The field of international relations of late has been marked with a lack of civilized approach. The global order has seen a notable decline in the influence of moral authority which has been replaced by the factor of power in an uncompromised and open manner. What was acknowledged as the basics of the process in the 1990s or the beginning of the 21st century, has been turned upside down. Diverse and multilayered conceptual-theoretic “isms” have become a ground of solving, or to be more precise, “sorting out” the issues. However, that plurality and abundance of doctrines have failed to make a few maxims of doing business in international arena look better: strong actors ignore the interests of weaker ones and move ahead relying on their strength, seemingly long-term agreements are of situational and tactical nature, while in the fight for the redistribution of influence, an open “trading” has been replacing a natural rationalism for real politics. In the field of research, such transformation of behavioral norms is referred to as a disruption of established order while in a more colloquial language it is called the upsetting of well-established world order.
It is rather difficult to predict how far the above-mentioned transformation will go, how long it will take to achieve a new balance. A tougher challenge, for the time being, is to accurately describe that emerging sociomoral order or “unorderly order” in which we and several coming generations will have to live.
However, I believe that already available materials and practice provide a sufficient ground for articulating several obvious and arguable observations about a foreign policy (and not only) positioning of our country. We have decided to publicly share several of these observations and views at the end of the year.
Like all previous papers, this paper also pursues the same key objective: to encourage debates among interested circles about the challenges posed to our country, to strengthen to the maximum extent possible a national position of Georgia in a swiftly changing “unorderly order,” to proactively plan a Georgian political course in light of global or regional jigsaw puzzles and execute it in non-standard, innovative ways. Furthermore, it would be regarded as one of key outcomes of discussions on the existing problem if stagnation in thinking is overcome, a benign monopoly on making assessments is dismantled, a narrow exclusivity (the phenomenon called “bubble” in foreign literature) on drawing out conclusions is removed, and a conjunctural “TV talk-show” analytics is replaced by truly national-interests-centered research and exploration. Otherwise, it will become impossible to make headway while atrophying impartial and unbiased intellectual process will have damaging implications for state institutions, the country’s competitiveness, functionality and international viability.
To communicate our views in a clear and concise manner, we chose to formulate them as theses in the form of bullet points:
1. The Georgian politics and diplomacy require truly “entrepreneurial skills” to escape being marginalized to the fringes of a newly emerging (unorderly) order and thus, being forgotten: being forgotten in modern times, however, means being totally insecure. The discussion of this issue leads us to so-called Georgian “grand strategy.”
2. Many will be surprised at the use of the collocation “grand strategy” in relation to Georgia. It is necessary to say for them to hear that acting according to a grand strategy is not the prerogative of global players alone. Our country, like any other country, may have and must have its own grand strategy. Grand strategy is not relevant to superpowers alone. It is desirable and even more so, necessary to have for any country that, based on its national identity and values and in light of geopolitical circumstances, brings together its foreign, security and economic policies in an intellectual thought. Georgia belongs to this category of countries. Therefore, it is absolutely natural to have a grand Georgian strategy while not having it is a great misunderstanding.
3. The underlying principle of Georgia’s grand strategy should be rationalism and pragmatism of Georgian politics, its flexibility and capacity to quickly and adequately adjust to changing realities. Security and economic welfare of Georgian citizens, our national ego-standard must become a sound gauge of “suitability” of domestic and foreign political decisions. Today, when a clear focus on national interest and economic nationalism is a message of the new world context, the Georgian state cannot deviate from the agenda that is prompted by a maximum care for the development of the country. This, of course, implies maximum respect of global or regional norms and the fulfillment of obligations to international or other partners. This dominant element of Georgian grand strategy must be fully balanced with what is expected at the national and international levels. It is precisely such art of balancing that we see as the next step for further and fastest advance of Georgian political and social thought.
4. I believe that necessary accompanying components of the above-mentioned Georgian balancing are, on the one hand, the co-participation in a big picture (global processes) along with international allies and partners and on the other hand, the defining of our role and place in our region and immediate neighborhood. Readers are well aware that a number of initiatives have been recently announced in the context of regional relationship. Even more, the South Caucasus region has seen such developments (changes) in the past few years, that gave rise to various initiatives – some acceptable and others unacceptable. In any case, I think that a clear feature of the new global order will be a greater regionalization based on the principle of regional networking of international politics and formation of strong regional-geopolitical centers. This trend is particularly noteworthy for us as the Black Sea region has been speedily taking form of a key regional and geopolitical center while a large, rather mixed neighboring landscape of South Caucasian does nothing but multiply unanswered difficult questions.
5. International and regional components of the Georgian foreign policy must be treated with equal importance in strategic planning and tactical execution. In reality, our country will have to adjust to two-dimensional – global and regional order. It must be noted that organic adjustment to both will be the objective of equal importance. Considering that the discrepancy between global (by rules of international partners) and regional (by regional peculiarities) may not be rare and insignificant, the viability of the Georgian state will have to pass a complex equation test and not only once but regularly. Finding a balanced common factor with both components serves the aim of inclusive involvement of our country in vitally important processes and hence, in parallel with the fulfillment of multilateral or bilateral international obligations, is related to Georgian national interests.
6. Georgian pragmatism does not, of course, exclude the support of value-based order. After all, the values reflected in norms and principles of international law represent an additional instrument for ensuring statutory, historical, written or unwritten interests. Moreover, skilled and flexible operation by applying that pragmatism is critical for Georgia to obtain a favorable security environment. Neither the rules of behavior, nor others’ attitudes towards or assessments about you can be viewed as something static in the contemporary world. Therefore, the revision and improvement of “high-capacity” state instruments of adjusting to frequently changing security sphere is a continuous process. A number (though not many) of small states by population and area represent a good example of that. These examples need to be constantly monitored and studied by public and private segments within the format of public and private partnership in Georgia. One of the outcomes of the cooperation in this format will be the embedment of situationally suitable elements of so-called “emerging strategy” within the Georgian grand strategy (higher degree of security, better economy).
7. The notion of “national interest” has become rather complex and sometimes quite ambiguous in the past decades. It is not surprising considering the pace and scale of economic and technological or public and social changes. As a result, it has become difficult to determine the boundaries of “national interest.” Like in other countries, I think, the “Georgian national interest,” for the need to materialize in practical politics, must reject a static state and acquire a greater dynamism in time and space. Furthermore, agreement must be achieved on the formulation of several fundamental, system-building principles of national interests. I believe that these principles include: (a) economic sustainability based on national security (without it a modern “national state” is a sheer fiction); (b) societal and institutional resilience to neutralize internal and external extremism and radicalization; (c) functionality of the country in the regional and subregional arena – without practical benefit to partners we will be forgotten while been forgotten we will become an easy prey for an adversary.
8. One can often hear today talks about a possible de-Americanization of Europe. Obviously, the weakening of “link” of our strategic partner with Europe will directly translate into a further worsening of security environment in the greater Black Sea basin. Thus, this possible trend (although, in my assessment, the US foreign and defense policy documents depict a bit opposite picture) is directly related to that understanding of Georgian national interests, which we have already discussed. Even more, the “lack of progress” in further enlargement of the North Atlantic Alliance makes it inevitable for Tbilisi to try new initiatives and possibilities. I called such attempts “compensation models” in my previous papers. In the conditions of Alliance’s “inability to enlarge”, the essence of “compensation” implies key elements such as: (a) a certain regional security configuration by applying a Black Sea factor (examples of which are available in the world practice, especially in the regions of Pacific and Indian Oceans); (b) a formal establishment of bilateral, highest-status security relations with the involvement of Georgia; (c) or both – the combination of Black Sea regional and bilateral security. It is a fact that revised initiatives are necessary to reduce geopolitical “bufferization” of a substantial part of greater Black Sea region and the official Tbilisi must take a direct and active part in formulating those initiatives. A stance of waiting for others, fully delegating the responsibility for national security on others in the world that is exhausted with innumerable problems is an inexcusable mistake which is greater than crime.
9. Our partners must understand full well that success of the Georgian cause is not a success of Georgians alone. It is their success too. Therefore, the ongoing processes require a cool-headed, rational and sound assessment. Being carried away, individually or collectively, by unsubstantiated criticism, the failure to objectively evaluate difficulties will cause damage to all participants in the common cause… Even more, a successful positioning of Georgia in the region is tantamount to successfully projecting the message of our partners via Georgian “soft power.”
We are destined by the history to live in a very complicated but at the same time, interesting period. This is a luck too as in contrast to previous generations we are given a chance to serve the present and future of our country both by talk and action. This is a great burden and simultaneously, a unique responsibility which needs to be adequately appreciated and acted upon, instead of wasting “political calories” senselessly and aimlessly as we see it becoming a vice “standard” of behavior today.
The world is becoming increasingly egotistic while resources of unconditional kindness and selfless support have been depleting. However, the number of those seeking these resources has not decreased. In order to avoid getting stuck in the waiting line of eternal seekers, we must put Georgian national efforts of professionalism, patriotism and integrity at the service of our own fate and future – even more so, as soon as possible.