France, Germany, Russia and Multipolarity

18.05.2016

The first part of the study established the methodological criteria which researchers can attempt to use in scientifically assessing whether a country is unipolar or multipolar at any given moment in time. This section of the work contains a cursory example of this process in practice, but it must be prefaced by explicitly stating that it is by no means comprehensive and has been done according to the author’s understanding of each of these states and their examined variables. It simply wasn’t possible to carry out the proposed research in the specific manner that was earlier described due to obvious time and personnel constraints, though the author holds to his below-mentioned conclusions and believes that they remain consistent to his prior writings on each of the studied states. Furthermore, despite the relative subjectivity (or more accurately, self-described unscientific approach) of the categorization, it’s intended to be used as an introduction to the topic of differentiating states into unipolar, multipolar, and contested camps and relatedly provoke a much-needed discussion about the latter. 

Methodological Review

To refresh the reader’s memory, the author will look at the following characteristics for each examined state before making the final determination about whether it’s unipolar, multipolar, or contested:

Media/Economic/Institutional/Grassroots/Geopolitical/Political System/Elite/Military 

The following countries are included in the review:

France/Germany/Russia/Turkey/Iran/India/Indonesia/China/Japan

In classifying each of the selected states, relevant historical and present circumstances will be included in order to add the appropriate situational context when needed. 

France

Media:

French media such as France24 are decidedly unipolar, although there’s a growing rank of alternative media outlets that are challenging this narrative, such as the ones that are supportive of Le Pen’s National Front. 

Economic:

As taken from the Observatory of Economic Complexity, (which will be used as the primary source for this category going forward), France’s trade partners are overwhelming within the EU, although China has risen to being the top third import partner at $53.2 billion. 

Institutional:

Having shed its Gaullist roots of cautionary distance, France is now a leading member in NATO, the most important of its institutional determinants to the study. It’s also one of the main countries in the EU, which is presently American-controlled and on the verge of becoming a complete satellite if TTIP is agreed to. 

Grassroots:

There are groups advocating for a revival of the Gaullist tradition, but it doesn’t seem realistic that they’ll come to the political fore anytime in the near future, if at all. Only the National Front has somewhat of a chance at influencing national policy, and even that’s a long shot. Despite many other loud anti-institutional voices and organizations, none of them are likely to affect France’s overall unipolar course of development.  

Geopolitical:

It’s unnatural for France to be so deeply involved in trans-Atlantic unipolar grand strategy because it has such a strong potential to be a multipolar leader in Europe. Even in the present environment, France can command a lot more normative influence among Southern Europe than Germany can, and if the political will was there, it could also lead to the division of the EU into two separate North-South halves overseen by Germany and France, respectively. Paris’ neo-colonial footprint in Western and Central Africa plays to its present unipolar trajectory, though it’s still technically possible for a multipolar France to have a hegemonic sphere of influence there during the emerging world transition (no matter how seemingly contradictory and challenging this may be), although it likely wouldn’t be indefinitely sustainable under those conditions nor supported by its newfound partners. 

Political System/Elite/Military: 

All three of these important variables are tightly in the unipolar fold, although the elite are a bit more whimsical and independent-inclined than the US might feel comfortable with. For example, France has made overtures to Russia before and is a member of the Normandy Four, though the Mistral fiasco appears to have significantly dented the prospects of forthcoming pragmatic cooperation. Some Parisian political elites make rhetorical statements of support for Russia and other multipolar states and causes, though this should be seen mostly as a balancing tactic to increase France’s position vis-à-vis the US and not as anything much more substantial for the time being. 

Final Determination:

France is undoubtedly unipolar, although it could with time become more pragmatic in partaking in mutually beneficial cooperation with certain multipolar leaders such as Russia, but only on a case-by-case basis and of limited practical scope. However, if the US’ suzerainty over the EU unexpectedly weakens, shows evident signs of doing so, or is offset by the bloc’s possible collapse, then France could be poised to take on an independent, multipolar leadership position if the right internal processes allow for it. 

Germany

Media:

German media is regarded as one of the most US-controlled outlets on the continent, at least when it comes to coverage about Russia. There are some emerging multipolar information forces such as Manuel Ochsenreiter’s German Center For Eurasian Studies, but they’re far and few between, being numerical insignificant at this moment to distinctly change the national discourse. That being said, they’re still a much welcome and long overdue breath of fresh air in the German informational space. 

Economic:

Germany is the leading economic force in the EU and thus a global one in general, having even established growing trade ties with China as its fourth-largest export market and second-largest import destination. While the potential certainly exists for Germany to bolster its trade ties with Russia and China, the US’ control over the EU, Berlin, and even Angela Merkel herself (the latter possibly blackmailed by secret NSA recordings about her personal life) means that it is figuratively ‘shooting itself in the foot’ by sanctioning Moscow and looking set to agree to the TTIP, which would severely constrain any prospective ties with Beijing. 

Institutional:

Germany is firmly embedded in both NATO and the EU and doesn’t have any realistic hope of extricating itself from either at this moment. While the EU could theoretically turn into a multipolar force for constructive change if it were fundamentally reorganized, it’s not reasonably probable that this will happen anytime soon, though when it comes to NATO, nothing of positive repute can be said about this aggressive unipolar military axis. The US’ heavy military presence in the country and likely just as influential intelligence one as well, coupled with the Immigrant Crisis’ pro-Hybrid War geo-demographic reengineering, means that it’s unfathomable at this point that Germany will succeed in liberating itself from unipolar institutional domination. 

Grassroots:

German citizens are starting to reject Angela Merkel and establishment politics in general as substantiated by the rapid rise of the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD) party, but they’re still far from reaching the halls of national power (although they already have a presence in around half of the state legislatures). AfD shows that there are indeed a lot of Germans who are dissatisfied with the status quo and eager to change it, but for now they’re just a vocal and visible minority. With the passing of time and the inevitable worsening of the social situation in Germany, driven almost entirely by the US-manufactured Immigrant Crisis and its predictable consequences, there’s a likelihood that AfD will grow to become a serious national force that might be able to enact tangible policy change in Germany, though this doesn’t mean that they’ll remain invulnerable to the US’ co-opting and coercive tactics. 

Geopolitics:

Even more so than France, Germany is the epitome European country and the one which stands to gain the most through enhanced relations with Russia and the rest of the multipolar world. Berlin and Moscow are already cooperating on the Nord Stream gas pipeline and have plans to build a second complementary one as well (in spite of Baltic and Polish EU institutional resistance), but bilateral ties took a major hit when Germany signed up for the anti-Russian sanctions. It did this because the EU, Germany, and Chancellor Merkel herself are fully controlled by the US, which understands the premier importance that Germany plays in the continent and thus would (asymmetrically) fight tooth and nail to keep it chained to unipolarity no matter what (again, ergo the Immigrant Crisis). 

Political System/Elite/Military:

Just like with France, Germany’s political system, elite, and military are unipolar bastions, although some in the economic and political elite do see the world in practical terms and would like to increase Germany’s participation in multipolar institutions and globally transformative processes. Nevertheless, these individuals have been largely sidelined by the US and the rest of the pro-unipolar German establishment with the anti-Russian sanctions, but they’re far from silenced or neutralized and could return as credible influencers if the economic restrictions are ever lifted. Even then, however, it’s debatable to what extent this would make a difference in Germany’s clear unipolar direction, especially in terms of whether it could realistically counteract the US’ suppressive top-down control of the country and liberate it enough to give it a feasible multipolar future. 

Final Determination: 

Germany is a unipolar state with strong multipolar tendencies (especially in the geopolitical sense), but these are currently being mitigated by the US as a result of its direct military occupation and the seeds of long-term asymmetrical conflict that it’s planted by means of the Immigrant Crisis. If Germany miraculously cast off the US and was permitted to independently chart its own future, it would more than likely choose to go with the multipolar world out of its own beneficial self-interest, but it’s for this game-changing reason of continental (and by extension, global) geopolitics why the US will stop at nothing to keep Germany under its boot. 

Russia

Media:

Domestic and international Russian media have both been solidly in the multipolar camp for years now, but that isn’t to say that they’ve always been like that. Prior to President Putin’s administration, there weren’t any globally recognized international media brands coming out of Russia, and the domestic information services were vehemently pro-Western. Even today there are some remaining voices that preach the ‘unipolar gospel’, but far from being a popular and influencing force, they merely serve the purpose of reminding people that freedom of speech does legitimately exist in Russia. 

Economic: 

China and Germany are Russia’s primary import and export partners, classically demonstrating the East-West balancing posture that Moscow has traditionally practiced. The anti-Russian sanctions commissioned by the West will expectedly lead to non-Western and “Global South” countries occupying a larger percentage of Russia’s international trade portfolio, thus further distancing the country from the allure of Western economic influence that some of its elites had previously been under. This will have the effect of freeing up Moscow’s foreign policy even more than it already is, likely leading to an unbridled and golden age of geopolitical multipolarity. 

Institutional:

Russia had shifted to a pro-Western institutional interest in the calamitous post-Cold War 1990s era, and while having idealized its historical balancing capability throughout the first decade of the 2000s, this turns out to have been unsustainable in the face of heavy New Cold War American pressure on its lesser “Western partners”. Removed from the G8 and on tense terms with the West in just about every other forum, Russia’s remaining membership in traditionally “pro-Western” institutions such as the WTO is nominal at best. Seeking to rearrange the global order into a more equitable format for non-Western states, Russia has spearheaded the creation of multipolar institutions such as the CSTO and SCO, and it’s played an instrumental role in setting up the BRICS New Development Bank. Nowadays, Russia stands alongside China as one of the two most powerful driving forces behind the emerging multipolar world order. 

Grassroots:

The typical Russian stands in unprecedentedly historic support behind their President, despite occasionally having various quibbles about certain aspects of their government’s domestic policy. Nevertheless, when it comes to the realm of foreign policy, Russians are in favor of what their representatives have been doing on the world stage and understand the global stakes that are involved. This is admittedly due not only to the resurgence of patriotic sentiment in Russia (sparked by the realization of Western aggression against them), but also to the pivotal role that the domestic information services have had in interpreting geopolitical events to the casual audience and getting them to become aware of the significance of everything that’s been happening across the world. This informed the country’s population of their civilization’s historic role and inspired the patriotic revolution that’s on full display today. 

Geopolitical:

There is no doubt that Russia practices a multipolar geopolitical policy, which can be seen in every single one of its foreign policy decisions. Again, the author feels the need to remind the reader of what was written in Part I in explaining that multipolarity should not be conflated with “Orthodox Anti-Americanism”. Russia does pragmatically engage with the US and its unipolar satellites when it’s appropriate to do so on a mutually beneficial basis or when it’s the least undesirable of the options available, such as in energy and other economic cooperation with Europe or coordinating overflight safety mechanisms with the US in Syria, respectively. In each of these instances, however, Moscow demands to be treated as an equal partner and doesn’t accept anything below that. When situations develop where its “Western partners” begin to manipulate it, Russia makes moves to mitigate the immediate damage, redefine the relationship, and reset the framework according to these new parameters. Throughout all of this, Russia is resolutely moving towards advancing its long-term multipolar geopolitical goals in reengineering the world order and promoting its preferred vision. 

Political System:

Russia is a Sovereign Democracy that outwardly imitates select elements of its Western counterparts, but internally remains separate and unique in its workings. A good example is the recycled argument in the unipolar media that Russia isn’t a “democracy” because it doesn’t practice an exact replica of the American model. The actual electoral process itself is rarely criticized, and when it is, the ensuing mudslinging bout is totally unsubstantiated and reeks of state-supported black propaganda. Paradoxically, this confirms the argument that the West continually tries to suppress which is that the functional practice of Russia’s Sovereign Democracy is by textbook definition democratic, but that the tangential aspects related to it such as a different political climate and the absence of traditional lobbying mechanisms makes it inherently non-Western. Therefore, it’s accurate to describe the Russian system as a non-Western Democracy, or as the author puts it, a Sovereign Democracy.  

Elite:

The most troublesome figures inside of Russia are some members of its elite, primarily its economic and ideological one. Although small in number, these individuals are scattered throughout influential positions within the commercial and informational sectors where they wield disproportionate influence relative to the unpopularity of the ideas that they espouse and their unrepresentativeness when it comes to the general national sentiment. This state of affairs is a holdover from the Yeltsin years and President Putin has been unable to completely dislodge these people from every single one of their positions without creating a major disruption. 

Prior to the New Cold War, it was fashionable for the Russian establishment to believe that a moderate sprinkling of these individuals throughout the halls of power could help the country “learn” about the West and “catch up” in some of the sectors that it was “behind” in, but that illusion was shattered once the US practically declared a global Hybrid War against Russia after the outbreak of EuroMaidan and the subsequent escalatory events soon afterwards. Nowadays, the state is very suspicious of these individuals and some of them no longer wear their ideologies on their sleeve (i.e. Dugin’s concept of the sixth column). Though analysts like The Saker think that a purge might be imminent, it’s also equally possible that the Russian authorities will simply identify and professionally neutralize/pigeonhole these forces short of outright removing them from their positions, keeping an eye on their activities and learning more about their networks and possible handlers. 

Military: 

The Russian Armed Forces loyally support their government and there’s no chance whatsoever of a military coup or mutiny. The military has traditionally been a strong force in Russian society, but it is no longer the direct actor on political affairs that it once was. 

Final Determination: 

Russia is one of the two chariot horses driving the multipolar world evolution, and it is the model for all other states of its type to emulate. From its Sovereign Democracy to its Democratic Security measures in resisting the infiltrative influence of foreign NGOs, Russia has lit the path for its allies to follow. Some of the elite still present a nuisance to the effective application of some national policies, but their disruptive influence is nowhere near strong enough to seriously allege that Russia could suddenly be thrown off of its multipolar trajectory. While pragmatically engaging the US and its unipolar satellites when necessary, Russia does not bend down and accept a submissive status, nor does it have any qualms about backing out of a relationship if it’s not to its ultimate benefit or advantageous to advancing its global multipolar vision.