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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hard Power, At Any Cost?

71 seconds from last week´s record snap drills in Russia.

Last week´s enormous snap drills in Russia and the news about greater US-Russian involvement in the war in Syria have yet to be reacted upon by the Swedish government, at least openly. While we are waiting for reactions we might consider what Sergei Witte, prime minister of the Russian Empire, said a hundred years ago about the importance of hard power:

In truth, what is it that has essentially upheld Russian statehood? Not only primarily, but exclusively the army. Who created the Russian Empire, transforming the semi-Asiatic Muscovite tsardom into the most influential, most dominant, grandest European power? Only the power of the army's bayonet. The world bowed not to our culture, not to our bureaucratized church, not to our wealth and prosperity. It bowed to our might.

In other words, soft power could never substitute for traditional hard power. The big question now is if anyone in today´s Russian political elite has any other opinion than Sergei Witte?

Second big question: are the costs for obtaining greater hard power in today´s world truly irrelevant? Kazimierz Waliszewski wrote on the essence of Russia: "the readiness and power to ignore the cost in obtaining a desired result". Does this apply just as much today?

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