I thought I would clarify my basic positions on the political issues of most interest to me in light of criticism I have received from both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ and from both anti-Russian and pro-Russian readers, so there is no confusion. These are my basic political principles and inclinations:
-As one former Russian president and many former American presidents have said in different ways, freedom is better than non-freedom.
-My politics are a mix of free market capitalism and representative democracy (republicanism), with a strain of libertarianism outweighing social conservatism regarding the role of the state in the market and society. Democracy and markets are overall significantly more efficient, moral, ethical, and humane forms of organizing society than state-led, authoritarian, and totalitarian methods.
-This does not give more democratic states rights in relation to less democratic states when it comes to the distribution of power across the global and an assumption that democratic states do have such rights is more likely to retard democratization in non-democracies and lead to unnecessary levels of instability and conflict in the international system.
-Evolutionary, organically-derived, peaceful regime transformations more often end in democratic outcomes than coercive revolutionary regime change does.
-Russia needs more Western-style liberalism in its politics. The U.S. needs significantly less of it. Both need more libertarianism; Russia more so.
-Andrei Sakharov’s theory of convergence appears to be occurring in an unexpected way. The United States under the Barack Obama administration may very well be undergoing an anti-demoocratic, state-led revolution from above that will lead to a socialist single-party dominant state. Many practices of the Obama administration resemble a soft form of the practices of the authorities in ‘Putin’s Russia’.
-Putin’s Russia for the most part has been a soft authoritarian regime (Writing in fall 2003, I was one of the first scholars to call for an end to use of the term “managed democracy” to describe Russia; see “Managed Democracy? Building Stealth Authoritarianism in St. Petersburg,” Demokratizatsiya, Vol. 12, No. 2, Spring 2004, pp. 185-232, http://www.gwu.edu/~ieresgwu/assets/docs/demokratizatsiya%20archive/GWASHU_DEMO_12_2/Y362651657613568/Y362651657613568.pdf).
-Putin’s Russia is not an expansionist power; it seeks to preserve its sphere of interest along its borders in order to enhance its national security and economic interests.
-Russia will always and probably has the ‘right’ to resist NATO expansion to its borders.
-NATO expansion and objectively and subjectively attendant policies in relation to Russia since the mid-1990s have alienated Russia from the West, created conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine.
-The Ukraine crisis and civil war was the result of mistaken policies in Washington, Brussels, Moscow and Kiev. No single force is to blame for causing the crisis, though the much more powerful West bears the bulk of the responsibility. Russia bears more of the responsibility for the escalation of the crisis from late 27 February to September 2014 and the Minsk accords.
-Worsening relations with the West always have and again today after the collapse of the ‘reset’ are making Russia’s regime gradually harsher.
-There are great similarities among the post-Soviet states with the partial exception of the Baltic states. They all suffer from hybrid or authoritarian regimes; high levels of corruption, criminality, ultra-nationalism; conflictive rather than compromise-seeking political cultures; and weak market and legal cultures.
-Russia falls in the middle range of post-Soviet states in terms of these attributes and is less authoritarian than many U.S. allies – e.g. – the Gulf States represented in the May 2015 conference on the Middle East.
-Therefore, there is no need for a ‘war of values’ with Russia.
-What has been unnecessarily fomented is a geostrategic conflict between Russia and the West over the allegiance of states located in the region between and near NATO and Russia.
-Predictably, this has driven Russian and other parts of post-Soviet Eurasia into China’s arms and is splitting the world ‘in two,’ as I predicted two decades ago NATO expansion would.
-This is leading to a geostrategic and international security disaster, since the there is an emerging third pole in the international system – the global jihadi revolutionary movement – which poses a far greater threat in terms of intentions than the West and emerging ‘East’ ever could to each other.
-The Ukrainian crisis and war is the result of numerous parties actions – not just ‘Putin’s Russia’ and Russian nationalism – including: The U.S., EU, the former Ukrainian regime of Viktor Yanukovich, the EuroMaidan’s nationalist and neo-fascist elements, and to a lesser extent the Donbass rebels.
-The Maidan sniper massacre of 18-20 February 2014 was initiated and largely carried out bu the EuroMaidan’s nationalist and neo-fascist elements, with the Yanukovich regime’s Berkut special forces only responding to gunfire.
-The Malaysian MH-17 airliner was most likely accidentally shot down by the Donbass rebels, perhaps with a Buk system provided by the Russians.
-The Ukrainian war is largely a civil war sparked by the 14 April 2014 decision of the Maidan regime in Kiev to start its ‘anti-terrorist’ operation and the Ukrainian armed forces’s use of heavy artillery, tanks, and air power to target civilian-populated residential areas usually with no cause.
-The Ukrainian war was entirely unnecessary and avoidable, despite a series of escalations committed by the EuroMaidan’s radicals, the violation of the 20 February 2014 agreement between Yanukovich and the opposition, and Russia’s annexation reunifying Crimea with Moscow.
-Both the West and Russia have been lying in competing propaganda ‘strategic communications’; something lost in the Western hysteria about Moscow’s relatively ineffectual ‘troll army’ and the like.
Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation. He is also Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View and Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and publishes the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report (IIPER) at CSIS at http://csis.org/program/russia-and-eurasia-program. Dr. Hahn has been a visiting scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. (2011-2013), the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. (1995 and 2005), and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, San Francisco State, and St. Petersburg State (Russia) Universities.