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.Putin, the wily ex-KGB officer, knows full well that it's a message which will be well received by huge numbers of people all over the world. I certainly can't find much fault with the message itself but that doesn't mean it's time to join the Vladimir fan club. Putin is seeking to exploit the whole "enemy of my enemy is my friend" thing but he's really not the sort of man progressives ought to be befriending.
And not just because of Alexander Litvinenko, Chechnya, or Russian restrictions on the operation of NGO's.
There are underlying motivations to Putin's speech and they shouldn't be ignored. Russia's involvement with the Iranian nuclear programme and it's wider economic relationship with Iran is the most obvious. Putin's opposition to military action against Iran should be welcomed but it should also be recognised that it's a position based largely in a desire to protect Russian national interests.
And, while it would be an exaggeration to say that Putin seeks a return to the days of the Cold War, it is clear that this speech signals a desire to build a new coalition which would challenge the current hegemony of the United States. Potential allies might include China and India but there's no doubt that Putin expects Russia to lead this new alliance. Again, Russian national interests are the driving force in this desire to challenge American dominance of international relations.
This might still appear useful to progressives worried about the current U.S. administration's unilateral approach to international affairs but it doesn't offer the prospect of any real reform of the way nation-states interact with each other. Putin isn't standing up for multilateralism, he's attempting to recreate a bipolar world with his nation at the head of one of the two dominant blocks.
Putin's message may be appealing but his proposed solution is a return to the past, not a step into the future.