Who is better: a hare or a tortoise? Is it better to give the ball to Ronaldo? What star wars will the mankind conduct in the future? What does von Clausewitz think about it? The third day of the Annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club on October 17 was sparked with metaphors and hints. Many questions and many answers here in our analytical summary.
Session 4. Economics for a New Development Philosophy
The day began with a session (according to the Chatham House rules), dedicated to the philosophy of economic development. Among the speakers there were government representatives responsible for the economic sector, and entrepreneurs who are successful in Russia and manage to develop their business under sanctions. So each of the parties was able to hear the other and discuss the most painful issues.
Fyodor Lukyanov, research director of the Valdai Discussion Club, said two days earlier at the meeting with graduates of the Sirius Educational Center, that “our country is rich in all senses, but the discussion от economics is always a fairy tale”. Why? Because the world was swept by the fever of the sanctions and trade wars, and it is not clear what bans will be imposed against Russia tomorrow, how we will cope with them: there’s no time for development, just to repel the blows.
However, at the session it turned out that business representatives, at least some of them, agricultural workers, do not see anything wrong with economic sanctions - on the contrary, they thank Merkel, Obama and Hollande for sanctions and even plan to erect a monument to them, since Russia's response to Western sanctions played into the hands of the domestic producers.
After the introduction of sanctions in 2014, protectionism in the form of import ban on the European and American foodstuff to Russia began to work in the country, the state began to invest in the development of domestic business. From the point of view of domestic producers protectionism is wonderful. “We want to rush into Europe, like our grandfathers during World War II, not on tanks, but on trucks with domestic cheese,” one of the speakers disclosed his plans for a brighter future with sanctions.
On the contrary, from the point of view of the authorities, external factors mainly have a negative impact on the Russian economy. It is not worth to rely on growth in the era of trade wars. On the other hand, trade wars provide new opportunities that Russia can use in its favor. In particular, they are in the markets of developing countries due to the increase of import duties for their goods.
There is another good news: during the crisis of 2014, at least in terms of macroeconomics, all the lessons were learned, and Russia entered the new stage of market volatility with a good financial position and balance of payments. The problem of the country's food security has been resolved - most groups of goods Russia produces by 100%.
Representatives of business and government agreed that there are two serious problems that prevent business development - a high key interest rate (7%), without normal access to credits, and heavy tax burden. As a result, only raw materials companies earn big money. Moreover, business in Russia faces administrative, regulatory pressure and suffers of energy prices equalization for export and for the domestic market.
One of the participants noted that while Russia depends on oil sales (even if the price of oil is growing), the economy will remain in stagnation. Now it is developing more slowly than in developed and moderately developed countries.
In economic development, he said, there are two algorithms: the “turtle algorithm” and the “hare algorithm”. The turtle with armor crawls slowly towards the target, while the hare runs. The turtle, of course, will also come to the finish line, but hare will be far ahead and there will be new target in front of it. Today, all countries are hares, all run, but Russia is a tortoise that builds its armor - “stability”. “Stability is in one thing - stable and slow growth,” he said skeptically.
The solution to the "turtle" problem, in his opinion, is diversification and economic growth, where access to credits is necessary (that is, a low interest rate) and normal taxes that would help businesses grow.
One businessman said that if a breakthrough is possible in Russia, it should be a bet on small business and artisans. But for them it is necessary to create all the conditions and not to interfere, literally: “give the ball to Ronaldo, and then he will do everything himself.”
Session 5. The Demands of Society and Responses by the State
In Nikolai Nekrasov’s poem “The Forgotten Village” there is such a line: “Here comes the master - the master will judge us.” It is impossible not to remember it, when we speak about the dialogue between society and the authorities. Although since the poet wrote it more than 150, the “master” (authorities) and “people” (society) are not the same (the world has gone through several wars and revolutions, including scientific and technical ones), the message is still relevant. The society wants to be heard, wants its problems to be solved, especially from above.
According to one participant, it is important that people with their needs are heard and understood. But in current informatization of society, one must try very hard not to hear the demands of the society. The dialogue is active now, including social networks. And although there are several problems - for example, fake news, garbage information, bots that manipulate public opinion, accusations that pro-government trolls run the show, the request, which can be called populist, still exists: low-ranking officials may hide information that is inconvenient for them, but via internet with social networks citizens can communicate with the authorities directly.
So, technology has seriously expanded the possibilities of dialogue, and information transparency makes the state to be much more sensitive. Not in vain, as one of the participants said, the need for constant communication today is the key to electoral rhetoric: the government did not hear the people, now the dialogue will be permanent.
Another participant said, that historically the state is created when people cannot solve problems on their own and need institutions. Then the state becomes stronger, it begins to absorb those functions that were not intended for it. Then the civil society rises. And it is unthinkable without public figures, who often cooperate with the state to help other people. Oddly enough, it is possible today. According to the speaker, the state (of course, we are talking about Russia), seeing the real work of a public figure and supporting his initiative, is not interested in his political views: "Do your job, and we are not interested in everything else." This is a plus. The minus appears from an unexpected side: those public figures who managed to achieve something while cooperating with the authorities, are ostracized by their former comrades: “What did they buy you with?” These are peculiarities of the Russian mentality: we need a master who will not only judge , but the one who is to blame. “We understand that the authorities need to adapt themselves to work with us, but we also need to learn how to work with the authorities,” the speaker said.
One of the participants (a foreigner) noted that, according to his observations, in the USSR during the Cold War the system determined what the citizens needed, and now it is vice versa, this is a completely new approach when society forms a request to the state.
Now people want not only to be heard, but also to listen to. And the government should become more open, the people should know that "men in power are people too." We must show our human nature to the electorate, explain why it is impossible to do this or that, not to distance ourselves from the people, not to neglect them. Otherwise, the formula will be displayed immediately: “they are not us,” “officials are aliens”.
Special session. War of the Future: What should We Prepare for?
The discussion about the war of the future began with a simple question: what is war in general? The question was asked by the moderator of the session Andrey Bezrukov, Associate Professor, MGIMO University. He said, that if before you were attacked with a sword and a shield, it was clear that you must take a sword and a shield to defend yourself. Now everything is rather blurry: can we call economic sanctions as interference in the political affairs of the country? It is clear, that if two elephants are fighting with tusks, this means war, and if someone comes up to the other and begins to budge him - how to call it? Can we consider it as a war?
Andrew Monaghan, Director of Research on Russia and Northern European Defence and Security at the Oxford Changing Character of War Centre at Pembroke College, said that, of course, war includes both economic and political components, but above all - it is human sacrifice, human suffering and fear. The problem is, that the Euro-Atlantic community and Russia perceive the term “war” differently: for the Euro-Atlantic community, economic sanctions are measures outside war, and Russia considers them as war.
There are three signs of war. First: violence, battle, the second: defense - the side that was attacked must fight back in order not to be destroyed, the third: scale - size matters, that is, slaughter is not always a war. And if we talk about an elephant that simply pushes another elephant - then this is not a war, it is a competition.
According to Thomas Gomart, Director of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), war means human losses and does not include economic sanctions and other measures and areas. He recalled that on November 11, Paris will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, and the first thing he thinks about it is human sacrifice. Did we have enough human losses to avoid war in the future?
Dmitry Suslov, expert on international relations, has a radically opposite point of view. He stated that the modern understanding of war should not be reduced to human losses.
The speakers constantly turned to Prussian military thinker Karl von Clausewitz for “help”. He, in particular, wrote:
Arvind Gupta, Director of the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), also said that this concept should not be narrowed down. There are many expressions explaining the essence of war: non-linear, endless, hybrid ... And this proves that today's war covers all spheres: cultural, diplomatic, economic, technological, and so on.
Trying to look beyond the horizon, Gupta recalled the main metaphor of the first Valdai session - the “crumbling world” and suggested that the number of conflicts in the future will grow. “We see the contours of the new world order through the ruins of the old one, which has not yet disappeared. The world is changing, new alliances are emerging, new powers are growing, and this will increase the number of conflicts. We live in an interdependent world, and the fog of war is thickening,” he said.
Richard Weitz, Director and Senior Fellow at the Center for Political-Military Analysis, Hudson Institute, said that it was difficult to project what the future war would look like, but if you recall the lessons of history, the consequences can be horrifying. For example, no one, no government expected that the First World War would turn into a slaughterhouse, a major catastrophe of the 20th century. According to Weitz, the main danger of the future is the proliferation of nuclear weapons among states that are not members of the so-called “nuclear club” and especially to non-state actors like terrorists. We live in an era of globalization, and a situation may arise when a third party will push China and the United States or Russia and the United States into a big conflict.
Thomas Gomart, in turn, suggested that the war of the future would be more dangerous than the previous ones because of a combination of conventional and nuclear weapons. Yes, this problem is not new, but it has become much more complicated due to the increase of the number of nuclear powers. The risk of using nuclear weapons in the 21st century is higher than at the time of the Cold War end.
According to Andrey Frolov, Editor-in-chief of the “Arms export” magazine, the future is a lottery, and we can only project our historical experience into the future.
Frolov believes, that despite the development of leading states, regional players will not disappear from the world arena. There will be a standoff between man and machine, and a weaker opponent will use alternative actions. Today, ISIS (banned in the Russian Federation) is dragging pieces of cloth on the streets and digging tunnels in order to depreciate the gigantic technological advantage of a high-precision adversary in such primitive ways. We will see similar things in the future, but using technological models.
The role of the state in the development of weapons will continue to decline, but those technologies that carry a high risk - weapons of mass destruction - will be controlled by the state.
If we talk about new generation weapons, then the issue of price is important. This is an expensive (and dubious) "pleasure." The leading Western countries, spending big money on social programs and supporting an arms race, will end up with a dilemma: what to choose - defense or electorate?
The most optimistic speaker of the session was Stanislav Kuznetsov, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank. He said that the threat of a forthcoming cyberwar is greatly exaggerated by politicians. According to him, today the main target of cyber attacks are banks. 84% of cybercriminals are simple scammers. Their goal is to steal money. So this is still far from cyber war, this is cyber fraud.
However, about 90% of sectors of the economy are subject to digitalization, and, of course, it is necessary to protect them. Now cybercriminals feel unpunished, because there are no international rules regulating this sphere. “Hackers have no boundaries, and we cannot even meet to talk and develop rules in the field of cyber security,” Kuznetsov said. “If this is so serious, then it's time to discuss the situation.”
Concluding the “warlike” discussion, Bezrukov noted that the session participants could not give a clear definition of war, did not clarify how it will be conducted, and this only adds fog to the future war. This Valdai session can be a driver to continue the vital discussion. No country, no government can solve this problem alone: we need a dialogue if we do not want our world to perish in bloodshed. “That is, maybe people will walk on the ground, but not a single building will stand, that’s for sure,” Bezrukov joked gloomily, probably hinting at the title of the new Valdai report “Life in a Crumbling World.”
Special session. My View of Russia. Conversation with Valery Gergiev, Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Theatre
There is no need to present Valery Gergiev - everyone remembers how in May 2016 the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra gave a concert in the Palmyra Amphitheater, liberated by the Syrian army with the support of the Russian military. In 2008 he gave a concert in Tskhinval to commemorate civilian casualties in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. The Valdai Club experts were lucky to meet with the conductor and hear his views on war and peace, politics and, of course, music. Moderator was Fleming Rose, writer and journalist, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
According to Gergiev, any war crosses out hopes for the future. War is a terrible thing, payment for the past. When the conductor was asked about the emotions that he experienced during the concerts in Ossetia and Palmyra, he said: “Emotion is only one - this should not have happened. <...> How low a person can fall down is what I brought from these hard concerts. <...> As for Palmyra, I, like many, share the grief of the Syrian people. The legitimate government of Syria, or as it is called in the West, the “Assad regime,” should have to keep Palmyra. This is my position. ”
“A few months after our concert in Palmyra, it again passed into the hands of ISIS and was destroyed. How could an enlightened Europe allow this to happen? - Gergiev asked rhetorically. “And how can you talk about this calmly?”
In his opinion, the current state of the world is very alarming: “The chances of our children’s survival are very elusive. This is my feeling. ”
Gergiev believes that Russia, China and America are three equal levels. “Russians want to live in peace, to have their own independent policy. In the 1990s, Russia was on its knees. Now we are on our feet, under sanctions, but on our feet. The conductor shared his impressions about America: “You speak of “America for Trump ” or “without Trump ”. I have been in America 150 times, but I have never seen two Americas before, but now I see them. My friends and I don’t talk about politics, because they stop eating, they don’t want to drink when you call the name of their president. ”
“If you ask me: “And if you were invited to live in the USA ”, (as I was invited once), I would tell you that I would come on tour, but I would stay to live in Russia,” the conductor said. And it is priceless.
Thus ended the penultimate day of the Annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club
We remind you that the Valdai Club Annual meeting will last four days - from October 15 to October 18. Most of the sessions will traditionally follow the Chatham House rules, which presumes the anonymity of all discussions. But this does not mean that no one will know the conclusions reached by the experts. First, we will prepare for our readers analytical summaries on the results of the day. Second, the most interesting discussions are open.
You can watch the Live broadcasts of these sessions on our website, the Programme is right here:
14:00-16:00 Plenary session (Live broadcast)
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