How can small nations and countries survive in the struggle of the great powers?
The last three hundred years of history passed in the struggle of imperial nations that sought to expand their spheres of influence and establish their political domination. As a rule, the formation of large imperial nations occurred due to the subordination and enslavement of small countries and peoples. The desire of the British to establish total control over the Irish and the Scots led to disastrous events for these peoples. During the Great Famine of 1845-1849, provoked by the British government, Ireland lost from 20 to 25% of its population: up to 1 million dead and 1.5 million emigrants. The collapse of empires, which followed the First World War, was marked by the Genocide of 1.5 million Armenians and more than 1 million Greeks in the Ottoman Empire. In turn, the Nazis in Germany conducted the Holocaust of European Jewry that resulted in the deaths of more than 6 million people. Thus, over a hundred of years (1845-1945), more than 10 million representatives of small nations were exterminated.
Little has changed since that time. Undoubtedly, after the Second World War, the process of developing some mechanisms that would allow taking actions against the other Great Famine and genocides began. However, international organizations and other structures did not succeed in this task, as evidenced by the tragic events in Rwanda, Cambodia, and Darfur. The problem is that empires are left in the past, but imperial thinking and the tools for achieving goals have survived to this day. Real policy is still built on the pragmatic interests of the great powers that have their spheres of influence around the world. Small nations and states still feel threats that came from the outside world hundreds of years ago. Countries like Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are now talking about the Russian threat. Moreover, they regard any foreign policy steps of Moscow as an attempt to revive the Empire. In turn, Armenia, being an independent country, prefers to remain in the sphere of influence of Russia, considering neighboring Turkey one of the main external threats.
The Irish and Jews chose a different path. The tragedies of the Great Famine and the Holocaust awakened the sleeping consciousness of these peoples, which made it possible to form the first transnational elites scattered all over the world. The diaspora aristocracy formed the conceptual ideas that led to the independence of Ireland and the establishment of the State of Israel. According to the theory of classical realism, these countries could not become independent subjects of world politics because of their small size, population and lack of natural resources. However, these peoples proved the opposite. In fact, the Irish and Jews laid the foundations of a new phenomenon - transnational political nation (TPN). It is important not to confuse the TPN with the established scientific term transnationalism, which is related to migration processes. The TPN is a model for the organization of diaspora nations, which involves integration of external national political, economic and cultural potential with the aim of internal strengthening of the country of origin. Besides that, it includes lobbying for its interests at the international level.
To understand this phenomenon, it is necessary to consider what is meant by diaspora nations. So far, the scientific world has been arguing about what a diaspora is. Some scholars believe that it is a specific ethnic group united by a single language and cultural traditions. Others think that diaspora is a group of people that are outside the country of origin but try to preserve unity through historical memory and national myths. In the case of TPN, we are not talking about diaspora in these classical interpretations. The diaspora nation unites people who, first of all, are loyal to the political interests of the country of origin. In this regard, TPN is a new form of organization of peoples. It has no physical boundaries and is a paradoxical product of globalization. On the one hand, such a nation is scattered all over the world and is the bearer of various civilizational codes; on the other hand, it uses its global opportunities to protect the interests of a certain national state.
It should be emphasized that only small nations and countries can form a TPN. China, Russia, India and Turkey have serious political and economic diaspora resources around the world. However, these states with a large territory, population, political, economic and military power, objectively do not need any external opportunities. Unlike these countries, Israel that is surrounded by hostile regimes objectively was interested in forming the institutions of a transnational political nation. The population in the state accounts for 8 million people, while outside its territory, there are 15 million Jews. Israel's GDP is 316 billion dollars (the annual budget is about 75 billion dollars), while the total income of the thirteen wealthy businessmen of Jewish origin is 250 billion dollars.
The main body of Israeli TPN is the World Jewish Congress, which coordinates the activities of pro-Israeli political, economic and cultural-educational organizations around the world. To prevent the hostile policy of the great powers, Israel contributes to strengthening its global lobbying structures. The most effective pro-Israeli political influence groups operate in the USA and Europe (for example, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), while huge Russian finances are attracted by Russian Jews. To preserve and strengthen the influence of its TPN, Israel is trying to balance between internal Jewry and the external one. On the one hand, the state creates conditions for the repatriation of compatriots to their historical homeland. On the other hand, it forms mechanisms to educate the state-centric elite in the outside world. Thus, the merge of internal and external Jewry allowed the creation of transnational mechanisms of influence on the adoption of political decisions in different centers of power. However, the most important achievement is to attract quantitative and qualitative resources for the strengthening and development of the State of Israel.
Nowadays, there is the process of formation of the Polish TPN. Unlike Israel, Poland is under the economic patronage of the EU and is a member of NATO's military-political bloc. The population of the country accounts for 38 million people, and the diaspora population is estimated at more than 20 million people. Formation of the Polish transnational political nation is connected with the need to strengthen the Polish lobbying factor in the United States - the most influential country in NATO. In addition, it is necessary to turn Poland (along with Germany) into a key political factor of the European Union. Besides such elements as a strong state and diaspora resource, the Polish TPN will make a serious emphasis on Catholicism. Once, the Irish TPN played the role of a bridge in establishing the dialogue between Protestant America and the Vatican. The latter was led by Pope John Paul II, who was of Polish descent. Thus, the Poles with good starting positions and great historical heritage in Europe and America can potentially form an influential TPN.
The Armenian people have no less serious potential for the creation of a TPN. Despite the fact that today's Diaspora was formed as a result of the Genocide of 1915-1923, Armenians had developed diaspora networks in Europe and Asia back in the XII century. Most of the classical Diaspora (especially in Eastern Europe) was assimilated and became part of the titular peoples. Paradoxically, Armenians, unlike Jews, do not represent a diaspora nation. Under the King Tigran the Great, Armenians built one of the largest empires of antiquity, which stretched from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. Historically, the Armenian Diaspora, without being oriented towards the national state, was not a significant factor and ceased to exist. According to various data, 10 to 13 million of ethnic Armenians live outside the historical Armenia. However, most of these Armenians were deprived of state support and underwent assimilation. Only after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenians acquired the opportunity to strengthen their positions in the world by uniting around their own national center - independent Armenia.
During the first years of independence, Armenian communities around the world provided financial assistance to the country and lobbied for its interests at the international level. However, for 25 years, the state's political elites have not considered the concept of a network nation-building, choosing an easier way. Military-strategic relations with Russia and Iran were strengthened, trade and economic dialogue with the Western world was also developed. In turn, the Diaspora structures were not oriented to the construction of the TPN, considering the idea of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide a priority. Thus, the state and Diaspora came to an informal agreement on a separate political existence from each other. Nowadays, Armenia, being deprived of the possibility to make serious political maneuvers and a backup action plan, has made a civilizational and political choice in favor of Eurasian integration. However, the most developed and influential part of the Diaspora elite is in the Western countries. Thus, it is meaningless to talk about the formation of the Armenian transnational political nation in the nearest future. In such a situation, Diaspora is left outside the state's supervision and becomes only an instrument of influence used by the country of residence against the country of origin.
In general, with the fall of influence of national states and classical military-political blocs, TPN can become one of the new forms of alliances. Today, the Irish and Polish TPN can come to an agreement on interaction on various political and economic issues. What can unite the Irish and the Poles in the long-term perspective? Responsibility for the future of a common Western civilization, the opportunity to build a common European home, Catholic religion and Christian historical heritage, closely related to each other in different parts of the world. Regarding the Armenian TPN in future, it will be possible to talk about a global Armenian- Israeli alliance. Despite the current political contradictions between Israel and Armenia, the Armenian and Jewish peoples who survived the Genocide will come to realize the fragility of their position in such a dangerous region as the Middle East.
Areg Galstyan - PhD, regular contributor to The National Interest, Forbes, The Hill and The American Thinker. These views are his own.