An interview with Alexander Dugin on the Syrian crisis.
Prof. Dugin, the world faces right now in Syria the biggest international crisis since the downfall of the Eastern Block in 1989/90. Washington and Moscow find themselves in a proxy-confrontation on the Syrian battleground. Is this a new situation?
Dugin: We have to see the struggle for geopolitical power as the old conflict of land power represented by Russia and sea power represented by the USA and its NATO partners. This is not a new phenomenon; it is the continuation of the old geopolitical and geostrategic struggle. The 1990s was the time of the great defeat of the land power represented by the USSR. Mikhail Gorbachev refused the continuation of this struggle. This was a kind of treason and resignation in front of the unipolar world. But with President Vladimir Putin in the early years of this decade, came a reactivation of the geopolitical identity of Russia as a land power. This was the beginning of a new kind of competition between sea power and land power.
How did this reactivation start?
Dugin: It started with the second Chechen war (1999-2009). Russia by that time was under pressure by Chechen terrorist attacks and the possible separatism of the northern Caucasus. Putin had to realize all the West, including the USA and the European Union, took sides with the Chechen separatists and Islamic terrorists fighting against the Russian army. This is the same plot we witness today in Syria or recently in Libya. The West gave the Chechen guerrillas support, and this was the moment of revelation of the new conflict between land power and sea power. With Putin, land power reaffirmed itself. The second moment of revelation was in August 2008, when the Georgian pro-Western Saakashvili regime attacked Zchinwali in South Ossetia. The war between Russia and Georgia was the second moment of revelation.
Is the Syrian crisis now the third moment of revelation?
Dugin: Exactly. Maybe it is even the final one, because now all is at stake. If Washington doesn´t intervene and instead accepts the position of Russia and China, this would be the end of the USA as a kind of unique superpower. This is the reason why I think Obama will go far in Syria. But if Russia steps aside and accepts the US-American intervention and if Moscow eventually betrays Bashar al-Assad, this would mean immediately a very hard blow to the Russian political identity. This would signify the great defeat of the land power. After this, the attack on Iran would follow and also on northern Caucasus. Among the separatist powers in the northern Caucasus there are many individuals who are supported by the Anglo-American, Israeli and Saudi powers. If Syria falls, they will start immediately the war in Russia, our country. Meaning: Putin cannot step aside; he cannot give up Assad, because this would mean the geopolitical suicide of Russia. Maybe we are right now in the major crisis of modern geopolitical history.
So right now both dominant world powers, USA and Russia, are in a struggle about their future existence…
Dugin: Indeed. At the moment there is no any other possible solution. We cannot find any compromise. In this situation there is no solution which would satisfy both sides. We know this from other conflicts, such as the Armenian-Azeri or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is impossible to find a solution for both sides. We witness the same now in Syria, but on a bigger scale. The war is the only way to make a reality check.
Dugin: We have to imagine this conflict as a type of card game like Poker. The players have the possibility to hide their capacities, to make all kinds of psychological tricks, but when the war begins all cards are in. We are now witnessing the moment of the end of the card game, before the cards are thrown on the table. This is a very serious moment, because the place as a world power is at stake. If America succeeds, it could grant itself for some time an absolutely dominant position. This will be the continuation of unipolarity and US-American global liberalism. This would be a very important moment because until now the USA hasn´t been able to make its dominance stable, but the moment they win that war, they will. But if the West loses the third battle (the first one was the Chechen war, the second was the Georgian war), this would be the end of the USA and its dominance. So we see: neither USA nor Russia can resign from that situation. It is simply not possible for both not to react.
Why does US-president Barrack Obama hesitate with his aggression against Syria? Why did he appeal the decision to the US-Congress? Why does he ask for permission that he doesn´t need for his attack?
Dugin: We shouldn´t make the mistake and start doing psychological analyses about Obama. The main war is taking place right now behind the scenes. And this war is raging around Vladimir Putin. He is under great pressure from pro-American, pro-Israeli, liberal functionaries around the Russian president. They try to convince him to step aside. The situation in Russia is completely different to the situation in USA. One individual, Vladimir Putin, and the large majority of the Russian population which supports him are on one side, and the people around Putin are the Fifth column of the West. This means that Putin is alone. He has the population with him, but not the political elite. So we have to see the step of the Obama administration asking the Congress as a kind of waiting game. They try to put pressure on Putin. They use all their networks in the Russian political elite to influence Putin´s decision. This is the invisible war which is going on right now.
Is this a new phenomenon?
Dugin: (laughs) Not at all! It is the modern form of the archaic tribes trying to influence the chieftain of the enemy by loud noise, cries and war drums. They beat themselves on the chest to impose fear on the enemy. I think the attempts of the US to influence Putin are a modern form of this psychological warfare before the real battle starts. The US-Administration will try to win this war without the Russian opponent on the field. For this they have to convince Putin to stay out. They have many instruments to do so.
But again: What about the position of Barrack Obama?
Dugin: I think all those personal aspects on the American side are less important than on the Russian side. In Russia one person decides now about war and peace. In the USA Obama is more a type of bureaucratic administrator. Obama is much more predictable. He is not acting on his behalf; he simply follows the middle line of US-American foreign politics. We have to realize that Obama doesn´t decide anything at all. He is merely the figurehead of a political system that makes the really important decisions. The political elite makes the decisions, Obama follows the scenario written for him. To say it clearly, Obama is nothing, Putin is everything.
You said Vladimir Putin has the majority of the Russian population on his side. But now it is peace time. Would they also support him in a war in Syria?
Dugin: This is a very good question. First of all, Putin would lose much of his support if he does not react on a Western intervention in Syria. His position would be weakened by stepping aside. The people who support Putin do this because they want to support a strong leader. If he doesn´t react and steps aside because of the US pressure, it will be considered by the majority of the population as a personal defeat for Putin. So you see it is much more Putin´s war than Obama´s war. But if he intervenes in Syria he will face two problems: Russian society wants to be a strong world power, but it is not ready to pay the expenses. When the extent of these costs becomes clear, this could cause a kind of shock to the population. The second problem is what I mentioned already, that the majority of the political elite are pro-Western. They would immediately oppose the war and start their propaganda by criticizing the decisions of Putin. This could provoke an inner crisis. I think Putin is aware of these two problems.
When you say the Russians might be shocked by the costs of such a war, isn´t there a danger that they might not support Putin because of that?
Dugin: I don´t think so. Our people are very heroic. Let us look back in history. Our people were never ready to enter a war, but if they did, they won that war despite the costs and sacrifices. Look at the Napoleonic wars or World War II. We Russians lost many battles, but eventually won those wars. So we are never prepared, but we always win.