Sad News for NPSIA and MIPIS

We received this announcement today:

The Carleton University community is saddened to learn of the death of Edgar Wayne Boone, who was one of two individuals killed in a multi-vehicle car/motorcycle crash near Belleville on Saturday afternoon.

“Professor Boone was instrumental in helping to establish the Master’s in Infrastructure Protection and International Security, a joint initiative of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton,” said Dr. Peter Ricketts, provost and vice-president (Academic). “After his retirement, Wayne made valuable contributions to the program as an adjunct research professor in NPSIA.”

Wayne joined Carleton on July 1, 2009 and retired from his position on June 30, 2014.

The university extends its condolences to his spouse Sherain Boone and their two children. Funeral service details will be shared once confirmed by the family.

It is with heavy heart that we post this news here.  While Wayne just recently left our program, he still was viewed as a core member of the NPSIA community.  He will be missed.

Crimea Is Not Kosovo, Kosovo Is Not Crimea

The standard line for Putin apologists and Russophiles is that Crimea is just Kosovo but a bit to the east.  This is lousy comparative politics, so let’s list how they are different:

  • The US and its friends took a decade to intervene in Kosovo (one can start the clock anytime, but I choose to start the revocation of Kosovo’s autonomy within Serbia) after years of both massacres and negotiations.  Crimea happened immediately after Russia’s stooge fled Kiev.  Russia moved before any effort could be made to bargain, to send a peace keeping mission or preventative mission.  this really is the key
  • US and its friends did not conquer Kosovo and annex it.  Russia did hold a sham referendum and annexed Crimea.
  • Oh yeah, we could compare how the decisions were made.  Kosovo’s parliament voted for independence years after the local populace demanded it.  Crimea’s referendum happened shortly after Russia de facto occupied Crimea, the opponents were roughed up and/or arrested, and it is pretty clear that the results were just a bit fraudulent.
  • Kosovo was after … Bosnia, where the west had dithered while genocide happened.  Oh, and Kosovo was also after Transnistria, where a Russian military unit essentially seceded from Moldova and after Russia’s support for Armenian irredentism, and other Russian efforts in the former Soviet Union.  Crimea was after … Georgia where Russia did a nice job of playing Georgia and then created not one but two de facto independent states/failed states from territory carved out of Georgia.
  • US and its friends did not use nuclear threats during the crisis or afterwards, although SACEUR Gen. Wesley Clark was determined to confront Russia’s moves to Pristina.  Russia has been making nuclear threats in many directions.
  • The aftermath of American and Russian intervention tends to create failed states.  In the former, this is mostly not intentional.  In the latter, it is entirely intentional.
  • After Kosovo, the US and its allies stopped.  There was no more armed intervention in the Balkans but the US (ok, one minor effort to stop Macedonia from imploding in 2001).  After Crimea, Russia launched a war in Ukraine, not just supporting separatists but sending its own forces, prolonging the conflict and violating ceasefires.

Of course, the US is not blameless in the world, as one could criticize the invasion of Iraq (which I have done repeatedly since it happened).  But that does not legitimate or excuse what Russia is doing now.  Russia’s behavior threatens European security in ways that Kosovo never did precisely because there was never a threat that the US/NATO would be invading anywhere else.  Russia?   It is not done with Ukraine–the conflict goes on because Russia wants it to go on.  And Russia has been making provocative moves towards the Baltics ever since.  Where is that Estonian officer that got grabbedStill in Russia.

One can argue that all interventions are illegal, although responsibility to protect may suggest otherwise.  Kosovo, whatever its flaws, was an effort to prevent further massacres after all other efforts had failed.  Crimea and now Donbass are efforts by Russia to destabilize a neighbor after Russia lost its grip.  Yes, we can compare the two, but the comparison reveals significant differences and only superficial similarities.

Stephen Saideman

Blogging the Gap

Yesterday, I had the chance to participate in the Bridging the Gap workshop led by Bruce Jentleson.  It is an effort every summer to help younger scholars figure out how to engage the policy world in a variety of ways, including figuring out how to write and publish op-eds, how to get into government for short periods of time (like the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship that changed my career/life), how to engage think tanks and more.

I arrived the day before and watched other folks (Michael Horowitz,
Emily Goldman, Peter Feaver) talk about their government experiences,
and then heard some editors talk about writing for magazines (Jacob
Heilbrunn of the National Interest [we knew each other long ago at Oberlin], Ben Pauker of Foreignpolicy.com, Steve Clemons of The Atlantic).   I found both panels quite interesting and really enjoyed the deja vu from the first one as Mike and Peter, in particular, had experiences and reactions that were ones with which I heavily identified.

Anyhow, my job was, along with Ryan Evans of War on the Rocks and Kim Yi Dionne of the Monkey Cage, was to talk about blogging and other social media as well as the Online Media Caucus.  What did I say?

That blogging is now in its third generation–from random folks having small audiences and mostly talking to each other, to more prominent folks engaging wider audiences, to now a proliferation not just of blogs but of blogging collectives (Monkey Cage, Duck of Minerva, Political Violence at a Glance, etc) where the challenge is now getting one’s blog noticed in the crowded space.

I discussed some of the pro’s and con’s of blogging (which mostly also apply to twitter):

While there is some danger, I think even very modest restraint (I am not able to be more than just a bit restrained) is sufficient to allow one to partake of the benefits.

Should blogging/social media just be for tenured folks?  No, because we all should be disseminating our knowledge.  And blogging/twitter do lead to things like more citations, more engagement, more networking and this can actually help one get tenure as long as one does not see one’s blog as a publication.  It does not count as a pub but as service.  Perhaps the easiest/least taxing/least risky way to blog as a junior faculty member or even student is to guest post.  This allows one to stake claims and gain visibility without appearing to be wasting time on non-pubs (old attitudes linger among the dinosaurs who have tenure).  For an engaging example of such a guest post, see this.

I also discussed twitter since I had heard they wanted more info on it.  I did admit that twitter can be a time suck if one gets engaged in long conversations or watches one’s feed too much.  I insisted that not everyone should tweet but all scholars should be on twitter.  Huh?  That one can lurk and follow other researchers to learn about new research (I cited Jason Lyall as example) as well as follow key actors such as the NATO Secretary General (or my fave: @CanadaNATO and @USNATO) in one’s research area, as well as the muse of the National Security twitter community (@morgfair).  One can find out lots of stuff without ever tweeting.

But if you want to make connections to journalists, experts, government folks and the like, then engage on twitter.  Ask them questions, retweet them if they say stuff that is interesting, offer one’s views.  It is because of my engagement of the aforementioned NATO folks that when I was in Brussels, I ended up having real contact with real people and talked about the current dynamics within NATO regarding Ukraine and Russia.  I got in this business due to my curiosity–I want to know more about much–and twitter allows me to engage my curiosity in ways that foster my research and teaching and in ways that just entertain me.

How much can one say in 140 characters?  This central mystery deters many people from twitter: I can barely say something in 8000 words, so 140c?  My answer is that the 140 c constraint is a myth–as one can include links in tweets (to blog posts or whatever), that if pictures are a thousand words, then tweets can be a thousand words with the right pic attached, that one can have a series of tweets to make a point), and that conversations of 140c’s back and forth add up to engagement.

I concluded by plugging the Online Media Caucus, as both an advocate for those who use online media and as a focal point for talking about research, teaching, service and engagement via online media–how to do it better, how to understand it better.

Despite recent events, I think that we need to engage beyond academia more, not less, and the Bridging the Gap effort is an excellent way to help those who are interested in doing so.  I was glad I was able to attend and participate.  Not a bad way to spend a hot week in DC.

Stephen Saideman

Fighting Fire with Water: Counter Putin’s Ambiguity with Clarity

I was at a very interesting roundtable at the Lithuanian Embassy in Ottawa a couple of days ago.  I cannot say what others had to say due to Chatham House Rule, although a former CF general had some interesting things to say that I will need to think about.  But what I can discuss is what I said and what the conversation provoked me to think about more.

One of the themes of the conversation was that Putin uses ambiguity to his advantage.  Who owns those little green men who show up?  He only claims credit for sham referenda after the fact.  He has stretched plausible deniability to the breaking point or perhaps not, as Europeans of various stripes still consider Ukraine in ways that buy some of Putin’s spin.

So, I wondered is the best way to respond to ambiguity is with more ambiguity or with clarity?  My bet is on clarity, and that is what drove my comments/recommendations.

How best to make the situation less opaque?  How to make it easier for outsiders (and insiders) to understand and assess?

  1. Make the condition of the Russian-speakers in the Baltics better.  Putin has claimed the plight of Russians in the near abroad as a justification for Russian aggression.  While he will always be able to say that Russian speakers are oppressed, the more obviously false this is, the better.  Citizenship for Russian speakers varies among the Baltics.  My recommendation in Brussels two weeks ago and since is for the European Union to dump a heap of cash on the areas where Russian speakers live in the Baltics to improve the local economies.  It would also make sense to run an info ops campaign showing the Russians of the Baltics what life looks like in Moscow, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine (not to mention Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, etc).
  2. The governments of the Baltic Republics should make it abundantly clear that any effort to subvert or salami slice will be met aggressively.  My recommendation, which is plenty provocative, is that the rules of engagement for the Estonian, Latvia, and Lithuanian militaries should be to grant the low ranking officers on the ground with the authority to shoot at “little green men” if their communications to their headquarters are disrupted.  Yes, shoot first, and ask questions later.  Actually, that is the first step, and the second step is to let everyone (Putin/Russia, NATO) know that they have delegated this authority.  This would mean that any Russian effort here would immediately spiral.  This is good, yes, good, because Putin is an opportunist and, as far as we can tell, not suicidal.  The threat to use nuclear weapons is always incredible, but the threat to start something that might spiral out of control is not.  Any Russian attack (cyber, unconventional, whatever) will lead to discussions at the North Atlantic Council (NATO’s decision making body) that may take days, and Putin wants to get inside that decision loop, acting faster than NATO and then presenting with faits accompli.  Delegating authority to soldiers on the ground AND letting everyone know that would make those faits accompli have an automaticity to them–of escalation.
  3. The Baltics should try to entice the US to base troops on a more than just continuous basis.  Give the US discounts on property, subsidize exercises or even the movement of stuff to be based on their territory.  Anything they can do to make it easier for the Americans to base permamently is a good thing.  Continuous exercising, the NATO fudging, is not clear, and we need more clarity.  Ambiguity in this might be good for getting consensus at the NAC, but the US can do this on its own.  It might hurt NATO solidarity a smidge, but Putin acting in the Baltics would do far more damage.

I did suggest one other thing–that the more pressure NATO faces, the more the stakes become about NATO, the more NATO will respond.  NATO’s history is one of reluctance until pushed and then unity: Bosnia 1995, Kosovo 1999, Afghanistan for years (even those who left early returned in another capacity).  So, the more Putin makes NATO his target, the more NATO will show up and unite.

by Steve Saideman

The NATO Russia Founding Act is O.B.E.*

*O.B.E is one of my favorite acronyms that I learned while working in the Pentagon for a year: overcome by events.

Some argue that NATO cannot do much more in the east because of commitments made as part of the NATO Russia Founding Act. My take is that the agreement is dead, dead, dead.  Let’s take a look.

There is a key line in the second paragraph:

NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries.

Um, oops.  That has been overcome by events.  Putin/Russia has been making nuclear and other threats towards NATO members, and has been guilty of killing citizens of NATO countries via the downing of the airliner.  So, this basic assertition is dead.

Ok, now lets look at the big conditions necessary for this all to work out (my commentary in red and bold applied wherever I feel like):

To achieve the aims of this Act, NATO and Russia will base their relations on a shared commitment to the following principles:

  • development, on the basis of transparency, of a strong, stable,
    enduring and equal partnership and of cooperation to strengthen security
    and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area; [do any of these terms still apply: stable, enduring partnership, cooperation?]
  • acknowledgement of the vital role that democracy, political
    pluralism, the rule of law, and respect for human rights and civil
    liberties and the development of free market economies play in the
    development of common prosperity and comprehensive security; [this almost reads like a joke.  How is that rule of law thing going in Russia?  Civil Liberties?  Kleptocracy and capitalism are often confused but are not identical]
  • refraining from the threat or use of force against each other as
    well as against any other state, its sovereignty, territorial integrity
    or political independence in any manner inconsistent with the United
    Nations Charter and with the Declaration of Principles Guiding Relations
    Between Participating States contained in the Helsinki Final Act; [this is the killer principle that no longer applies as Russia has used force, it has violated the territorial integrity and sovereignty if Ukraine, it has issued threats against Denmark and the Baltics, nuclear ones, as well as others that I am forgetting about for the moment.  Repeat: the invasion of Ukraine and seizure of Crimea is about as complete a violation of Helsinki as one can imagine]
  • respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of
    all states
    and their inherent right to choose the means to ensure their
    own security, the inviolability of borders and peoples’ right of
    self-determination as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE
    documents; [Do I need to repeat myself?  Irredentism is inherently a challenge to borders]
  • mutual transparency in creating and implementing defence policy and military doctrines; [Not so much]
  • prevention of conflicts and settlement of disputes by peaceful means in accordance with UN and OSCE principles; [Given that Russia’s first response to political change in Kiev was the use of force, we can pretty much write this principle off as well]
  • support, on a case-by-case basis, of peacekeeping operations
    carried out under the authority of the UN Security Council or the
    responsibility of the OSCE.

So, tell me, which principles that are supposed to serve as the basis of NATO-Russia relations are still intact?  Yes, exactly.

here is a fun paragraph:

Provisions of this Act do not provide NATO or Russia, in any way, with a
right of veto over the actions of the other
nor do they infringe upon
or restrict the rights of NATO or Russia to independent decision-making
and action. They cannot be used as a means to disadvantage the interests
of other states.

This could be read both ways, of course, but seems to me that NATO should do what it needs to do, considering the implications for Russia’s security but not subjecting itself to veto by Putin.

Another:

NATO and Russia affirm their shared desire to achieve greater stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area.

I guess this is just a “we agree to disagree” over what stability and security mean when Russia takes a hunk of a neighbor and calls it an effort to improve its security even as it creates insecurity for the neighbors.

Here is the key commitment that should not be seen as a commitment any longer:

NATO reiterates that in the current and foreseeable security
environment
, the Alliance will carry out its collective defence and
other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration,
and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent
stationing of substantial combat forces

Guess what?  The security environment has changed.  Russia has seized the territory of a neighbor and when that was not sufficient, invaded, using separatists as cover.  So, the security environment now is different from that in 1997.

Of course, folks can say that it changed with Kosovo, but there are many differences.  The big one, of course, is that NATO only used force after much effort to reach a peaceful settlement.  Russia, on the other hand, used force immediately after the change in regime in Kiev and did not give peace any chance at all.  The fait accompli was not driven by real fears of Ukrainian ethnic cleansing but by the desire to impose a new reality before anyone could react.  Good for judo, but not justified.

The NATO Russia Founding Act has been overcome by events.  If the Europeans (well, if Germany, France and Italy) want to stick to the letter of the agreement, then the US should act with willing partners to do what they feel is in the best interests of the allies.  This might hurt NATO a smidge, but abandoning the Baltics because one feels like this dead agreement still constrains is probably far more dangerous to the alliance.

By Steve Saideman

“The Handshake Summit” and the breakdown of the Americas’ democratic rights regime

By Jean Daudelin

In Panama this week, Raul Castro and Barack Obama will meet and shake hands. Their symbolic encounter will add a superfluous nail on the rotting coffin of the Cold War. This pointless gesture will likely be the climax of the Seventh Summit of the Americas. Sound and perhaps even fury won’t be lacking, but real action, on anything, is most unlikely.

Since 1994, the “Summit Process” has progressively lost its relevance. Originally, it embodied regional efforts around two big endeavours: the economic integration of the Western Hemisphere, and the consolidation of the democracies that were emerging from decades of military rule. By the turn of the century, a lack of will in Washington along with Argentina and Brazil’s opposition to free trade had combined to kill the Free Trade Area of the Americas. All economic issues were pushed off the Summit Process agenda. This week’s meeting in Panama now buries the political and human rights component of the project. By next week, nothing of substance should be left.

Signs of the time, the main reasons for such a development have little to do with United States. The rise of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela implied the emergence of a left-wing authoritarian model led by a charismatic and ambitious leader keen on using his country’s massive oil wealth to promote himself and his “model” in the region. Chavez’ template directly challenged the liberal consensus embodied in the OAS Democracy Charter, the only really significant achievement of the Summit Process. “Substantive” and “popular” democracy now mattered more than electoral technicalities or “abstract” press freedom, and Chavez Venezuela showed the way, with the systematic and sometimes violent harassment of the opposition and increasingly strict constraints on independent media.

This should not have doomed the regime. Indeed, its moment of glory had precisely taken place in Venezuela where, in 2002, a military coup against Chavez had been roundly condemned by the region’s governments. In the face of hesitations from Canada and the United States and invoking the Charter, Brazil under Fernando Henrique Cardoso took the lead as the whole region made it clear to the conspirators that no recognition would be forthcoming, which helped cut their wings and bring Chavez back. A few months later, however, Cardoso was out and Lula and his Workers’ Party in, with a much more flexible attitude towards challenges to liberal democracy, as long as they came from the Left. Strong stands were taken against conservative coups or quasi-coups—in Paraguay and Honduras—but nothing was heard about democratic rights violations in Cuba or Venezuela.

The Panama Summit closes the loop as Cuba is re-admitted, with US acquiescence, into the big Inter-American family, in spite of its utter lack of democratic credentials. Venezuela, where the repression of non-violent political opposition has long been bad and is now getting worse, similarly won’t see its human rights record questioned by fellow Latin American governments. In fact, it will present itself as a victim of US destabilization attempts, a line of argument broadly accepted in the region. The freezing of the US-based assets of seven (!) Venezuelan officials has already been roundly condemned by the various groupings of Latin American governments. The colossal ineptitude of the US move is undeniable. Not only was the manoeuver hopeless in the face of a regime whose survival is at stake, but the freezing of foreign officials’ assets can only be legally justified when their government represents a threat to the national security of the United States, an argument that is beyond preposterous. The move’s manipulation by the Maduro government, in the last few weeks and now, no doubt, during the Summit, was also utterly predicable. Yet, the willingness of the region’s heads of state to play along is as lamentable as their reluctance to question his record.

In that context, paradoxically, the Canadian government finds itself in a comfortable position. Having signed free trade agreements with all the functional economies of the region and with the ability, on its own, to straighten relations with Colombia and Mexico by liberalizing its visa policy, it has very little at stake at the Summit. Canada has never cut off relations with Cuba and as a result, doesn’t have to “undo” counterproductive policies and in the same movement legitimate the Cubans’ return to the Inter-American family, as Obama will be doing. At the same time, it can also legitimately criticize both Cuba and Venezuela for their rights record and thus stand as the sole principled defender of the Inter-American democratic Charter. This is unlikely to have much impact in the region, but it may flatter the Harper government and also many Canadians’ sense of principled duty. Cheap thrill, but thrill nonetheless.

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