Minding Isis Threat Jointly (full text of article by Ambassador Yakovenko for London Evening Standard)
Now, that John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov, Ashton Carter and Sergey Shoigu have talked Syria, and Gideon Rachman, Martin Wolf and Con Coughlin have spoken in the pages of their papers, it is easy for me to make out Russia's case for a united front against Isis. I could also cite Niall Ferguson, who dwells on Henry Kissinger's foreign policy philosophy (in the Foreign Affairs), which says, inter alia, that choices are rarely between good and evil, but rather between shades of bad.
But still, there are moments of truth which introduce compelling clarity in a tough situation one faces. It is when we come across something that is not just beyond the pale, but constitutes absolute evil. And that is what Isis represents. Having nothing to do with Islam, this rump of the former Iraqi regime bets on living off the sectarian divide in the Arab and Islamic world and impunity, provided by a geopolitical warp.
Could the outside world manage it? When the Nazis came to power in Germany many in Europe and beyond thought so, hoping Hitler could solve the problem of the Soviet Union, with Germany itself bleeding white. This calculus turned out to be disastrous for Europe and the world.
Nowadays, the same hope seems to inspire the anti-Isis coalition, the hope of squeezing Damascus with the help of terrorists while putting pressure on Moscow, or worse, defeating both Assad and Isis at the same time. The outcome so far has been abysmal.
Russia is not playing the game of chicken. We have allies in the region, who are no less threated by Isis and its ideology of hatred and its obsession to turn the clock of history back several centuries. Neither are we in the business of weaponization of both finance and flows of migrants/refugees. We strongly believe, and have always been saying so, that problems of the region can only be managed by a truly collective international effort with legitimacy provided by the UN Security Council mandate. The road to political settlement in Syria lies through pragmatic compromise, not ultimata nor preconditions.
Henry Kissinger in his World Order, writes that it is the sign of our times that major political decisions "must be made before it is possible to know what the outcome may be". Thus, common sense, sober analysis and moral convictions continue to provide guidance. What helps is the fact that all processes in our time evolve at accelerated pace. We don't have to wait for many years, like in 1930-ies to see the shape of things to come. Things are pretty much clear already.
It is high time that our Western partners give up Darwinist trust in things sorting themselves out automatically, which has been the only strategy in the West after the Cold War end. There is nothing creative about resulting destruction and self-destruction. It simply doesn't work neither in the markets, nor in international affairs. All of us need, indeed, "a strategy that allows for the complexity of the journey".