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Testing Huntington in Ukraine

by marco Mon Mar 3rd, 2014 at 04:33:55 AM EST

In summer 1993, Samuel Huntington wrote in an (in)famous essay:

It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. ...

The most significant dividing line in Europe, as William Wallace has suggested, may well be the eastern boundary of Western Christianity in the year 1500. This line runs along what are now the boundaries between Finland and Russia and between the Baltic states and Russia, cuts through Belarus and Ukraine separating the more Catholic western Ukraine from Orthodox eastern Ukraine, swings westward separating Transylvania from the rest of Romania, and then goes through Yugoslavia almost exactly along the line now separating Croatia and Slovenia from the rest of Yugoslavia. ...

... The Velvet Curtain of culture has replaced the Iron Curtain of ideology as the most significant dividing line in Europe. As the events in Yugoslavia show, it is not only a line of difference; it is also at times a line of bloody conflict.

Huntington emphasized the hypothetical nature of his idea with that ? at the end of the essay's title.  Two decades later, what can events currently unfolding in Ukraine say anything about this hypothesis?

front-paged by afew


By 1996, Huntington had expanded it into a book which he published as The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.  He had dropped the question mark from the title but framed his idea in scientifical language:

Paradigms also generate predictions, and a crucial test of a paradigm's validity and usefulness is the extent to which the predictions derived from it turn out to be more accurate than those from alternative paradigms. A statist paradigm, for instance, leads John Mearsheimer to predict that "the situation between Ukraine and Russia is ripe for the outbreak of security competition between them. Great powers that share a long and unprotected common border, like that between Russia and Ukraine, often lapse into competition driven by security fears. Russia and Ukraine might overcome this dynamic and learn to live together in harmony, but it would be unusual if they do."

A civilizational approach, on the other hand, emphasizes the close cultural, personal, and historical links between Russia and Ukraine and the intermingling of Russians and Ukrainians in both countries, and focuses instead on the civilizational fault line that divides Orthodox eastern Ukraine from Uniate western Ukraine, a central historical fact of long standing which, in keeping with the "realist" concept of states as unified and self-identified entities, Mearsheimer totally ignores. While a statist approach highlights the possibility of a Russian-Ukrainian war, a civilizational approach minimizes that and instead highlights the possibility of Ukraine splitting in half, a separation which cultural factors would lead one to predict might be more violent than that of Czechoslovakia but far less bloody than that of Yugoslavia.

These different predictions, in turn, give rise to different policy priorities. Mearsheimer's statist prediction of possible war and Russian conquest of Ukraine leads him to support Ukraine's having nuclear weapons. A civilizational approach would encourage cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, urge Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons, promote substantial economic assistance and other measures to help maintain Ukrainian unity and independence, and sponsor contingency planning for the possible breakup of Ukraine.

When he wrote that, the Ukraine had already given up its nuclear stockpile (previously the third largest in the world) according to the Trilateral Statement by the Presidents of Ukraine, Russia, and the United States signed in January 1994. But John Mearsheimer's essay, "The case for a Ukrainian nuclear deterrent" [pdf], had appeared in the same 1993 September issue of Foreign Affairs as Hungtington's, and perhaps Huntington sensed that Western policies could still revert to a "statist" approach to Ukraine as opposed to a "civilizational" one that his theory implicitly advocated.

After the Trilateral Statement and the removal of nuclear weapons from Ukraine, how much did Western policy "encourage cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, urge Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons, promote substantial economic assistance and other measures to help maintain Ukrainian unity and independence, and sponsor contingency planning for the possible breakup of Ukraine"?  I can't say.  However, is it possible to separate that question from the prediction that Huntington laid out: i.e. that the Ukraine will split in half along the cultural line between "Orthodox eastern Ukraine from Uniate western Ukraine", and if so, what would that tell us about Huntington's political scientific "hypothesis", if anything?

My own guess is that Hungtington's theory is roughly correct, and that the reasons for the current turmoil and god forbid imminent war in Ukraine (something along the lines of Syria) are ultimately due to the country sitting along the cultural fault-line in that country in a world driven more and more by "civilizational" forces rather than national or ideological forces.  However, I am skeptical that this situation will afford a useful test case for generating evidence either for or against that theory. Reality may be much messier than the simple alternatives Huntington laid out.  What if Ukraine both splits up and gets into a war with Russia?  What if Ukraine splits up and the Pravyi Sektor takes control west Ukraine: fascism is the offspring of Western civilization, would Huntington count such a development as evidence for his theory?  And if Russia does get involved militarily, will it be primarily to protect ethnic Russian populations and social cohesion both in the Ukraine as well as Russia itself from the undermining influence of and aggression by the West?  Or simply to protect its own national security by strengthening its power against a new Ukrainian state that it cannot control per the "statist" paradigm?  Not sure whether the two explanations can be disentangled.

Wonder what Huntington would say if he were still around to see this "test case" that he specifically wrote about play out.

________________________________

Just noticed that National Journal had a brief article about this two days after this diary was posted:

Ukraine and the Clash of Civilizations
How Putin is proving a 20-year-old idea to finally be correct.

Display:
"My own guess is that Hungtington's theory is roughly correct, and that the reasons for the current turmoil and god forbid imminent war in Ukraine (something along the lines of Syria) are ultimately due to the country sitting along the cultural fault-line in that country in a world driven more and more by "civilizational" forces rather than national or ideological forces."

The damage done by Islamophobes in Europe, Middle East and the US is immense. These groups claim to be 'believers' in the Clash of Civilization, but is false and pushing forward their own agenda. The exploitation of Huntington's thesis in a world where people searching for their identity, ethnicity and cultural history.

Many conflicts are sourced in the aftermath of WWI and the artificial borders drawn by old-colonial powers. See Iraq and Syria after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Crimean peninsula was transfered to the Soviet Union. We still see a Cold War policy playing out in Eastern Europe: Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and now in the Ukraine. The revolutions in Kosovo, Libya and Ukraine are part of a proxy war between handful Western nations and Russia, pushing the frontier deep into the heart of the old Soviet empire. Strategic interests in gas pipelines also play a role.

Look at the history of the Crimean and what has passed since Communism took hold in the Soviet Union. Handing the Crimea to the Ukraine was a 'gift' by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 due to a 300 year-old anniversary. A similar 'gift' was by Stalin, handing Abkhazia and Ossetia to the republic of Georgia.

In the end, it's ethnicity, religion and cultural ties that will result in a nationalist movement for independence. The violent overthrow of the Yanukovich regime was not one that will unite, but will divide the people of the Ukraine into three federal states.

The Neocons and 'rolling back Russian imperialism'.  

See my earlier post - Nazi Collaboration by Banderists in East Galicia and diary - Ukraine's Holodomor of 1933 and the Maidan Revolution.

by Oui on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 at 04:51:44 AM EST
Russia and Ukraine, often lapse into competition driven by security fears. Russia and Ukraine might overcome this dynamic and learn to live together in harmony, but it would be unusual if they do."
 

Of course they can coexist but his assumptions are wrong in a way that security fears do not come from Ukraine to Russia but obviously from USA and Nato to Russia. As for Ukraine it's not a real rival to Russia at all. As we see Russia rightly felt threatened that west (USA) would try to take over Ukraine and threaten and circle Russia with it's military force.It does not have anything to do with religion (religion is just USED as a good pretext to move masses in to the conflict).It's about money!
As for Yugoslavia that "border" between Croatia and Serbia is everything ( including religious border between catholic and orthodox Christians) but not cultural border.It's a same mentality, and no matter how Croatian like to deny it , it's a same culture.Again what ever differences are there they are exploited by west to push us to war strictly for the money (resources, cheap labor, market etc)!    

Of course they can coexist but his assumptions are wrong in a way that security fears do not come from Ukraine to Russia but obviously from USA and Nato to Russia. As for Ukraine it's not a real rival to Russia at all. As we see Russia rightly felt threatened that west (USA) would try to take over Ukraine and threaten and circle Russia with it's military force.It does not have anything to do with religion (religion is just USED as a good pretext to move masses in to the conflict).It's about money!
As for Yugoslavia that "border" between Croatia and Serbia is everything ( including religious border between catholic and orthodox Christians) but not cultural border.It's a same mentality, and no matter how Croatian like to deny it , it's a same culture.Again what ever differences are there they are exploited by west to push us to war strictly for the money!  

It may very well be less bloody then Yugoslavia for simple reason that Bosnia was too complicated with ethnic communities mixed in small enclaves (like a leopard's skin) and first of all because Yugoslavia was a conflict of west with poor little not abiding Serbia (Russians decided that their interest is too small  and also that at the time they didn't have extra money to spend and didn't want to get involved). This situation in Ukraine is totally different. Two big powers against each other but poor Ukrainians may actually get lucky if only they do not decide to kill each other just for fun ( and pride as we stupid Slavs occasionally do).
Mearsheimer's statist prediction of possible war and Russian conquest of Ukraine leads him to support Ukraine's having nuclear weapons.  

Yeah right.That would be just great and "real solution". Ukraine was nuclear simply because it was part of USSR...
and sponsor contingency planning for the possible breakup of Ukraine.

It is unclear who was actually planing for the break up of Ukraine and who is probably just following the plan in case of the break up that now looks inevitable.EU was very rigid (and they admit it was a mistake) in their conditions toward Ukraine with a policy "you are either with us or against us".But that may very well be a part of the plan.I suppose we may never know.
world driven more and more by "civilizational" forces rather than national or ideological forces.

Sorry but I do not get what exactly do you mean by "civilizational" ?Please explain...
Reality may be much messier than the simple alternatives Huntington laid out.  What if Ukraine both splits up and gets into a war with Russia?  What if Ukraine splits up and the Pravyi Sektor takes control west Ukraine: fascism is the offspring of Western civilization, would Huntington count such a development as evidence for his theory?  And if Russia does get involved militarily, will it be primarily to protect ethnic Russian populations and social cohesion both in the Ukraine as well as Russia itself from the undermining influence of and aggression by the West?  Or simply to protect its own national security by strengthening its power against a new Ukrainian state that it cannot control per the "statist" paradigm?  Not sure whether the two explanations can be disentangled.

It's hard to know...I assume we should wait and see...and prepare ourselves for absolutely everything...This situation may escalate. I still hope that because practically there are just two players in this game (Russia and USA) after all the bluffing they may decide to sit down and settle things up. Let's hope so.  

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 at 05:35:36 AM EST
I made a mess:(
IT is me talking and not quote with :
Of course they can coexist but his assumptions are wrong in a way that security fears do not come from Ukraine to Russia but obviously from USA and Nato to Russia. As for Ukraine it's not a real rival to Russia at all. As we see Russia rightly felt threatened that west (USA) would try to take over Ukraine and threaten and circle Russia with it's military force.It does not have anything to do with religion (religion is just USED as a good pretext to move masses in to the conflict).It's about money!
As for Yugoslavia that "border" between Croatia and Serbia is everything ( including religious border between catholic and orthodox Christians) but not cultural border.It's a same mentality, and no matter how Croatian like to deny it , it's a same culture.Again what ever differences are there they are exploited by west to push us to war strictly for the money (resources, cheap labor, market etc)!    
And
As for Yugoslavia that "border" between Croatia and Serbia is everything ( including religious border between catholic and orthodox Christians) but not cultural border.It's a same mentality, and no matter how Croatian like to deny it , it's a same culture.Again what ever differences are there they are exploited by west to push us to war strictly for the money!  
Sorry!


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 at 05:38:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry but I do not get what exactly do you mean by "civilizational" ?Please explain...

It is not my term, but Huntington's. I cannot find a section in Google Books where he defines "civilization/civilizational" more formally and in detail (I don't have the book myself).  However, (no doubt too) simply put, "civilizational" seems to mean "cultural".  

He does introduce the concept in the first paragraph of the first excerpt in this diary, and with respect to Ukraine expands on it in the second paragraph of the second excerpt in this diary (see above).

Under this "civilizational" paradigm, he classifies the world into seven or eight "civilizations":

  • Western
  • Latin American
  • Orthodox
  • Sinic
  • Hindu
  • Japan
  • Muslim
  • Buddhist
with some "lone" countries and "cleft" countres -- including Ukraine -- among and staddling these (see Wikipedia):

In the following excerpt he argues for why a civilizational model approach will be useful at this time, i.e. now that the Cold War model is obsolete, and until a new more suitable paradigm emerges to replace the civilizational one:

The world cannot be both one and fundamentally divided beteen East and West or North and South.  Nor can the nation state be the base rock of international affairs if it is fragementing and torn by proliferating civil strife.  The world is either one, or two, or 184 states, or potentially an almost infinite number of tribes, ethnic groups, and nationalities.

Viewing the world in terms of seven or eight civilizations avoids many of these difficulties.  It does not sacrifice reality to parsimony as do the one- and two-world paradigms; yet it also does not sacrifice parsimony to reality as the statist and chaos paradigms do.  It provides an easily grasped and intelligible framework for understanding the world, distinguishing what is important from what is unimportant among the multiplying conflicts, predicting future developments, and providing guidelines for policymakers.  It also builds on and incorporates elements of the other paradigms.  It is more compatible with them than they are with each other.  A civilizational approach, for instance, holds that:

  • The forces of integration in the world are real and are precisely what are generating counterforces of cultural assertion and civilizational consciousness.
  • The world is in some sense two, but the central distinction is between the West as the hitherto dominant civilization and all the others, which, however, have little if anything in common among them.  The world, in short, is divided between a Western one and a non-Western many.
  • Nation states are and will remain the most important actor in world affairs, but their interests, associations, and conflicts are increasingly shaped by cultural and civilizational factors.
  • The world is indeed anarchical, rife with tribal and nationality conflicts, but the conflicts that pose the greatest dangers for stability are those between states or groups from different civilizations.

A civilizational paradigm thus sets forth a relatively simple but not too simple map for understanding what is going on in the world as the twentieth century ends.  No paradigm, however, is good forever.  The Cold War Model of world politics was useful and relevant for forty years but became obsolete in the late 1980s, and at some point the civilizational paradigm will suffer a similar fate.  For the contemporary period, however, it provides a useful guide for distinguishing what is more important from what is less important.  Slightly less than half of the forty-eight ethnic conflicts in the world in early 1993, for example, were between groups from different civilizations.  The civilizational perspective would lead the U.N. Secretary-General and the U.S. Secretary of State to concentrate their peacemaking efforts on these conflicts which much greater potential than others to escalate into broader wars.

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p.36-37



Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 at 10:19:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The last century liberal democracy might as well be a historical aberration, the luxury of the peak industrial age. With resources tighter and global environmental problems sharper, we might know nothing better than to step back to feudal, tribal and hierarchy passions.

The global social-economic and environmental problems are very predictable, yet open discussion of them is conspicuously absent. This blatant incongruency probably shows that global leaders (and other alphas) have their own plans to resolve and settle this civilization overshot episode - and not just at the last moment. Religion, culture, wars are merely tools that had been used in similar (albeit less global) circumstances multiple times. With so much at stake, common people are just masses to manage. Huntington might as well be a prescriptor rather than a predictor.

by das monde on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 10:47:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
marco:
why a civilizational model approach will be useful at this time, i.e. now that the Cold War model is obsolete, and until a new more suitable paradigm emerges to replace the civilizational one

Well, he sure argues for why it would be practical, but I don't think it has panned out that way. The West and the rest appears correct, but more in an empirial way then civilizational.

The post-cold war conflicts has not been between civilizational blocs, nor have the border areas in Huntingtons map been more conflicted then other areas (afaik). Looking at conflicts, I'd say that they occured within most blocs - except the West and Japan - and mostly started or at least supported by the West. And when the happens faultlines within society gets more marked as the state that upheld a common identity is destroyed or at least humiliated. As many has noted before, Sunni/Shia maps of Middle eastern countries or cities could instead be painted with different ethnicities in London or New York, except then the underlying racism would be clear.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 3rd, 2014 at 10:40:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You remind me of another point I wanted to make: Huntington's choice of "civilisation" is rather arbitrary.

  • He chooses to separate Orthodox and Western [Christianity], but keeps Sunni and Shi'a together, although Lebanon and Iraq and Pakistan and Bahrain showed that there is plenty of supra-national conflict potential there.
  • As for Christianity, the Orthodox-Western border is not that sharp, especially in the Ukraine: the "Western" Christians there are Greek Catholics who are Eastern rite but loyal to the Pope, and if you argue culture, that's perhaps closer to Moscow than Rome.
  • It's also telling that there is no Protestant-Catholic distinction. Huntington and his readers are all too aware that those can live along now, even though there are some real cultural differences, and that "Latin American" culture may be closer to Spain than the USA.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 3rd, 2014 at 12:13:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well said, Huntingdon's notion of culture has always been sloppy and not rooted in the research on culture. He rather just put his prejudices down on paper.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2014 at 03:02:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I recall correctly, he extensively discuss his choice of not defining the Islamic civilization as one civilization, and not as two.

He also discusses the Ukraine unitarian point, and the catholic-protestant issue in a Latin American context.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 11:14:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One "not" too much...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 11:24:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
settle things up.
-----------
I mean settle down...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 at 05:43:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'Settle up" is just as proper as 'sit down'.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 at 09:54:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where does Greece fit into this?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 at 06:09:00 AM EST
Greece is not part of Western civilization, but it was the home of the Classical civilization which was an important source of Western civilization. In their opposition to the Turks, Greeks historically have considered themselves spear-carriers of Christianity. Unlike Serbs, Romanians, or Bulgarians, their history has been intimately entwined with that of the West. Yet Greece is also an anomaly, the Orthodox outsider in Western organizations. It has never been an easy member of either the EU or NATO and has had difficulty adapting itself to the principles and mores of both. From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s it was ruled by a military junta, and could not join the European Community until it shifted to democracy. Its leaders often seemed to go out of their way to deviate from Western norms and to antagonize Western governments. It was poorer than other Community and NATO members and often pursued economic policies that seemed to flout the standards of prevailing in Brussels.  Its behavior as president of the EU's Council in 1994 exasperated other members, and Western European officials privately label its membership a mistake. ...

With the end of the Soviety Union and the communist threat, Greece has mutual interests with Russia in opposition to their common enemy, Turkey.  It has permitted Russia to establish a significant presence in Greek Cyprus, and as a result of their "shared Eastern Orthodox religion," the Greek Cypriots have welcomed both Russians and Serbs to the island.  In 1995 some two thousand Russian-owned businesses were operating in Cyprus; Russian and Serbo-Croatian newspapers were published there; and the Greek Cyrpriot government was purchasing major supplies of arms from Russia.  Greece also explored with Russia the possibility of bringing oil from the Caucasus and Central Asia to the Mediterranean through a Bulgarian-Greek pipeline bypassing Turkey and other Muslim countries.  Overall Greek foreign policies have assumed a heavily Orthodox orientation.  Greece will undoubtedly remain a formal member of NATO and the European Union.  As the process of cultural reconfiguration intensifies, however, those memberships also undoubtedly will become more tenuous, less meaningful, and more difficult for the parties involved.  The Cold War antagonist of the Soviet Union is evolving into the post-Cold War ally of Russia.

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p.162-163



Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 at 09:06:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for this...that's exactly what western Europe (and west as such) think about Greeks.They west and Greece needed each other and that's a relationship made of interest not of love OR RESPECT...
Greece is strategically located in the Southern region of the Alliance, in close vicinity to South Eastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa. This broad region, as recently demonstrated, is characterised by geopolitical uncertainty and multiple and adverse strategic interests.

Membership to NATO is a fundamental pillar of Greece's defence and security architecture together with its EU membership. Since its accession in 1952, Greece has contributed to Euro-Atlantic security and at the same time has been protected by the security umbrella the Alliance offers its members.  


http://www.nato.int/docu/review/2012/Turkey-Greece/Greece-NATO-partnership/EN/index.htm
Contrary to this theory up here is fact that EU now has two more orthodox religious countries... Bulgaria and Romania. Again this acceptation of those countries came not from love or respect but interest. I am not sure that they as Greeks to this day will ever be respected let alone loved as a "family members".
Europeans will respect Chines ( for their money) but never their own poor Europeans. That is a cultural difference between East and west. Even with all endemic corruption interestingly Eastern world have respect for things other then money (or not just money). Western world will lay in bad with a devil when it comes to money. Sorry guys but it's just my opinion ( and of course I am not having in mind that much ordinary people but more like higher class that are rulling your world).  

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 at 09:49:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even with all endemic corruption interestingly Eastern world have respect for things other then money (or not just money).

Let's apply your vague claim of your own Clash of Civilisations framing to the specific example you brought up: attitudes towards immigrants. Can you present me an example of the poor welcomed and the rich not welcomed in what you categorise as the East? Furthermore, whose welcome do you mean exactly? It's not like the British state's and the City's welcome for Russian oligarchs is met by the population at large or the media elite.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 4th, 2014 at 05:18:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but the City is a legitimate oligarchy with perfectly legitimate oligarchs, some of whom even have knighthoods.

While all those Eastern countries over there used to be communist, or they were run by dictators, or brown people, or something, I forget now.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Mar 4th, 2014 at 08:30:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not very convincing, to put it mildly. A pipeline avoiding Muslim country aligns Greece perfectly with Western Europe. Nato? What are the problems? Interaction with Turkey? Hardly an Orthodox Christian problem (as opposed to Christian in general). Is there anything else comparable with France's refusal to help go after Iraq's WMD? Rich Russians investing in Cyprus? What about in London? Buying arms from Russia? Maybe because they are cheaper (see Turkey trying to buy arms from China).

EU? Some unnamed officials saying that their admission was a mistake? What do they say about the UK? Dictatorship? Put in there with Western support (and is he aware of the fact that Catholic Spain and Portugal were also military dictatorships?). Finall,

It was poorer than other Community and NATO members

I though the whole point was that cultural, not economic, fracture lines were the main issue.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 01:12:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to mention that current close ties with Serbia were enhanced by joint enmity of their own nationalisms to Albanian and Macedonian nationalism, and Macedonians are Orthodox, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 07:13:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A point on Cyprus: at one time DoDo and I were doing some research (that didn't turn out to be particularly interesting enough to communicate) that led to oligarch activity in Czech Republic and Slovakia. The (even smalltime) oligarchic setups we looked at controlled ramified holdings and front companies, as expected. They were massively present in Cyprus (front companies, letter boxes, financial interests).

Perhaps, rather than suggesting an Orthodox link, we should be looking at Cyprus as a tax haven that has been accommodating to oligarchic interests in former Eastern bloc countries, whatever the religious heritage.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 04:03:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One further comment (or, in this case, question)

Russian and Serbo-Croatian newspapers were published there

What on earth is a Serbo-Croatian newspaper? While I get the impression that the differences between Serbian and Croatian are no different from the differences between English and American, surely the situation is different with newspapers? If Serbian is always written in Cyrillic and Croatian in Latin characters, won't a newspaper (unlike the spoken language) will almost always be one or the other?

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 05:06:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Serbo-Croatian - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Serbo-Croatian, also called Serbo-Croat, Serbo-Croat-Bosnian (SCB),[6] or Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS), is a South Slavic language and the primary language of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. It is a pluricentric language with four mutually intelligible standard varieties.

The language was standardized in the mid-19th century, decades before a Yugoslav state was established.[7]

As to how it is written:

Serbo-Croatian - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Through history, this language has been written in a number of writing systems:

[...]

All in all, this makes Serbo-Croatian the only Slavic language to officially use both the Latin and Cyrillic scripts, albeit the Latin version is more commonly used.

In both cases, spelling is phonetic and spellings in the two alphabets map to each other one-to-one:

How the paper in Cyprus did, I don't know.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 3rd, 2014 at 01:53:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me pick out a few more bits from this horribly jumbled assemblage of vagueness masquerading as a line of argument about Greece:

Unlike Serbs, Romanians, or Bulgarians, their history has been intimately entwined with that of the West.

In what way is Romania's and Serbia's relationship with the Kingdom of Hungary and later the Habsburg Empire a weaker tie than whatever Greece had before WWII?

It has never been an easy member of either the EU or NATO

Has that uneasiness ever approached the uneasiness of France in NATO and Britain or Denmark in the EU? Not to mention NATO non-member and EU semi-sceptic Sweden?

From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s it was ruled by a military junta, and could not join the European Community until it shifted to democracy.

As opposed to Spain & Portugal (no democracies for much longer periods)? Not to mention post-communist Central Europe (which wasn't all that democratic before WWII either)?

Its leaders often seemed to go out of their way to deviate from Western norms and to antagonize Western governments.

Without saying which are the Western norms in question and what were the concrete examples of deviations, this means nothing. Or, more correctly, it expects the reader to fill in with his own prejudices.

It was poorer than other Community and NATO members

Not poorer than Portugal. For that matter, at the time of their accession, Spain and Ireland were pretty poor, too.

Its behavior as president of the EU's Council in 1994 exasperated other members

...as opposed to which other presidency, exactly? But I'm not sure what he refers to in case of the 1994 Greece presidency: possibly the sanctions in the FYROM dispute or Greece's insistence on granting Cyprus and Malta membership candidate status.

bringing oil from the Caucasus and Central Asia to the Mediterranean through a Bulgarian-Greek pipeline

Ignoring for a moment that this is first and foremost an economic matter, nothing happened for 15 years while the project evolved into the South Stream project. However, at the end, the Greece route was abandoned, because Greece chose the rival Trans Adriatic Pipeline project, which involves Italian, French, German, Norwegian and Azeri companies. Meanwhile South Stream went ahead on a different route, with every other Balkans country plus Hungary, Austria and Italy on-board. And even this Greece-avoiding South Stream was overtaken in time by the already operating Nord Stream to Germany – so much for that supposed Orthodox special relationship.

The Cold War antagonist of the Soviet Union is evolving into the post-Cold War ally of Russia.

18 years have now passed but this didn't came to be, even as Greece has suffered through five years of enforced austerity.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 4th, 2014 at 06:10:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Special Bingo! Award.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 5th, 2014 at 02:29:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikileaks via CableGate

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/07/2016
TAGS: PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PHUM [Human Rights], PREL [External Political Relations], RU [Russia; Wrangel Islands], UP [Ukraine]
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: THE RUSSIA FACTOR IN CRIMEA - UKRAINE'S
"SOFT UNDERBELLY"?

REF: A. KIEV 387
     B. KYIV 4301
     C. KYIV 4021
     D. KYIV 4425

Classified By: Charge a.i. Sheila Gwaltney, reason 1.4 (b,d)

Discussions with a wide range of contacts in Crimea November 20-22 and officials in Kyiv discounted recent speculation that a return of pro-Russian separatism in Crimea, which posed a real threat to Ukrainian territorial integrity in 1994-95, could be in the cards.  However, nearly all contended that pro-Russian forces in Crimea, acting with funding and direction from Moscow, have systematically attempted to increase communal tensions in Crimea in the two years since the Orange Revolution.  They have done so by cynically fanning ethnic Russian chauvinism towards Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians, through manipulation of issues like the status of the Russian language, NATO, and an alleged Tatar threat to "Slavs," in a deliberate effort to destabilize Crimea, weaken Ukraine, and prevent Ukraine's movement west into institutions like NATO and the EU. ...

Sections in rest of cable:

  • What's Going On in Crimea?
  • Crimea: built-in fertile grounds for volatility
  • The Black Sea Fleet: intel and press
  • "Cossacks," Russian Community of Crimea, Russian Bloc
  • Zatulin - chief political meddler
  • The PR projects: Modest Kolerov, Proryv, EYU
  • Moscow and Mayor Luzhkov - buying influence/real estate
  • Miscellaneous pro-Russian actors
  • What is to be done?


Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Sat Mar 1st, 2014 at 10:36:19 PM EST
Cable from US Embassy, Kiev, December 2006.

It's an interesting long take on Crimean history, though obviously subject to caution given its origin.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 04:14:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clash of Civilizations has been a stalking horse for Islamophobia for nearly twenty years. It didn't reach that buzz status without help from neocons -- but also without containing intelligent analysis that is worth keeping in mind. In particular, the critique of the "statist model". (We only need to look at the "states" the English and French created as departing colonial powers, that took no account of cultural differences, for example India or Mali, or the whole Middle-Eastern mess from Sykes-Picot on).

However, the cookie-cutter world he proposes isn't fully convincing. Things are more complicated. As vbo points out, though the Catholic/Orthodox line separates Croatia from Serbia, overall, ethnicity, culture and language are not factors of separation. Meanwhile, ethnicity, culture and language are not the same between Walloons and Flemish, though they share deeply-rooted Catholicism. A somewhat similar point could be made about Spain. There are considerable cultural/linguistic differences from Austria (former principal "owner") down to Southern Italy, yet the religion is Catholic.

I don't know what this means for Ukraine. Apart from the religious split, there's a linguistic question that seems to be identity-polarising. And how cohesive a recently-established state can be that has a long history of being a region of one form or other of the Russian Empire, seems problematic.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 05:01:42 AM EST
My own guess is that Hungtington's theory is roughly correct, and that the reasons for the current turmoil and god forbid imminent war in Ukraine (something along the lines of Syria) are ultimately due to the country sitting along the cultural fault-line in that country in a world driven more and more by "civilizational" forces rather than national or ideological forces.

Hardly, because Huntington is over-simplifying Ukraine, too. The cultural divide he speaks of is Uniate vs. Orthodox, but that is Westernmost Ukraine vs. all the rest, including pro-Maidan central Ukraine. Indeed Orthodox priests were prominent at Maidan. (In fact the religion that correlates most with the pro-Russian regions on the linked map is the new converts of Protestant missionaries.) The cultural aspect of the conflict in Ukraine is much more focused on language, which is inseparable from nationalism. The fact that modern Ukraine has borders inherited from the Soviet Union which ignored even unclear ethnic borders has a lot more to do with the way the conflict developed.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 07:07:21 AM EST
Further, (back to old debates about secularism), it's questionable just how important religion is. This is from the Wikipedia page Religion in Ukraine:

The "Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church" = "Uniate".

Of the two main Orthodox patriarchates, the Moscow Patriarchate concentrates most followers in the South and East, and the Kiev Patriarchate predominantly in the West, though it's not exclusively so.

The country divided by a faultline between Catholicism and Orthodoxy? Hmm.

Let's rather note that No Religion + Don't Know = 69.5% of respondents.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 09:19:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just in:

According to the original Euromaidan tweet (in Ukrainian), his proper title is Archdeacon; I couldn't find whether he is Moscow or Kyiv Patriarchate.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 11:37:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are many photos of Orthodox priests with the Maidan protesters on this page.

But it's from the WaPo, so probably CIA Photoshop work? ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 12:41:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's interesting about that one is that it isn't Maidan but the Krim.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 02:32:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW, I think the Western media has difficulty distinguishing Greek Catholic and Orthodox priests. On the linked photos, I believe the "orthodox" priests with Cossack Crosses (which resemble the Maltese Cross) are Greek Catholics.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 04:21:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The text says there are both.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2014 at 01:50:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently all the media have him with different titles.

Krim-Konflikt: Wenn hier ein Schuss fällt, wird es nicht bei einem bleiben | ZEIT ONLINE

Auch der Metropolit von Simferopol ist gekommen. Der im schwarzen Talar gekleidete Kliment schreitet auf das Eisentor zu, stellt sich vor die ukrainischen Rekruten, begrüßt sie und sagt mit der ruhigen, herzlichen Stimme eines Mannes mit Gottvertrauen: "Alles wird gut. Gott ist mit euch."
by Katrin on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 12:59:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL, The Guardian first promotes him to Archbishop, now for Die Zeit he is the very head of the church... just proves that most journalists today don't do their own research and mindlessly copy the latest.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 02:34:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.  This gets to the heart of the matter.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 11:31:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it is important not to swallow everything which Huntington theorize about, but I also want to point out that what he wrote was not a detailed description of every potential conflict in the world. He wrote a rough model, something which could replace the democracy vs. communism model of the Cold war. That model was also very useful, but it was not a perfect picture of the world. Many things showed that the model had holes in it, most dramatically the Sino-Soviet split.

If anyone has figured out a better world model than Huntington for the present time, I have yet to see it. Liberal or realist or Marxist ideas such as free world vs. dictatorships or international anarchy or center vs. periphery all seem to be weaker than Huntington's world of civilizations.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 11:23:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you'd like a nice simple story about a complex world because ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 12:27:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You need models to understand the world. Without them, you just have a vast chaos of unconnected data points.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 12:47:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And then we alter the world to fit our over simplified models. What a wonderful process.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 01:05:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you think we should stop using models in other areas as well, or just in political science?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 01:44:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think when you try to use oversimplified models you find yourself making things worse, not better.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 02:00:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So should we stop using, say, IS-LM too?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Mar 26th, 2014 at 04:47:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 26th, 2014 at 04:53:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 26th, 2014 at 04:55:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it makes your decision making worse, not better, yes.

What's the point of a model that's worse than no model? "This is really complicated and I don't understand it very well" is also a model, and sometimes the best one you have, but we'd rather fixate on a wrong model that makes us feel better about our state of knowledge.

Humans are crap.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 05:17:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The world's too complicated" is a perfect excuse for inaction, which is the ideological order of the day. See Metatone's Learned Helplessness diary.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 06:25:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, ok. Let's let the market decide then. There's a nice simple model.

Wrong as can be, but at least we have a model, eh?

"Clash of civilisations" is a negative, self-fulfilling model, It creates and justifies - and is very possibly designed to create and justifies - conflict by painting a "them" and "us" who are intrinsically different. Conflict isn't about differing interests, it's about our in-bred differences, with an overtone of white superiority. But at least it's a model!

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 06:37:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, it seems like you haven't actually read the book, but rather all the misleading diatribes which have been written about it. Let me give you a an excerpt of what the book is really like:

In the emerging world of ethnic conflict and civilizational clash, Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems: it is false; it is immoral; and it is dangerous. That it is false has been the central thesis of this book, a thesis well summed up by Michael Howard: the "common Western assumption that cultural diversity is a historical curiosity being rapidly eroded by the growth of a common, western-oriented, Anglophone world-culture, shaping our basic values ... is simply not true."15 A reader not by now convinced of the wisdom of Sir Michaels remark exists in a world far removed from that described in this book.

The belief that non-Western peoples should adopt Western values, institutions, and culture is immoral because of what would be necessary to bring it about. The almost-universal reach of European power in the late nineteenth century and the global dominance of the United States in the late twentieth century spread much of Western civilization across the world. European globalism, however, is no more. American hegemony is receding if only because it is no longer needed to protect the United States against a Cold War-style Soviet military threat. Culture, as we have argued, follows power. If non-Western societies are once again to be shaped by Western culture, it will happen only as a result of the expansion, deployment, and impact of Western power. Imperialism is the necessary logical consequence of universalism. In addition, as a maturing civilization, the West no longer has the economic or demographic dynamism required to impose its will on other societies and any effort to do so is also contrary to the Western values of self-determination and democracy. As Asian and Muslim civilizations begin more and more to assert the universal relevance of their cultures, Westerners will come to appreciate more and more the connection between universalism and imperialism.

Western universalism is dangerous to the world because it could lead to a major intercivilizational war between core states and it is dangerous to the West because it could lead to defeat of the West. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Westerners see their civilization in a position of unparalleled dominance, while at the same time weaker Asian, Muslim, and other societies are beginning to gain strength. Hence they could be led to apply the familiar and powerful logic of Brutus:

Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe.
The enemy increaseth every day;
We at the height, are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

This logic, however, produced Brutus's defeat at Philippi, and the prudent course for the West is not to attempt to stop the shift in power but to learn to navigate the shallows, endure the miseries, moderate its ventures, and safeguard its culture.

All civilizations go though similar processes of emergence, rise, and decline. The West differs from other civilizations not in the way it has developed but in the distinctive character of its values and institutions. These include most notably its Christianity, pluralism, individualism, and rule of law, which made it possible for the West to invent modernity, expand throughout the world, and become the envy of other societies. In their ensemble these characteristics are peculiar to the West. Europe, as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., has said, is "the source--the unique source" of the "ideas of individual liberty, political democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and cultural freedom. ... These are European ideas, not Asian, nor African, nor Middle Eastern ideas, except by adoption."16 They make Western civilization unique, and Western civilization is valuable not because it is universal but because it is unique. The principal responsibility of Western leaders, consequently, is not to attempt to reshape other civilizations in the image of the West, which is beyond their declining power, but to preserve, protect, and renew the unique qualities of Western civilization. Because it is the most powerful Western country, that responsibility falls overwhelmingly on the United States of America.

To preserve Western civilization in the face of declining Western power, it is in the interest of the United States and European countries:

  • to achieve greater political, economic, and military integration and to coordinate their policies so as to preclude states from other civilizations exploiting differences among them;

  • to incorporate into the European Union and NATO the Western states of Central Europe that is, the Visegrad countries, the Baltic republics, Slovenia, and Croatia;

  • to encourage the "Westernization" of Latin America and, as far as possible, the close alignment of Latin American countries with the West;

  • to restrain the development of the conventional and unconventional military power of Islamic and Sinic countries;

  • to slow the drift of Japan away from the West and toward accommodation with China;

  • to accept Russia as the core state of Orthodoxy and a major regional power with legitimate interests in the security of its southern borders;

  • to maintain Western technological and military superiority over other civilizations;

  • and, most important, to recognize that Western intervention in the affairs of other civilizations is probably the single most dangerous source of instability and potential global conflict in a multicivilizational world.

In the aftermath of the Cold War the United States became consumed with massive debates over the proper course of American foreign policy. In this era, however, the United States can neither dominate nor escape the world. Neither internationalism nor isolationism, neither multilateralism nor unilateralism, will best serve its interests. Those will best be advanced by eschewing these opposing extremes and instead adopting an Atlanticist policy of close cooperation with its European partners to protect and advance the interests and values of the unique civilization they share.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 08:24:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
to accept Russia as the core state of Orthodoxy and a major regional power with legitimate interests in the security of its southern borders;
Who woulda thunk!?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 08:29:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyone who had ever read Huntington... :P

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 08:53:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clearly nobody currently in charge in The West™ did.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 09:52:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. Nor did they read Keynes, Minsky, Hobbes, Machiavelli, Burke, Mill, Marx or any of the other important thinkers of the past. Or if they did, they promptly forgot any lessons those guys might have provided. Furthermore, it seems like nobody had even a sliver of common sense.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 10:20:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
  • to incorporate into the European Union and NATO the Western states of Central Europe that is, the Visegrad countries, the Baltic republics, Slovenia, and Croatia;

  • to encourage the "Westernization" of Latin America and, as far as possible, the close alignment of Latin American countries with the West;

How is this compatible with this:

Starvid:

  • to maintain Western technological and military superiority over other civilizations;

  • and, most important, to recognize that Western intervention in the affairs of other civilizations is probably the single most dangerous source of instability and potential global conflict in a multicivilizational world.
?

Or is this another nourishing dollop of Newspeak?

(Unless he's talking about cultural 'weapons')

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 08:44:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is compatible because the Western Slavic countries and Latin America are Catholic, therefore Western™ by Huntington's definition.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 08:48:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the cultural border he imagines goes east of those countries. As a matter of fact, it goes straight through Ukraine, which he identifies as a "cleft country" which might well cause conflict in the future.

Ukraine: A cleft country
As a result of this division, the relations between Ukraine and Russia could develop in one of three ways. In the early 1990s, critically important issues existed between the two countries concerning nuclear weapons, Crimea, the rights of Russians in Ukraine, the Black Sea fleet, and economic relations. Many people thought armed conflict was likely, which led some Western analysts to argue that the West should support Ukraine's having a nuclear arsenal to deter Russian aggression.9 If civilization is what counts, however, violence between Ukrainians and Russians is unlikely. These are two Slavic, primarily Orthodox peoples who have had close relationships for centuries and between whom intermarriage is common. Despite highly contentious issues and the pressure of extreme nationalists on both sides, the leaders of both countries worked hard and largely successfully to moderate these disputes. The election of an explicitly Russian-oriented president in Ukraine in mid-1994 further reduced the probability of exacerbated conflict between the two countries. While serious fighting occurred between Muslims and Christians elsewhere in the former Soviet Union and much tension and some fighting between Russians and Baltic peoples, as of 1995 virtually no violence had occurred between Russians and Ukrainians.

A second and somewhat more likely possibility is that Ukraine could split along its fault line into two separate entities, the eastern of which would merge with Russia. The issue of secession first came up with respect to Crimea. The Crimean public, which is 70 percent Russian, substantially supported Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union in a referendum in December 1991. In May 1992 the Crimean parliament also voted to declare independence from Ukraine and then, under Ukrainian pressure, rescinded that vote. The Russian parliament, however, voted to cancel the 1954 cession of Crimea to Ukraine. In January 1994 Crimeans elected a president who had campaigned on a platform of "unity with Russia." This stimulated some people to raise the question: "Will Crimea Be the Next Nagorno-Karabakh or Abkhazia?"10 The answer was a resound�ˀing "No!" as the new Crimean president backed away from his commitment to hold a referendum on independence and instead negotiated with the Kiev government. In May 1994 the situation heated up again when the Crimean parliament voted to restore the 1992 constitution which made it virtually independent of Ukraine. Once again, however, the restraint of Russian and Ukrainian leaders prevented this issue from generating violence, and the election two months later of the pro-Russian Kuchma as Ukrainian president undermined the Crimean thrust for secession.

That election did, however, raise the possibility of the western part of the country seceding from a Ukraine that was drawing closer and closer to Russia. Some Russians might welcome this. As one Russian general put it, "Ukraine or rather Eastern Ukraine will come back in five, ten or fifteen years. Western Ukraine can go to hell!"11 Such a rump Uniate and Western-oriented Ukraine, however, would only be viable if it had strong and effective Western support. Such support is, in turn, likely to be forthcoming only if relations between the West and Russia deteriorated seriously and came to resemble those of the Cold War.

The third and more likely scenario is that Ukraine will remain united, remain cleft, remain independent, and generally cooperate closely with Russia. Once the transition questions concerning nuclear weapons and military forces are resolved, the most serious longer term issues will be economic, the resolution of which will be facilitated by a partially shared culture and close personal ties. The Russian-Ukrainian relationship is to eastern Europe, John Morrison has pointed out, what the Franco-German relationship is to western Europe.12 Just as the latter provides the core of the European Union, the former is the core essential to unity in the Orthodox world.


 And here we are.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 09:07:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my little corner of the world, which is international trade and tribute flows, the center(s) vs. periphery (and centers vs. centers) seems robust enough.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Mar 28th, 2014 at 06:43:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In a way, yes, but it doesn't work as a model for the international system. We don't see that the primary conflicts are between the center and the periphery in general (like say EU+China+Japan+US vs Africa+the Mideast+Latin America), but between different center countries (like Japan vs. China), between different periphery countries (like Saudi Arabia vs. Syria) or between center and periphery countries (like the US vs Iraq).

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 30th, 2014 at 08:08:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The system of center and periphery does not predict that the majority of conflicts will be between center and periphery. In fact quite the contrary! The majority of conflicts will be between countries at the same tier in the trade system, backed by higher-tier countries hoping to shift the borders of their spheres of influence, and themselves using lower-tier countries as pawns and sources of legitimizing speechifying.

For the simple reason that a straight-up center vs. periphery conflict ends with the periphery getting curb-stomped. That's why they're the periphery and not the center.

What the center/periphery model does predict is that there will be more conflict between countries which do not share a suzerain than between countries that do (for example, there should be greater animosity between Belarus (a Russian client) and Poland (a German client) than between Poland and Hungary (both German clients).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 04:06:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A Year at Venice Beach

There is no easy answer to this question, which may be why it is so fascinating to me. While my normal proclivity is to respond that Socialists must never side with any bourgeois society that uses fascists and neo-Nazis, I also recognize that EUUS democracy may be slightly more advanced with regard to certain  interests of the working class than the Russian autocracy. Is that slight advantage enough to lead me to set aside my moral scruples to make common cause with the side relying upon fascists? Not on your life. So the only question that remains for me is whether the need to smash European fascism and neo-fascism is important enough for me to set aside my scruples about backing autocracy. I have not yet fully decided although I am deeply sympathetic to Russian interests in Ukraine, based on history and demographics.

i don't know what to think... keep reading meanwhile

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 07:34:47 AM EST
My problem with that setup is that the anti-Maidan side includes not only autocracy but Russian-nationalist thugs indistinguishable from fascists, too. For example these guys with batons in Odassa a week ago:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 08:13:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my opinion the Ukraine isn't in a position to prevent Crimea from being re-annexed by Russia and the West will only make a token protest.

After that, I rather think that Eastern Ukraine, especially those provinces East and South of the Kharkiv - Dnepropetrovsk line will soon be petitioning Putin to be integrated into Russia.

At that point, if Putin is canny, he'll wait. Ukraine is still massively divided between large groups of people who still refuse to concede anyone else has a valid viewpoint; I doubt that there is the capability to return to any recognisable form of democracy. Too many of the  disparate groups think they deposed Yanukovytch to put themselves in power.

Which means there will be conflict, possibly not civil war but a fracturing of the civic state. And that means problems.

All Putin has to do is wait for the distress calls and he'll get most of Ukraine back, bit by bit. And the bits he doesn't get within the year may be surrounded and have to give in anyway.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2014 at 03:53:41 PM EST
I agree, Putin is patient, and munching popcorn while capitalism's contradictions tear it apart.

For example in Obama's right ear he has the MIC whipping up a reheated cold war, and in his left he has the BigBizNiz who have invested billions into Russia and don't want sanctions.

Russians are Asian enough to know how to be patient, compared to us.

(Outrageous generalisations dept)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 09:55:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks for this excellent diary and comments. Just when I had given up on ET it becomes relevant again...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2014 at 07:04:54 AM EST
The limitations of the "statist paradigm" so long the staple of mainstream academic political and international studies programmes, are clear when one considers:
  1. How fluid and recent many state boundaries have been, and
  2. How "artificial" and arbitrary many state boundaries have been, in the wake of world wars or imperial withdrawal.

So it's a low bar to set oneself to argue that the statist paradigm needs to be replaced or at least augmented by another.

The "civilisational paradigm" which Huntington posits as an alternative seems to be mostly an eclectic mix of religion and language, jointly labelled "culture" and which seems no less arbitrary in the dividing lines Huntington chooses to highlight and ignore.

How are "civilisational" boundaries different from the old imperial ones, or at least the outcomes of religious and world wars imposed on many disparate peoples? How many people actually understand the arcane theological differences between different strands of orthodox and "western" Christianity - a split itself the product of wars and imperial decline - and which occurred many centuries ago?

It took huge repression, in the form of Stalinism, to bind the many disparate statelets of the Soviet Union together, and it is hardly surprising that they went their separate ways with the collapse of the Soviet Empire, and which also exposed the internal tensions within those states as so clearly demonstrated by Ukraine.

Putin is now playing the ethnic Russian card in an attempt to retrieve Khrushchev's "gift" of Crimea to Ukraine, thereby securing nationalist Russian brownie points for himself and also, usefully, shoring up Russia's dominant military position in the Black Sea.

However in so doing he is also weakening the ethnic Russian/orthodox positions in Ukraine, the basis for Yanukovych's electoral supremacy. I expect Ukrainian nationlists now to assert their dominance in the rest of the Ukraine, by all repressive means necessary to secure their national "sovereignty" against "Russian interference" and "disloyal" ethnic Russian/orthodox elements in their midst.

Russia will pay lip service to the plight of Ethnic/Orthodox Russians in Ukraine, but with the Crimea already in his pocket Putin could proclaim a major victory and leave "his countrymen" to their plight within the Ukraine.

If the Hotheads on all sides take over, Putin might be tempted to annex further parts of the Ukraine, Obama will be pressurized to offer NATO membership and protections to the rest of Ukraine, and the ethnic cleansing circus will begin - all in the service of allowing some people economic and political dominance over others in the name of whatever linguistic, religious, ethnic and social differences which come conveniently to hand

Hopefully Obama and Putin are having some sane conversations in the background: "the west" will not intervene in the takeover of Crimea and will discourage/prevent ethnic cleansing/separatist tendencies in the rest of Ukraine. NATO membership will not be expanded, but, if the remaining majority wish closer ties with the EU, that will be permitted, on condition that "liberal democratic freedoms" and a degree of regional autonomy are also allowed.

This could all end reasonably amicably, or it could become the focus of a new Syria and worse - the focus of a new regional or world war. A "free and fair" referendum in the Crimea could provide legitimacy to the Russian annexation, but it will be at the cost of Russian dominance in Ukraine if a new cycle of cold or hot war is not to begin.

(I make no claims to expertise in matters Ukrainian, I offer the above as a hypothesis which I am happy for others to shoot down in the name of a greater understanding of the crisis).

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2014 at 03:12:59 PM EST
I've read through his 1993 essay again, and one thing about it struck me that I hadn't known the first time I read it:  It is very similar to the international theory proposed by German political theorist Carl Schmidt (who, like Heidegger, was an unrepentant Nazi whose works are being given a new life by the post-modernist left).  

Huntington's thesis for clash of civilizations is essentially the same as Schmidt's thesis of the Nomos of the earth, with the exception that Schmidt's explanation is much more generalizable and analytically functional instead of being tied to the idiosyncrasies of what might entail "civilizations" of the day. The fact that Schmidt identified different "civilizations" as the relevant Nomos than Huntington does indicate the fact that defining civilizations is highly dependent upon contextual or other factors that may change either quickly or slowly over time.  

Schmidt's Nomos theory allows for civilizations to be subsumed by others by introducing the concept of sovereign power into the definition of civilization, and this is where Huntington's framework becomes weak because of the fact that it is based on an a priori assumption of the relevance the nation state as singular "sovereign" agents, whereas Schmidt allows for other conceptions of such an agent to develop as long as they pertain to being truly "sovereign," as he defines it, which, I believe, makes Schmidt's Nomos approach even more appropriate to today's uni-polar world than it was 20 years ago when Huntington wrote his piece.

Schmidt, German that he was, defined as one of the relevant Nomos, akin to Huntington's civilization, the greater German Nomos, which is essentially today's Eurozone, while Huntington correctly puts this today into larger "West," largely because the US and Russia eliminated the German Nomos as an outcome of WWII, subsuming it within both areas.  By this logic, the US also subsumed, within the American Nomos, the Japanese Nomos along with all of what was the colonial empires of Europe and Japan in the Pacific Rim, Indian Rim, Middle East, and Africa. Schmidt's British Nomos disappeared into the American one, which Schmidt had already predicted would occur before the war.

What Schmidt's analysis does that Huntington's doesn't, however, is specify an analytical role for power in his international relations theory. Power -- what Schmidt refers to as "sovereignty" -- identifies the pole within each Nomos.  Sovereignty has a very specific meaning for Schmidt, unlike the slogan-like ambiguity the word carries today, even in international relations theory.  Sovereignty is what we now call "exceptionalism,"  and I think this is the key concept missing from Huntington that makes his theory analytically inferior.  Sovereignty is the ability to violate your own laws or customs that everyone else is beholden to within a given system without having to face the consequences for doing so. In small ways even, very local polities have this sort of sovereignty, but only a select few poles can do that on the world stage, and these poles define the Nomos. The US has long been such a pole and using Schmidt's reasoning has simply subsumed most of the rest of the world within its Nomos as a result of winning WWII (as opposed to merely surviving it, like Britain, France, and the rest of the allied and previously colonial imperial powers did). US exceptionalism means the US can violate international law regularly but can still hold others to that law.

Russia, would be another such pole and what would later be called "sphere of influence" during the cold war would be Russia's now much smaller Nomos, which would include Ukraine as a border region.  

China would be another one, but there are few other possibilities because of the uni-polar dominance of the US everywhere else, such as Western Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, as well as the entire Pacific Rim. Only the US can violate international laws in these areas with little expectation of facing any significant consequences from the rest of the international system (as opposed to the constituents within its own polity). Because Huntington fails to try to incorporate an explicit theory of power in his demarcation of civilizations, his explanation is merely a descriptive one without being able to make very good predictions about where, specifically, conflicts might actually occur.  

Under Schmidt's Nomos approach, there are two kinds of conflicts that we should expect to see. 1) clashes on the frontiers of each Nomos as regions go back and forth between areas as power of the poles waxes and wanes.  And 2) Conflicts within each Nomos between the pole and the regions within it over institutional arrangements and political leadership of the Nomos.  The Ukraine would be an example of the first kind of conflict, while Venezuela, Cuba, and probably even Iran would be examples of the second kind of conflict, contesting power with the United States over US leadership of the Nomos, very much as a faction like the Tea Party contests power with the United States by taking control of Texas, but in way less inhibited by the constitutional framework for things like elections for contesting power that we find within nation states themselves.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on this.

by santiago on Tue Mar 4th, 2014 at 04:09:55 PM EST
I should note that I misspelled "Schmidt" in the above comment, throughout. The correct spelling is Carl Schmitt.
by santiago on Tue Mar 4th, 2014 at 06:00:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 5th, 2014 at 02:49:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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