As the US and Europe push forward with continued sanctions against Russia, an intriguing economic battle is taking shape, one which will have significant repercussions for years to come. While Washington and Brussels seek to divide Russia from Europe in order to maintain Western hegemony – blocking Eurasian integration by definition – Moscow is counteracting this strategy by leveraging its economic power in the form of energy exports and cooperation.
Although most of the economic machinations have flown under the radar, being less headline-grabbing than the conflict over Ukraine, extended sanctions, or the NATO military buildup, in reality they are equally important. Russia’s energy giant Gazprom has entered into economically and strategically critical deals with key western companies at precisely the same moment that the West seeks to isolate Russia economically. Simultaneously, Russian-sponsored gas pipelines in the North and South of Europe (as well as in Central and East Asia) complicate matters for those who would seek to alienate Russia from the European market and the potential political and economic power that access to that market brings.
From a geopolitical and strategic perspective, Russia’s ongoing conflict with the US and its European subordinates is being manifested as much in the boardrooms as in the halls of parliaments; as much under the Baltic and Black Seas, as in the war rooms of the Pentagon and Kremlin.
VIENNA – So today is not D-Day. No landing in post-Wall of Mistrust territory. A nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 won’t be clinched today – for a number of very complex reasons, way beyond the vicious media information war; not least finding the absolute, exact wording in every line of 85 pages of text.
It still amounts, for all the bluster and the dramatic turnarounds, to a question of trust. Rather, breaching the 36-year-plus Wall of Mistrust between Washington and Tehran.
There are breakthroughs, of course. On the status of the Fordo research site, for instance, for the first time both sides reached an agreement. Compare it to the cosmic gap — exacerbated by the American wordplay — on the gradual lifting of sanctions.
The Electric Yerevan protest provides us with an excellent opportunity to review some of the basic underlying mechanics and psychology of the Color-Spring tactic. It is important to share these publicly, for it is indeed probable that the Color-Spring tactic will be increasingly applied in the world as a “hybrid soft-power/hard-power tactic”.
A moral principle held by Gene Sharp, who was one of the tactic’s main developers, was that violence is not necessary for revolution. What is strange, contradictory, even dishonest here is that violence is reduced taxonomically to the physical violence of the state’s gendarmes against the civilians. But we know that violence comes in many forms.
We live in a time of great violence; physical, psychological, legal, economic, spiritual violence. Not only has the Color Revolution tactic engendered the latter four, but its mutation into the Arab Spring tactic also employs heinous physical violence. We can see today, tens of thousands dead in Libya, hundreds of thousands in Syria, and a mounting figure in Ukraine which threatens to surpass the precedents.
Novices to political science and political activism may be lured by the spectre and spectacle of the Color Revolution method that has characterized ostensible movements for radical social change in the last generation. The symbols have become iconic and clichéd: the tent city, the die-in, the girl placing flowers in the gendarme’s gun barrels, water cannons and tear-gas, the fist flag.