A Russian Lesson on the Anthropology of International Relations

Posted on 10 September 2013 by


At the end of a long statement, coming as the response to the last question in a press conference in Moscow on August 26, 2013, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov (above), delivered what might be useful to understand as an anthropological statement on international relations, specifically on the treatment of people(s). It is reproduced here in full, given the almost total absence of such ideas and perspectives both in our own mainstream media, and certainly never to be heard coming from the mouths of our ruling political elites. Below, Lavrov speaks on law, freedom, surveillance, and especially in the final paragraph here, attitudes of civilizational superiority that deny the dignity of others. (Minor edits were done to the translation, for clarity).

quote1aAll those, who think that they will be able to establish laws from the epoch of lawlessness, probably act short-sightedly. It will definitely catch up with them later.

What happens with the freedom of the Internet? We were told many times, that there can be no limits by definition. As it seems, this position, which was translated at international forums, was not at all a guide for actions of those, who promoted it in public. In practice, freedom of the Internet was abused and, probably, continues to be abused, as we say, very deeply. For the time being, this is probably causing a mess, at least in terms of morals and ethics.

You can pick any sphere, and it is always better to follow the rules, to respect peoples and help them reach an agreement with each other, rather than thinking in categories of “gunboat diplomacy”, stop to be sick [nostalgic] for the colonial past, the epoch, when they needed just to whisper for everybody to show servile obedience. The world is changing today. It is impolite and short-sighted to perceive other civilisations as second class groups of the population. It will catch you up sometime in the future. We need to avoid the war of civilisations in all possible ways. We are for dialogue, for the alliance of civilisations. But in this case we need to respect each other’s traditions, the history of those communities, which become more and more significant on our planet, to respect the values, which have been created, established for centuries in these societies and were transferred from one generation to another. It is so simple – if you wish to get on well within your neighbours in your village, the same principles apply. A disregard for such principles in the international arena costs much more for taxpayers as well, and, the worst – for peoples’ lives, who then become “collateral damage”. This terrible term (collateral damage) was invented to justify the gross violations of international humanitarian law and is rooted deeply in those, who promote concepts like “responsibility to protect”, “humanitarian intervention” – when the motto of human rights is used to disrupt the most crucial right – the right to live….quote2b