This is a republication of a post authored by Andrew Korybko, which was first published in OneWorld Press. It has been adapted with full permission obtained from the author.
The Alt-Media Community (AMC) is generally comprised of well-intended folks who sincerely support the global systemic transition to multipolarity because they’re rightly convinced that it’ll lead to a more democratic, equal, and just world order, but many of them are regrettably influenced by wishful thinking. President Putin cautioned against this when speaking to veterans and staff of his foreign intelligence service (SVR) earlier this summer, but his words are also relevant for the AMC too.
Wishful thinking results in unrealistic assessments that in turn contribute to the formulation of ineffective (and possibly even counterproductive) policies whenever it’s embraced by government officials. Members of the AMC, meanwhile, are imbued with false expectations that inevitably result in deep disappointment, which makes them emotionally susceptible to falling for weaponized narratives pushed by hostile information warfare forces. It’s therefore urgent to clarify the reality.
I have a proud track record of doing this over the years in order to dispel false perceptions about sensitive issues pertaining to Russian interests and policy. What follows is a brief list of some of my most notable clarifications, all of which contradicted the prevailing narratives of the AMC at the time. The purpose of sharing them is for new readers to understand the reason why this analysis is taking a page from the same playbook by sharing 10 politically tough takeaways about the latest Kyrgyz-Tajik clashes:
* 24 August 2020: “Constructive Criticisms Of Russian Strategy, And In Particular Towards Belarus”
* 10 November 2020: “The End Of The Nagorno-Karabakh War: Retrospection, Clarification, And Forecast”
* 13 November 2020: “Analytical Reflections: Learning From The Nagorno-Karabakh Fiasco”
* 26 February 2021: “Why Isn’t Alt-Media Asking About The S-300s After Biden’s Latest Strike In Syria?”
* 1 February 2022: “The Twists & Turns Of Russian-Indian Ties Over The Past Few Years”
* 12 September 2022: “Is It Time For A More Muscular Policy To Replace Russia’s Special Military Operation?”
* 13 September 2022: “Alt-Media Analysts Should Stop Obsessing Over Kiev’s Casualty Count”
These analyses confirm that I’ve never shied away from sharing “politically incorrect/inconvenient” interpretations of sensitive subjects in order to clarify everyone’s understanding of them. I’m always concerned whenever I see my peers sharing views that I personally believe to be inaccurate since I worry about the outcome that I earlier described. With this in mind, here are my 10 politically tough takeaways from the latest Kyrgyz-Tajik clashes, the background of which can be read here:
The Global Systemic Transition to Multipolarity is Chaotic
Everyone can still support the overall direction in which the confluence of these full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes is moving while also acknowledging that its unintended consequence is that International Relations has become much more chaotic than ever.
Preexisting Fault Lines are Re-Erupting Across the Global South
The US-led West’s Golden Billion is working hard to divide and rule pairs of partners and rivals alike across the BRICS-led Global South, but the point to emphasize is that their Hybrid War campaigns exploit preexisting fault lines, some of which are naturally re-erupting without any external meddling required.
Soviet-Era Delineation Turned Central Asia into a Tinderbox
Supporters claim that Stalin intended to preemptively avert identity conflicts in this historically cosmopolitan region of the USSR while cynics accuse him of deliberately dividing and ruling its people, but regardless of his motives, there’s no doubt that his legacy turned Central Asia into a tinderbox.
Increasingly Scarce Resources are Driving Regional Conflict
Whether in Central Asia or wherever else across the world, increasingly scarce resources like fresh water are becoming the real driving force behind regional conflicts even if they’re also influenced by other factors or opportunistically claimed by their perception managers to supposedly be sparked by them.
The Pursuit of Sovereignty is Leading to the Rise of Nationalism
President Putin accurately pinpointed the contemporary zeitgeist earlier this summer when explaining the growing importance of sovereignty in International Relations, but the pursuit thereof is regrettably leading to the rise of nationalist views in many impoverished Global South societies like Central Asia’s.
Border Skirmishes are Politically Convenient Pressure Valves
The explosion of nationalist sentiment is influencing some Global South leaders to cynically resort to border skirmishes as politically convenient pressure valves to distract their impoverished people from turning against them and thus artificially unify their societies in the face of an alleged external threat.
Unconventional Threats Influence Muscular Signaling Abroad
Some Global South leaders believe that muscular signaling abroad can help deter unconventional threats at home, which in Kyrgyzstan’s case is to avoid another Color Revolution through the abovementioned means while Tajikistan wants the Taliban and ISIS-K to not consider it a pushover.
Multipolar Organizations & Russian Bases Don’t Deter Regional Clashes
Contrary to one of the AMC’s top dogmas, membership in multipolar organizations like the CSTO & SCO and the presence of Russian bases don’t deter regional clashes, which is proven by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan being members of both groups while also hosting their mutual defense ally’s troops.
Russia Doesn’t Have Full Control of Contemporary Central Asian Dynamics
Despite Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan being part of the Russian-led CSTO and also hosting its forces, that Eurasian Great Power doesn’t have full control over those two’s military policies nor of contemporary regional dynamics in general, which greatly limits its ability to preempt and resolve regional clashes.
The US Will Exploit Central Asian Clashes to Try to Obtain Regional Bases
Neither combatant can host foreign forces without the consensual approval of their CSTO allies, but the US will certainly try to influence one of them to withdraw like Uzbekistan previously did on the pretext that they’re displeased with Russia for not supporting them in order to then host its forces instead.
What Should Russia Do?
Here’s what Russia should do in the face of these “politically incorrect/inconvenient” challenges:
Immediately Dispel All Wishful Thinking that “Everything’s Fine”
No Russian official should remain under the false influence of wishfully thinking that “everything’s fine” in Central Asia lest they continue formulating ineffective and even counterproductive policies, though belatedly recognizing the reality of how serious everything is shouldn’t lead to an overreaction either.
Urgently Organize & Lead Another CSTO Peacekeeping Mission
Russia’s experience in urgently organizing and leading the CSTO’s peacekeeping mission earlier this year in Kazakhstan for decisively ending the Hybrid War of Terror that was being waged against it at the time means that it can also do the same for ending the latest Kyrgyz-Tajik clashes too.
Build Upon Military De-Escalation with Tangible Political Progress
The latest clashes will regularly re-erupt and might ultimately escalate into an all-out war unless their root causes are sustainably addressed, hence the importance of building upon military de-escalation with tangible political progress such as via the creation of a CSTO- and/or SCO-led border commission.
Acknowledge that Multilateral Solutions are Inevitable
For as much as some Russian officials might want to continue considering Central Asia to be their “backyard” (which is a euphemism for their “sphere of influence”), they need to acknowledge that multilateral solutions are inevitable due to the irreversible impact of multipolar processes.
Consider Equally Cooperating with Relevant Regional Stakeholders
Accordingly, while arguments can be made in favor of the Russian-led CSTO remaining the exclusive mechanism for sustainably resolving the latest clashes between its members, there’s also something to be gained by involving the SCO and especially the two combatants’ shared Chinese neighbor.
Prepare the Domestic, Regional, & International Audiences
Should Russian officials finally apply President Putin’s caution against wishful thinking, and particularly with respect to Central Asia by accepting the inevitability of multilateral solutions in their “sphere of influence” there, then their media must begin preparing all audiences for everything that this entails.
Coordinate Clarifications in Order to Maintain Credibility
Policymakers should signal to Russian media (the foreign flagships of which aren’t “state-controlled”) and leading AMC influencers that they should indirectly coordinate the recalibration of their prior analyses/reporting in order to effectively clarify this new reality and avoid confusing their audience.
Revise Russia’s Envisaged Role in the Multipolar Transition
The preceding proposals all share the common thread of Russia’s role in the multipolar transition more accurately aligning with the reality of its capabilities and limitations, which must also be accepted by policymakers, who’ll then revise their envisaged role in order to formulate more effective policies.
Update the Popular Perception of Russia’s Role in Multipolarity
Pursuant to the above, the perception among many of Russia’s role in multipolarity should be comprehensively updated after Moscow becomes more comfortable accepting that it doesn’t have a “sphere of influence” in Central Asia and must therefore multilaterally coordinate with others there.
Incorporate Feedback Loops into Policy Formulation & Implementation
The only way to sustain the strategic progress that the sequence of policies proposed above is intended to achieve is to incorporate feedback loops into policy formulation and implementation so as to preemptively identify and effectively respond to emerging challenges and limitations as they arise.
A calm, objective, and sober reading of the 10 politically tough takeaways from the latest Kyrgyz-Tajik clashes proves that many of the AMC’s narratives about the global systemic transition to multipolarity are just wishful thinking, particularly those related to events in what they consider to be Russia’s “sphere of influence”. Far from everything being fine like they want to believe, everything is presently in flux, which carries with it enormous risks that could result in very dangerous outcomes.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, since the corresponding 10 policy proposals could become the starting point for inspiring Russian officials to finally do away with wishful thinking once and for all exactly as President Putin already urged them to do several months ago. My suggestions could also influence the AMC to produce more accurate analyses and reporting about subjects of relevance to Russian interests in particular and multipolar ones more broadly.
Therefore, I hope that my list of takeaways and proposals will prove thoughtful to everyone who reads this analysis in its entirety. The ideal outcome is that policymakers and the AMC each begin having long-overdue discussions with their peers about the points raised in my piece. Regardless of whatever each ultimately decides to do, however, it’s unquestionably in everyone’s best interests that they stop engaging in wishful thinking and start accepting reality for what it truly is.