Nearly two weeks ago, Peter Pomerantsev, writing for Foreign Affairs, published an article about “How Putin Is Reinventing Warfare”. He alleges that Russia is engaging in “non-linear warfare”, strong alluding that this poses a threat to the West. If one can read between the lines of his biased and subjective approach, he is in actuality describing a very real and objective development – the restoration of Russian power and global standing. His ire is likely due to Russia now being able to deflect international information and media assaults against it and its policies and finally promote the truth. Pomerantsev then goes on a peculiar ranting spiel where he alleges a convoluted metaphor of Russia conspiring to be a “corporate raider”, an exercise in exasperation which will likely only reach those with pre-existing anti-Russian beliefs. It is the end of his article, however, that forms the basis of this response to it. Pomerantsev uses the analogy of the West’s “global village” versus Russia’s “non-linear warfare” to make his final point in throwing mud at Russia. In reality, there is not one “global village”, but rather, many regional civilizational villages that are experiencing Western raids and “non-linear warfare”, and they have finally started to band together to stop the marauders.
The liberal end of history (aka “the global village”) does not exist outside of ideological fantasy, and the world is instead divided into civilizational zones (regional villages) united around certain actors (Russia, China, Islamic pillars, the West). This forms the basis of the running metaphor that will be utilized below to advance the claim of the West waging non-linear warfare against the Rest.
Repeated raids from Western marauders and bandits, whose village is the only one seeking to expand, loot, and plunder, has resulted in parts of the other villages being burnt down. In the past decade, the Islamic village experienced this the worst, with conflagrations decimating its Afghan, Iraqi, Libyan, and now Syrian neighborhoods. Currently, the Eurasian village is having to deal with a fire in Ukraine, one that was purposely set to spread to the Russian core. However, as a result of these repeated raids, the regional villages have formed self-defense forces and are now working together to put out the fires and stop the raiding. Experience has taught them how to successfully resist and defy the Western village. In the real world, the success of international media firms (RT, Press TV, CCTV, Telesur) shows that media and information assaults can in fact be deflected and that perception management and national PR initiatives are not under the sole monopoly of the West.
Pomerantsev’s claims that “(economic) interconnection also means that Russia can get away with aggression” could not be more opposite to the truth. The Western village is actually two large ones, the US and the EU, and the American village grew out of the EU one and now controls its creator. In this case, the suburb controls the center, so to speak. It is the interconnection between the Eurasian (Russian) and EU villages that serves as the real check on further US aggression against the former. When not marauding and raiding, the Western village also tries to infiltrate the others via NGOs and Color Revolutions. Once it flips some members of the village and/or installs its pick as village leader, these turncoat individuals can “open the gates from within”, promote mutiny, and lead to the annexation of the village into the Western-dominated expanding sprawl.
Pulling back from the metaphor, the Brzezinski Doctrine (“The Eurasian Balkans”) is the definition of non-linear warfare and subversive destabilization. It uses NGOs as destabilizing elements within the targeted states, and for this reason, foreign-funded NGOs are required to register as “foreign agents” inside the Russian Federation. Gene Sharp’s writings have also provided pivotal tactical advice in advancing the West’s non-linear warfare strategy. Taking the use of non-state actors even further, the West has a history of promoting militarized proxy groups to carry out its policies. This is most clearly seen in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, although other countries have also been victims of this underhanded method of war. On the other hand, the West obviously engages in conventional warfare as well. Nowhere is this more evident than in the 2003 Iraq War. Mixing the two methods together is the new trend of American foreign policy. A non-linear campaign of militarized proxy destabilization culminated in a conventional NATO bombing in Libya. After this “success”, the West then turned its sights on Syria, but as a result of adroit Russian foreign policy maneuvers, non-linear warfare was stymied from mutating into its conventional form.
Pomerantsev’s article also use fear mongering and heavy hype to scare the audience into thinking that Russia is proactively forming some kind of imaginary coalition against the West from within. If there happens to exist an overlap of perceived interests and objectives between Russia and domestic Western actors, it is because both parties arrived at the same conclusions after undergoing the same process – experiencing Western unipolar dominance and discriminatory targeting for two decades. For example, “Euro-scepticism” is also seen in Southeast Asia by the ASEAN members’ reluctance to form an EU-like union. The flower of New Leftism and resistance ideology in South America organically began to bloom in the 2000s, tended over by Hugo Chavez. In a similar fashion, the traditionally conservative societies of India, China, and Africa are just as disgusted as Russia’s by certain Western-centric values, such as the “bearded woman” of Eurovision. In laboratory conditions, the cause (Western dominance) has thus been proven to repeatedly result in similar effects all across the world, thereby confirming the hypothesis that Russia and others arrive at their conclusions on their own. There is no “contradictory kaleidoscope of messages”, as each actor’s resistance and defiance to the West, for various reasons and in differing forms, were a natural development.
To conclude, there are currently multiple civilizational liberation struggles playing out in the Pandora’s Box-setting of Western-led post-modernism. This is not a new page in the old historical story, but an absolutely new edition that is still being written. The Rest, absolutely diverse in their identity and overall mission, are coming together to stop the Western steamroller. They must work together to repel its aggression and safeguard the right to practice their identity and move forward with their historical mission as they individually deem fit. It is the democratic and sovereign choice of each civilization to be able to conduct itself how it pleases, but in order to get to that point, they must be liberated from the terror of the Western threat. These villages do not want to raze the Western one, so to speak, but they understand that the West will raze them if they can’t be annexed. In this manner, they are engaged in a do-or-die struggle, and at no time before in their histories has the situation been more dire. The Rest is slowly coalescing into providing a unified front against the Western menace, hoping to neutralize its raids and incursions so that they can once more go about their civilizational business in constructing and solidifying their societies. If, as Pomerantsev states, Russia and the Rest are anti-Western “raiders”, then yes, the future surely does belong to these resistant and defiant actors.
Andrew Korybko is the American Master’s Degree student at the Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO).