The war had its pre-history, but it began concretely with the well known Hitler-Stalin pact on August 23. 1939 – and with its triggering the security guarantees given by England and France. Then there was a quiet winter in Europe except in Finland, Denmark and Norway. Only on May 10. 1940, Germany launched its offensive in the West.


According to Gratchev, at the beginning of the war the allies of the East and the West were playing the same game. Each of them calculated the other side first to fight heavily with Hitler, after which the waiting power could better match the end game. First, Stalin waited on the West front for a attrition war like in the First World War, and Germany's rapid victory was for him a disappointment. Then the West did the same thing when Hitler invaded Russia in June 1941. The serious talks with Stalin started only after Russia had won the Battle of Stalingrad in January-February 1943. In the meantime, Japan attacked to Pearl Harbour on December 7. 1941, and Hitler declared war to the United States four days later.


Gratchev’s view fits well to analyses like that of Stephen Kotkin saying that Stalin’s basic thinking presupposed unavoidable conflicts between the capitalistic states making finally possible Soviet or socialist success. Gratchev also has a good demonstration of high level American thinking in vice president Harry S. Truman’s statement in 1941 after Hitler’s invasion to Soviet Union: “If we see that Germany is winning, we ought help Russia and if Germany is winning we ought help Russia and that way let them kill as many as possible although I don’t want to see Hitler victorious under any circumstance.”


However, Susan Butler’s Roosevelt and Stalin is obviously the best available study of all the complexities on the Western side as well as Stalin-Roosevelt relation before and after Stalingrad. It reports the tensions between Roosevelt and Churchill but also the US president’s obvious frankness in building a good US-Soviet relation to manage the post-war world.


In Diplomacy also Henry Kissinger recognizes Western delay in its deal making with Moscow, but for him it is the reason for a bitter criticism of Roosevelt. According to Kissinger Stalin should have been negotiated with of the post war order when he was still weak. But in Tehran in December 1943 and in Yalta in February 1945, Roosevelt worked in the same spirit as Woodrow Wilson twenty years earlier.


According to Kissinger, during the both World Wars the US Presidents were primarily interested in general post-war arrangements to guarantee world peace, and only secondarily in Western geopolitical interests. Roosevelt just tried to correct the weakness of the Wilson’s League of Nations by adding “four police men" to the United Nations leadership or to its Security Council, namely the United States, the Soviet Union, China, England and eventually France, which he did not like.


In practice in the main war time conferences – Teheran and Yalta – different border states of the Eastern Europe were discussed but there were no exact treaties of them – and therefore the issue became eventually settled on the basis of the de facto advance of the armies. Stalin first sharply protested the slow start of the "second front" negotiations and its formation, but the closer the Red army came to Berlin, the less he was interest to any specific deals with his allies. He stated to Milovan Djilas of Yugoslavia: "This is a different kind of war: a country that takes over the region set up its own system on it" - although the same practice had been used also in most of the earlier wars.


Churchill from his side was most of the time critical to Roosevelt's policy on Eastern Europe. This was his main reason to prefer postponing the opening of the second front in France and hurrying an early Western start on the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans – in order to get to Eastern Europe before Stalin. Finally he took the useless initiative of in October 1944 make a deal with Stalin, or in practice to save what was saveable. Gratchev records also in March 1945 another Churchill’s effort for the same target, namely a plan to move Western forces to Eastern Europe before the Russians got there. But Roosevelt rejected it like Stalin.


Then, on April 12. 1945, President Roosevelt died and he was followed by President Harry S. Truman. That took place just when Roosevelt’s confidence building with Stalin was at its highest and just before the start of the San Francisco conference for the founding of the UN. President Truman’s first statement was to continue Roosevelt’s policy, but he was also labelled by his statement in summer 1941.


Roosevelt had kept his Vice President as an outsider, and now he needed some time to become the insider. At the end of the war, Stalin was an overwhelming Realpolitiker especially after Churchill lost in parliamentary elections in 1945. According to Gratchev, "as a true heir of Lenin and admirator of Clausewitz, Stalin calculated essentially in military terms". To his skills you may also add his hands on leadership of the Soviet war efforts.


When the advance of the armies had set the factual new European borderlines, Churchill in a way made public his war time mood in his Iron Curtain speech. According to him, "the Russians only respect the power...  they want the fruits of war and their unlimited influence and doctrines." President Truman was at Fulton, and his basic attitude did not depart much from Churchill.


After all, it seems to be the case that the turnaround from the Second World War to the Cold War really took place on March 5. 1946 in Fulton, Missouri. But it was not just a change overnight.



The Finnish and Baltic case

It is worth mentioning that there was a strange exception in the marching order, namely Finland and the Baltic countries. Already in April 1942, the Soviet ambassador to London Ivan Maisky told the British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden that as to Finland the Soviet goal was to reach a "cooperation agreement", that is 1941 borders and not annexation. When the Western allies in March 1943 prepared for the negotiations with the Soviet Union, President Roosevelt and UK Foreign Minister Anthony Eden came to the agreement about the Finnish peace terms. Because of the security of St. Petersburg they considered reasonable to agree with the already indicated Stalin’s demand. Therefore they agreed to accept the post Winter War 1941 border between the Soviet Union and Finland as well as Hanko peninsula to be given to the use of the Soviet Union.


Then at the end of the Teheran conference on December 1. 1943 President Roosevelt asked Stalin: "We, with Churchill, would now like to take the Marshal Stalin together with us to discuss the problem of Finland. It would be desirable to move Finland out from the war." Stalin had a readymade solution for Finnish boarders on the lines predicted in March by Roosevelt and Eden. Even on June 10. 1944, the day the Soviet army started its heavy invasion on the Karelian isthmus Stalin assured the US Moscow ambassador Averell Harriman that he will keep Finland independent with the post Winter war borders. Susan Butler has a documented view, that Roosevelt was personally prepared also to another solution.


In Teheran, after having discussed about Finland Roosevelt, during a break,  raised with Stalin also the question of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: "Personally, I have no doubt that the peoples of these countries would vote unanimously on joining the Soviet Union as it happened in 1940." Stalin: “This does not mean that referendums in these countries would take place under international control”. Roosevelt: “Of course not."


You can add that the Russian politics of Finland over time and in its broad international context still requires a lot of research. On the basis of current knowledge, as far as Finland is concerned Russia has since Vienna conference weighted between its universalist-ideological, imperial and the immediate border security of St. Petersburg and decided for the priority of the last one – taking also into account its effect on the overall equilibrium of forces in the Northern Europe. This was actually President J.K. Paasikivi’s basic argument when he together with Marshall Mannerheim formulated the Finnish post-World War II foreign policy. Their conclusion was that it is enough for Russia and for Finland that Finland does not allow its territory to be used by Russian enemies - the resulting Russian moderation also adding to Sweden’s security and therefore keeping also it out of the military alliance of Russian enemies.



Cold War Objectives

Andreï Gratchev's analysis of the Cold War itself is in many ways close to that of Henry Kissinger’s approach. In this thinking the two super powers with their universal ideologies tried to expand their hegemonies worldwide, with all possible means except direct warfare prevented by nuclear weapons. But in the same time this goal was balanced by hard national geopolitical security interest and the need for well-being of citizens.


In the same spirit you may also underline that on both sides there was a permanent risk of overreach due to the misjudgement of one’s own limited resources. Therefore on both sides there was a constant internal struggle between priorities creating fluctuation in foreign policy between maximalists and retrenching realists. But this situation also created different policies in different times in different parts of the world – whether due to rational choices or compromises.


Nuclear weapons were a new element in this external and internal struggle of the power elites of the super powers, which Gratchev takes also to the level of human drama of decision makers recognizing to have the life of mankind in their hands.


An observer can add here that the founding act of the Soviet foreign policy had been the declaration of revolution by Lenin on November 7. 1917, and the peace decree associated with it. For the Soviet elite it was from the beginning difficult to reach a sustainable balance between universal revolution and the proper boarder security demanding modus vivendi with the real life capitalistic states – as well as with welfare of its own economy and society. Also in the United States, since Declaration of Independence in 1776 and especially after Woodrow Wilson the ideal of liberal order has competed with various tendencies of realism. "Both of them trusted that history will work for them," sums up Gratchev.


Gratchev does not follow the early Cold War step by step, but it could illuminate how fundamental universalistic political concepts turned into to real life. War without fire arms was written in the stars, and in practice Cold War became reality as escalation from small to larger conflicts and from large to smaller confidence.


In the beginning there were different political combinations in the Soviet occupied Eastern Europe countries’ governments. In March 1946 Georg Kennan wrote the famous “long telegram” of 17 pages from Moscow: “A USSR still lives in antagonistic ‘capitalistic encirclement’ with which in the long run there can be no permanent peaceful coexistence.” A year later he as “X” published in Foreign Affairs as well known article: “In these circumstances it is clear that the main element of any United States policy toward Soviet Union must be that of long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.”


In March 1947 U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall visited Moscow to discuss with Stalin and Molotov about the European order in Germany and in Eastern Europe. He returned home with no results. In June he made public his plan of financial help to Western Europe to save it from economic turmoil potentially leading to political radicalism and to communist take overs. In April 1948 Marshall’s plan passed the Congress. In the same time by the end of 1948 all the governments in the Soviet occupied countries were fully in communist or Soviet control.


Compared to many parallel works, Gratchev distinguishes himself by a close insight to the gambling of the Soviet leadership – giving insight also to understand the same on the other side. This adds up to understanding the dynamic nature of the Cold War – which was not just two nuclear coalitions standing against each other, but continuous war like manoeuvring for global hegemony.


The first high risk Cold War poker was played in Germany. Stalin was not asked for a new Churchill-Truman line-up. Stalin on his side made faits accomplis in the countries occupied by the Red Army and proclaiming the West Berlin blockade on June 24. 1948. It did not succeed just because the West did not give up. On April 4. 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty or NATO was signed. One month later The Basic Law of West Germany was approved by the Western allies, and in October there was also Soviet bound East Germany. Korean War started on June 25. 1950.



Making Cold War

The new phase began when President Dwight Eisenhower was elected in October 1952, and after Stalin's death Nikita Khrushchev was elected Secretary General in September 1953. In February 1956, the new Secretary General made the well known revelations of Stalin's time in the Soviet Communist Party's XX Congress, and the foreign policy doctrine was changed from the class struggle to a peaceful coexistence of different social systems. The essence of Gratchev's analysis is that the spirit of the game did not change.


In October 1957, Sputnik was launched, proving that the Soviet Union was able to build nuclear missiles reaching the United States. On October 27. 1958  the Soviet Union left to the Western Powers a note concerning the position of Berlin. According to Gratchev, Khrushchev thought that "it is time to force Western countries to co-operate on his terms."


A real Russian political takeoff took place when a year later practically in the same time a Soviet rocket left for the Moon and the Secretary General for the United States. On his visit Khrushchev had a rough and assertive style of the winner, but he also got the respect of President Eisenhower in the spirit of Camp David. It was supposed to be repeated, but before that, there was to be meeting of the four major powers in Paris in May 1960. All of them fell down together with the American spy plane U2.


General Eisenhower left office by warning of the American military-industrial complex. His Vice President Richard Nixon lost to young John Kennedy, whose campaign attacked the old regime's inability to respond to the Soviet military challenge.


Kennedy stumbled instantly at the Cuban Bay of Pigs. In April 1961, Juri Gagarin circled the globe, and immediately afterwards, Khrushchev submitted demands on Berlin. In June, the two leaders of the great powers met in Vienna in confusing atmosphere, the general impression being that Khrushchev had the upper hand. But it was not the whole picture. People left East Germany en masse and Khrushchev admitted his weak point by building of the Berlin Wall starting on August 13. 1961. Later on Kennedy responded by making a visit to Berlin June 26. 1963 to tell that he is ein Berliner. He also added troops to Germany. In the same years there were also several close calls of nuclear weapons, highlighted by Gratchev.


The next major step was then the Cuban missile crisis. President Kennedy’s campaign issue had been the "missile gap" compared to the Soviet Union. After Sputnik the debate was further heated by Khrushchev's boasting style at the XXII Party congress in October 1961. One move of the United States was deploying missiles to Turkey. The core of the Soviet missiles deployment to Cuba was to threaten the United States in a way that could not be responded. The phases of the crisis are well known. October 14. 1962, the United States U-2 spy plane found a missile site under construction in Cuba. The crisis escalated close to the war and went down through Kennedy’s and Khrushchev's personal efforts on October 28. The Soviet Union promised to take its missiles from Cuba and the United States promised not to attack Cuba and to take its missiles from Turkey.



Searching for a turn

A great theme of Gratchev's book is the vicious feelings of the leaders of the great powers with nuclear missiles or destruction of mankind in their hands. For example, he tells how each of the two leaders reacted in as such normal government preparedness exercises when after an escalation of a crisis they were supposed to fire second strike nuclear missiles towards the enemy. The Cuban missile crisis finalized the intellectual ground to start the turnaround in nuclear policy.


Khrushchev and Kennedy agreed to meet on a regular basis, but it was cancelled first by Lee Harvey Ostwald on November 23. 1963 and then by the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party on October 14. 1964. Then on January 20. 1969 Leonid Brežnev made the try together with Richard Nixon, assisted by Henry Kissinger. And it was only a try, at least initially.


The uprising and occupation of the Czechoslovakia in the summer 1968 were a burden for the Soviet Union, but Western youth seemed to move from the Moscow point of view to the right direction. Strategic Arms Limitation Talks started in Helsinki in November 1969. The anti ballistic missile agreement ABM was agreed in May 1971, but then the pace slowed down. However, in February 1972 President Nixon visited Beijing, and Moscow got the message. The SALT I agreement was completed in the same spring. The first phase of the preparation of the European Security and Cooperation Conference was held in Helsinki on 3-7. July 1973. The Final Act of the Conference was signed in Helsinki on August 1. 1975. Everything looked good.


The most interesting point in Gratchev's book is to tell about the mood at home after Helsinki conference. The Kremlin leaders understood the Helsinki Final Act to strengthen the borders of the Second World War, but also their own position as the leading state in Europe, "opening the way for the entire continent to be finlandised". And was not all.


In the spring of 1975, the United States had a humiliating exit from Vietnam. Moscow's comrades were advancing in Angola and Mosanbik, and Cuban "volunteers" were sent there. Marxist guerrillas moved on in Nigaragua and Salvador. According to Gratchev "The Soviet leadership began to believe that international balance of power is turning on their side...  and started to dream of the leading superpower status." The next step was to challenge Europe with the SS-20 medium range missiles that Europeans could not respond and Americans would not want because it would put them to death. The project also involved an all-time peace campaign against the American response by Pershing missiles deployment in Europe.



The case of Finland

Gratchev's choice of word "finladising" sounds hard for Finns who were involved in the Cold War Finnish politics. Therefore a few words about it. The Cold War competition between the US and the SU as well as the competition between the different interests inside them were of course felt also in Finland. But as far as the Finnish state leadership or the deep state were concerned, challenges were responded much better than the labelling of the time indicated.


For instance in the summer of 1970 Alexei Beljakov began as an ambassador in the Soviet Embassy in Helsinki. He had been nominated from a post in the service of the Soviet communist party chief ideologist Mikhail Suslov. Beljakov intervened in many ways in the internal affairs of Finland and especially of the internally split Communist Party. In the same time there were competing channels between the two countries’ leaderships like KGP's Viktor Vladimirov also in Helsinki at that time. Beljakov’s conflict with President Urho Kekkonen ended to his call back home in February 1971.


There were also other cases. One of them was the departure of ambassador Vladimir Stepanov in 1979 in the same way as his predecessor. Perhaps the most serious case was Defence Minister Marshal Dmitri Ustinov's visit to Finland in July 1978. He came to suggest a joint military exercise of the Soviet Union and Finland. President Kekkonen met Ustinov in his summer residence at Naantali Kultaranta. After hearing Ustinov’s proposal, the President replied that we now go to the sauna. The sauna bath was hot enough to make forget the whole issue. Under these headline phenomena, the heavy handed Finnish security police of the time was the president’s service – without big noise.


No wonder, when Henry Kissinger met Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen in autumn 2008 in PM’s office he asked to see the painting of President Urho Kekkonen. Then he took an appropriate distance and spent quite a while just watching.


However, in the same time in Finland it was also possible to recognize especially a rise of a current in the 1968 student movement, which was more inspired by Moscow than by Paris or Berlin, even though it eventually became well tackled by the democratic student movements. And admittedly it left shadows in various sectors of culture like theatre and journalism.



The new force of the Soviet Union

Gratchev tells that the self confidence of the Soviet leadership was further enhanced by Iran's ability to humiliate the so far number one superpower in its hostage operation in the US Teheran embassy. At that time came the crisis in the Soviet southern neighbour country Afganistan. In December 1979 Secretary-General Brežnev was still reserved as to an intervention, but defence minister Marshal Dimitri Ustinov assured: "Dear Leonid Ilitch, Americans will never ask us for permission when they get involved in their home affairs in Latin America. Why should we be more tactful when it comes to our defence interests?” Apparently there was not any sauna in the Kremlin.


Medium range euro missiles, assault on Afghanistan, and advance in Africa and South America told about certain triumphalism and misjudgement of own force among the Soviet leadership - while in the same time the Soviet system led by these senior men was more and more ailing. The result was the tightening of the western rows, which got its representative in – not too young either – US President Ronald Reagan in January 1981. In the same time the internal socio-economic anomy in the Soviet Union brought up a new kind of Russian generation in the person of energetic Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev in March 1985.


President Reagan challenged on all fronts of the Soviet Union, including his SDI initiative bluff on March 23. 1983. SDI initiative was to make the United States military overwhelming both to Russian military and to its economy. In the Soviet Union Gorbachev set a question of his generation, in Gratchev’s words: "Why should the Soviet economy in difficulty continue to lose weight by leveraging the military industrial complex to prepare for an impossible war that would be a suicide to the whole world. Should not it serve the needs of citizens? "


After becoming Secretary General, Gorbachev launched the well known perestroika and glasnost. Very soon he was confronted by Yegor Ligachev's "neo-stalinists" and, on the other side, with calls for a faster pace led by Boris Yeltsin. Gorbachev had strong vision and strong will to renew his party and his country, but about concrete operational program Gartchev says in his own autobiography that "Gorbachev did not have a clear goal, a path and no time". When a goal was to get out of Stalinism, he did not want to use its methods at home or abroad. Gratchev tells further that when listening close by Gorbatchev’s words he sometimes wondered, how speaker himself understood and the others interpreted their meaning.


But reading as an external observer Gratchev’s report you get an impression, that that after all the reformer did understand and he must have known the forthcoming counter forces – which always follow a reformers. And that is why he just wanted to take the internal and external change beyond the point of no return.


Even a good account of President Reagan’s and President Gorbachev's Reykjavik summit in October 1986 leaves unclear what actually happened there - except that the participants thought the Cold War ended. After that Gorbachev was in a great hurry. On the morning of October 9. 1989, when the Secretary General was informed about the fall down of the Berlin wall and the opening of the border, he replied simply "well done". In July 1989 the Soviet Union had withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan and by 1991 it had made the same in Eastern Europe, dismantled the SS 20 missile system, approved the united Germany and its membership in NATO as well as supported the UN Security Council on the first US war in Iraq.


On August 19. 1991, there was then the coup by Gennady Janajev, Gratchev’s superior in his youth. It was followed by Boris Yeltsin's counterattack, and in turn, the resignation of Gorbachev and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Gratchev says in his memoirs that Gorbachev was planning his final speech for Christmas Eve in 1991, but at the request of the aid he gave a Christmas peace to the West and in this way extended the life of the Soviet Union for one day.



So what.

The Soviet Union broke up and Boris Yeltsin followed Gorbachev as the leader of the remaining Russia. In August 1999, Yeltsin raised from an intelligence career certain Vladimir Putin and made him the Russian Prime Minister, and soon announced his own resignation. Putin became the acting president of Russia from the beginning of 2000, and from there on the real one. Gratchev is today unhappy of the direction Russia has taken since then, the aim Gorbachev’s revolution having been the Western direction and democratization of the country.


From Gorbachev's point of view he implemented one of the major changes in history for the benefit of Russia but also of the West – and completely free of violence. The West was sympathetic but not helpful or supportive.


Gratchev analyzes, and also opens his heart. Ever since the 1600’s when Russia became a great power, it has somehow been regarded as an unwelcome entrant to the international system, and "the Western powers have considered it normal that Russia with the Soviet Union would disappear as a nation." Nobody was interested in trying to bring Russia and the European Union closer to each other.


Gratchev, of course, knows the debate in the West after the Cold War, on how to continue with Russia. With the Western victory – in Francis Fucuyama’s words – history was said to have ended meaning a global governance by the West or by the US. The greatest architects of the victory in the Cold War, and especially Georg Kennan, warned about continuing after the Cold War conflict policy because it would lead in Russia to development to what the US would not like: “Expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post cold-war era. Such a decision may be expected... to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking."


On the other side in 1997 Zbigniew Brzezinski analyzed that Eastern Europe should be made a springboard to spread democracy to the entire Eurasian continent. Henry Kissinger was in favour of filling the vacuum in Eastern Europe but somehow vague on how it should be done. Gratchev analyses that ultimately the traditional European border states and the military-industrial interests took over in the United States policy.


Gratchev investigates critically the "international community", which replaced the UN Security Council in Kosovo, Iraq and Libya. He does not seem to agree, but he realizes and understands the post-Cold War “Russian trauma that will never be forgotten”. In Putin's words in 2014: "Western powers would be happy to see the Russia's break-up and subjugation like that of Yugoslavia, with all the following tragic consequences."


Gratchev makes a bold conclusion: "We have a conflict of two major misunderstandings. Western countries suspect Putin of Soviet and Tsarist pure and fierce revansism. Russia considers it legitimate to defend itself against the project aimed at the American world power."


Cold War was life-threatening, but not every day messy. The end of Gratchev's book is an expert’s follow up of the events from the post-Cold War to the growing confusion and the danger of a new hot war. His concerns are shared by many: President Putin’s policies like leaning to Eurasia, China's rise, terrorism, manipulated colour revolutions, the crisis in Ukraine and the Crimea, the Middle East turmoil, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the climate-environmental crisis.


In the book one of the reasons of the increasing turmoil is the Western one: "The ultraliberal shape of the market without restraint creates shocks within societies, increases differences and nourishes extreme and populist trends." The other is Russia. "By approaching to his neighbour China, Putin's administration will finally reject Gorbachev's dream of a common European house." "The Kremlin tries to bring around Russia different trends and/or political governments trying to challenge the current order." These observations are accompanied by reflection on the future geopolitical position of Russia, or its transition towards Asia, China and the Middle East like towards Iran and Turkey.


Finally Gratchev finds his old controversial counterpart, Zbigniew Brzezinski on the same side in his last years of life: the United States and Russia should combine their efforts to meet the new global challenges. Both of them come close to the post Cold War George Kennan and Harvard’s Joseph S. Nye - and, more broadly, the Harvard-Kissinger historical realism in the US security elite.


According to Professor Nye, “A century ago, the British geopolitical theorist Halford Mackinder argued that whoever controlled the world island of Eurasia would control the world. US strategy, in contrast, has long favoured the geopolitical insights of the nineteenth-century Admiral Alfred Mahan, who emphasized sea power and the rimlands. At the end of World War II, George Kennan adapted this approach to develop his Cold War strategy of containment of the Soviet Union, arguing that if the United States allied with the islands of Britain and Japan at the two ends of Eurasia, and with the peninsula of Western Europe, the United States could create a balance of global power that would be favourable to US interests. The Pentagon and State Department are still organized along these lines, with scant attention paid to Central Asia. The United States is still betting on Mahan, but can nonetheless welcome China’s BRI (the new “Silk Road” System, RV)”.


Analyzing as an observer Gratchev’s, Brzezinski’s, post Cold War Kennan’s and Nye's geopolitical approach, it looks inevitable that the stronger the West compresses the Eurasian continent both from the West and from the East, the more Russia and China converge, and the more Russia looks for more space and partners from the only remaining direction, namely the South, like Turkey and Iran. Today you could add here a geopolitical analysis, what it would mean if the tension between Europe and the US intensifies.


The problem is, therefore, fundamentally geopolitical, that is, what kind of architecture do we create for this small ball whose air we breathe.


In the conclusion of his new book Andreï Gratchev is thinking about the hyper powers of the planet and their hyper poker not in terms of geo-politics but in terms of geo-history. The leaders of the United States and Russia have their aircrafts to which they would go when threatened by the first nuclear strike. This could ensure the proper rationally planned second strike on the enemy targets. If these planes were to be equipped with solar energy, they could continue forever their flight for peace after they have served to end life on the earth and eventually life has finished inside the planes, too.




Järvenpää, Finland

June 6. 2018