Is Nationalism Rising in Russian Foreign Policy? the Case of Georgia

By March, Luke | Demokratizatsiya, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Is Nationalism Rising in Russian Foreign Policy? the Case of Georgia


March, Luke, Demokratizatsiya


Abstract: In this article, the foreign policy influence of Russian nationalism, from the Putin to the Medvedev eras, is traced, with a focus specifically on Russian nationalist arguments for and reactions to the August 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia. The typical relationship between Russian nationalism and foreign policy is one in which the authorities have generally promoted a pragmatic, conservative "statist nationalism." Nevertheless, they have simultaneously stoked more aggressive ethno-nationalist "civilizational nationalism" in the domestic sphere. The Russia-Georgia War was a marked deviation from this pattern, showing an unprecedented spill-over from the domestic to the foreign policy realms. Since 2009, there has been a partial return to the norm. However, without more fundamental domestic change, the likelihood of nationalism increasingly affecting Russian foreign policy remains.

Keywords: foreign policy, Georgia, nationalism, Russia

**********

Western discussion during the last half-decade has increasingly focussed on an "assertive" and even "aggressive" Russian foreign policy that underpins an ever more confident global position. From a Russia that could only say "yes" in the 1990s, the West is apparently now confronting a Russia that can, and will, say "no." (1)

For many analysts, this assertive stance has been associated with distinct ideational underpinnings that have sought to challenge Western liberalism. Although "sovereign democracy" has been the most obvious example, many have also argued that anti-Western nationalism has moved from the margins to the mainstream of Russian discourse during the Putin era. (2) Moreover, this nationalism had, apparently, begun ineluctably to influence Russian foreign policy and to deepen the rhetorical and cognitive dissonance between Russia and the West. Indeed, as Edward Lucas argued, "the ideological conflict of the New Cold War is between lawless Russian nationalism and law-governed Western multilateralism." (3)

However, the role nationalism might have played in the Russia-Georgia War of August 2008 has been largely ignored. One of the most influential authors on the conflict, Ronald Asmus, did argue that "by the summer of 2008 ... an increasingly nationalistic and revisionist Russia was ... rebelling against a system that it felt no longer met its interests and had been imposed on it during a moment of temporary weakness. (4) Neither he nor other authors examined this in depth. Yet his contention can support a narrative of "lawless Russian nationalism." Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in defiance of Euro-Atlantic positions can be seen as the tipping-point when Russia began to substantiate its rhetoric and to export highly nationalistic internal values in an attempt to revise the post-Cold War order.

Nevertheless, hindsight perhaps confounds this view. Although the Western consensus is that Russia wanted and planned the war, Western and Georgian mistakes mean that a narrative of "good" West versus "evil" Russia (implicit in Lucas's account) cannot be convincingly maintained. (5) More widely, the US-Russia "reset" has involved a marked change of climate and de-escalation of rhetoric. Russia itself has focused increasingly on internal modernization, and the immediate fear that it was to pursue overt annexation of other contested regions like Crimea and Transnistria has receded. Finally, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's modernization rhetoric is associated with increased efforts to control domestic nationalist excesses via greater law enforcement. (6)

In this article, I will trace the foreign policy influence of Russian nationalism from the Putin to the Medvedev eras, focussing specifically on Russian nationalist arguments for and reactions to the August 2008 conflict. The main questions in focus are: (1) What are the basic dynamics of the relationship between nationalism and foreign policy under Putin and Medvedev? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Is Nationalism Rising in Russian Foreign Policy? the Case of Georgia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.