Military Action Against Syria Will Destabilize the World Economy

September 17, 2013
Photo: Stanislav ITAR-TASS/Krasilnikov

Andrey Kokoshin, the Dean of the MSU Faculty of World Politics, talks with the pro-Kremlin Izvestia about the possible consequences of a U.S. strike against Damascus for the international community. Kokoshin states, among other things, that Saudi Arabia and Iran will both be encouraged to develop nuclear weapons should Syria be attacked by the West, and Russia’s leadership in the G20 is one of the reasons why Global economic collapse has been averted. – Ed.

Experts, who formed a working group at the Moscow State University Faculty of World Politics prepared a report on the latest global political and economic developments. The findings are of particular importance in light of the G20 summit that ended in St. Petersburg. The Dean of the Faculty of World Politics of the Moscow State University and a former Secretary of the Russian Federation Security Council, Academician Andrei Kokoshin, told Izvestia about possible impact of a U.S. military strike against Syria on economic processes, and why the center of gravity of the world politics is shifting towards the Asia-Pacific region.

– How do you assess the results of the G20 summit?

Based on the real potential of this forum, I think that the results are quite decent. In many ways, this is the result of the great work that has been done during the year of Russia presidency. Everyone remembers that the 2008-2009 crisis was primarily the result of a huge U.S. debt and the deregulation of the American financial system, that was inflated like a bubble and burst. It was after this that the first G20 anti-crisis summit was held. The work done by Russia was aimed at precisely this – to stabilize global economy, to eliminate the causes that could give rise to a new crisis.

But we should not exaggerate the importance of G20, although this forum has come to play a more important role than the “eight” [the G8 – Ed.]. It happened because of the increased weight of developing countries, especially China, India and Brazil. But the “twenty,” of course, is not a world government. This is a distinguished forum of the highest level involving an extremely important process of harmonization of the sovereign states’ views on the development of the world economy and their respective policies. Sovereign states are the main actors in world politics and the world economy. However, not all of them have real sovereignty. A global world government is not expected in the foreseeable future. So we should not set our expectations with regard to the “twenty” too high.

– The most heated topic of the forum was the situation in Syria. How does that fit into the global agenda?

There is a high probability that the United States military scenario, if implemented, would destabilize the global economy. This process can take a variety of forms. For example, the likely surge in prices for oil and other energy resources. In the current fragile situation when the European Union economy doesn’t grow, the growth in the U.S. is very modest and uneven, when much rests on the economic growth of China and a few large developing countries, this could have very negative effects.

A military action against Syria could encourage the emergence of new nuclear powers. It’s no secret that Syria is a close ally of Iran. And a strike against Damascus is in many respects a blow to Tehran where pro-nuclear weapon sentiments could increase significantly. If Iran gets hold of such weapon, this example would probably be followed by Saudi Arabia, that has very difficult relations with Iran, not only politically, but also ideologically. We are talking about the two branches of Islam that have been at war for a very long time. And geopolitically Saudi Arabia sees Iran as its main rival in the Persian Gulf and in the Arab world. Riyadh could acquire nuclear weapons very quickly. According to some sources the sheikhs once paid for a significant portion of Pakistan’s nuclear program, and a certain number of nuclear munitions can be simply received from Pakistan in a matter of just a few weeks. The result would be an emergence of a new “nuclear triangle” of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel. It would be a very unstable configuration in terms of strategic stability. In addition Pakistan is nearby, and then there are such nuclear powers as India and China.

– Will it be regarded as “minus G20” if a military invasion will begin before the UN inspectors’ report is released?

Positions on issues such as the Syrian problem, are formed over many years. On one hand there is a position of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, such as Russia and China. On the other hand, there is the position of the United States and some of its allies in Europe and the Middle East. So I would not attribute any developments to what G20 does.

By its status the “twenty” deal primarily with economic issues. But once the heads of states and governments come together, they obviously cannot abstain from discussing the world politics. But the main forum for discussing issues such as the Syrian crisis is the UN and its Security Council.

– A military strike against Syria is a blow to the principle of sovereignty? Your report states that the process of desovereignization in the world is on the decline.

The concepts of desovereignization are several decades old, and they came primarily from the country that once strove to ensure its own real sovereignty — I mean the United States. These concepts were aggressively imposed on other countries, including ours. Such rapidly developing countries as China, India, Brazil and South Africa are in no way giving it up, but are strengthening their real sovereignty. Some increasingly important countries, such as Vietnam and Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation, are moving in the same direction. A strike against Syria would, of course, be an attempt to once again put into practice the principle of desovereignization.

– In the report you forecast a shift of the center of gravity of world politics towards the Asia-Pacific Region (APR )? How would Russia fit in this new system?

For Russia, of special importance is the implementation of the idea of a Eurasian community, together with our CIS partners. It is extremely important to us to pursue a large-scale multi-dimensional “Ostpolitik,” including the accelerated development of the Far East and Eastern Siberia. This is implementing the task, that was set by Vladimir Putin. The emergence of the post of a deputy prime minister, who could engage in complex issues of the Russian “Ostpolitik,”is an important step in this direction. It takes great, I would even say superhuman, effort. But this is exactly how major issues of national and world history are solved. Russia has a real opportunity to play the role of a modern great power in the emerging system of world politics, including in the Asia Pacific region.