Globalisation and South Asian Security: Russia’s Approach

By Dr. Vasily V. Mikheev, Russian Academy of Sciences

Globalisation, conceptually, means growing interdependence of the world. In practice, it means that what is going on in one part of the world influences upon the other parts. Originally, globalisation reflected economic integration in the most developed areas of the world as well as worldwide capital flows. Then, the globalisation concept was enriched with political (globalisation of local or ethnic conflicts, or human rights issues) and information-ideological (information flows via Internet) aspects. Being logically developed up to the end, globalisation leads directly to concepts of a Single World Economy, Single World Government and Parliament, a Single World Law-and-Order – i.e., to a Single World that is not divided by state borders or antagonistic political and juridical systems.

Globalisation demands that sovereign countries will share their sovereignty with, and will delegate a part of their authority to international institutions. It means that, from a standpoint of a Single World concept, India, as well as Russia or China, or the USA, belongs not only to Indians, or, correspondingly, to Russians, Chinese or Americans, but to all the people of our planet. What else is clear is the fact that the Single World is a goal for the future, a strategic target for mankind. The main problem is who will rule the Single World.

This report focuses on the following subjects:

  • the economic globalisation concept;
  • the political globalisation concept;
  • economic globalisation and Asian regionalism;
  • Russia’s approach to globalisation;
  • South Asian security in light of economic and political globalisation.

1. Economic globalisation

  • Dissemination (transcending) of interests of national economic corporations beyond state borders.
  • Creation of transnational industrial and financial corporations. Growing economic interdependence of the majority of the countries on the basis of (1) economic integration and liberalisation, (2) scientific and technological progress, and (3) modern information-and-communication revolution that gave the world telecommunications, a supersonic aircraft, a bullet train, PC and internet.
  • Increasing necessity to accommodate and use material and financial resources of the entire world for solving global social-economic problems.
  • Rising above the problems of economic development of individual countries to global levels of importance.
  • Growing requirements for coordination, on the global level, of national economic and financial policies and in introducing worldwide unique economic rules to provide for efficient growth of the world economy.

At the end of the 20th century the tendency to economic globalisation enters a critical stage of its development – when none of the world countries can productively develop its economy in isolation from the rest of the world, relying only upon its own forces.

Being carried through to its logical conclusion, the tendency of economic globalisation leads to the idea of a Single World Economy. Political basis for the Single World Economy is a Single World where inter-corporation and inter-personal relations substitute intergovernmental relations. And where the Single World government, parliament and juridical system exist. The problem is that, nowadays, the world is not ready to accept such a model of the world order. Contradiction between globalisation-caused needs in the Single World Economy and not-readiness of states to accept it is one of the main contradictions of the modern, post-cold war, epoch.

Diversity of ideas of how to fix this contradiction could be summarised into four main scenarios. The first one views creation of the Single World Economy through development of continental economic and monetary unions and continental political confederations, followed by their unification into a Single World. The second scenario, supported by the most radical advocates of American values, offers to establish the «United States of the World» according to the American model and to turn American economic order, American law, currency, etc., into the world order, world law, single world currency and so on. The rest of the world should ignore those countries, which do not accept it. According to the third scenario, it is more rational not to anticipate but to focus on further gradual liberalisation of national economies and financial markets, pushing national authorities to present equal rights to local and foreign companies, strengthening international role of the WTO and IMF, etc.

The fourth scenario, shared by the author of this report, offers to establish a Single World Economic law-and-order and to launch, on this basis, new international institutions which could coordinate global social-economic and financial policy.

Economic globalisation is not just a tendency but can be, as well, perceived as an aim. Making economic globalisation its strategic goal, mankind puts another question – about responsibility of different nations for the efficient development of the globalisation-trend. And although it seems obvious that all countries should share this responsibility, it is also obvious that the leading powers have to take the major responsibilities. There is also the question of leadership in economic globalisation. It seems that the world, in the coming future, will face a new type of political competition (or even struggle) – a competition for dominating and creation of a single world economy.

2. Political globalisation

  • globalisation of regional and ethnic conflicts, issues of terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, drugs trafficking, etc. – i.e., political globalisation turns these local or regional issues into ones of global concern;
  • gradual unification of legal and moral norms of social people-to-people relations and relations between people and authorities;
  • information globalisation means that more and more people from different countries are getting access to similar information, ideas and concerns about what is going on in the world.
  • influence of social-political stability in individual countries, especially in such big countries as Russia or China, upon international stability and security;
  • coordination of multilateral efforts aimed at providing for peace, cooperation and security.

Political globalisation opens before international community new opportunities in solving sensitive political disputes. From the standpoint of political globalisation trend, a scheme of solution of such problems could look like the following. International community can sponsor referendum on the future of a disputed territory. Each of three sides – both sides in the conflict and international observers – get equal funding, equal time on TV and radio to explain to the voters what one or another variant of the solution of the problem will mean to them. If confronting sides see perspectives of the world development in light of economic and political globalisation and personification of international relations, it will be easier for them to accept the idea of such a referendum and its results.

Another area where the globalisation concept can help is the problem of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear tests put a question about the credibility of the present international security system based upon the UN, with 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, and a network of inter-government treaties. The concern became stronger after American and NATO air strikes against Iraq and Yugoslavia, followed by negative reaction from Russia, China, India and some other countries, and by growth of international tension.

A weak point of the present world security system is that both – support of and opposition to sanctions against India and Pakistan or using force against Iraq and Yugoslavia were politically not juridically, i.e. legally, motivated. The logic of the speeding-up globalisation prompts that the world needs new international law-and-order based not only upon inter-government agreements but also upon a Single World Security Code. Under such a system, every nation will know in advance that particular international sanctions and punishing actions will inevitably follow in case if this nation violates the World Security Code. A decision about sanctions and punishment should be made not by one or a few countries but by a special international court.

3. Globalisation and regionalism:

Asian open regionalism could contribute to economic globalisation if Asian community is able to find a proper way to solve a few dilemmas the Asian regionalism is facing:

  • How to combine efficiently vital economic cooperation with the USA, on the one hand, and inter-Asian integration, on the other;
  • How to combine painlessly continuing process of self-identification of Asian nations and the necessity to accept a leading role of Japan in developing Asian economic integration;
  • How to engage China and
  • What to do with Russia and the CIS?

The latter problem becomes more complicated because of obvious collapse of concept of the CIS regionalism. Initially, a CIS integration concept was a closed-regionalism concept aimed in opposing the EU (and NATO) expansion eastwards by integrating economically (and militarily-politically) the former Soviet republics around Russia. However, Russia’s failure to build a strong economy and to become a locomotive of the CIS integration made other CIS members look for new approaches to economic regionalism. Now-a-days, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan are looking for closer ties with Western Europe, America and Turkey. Turkmenistan wants more integration with Iran. Maximum what Russia has is Belarus deepening into economic crisis, Tadjikistan, suffering from internal political struggle, and Kazakhstan and Kyrgizia, geopolitically blocked between Russian and China.

The two scenarios of the CIS regionalism are on the table now:

  • implementing of a more narrow regionalism with Russia’s participation – like Russia-Belarus Custom and Economic Union or 5-way custom union (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgizia and Tadjikistan) – or without Russia: Middle Asian Economic Union (5 former Soviet Middle Asian republics), Ukraine-Moldova custom union, GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) economic union on the basis of Caspian oil transportation route;
  • wider integration with regional neighbour-countries and transnational corporations in construction of gas and oil pipe lines or transportation corridors: Baku-Cheihan pipe-line from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey to Europe; Kazakhstan-China oil pipe-line; Turkmenistan-Iran gas and oil pipe-line; another pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to South Asia; Baltic-Black sea transportation corridor that could link Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and the Baltic states; a «silk route» – that could link North East Asia and Europe through Caucasus and Middle Asia.

At the end of the 20th century, CIS regionalism is on a crossroads. Its future depends upon how successful will be Russia’s economic development. If Russia succeeds in building a strong and modern economy it will be able to turn into a core of the CIS open regionalism. In this case, the first of the above mentioned scenarios could contribute to strengthening internal basis of the CIS integration while the second could play a role of bridge-unions connecting CIS market place with European and Asian markets. If Russia fails – the CIS regionalism concept will collapse finally. The former Soviet Caucasus and Middle Asian republics will have no other chance but to deepen integration with transnational petroleum corporations and geographical neighbours. Ukraine will look for entrance to NATO and the EU. Moldova – will think about not just closer ties with Romania but about unification with this country. Belarus will have to look for new opportunities in Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania.

4. Russian arguments contra and pro globalisation

In Russia, policy-makers leave out of account globalisation-trend, as well as threats and gains it brings to Russia. Among policy-advisers and Russian intellectual community, there prevails negative approach to globalisation. The main arguments-contras are as follows.

First – globalisation lets strong foreign countries interfere into home affairs of the weaker sovereign states that makes a risk that the latter can lose there independence.

Second – globalisation de-facto means strengthening of American influence in world affairs, propagating of American values and mode of life, and pushes weaker countries to make political and strategic concessions to the USA.

Third – globalisation is far from Russian economic, social and political realities and gives Russia no benefits. The G-7 is reluctant to discuss economic and financial issues with Russia; the IMF and WTO demand too tough state budget and too much tariff cuts that are against interests of Russian domestic businesses; European and Asian integration do not take into consideration Russia’s role and interests.

Fourth – globalisation is nothing more than a utopia or a dream that has nothing in common with nowadays’ realities of the world.

However, it seems that the following arguments-pro could be adduced:
First – loss of sovereignty in not on the globalisation agenda today. Creation of a Single World on the basis of a single law-and-order is a target only on the final stage of globalisation, if ever, – so, it is not correct to use this argument-contra nowadays.
Second – if somebody wants to oppose rising American influence in the world affairs, is it not better to do it not by hiding behind national borders, but by active participation in work aimed at globalisation-development and creation of a Single World law-and-order? Objectively, Russia is interested in such a single law-and-order and such a Single World where Russia’s traditions and interests are taken into account in a maximum degree.
Third – Russia can gain and is already gaining to some extent, from economic globalisation: that is economic and political interests of the West, understood in the light of globalisation, that give Russia a chance to attract international attention (followed by investments) to Russian domestic problems.
Fourth – It is true that today economic globalisation, understood as a synonym to Single World Economy, looks like utopia. However, economic globalisation as a tendency is an obvious reality. And it is in Russia’s interests, as well as in interests of all the nations, which identify themselves as integral parts of One World, to promote this tendency to get additional resources and chances for survival and development.
Fifth – though globalisation brings threats and challenges to Russian finance, economy, infrastructure, it also pushes Russian businesses to think about how to increase domestic productivity, so to become internationally competitive, and how to adjust to international standards of quality. From the political standpoint, globalisation raises a question yet to be answered. Will it not be, under certain conditions, easier and less expensive to solve domestic conflicts with the help of international community and with the use of international peacekeeping forces rather than rely upon domestic military power, as it was in Chechnya?

On the other hand, globalisation makes Russian domestic developments internationally important. From this standpoint, deepening political and economic crisis in Russia creates new threats to international stability and security. However, they are not threats of an old type – i.e., threats from militarily strong and ideologically and politically hostile Russia. Nowadays, unstable Russia, first of all, is a threat to itself, to its own citizens – but at a rebound, in a ricochet affect, Russia creates threats to its neighbours and to international community as a whole. These threats could be summarised as the following:

  • a threat of economic chaos and following social unrest, panic, further criminalization of Russia, mass emigration and uncontrolled escape of refugees to neighbouring countries;
  • a threat of dissolution of the Russian Federation as a result of inability of the Federal Centre to rule the country. If it happens the World will face, instead of one Russia, a number of new independent, and relatively small countries with weak economy but, at least in regard to some of them, with excessive military arsenal – as a heritage of a giant Russia;
  • a threat of losing a centralised control over weapons of mass destruction;
  • a threat of Russia’s non-participation – because of political, ideological or financial reasons – in economic, political and security cooperation in Europe, in Asia, on the CIS territory and in the world as a whole. The threat of Russia’s non-participation in regional or global integration is unlikely to hurt directly Russia’s potential partners, but will decrease the efficiency of globalisation process.

To repel new Russian threats – to Russia itself and, at a rebound, to international community – the world and Russia need, first of all, Russia’s social-economic recovery and political stability. Russia itself, for sure, is fully responsible for its own survival and development perspectives. Nevertheless, it is in the world’s interests to assist a geopolitical heavyweight Russia to restore its economic potential to become an active agent of economic globalisation. To be ready to accept this assistance Russian authorities have to have a clear understanding of the following thesis. Without a proper adjustment to economic globalisation and European and Asian regionalism Russia will not be able either to play an adequate role in European and Asian integration or to solve internal economic and social problems. While the world will continue facing the new Russian ricochet-threat.

Strong arguments against globalisation, which exist in Russia, make it not so easy to incline Russia to become an active supporter of the globalisation concept. However, existence of the arguments-pro gives hope the Russia can be engaged in international discussions of economic and political globalisation issues and in corresponding cooperative-actions.

5. Security situation in South Asia against the background of globalisation and Asian regionalism

Analysing South Asian security in the light of globalisation and Asian regionalism, I would like to underline the following:

  • Before nuclear and long-range missile tests in India, and later in Pakistan, the security situation in South Asia had no direct influence upon Asia Pacific and the world security. After the nuclear and missiles tests, India demonstrated its claims to turn into an important regional and global power.
  • Contrary to security situation in Asia Pacific, where, after the Asian financial crisis, economic components of international security prevail over military ones, in South Asia, the start of nuclear arms race gives priority to the military components of the international security.
  • India seems to have the intention to play a more visible role in regional and world politics.
  • “Sticks and Carrots” the international community can use to prevent a wrong development of the security situation in South Asia could be as follows. First – implementation of Single World and Regional Security Codes that would stop the nuclear arms race in South Asia and would help to solve or to freeze for a time being ethnic and border disputes in the region. And second – international, I mean World and Asian leaders’ efforts aimed at India’s engagement into a deeper economic integration with Asia Pacific nations.


Let me once again attract your attention to the main thesis of this report. That is that tendencies towards the world globalisation and the personification of international relations demand adequate changes in the international law and order system. The existing, from the Cold War times, law-and-order, based upon principles of noninference in internal affairs of other nations, doesn’t match the challenges of globalisation and personification. The leading nations of the world are getting not only more rights and opportunities, as a result of globalisation, but also more obligations and responsibility for the smooth development of the globalisation trend.

The issue is not whether a country wants or does not want to participate in globalisation or to delegate a part of its sovereignty to the international community. This already is on the way following economic integration and worldwide spreading of the achievements of the modern information-communication revolution. The problem is whether the world’s move towards a Single World will continue spontaneously, giving to the world economic and military superpowers temptations to use force on their own decision, when they disagree with a country’s actions. Or whether the globalisation policy will be promoted by collective efforts of the world nations – thereby taking into account interests and traditions of all of them.