When strategic thinking is in short supply
Material posted: Publication date: 06-10-2019
At the end of June 2019 in the national defence Academy of Austria hosted the annual Vienna conference on strategy (Wiener Strategiekonferenz), fourth in a row. The author of the article, subject to the knowledge of the German language and availability of publications on strategic issues – the first time was invited by the organizers in 2016. This year the conference remained unnoticed by the Russian scientific community. Meanwhile, the event deserves attention, including in connection with the ongoing Russian research in the field of strategy.

Defending identity

In 2016, organizers said the conference aims to create an international discussion platform for the development of the theory and practice of the strategy on the basis of the German linguistic and cultural space. Why German? Because the working language of the conference along with the German recognized as English. A number of speakers prefer to speak in English.

In a globalizing world, similarly advocated the originality of the German-speaking scientific thought with its rich traditions and achievements. The negative effects of globalization for the identity of peoples and States, including in the scientific sphere are understood by scientists. Non-confrontational way of maintaining identity maintaining identity and national science and culture.

As the response to globalization can be evaluated and such political and cultural phenomena as La Francophonie and Hispanophone. Most of the participants of the Vienna conference – representatives of German-speaking Austria, Germany and Switzerland. They demonstrate the capabilities of German scientific and expert community.

The performances of the participants are broadcast live on the YouTube channel. Carefully prepared with articles, a speaker at the conference goes to respectable German publisher Carola Hartmann Miles Verlag, specializing in issues of security policy and defence. The publication is entered in the German national bibliography (Deutsche Nationalbibliografie). Publishers tend not to present the results of the conference in the international index of scientific citation (as you know, English). In Russia, however, orientation is often imposed on the publication of scientific works in indexed journals.

Unusual for the big rush to the named citation indices and initiator and organizer of the conference "Austrian military journal" ("Österreichische militärische Zeitschrift"). The publication traces its history back to 1804, which in itself is evidence of its self-sufficiency. The magazine is the most authoritative periodicals in the German language, the publication of which is devoted to the problems of security and defense, military and law enforcement aspects of the policy. By the way, "Austrian military journal" in 2004 published an article by Sergei Ivanov, then defense Minister, about the changes in the Russian army.

Geopolitical vacation in Europe was over

The conference focused on the strategy, but not military strategy as the highest component of military art, and strategic public thinking generated as a result of analyzing the achievements of military science and the theory of military control. That is, comprehended the nature and content strategy, finding a verified, long-term and effective responses to the challenges of the future through a review of the strategic landscape of Europe, taking into account national interests of the countries.

The concept of "strategy" emerged, as you know, in the military sphere. Today it is the de facto has actively argued in political and academic discourse in Russia and abroad, often replacing the term "policy". We have the term "strategy" appeared in the name of the main doctrinal document in the field of national security in 2009. This was a "concept". Five years later, was adopted the Federal law "On strategic planning in the Russian Federation". Quite common and the name of the presidential decree "On the national goals and strategic objectives development of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2024", signed by Vladimir Putin on 7 may 2018, the day of his inauguration.

In recent years Russian researchers, the concept of "strategy" is interpreted in relation to the political sphere. However, it is used not always to the point and reasonable. Analysis of literature shows that well-established understanding of what the strategy is, is not developed. And yet the introduction of the concept in academic and political discourse indicates a need to overcome the uncertainty in the understanding of future ways of design. That is, to use the term "strategy" should be responsible, as the claim on the understanding and construction of the future to much obliges.

In the German-speaking space of Europe of interest to the scientific understanding of the strategy of the state is growing. In Austria examines the issues of public policies and its constituent parts – military strategy. In Russia, where the stated request of the leadership of the country to study the prospects of the country, the concept of "state strategy" has not yet entered fully into the scientific and political discourse. We have a de facto no articulated state strategy: in society and among the political elite is no consolidated view on where the country is headed, what it needs to represent, for example, 20 or 50 years. There is no understanding that the state strategy, you need a substantive vision of the future.

Participation in the Vienna conference allows, on the basis of participants ' claim of similar problems in the European political establishment. And statements at the conference in 2019 a German General Harald Kujata sound like accusations: "In the Bundestag sit dropout... European politicians lack perspective of understanding the situation". The General is not alone in such evaluations. Some speakers stated: geopolitical vacation in Europe was over. In the current context of European and Russian politicians it's time to start working to address the lack of strategic thinking, what the expert and scientific community, in fact, already started.

Athena settled in Austria

Why the initiator of the conference were Austria, a small European country for several decades following the policy of neutrality? It would seem that the privilege to possess its own strategy, above all, major geopolitical players that implement their will against the other. And the rest of the subjects remains to adapt.

But today, there are more signs that European States are not easy to be satisfied with the allotted role of repetition of the policy of others. In recent years, they fully felt the negative effects of decisions taken outside Europe. Suffice it to mention the Arab spring, the situation in Syria, Iran, Ukraine, anti-Russian sanctions, the destruction of strategic stability.

In most cases outside of Europe accept relevant solutions inspired by action without regard to its position. Europe does not have its leverage on what is happening. And how would the populists criticise Russia and not relied on "transatlantic solidarity", common sense says unfavorable for Europe the status quo develops as a result of the selfish actions of Washington, which is not considered with its partners and initiates chaotization of international relations. The culprit disclaims any responsibility and shifts the blame for the negative consequences in Europe also.

In the end, the political picture of the world changes, new centers of power. In these circumstances, Europe will not avoid self-determination and development of its strategy, it will not be able to evade declaring and outlining their own distinctive identity, their interests and priorities. Of course, claims about the imminent conflict, the US and Europe there is no reason, however, on the political agenda raises the question of an independent European strategy.

And here fully capable of Germany and Austria, because their achievements and traditions in the field of research and application of military strategy and strategic thinking is well recognized. In fact, Austria is organizing the conference, claims based on the historical traditions, the status of European strategic intellectual locomotive.

Chief editor of the "Austrian military magazine" Brigadier General Dr. Wolfgang Pixel subject deals with the study of strategy problems in this area are regularly presented in the magazine. It turns out that publication seeks to implement the idea of Vladimir Lenin, which in paraphrased form is this: the magazine is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator but also collective organizer. This intelligent technology is capable of integrating different research approaches to a comprehensive understanding of the strategy and to give impetus to the increment of scientific knowledge.

The Austrian side rather subtly uses the available opportunities to demonstrate their potential to meet the needs of strategy. The cover issued on the results of the conference rooms is decorated with an image of the sculpture of Pallas Athena in front of the Austrian Parliament. Athena, according to Greek mythology, was born from the head of Zeus in full military garb and became the goddess of wisdom and military strategy.

The Vienna conference can be compared with the annually held representative forums and the international security conference in Munich and Moscow. Established in Vienna format makes it impossible to do a thorough and substantive discussion, informal and continuous, at the level of experts.

In Vienna make presentations of well-known foreign specialists in the field of security policy and defense, high-ranking government executives (including at Ministerial level), active and retired military, mostly from European countries and the USA. Germany was represented by four-star generals Klaus Naumann and Harald Kujat, both previously held the positions of inspector General of the Bundeswehr, and later Chairman of the NATO military Committee. In 2018 and 2019, made presentations Karin Kneissl, and for the first time – the status of the Minister for foreign Affairs of Austria. In 2018 a report was made by the Deputy chief of the General staff of India for exploration General Vinod Chander.

Austria as the host country is attractive for several reasons. Officially a neutral country takes a constructive position towards Russia. Neutral status allows you to create conditions for the presentation at the conference different, sometimes polar points of view. Austrian researchers show interest in scientific principles and understanding of the meaning of security policy and defense of Russia, its strategic culture.

"Gerasimov doctrine"and not only

Since the first conference, Russia presented only by the author. As an exception, in 2019 the report in English were made by the expert on the issues of strategic stability Evgeny Buzhinsky, Chairman of the Center for political studies of Russia, Vice‑President of the Russian international Affairs Council.

The disengagement of the Russians hardly can be justified. Moreover, to convey accurate information about the position of Russia on key global issues, its policy, security policy and defence to target groups abroad is very difficult. This problem is fixed in the state strategic planning documents.

The impact of Russia on the situation is also not without flaws. A number of foreign experts and public figures, occupying a constructive position towards Russia and declaring it in the media, are perceived in the West as "supporters of the Kremlin". Created in our country with government support institutions of public diplomacy is often regarded abroad as instruments of propaganda – negative.

In the circumstances we are scarce, is not allocated as a priority to work with foreign experts. On its full-scale deployment, however. Undervalued and remains the potential of interaction with German experts and academic community. Although the foreign policy concept of the Russian Federation (article 48) "one of the directions of development of public diplomacy is the increased participation of representatives of scientific and expert community of Russia in the dialogue with foreign experts on issues of world politics and international security".

You need to make this dialogue productive? After all, these specialists will advise the foreign Ministry and the political leadership of their countries. They have the ability to shape public opinion in their countries and beyond them, to perceive the alternative information, and engage in a substantive and objective discussion. Therefore, it makes sense to provide Russian representatives with the opportunity to obtain relevant expert assessment from the experts and to convey the position of Russia through direct communication with them.

Working with them explicitly is complicated by the insufficient number of domestic researchers that have popular scientific publications, including in foreign languages on the problems of security and defense and is able to competently participate in discussions with foreign colleagues, including in an informal setting.

Such discussions for a variety of reasons, including due to the original bias, was not always friendly. To distrust and hostility had disappeared, the efforts and conditions and, most important, communicative and scientific competence of the participants. This is one of the lessons of the Vienna conference on strategy.

With a total weighted nature of the discussions at the conference meet and misinterpretation and criticism of Russia's policy, including in the sphere of security and defense. Accusing Russia of waging a "hybrid war", the desire to split the West, provocative military exercises, in supporting the bloody Assad regime, to implement the "Gerasimov doctrine"... It is settled abroad stable expression with the mention of the names of the chief of the Russian General staff used to refer to a "hybrid war" of Russia against "the poor" of the West. By the way, the book with the same title in German was presented to the author.

Provisions of the Military doctrine of Russia and other documents regulating the use of military force, often incorrectly interpreted, perhaps not without intention. Evidence of the aggressiveness of our country is considered, for example, the position of the doctrine of the legality of the use of military force to protect Russian citizens outside the country. In confirmation refers to the "annexation" of Crimea. Similarly, sometimes due to the issuance of Russian passports, because it must be followed by armed protection new citizens. In support of this strategy are historical analogy, until joining to the USSR Western Ukraine and Western Belarus.

The adoption of Russia's Military doctrine in 2014 due to the often alleged fear before Putin's possible "Maidan" in Moscow. Respectable colleagues from the Scandinavian countries demonstrated in their reports the belief that Russia here‑here will attack them. It was amazing to hear from the captain‑Lieutenant, the representative of the German Navy, on "the brutal power of Putin" in the Baltic sea. The list of such stories goes on.

As the Russians behave in this "ideological front"? Whether the answer is to simply twist a finger at a temple? Of course, you should be able to choose the right style of communication to bring relevant joke, sometimes poernichat, being civilly. When communicating with colleagues arise, and more complex situations. For example, how to answer the question the Professor from Iran, why Russia did not put his country's air defence missile system – a purely defensive system?..

You have to be ready for any dialogue, including in the environment, which initially wary perceives the speaker. Fortunately, the majority of the conference participants is inherent in the sober thinking and balanced tone, the interest in obtaining objective assessments of modern Russia, its politics. Participants are guided by truth: the more complex and contradictory relations between actors in international relations, the more intense must be the exchange of views among researchers and experts representing the parties.

Of course, naive to believe that after the establishment of interaction at the expert level, suddenly something will change in the perception of Russia in a favorable manner. That something has indeed changed, the work should be done systematically and continuously, on many fronts.

Russia needs a White book on defence and security

Biased perception of Russia, its actions in the international arena poses significant challenges for the implementation of policy and building relationships with partners. In conditions of growing information confrontation the country needs to build a flexible communication strategy. And the potential for its development and implementation are available.

I think will not require any significant cost and effort for the common translation in modern world languages and published on the information resources of public authorities of the key doctrinal documents: national security Strategy, foreign policy Concept, Military doctrine. It is interesting that the publication of such documents in different languages, including Russian, is practiced by some countries. For example, Germany and Japan.

The article Sergei Ivanov, unfortunately, today practically the only example of a coherent formal presentation by the Minister of defense positions of our country in the pages of foreign editions.

Promising publishing periodically the White book of security and defense of Russia, in which the target audience inside the country and abroad, explains and justifies the installation of doctrinal documents. Experience of preparing such works in Russia is available. The white paper can be translated into foreign languages. Objective perception of the policies and motives of Russia's actions may contribute to the issue with public support of specialized scientific periodicals in foreign languages on actual problems of foreign policy, security and defense.

The most desired guided discussion platform to exchange views with foreign colleagues, need competent staff, able to professionally and persuasively to convey the country's position in foreign languages. If necessary – in audience that is configured not friendly and even hostile. The condition of such activities and linguistic competence experts, specializing in the study of these problems.

In General it is clear that no state will, and system support in solving the extremely difficult task of maintaining steady communication with foreign experts do not.

Russia and Europe – on the threshold of transition to the strategic long-term thinking. But the transition is not guaranteed. In the context of globalization and the growing internationalization of science, it can take place only through an extensive mutual knowledge, mapping strategic experiences and strategic cultures. The Vienna conference on strategy is a positive example of how this can happen.

The current perception of our country and its policy requires persistently, consistently and competently to work with foreign experts. To prove myself in this field must, and the domestic scientific community.

Vasily Belozerov

Source: http://nvo.ng.ru/concepts/2019-10-04/6_1064_deficit.html

Tags: assessment , security