Boris Mezhuyev: "US uses Russia as field for internal political struggle"
Russia's philosopher, Candidate in Philosophy, political scientist, editor-in-chief of Terra America portal Boris Mezhuev told Vestnik Kavkaza about the combination of conservative and liberal movements in the US and their impact on the Russian-US dialogue. The second part of the interview is dedicated to contemporary liberalism in foreign policy and realism and conservatism, which confront it, including in the person of President Donald Trump.
- What can Trump and Putin agree on, considering that Trump has to constantly fight against his internal opponents in the US?
- Trump and Putin may agree, but any arrangement will be tactical and preliminary before the Congress 2018 midterm elections, when a new configuration of the House of Representatives and the Senate will be determined. No big deal can be concluded now because Trump's position inside the country is very unstable. He depends very heavily on his own party, and if we imagine that democrats win in the 2018 midterm elections, having taken a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the impeachment procedure will be inevitable. This procedure may not be completed and successful, but it is obvious that the victory of the Democrats will start it. Today's announcement that the Trump administration has allegedly started an investigation into the activities of the special prosecutor Robert Mueller is evidence in favor of the fact that the conflict is growing.
Nevertheless, thee can be preliminary agreements between the presidents, including on Syria, on Eastern Europe, possibly on the tactical cessation of tough actions. I believe in the possibility of such a preliminary agreement, which would be not due to any special friendship between Trump and Putin, between Russia and the United States, but simply a recognition of the realities. The realities are such that the continuation of pressure on Russia without taking into account its interests in different regions will actually lead to serious consequences for all mankind. It is what I believe in.
- Trump and Putin are conservatives. Do these two conservatives have common interests on the basis of which they can interact positively?
- The issue of them both being conservative is very interesting. Indeed, there is a hope that someday there will be a conservative liaison between Russia and the US conservative Republicans. In fact, there were many such attempts. Reagan hoped that Mikhail Gorbachev was a believer, and he was moving closer to the USSR hoping for a conservative transformation of the Soviet Union. I am sure that if Ronald Reagan met today with Vladimir Putin, he would have great relations with our president, because every leader's personal faith was very important for Reagan. Unfortunately, different people came to power in the US in 1988, neither George Bush Sr. nor even Bill Clinton were conservative. Then there was George W. Bush, and there was a hope that there will be good relations between him and Putin on a conservative basis, but he did not distinguish between conservatives and neo-conservatives and came under the great influence of the latter. The neo-conservatives have taken extremely tough positions towards Russia since the times of the USSR and did not intend to change them towards the Russian Federation.
Today there is a new generation of conservatives, right-wing politicians in the US, many of whom recognize realities, take realistic positions in foreign policy issues, many of them are culturally and mentally close to us (for example, US presidential aide Steve Bannon). I think a constructive interaction is possible, if not specifically with Trump, then with this new generation of conservative American consciousness that made Trump's victory possible. These are people who are focused on the rise of the US industry, the restoration of the 'rust belt' and bringing it to a normal state; the people who understand that there are no big contradictions between Russia and the United States and that there is a need to unite the European oriented, but non-European nations - that Russia and the United States do not belong to Europe, but their culture and origin are European, which means that they need to interact, taking into account the fact that the world is becoming multipolar. I hope for such a dialogue, but so far it is rather difficult, taking into account, among other things, the toxicity of Russian ties that exists in the US now: any contact with Russians, if it's not about people who are professionally engaged in Russia, but who are just conservative ideologists, thinkers, philosophers, contacting with people from Russia, now gives the McCarthy element of suspicion and tension, which does not facilitate dialogue.
A personal dialogue between Putin and Trump, of course, is also significant, but it is important to bring the social environments and intellectual environments of the two countries closer together. The most unpleasant thing in the history of contacts, which allegedly take place between the members of Trump's election headquarters with Russia was that they were usually business-like, businessmen met with businessmen or lawyers. Trump hoped that as a businessman he would be able to make a deal with the pragmatically thinking Russian leadership - but it turned out that these business contacts are dangerous for disclosing them, because they always seen as greed, pragmatism and private interest. And it means that we need spiritual and ideological contacts, which are mostly carried out by liberals and no one pays any attention to them, as they are perceived as perfectly normal - these are the Carnegie Center, the Valdai Forum and other venues, where communication between experts takes place. But as soon as conservatives try to get closer and communicate, a whole series of questions arise, both in relation to Russia's participants, and in relation to the American ones. Therefore, I would focus not on personal warming of relations, or personal chemistry between Trump and Putin, but on chemistry of ideological trends in our country and in the United States. We need it very much.
Similarly, a dialogue between our parliaments is needed. Now Trump is very much dependent on the Congress, on the republican majority, which, in general, is not very complimentary to Russia. We need meetings at the interparliamentary level to clarify the positions, so that those Republicans in the Congress who vote favor of sanctions, understand the Russian position, and the tension between us if not softened, then got clear forms of clarifying the positions, and not the exchange of sanctions and hostile declarations between our legislative bodies.
- In your opinion, what is a conservative foreign policy in the modern world in general?
- There is a general framework for the perception of this word: conservatism is a status quo. I think this is true to some extent in relation to today. Conservatives should be in favor of not breaking the existing order of international relations and trying to preserve it: not to destroy international law, not to destroy the nation's right to sovereignty without interference from other states. Nevertheless, new realities are emerging, there is some kind of cohesion against the background of, as a rule, some common religious or paralegal identity. Many talk about the post-secular era, that is, not that secularization is approaching its end, but about the emergence of a secular religion, such as what is called in Europe a religion of human rights - it is also based on the notion that there are certain higher values that are higher than just interests, both national and personal.
A conservative foreign policy is an understanding of two factors: the need to preserve the existing order to avoid a bloody war, and the recognition that such realities exist and need to be taken into account. If some part of the state is biased toward another state as a pole of its civilizational identity, like the inhabitants of Crimea were biased toward Russia and the inhabitants of Western Ukraine are biased toward Europe, then the integrity of such states depends on whether these parts can live together. If they don't, we must admit that it is better for them to split up in order to avoid civil war.