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Arabica Robusta

In Kiev, Ukrainians want revolutionary change - The Washington Post - 0 views

  • He came to the Maidan — Independence Square — on New Year’s Eve from a region east of the capital to demand good government. He stayed. The Viktor Yanukovych government ran off. Now the new government wants the militias that formed to defend the protesters to turn in their weapons. Vygupaev doesn’t think so.
  • The 2004 Orange Revolution did not. It overturned the fraudulent presidential election of Yanukovych but produced new authorities who bickered, botching their work so badly that a frustrated citizenry turned back to Yanukovych in 2010. Then, he managed to emerge as the only real alternative, winning by a tiny margin and going on to demonstrate new depths of corruption and chicanery.
Arabica Robusta

Our war-torn world needs a new mediating body to resolve conflicts | Gabrielle Rifkind ... - 0 views

  • Institutions do not decide to go to war or to make peace or decide who to destroy or kill; those actions are the responsibility of individuals. So to try to understand the root causes of conflict only in terms of power politics and resources, without also understanding human behaviour, undermines our effectiveness in preventing war and making peace.
  • Such questions no longer seem relevant once a conflict has hardened. For instance, what started as a popular uprising against the Assad family was quickly stimulated by regional actors in a proxy war, the key players being Saudi Arabia and Iran.
  • For this to be effective, strong working relationships are necessary and credible mediators would have shuttled between the parties, primarily Iran and Saudi Arabia, to address the differences between these guarantors of an emerging new architecture. Only after such informal negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia had taken place would negotiations between opposing Syrian warring parties have had a better chance of succeeding.
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  • Traditional attempts at peacemaking have created complex bureaucracies, circuses of diplomats, frequent flyers around the global terrain with insufficient evidence of success in the resolution of conflict. Indeed, current structures have proved to be cumbersome and ill-attuned to the skills of mediation. A new form of mediation is now required that recognises the competing narratives of the parties involved in the conflict.
Arabica Robusta

Ukraine crisis: Crimea is lost, but there is a deal waiting to be done - Commentators -... - 0 views

  • If we are to stop this dangerous escalation we must understand where Russia is coming from. I saw a fair amount of Mr Putin when I was British Ambassador in Moscow. Like most politicians he is ready to manipulate the truth when necessary. But in most of his public utterances he is strikingly faithful to what he genuinely believes.
  • In his view we lied to Russia about the expansion of Nato. We have backed every recent Russian enemy from Chechnya's Dudayev to Georgia's Saakashvili.
  • The most likely immediate outcome is stasis; the present level of sanctions, Russia firmly in control of Crimea, and Ukraine limping on as a troubled cockpit for East/West competition. But even if the West "wins", with rising levels of sanctions eventually forcing Russia into ignominious retreat, would it have been worth it? The fissures and misgovernment which have dogged Ukraine since independence would only grow deeper. And an embittered Russia would become even more of a thorn in the West's side.
Arabica Robusta

Pro-Russian and Pro-Kiev Camps Dig In Amid Uneasy Calm in Eastern Ukraine - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • While the bloody events and clashes that left more than a hundred dead in Kiev a month ago have not been repeated in eastern cities like Kharkiv and Donetsk, occasional violence and a powerful propaganda war have created entrenched pro-Russian and pro-Western camps that scarcely existed before.
  • For the fledgling pro-Western central government in Kiev, which is warily keeping one eye toward a possible invasion from Russia, the growing rift among ordinary Ukrainians and among political elites has laid bare the difficulties of establishing political order even if the unsteady peace lasts.
Arabica Robusta

Pro-Russian and Pro-Kiev Camps Dig In Amid Uneasy Calm in Eastern Ukraine - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • “As far as I believe, nobody is going to protect us except for Russia,” Mr. Sopin said. “Do you think that he would have died if they were here?”
  • The instability set off by the revolution in Kiev last month and a wave of pro-Russian demonstrations in eastern cities has produced a split among local politicians and businessmen, including fabulously wealthy oligarchs like Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, who warily supports the government in Kiev.

    One of those rich men is Gennady A. Kernes, the eccentric mayor of Kharkiv, who has publicly opposed talk of separatism here, theoretically allying himself with Kiev.

Arabica Robusta

Ukraine and Other People-Powered Revolutions Are Overrated | New Republic - 0 views

  • Tales of those who stood for months in the square will be told and retold. But that doesn’t mean that the protesters will necessarily have triumphed. On the contrary, Ukrainians are about to learn that the exhilaration of “people power”—mass marches, big demonstrations, songs, and banners—is always an illusion. And sooner or later, the illusion wears off.
  • In both Thailand and Turkey, an educated middle class has recently taken to the streets to protest against democratically elected leaders who have grown increasingly corrupt and autocratic, but who might well be voted back into office tomorrow. In Venezuela, elections are not fair and the media is not free, but the president is supported by many Venezuelans who still have faith in his far-left rhetoric, however much his policies may be damaging the country.
  • The suited Ukrainians in the room, none of whom looked remotely revolutionary, all asked the same kinds of questions: What laws do we need? What rules must we have? How can we make sure that this time the changes are real? That conversation won’t attract photographers, but it holds out the promise of something permanent.
Ed Webb

How Putin's worldview may be shaping his response in Crimea - 1 views

  • The recent literature on Putin is correctly in drawing attention to his pro-Soviet imperialistic views: remember, to Putin the collapse of the USSR the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of 20th century. But what exactly this pro-Soviet worldview means is fairly poorly understood. To get a grasp on one needs to check what Putin’s preferred readings are. Putin’s favorites include a bunch of Russian nationalist philosophers of early 20th century – Berdyaev, Solovyev, Ilyin — whom he often quotes in his public speeches. Moreover, recently the Kremlin has specifically assigned Russia’s regional governors to read the works by these philosophers during 2014 winter holidays. The main message of these authors is Russia’s messianic role in world history, preservation and restoration of Russia’s historical borders and Orthodoxy.
  • the concept of cultural clash has been deeply ingrained in the minds of today’s Russians
  • Again, it may sound implausible but that is exactly what the late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington predicted in his book “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order: alignments and wars among various civilizations — Western, Islamic, Chinese, Orthodox/Russian Latin etc. Notice that the Orthodox/Russian unity has already been restored in Russia. In response to the Ukrainian Church’s call to stop the Russian troops, Saturday a representative of Russia’s Orthodox Church suggested that Ukrainians shouldn’t resist the Russian military “peacekeepers.” Their mission – as was pointed out – is “to restore Russia’s historical unity.”
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  • This helps us to understand why western analysts keep misreading the motivation behind Putin’s actions. His reality is very different from the reality in which these analysts live. His goal is primarily to “recollect Russia’s historical territories” (which specific version of historical Russia he has in mind is for us to rediscover in the next episodes)
  • another Putin’s favorite that was rumored to be very popular in his close circles a few years ago: “The Third Empire: Russia that Ought to Be” by Michael Yuriev. It’s a utopian fantasy written as a history book from a perspective of a 2054 Latin American narrator. The book describes how 2054 world order was established, and the process has a striking resemblance with contemporary Ukrainian events. It begins with a Recovery period of 2000-12, when the Great Russia starts its resurgence under the rule of Vladimir II the Restorer. Importantly the First Expansion that leads to reunification of significant territory occurs when Eastern and Southern Ukrainian regions rebel against west-organized Orange revolution (supported by western Ukraine). To help the revolting Ukrainians (that want to rejoin Russia) Vladimir II offers to include their Eastern territories into Russia. He then passes a referendum on those territories, and replaces the Russian Federation with the Russian Union (refer to the Custom Union) that also includes Belarus, Prednestrovie, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, South Ossetia and Abkhazia
  • Surveys show that 88 percent of Kiev’s Euromaidan participants came from outside of the capital. Of those only half originated from the country’s western regions, while the other half came from the central and eastern Ukraine. Specifically as many as one fifth (20 percent) of protesters came from the eastern regions alone
  • country-level data is also against the Ukrainian cultural divide concept. A survey from the Razumkov Center, shows that as of late December 2013 an absolute majority of the population in both the Center (two thirds) and West (80 percent) of Ukraine supported the Euromaidan; this is in contrast to about 20-30 percent in the East and South. However, the share of population that did not express support for the Euromaidan protests remained undecided regarding the alternative option: not supporting the Maidan did not automatically equal supporting the Russian vector or Yanukovych
  • the preponderance of pro-Russia oriented media in the Russian-speaking East
  • these media actively emphasized the cultural divide. If anything, the notorious divide exists primarily within Eastern Ukraine alone
Ed Webb

Who predicted Russia's military intervention? - 0 views

  • scholars who study international security or Russia (or Eastern Europe) as a primary or secondary specialty were more likely to foresee the intervention. It pays (a little bit) to listen to those who know what they are talking about.
  • scholars who work at a Top-25 institution (as identified by TRIP) were least likely to be correct. This is consistent with Philip Tetlock’s finding that the more famous and successful the pundit, the less accurate the predictions. Perhaps in academia, as in punditry, forcefulness, confidence and decisiveness pay even as these qualities do not translate into predictive accuracy.
  • Fourth, and most interesting to me, are the differences related to the “paradigm wars.” International relations scholars have long classified themselves as belonging to different schools of thought, often referred to as “the isms” (see here for a primer). A growing group of scholars, myself included, worry that becoming a card-carrying member of a paradigmatic club can lead to blinders that, among others, interferes with predictive accuracy.

    Consistent with this, those who do not identify with a paradigm were somewhat more likely to be accurate, closely followed by Realists. Self-identified Liberals and Constructivists did poorly, with Liberals both very unlikely to predict intervention and very likely to offer a definitive “no” rather than the “don’t know” answer that was very popular among Constructivists (who sometimes look dimly on the predictive ambitions of social science).

    Perhaps a misplaced faith in the power of international law and institutions was at the root of this. After all, the Russian intervention violates a system of laws and norms that these paradigms hold dearly. Yet, non-realist scholars who study international law or international organizations as their primary or secondary field were more likely to foresee the military action (see graph).

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  • All of these findings ought to be taken with a hefty grain of salt. The sample is pretty small once you start breaking it down into subgroups. Moreover, if there were a subgroup called “conspiracy theorists,” who see military intervention lurking behind any crisis, we would have declared them clairvoyant based on this one prediction exercise. This is why continuation of these snap polls is so important: it helps expose our biases in a systematic way. Finally, none of this should distract us from the most important conclusion: that most scholars (including me) got it wrong.
Ed Webb

Iran 'thwarts nuclear sabotage attempts' - Middle East - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

  • "Several cases of industrial sabotage have been neutralized in the past few months before achieving the intended damage, including sabotage at a part of the IR-40 facility at Arak."
Ed Webb

What is so great about 'territorial integrity' anyway? - 0 views

  • the rules can leave people trapped in a country that they do not identify with and/or a government that abuses them. This was the justification for fudging the rules with Kosovo. Serbia did not agree to Kosovo independence. Yet, a referendum and a somewhat opaque advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice helped legitimize the secession. 

    Putin now claims that Kosovo set a precedent even though there is no comparable history of abuse in Crimea, and Russia has never recognized Kosovo. At the same time, the European Union and the United Staes are eager to argue that Kosovo did not set a precedent for other oppressed groups and that Kosovo is totally different from South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and so on. This is the kind of maddening but unavoidable inconsistency that led Stanford professor and former U.S. State Department director of policy planning Stephen Krasner to dub so-called principles of sovereignty “organized hypocrisy.”

  • Russia has always used buffer states as a way to shield it from the “West.” Putin clearly considers the break-up of the Soviet Union as recent territorial loss that ought to be rectified. And third, Russia is not (anymore) a liberal state, although it does have extensive trade and financial ties that may moderate its behavior.
  • territorial integrity principle is a terrific principle from the U.S. viewpoint (and from that of most states who value stability) but not necessarily from the perspective of Russia (and possibly China, although more on that some other time). Crimea’s annexation can thus be seen as a challenge to the principle itself and with that to the stability of the system as it is currently constructed
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