Inadmissibility of the Acquisition of Territory by Force

The UN Resolution on Israeli Settlements
Part I: Inadmissibility of the Acquisition of Territory by Force

by

Howard Adelman

This series of blogs on the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel for its continuing expansion of settlements in the West Bank, a resolution passed on Friday, offers an opportunity to investigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once again, but in the context of what has taken place over the last fifty years, within the current context in which we are witnessing the largest tectonic shift in the way politics has been conducted over the last century, and in the context of an even larger shift in the modes of communication we use to understand the world and converse about it in the first place. But I begin, not with these large themes, but with one specific motion passed 14-0 with one abstention, that of the United States, in response to the United Nations Security Council condemning Israel for its policy of expanding settlements in the West Bank. My effort is in the tradition of the oldest and almost obsolete mode of communication, a detailed analysis and a hermeneutic for comprehending what is happening and what is at stake within the emotional context of a lament.

For those who like their political analysis to be terse and to the point, that is easy enough. For the last forty years, I have been active, not on the front rows, but as a bit player on the world scene as the drama of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unfolded even further than it had previously. I was a very active member of the Canadian Professors for Peace in the Middle East (CPPME) and, for one year following the death of Harry Crowe, served as its president. I was part of one of sixteen known Track II efforts of international diplomacy, that is, the use of academics to advance a peace process in a context where either side could participate, but never take responsibility or be accused of taking positions. The politics of deniability was at the heart of Track II diplomacy.

I was also a scholar who had studied refugees in general and the Palestinian refugee situation in detail, not only for scholarly purposes, but as an advisor to a Canadian diplomatic team as Canada gavelled the most important of the five sets of multilateral talks dealing specifically with the Palestinian refugee question. For that set of talks was also about deception as many of the matters that could not be sorted out in the bilateral talks, matters that had nothing to do with the refugee issue per se, were resolved in the refugee talks through the expertise and good offices of Canadian diplomats – issues such as: who spoke for the parties, who could represent them, how they were to be recognized.

During that time, I could be clearly labeled politically. I was an extreme dove, supporting the two-state solution and believing that Israel would have to give back most of the territory captured in the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem. while never expecting Israel to agree to the last part of that position. I was especially surprised when two different Israeli Prime Ministers, one from the right of centre and one from the left of centre, both Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, made unprecedented offers of peace that I had never expected, offers that included the provision of turning over East Jerusalem to the Palestinian state. Ehud Olmert in 2007 would go on to insist that unless Israel strongly pursued a two-state solution, the nation risked being compared to South Africa as an apartheid state by the world community. Not risked becoming an apartheid state, as many mistakenly interpreted his statement, but being identified as one.

During the last eight years, I have watched President Barack Obama spend a considerable amount of international and domestic political capital in what his administration perceived as a last chance at forging a two-state solution, only to conclude at the end of the process that the prospect was very dim. Further, publicly he placed almost the total blame for that failure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Finally, he indicated that in the light of those events, the U.S. would have to re-assess “aspects” of its relationship with Israel. One of those aspects became very clear as the U.S. did not veto but abstained on Resolution 2334 passed 14-0 in the Security Council on Friday just as the United States was on the verge of Donald Trump taking power, the Donald who clearly has a very opposed view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a radically different approach than the one that had been used over the last forty years of my involvement in dealing with international conflicts.

The passing of that resolution on Friday was not an expression even of a last hurrah, but a de facto confession of moral impotence and hypocrisy that has been a deep part of the failure in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is important to understand why this is so, why the movers of the motion felt so impassioned about it, why the passing of the resolution received such sustained applause and why the Obama administration and why Benjamin Netanyahu had such opposite responses when the motion was passed. The motion was really a pronouncement that the two-state solution was dead. The motion was a claim for rhetorical victory by the losing side, much as the United States in 1972 had claimed victory in extracting itself from the Vietnam War only to watch North Vietnam take over the south three years later. While many applauded and others raged at the passage of the UNSC resolution, I cried. Literally!

This series of blogs is intended to explain my position in great detail. I begin with the dissection of the resolution itself – in this blog dealing with the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. In subsequent blogs, I will deal with other issues in international politics, law and ethics – the principles of protection of civilians in times of war, the role of International Courts of Justice in dealing with highly complex international political issues, the demographic character of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the danger of continuing Israeli settlements imperiling the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines (my italics), the role of past UN resolutions demanding a freeze on settlement activity, including freezing any opportunities for natural growth, the dismantlement of illegal outposts of the settler movement, and the compatibility of all these moves with the vision of the region in which two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders.

All of these elements of the resolution have to be analyzed within an historical pattern of perception in which all trends on the ground are simply perceived in negative terms because they are looked at strictly from the position of a defense of preserving one version of the two-state solution and the increasingly forlorn hope of the resurrection of a position I have defended and worked on for forty years, but for which there is no longer any realistic prospect. Further, all this is happening in a context in which the conduct of international politics and the even larger context of international political communication are both undergoing a seismic shift.

I have included the full UN Security Council resolution at the end of this blog, though it is preferable if it is read, and repeatedly read, before each step in the analysis. I also must explain that my blogs may be more irregular as much of my time increasingly goes to my new position as a nurse’s aid. Eventually, I will cover all the key problems with the resolution, the reasons for the American abstention and neither supporting nor vetoing the resolution, Donald Trump’s role in its passage, the response of the Israeli government as well as the leading opposition parties in Israel, the analysis of those who pushed the resolution and their rationale, the role of Egypt, the larger context of international diplomacy and communications, and the long term consequences of the resolution on all the relevant parties.

The Inadmissibility of the Acquisition of Territory by Force

On 23 December 2016, the UN Security Council passed UN Resolution 2334 included at the end of this blog. I have added the bolding. The relevant clause discussed in this blog is the first principle cited in the preamble and it reads as follows:

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.

Is it inadmissible to acquire territories by force?

The principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territories by force is embodied in UNSC Resolution 242 passed on 22 November 1967 in the aftermath of the Six Day War. Chapter VI of the UN Charter calls on member states to settle their disputes by peaceful methods (inquiries, negotiations, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, etc.) rather than war. In cases of failure to reach agreement, the issue must be referred to the Security Council. Chapter VI allows any state or consortium of states to bring a resolution before the UN Security Council. Note that Chapter VI only allows the UN to pass resolutions that are recommendations; resolutions that are passed, do not bind the member states engaged in a dispute. This is unlike resolutions passed under Chapter VII which are deemed obligatory. Resolutions under Chapter VI are commendatory, particularly since the UN has no enforcement mechanism.

If territories are acquired in a defensive war, not through intentional conquest, why is it inadmissible to hold onto such territories, particularly if the territory is largely being held both for defensive reasons and as bargaining chips in a future peace negotiation? The inadmissibility is directly tied to efforts to settle populations on that territory as distinct from acquiring those territories? What is the definition of acquisition of a territory by a state?

Further, since the Six Day War, Israel concluded two peace agreements, one with Egypt in which Israel gave back all territory captured as part of a full peace agreement. The other was with Jordan, a country which had walked away from any responsibility for the territory it had captured and annexed in the 1948 war. Article 2, paragraph 5 of the UN Charter requires states to refrain from using force “against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Such a clause is only possibly applicable to the Golan Heights which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and subsequently annexed. However, the bone of contention driving Res. 2334 is the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, captured in the 1967 war and claimed, not by an existing state, but by an aspiring Palestinian state.

It is notable that the supposed universal principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force only refers to Resolution 242 applicable to only one area of the many occupied by one state and taken from another, and then only after Israel acquired further territory following the Six Day War in 1967; it is not applicable to the additional territory Israel captured and annexed in the 1948 war.

Look at many of the other areas of the world to which the principle has not been applied. In 1975, Morocco occupied just over 100,000 square miles of desert flatlands in the Western Sahara (formerly the Spanish Sahara) that was also claimed by Mauritania when Spain gave up administrative control of the territory. The Polisario Front also fought to make the territory an independent self-governing state (the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic), even though the population totalled only about half a million. In the war that ensued, the Polisario Front was left with at most a third of the territory, while Morocco controlled the rest, including the whole Atlantic Ocean coast line, all in defiance of a 1975 decision by the International Court of Justice that upheld the right to self-determination of the people of the Western Sahara.

In contrast, the U.S. politically recognized Morocco’s right to the territory even when, subsequently, Morocco and the Polisario National Front agreed that a referendum would be held in which the people of the Western Sahara could determine their fate. That referendum has never been held, though periodically there have been diplomatic efforts to resolve the impasse. Under Trump, it is highly unlikely that the U.S. will bring pressure on Morocco and King Mohammed VI to sort out the problem of voter eligibility and the mode of conducting the referendum, especially given the access Morocco provides U.S. military forces to Atlantic ports and aircraft refueling. Thus, though the U.S. launched a war against Iraq in 1991 that could theoretically have been on the principle of the inadmissibility of conquering the territory of another state when Iraq invaded Kuwait, the U.S. used the Moroccan conquered territory as part of its war effort. In current U.S. policy stretching back to those years, including both Bush and Clinton administrations, the U.S. does “not automatically reject a territorial transfer brought [about] by force.”

The question arises: why is the U.S. willing to exempt Morocco from acquiring territory by force, especially given three factors – Morocco, unlike Israel, is an autocratic monarchy not a democracy; Morocco engages in extensive human rights abuses; finally, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the tension is a source of instability in both areas – the Maghreb and in the former territory of the Palestinian mandate. Yet the Obama administration never challenged Morocco. President Obama even lauded the monarchy for its efforts at “deepening democracy” and “promoting economic progress.” Trump’s foreign policy will undoubtedly stress even more favouritism towards allies rather than rights of self-determination and the inadmissibility of the conquest of territory by force.

However, the key question raised in Friday’s vote was the policy of the UN. The UNSC this year renewed its peacekeeping mission in the Western Sahara (MINURSO) that was also passed on a Friday (almost eight months earlier on 29 April). In spite of a much greater UN presence there as a peacemaker than in Israel-Palestine, and perhaps because of that and the risks a more activist diplomatic stance might make on the security of its peacekeepers, the UN has not placed any significant pressure on Morocco. It has not even passed any resolutions on Morocco to cease and desist from its policies of expulsion in the area. When Ban Ki-moon visited the territory this past year and even called it “occupied,” a diplomatic firestorm ensued.

The original Res. 379 of 2 November 1975 simply urged the contending parties to desist from unilateral actions and instructed the Secretary General to report back. The stronger 6 November 1975 Resolution 380 deplored a march held by Morocco in the territory, called on Morocco to withdraw its troops and asked the contending parties to cooperate with the UN. The very recent 29 April 2016 Morocco resolution continued the pattern of its predecessors, including Res. 2218 of the previous year, renewing the peacekeeping mandate for an additional year while endorsing the efforts of UN envoys to reconcile the position of the parties and congratulating both parties for their positive efforts to reach a compromise. Nothing was ever said about the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.

The full resolution 2218 on the Western Sahara conflict can be found at the end of this blog.

This was not the case when Indonesia invaded East Timor, also in 1975, and the UNSC passed resolution 384 on 22 December 1975. Though that very much stronger resolution required all states to respect the territorial integrity of East Timor and the inalienable right to self-determination, the resolution never invoked the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. What forced the Indonesian withdrawal was the weakened state of the Indonesian economy and the active intervention of the Australians, propelled in good part by their oil interests in the area.

Only in the case of Kuwait, an independent state and full member of the UN, did the UN Security Council pass a resolution (660), but it authorized member states to take military action to resist and overturn the conquest. The members passed that resolution, not under the principle of the inadmissibility for the acquisition of territory by force, but under a much harsher Chapter VII principle of maintaining peace and security in the region. The resolution endorsed military intervention.

When North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam in 1975, no resolution akin to the anti-Indonesian one was passed. In no other case that I can find has there been the invocation of the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force of arms.

Though the UN and other states put pressure on China to accede to the independence of Mongolia in 1961, the Chinese military takeover of Tibet in 1950 and its repression of the Tibetan uprising in 1959 never involved any invocation of the principle of the inadmissibility of the conquest of territory by force. At best, the General Assembly of the UN periodically took up the question of Tibet, but even China’s strongest critics never invoked the principle of the inadmissibility of the conquest of territory by force. Perhaps some resolutions had been morally stronger – charging China with acts of genocide in the fifties and insisting that Tibet had previously been an independent state, but the principle of the inadmissibility of the conquest of territory was not invoked.

The principle is applied exclusively to Israel. Further, the resolution applies only to Israel following the 1967 war.

There are many other cases. Do we need to add the supine character of the UN when it came to the Russian takeover of Crimea, Moscow’s coercive interventions in eastern Ukraine, never mind Russia/s military invasion of Georgia in 2008 ostensibly on behalf of self-determination in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A United Nations member was being dismembered by force, and the UN was impotent to act.

In the case of Ethiopia’s two-year war with Eritrea which began on 6 May of 1998, the two parties reached a peace agreement. That agreement provided for an arbitration commission to determine borders. That commission found in favour of Eritrea and against the claims of Ethiopia that most of the territory of the border region it occupied belonged to Ethiopia, specifically the hundreds of towns and villages along the border in which the Ethiopian army destroyed the buildings and infrastructure in the area occupied, particularly that of the border towns of Senafe and Tsorona- Zalembessa. The UNSC proved unable to enforce a ruling by an independent boundary commission awarding the bulk of disputed border territory to Eritrea.

Ethiopia ignored the findings and continued to occupy the border territory and integrate it into the territory of Ethiopia. This was another example of a seizure of territory by force never condemned by the UN Security Council as a breach of the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. Instead, based on a report of the UNSC Monitoring Group, the UN reprimanded Eritrea for violating the UN resolution by importing weapons and ammunition from eastern Sudan and claimed that it had evidence that Eritrea supported the Ogaden National Liberation Front, the Tigray People’s Democratic Movement and Ginbot Seven. Eritrea had also been condemned by a human rights commission for arbitrary arrests, torture, rape, enslavement, murder and reprisals against family members of dissidents inside the country. There is no equivalent report on human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza except by Israel.

When Turkish forces took over Northern Cyprus and continued to administer the territory as if it is an extension of Turkey rather than part of the territory of an independent state and member of the UN, it did so under the pretext that Turkey had no jurisdiction or control over the territory of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which Turkey, but no other country, recognized as an independent de facto state. Turkey claimed that Northern Cyprus was not a “subordinate local administration.” The European Court of Human Rights had already previously ruled that Turkey exercised effective control over northern Cyprus. Nevertheless, the UN Security Council had never ruled that Turkey’s effective control was an example of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory through force.

Comparative historical examinations of other situations as well as of the case of Israel before 1967 clearly points to the fact that the Security Council has been using the language of a general principle to apply to one and only one case, thereby undermining that principle as a norm of international conduct and reinforcing the position that the acquisition of territory through force is, in fact, the accepted practice and not its obverse.

Next Blog: The UNSC Res. 2334 Part II: Occupation and Acquisition:
Legal Obligations and Responsibilities Under the Fourth Geneva Convention

Appendix 1:

Security Council Resolution 2334
Reaffirming its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003), and 1850 (2008),
Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,
Reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice,
Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions,
Expressing grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines,
Recalling the obligation under the Quartet Roadmap, endorsed by its resolution 1515 (2003), for a freeze by Israel of all settlement activity, including “natural growth”, and the dismantlement of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001,
Recalling also the obligation under the Quartet roadmap for the Palestinian Authority Security Forces to maintain effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantling terrorist capabilities, including the confiscation of illegal weapons,
Condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,
Reiterating its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,
Stressing that the status quo is not sustainable and that significant steps, consistent with the transition contemplated by prior agreements, are urgently needed in order to (i) stabilize the situation and to reverse negative trends on the ground, which are steadily eroding the two-State solution and entrenching a one-State reality, and (ii) to create the conditions for successful final status negotiations and for advancing the two-State solution through those negotiations and on the ground,
1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;
3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;
4. Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution;
5. Calls upon all States, bearing in mind paragraph 1 of this resolution, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967;
6. Calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction, calls for accountability in this regard, and calls for compliance with obligations under international law for the strengthening of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, including through existing security coordination, and to clearly condemn all acts of terrorism;
7. Calls upon both parties to act on the basis of international law, including international humanitarian law, and their previous agreements and obligations, to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, with the aim, inter alia, of de-escalating the situation on the ground, rebuilding trust and confidence, demonstrating through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-State solution, and creating the conditions necessary for promoting peace;
8. Calls upon all parties to continue, in the interest of the promotion of peace and security, to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues in the Middle East peace process and within the time frame specified by the Quartet in its statement of 21 September 2010;
9. Urges in this regard the intensification and acceleration of international and regional diplomatic efforts and support aimed at achieving, without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet Roadmap and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967; and underscores in this regard the importance of the ongoing efforts to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, the initiative of France for the convening of an international peace conference, the recent efforts of the Quartet, as well as the efforts of Egypt and the Russian Federation;
10. Confirms its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement;
11. Reaffirms its determination to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its relevant resolutions;
12. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution;
13. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Appendix 2: The UN Security Council on the Western Sahara:

“The Security Council,
“Recalling and reaffirming all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara,
“Reaffirming its strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy to implement resolutions 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013), and 2152 (2014),
“Reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect,
“Reiterating its call upon the parties and the neighbouring states to cooperate more fully with the United Nations and with each other and to strengthen their involvement to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution,
“Recognizing that achieving a political solution to this long-standing dispute and enhanced cooperation between the Member States of the Maghreb Arab Union would contribute to stability and security in the Sahel region,
“Welcoming the efforts of the Secretary-General to keep all peacekeeping operations, including the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), under close review and reiterating the need for the Council to pursue a rigorous, strategic approach to peacekeeping deployments, and effective management of resources,
“Expressing concern about the violations of existing agreements, and calling on the parties to respect their relevant obligations,
“Taking note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution; also taking note of the Polisario Front proposal presented 10 April 2007 to the Secretary-General,
“Encouraging in this context, the parties to demonstrate further political will towards a solution including by expanding upon their discussion of each other’s proposals,
“Taking note of the four rounds of negotiations held under the auspices of the Secretary-General and welcoming the commitment of the parties to continue the negotiations process,
“Encouraging the parties to continue cooperating with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in implementing the January 2012 updated Plan of Action on Confidence Building Measures,
“Stressing the importance of improving the human rights situation in Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps, and encouraging the parties to work with the international community to develop and implement independent and credible measures to ensure full respect for human rights, bearing in mind their relevant obligations under international law,
“Encouraging the parties to continue in their respective efforts to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights in Western Sahara and the Tindouf refugee camps, including the freedoms of expression and association,
“Recognizing and welcoming, in this regard, the recent steps and initiatives taken by Morocco to strengthen the National Council on Human Rights Commissions operating in Dakhla and Laayoune, and Morocco’s ongoing interaction with Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council, including those planned for 2015, as well as the planned visit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2015,
“Also welcoming the implementation of the enhanced refugee protection programme developed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in coordination with the Polisario Front, which includes refugee and human rights training and awareness initiatives,
“Reiterating its request for consideration of a refugee registration in the Tindouf refugee camps and inviting efforts in this regard,
“Welcoming the commitment of the parties to continue the process of negotiations through the United Nations-sponsored talks,
“Recognizing that the consolidation of the status quo is not acceptable, and noting further that progress in the negotiations is essential in order to improve the quality of life of the people of Western Sahara in all its aspects,
“Affirming full support for the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara Ambassador Christopher Ross and his work in facilitating negotiations between the parties, and, welcoming to that effect his recent initiatives and ongoing consultations with the parties and neighbouring states,
“Affirming full support for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara and Head of MINURSO Kim Bolduc,
“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 13 April 2015 (S/2015/246),
“1. Decides to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 30 April 2016;
“2. Reaffirms the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINURSO with regard to the ceasefire and calls on the parties to adhere fully to those agreements;
“3. Calls upon all parties to cooperate fully with the operations of MINURSO, including its free interaction with all interlocutors, and to take the necessary steps to ensure the security of as well as unhindered movement and immediate access for the United Nations and associated personnel in carrying out their mandate, in conformity with existing agreements;
“4. Welcomes the parties’ commitment to continue the process of preparation for a fifth round of negotiations, and recalls its endorsement of the recommendation in the report of 14 April 2008 (S/2008/251) that realism and a spirit of compromise by the parties are essential to achieve progress in negotiations;
“5. Calls upon the parties to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations, thus ensuring implementation of resolutions 1754 (2007), 1783 (2007), 1813 (2008), 1871 (2009), 1920 (2010), 1979 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013), and 2152 (2014), and the success of negotiations;
“6. Affirms its full support for the commitment of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy towards a solution to the question of Western Sahara in this context and calls for renewed meetings and strengthening of contacts;
“7. Calls upon the parties to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith, taking into account the efforts made since 2006 and subsequent developments, with a view to achieving a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect;
“8. Invites Member States to lend appropriate assistance to these talks;
“9. Requests the Secretary-General to brief the Security Council on a regular basis, and at least twice a year, on the status and progress of these negotiations under his auspices, on the implementation of this resolution, challenges to MINURSO’s operations and steps taken to address them, expresses its intention to meet to receive and discuss his briefings and in this regard, and further requests the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation in Western Sahara well before the end of the mandate period;
“10. Welcomes the commitment of the parties and the neighbouring states to hold periodic meetings with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to review and, where possible, expand confidence-building measures;
“11. Urges Member States to provide voluntary contributions to fund confidence-building measures agreed upon between the parties, including those that allow for visits between separated family members, as well as food programmes to ensure that the humanitarian needs of refugees are adequately addressed;
“12. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take the necessary measures to ensure full compliance in MINURSO with the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to keep the Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action including predeployment awareness training, and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;
“13. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

A Potpourri

A Potpourri

From

Readers of the Howard Adelman Blog

I received a mélange of responses to yesterday’s blog on the decline of the Republican Party. Because I am busy in my new job as a nurse’s aide, I forego today’s blog and instead include a selection from the reactions to Monday’s blog with the odd additional comment. Some were brief and complimentary – “impressive and helpful analysis/synthesis Howard…it won’t help me sleep in coming nights but thank you/.” Some picked up one or two points of criticism and one was harshly critical, a reply which I include below. Others I have chosen based as much on geographical distribution as anything else, partly as a lead-in to my next blog on the Decline of the West. The salmagundi selected also added to my understanding. I have limited the selection to five to keep the blog at its average length. I also hope this will indirectly explain why I respond to very few of the feedbacks I receive.

1. Canadian Supporters of Trump

Polls indicate that 80% of Canadians support Clinton and oppose Trump. The only country that exceeds this one-sided support is Germany where the support for Clinton is 86% and even 75% of the alt-Right. 20% in Canada support Trump, many because he indicated that he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. That, however, is not the only reason. Some admire him for who he is and what he says. This is what one reader wrote me yesterday:

Trump is a talented leader, who calls out the liberal and greedy elite. Like King David. He likes women like all healthy males including you and me.
Most women play to their sexuality through makeup and choice of clothes. Healthy and tasteful.
Bill Clinton rapes and abuses women. Hillary destroys women who speak up against her husband’s victims so that this power couple can play the corrupt system.
Trump earned his money. The Clintons stole theirs.
I am so happy they are now being called out along with Obama and his Jeremiah Wright and Muslim Brotherhood friends.
For me this is going to be a wonderful week.
Regards

2. The Deep Story Behind the Tea Party

An additional insight that I did not have was received from LA. I believe that the “deep story” is very insightful.

Hi from LA!

Nathaniel Rich reviews a book called “Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right” by Arlie Russell Hochschild in the New York Review of Books this week.

Rich describes Hochschild reaching for emotional explanations for the rise of Tea Party-ism / Trumpism and the anger of the white, working-class Republican voter; she finds other accounts to be lacking this emotional component. He quotes Hochschild:

“I found one thing missing in them all—a full understanding of emotion in politics. What, I wanted to know, did people want to feel, think they should or shouldn’t feel, and what do they feel about a range of issues?”

Rich goes on:

“How, then, do Tea Party voters feel? They’re angry, bitter, resentful—that much is obvious. Hochschild goes further, however. She develops for them what in brand marketing is referred to as the “back story,” a story that provides a unifying emotional logic to a set of beliefs. She calls it the “deep story.”

The deep story that Hochschild creates for the Tea Party is a parable of the white American Dream. It begins with an image of a long line of people marching across a vast landscape. The Tea Partiers—white, older, Christian, predominantly male, many lacking college degrees—are somewhere in the middle of the line. They trudge wearily, but with resolve, up a hill. Ahead, beyond the ridge, lies wealth, success, dignity. Far behind them the line is composed of people of color, women, immigrants, refugees. As pensions are reduced and layoffs absorbed, the line slows, then stalls.

An even greater indignity follows: people begin cutting them in line. Many are those who had long stood behind them—blacks, women, immigrants, even Syrian refugees, all now aided by the federal government. Next an even more astonishing figure jumps ahead of them: a brown pelican, the Louisiana state bird, “fluttering its long, oil-drenched wings.” Thanks to environmental protections, it is granted higher social status than, say, an oil rig worker. The pelican, writes Hochschild,

‘needs clean fish to eat, clean water to dive in, oil-free marshes, and protection from coastal erosion. That’s why it’s in line ahead of you. But really, it’s just an animal and you’re a human being.’

Meanwhile the Tea Partiers are made to feel less than human. They find themselves reviled for their Christian morality and the “traditional” values they have been taught to honor from birth. Many speak of “sympathy fatigue,” the sense that every demographic group but theirs receives sympathy from liberals. “People think we’re not good people if we don’t feel sorry for blacks and immigrants and Syrian refugees,” one Tea Partier tells Hochschild. “But I am a good person and I don’t feel sorry for them.”

When Hochschild tells her deep story to some of the people she’s come to know, they greet it rapturously. “You’ve read my mind,” says one. “I live your analogy,” says Mike Schaff. She concludes that they do not vote in their economic interest but in their “emotional self-interest.” What other choice do they have?” [Emphasis added.]

Care to comment on Hochschild’s “deep story”? I’ve read a lot of attempts at explaining the Tea Party / Trumpist / Angry White Man phenomenon, but this little parable touches on something I don’t think any of those other accounts do. Maybe it’s just how it’s encapsulated in a nice little story, or maybe something more.

Thought you might find it interesting – the book itself looks really good, and I’d buy it immediately if I didn’t have piles to read already. Be well!

3. From BC

A key point in your latest is that there are those who still hope for community and are not getting it. They are legion. Sadly, real community has been corrupted and is still a huge deal but, in the modern sense, it now means little in pragmatic, comforting ways and a bit too much in divisive ways.

Like religion, our communities divide [and do] not include. And that division is encouraged. Us and them. We have the Cincinnati Bengals vs the Green Bay Packers, we have the Chicago Cubs vs the Cleveland Indians and that used-to-be uniting spirit of ‘game’ has been polarizing instead since the corporate mindset made the owners and the players so rich that even our ‘local boys’ were foreigners bought and paid for to play the game for us. People still cling to their teams like religious people do their churches but that kind of faith is divisive, destructive and sick. And, ultimately, counter productive.

Love is tolerance and acceptance. And there is little of that left in the modern world (except at an individual scale). And it is capitalism, corporatism, institutional-think, politics, government and blind greed that is at fault. We worship the golden calf more and more. See Trump.

You cannot have a successful community when money is more important than all else. Can’t happen. Because real community is not about ‘making a buck’ or ‘getting yours’, it is about mutual caring and sharing. Money ain’t got nothing to do with it. Never should.

And money is what the US is all about. And we are connected at the hip.

4. From Germany

Reading your wonderful analysis (which I will have to read a few more times to thoroughly savour and digest) made me think: whatever happens on Nov 8, or thereafter, the Donald did not singlehandedly cause it; just like Luther did not singlehandedly cause the 30-year war. There are sometimes people who find themselves in a complex situation that has evolved over time, due to a multitude of complex and relevant connections when they, either inadvertently or purposefully just upset the table that was already rather wobbly to begin with. Sometimes that is the only way to turn around a hopeless situation. I still think you are attributing too much intelligent and thoughtful analysis to Donald (projecting your own wise self into his feverish orange skull), when he is way too impatient and impulsive – he is not executing a well-thought-out strategy with a well-defined goal in mind: he is reactive, rather than proactive, improvising as he goes along, exploiting any given situation that he deems advantageous, and mercilessly mowing down any that he perceives as a threat to his person.

You are absolutely right to focus less on his person and more on the context in which he is operating: just like you say, “the pathway to a potential victory had been forged by the previous leadership of the Republican Party. Trump had simply upped the ante,” as he moved along. The Republicans not only had paved the way by endorsing most of the policies long before Trump arrived, they also wholeheartedly endorsed his person, banking on his popularity (disregarding his lack of political experience, impulsiveness, narcissism, etc. etc.), as if he were some sort of harmless lucky mascot. The real betrayal of America has been taking place for a long time in the background; I don’t think Trump the individual should be scapegoated on his own.

He just grabbed the opportunity to make the deal of all deals for himself (he probably is rubbing his eyes, still not able to fathom how he got this far with such little preparation) – BUT SO DID THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WITH HIM AS WELL – their deal is just as reckless and disgusting and immoral as are Trump’s moves (and their group is more culpable as they, unlike Trump, cannot necessarily be excused on account of a pathological mental state). They were coldly calculating and analyzing and strategizing when they endorsed him. I found it most telling how they never once acted outraged when he was spouting his anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, etc. garbage, but exploded in extreme righteous indignation about his “locker-room” remarks. I think they had probably long before realized that their choice of mascot was not that lucky after all, and the pussy riot was just a convenient excuse to demonstratively and noisily remove themselves from this increasingly embarrassing association with him, and score a huge PC point on the side.

Contrary to M. Gladwell’s Tipping Point, where the author identifies the factors that cause suddenly emerging trends, here, like among the Christians in Luther’s era, there is a long-term, slow brewing of a complex, increasingly negative situation, where an angry, overly emotional, impulsive, and somewhat mentally unstable man instinctively realized the opportunity that he could suddenly upset the table, not quite grasping the long-term deleterious consequences this may cause. A number of ghosts this Halloween!

Note: I see no contradiction between a unique strategy that is subject to critical analysis and the reality that the strategy itself may have been instinctual and had not been developed by means of deep thought. HA

5. From the Ukraine

You did not give enough attention to the role of Russia in both promoting Trump and in the corresponding latest decline of the Republican Party. It is widely recognized that Putin has launched Russia into a new stage of adventurism and interventionism outside its borders, particularly in the Ukraine and Syria. The Baltic states may be his next target. This is part of Putin’s campaign to “Make Russia Great Again.” These exercises in heightened patriotism are also crude attempts to cover up an economic system of corrupt patronage in an economy severely in trouble. In reference to your blog, there has been the brazen effort of Putin to promote Trump and diminish Clinton – an unprecedented Russian intervention in American politics.

Russia is one of the few and perhaps even the only country where the population favours Trump over Clinton, and by a large margin. This result is enormously assisted by Putin’s control over the media. A combination of reasons explain this support for Trump. First, Trump has flattered Putin and has compared him to Obama extremely favourably. Second, Putin has flattered Trump and called him “brilliant” knowing full well that he has a thin skin when it comes to ridicule (he responds viscerally with venom) and also when it comes to praise, with a very different result. Trump is inflated into a large red balloon floating towards the stratosphere. Third, Trump has criticized Hillary Clinton’s proposal to create a no-fly zone for humanitarian purposes in Syria and has argued against the Obama administration’s leadership in boycotting and ostracizing Russia over its aggression in the Ukraine. Fourth, Trump has emerged as the greatest threat to the Western economic and military alliance with his insistence that the allies “pay their own way.” The only downside is Trump’s suggestion that Japan and South Korea develop their own nuclear weapons.

The risk of the latter is well worth the very economical cost of hacking Democratic Party emails and stirring up the pot in the American election, especially when Trump refuses to accept the briefing by all seventeen American intelligence agencies that Russia is behind the hacking. What may have begun as a wild card prank has developed into a potential provocation into American domestic politics. Further, it was beyond even the Kremlin’s wildest dreams that Trump would actually adopt the Russian two-year-old line that America was preparing to initiate World War III. Who would have ever believed that the leader of the Republican Party of the United States would be an open admirer of Putin and even a Charlie Chaplin to Putin as Edgar Bergen.

There are, in addition, some noticeable similarities between Putin and Trump. Neither has any respect for the truth. Both are bullies and alpha males in the extreme. Putin, like Trump, is an improviser rather than a long-range strategist in foreign affairs, taking advantage of opportunities as they pop up. Like Trump, Putin reacts rather than acts, especially to perceived slights, without calculating the long term negative costs to Russia. Both men double down when attacked and project their own liabilities onto their “enemies.” Is there any difference between Putin riling up a resistance and providing it with military support in the Donbass region and Trump appealing to racists and riling up the masses at his rallies? Both have a populist base among malcontents.

Though Putin is far more disciplined than Trump, both are very hard workers. However, Putin does know his stuff which Trump does not. Both indulge in performance theatre on the world stage and pull off stunts to garner publicity, only, ironically, Putin sees the world as his stage whereas Trump has contracted the American stage to the homeland. Thus, the Republican Party, which used to be the bastion of the hard line against Russia, has undergone it most important revolution and, under Trump, has embraced Russia as its ideological ally at the expense of its traditional friends.

With the help of Alex Zisman

On Novorossia

On Novorossia

by

Howard Adelman

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What are Putin’s goals with respect to Ukraine? On Thursday, the cognoscendi on Russia, that is, those who are not simply experts on Russia but those who profess to understand and know the reasons for the actions of Russian leaders, perked up their ears when Vladimir Putin in a four hour television Q&A with the Russian people referred to Novorossia or New Russia. This territory includes both Eastern and Southern Ukraine. Putin said that the area had been detached from Russia in the 1920s and joined to Ukraine but without any reason and certainly no consultation with the people of Novorossia.

Christian Caryl wrote a piece in Foreign Policy on Novorossia on Monday. Linda Kinstler did the same in The New Republic (“Which Former Soviet State Could be the Next Ukraine?” 21 April 2014) but went further in suggesting that the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia), Belarus as well as Moldova (see my earlier blog on Transnistria or the self-proclaimed Transniester Republic that voted 96% in favour of Russian annexation), the five “stans” (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgzstan) as well as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and even Poland that was never part of the old Soviet Union, all currently fear that they fall within the expansion plans of the new vision of Russia. For adumbrations of the new Putin doctrine, see George Friedman’s 1 April 2014 “Russia and U.S. Negotiate Ukraine’s Future” (Stratfor Global Intelligence) and David Ignatius 26 March article in The Washington Post. For the role of local Russian populations outside of Russia serving as a fifth column, see Mark Almond “It’s Not Just Russians Spoiling for a Fight” (Telegraph, 9 April 2014) and Cathy Young “Who Are You Calling Fascist, Putin?” (Weekly Standard, 9 April 2014).

What has emerged is the Putin doctrine. Russia is not just covertly and overtly seeding and orchestrating a separatist movement in both eastern and southern Ukraine. The ambition goes far beyond that. State borders are not just accidents of history but mistakes in history. Mistakes can and should be corrected. Further, according to the Putin doctrine, Russia’s true long-term interests do not lie in or rely upon multilateralism, integration into the world economy and the international rule of law. Russia’s economic prospects must be placed in service to political goals and only thereby will those economic interests best be realized.

On what grounds is the new Putin Doctrine articulated? Some believe that Putin is out to annex regions which include a significant Russian ethnic presence on the grounds that ethnic Russians need protection. Those Russians have the right to secede and rejoin Russia from which the people and lands were wrongly severed. This is what Jeffrey Sachs claimed in yesterday’s New York Times suggesting that Putin was leading an irredentist movement – “the effort to reunify a ‘lost’ territory inhabited by ethnic kin with either a mother country or with other territories also inhabited by ethnic kin.” I suggest that Putin is NOT a Russian ethno-nationalist but rather a Russian cosmopolitan, a very different entity.

Putin is determined to restore Russia as the lingua franca of a large part of the earth’s surface in which many ethnicities live but among which the Russian government will not discriminate. He is not trying to distract the Russian people with nationalist rhetoric, but trying to inspire them with the rhetoric of enlargement, with the dream of regaining a Russian civilization. It is the parallel to the ideology of the Han Chinese and Erdogan’s anti-Ataturk Turks. His adventurism is not simply a diversion but part of a long term policy in spite of and not because of a flagging domestic economy and a restive population tired of both corruption and repression. The Putin doctrine does not just defend ethnic Russians or even Russian speakers but a Russian World including minorities who need protection from ethno-nationalists. Kyiv’s efforts to protect Russia as a minority language and ethnic Russians are insufficient because it is the domination of Russian culture and civilization that is the prior aim. That is why Russia must prevail throughout Ukraine and in the media and why NATO cannot be permitted to encroach into the turn of the greater Russian civilization. The issue is not Ukraine independence. That is fully acceptable to Putin. The issue is whether Ukraine remains within the orbit of the prevalence of Russian culture.

Some background first.

Novorossia is Russia’s west, the New Frontier in the Turner version of western expansion applied to Russia rather than the United States of America. The area north of the Black Sea known as the Wild or Devastated Fields was conquered in a series of wars from the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Turks by the Russian Empire at the end of the eighteenth century and settled by Russians during the nineteenth century to establish new towns and cities within the Novorossiysk Governate administered from Kremenchuk to enable not only Russians and Ukrainians but Poles and Armenians to establish farms and estates in the new frontier. When the Bolsheviks in 1922 annexed this area to Ukraine, for the new visionaries of the Russian Empire it was akin to giving Texas to Mexico. For Putin, the reasons were inexplicable and only God can decipher a rationale. But although the territory was severed, the Russian population remained in place and it is the duty of the Russian Federation to help the Russian-speaking population find a solution to their cultural displacement.

Recent History

When the Party of Regions won the presidency in the 2006 Ukrainian parliamentary elections, it was in the territory of what had been called Novorossia that they garnered their greatest support. An historic error was about to be corrected, but the plan was undermined, not according to the Putin doctrine by corruption and misrule, but by American subversion through the CIA which backed a rebellion in Kyiv and by the cowardice of former president Viktor Yanukovych who fled his post for the safety of Russia in February. Acting President Alexander Turchinov and Prime Minister Alexander Yatsenuk as well as their cabinet ministers are not legitimate representatives but usurpers of power brought into their positions by the machinations of the CIA. Alexander Yakimenko, the former head of Ukrainian Secret Services (SBU) who escaped to Russia, claimed Andriy Parubiy, the current head of the SBU, forged a deal with the Americans. On American instructions, he hired the snipers who killed the 70 civilians as well as some of the riot police. This was done in spite of polls conducted ostensibly by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology that showed that 75.3% of residents in the Lviv region wanted to be reunited with the Russian Federation. In Lugansk, Donetsk and Kharkov in the East, the majorities were even much greater – 90.3%, 97.5% and 96.1% respectively. The February coup had set aside the rule of law in Ukraine in this interpretation.

The Putin Method

How does Putin intend to go about correcting this core central historic mistake as the second step following the accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation? By stealth. First there will be clear and unequivocal expressions of pacific intentions by the Russians as there were in last week’s negotiations with John Kerry in Geneva. Russia will move according to the old Russian proverb with great patience, but once started will proceed expeditiously – Russians take time to saddle their horses, but once mounted they ride with great speed. Those moves enjoy massive support in the Russian Duma. After all, as Putin said, “The Federation Council granted the president the right to use military force in Ukraine.” Putin then added that, “I really hope that I do not have to exercise this right and that we are able to solve all today’s pressing issues via political and diplomatic means.” Russia will begin by talking softly. But in the other hand Russia will not just carry one big stick but a batch of covert and overt coercive moves that will include fear mongering, economic blackmail, funding and organizing separatist forces, covert operations and only the use of overt military action as the final stage.

Western Responses

The European Union is an economic powerhouse but a military and diplomatic pygmy. Besides, it is dependent on Russian gas and oil for its economic prosperity in spite of Jeffrey Sach’s argument that the EU could survive without imports of Russian natural gas that only constitutes 10% of the EU’s overall imports, neglecting to say that gas and other energy (coal and oil) imports constitute 25% of Germany’s energy needs with no alternatives in sight. Germany is the economic engine of the EU. Germany for historic reasons did not follow France’s lead in the development of nuclear power but now Chancellor Merkel has said that in light of the Ukraine crisis, “all of Germany’s energy policies must be reconsidered.”Germany, the main powerhouse of the EU, and, in particular, Angela Merkel may be miffed by Vladimir Putin’s betrayal of her trust, but she has withdrawn from the field to lick her wounds and has no interim realistic policy to counter Russian aggression except to utter threats of economic retaliation that amount to mere pin pricks. This purportedly powerful leader has been reduced to practicing Haitian voodoo instead of an effective foreign policy to counter the Russian initiatives. Loans by western investors to Russian banks and corporations may not be renewed or may even be recalled, but Russia can be expected to initially step into the breach to counter the credit squeeze.

What is the American response? The United States just does not have the forces on the ground to counter Russian military moves. Further, the U.S. is till suffering from the scars of both the Afghan and Iraq wars. But both Mike Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and Diane Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee,

thought that America had been blind-sided by Russia’s rapid military move into Crimea. Feinstein said, “It should not be possible for Russia to walk in and take over the Crimea and it’s a done deal by the time we know about it.” Others, particularly backers of Putin’s new doctrine, seem somewhat baffled by America’s muted response and a reading of their websites indicate that they believe that the rhetorical gestures are just that, gestures to distract the western public to the fact that America has already agreed to the dismemberment of Ukraine and the annexation of Novorossia to Russia otherwise why has there been virtually no official western response to Putin’s assertion on Thursday.  Ukraine stripped of its eastern and southern regions will, in any case, be more acceptable as part of the EU. Kerry and the key European leaders must have already secretly agreed to this outcome. Their pusillanimous response is a certain indicator that both centers of power regard the current government of Ukraine as constituted by “idiots” (the term of the opposition nationalists – see the blog of Anatoly Shary who prides himself on his careful analysis of Western politicians).

After all, Novorossia already has the hymn of the revived republic penned by Alexander Duhnovicha in the nineteenth century expressing the wish and desire for an autonomous Russian republic within Ukraine, Podkarpatsky rusiny, with the modern founding document approved by 109 delegates in the Russian drama theatre, Mukacheva, and the founding scheduled for 1 December 2014, supposedly the birth date of the priest and author of the republican hymn:

Podkarpatsky rusiny,

Leave a deep sleep.

The national voice calls

Do not forget

Our people are favoured.

You will be free

From the storm

And keep away enemies

Justice will visit

The Russian nation!

Yea, Russia lives – the people!

We Ask God Vyshnjago (most High)

Support russkago

  Grant this century to luchshago!

[luchshago = Russian self-determination and autonomy: the Russian commission on governance in 1681 provided “the legal case for luchshago, sovereign governance in the organization and management of the polity.”

Behind it is a religious war between the Eastern Orthodox church and the Latinate Catholic Church of western Ukraine. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate was accused by the Russian nationalists of handing “over 1 million hryvnia to finance armed groups” in Kyiv, an interpretation allegedly supported by Eastern Orthodox Archpriest George Gorodentsev. The efforts of Yatsenyuk to promise a new status for Russia in regions with a large Russian presence and increased decentralization of power does not hide the real power for these Russian separatists who see behind these moves en empty hand behind which lies a conspiracy of the CIA and the Ukrainian Latin Church. Further, such offers are but spoiled candy, for the separatist forces demand the acceptance of Russian as an official language for all of Ukraine and demand a referendum on Russian autonomy as well.

Conclusion

Immediate prospects for the Ukraine look poor indeed given Russian determination and the lack of a well thought-out response from the West. One should not longer be fooled by Putin’s peaceful feints. They are just that. The overall path and pattern has been set.

The question is: how should we respond?

Miscellany

by

Howard Adelman

  1.                   Israel Galván at Koerner Hall.

Last night we went to watch Israel Galván’s flamenco dance production at Koerner Hall called La Edad de Oro with the traditional combination of dancer, guitarist and soloist. But what a combination! What a tour de force! It is no wonder that Galván has won virtually every possible prize in the flamenco world for he is not only a brilliant and extremely athletic dancer but a very innovative choreographer who uses his hands and arms as much as his feet to greatly broaden the expressiveness of flamenco while retaining the classical lines of this dance. The exactitude and detail of his movements along with the sudden shifts – and even full stops – literally take your breath away. You see him virtually always as a side silhouette or a straight frontal view and almost always in square or rectangular patches of light rather than a round spot. He must bring along his own lighting man for the lighting really enhanced the performance.

Israel Galván was more than accompanied by David Lagos as the phenomenal flamenco singer and Alfredo Lagos on classical guitar. These are two outstanding soloists in their own right. The syncopated clapping that accompanied the dancing, the guitar playing or the singing was unforgettable and we had never seen anything like it before. I just wish I understood the grammar of flamenco or even just the Spanish lyrics and perhaps I could have been as wild and vocal as the appreciative audience. Some traditional positions of el toro are obvious, but I was unable to interpret the birdlike fluttering and the variety of other moves though one cannot mistake the great artistry in his bodily movements and twists as he dances with amazing speed, discipline and control or fail the appreciate a great evening. It is really a pity that only.05% of the Metro Toronto population got a chance to see and hear his one night tour, but it is probably thanks to Koerner Hall and the efforts of Mervon Mehta that we get to see such outstanding artists.

  1. Marry Me a Little at the Tarragon Theatre

You can tell that I am old. I love Stephen Sondheim. I suspet none of my children and certainly not my grandchildren would care for Sondheim – well perhaps Gabriel would appreciate the gore of Sweeney Todd. I think he is the greatest of all the great lyricists that emerged in the golden age – la edad de oro – of Broadway musicals. They are intricate plays on words and meanings and rhymes that are unsurpassed, especially when the melody inserts dissonance and atonality and has that punctuated character of a Seuret painting as in his best musical, Sunday in the Park with George based directly on Seuret’s painting. His use of polyphony intricately interweaving two different melodies is unequalled.

Though Sondheim never produced a musical the equal of Porgy and Bess, for me he never produced a song I did not like or at least, a song of his that I heard for I confess I probably have not heard a great many of his songs. West Side Story, for which he wrote only the lyrics, rivals Guys and Dolls for me as my second most favoured musicals.

Marry Me a Little, a pastiche of Sondheim music and lyrics woven into a story of a couple coming together and breaking up in a loft in New York as revived at Tarragon and performed by Elodie Gillett and Adrian Marchuk as the songwriter in the loft who dumps Elodie when she asks him to “Marry me a little”, is just a delight and excellently produced and performed. If you grew up in the golden age of Broadway musicals and love the genre and if you want to see an excellent revival, you too should go see it.

  1. The Obama Doctrine

If we believe many of the latest reports, Putin has decided to stop the build-up of troops on the eastern border of Ukraine. The reasons could not be the pin pricks of the sanctions already in place. As much an I am an admirer of Obama, I would also not credit his persuasive powers when he was on the phone with Putin from Saudi Arabia for an hour on Friday. Perhaps it was the threat of more sanctions, but I suspect the effect was really indirect resulting from the downs and ups of the Russian ruble and stock market during March. The Russian ruble was at an all time high before the crisis over the Crimea, reaching 36.66 per $US. After a relatively steep drop, the ruble rose back up on Friday to 35.79, when Putin signalled that Russian troops would not invade Ukraine and that he had agreed with Obama to begin a dialogue and diplomatic process to end the imbroglio.

Should anyone trust Putin? The signals are so unclear and ambiguous. His past record of promises do not inspire trust. Further, the outright barrage of lies about the Ukraine is just sickening. Further, financial speculation is based on hope for the future more than hard-headed analysis. At the beginning of March when Russia invaded Crimea, the Russian stock market, MICEX, fell 10.7% from almost 1500 points, wiping out well over $50 billion in value, and now sits at 1344.12. Putin’s crony capitalists are probably running scared and possibly urged Putin to take up Obama’s offer of re-engagement. If true, then my fears were misplaced and Obama’s gradual approach and eschewing the threat of force may have worked. We will have to just wait and see – something the Ukrainians cannot afford to do. Can you imagine what would have happened to the currencies and the stockmarkets of the West as well as Russia if Obama had taken the advice of Charles Krauthammer and put America back in the role of policeman of the world? Though there is evidence that Obama’s deliberate and steady withdrawal from that roll, particularly in the Gulf, has made allies like Saudi Arabia very nervous and resentful, I personally welcome America’s stand-down from imperial ambitions.

4. Bagels and Cream Cheese

Now that the ski season is over, I have to rush off to bring fresh bagels and cream cheese to my grandchildren in Toronto and resume our Sunday morning ritual. But one last item.

  1.       Jews in the Ukraine

Following David Frum’s brief visit and observations of what is happening to the Jewish community in the Ukraine, the Jewish Chronicle has an excellent report on Jewish support for the current government i as an antidote to Putin’s accusations of rampant anti-Semitism in Ukraine. (http://www.thejc.com/news/world-news/116914/ukraine-community-ready-%EF%AC%81ght-russian-invasion)

Gennadiy Korban, multi-millionaire businessman and the deputy head of Dnepropetrovsk with the largest Jewish community in Ukraine is busy preparing a militia for defence of that eastern city because he is convinced the West will not provide military aid.

Billionaire Gennady Bogolyubov, has pledged to personally fight the Russians if they invade.

Regional Governor Igor Kolomoisky donated $25 million to the Ukrainian army’s southern command to pay for fuel for military vehicles and aircraft..

Dnepropetrovsk Chief Rabbi Shmuel Kaminezki declared: “What Putin is saying about antisemitism in the Ukraine is mostly just a lie to divide us. We Jews are fighting as Ukrainians, for freedom for all our country.”

Oleg Rostovtsev, a PR rep of the Jewish community in Dnepropetrovsk, stated: “This is our country, our community, our city. Jews are part of Ukraine’s political nation. Some Israeli citizens who served in the IDF have already come back to offer their services to the Ukrainian army and others are planning to do so,” 

The Current Ukrainian Crisis in Theoretical and Historical Perspective

by

Howard Adelman

I am torn between wanting to write about the psychological premises of Saving Mr. Banks, the hagiographical paeon to Walt Disney’s universal lesson of hope based on fulfilling childhood fantasy versus the deep fears that pervaded Pam Travers, the author of Mary Poppins in the context of Walt getting Pam Travers to allow him to make his movie of Mary Poppins. But since I myself am increasingly gripped more by fear these days than hope, I have set that task aside.

I am afraid as I have never been since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. I finished Margaret MacMillan’s book a month ago, The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, and am currently reading Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914. In the current crisis with Putin over the Ukraine, will the world stumble into war in a topsy turvy fashion, unintended but somehow with alternative avenues seemingly each closed off in turn and set off by a catalyst on the eastern border of Ukraine or perhaps in Moldova or even Syria? Everywhere I look for, and perhaps magnify, signs of hope, signs that the exit route that keeps being signalled to Putin will be taken, but instead the signs of escalation keep mounting higher and higher, and we are only at the very initial phases.

Further, the latest character of that escalation – in the banning of certain individual Canadians from entry into Russia – is a giant search light signal. For while Canada banned oligarchs and politicians associated with the annexation of Crimea, Russia responded by banning Canadians from entry to Russia based on either their record as defenders of modern individual rights and/or for their expertise on Russia and the defence of civil rights in the Russian Federation. The real war is a war of values – the worst kind of war – one between a substantive sense of justice based on equity, fairness and the rule of law that provides the basis for true unity that allows for and encourages difference, versus prejudice and superstition and the desire to impose an inflexible and dogmatic orthodoxy of belief and practice imposed by an arrogant leadership who project fears onto outsiders as distractions from substantive failures and disagreements within.

And if I am frightened, what about the Ukrainian citizens who now stand on the frontier? We are once again at a schism in history. How our leaders and statesmen handle this chasm will determine the future. And it is a historicial divide, not because Crimea was seized by or voted to reunite with Russia, but because the process so thoroughly challenged an international order built on the rule of law, an order that has been challenged before by stupid and illegal actions, but never in such a brazen way and for imperial purposes built on the basis of misrepresentation and falsehhoods.

What follows is a short extract from an essay I published on eschatology that offers a theoretical framework for my fears and basis for hope. I will follow up tomorrow with a historical-theoretical essay on the nature of the modern world order and the fundamental challenge that Putin is posing. I will then send out a blog on the application of this eschatological and historical framework to the contemporary situation. I will, sooner or later, publish my review essay on Margaret MacMillan, but I so need the relief of fiction and movies and plays to allow me to see the looming potential disaster with greater clarity.

I do not mean to be frightening but only wish to share the source of my own fears. So I will be sending out updated extracts, mostly theoretical, to offer the fundamental sources for the modern political order that is once again being fundamentally challenged.

I begin with the premises about eschatology and radical change.

On Eschatology: Jews and Visions of a World Order

I begin with a huge conceit. When you are truly in love, when you embrace this world with all its follies and foibles and do not dream of replacing it with an ideal order, but instead work to construct a system to avoid evil rather than achieve the good, to avoid an apocalypse rather serve a philosophical idealistic dream of a messianic promise, when meaning is found in bringing the past into the present to construct a future that will patch up fissures and fault lines rather than searching for that meaning in an eternal truth intended to prove the finitude of temporality, then the whole world is Jewish. The modern dream of building a Tower of Babel with a vision of a globalized culture and a universal normative language is deconstructed. World Order is a chimera.

I begin with eschatology and its three different meanings: an ultimate end of days and absolute destruction of this world and human history; a radical transformation within history out of which a new world order will emerge; and, third, a point of transformation in history in which the Hebraic image of a peaceful compact of nations once again emerges from the nightmare of a global and universal order combined with the image of an eschatological absolute destruction. In other words, the third vision of eschatology, the re-emergence of an already revealed truth of the finitude and diversity of humankind is always at war with the marriage of a divine and uniform utopian vision of the good married to a nightmare of absolute collapse.

Tomorrow I will describe the nation-state system as the reemergence of an older inherited vision that eschewed dreams of a universal order in favour of a system of diverse self-governing nations. The day after tomorrow, I will apply to the contemorary situation the modest and more personal vision of eschatology as another stage in the struggle between the vision of nations trying to create order while recognizing diversity, and the eschatological dreamers of a new world order who, through their utopian visions, threaten to bring about the very nightmare they fear, the destruction of the world as we know it.

On Eschatology

There are three radically different views of eschatology. Two are opposing visions, absolute opposites. In one, the world comes to an end and it is replaced by paradise. In the second, the world we know experiences absolute destruction. In the paradoxical Christian vision, the two opposite eschatological visions are combined. It is a vision of paradise following absolute destruction. In a very different third view, eschatology is the study of a profound rupture between different moments in history in which there is a dramatic change from one historical period to its successor brought about externally by either a very catastrophic event – destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD – or a trying but ultimately transformative experience – the alleged freeing of the Jewish slaves in Egypt from the tyrannical pharaoh, the 1688 revolution in Britain, the Civil War in the USA that freed Black slaves, and the Holocaust. On a personal level, these catastrophic ruptures are but macroscopic extensions of experiences of personal ruptures in one’s personal life, such as when an individual experiences a dramatic rupture when a beloved closest to one’s soul dies. Cataclysmic ruptures are experienced both personally and politically. When either is made absolute, the result is madness in history,

Eschatology in all three meanings refers to the end of days (in Hebrew, aharit ha-yamim) and the science of what happens after one dies and, in the ultimate end of days, the election of God to rule over all humanity when Israel can live peacefully in its own land in prosperity, and the bones of dead humans would once again have flesh as the dead are resurrected from that vale of skeletons (Ezekial 37:1-14) generally associated with the Valley of Kidron, or at the end of time itself and mankind’s life on this planet (kez ha-yamim). But if the governing macro-eschatology is a concern with the end of time, then the primary concern after someone dies is the destiny that awaits each individual after he or she dies – hence heaven (paradise) or hell. Eschatology also refers to ruptures in time and human history as a whole in which aharit ha-yamim simply means the end of these days and the coming of a very different future.

If the primary concern is with rupture and succession within time, the key issue is the significance of an individual life on future history. First and foremost, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has written, individuals become immortal by engraving their values on their children in the transmission of memory across generations. On a larger scale, if the governing macro-eschatology is a concern with ruptures in time, then the primary concern after an individual dies is what contribution that individual has made to tikkun olam, literally mending the world, trying to leave the world as a slightly better place than it would have been had the individual not lived and not on how the individual will be judged in terms of some absolute abstract norm of goodness and serving justice.

In Christendom, eschatology has been focused not only on the most dramatic ruptures in life – death and the evaluation of the worth of that life – but on heaven and hell as successor realms to that life beyond temporality. For most contemporary Jews, the characterization of the end of days and its possible succession, including the resurrection of bodily existence for all who died, is left to the end of days. In Plato’s writings that had such an influence on Christianity through Saul of Tarsus, and eventually Islam, the soul faces judgment after death depending on the contribution of that individual to serving the Good. But Plato had a cyclical view of history as a whole. Thus, there was no end of time, only resurrection in time. In the myth of Er told at the end of the Republic, those who experienced trials and tribulations are very cautious in choosing their lot for their next round of life, while those who were children of privilege are ignorant of caution and rashly choose their lots for their next life on earth. The synthesis of judgment of each individual by a divine being after each dies combined with the Jewish vision of the end of days, produced a novel theology of the resurrected Jesus through whose death and sacrifice individuals could be redeemed. In contrast, Judaism emphasizes ruptures within time, and evaluation of each life by the community in terms of that person’s contribution to bringing about needed repairs or avoiding catastrophic threats. In rabbinic Judaism as it developed in the common era, the focus is on history and not eternity.

How did this happen when the end of days is such a repeated theme in the Torah? Isaiah prophesized that a messiah would grow up as a “root out of dry ground” (title of my play produced at Hart House in 1961) who will make judgments based, not on existing historical laws and empirical facts, but to provide for the meek of the earth through righteousness that smites the earth with the rod of his mouth and slays the wicked, so that then, “The wolf shall lie down with the lamb and the leopard with the kid.” (Isaiah 11.6) This prophetic vision combined with Deutero-Isaiah’s transcendent eschatological vision (41-45) was to be brought about by a new prince of humans who personifies the spirit of Israel. Through his suffering, he atones for human sins, and, further, brings peace and salvation to the world. It is a vision divorced from the particularity of the Hebrews and their historical condition and universalized with great power in the Christianity of Paul based on the belief that Jesus was that prophesized messiah rather than a prophetic teacher. Paul believed in the immanent coming of God’s earthly kingdom. He preached not only to Jews, the “lost sheep of the House of Israel,” but to the gentile nations as well.

Father Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography, called Paul “the most successful religious teacher history has ever seen.” In his letter to the Colossae, Paul told the pagans that they did not have to abide by the laws of the Torah for converts were “set free from the sins of the flesh” and were born again into a new life. Acceptance of Jesus provided as radical a rupture as death, for it meant being reborn into Christ. The preacher of death in life and everlasting life in death taught that all humans share a common humanity through the suffering of Christ. Pagans were allowed to come inside God’s circle of love and purpose (Ephesians 2.12) (on the false premise that they had once been excluded by the Hebraic religion). Most importantly, by his suffering, Jesus removed what Paul labeled the “hostility” of the law to create a new human who could live in peace above and beyond rules, commandments and laws. In Acts, according to Paul, Peter prophesied “signs on the earth” – blood and fire, vapor and smoke, the sun turned to darkness and the moon bathed in blood, consistent with a huge nuclear war or a super volcanic eruption. (cf. Amos 5:18; 8:10; Zephaniah 1:2-24) Paul preached that the nation of Israel crucified Jesus and rejected him as both Lord and Christ. Christianity and a new eschatology had been created on the backs of an abused Israel, and the very source of that abuse was a Jewish dissident. Hence, the historic rupture between Christianity and Judaism, as well as a history of Christian persecution of Jews!

Do we mean by eschatology the end of a world as we knew it and the end of the rule of law, or the end of the world altogether, in massive devastation and/or collective redemption in a new world order? Does this vision in the face of an expectation of total disaster entitle anyone to live outside the rule of law? Or is eschatology simply the end of my world, the end of the world to which I have become accustomed?

Putin’s Version of Post-Cold War history

Putin’s Version of Post-Cold War History

by

Howard Adelman

 

Putin’s current version of post-Cold War history consists of the following trajectory, one fully immersed in a culture of conspiracy, :

WOUNDED PRIDE

1. The end of the Cold War in 1991 was the result of internal initiatives within Russia to dissolve the Soviet Union and not the result of the Soviet Union dissolving in response to Western economic and political pressures; when the West takes the credit and claims to have won the Cold War, it is an insult to Russians because it defines Russia as a loser.

ENHANCED ANGER

2. NATO as a security alliance has ignored the detente arrived at through negotiations and has continued to treat Russia as an enemy by moving NATO assets increasingly closer to Russia, first into former states associated with the USSR and then into the three Baltic republics that were part of the Soviet Union, namely Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

PANIC

3. The effort to forge a political association agreement between Ukraine and the EU, with its own security as well as economic clauses, was the last straw in ignoring Russia’s legitimate and traditional sphere of interest and in pushing Russia into a corner.

THE CATALYST

4. The ouster of Ukraine’s legitimately elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych because he was unprepared to accept the EU’s association agreement and turned to Russia for financial aid, was a move fostered by Western political manoeuvres and financing of dissidents and even the rebellion and was the final straw, especially when an entirely Western-oriented government drawn largely from the protest leadership took control of the Ukraine. This step crossed the red line that Russia had signalled to the West, and did so in a manner that was both insensitive and irresponsible indicating that the West no longer wanted an international partnership with Russia.

PUSH BACK

5. Russia moved swiftly to annex the Crimea which it effectively controlled militarily, which had a majority Russian population, and with which Russia had deep historic, strategic and emotional ties, an annexation which reversed a historic mistake when the Ukrainian, Nikita Khrushchev, transferred the Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 without consulting its population, and an annexation which will never be reversed no matter what actions are taken by the West.

RUSSIAN ASSERTION

6. The period of Russian passivity in the face of over two decades of Western aggressive political, economic and military moves to hem Russia in is now over; although Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine, annexing it or dismembering it, significant numbers of Russian troops and military assets have been deployed near, but deliberately not next to, eastern Ukraine’s eastern, the country’s industrial heartland with large Russian speaking minorities, in the clear and unequivocal message that if the interests of the Russian population is under threat, Russia reserves the right to come to their protection.

ACTION IN OTHER AREAS OF RUSSIA’S SPHERE OF INTEREST

7. The west can expect other initiatives in eastern Europe – such as in Moldova, in Georgia and in the Balkans – now that Russia is determined to act strictly from its own strategic interests where it has the clout to change the situation; the partnership with the West has been dissolved by the West.

RESPONSE TO SANCTIONS

8. The initial sanctions and contemplated stronger and broader sanctions that will be forthcoming not only will not deter Russia – which in its history has endured far worse – but, on the contrary, will be met with countermoves that will seriously undermine the efforts of the West to be the world’s hegemon.

EFFECTS ELSEWHERE

9. The West can no longer count on a Russian partnership in Iran, Syria or North Korea, though Russia will continue to work in the interests of peace, but no longer as a junior partner and fellow traveller to Western interests.

NATO

10. The West can expect a very serious response not only in eastern Ukraine but in other areas of the world, particularly in other areas of eastern Europe, if NATO takes initiatives to embrace Ukraine within the NATO fold.

The dilemma for the West is that in order to defend the eastern Ukraine from a Russian annexation under the pretext of “fraternal assistance” to ethnic Russians under assault, many see economic sanctions as insufficient. Ukrainian troops with foreign observers would have to be deployed along the eastern border, a deployment which would be seen as a provocative action and could expect an aggressive response. On the other hand, if Ukraine does not become a member of NATO and if troops, primarily Ukrainian, are not deployed along the eastern border, then Ukraine would be unable to defend itself against another annexation which would become a fait accompli.  The West does not believe Putin when he says he will not invade because it is a pledge that is conditional on how he regards the treatment of the Russian minority, especially if thugs are used to stir up the mob. Putin no longer believes that NATO is a defence organization but now reads any move as the dynamic initiatives of NATO’s expansion. If Putin is at base a bitter autocrat with dreams of restored Russian glory, if he truly harbours deep resentments about Russia’s alleged humiliations by the West, then there is a real risk he will move into Ukraine in full knowledge that Obama has taken a military response off the table and that the EU never put it on the table to begin with.

Obama knows all this. So he insists that he will restrict Western actions to the sanctions expressway while keeping the gates open for diplomacy. He knows that Russian forces are now massing near though not yet along Ukraine’s eastern borders, so he expanded the sanctions regime the third time in succession to twenty more top Russian officials, including Putin’s right hand man, Sergei Ivanov, and Bank Rossiya, a St. Petersburg-based bank used to launder the billions of roubles for the super-rich oligarchs of Russia who strongly support Putin, including Yuri Kovalchuck, Vladimir Yakunin and the Rotenberg brothers. It is not clear why Obama has left Roman Abromovich off the list. Obama has also threatened to take a fourth step and impose sanctions on key sectors of the Russian economy – defence, energy, mining and financial services — if Russia, but only if Russia takes any further aggressive steps with respect to the Ukraine in full knowledge  that such sanctions will disrupt the global economy.

Will carrying the big economic stick be sufficient to get Putin to re-engage with the diplomatic route and savour his victory over Crimea given his reconstruction of post-Cold War history, or will the escalation continue unimpeded as we are thrust back to July of 1914? Will the West have to prepare to ship arms and equipment and trainers to the Ukraine and even Delta forces to support a long term underground war by Ukraine against Russia that must of necessity spread to Russia itself if the autocrat is to be stopped? The reduced number of provocateurs in Donetsk might be a dodge or, alternatively, a signal that Russia prefers to take the diplomatic road.

My Trivial and Specious Blog on Sanctions

My Trivial and Specious Blog on Sanctions

by

Howard Adelman

I first reprint Dr. David Goldberg’s response to my blog and then respond to his criticisms.

Dear Howard

I am sorry to have to say this, but I find your analysis below a far cry from your usual incisive jugular-directed intellectual dissection of complex events. It would not be entirely unfair to you to describe it as trivial and specious. 

Let us start with the 1st paragraph. You make a great song and dance about Crimea being removed from Ukraine without the consent of the citizens of Kiev, but what about the citizens of the Crimea itself? What Cesar gives, Caligula can take away. The Ukranian Kruschev took it from Russia and gave it to the Ukraine. Were the Crimeans consulted? Were they given the benefit of a ballot box —– stuffed or otherwise? Yet I hear not a peep from you, and others of your persuasion,  about the illegitimacy of this process that is only now being redressed.  It is obvious on the basis of demographics alone and past voting records that the proposition  would pass by a large majority. The decision of the Tatars and the Ukranian Opposition in Crimea to boycott the polls was anti-democratic and a puerile attempt to paint the vote as illegitimate. Just as the Bangkok Opposition is doing to bring down the multi-times elected Shinowatra Government. In the better democracies, NOT VOTING is an offence punishable by law (eg Australia). OK,so a few dissidents “disappeared”. Did you check this out for yourself? Do you know these individuals and their families personally? Do you know precisely who “disappeared” them?  Regular Russian Army personnel or local street gangs? Playing arm-chair detective is all very well, but evidence has to be tested and corroborated. And the question? I cannot see how it differs substantially from that used in any past or future Quebec Referendum, or the proposition upon which my fellow-Scots will vote next year. Please explain this to a naive simpleton like myself: If I vote YES to Crimea joining Russia, is it not axiomatic that I am simultaneously voting NO to Crimea staying as part of Ukraine.  Finally, cutting off communications may not have been a bad thing. At least the violence that plagued Kiev for months was prevented and the loss of life and limb effectively minimized. 

Now, as for the West’s response: I think it would have been much better to have done nothing and kept their mouth’s shut. It would have had precisely the same effect as their “micro-nano-Sanctions”, and they would not have made asses of themselves. What effect did Sanctions have on Mugabe and his Zimbabwe supporters? Or Milosevic? Or anyone else? I recall the EU that had banned Mugabe from all travel and even threatened his arrest and transfer to The Hague welcomed him at various conferences with open arms. Cowardice, Hypocrisy and Antisemitism: the three cornerstones of Western Diplomacy. You failed to see the irony in your own text, and the fantasy in your own predictions, when you seemed to suggest that the failure to include Putin and Lavrov in the Honours List was intended to force them to the negotiating table, of which you thought there was an excellent chance. Sure there is. In fact, it is a foregone conclusion, just as Iran came to the same table while their centrifuges keep whirling. Meantime, massive build-ups of Russian troops on Ukraine’s Eastern border continue unabated while Putin and Lavrov are laughing all the way to their banks.

There is only one way to stop Putin’s depredations: to send NATO troops immediately to the Eastern Ukraine as I believe the Ukrainian leaders have suggested, if not requested. And there is only one forlorn hope for having the Crimea returned to the Ukraine in violation of the “democratic rights” of its citizens, if that is what you pretend to call them.  That is to convene a meeting of the General Assembly of UNO  to debate cancelling Russia’s membership. The West should make it clear, one way or the other, that if it fails, they will withdraw from the organization en mass.  

Best regards

David

DR DAVID M GOLDBERG, MD, PhD, FRCPC

MY REPLY  

In response to the criticism about the illegitimacy of the process of annexing the Crimea to Russia, my point was to note the illegitimacy and to query why a the same result could not have been obtained by a significant majority vote legitimately conducted instead of under force of arms, a skewed ballot and the use of non-Crimean voters.

The only place where it is antidemocratic to boycott an election is where voting is compulsory. Of the almost two dozen polities with such legislation, only half enforce it. Neither Crimea nor Ukraine is one of them so the point is irrelevant. Boycotts of elections are used when a process is perceived as fraudulent and the voter does not want to lend legitimacy to an illegitimate process. The fact that election boycotts are rarely efficacious does not make them an illegitimate tactic when groups feel oppressed by a majority. And since when does compulsory voting make a polity a better democracy. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has compulsory voting. Is it a democracy let alone a better one?

On disappearances, Human Rights watch documented and reported on 15 March that with the Russian army present, so-called “self-defense” units and militias, with 11,000 personnel according to Crimean government authorities, were “abducting, attacking and harassing activists and journalists.” “Oleksiy Gritsenko, Natalya Lukyanchenko and Sergiy Suprun have not made contact with friends or family since 11pm on 13 March. Oleksiy Gritsenko’s father told Amnesty International that he believes they have been abducted by paramilitary forces in de facto control in Crimea.” “The mobile telephone signals of both Oleksiy Gritsenko and Natalya Lukyanchenko were located in the vicinity of the military conscription commission (kommissariat) in Simferapol, which is being guarded by military officers who are not wearing any identifying insignia and who deny they are holding the activists there.” “Ihor Kiriushchenko, a civic activist from Sevastopol, was abducted on Monday.  Mr Kiriushchenko has been active in helping Ukrainian soldiers in the military units occupied and blocked by Russian forces, as well as in protests.  He took part in Sunday’s demonstration in the centre of Sevastopol to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Taras Shevchenko and protest against Russian military occupation of the peninsula.” He too is still missing. Yesterday a Ukrainian soldier in Crimea was shot.

“The whereabouts of two leaders of the Ukrainian community – Andriy Shchekun and Anatoly Kovalsky – remain unknown following their abduction in Simferopol on Sunday.  Volodymyr Sadovyk, commander of a Bakhchysarai military unit, is also missing.” ” The three young women whose disappearance was reported on Sunday – Ukrainsky Tyzhden journalist Olena Maksymentko and two activists – Kateryna Butko and Oleksandra Ryazantseva – are still missing, together with press photographer Oleh Kromples and Yevhen Rakhno, whose car they were travelling in.” “Ukraine‘s Greek Catholic Church said a priest was seized by armed men from a chapel in Sevastopol on Saturday.”

A fair vote in a democracy does require all options to be on a ballot. One could vote NO to annexation with Russia and vote yes for independence, but there was no option that said you prefer the status quo since you must vote once for one of the two propositions on the ballot – annexation or independence. That is the difference between even the imperfect referenda conducted in Quebec.

You argue that, “Finally, cutting off communications may not have been a bad thing. At least the violence that plagued Kiev for months was prevented and the loss of life and limb effectively minimized.” First, since when does an open democratic media contribute to violence. By all accounts, overall, the demonstrations in Maidan were non-violent until the police were sent in. Secondly, I had reported the Estonian Minister quoting the famous doctor helping the wounded saying that the sniper fire seemed to target both sides. The Minister evidently misunderstood Oleh Musiy who subsequently corrected the Minister’s account and my repeating it by saying that only protesters were shot by snipers. 81 were killed. Thank you for the opportunity to clear up this error. Violence did not plague Kyiv for months. Violence was certainly NOT prevented and the loss of life and limb effectively minimized by the suppression of the media.

As far as the effectiveness of sanctions, the whole point of my blog was that these light sanctions were not intended to change Putin’s mind or actions but to send a signal that the West was interested in cooperating with Putin in deescalating the conflict. Nevertheless, sanctions can be effective. They were almost certainly effective re Iran’s nuclear program.  

As for the claimed ineffectiveness of sanctions on Mugabe and Milosevic, let me deal with Mugabe first. The real problem is that they have been too effective in disrupting the economy of Zimbabwe but not effective in dislodging Mugabe.  The sanctions in Zimbabwe were supposedly targeted against a few individuals. However, as bank studies have shown, the US Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill and the declared and undeclared sanctions that resulted have impacted on the entire economy. The Zimbabwean government itself has complained that the economy is under siege and has blamed the international community, particularly the US rather than Mugabe’s programs, for the negative downstream effects on vulnerable groups and civilians and led to cancellation of life-line projects, humanitarian assistance, and humanitarian infrastructural development support.

Sanctions can be very effective. The critical problem is how much breadth and strength to lend to them and how to target them to get the impact desired, hence the shift to targeted sanctions that include imposing travel bans and freezing foreign bank accounts more than restrictions on trade which were used in Zimbabwe in restricting access to lines of credit. According to Mugabe’s own government, “Since the imposition of declared and undeclared sanctions against Zimbabwe, the effects of these sanctions have been widespread and continuous.”

As for Milosevic, in Milica Delevic’s study, “Economic Sanctions as a Foreign Policy Tool” in the International Journal of Peace Studies, sanctions were certainly effective but the real question was whether the costs and unintended harm caused was worth it.” “Sanctions, helped to a great extent by pre-existing economic difficulties and macroeconomic mismanagement, had a devastating effect on the Yugoslav economy, thus helping make Serbian President Milosevic more cooperative, but were of no decisive importance for stopping the war in Bosnia. Moreover, poverty, which increased as a result of the sanctions, made people more receptive to authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, making democratization ever more difficult to achieve.”

I am puzzled by your next complaint. Where did I “suggest that the failure to include Putin and Lavrov in the Honours List was intended to force them to the negotiating table”?

Where did you get the evidence that “massive build-ups of Russian troops on Ukraine’s Eastern border continue unabated.” I would like to explore it.

 

As for the use of NATO, I am wrestling with that in my own mind and plan a future bl;og on the subject.

For additional consideration, readers might want to consult this other blog reference which a reader sent in.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernardhenri-levy/lets-not-yield-to-putin-o_b_4944846.html.

Some excerpts from the Voice of Russia follow.

“Sanctions are just unprofessional and illogical. One of the persons who was so to say cracked down upon, is Elena Mizulina but she never played a particular role in the Crimean affairs or in Russia’s relations with Ukraine. She has been made into some sort of a bogyman by the western media and by the Russian liberal media because she was one of the initiators of this law against homosexual propaganda to minors. But it is strange that this person was included into a law which is supposed to punish people who somehow disturbed the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

“I think this Magnitsky list was an excellent warning for everyone in Russia that it is dangerous to keep your assets in the US or in the European Union especially if you are a rich person connected to the Russian government. So, I just consider these sanctions stupid. They are not mild, they are not too harsh, they just hit the wrong targets.”

“Russian lawmakers and the Kremlin have been extremely vocal as to the ridiculousness of US designed sanctions with all Russian MPs passing a statement saying they volunteered to be subject to the US/EU sanctions and the Kremlin saying they view them with irony and sarcasm. Many Russian lawmakers, officials and others see the sanctions list as a point of honor and even as an “Oscar” from Washington, in recognition that they have defended Mother Russia. They echoed earlier words by Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, who said he would be honored to be on that list with people who proudly defend their homeland and he added that he would be offended if he did not top it. Personally I would love to be on that list as well, perhaps someone in Washington will take me up on it?”

Sanction America for “Funding, training, arming and supporting neo-nazi elements and then using them to carry out the illegal overthrow of a democratically elected government. Using USAID and other organizations to subvert and manipulate the population of sovereign country. Spending $5 billion of taxpayer money without the knowledge or permission of the people to subvert Ukraine. Attempt to and then organizing a puppet government that does not represent the people. Killing police and protestors. Causing unrest, terrorizing the population and stripping groups of their human right to their language or their very lives. Covering up or ignoring evidence of murder and high crimes. Ordering the overthrow of said government. Placing paid mercenaries on the sovereign territory of a country. Planning false flags attacks. Supporting nazi elements and ignoring Nuremberg Trial denial. Attempting to organize through surrogates terrorist attack against civilians in Crimea, etc., etc”

 

The West’s Economic Sanctions Against Russia

The West’s Economic Sanctions Against Russia

 

by

 

Howard Adelman

 

SUMMARY

This BLOG argues that the sanctions thus far imposed are deliberate pin pricks, intended only to send a message and to invite Russia to join in a diplomatic effort to resolve the crisis without significant further economic or military escalation. The BLOG further argues that Russian responses seem also to point to an eagerness to resolve the dispute through diplomacy. Further, there is a diplomatic solution in the wings. I therefore, interpret that what has thus far taken place offers a guarded but optimistic promise.

 

BLOG

I think there is very little question among objective observers that the referendum conducted in Crimea was bogus on a number of grounds, first by being conducted with an army of occupation present, with minority Tatars and Ukrainians largely boycotting the vote, noted anti-Russian activists having “disappeared”, the critical media silenced, cancelled air and electronic communications with Ukraine, with the ballot not including an option to stay within Ukraine, with Russian non-Ukrainian citizens in Ukraine casting a ballot, and with clear evidence of overstuffing the ballot boxes since the votes were significantly higher in some constituencies. The absence of the Russian army, the posing of an honest question and a vote in favour of Russia over Ukraine would undoubtedly have produced a good majority for the Russian option if honestly conducted provided Kyiv agreement was obtained.  

Obama on behalf of the United States and the EU have now imposed very mild targeted sanctions against Russia as a result of the Russia’s occupation of Crimea and the recent vote overwhelmingly in favour of Crimea seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia. What are those sanctions intended to achieve and what is the likelihood of success, especially given the initial narrowness of the target and the shallowness of the sanctions regime? What are the risks associated with the imposition of such sanctions?

The sanctions regime has not been imposed as a milder aspect of a military conflict as in a blockade, but as a message, in Obama’s words, “to uphold the principle Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, and international law must be upheld,” a principle which is generally accepted as fundamental to the modern transnational order and the essential fabric of the Euro-Atlantic security alliance. But how can such sanctions work since they do not seem inherently to be able to induce Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine or to reverse the continuing integration of Crimea into Russia whether that integration is accomplished through political union or simply by making Crimea economically, legally, politically and militarily part of Russia without the final step of annexation or union?

First, the economic sanctions seem more like symbolic gestures to signal a process of diplomatic isolation that has been initiated, beginning with named individuals (Vladislav Surkov, a Putin aide; Sergey Glazyev, a Putin adviser; Leonid Slutsky, a state Duma deputy; Andrei Klishas, member of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, Valentina Matviyenko, head of the Federation Council, Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister, and Yelena Mizulina, a state Duma deputy). All are seen to be directly involved and responsible for “undermining the sovereignty, territorial integrity and government of Ukraine” but clearly the main ones responsible, namely Vladimir Putin himself and his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov,have not been targeted. The sanctions were expanded a bit on Monday to include Russian officials who provide material support to senior officials of the Russian government as well as  entities operating in the arms sector in Russia. But the scope of the application is very limited and the restrictions – visa restrictions and the mild economic sanctions – are merely signals that a process is underway which will be followed by further escalation. They do, however, target key architects and ideologues responsible for the Crimea policy who also seem to have been intimately involved in human rights abuses in Russia.

Efforts to begin a process of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation are not stand alone initiatives. NATO has been involved, not only through the movement of some military assets to Poland and the Baltic states, but in the verbal signal by Obama that, “As NATO allies, we have a solemn commitment to our collective defense, and we will uphold this commitment.” This is clearly a vague formulation, deliberately so, to provide room for political and diplomatic manoeuvring as well as time to consult allies this week to develop a more coordinated policy. But the signals focus on diplomatic isolation and economic initiatives and not military threats, though military threats are clearly not off the table as they seemed to be earlier. The main stress at this time, however, is on diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions.

It should be noted that Russia itself has engaged in token sabre rattling – the Russian fleet conducted live fire exercises, MIG-29s were deployed to Yerevan, Armenia, Turkish airspace was probed to rattle one of the quivering NATO members, and an ICBM test, admittedly pre-scheduled, was launched when it could have been postponed. But these gestures pale into insignificance compared to a call up of Russian troops to the Ukraine border. Both sides seem willing to wave starter pistols but seem reasonably clear that neither side wants this to escalate into a military conflict. 

But what are the goals? To prevent Russia from continuing its adventurism in eastern Ukraine? Or just to uphold a principle? Or to actually get Russia to reverse its position as seems to be signalled when Obama vowed that, “The international community will continue to stand together to oppose any violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia’s diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russian economy”? The signals so far seem to indicate that it is the principle that is at stake – and various diplomatic formulations can be devised for upholding the principle while effectively giving Russia de facto sovereignty over Crimea, a position that even Kissinger, the arch-realist and concessionary towards Russian interests, opposes  – as well as inhibiting Russia from taking further initiatives along this line given the promise to calibrate the measures up or down depending on whether Russia chooses to escalate or de-escalate.

Obama clearly continues to believe that diplomatic engagement still has a chance and that he understandably fears the alternative of more serious actions. Further, the solution is signalled in his words – Russia keeps its troops in Crimea and “pulls them back to their bases”, allows OSCE monitors to be deployed and then permits Russia and Ukraine to negotiate the solution through a constitutional change that will allow Crimea to legally secede and set out the conditions for such secession. That way the principle is maintained, Crimea is surrendered, but the integrity of Ukraine is otherwise maintained as well as the principle of self-determination of the Ukrainian people. Ukraine will enter the Western economic sphere and Russia will inherit Crimea.

That seems clearly to be the program. Will it work? Lavrov and Putin have both signalled back that the most important issue is the retention of US-Russian relations and not the Ukraine. Russian leaders have unequivocally warned the West that the existing order should not be sacrificed on the altar of the principle of sovereignty generally or the sovereignty of the Ukraine in particular. On Friday, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman reinforced the message that Russia did not want a return to the Cold War and openly recognized that the West was seeking a diplomatic solution and that Russia still had hopes “that some points of agreement could be found as a result of dialogue”. Russia was still referring to the United States as a partner in maintaining the international order. But Russia has sent no signal that it is willing to recognize the new central government in Kiev which ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, but would Russia be willing to engage in negotiations to recognize the government to be elected this Spring in return for the West recognizing a legal and formal way for the Ukraine to secede and become once again part of Russia?

At the same time as Russia has been talking softly, it is waving a big stick – economic reprisals of its own and on-and-off military manoeuvres. Russia has aimed its most belligerent remarks at the EU, especially when the EU suspended talks on a new comprehensive economic and political pact with Russia. Clearly, it will be difficult for the EU to hold all its members together in a unanimous policy, especially its south-eastern members such as Greece. But the key factor seems to be the resolve of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Like Obama, Merkel and Putin have been talking. Further, they have agreed not to take actions which would increase violence. The solution on the European front would involve a positive sum economic game involving not only Ukraine but Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaidjan in a formula that would allow countries like Georgia and Ukraine to be both part of the EU economic zone as well as Putin’s new eastern European customs union thereby serving as a bridge between the two blocks. Of course, easier said than done, but it is another one of the chess pieces in this critical international crisis. At the same time, Merkel has been tough and unequivocal that Ukrainian sovereignty is not up for discussion.

Will the mild signals thus far and the threat of diplomatic isolation and massive economic consequences from both sides while the military option remains off the table (though only in reference to actual deployment of troops on the ground) be able to steer the crisis into a negotiations stream? Russia has not only signalled a willingness to enter such negotiations but had initially signalled its own interest in de-escalating the conflict by NOT annexing Crimea yesterday, but simply recognizing Crimea’s independence of Ukraine, but then made it a fait accompli today. The two options are, admittedly, only a difference in name, but even such slight differences are significant in international diplomacy and the signalling attendant thereto.The EU and the US have been working together to forge a political and diplomatic path out of the crisis which seems to explain a small part of why the initial sanctions have been so mild and shallow.

The issue is how ready are Western nations to impose much more drastic state sanctions given the boomerang effect on their own economies. The words of ultra-nationalist Russian members of the Duma, such as Vladimir Zhirinovsky, that sanctions will not have any negative effect on Russia is, of course, nonsense. The fact that the initial sanctions were so mild and, as almost as a direct consequence, the value of the Russian ruble rose making up for part of its earlier more precipitous fall, is simply one signal that the international economic market alone will significantly punish Russia if the situation escalates rather than de-escalates. The sanctions imposed thus far are simply intended to signal that the West is serious and has stepped onto the second stage of the escalator but in such a way as to allow for reversal and not to insult the key decision makers or Russia itself. But like the MAD doctrine with the nuclear standoff, the signals will only carry that message if they are also backed by the threat of much more serious steps.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 14-3 in favor of imposing much broader sanctions on Russians and Ukrainians involved in human rights violations and anyone involved in undermining Ukraine’s security and stability. Those sanctions, that would include freezing assets held in the United States as well as travel bans and denying visas to a wider cohort, were combined with the promised aid to the Ukraine directly and through the IMF. Hopefully, those signals will not be undercut by any decisions of the House of Representatives. There is a problem with freezing individual assets abroad, however. In this year alone, an estimated $50 billion has flown out of Russia already. This has significantly harmed the Russian economy. If some of such assets are frozen, then the export of capital would stop and Russia’s economy would benefit.

The US has only to hold its 50 states together through a majority, mainly be bringing the House of Representatives on side. The EU is a federation that has to hold its 34 states together in a consensus. The weakest economic link for both, but more for the US, is the need to strengthen the IMF, a move opposed by a significant number of Republicans including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida who argues that giving the money to Kyiv will only reward Russia by allowing Kyiv to pay its huge Russian debts. Therefore, such loans are not a threat but a reward offered to Russia. Nevertheless, only three Republicans on the committee actual cast votes against the IMF provisions, Senators Paul, as could be expected, joined by Senators Jim Risch of Idaho and John Barrasso of Wyoming.

Will the EU which is so dependent on Russia for gas be willing to do this, or, more importantly at this stage, signal that it is willing to take much more drastic steps if diplomacy fails and send enough signals that these threats are serious even though they will be significantly detrimental to the European economy just as it is beginning its recovery from the series of blows around the Euro crisis? More visa bans and asset freezes are on the table for the third stage of escalation (the steps Monday were the second stage for visa restrictions on Russian and Crimean officials and private citizens had already been imposed). But what about much more vigorous economic restrictions?

Germany already has an unprecedented (for it) unemployment rate of 7% and exports goods and services worth $130 billion to the Russian Federation (US exports are only $2.9 billion), let alone its dependency on Russia for 40% of its oil and gas. If, for example, more crippling sanctions, such as imposing limitations on Russian oil and natural-gas purchases, Germany would itself suffer enormously and the initiative has a significant risk of throwing Europe as well as Russia into a downward economic spiral let alone the devastating effect on the Ukraine economy. 45%  of Russian exports, 2/3rds oil and gas, goes to the EU. Ukraine sells almost $16 billion to Russia. Wider sanctions would be devastating all the way round, most devastating on Ukraine, extremely devastating on Russia and very devastating on the EU. But unless the EU holds a credible threat that it will resort to such sanctions, the possibility of Russia following a path of greater escalation increases. Russia has to know, as the Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, noted, that sanctions will be inevitable, thereby enabling Russia to “realise that sanctions will hurt everyone, but no one more than the Russians themselves.”

So broad sanctions will be avoided except as a last resort such as in response to a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine. The sanctions imposed are extremely mild and are merely a pin prick on the Great Bear. But they are intended only as a signal and are not intended as a deterrent or punishment for they are far too gentle for that. The velvet glove of diplomacy not only thus far lacks an iron glove inside but even a green padded boxing glove, green for both St. Patrick’s day and significant economic sanctions. The sanctions imposed thus far are not intended to hurt. They are just tweets to say more can and will be forthcoming – freezing bank balances, stopping credit lines, cancelling barter deals and suspending joint projects, still far short of broad sanctions – unless we join together in a process of de-escalation.

Sarajevo and 1914 rather than Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 really haunt the current crisis. The West is NOT diplomatically impotent even if, militarily, its hands are tied behind its back with few military options available. Should the West escalate by offering Georgia and Ukraine associate status in NATO? Would that act as a deterrent or be seen as an abandonment of the diplomatic route? Diplomacy is accomplished not simply by what states do but by what they credibly convey they are willing to do. But the dilemma is that if the threat is to be meaningful, it must be made credible. But the more credible it becomes the more such measures inspire the other side to adopt equal and balancing counter-measures.

Tomorrow – Margaret Macmillan and How the Peace Was Lost.

Prognostications – Ukraine

 Prognostications

by

Howard Adelman

 

Predictions are a very high risk activity, especially when offered by a rank amateur and when the evidence is so mixed. There are some signs of truth that can serve as a guide. But predictions are inherently not about what is truth but about what may be and what could be and what will be. Will there be further military action outside Crimea. I can equivocate by engaging in possibilities and probabilities but if I say military activity in Eastern Ukraine is unlikely but also a distinct possibility, to some degree or other I have to get off the fence. Putin ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine’s border to return to their bases. That suggests that there will NOT be Russian military activity in the eastern Ukraine. On the other hand, Putin has said unequivocally that he would use the threat of wider military intervention to reassert Russian influence over all or part of Ukraine and it would be legal since requested by the legally elected president, Viktor Yanukovych. The West has unequivocally signaled that military force will not be used in Ukraine. But will the West continue to be given that choice if Russia actually invades Eastern Ukraine?

As the West prepares strong economic sanctions, Russia’s agricultural oversight agency withdrew its decision to lift the ban on imports of U.S. pork. At the same time, the subsidy for lower-priced gas from Gazprom for Ukraine was dropped (prices will rise from $268.50 to $400 per thousand cubic feet) and future economic measures were promised against Ukraine. The U.S. has already released oil from its strategic reserves. Economic warfare will assuredly escalate. While Putin refuses to recognize the planned Ukrainian election as well as the results, he set in motion a referendum that will be held in Crimea on 16 March; he promised he would recognize those results. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement just yesterday which suggested the aggressive Russian efforts would be restricted to the Crimea “taking into complete account the interests of all Ukrainians and all regions in the search for an exit from the crisis and also the respect of the right of the residents of Crimea to determine their fate on their own in accordance with the norms of international law.” Vadim Karasyov, a Kyiv-based political analyst, went further and interpreted this to mean that Russia would NOT be incorporating Crimea, but would be satisfied with Ukrainian independence.  

Bottom Line

1. Crimean Separatism

Crimeans vote for independence on 16 March or  whether they want union with Russia. The original motion for a ballot when the parliament lacked a real quorum and when the vote was scheduled for 30 March was for union with Russia without surrendering being part of Ukraine by approving the following statement: “The Autonomous Republic of Crimea has state independence (my italics) and is a part of Ukraine on the basis of agreements and accords.” Last Thursday (6 March), the supreme council in Crimea passed a motion with 78 of 100 legislators (8 abstained) in favour that the referendum would be scheduled for 16 March and would be on whether to join Russia OR have greater independence while remaining de jure part of Ukraine. The two choices are:

1. “Are you in favour of Crimea becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation?”

2. “Are you in favour of restoring Crimea’s 1992 constitution?” [That constitution provided that Crimea is part of Ukraine – there is no provision for secession – but its relations with Ukraine are determined by a treaty mutually agreed upon between Crimea and Ukraine.] As worded, the ballot inherently rejects both the 2004 constitution, which does not presume relations are determined by mutual agreement, and the current treaty between Ukraine and Crimea. 

Since Sevastopol residents will be allowed to take part in the referendum – which means all the sailors in the whole warm water fleet of Russia as well as all the Russian soldiers now stationed in Crimea – the outcome of the vote will likely be for joining Russia even if Russia leaves open the question of whether they will accede to this request as a bargaining chip. OSCE observers will not likely be permitted to observe the voting.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the new government will resist separatism. “We are committed to the territorial integrity and unity of my country. And the new government will do everything and use all legal means [my italics] to stabilize the situation in Crimea and to convince the entire world and all Ukrainian neighbors that Ukraine is a sovereign united country and no separatism is allowed.”

The government in Kyiv will be unsuccessful, but Western states will not recognize the independence of Crimea or its joining Russia. I suspect that the West will eventually de facto but not de jure accede to this move, especially given the precedent of Kosovo. However, Crimean secession will not be the cause of significant escalation in the crisis. But there will be an escalation. Crimea’s Deputy Prime Minister, Rustam Temirgaliev (incidentally a Tatar at odds with most other Crimean Tatars), has already said that the decision on secession had already been made and the vote is merely intended to endorse that decision. After that endorsement, Ukrainian troops in Crimea would be regarded as military occupiers and would be invited to take out Russian citizenship and join the Russian army or lay down their arms and be repatriated to Ukraine.

If they do not lay down their arms, will the bases be attacked? Will the Ukrainian fleet that is now under blockade, if they resist surrender, be attacked? Any such ultimatum will, I suspect, induce a much greater response in the West and the threat of much greater responses is intended to deter Putin from taking further aggressive action in Crimea as well as other parts of Ukraine. In any case, Russia has no need to attack the bases or the Ukrainian fleet; they are no threat to any eventual outcome if left bottled up. Moreover, they symbolize the impotence of Kyiv vis a vis decisions in Crimea. The real danger comes from the 10,000+ militia working alongside Russian troops and the ones most likely responsible for kidnappings and intimidation of foreigners, including journalists.

2. Eastern Ukraine

Unless NATO challenges Putin and threatens military action in eastern Ukraine, expect bullying thuggery in Luhansk, and Donetsk (the Donbas), the mining and industrial rust belt of Ukraine. Two weeks ago there was a possibility that those areas would try to follow the example of Crimea by voting for independence while insisting they are still part of Ukraine and that Putin would deploy troops to prevent “hooliganism” and ensure order and protection for the Russian minority but again deny that they are Russian troops. However, this is now far less likely given NATO’s military response, the escalating economic sanctions and the unanimity in the West opposing Russia’s moves.

3. Ukraine

Putin will not accept Ukraine’s efforts to become part of Europe and will go all out to ensure that Ukraine remains within Russia’s “sphere of influence”. As a result of his moves on the Crimea, however, Putin will lose Ukraine except for Crimea. Depending on how he plays his hand and how the West responds, this will also include any future influence in the Donbas.

4. Moldova

Moldova, south and west of Ukraine with Romania on the east, may be the next area of crisis rather than eastern Ukraine, both to distract from the Ukraine controversies and because of its internal dynamic. Like Ukraine, Moldova has also come under pressure to drop its negotiated association agreement with the EU that has not yet been put on the implementation track. Further, the Russians have troops as “peacekeepers” – their status is disputed – in the eastern province of Trans-Dniester (Trans Dnestr or Transnistria) that borders Ukraine on the east with the Dniester River on the West. The majority of the population is Russian and Ukrainian. Like the Donbas, the area is the industrial heartland of Moldova. The area since 1792 was once part of the Russian Empire. Like Odessa, just to the east, the Ukrainians there speak Russian. Further, though Trans-Dniester is part of Moldova, like Crimea it has an autonomous legal status as the Pridnestrovian MoldavianRepublic – Pridnestrovie. 

Set up in the aftermath of the disintegration of the USSR and in response to 1989 decisions by Moldova to make Moldovan the only official language and adopt the Latin alphabet, a full scale war was fought between this region and Moldova in 1992. The war ended with Russian intervention and, without changing the legal status, Pridnestrovie became a satrap of Russia. Though not recognized anywhere as an independent republic except by South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Pridnestrovie has its own constitution, flag, national anthem, president, parliament, military, police and even its own currency. Most residents have Moldavian citizenship (300,000) but another 250,000 have either or both Ukrainian and Russian citizenship. In the 2004 census of a population of 555,347 people, 177,785 (32.1%) were Moldovans, 168,678 (30.35%) were Russians and 160,069 (28.8%) Ukrainians with 8.7% Bulgarians, Gagauzians, Roma, Jews, Poles, etc.  

In a 2006 referendum by the Pridnestrovie government, 97.2% of the population favoured independence from Moldova and free association with Russia. The EU has not recognized the referendum results. Pridnestrovie, like Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, are really outposts of the Russian Federation as will be Crimea if it is not incorporated right into Russia.

Pridnestrovie is not the only Moldovan territory that could mimic Crimea. In the Gagauzian strip of Moldova south-west of Pridnestrovie with the Ukraine border to its east, the province is more akin to the provinces of eastern Ukraine. However, since 1994, it has had its own special legal status within Moldova. A 2 February referendum there voted 98% in favour of closer ties with Russia than the EU and voted for secession if Moldova joins the EU. 

5. Economics and Sanctions 

U.S.the EU froze the assets of 18 people held responsible for misappropriating state funds in Ukraine, echoing similar action in Switzerland and Austria as well as Canada. The Russian parliament began drafting legislation that would allow the authorities to confiscate assets belonging to U.S. and European companies, but nothing likely will come of it. Nevertheless, economic warfare on a number of fronts between the West and Russia will continue to escalate.

6. Cyber Warfare

Expect extensive efforts by Russia to sabotage Ukrainian communications, efforts that are already underway. Crimea has already been cut off from access to Ukrainian broadcasts. 

7. Military

If Russia actually resorts to using military means to retain Ukraine as part of Russia, which I now think is highly unlikely, Ukraine will resist militarily and NATO will have to decide whether it acquiesces to an anschluss in Ukraine, then the more likely Putin will resort to military means to retain Ukraine. The West has not taken up the half of a two-pronged strategy based on a threat and possible use of the military lest this risk leading to war between Russia and the West. If escalation in the use of the military by both sides is avoided, then the West will have won the major battle for Ukraine excluding Crimea without a fight.

8. Protests in Russia

There will be extensive protests within Russia against the West aided and supported by the state as well as protests against Putin’s policies, but the latter will be ruthlessly squelched.

9. The Caucasus

Expect Muslim separatists and extremists to try to take advantage of the period of turmoil forthcoming.

10. The Middle East

Cooperation between the West and Russia on Syria will disappear, but the dismantling of the chemical weapons will continue. There will be virtually no effect on the Iran negotiations except that Russia will lose any position of influence.

11. Viktor Yanukovych

He will not return to Ukraine to stand trial but he will be able to retain little of his acquired booty and will be barely but marginally tolerated by Russia. Putin has little use for losers who let him down while stealing on a grand scale.

12. The Budapest Memorandum of 1994

It will either be used to back down from the brink (unlikely) or become a dead letter, the more probable outcome.

Anti-Semitism in the Ukraine

Anti-Semitism in the Ukraine

by

Howard Adelman

 

My mother was born in Toronto before World War I but her parents migrated from Galicia to Canada at the end of the nineteenth century in flight from a spate of pogroms. They experienced anti-Semitism in the Ukraine directly. They were from that part of Galicia that is now incorporated into western Ukraine. My father, whose family were “Polacks”, said you could always tell a Galicianer from the Ukraine because they ate their latkes with sour cream rather than sugar. My mother’s mother was from Bukovina and my grandfather from Lviv.  

For the last decade, world Jewry has been pre-occupied with the so-called new-anti-Semitism in which claims are made that the singling out of Israel for the boycott campaign is rooted in attempts to delegitimize Israel and deny Jews the right to self-determination. In the Ukraine and Russia we are back on familiar ground with the old anti-Semitism less than two months after observing International Holocaust Remembrance Day on the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet forces. Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith, while far from ignoring anti-Jewish slights in the USA, has been vitriolic in suggesting that Europe remains a cesspool of hatred threatening the Jewish people. Does what is happening in Ukraine prove his and Putin’s point? We cannot wait to find out until the symposium planned this fall at UofT by Irv Abella and Rob Pritchard that will focus on the old as well as the new anti-Semitism.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia invaded Crimea with so-called “local defence units” on the pretext that he was protecting Russians and Jews from a rising tide of fascist anti-Semitic nationalists even though Jewish supporters of Crimea re-joining Russia in the Crimea deny the existence of any significant anti-Semitism. Anatoly Gendin was born in Russia, lives in the Ukraine and supports the annexation of Crimea to Russia. He is also the leader of Crimea’s Progressive Jewish Community. But he has said: “I don’t feel any anti-Semitism in Crimea.”

Yet Moscow’s propaganda machine claimed that Ukraine was being swept by a wave of anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Putin depicted the revolutionaries in Ukraine as reactionary “anti-Semitic forces…on a rampage”.  This line is fully in accord with Abe Foxman’s belief that Europe, especially Hungary, Greece, Italy and Bulgaria, are enduring a significant degree of anti-Semitism because of the coming together of nationalist anti-government forces. Despite the official line that thousands of Russian troops who have occupied the Crimean peninsula over the last two weeks are actually “local self-defence units,” the message is that Russia is there to defend the minority groups in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine. In fact, incidents of anti-Semitism, such as the knife attack on a 26 year-old haredi Jewish teacher, Hillel Wertheimer, returning from synagogue after Shabat in Kyiv on 11 January, the attack a week later on 33-year old Yeshiva student, Dov-Ber Glickman, again after he left synagogue, and the firebombing of a Chabad centre southeast of Kyiv in Zaporizhiye in February, have been three attacks too many but, on the other hand, such anti-Semitic incidents have been few and far between.

However, as The Algemeiner reported yesterday, Putin sometimes can be AC/DC in reference to anti-Semitism for his enemies can be Zionist agents in the new version of anti-Semitism or anti-Semitic ones using the older version. “Back in 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused his regional rival Viktor Yushchenko, who was then the pro-western president of Ukraine, of having campaigned on the basis of ‘anti-Russian, Zionist’ slogans”. He subsequently clarified that to say he meant to accuse Viktor Yuschenko of being backed by anti-Semites.

The irony, of course, is that although there have been incidents in both Russia and the Ukraine, neither country has witnessed any clearly state-backed anti-Semitism. What takes place appears to be infrequent with no distinctive pattern in spite of Stephen Cohen’s allegations that Ukrainian nationalists are born-again Hitler youth, a sentiment echoed by Michael Lerner of Tikkun. At the beginning of March there was an incident at the Ner Tamid Synagogue in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, not far from Lenin Square. A large swastika and the words “Kill the Zhids” was painted on the front door. A security camera caught a man carrying a back pack from which he took the spray can. That man has not been identified. Was he a Ukrainian nationalist or was he a Russian planted provocateur or at least someone out to provide evidence to justify Putin’s claims?

Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, a chief rabbi of Ukraine, accused Russia of staging anti-Semitic “provocations” in Crimea to justify its invasion. Anatoly Gendin, the Jewish Russian supporter in the Crimea of annexation, cited it as the only anti-Semitic incident in Crimea and it took place when Russian troops were taking control. Rabbi Misha Kapustin,  ordained by Leo Baeck College in London and the rabbi of the synagogue in the Crimea where the anti-Semitic graffiti was painted on the door, has echoed Gendin’s sentiments and said that, “I didn’t feel any anti-Semitism previously in Crimea,” but since he now openly wears a lapel pin with the Ukrainian and Israeli flags, he has been attacked on the internet as a disloyal Jew.  As Boris Berlin, a Jewish computer engineer living in Crimea, says, it is only since the Russian occupation and the vote calling for a referendum on annexation that you hear anti-Semitic remarks. “It’s a circus, not democracy.” Compare the 82% of the Ukrainian parliament that voted for the ouster of  Viktor Yanukovych, when he reneged on his agreement with the opposition on ending the violent clashes in Maidan, to the vote in Crimea where there were only 36 of 100 members of the Crimean legislature present when the vote supporting annexation and the decision to hold a referendum was passed “unanimously” as revealed by Norwegiam journalists. (Siste nytt: Grisebonde ble handlingslammet kl.11:46) Nicolay Sumulidi, a member of the Crimean Parliament, is recorded as having supported the vote, but he was not even present. Neither was Irina Klyuyeva who was also recorded as voting for the motions.

Norwegian investigative reporters filled in the details after 30 masked gunmen in military fatigues at the beginning of March seized and trashed the office of the independent Center for Investigative Journalism in Simferopol. Yesterday, three journalists, Epsen Kruse, Kristian Elster and Bengt Kristiansen, from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) were attacked in Crimea by 15-20 masked and armed militiamen whom the Norwegian journalists said were Russian soldiers in disguise. Their computers and storage devices were confiscated. They were accused of being spies but were released. Reporters Without Borders said that two days earlier, two Ukrainian journalists went missing and are believed to have been kidnapped. Olena Maksymenko of Ukrainsky Tizhden was one. She disappeared with Kateryna Butko and Aleksandra Ryazantseva, two Auto-Maidan activists. They were last seen tied and bound kneeling near a military tent. Freelance photographer, Oles Kromplyas, and his driver, Yevhen Rakhno, are also missing. Censorship has been imposed on Crimea for “moral principles” and “legal imperatives” and Ukrainian TV is no longer allowed to transmit in Crimea.

Since we are unlikely to learn any time soon who painted the swastika, we can at least investigate the credentials of Svoboda (Freedom) Party led by Oleh Tyahnibok, and Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector) led by Dmitro Yarosh, Ukraine’s main two nationalist parties. The latter consists of rabid militant ultra-nationalists determined to rid Ukraine of foreign threats to its Ukrainian character, whether those threats come from the east, the west or internally from groups who do not respect the right of the Ukrainian people to their own land. But Yarosh has stated: “Many Jews have fought and died for the cause of Ukrainian nationalism. I see those men as heroes of Ukraine. So what kind of anti-Semite does that make me?” On the other hand he is an open admirer of Stepan Bandera who led the fight for Ukrainian independence during World War II in collaboration with the Nazis, his militias going far beyond fighting the Russians when they engaged in anti-Jewish pogroms.

Oleh Tyahnibok is also an admirer of Bandera and he himself in 2007 as a member of parliament accused “yids” of working in collaboration with the Russian mafia who together were responsible for Ukraine’s problems. The admiration for Bandera goes to the heart of Ukrainian patriotism. In 2010, President Viktor Yushchenko had awarded Bandera the posthumous title of Hero of Ukraine for “defending national ideas and battling for an independent Ukrainian state,” an award withdrawn when Viktor Yanukovych assumed the presidency.

However, in spite of this smudge of anti-Semitism on the nationalist right and the taint of it in the centre, Ukraine’s bid to free itself from Russian domination has not been driven by anti-Semitic ideology. Many Ukrainian Jewish leaders have pointed this out unequivocally. “I categorically refute the statements appearing in a number of foreign media outlets of facts of massive anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Ukraine that do not correspond to reality!” Vadim Rabinovich, representing the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, went on to claim that, “The whipping up of the situation around this issue is of a provocative nature and does not contribute to a calm life for the Jewish community of Ukraine.”

On 7 March, prominent Ukrainian Jews wrote an open letter to Vladimir Putin calling on the President to withdraw his Russian military forces from Crimea and accusing him of using false claims of ultra-nationalism and anti-Semitism to legitimise intervention in Ukraine. “Historically, Ukrainian Jews are mostly Russian-speaking…Our opinion on what is happening carries no less weight than the opinion of those who advise and inform you.” The signatories included those of scholars, scientists, businessmen, artists and musicians. The letter was unequivocal in rejecting Putin’s line that the protest movement that removed president Viktor Yanukovich was made up of “anti-Semitic forces on the rampage,” asked without qualification for removal of Russian troops from Crimea and suggested that anti-Semitism was a greater threat in Russia than in Ukraine.

They claimed that Ukraine was a multi-ethnic society with quite a few national minority representatives in the Cabinet of Ministers – the Minister of Internal Affairs is Armenian, the Vice-Prime Minister is a Jew, two ministers are Russian. Vladimir Groisman, another Jew and a popular mayor of the city of Vinnytsaa, was appointed first deputy prime minister in charge of regional development in the new Ukrainian government. The newly-appointed governors of Ukraine’s region are also not exclusively Ukrainian. Billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskyi, a Ukranian Jew, was named as the governor of the Dniepropetrovsk region in south-central Ukraine as a counterweight to Ukraine’s richest oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov, who is the media mogul in eastern Ukraine, the owner of the largest TV station that has allowed his media outlets to serve as a mouthpiece for Russia’s propaganda.

That does not mean Jewish leaders in Ukraine deny the existence of any anti-Semitism in Ukraine, especially among the marginal nationalist parties, but even then they insisted that neither Svoboda nor Pravyi Sektor, who were united with other protesters in the anti-Yanukovich protest movement, dared show anti-Semitism or other xenophobic behaviour. They claimed that both civil society and the new Ukrainian government had both under control, a sentiment echoed by  Oleksandr Feldman, a member of the Ukraine parliament and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee. The signatories of the open letter then poked Putin the eye – “which is more than can be said for the Russian neo-Nazis, who are encouraged by your security services.” The problem was not indigenous nationalism but exogenous intervention by Russia into Ukraine’s domestic affairs by a leader who believes that the independence of Ukraine was a national tragedy for Russia.

In the Crimea, Vitali Khramov, a Russian citizen, was an outspoken anti-Semite who labelled Jews “corpse-fuckers” since, he claimed, screwing a dead body was a ritual necrophilic requirement as important as a bar mitzvah for young Jewish men. The international financial system was led by Rockefeller, a Jew, and his fellow Jewish banking cabal that was determined to drive Russia into the ground. The U.S. was a Zionist war-monger financed by Jewish money. For years, Khramov led Sobol that advocated that Russia annex the Crimea. Though deported in 2012, his separatist paramilitaries serve as the main forces for harassing Ukrainians opposed to the Russian anschluss. So when Putin and Moscow claim to John Kerry that he is blind to Ukrainian anti-Semitism and the forces of radical extremism that have seized control in the Ukraine while ignoring the “rampant Russophobia and anti-Semitism” among the group that took power, we have an example not simply of the kettle calling the pot black but of a lie, repeated and repeated like a dripping faucet so that the lie, as Mao Zedong claimed, becomes an accepted truth, or, at the very least, a legitimate claimant upon truth.

The reality is that Moscow’s reference to attacks on synagogues could only be corroborated by the four attacks mentioned above. one of which took place in Crimea when Russian forces were taking control of the area. Anatoly Gendin, mentioned above as a supporter of reunion of the Crimea with Russia and head of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Crimea, but he claimed that Jews were being blamed for the huge increase in inflation in Crimea. Rabbi Misha Kapustin felt that he had been forced to close the synagogue where the anti-Semitic graffiti had been sprayed for the safety of his congregation. A visiting Jewish delegation led by Oleksandr Feldman claimed that the ten thousand Jews of Crimea were divided based on age, with the older Jews wanting Russia to annex Crimea so their pensions would be three times as high while the younger group preferred to work and raise their children in a Ukraine allied with the west.    

Putin invaded Crimea under the pretext of a massive lie about anti-Semitism. He may gain Crimea but the gain will be at the cost of a permanent loss of Ukraine from his fantasy of building an eastern version of the EU under Russian control and revealing to the whole world what a liar and bully he is.

On 2 April, the Ukrainian Jewish Committee will host its fourth annual interfaith national forum with participants from 50 countries to discuss anti-Semitism.