Unilateral force has nothing
to do with global democracy
The US has overstepped its borders in every way. We must
build a new world order to ensure security and
prosperity for all
By Vladimir Putin
Guardian" --- - The universal, indivisible
character of security can be expressed as the basic
principle that "security for one is security for all".
As Franklin D Roosevelt said at the onset of the second
world war: "When peace has been broken anywhere, the
peace of all countries is in danger."
These words remain relevant today. Only two decades ago
the world was ideologically and economically divided and
it was the huge strategic potential of two superpowers
that ensured global security. This global standoff
pushed the sharpest economic and social problems to the
margins of the world's agenda. And, just like any war,
the cold war left behind live ammunition, figuratively
speaking. It left ideological stereotypes, double
standards and other remnants of cold war thinking.
What then is a unipolar world? However one might
embellish this term, at the end of the day it describes
a scenario in which there is one centre of authority,
one centre of force, one centre of decision-making. It
is a world in which there is one master, one sovereign.
And this is pernicious, not only for all those within
this system, but also for the sovereign itself because
it destroys itself from within. And this, certainly, has
nothing in common with democracy. Because democracy is
the power of the majority in the light of the interests
and opinions of the minority.
We, Russia, are constantly being taught about democracy.
But for some reason those who teach us do not want to
learn themselves. I believe that unipolarity is not only
unacceptable but also impossible in today's world. The
model itself is flawed: at its root it provides no moral
foundations for modern civilisation. But witnessed in
today's world is a tendency to introduce precisely this
concept into international affairs, the concept of a
unipolar world. And with which results?
Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not
resolved any problems. Moreover, they have caused new
human tragedies and created new centres of tension.
Judge for yourselves: wars as well as local and regional
conflicts have not diminished. And even more are dying
than before. Many more.
Today we are witnessing an almost unrestrained hyper-use
of force - military force - in international relations,
a force that is plunging the world into an abyss of
permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have
sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to
any one of these conflicts. Finding a political
settlement also becomes impossible. We are seeing a
greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of
international law. One country, the United States, has
overstepped its national borders in every way. This is
visible in the economic, political, cultural and
educational policies it imposes on other nations.
This force's dominance inevitably encourages a number of
countries to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Moreover, threats such as terrorism have now taken on a
global character. I am convinced that we have reached
that decisive moment when we must seriously think about
the architecture of global security. And we must proceed
by searching for a reasonable balance between the
interests of all participants in the international
dialogue. Especially since the international landscape
is so varied and is changing so quickly.
The need for principles such as openness, transparency
and predictability in politics is uncontested and the
use of force should be a truly exceptional measure,
comparable to using the death penalty in the judicial
systems of certain states. However, today we are
witnessing the opposite tendency, namely a situation in
which countries that forbid the death penalty even for
murderers and other dangerous criminals are airily
participating in military operations that are difficult
to consider legitimate. And yet the fact is that these
conflicts are killing people - civilians - in their
hundreds and thousands.
At the same time we face the question of whether we
should remain unmoved by various internal conflicts
inside countries, authoritarian regimes, tyrants, and
the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Can we
be indifferent observers? Of course not. But I am
convinced that the only mechanism that can make
decisions about using military force as a last resort is
the charter of the United Nations. The use of force can
only be considered legitimate if the decision is
sanctioned by the UN.
Another important theme that directly affects global
security is the struggle against poverty. On the one
hand, financial resources are allocated for programmes
to help the world's poorest countries - sometimes
substantial financial resources (which tend to be linked
with the development of that same donor country's
companies). And on the other hand, developed countries
simultaneously retain their agricultural subsidies while
limiting some countries' access to hi-tech products.
And let's say things as they are - one hand distributes
charitable help and the other hand not only preserves
economic backwardness, but also reaps the profits
thereof. The increasing social tension in depressed
regions inevitably results in the growth of radicalism,
extremism, feeds terrorism and local conflicts. And if
all this happens in, say, a region such as the Middle
East, where there is increasingly the sense that the
world at large is unfair, then there is the risk of
It is obvious that the world's leading countries should
see this threat. And that they should therefore build a
more democratic, fairer system of global economic
relations, a system that would give everyone the chance
and the possibility to develop.
Russia is a country with a history that spans more than
a thousand years and has practically always exercised
its prerogative to carry out an independent foreign
policy. We are not going to change this tradition today.
At the same time, we are well aware of how the world has
changed and we have a realistic sense of our own
opportunities and potential. And of course we would like
to interact with responsible and independent partners
with whom we could work together in constructing a fair
and democratic world order that would ensure security
and prosperity not only for a select few, but for all.
· This is an edited extract from a speech delivered on
Saturday by the Russian president at the 43rd Munich
conference on security policy