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About Alexander Maistrovoy
Alexander Maistrovoy is a columnist for the Israeli Russian-language newspaper Novosty Nedely.
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The Return of ‘The Horror of History’
Alexander Maistrovoy
March 8, 2014
While condemning the actions of Russia in Crimea, John Kerry said that the time of Empires is long gone; we live in the "21st century, and not in the 19th century." After speaking with Putin, Angela Merkel told that he lost touch with reality and that he lives "in another dimension."

In my opinion the time of Empires has not passed yet and Putin is in full harmony with reality.

United States, and with their assistance a significant part of Europe have created an isolated civilization: extremely successful and advanced, but isolated. Geography played a great role in it, because US and Britain are island states and mainland Europe is a peninsula. From a cultural stand point, this civilization has been based on ancient models of Greek democracy and Roman law; ethnically – on a relatively homogeneous population in a very limited space.

For millennia giant Eurasia had existed in a completely different position that has never changed. Mircea Eliade wrote with bitterness that his people, Romanians, like other Balkan peoples consistently lived in fear of the "The Horror of History." It's difficult to create and develop sustainable forms of democracy when you live in perpetual state of hordes, intrusions and tyrannies. Meanwhile, leading Eurasian powers - Russia, China, Turkey and Iran – were formed exactly in such an ominous environment: endless open borders, limitless vastness, mixed, diverse and often hostile to each other and its governments population dispersed over an infinite space.

Only through harsh centralized power it was possible to maintain such population, these areas and these boundaries. This was a natural prerequisite for creation of the Empires. Every Eurasian state – from Persian's Achaemenids and ancient China (Tianxia) to Ottomans and Tsarist Russia to the Soviet Union, Communist China and Islamic republic of Iran – desired to expand its boundaries to resist its rivals and hostile, spontaneously emerging entities (such the Mongols, The Mughal Empire, the state of Tamerlane), to keep rebellious population and augment the resources. In the 19th-20th centuries these common threats were supplemented by the expansion of the West: The British Empire and the United States. No one, not even modern powers, had forgotten the "surprises", in the face of nomads or Islamist gangs, by constantly bustling steppe spreading from the Caspian Sea to Mongolia.

The ruling power could not afford itself to discuss issues of law and justice in a state of permanent external hazards, especially when a significant part of population looked forward to enemy invasion. Any resistance must be crushed by an iron fist, troops ought to be mobilized as promptly and as quickly as possible to launch an attack on the enemy on his own territory. Such tactic, with different degrees of success, was used equally by Sassanids and Sultans after Ottoman defeat at the Battle of Ankara; Empire of the Great Ming in China and Shahanshah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi after the invasion of Iran during World War II by Soviet and British forces; Stalin, Chinese Communists and Putin now.

Democracy in such circumstances was not just impossible – it was fatal.

It was perfectly clear to Montesquieu when he wrote that democratic societies are possible only in relatively small isolate ethnic homogeneous communities that existed in Europe, and utterly impossible and implausible in vast spaces of the continent with restless masses and heterogeneous populations.

Modern passionate supporters of democracy have completely forgotten about it although the situation has not changed a bit. Russia, China, Turkey and Iran are huge conglomerates with diverse populations, bordering with other aggressive and powerful nations. As it occurred many times before - lightly loosened reins would cause a state to collapse: during the unrests in Iran in the late 18th century; in Turkey in the early 20th century; in China in the era of the Three Kingdoms (AD 220–280), during the Boxer Uprising and unrests in the late 19th - early 20th century; in course of Russian Provisional Government in 1917 and after the dismantle of the USSR.

Rigid ruling demanded clear game rules. In order to survive, a full submission of peoples of empires to the regime was required - otherwise, a catastrophe would incur upon them similar to the one happened to the Armenians and Assyrians in Turkey, Chechens, Circassians and Tatars in Russia.

Small independent entities immediately become the object of confrontation: obviously, not being a part of one Empire, they automatically become part of other and subsequently a place of arms for further offenses. This happened with the Kurds, occupied by the Turks, Iran and Iraq; with Tibet, which lies on the border of India and China; with Caucasus, which divide the Ottoman and Russian empires; with South Azerbaijan, which occupied by Russians, Turks, Soviet Union and eventually by Iran in 1946, and with Armenia.

This is exactly what's happening now with Ukraine and especially Crimea peninsula with massive Russian population and strategically important base for Russia's naval fleet in Sevastopol which Russia wouldn't give up to anyone - neither NATO, nor Turkey. A land without an owner is doomed to become an enemy outpost and threat to the Empire.

These principles were, are, and will always be eternal for mainland Eurasia. This is why, first of all, there will never be strong liberal democracy, similar to the island civilizations, and secondly, fighting for territory will never stop. It is the very essence of survival, and not a whim of Putin, the Chinese Communists, the actual Turkish rulers (no matter, army or Islamist) or the Iranian regime, either Shah or Ayatollahs.

The natural aspiration of Eurasian Empires for expansion can only be restrained vigorously. West fears any serious interference; eternal mechanisms are at work, as in nature, with full force, and any moralizing by Obama, Kerry, Merkel and Cameron becomes a reason for mockery in Kremlin, Beijing and Tehran.

Ayatollahs, Communists in China and Islamists in Turkey are carefully following the developments around Ukraine. They want to see what actions the West will take next, in order to make their own conclusions. They have all the reasons to believe that the West would limit itself by verbal reprimand.

The West has voluntarily left the stage of History. So it is not surprising that History returns bringing horror to world.

It seems terrible but it's naturally. Paradoxically, but worse than the Empires could only be …collapse of Empires.

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