JPI Spring 2015

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Table of Contents<br />

Letter from the Editor | Madeleine Wykstra 1<br />

<strong>JPI</strong> <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> Editorial Board 2<br />

Sexual Citizenship and EU Conditionality | Séhzad M. Sooklall 3<br />

Does Official Development Assistance Contribute to Long- Term Growth and Stability in<br />

Afghanistan? | David Esmati 22<br />

From Operation Serval to Barkhane: Understanding France’s Increased Involvement in Africa<br />

in the Context of Françafrique and Post- colonialism | Carmen Cuesta Roca 32<br />

China’s Economic Espionage: Stealing, not Destroying | Reema Hibrawi 41<br />

The Anti-Communist Myth: A Critical Examination of Aggregate U.S. Foreign Policy<br />

Analysis of the Cold War | Dylan Heyden 48<br />

An Appraisal of the Joint Development Approach to the South China Sea Dispute:<br />

Prospects and Challenges | Guan Hui Lee 56<br />

Is Sustained Economic Growth in Russia’s Future? | Joel Alexander 66<br />

Iraq: State Or National Collapse? | Paul Mutter 79<br />

Power to the Babushkas? Reconsidering the Relationship between Russian Politics<br />

and the Elderly | Ilaria Parogni 90<br />

From Multi-Party to Two-Party System: The Applicability of Duverger’s Law and<br />

the Taiwanese Election Reform | Pei-Yu Wei 101<br />

Empowering Women or Hollow Words? Gender References in Peace Agreements |<br />

Lori Perkovich 111<br />

A New Cold War in the Arttic? | Roma Parhad 123<br />

Faculty Spotlight: A Conversation with Professor Michael Williams |<br />

Interviewed by Jordan Clifford 130

Letter from the Editor | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong><br />

It is with great pleasure that I present the Journal of Political Inquiry’s <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> publication.<br />

This issue is the product of a diverse, talented, and ambitious team of writers and editors. It features<br />

student authors from several different New York University graduate programs. These students<br />

invested commendable time and energy into their respective articles, and that effort shows in the<br />

quality of their work.<br />

The <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> issue, of course, would not have been possible without the valiant efforts of our<br />

managing editors, who worked tirelessly to prepare these articles for publication. The Journal is also<br />

fortunate to have had an exceptional team of students serve on the editorial board this year. In<br />

addition, our operations team should be commended for expanding <strong>JPI</strong>’s readership and<br />

participation to many different programs at GSAS and NYU.<br />

This has been a transformative year for <strong>JPI</strong>. We sought to expand the Journal’s presence and its<br />

substance, and we have succeeded in doing both. As you know, <strong>JPI</strong> is a student-cultivated, studentled<br />

publication. Its success this year was made possible by students who recognize the value in<br />

exchanging ideas, skills, and perspectives outside of the classroom. The Fall 2014 and <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong><br />

publications speak to our collective ambition and initiative, and the value we see in producing<br />

something with our peers, for our peers.<br />

In my Fall 2014 letter, I wrote that we must “take advantage of our time together in graduate<br />

school, and the pool of talent that comprises our own student body.” The hundreds of hours spent<br />

in putting together <strong>JPI</strong>’s Fall 2014 and <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> issues have allowed us to do just that, and we<br />

are collectively better for it. Although <strong>JPI</strong> will continue evolving and growing under each new<br />

editorial board, the students who worked so hard to bring new life to <strong>JPI</strong> this year have left their<br />

own indelible mark. I thank them for their dedication—and I thank you, the readers, for your<br />

support of our efforts.<br />

Wishing you all a happy and successful summer,<br />

Madeleine Wykstra<br />

Editor-in-Chief<br />

Madeleine is a second-year MA candidate at New York University. She graduated summa cum laude from the<br />

State University of New York at Purchase, with a BA in political science and a minor in economics.<br />

Previously, Madeleine served as an editor for the Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU Law School,<br />

and as an editorial intern for the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Her research interests<br />

include multilateral responses to intrastate conflict, the emergence and development of transnational<br />

regulatory standards, and the design of administrative mechanisms to improve natural resource revenue<br />

management in developing countries. She will begin a JD program at Berkeley School of Law in the fall.<br />

1 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 1

Editorial Board<br />

Editor-in- Chief<br />

Madeleine Wykstra<br />

Managing Editors<br />

Jie Zhan<br />

Roma Parhad<br />

Ásdís Ólafsdóttir<br />

Xing Lu<br />

Mireia Triguero Roura<br />

Dylan Heyden<br />

Guan Hui Lee<br />

Hannah Thomas<br />

Ji Min Kiim<br />

Joseph Lavicka<br />

Khobaib Osailan<br />

Marcela Villacob<br />

Editors<br />

Paul Mutter<br />

Pei-Yu Wei<br />

Wenjun Zeng<br />

Won Min Seo<br />

Zehra Rehman<br />

Jordan Clifford<br />

Ramiro Fúnez<br />

Special thanks to our honorary guest editor Elizabeth Bennett<br />

2 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 2

Sexual Citizenship and<br />

EU Conditionality<br />

Can Supranational<br />

Organizations Facilitate the<br />

Advancement of Sexual<br />

Minorities?<br />

The Case of Former Yugoslav<br />

Republics and EU Accession<br />

Séhzad M. Sooklall<br />

Citizenship is transcending traditional<br />

European states’ borders. More<br />

than a half billion Europeans are<br />

now citizens of both the European Union<br />

(EU) and one of the 28 member states. 1<br />

Article 20 of The Treaty on the<br />

Functioning of the European Union states<br />

that “every person holding the nationality<br />

of a Member State shall be a citizen of the<br />

Union” and that “citizenship of the Union<br />

shall be additional to and not replace<br />

national citizenship.” 2 Do the rights and<br />

protections afforded by member states<br />

necessarily mirror the ones afforded at the<br />

supranational level? Is one set of<br />

citizenship rights more desirable than the<br />

other?<br />

Several factors must be considered:<br />

does the citizen in question constitute part<br />

1 Dimitry Kochenov, “The Present and the Future<br />

of EU Citizenship: A Bird’s Eye View of the Legal<br />

Debate,” Jean Monnet Working Papers (NYU Law<br />

School) No.2/12 (2012): 3,<br />

http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2063200.<br />

2 The Member States, “Consolidated version of the<br />

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,”<br />

Official Journal of the European Union (2012),<br />

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legalcontent/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT.<br />

of the minority or majority in terms of the<br />

power structure of that state, and very<br />

importantly, to which member state does<br />

the citizen belong? In the process of EU<br />

enlargement, applicant countries have to<br />

harmonize their national legislation with<br />

the acquis communautaire before entry into<br />

the union. 3 This paper explores whether<br />

conditionality to EU membership has<br />

served as an effective instrument for<br />

positive change in the lives of sexual<br />

minorities in the applicant countries. More<br />

specifically, this paper will focus on the<br />

former Yugoslav republics of Serbia and<br />

Montenegro, which are currently in the<br />

negotiation phase for EU accession, and<br />

Croatia, which was admitted to the union<br />

in July 2013. 4<br />

This paper will begin with the<br />

introduction of relevant context, including<br />

operational definitions. It will be followed<br />

by a review of Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship: EU Accession and the Changing<br />

Position of Sexual Minorities in the Post-Yugoslav<br />

context, by Katja Kahlina. It will then<br />

compare EU accession of the former<br />

Yugoslav republics and the resulting<br />

impact on sexual minorities with recent<br />

events in France in regards to same sex<br />

marriage legalization. This comparative and<br />

interpretive analysis finds that although<br />

advancement of sexual citizenship in<br />

France was not imposed by the European<br />

Union, riots and anti-gay violence still<br />

3 Katja Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship: EU Accession and the Changing<br />

Position of Sexual Minorities in the Post-Yugoslav<br />

Context,” University of Edinburgh School of Law: The<br />

Europeanisation of Citizenship in the Successor States of the<br />

Former Yugoslavia (CITSEE) Working Paper Series No.<br />

2013/33 (2013): 23,<br />

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_i<br />

d=2388884.<br />

4 “EU Enlargement: Check Current Status,”<br />

European Commission, last modified April 16, <strong>2015</strong>,<br />

http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/countries/checkcurrent-status/index_en.htm.<br />

3 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 3

erupted in Paris just as they did in<br />

Belgrade, Zagreb and Montenegro, which<br />

suggests that causality for anti-gay<br />

sentiment might not necessarily be rooted<br />

in EU conditionality but is likely a<br />

symptom of generalized homophobia. This<br />

paper presents the argument that the<br />

advancement of sexual minority rights<br />

comes at a cost regardless of whether it is<br />

endogenously or exogenously promulgated<br />

, and often with vitriol and protests<br />

targeted toward the very same minority<br />

groups expected to benefit from changes in<br />

the law. However, because the gains in<br />

legal status come with increased rights and<br />

remedies, it is a worthy and significant goal<br />

to pursue in spite of the costs.<br />

The paper concludes by posing<br />

relevant questions concerning the power of<br />

supranational organizations, and whether<br />

such organizations can facilitate the<br />

advancement of sexual minority rights.<br />

Taking the EU as a model, can other<br />

supranational organizations (World Trade<br />

Organization or the World Bank) impose<br />

membership requirements that ask not only<br />

for the respect of sexual minority rights via<br />

declaratory instruments but also impose<br />

strict enforcement, regulatory and<br />

disciplinary regimes for violating such<br />

rights?<br />


Gender equality and nondiscrimination<br />

on the basis of sex, racial or<br />

ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability,<br />

age and sexual orientation are amongst the<br />

founding values of the European Union. 5<br />

Therefore, citizens of member states and,<br />

5 European Commission, “The EU Explained:<br />

Justice, Fundamental Rights and Equality,”<br />

Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union<br />

(2014): 4,<br />

http://europa.eu/pol/pdf/flipbook/en/justice_en.<br />

pdf.<br />

by extension, citizens of the supranational<br />

European Union are afforded equal rights<br />

regardless of gender or sexual orientation.<br />

A supranational organization lies<br />

somewhere between a confederation and a<br />

federation, but it does not fall exclusively<br />

into either category because there are<br />

several characteristics that are unique to<br />

this type of union. 6 For example, while<br />

competence is divided between the EU and<br />

the individual states, sovereignty remains<br />

exclusively within the realm of the member<br />

states. 7 Kiljunen 8 makes the point that EU<br />

legislation takes precedence over national<br />

laws in areas where the EU has been<br />

accorded competence, 9 just as U.S. federal<br />

law and the constitution take precedence<br />

over state law only in matters where the<br />

federal government has been granted such<br />

powers by the Constitution.<br />

The important concept here is that<br />

a supranational organization is a collective<br />

body of states acting through a central<br />

power in matters delegated to it by the<br />

individual states. The states defer to the<br />

supranational rule in the matters delegated<br />

to that union. The EU started as an<br />

economic union, but gradually expanded its<br />

scope. Social, political and human rights<br />

eventually made their way into the acquis<br />

communautaire. The acquis communautaire is<br />

defined as the “[c]ommon foundation of<br />

rights and obligations which binds together<br />

6 Kimmo Kiljunen, “The European Constitution in<br />

the Making,” Centre for European Policy Studies (2004):<br />

22,<br />

7 Ibid.<br />

8 “Composition: Representatives of the National<br />

Parliaments,” The European Convention, last visited<br />

April 16, 2014, http://europeanconvention.europa.eu/EN/Static/Static6cf8.html?la<br />

ng=EN&Content=Parlement_Nat. Kimmo<br />

Kiljunen is a former member of the Finnish<br />

Parliament and member of the European<br />

Convention that drafted a constitution for the EU.<br />

9 Kiljunen, “The European Constitution in the<br />

Making,” 19.<br />

4 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 4

the Member States of the European<br />

Union.” 10 It is derived from the French<br />

verb acquérir, which means to acquire, and<br />

therefore conjointly means that which the<br />

community has already acquired. This<br />

concept is important here because new<br />

members seeking to enter the union have<br />

to harmonize their national laws to grant<br />

those acquired European rights to their<br />

citizens as well. Hence, as the rights of<br />

sexual minorities became part of the<br />

European acquis in the 2000s, 11 the<br />

applicant countries from The Socialist<br />

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)<br />

had to enact non-discrimination legislation<br />

to protect sexual minorities.<br />

The SFRY was a federation of six<br />

socialist republics: Bosnia and<br />

Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia,<br />

Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia, which<br />

disintegrated in the 1990s as a result of a<br />

number of regional ethnic conflicts. These<br />

countries are pertinent because they<br />

constitute the majority of applicants<br />

currently negotiating for EU accession. 12<br />

While Croatia successfully acceded to the<br />

union in 2013, Serbia and Montenegro are<br />

still undergoing the negotiating phase. 13<br />

Moreover, these three countries are<br />

relevant to this study because despite their<br />

geographic proximity, they have distinctive<br />

narratives and imaginaries in EU accession.<br />

10 “Community Acqui,” EuroVoc: Multilingual<br />

Thesaurus of the European Union, last visited April 16,<br />

2014,<br />

http://eurovoc.europa.eu/drupal/?q=request&uri=<br />

http://eurovoc.europa.eu/210682.<br />

11 Council of the European Union, “Council<br />

Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000<br />

Establishing a General Framework for Equal<br />

Treatment in Employment and Occupation,” Official<br />

Journal of the European Communities (2000), http://eurlex.europa.eu/legalcontent/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32000L007<br />

8&rid=2.<br />

12 “EU Enlargement: Check Current Status,”<br />

European Commission.<br />

13 Ibid.<br />

This is especially seen vis-à-vis EU<br />

conditionality toward harmonization of<br />

sexual minority rights. 14<br />


This analysis examines Kahlina’s<br />

paper in great depth because of her seminal<br />

work on the issue of sexual minority rights<br />

in the context of former Yugoslav<br />

republics’ accession to the EU. As a<br />

current and popular topic in human rights,<br />

there is however limited scholarship<br />

specifically on the issue of LGBT rights in<br />

the context of Western Balkan states. This<br />

paper not only builds on the work laid out<br />

by Kahlina but also offers a different<br />

perspective and analysis using secondary<br />

sources.<br />

Kahlina, in Contested Terrain of<br />

Sexual Citizenship: EU Accession and the<br />

Changing Position of Sexual Minorities in the<br />

Post-Yugoslav Context, explores the point<br />

brought forth by feminist and sexuality<br />

studies scholars that citizenship rights and<br />

duties are accorded differently on the basis<br />

of gender and sexuality. 15 The author<br />

submits that because citizenship is granted<br />

largely on the basis of ancestry, which is<br />

inevitably linked to reproductive and<br />

monogamous sexuality, society has an<br />

inherent bias toward heterosexuality. 16<br />

Throughout her paper, Kahlina discusses<br />

the tensions between nationalism, nationbuilding,<br />

and the transnational processes of<br />

EU accession and how these impacted<br />

sexual citizenship in the former Yugoslav<br />

republics. 17<br />

It is important to clarify Kahlina’s<br />

conceptions of “sexual citizenship” and<br />

“sexual minority.” Lister as quoted in<br />

14 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 11.<br />

15 Ibid., 1.<br />

16 Ibid., 1-2.<br />

17 Ibid., 1.<br />

5 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 5

Kahlina referred to sexual citizenship as<br />

“the ways in which sexuality is implicated<br />

in the scope of rights that form the basis of<br />

citizenship, such as civil, social, and cultural<br />

rights, and which determine the unequal<br />

citizenship status of sexual minorities, i.e.<br />

of those individuals whose sexual practices<br />

do not comply with the heterosexual<br />

norm.” 18 This paper will attempt to answer if<br />

the bundle of rights afforded to the sexual<br />

minority can be equalized to those of the<br />

majority in the EU. Kahlina presents the<br />

concept of “sexual minority” not in a<br />

quantitative sense but rather in terms of<br />

the power structure. 19 Alcoff and Mohanty<br />

as quoted in Kahlina posit the concept of<br />

minority within a “framework [that] signifies<br />

the non-hegemonic position that is formed<br />

on the grounds of its unequal relation to<br />

the dominant group.” 20 Following this<br />

definition, sexual minorities would consist<br />

of the group of people who have unequal<br />

power in comparison to the dominant<br />

group of heterosexuals in society.<br />

Kahlina submits that although<br />

sexual minority rights were already part of<br />

the EU legal discourse in the 2000s, they<br />

did not play a prominent role in the 2004<br />

and 2007 enlargements. 21 However, greater<br />

18 Ruth Lister, “Sexual Citizenship.” In Handbook of<br />

Citizenship Studies, eds. Engin F. Isin and Bryan S.<br />

Turner, 191-209. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.,<br />

2002. doi: 10.4135/9781848608276.n12, quoted in<br />

Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual Citizenship,”<br />

2.<br />

19 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 5.<br />

20 Linda Martín Alcoff and Satya P. Mohanty,<br />

“Reconsidering Identity Politics: An Introduction.”<br />

In Identity Politics Reconsidered, eds. Satya P. Mohanty,<br />

Linda Martín Alcoff, and Michael Hames-Garcia, 1-<br />

9. Gordonsville, VA, USA: Palgrave Macmillan,<br />

2006. Accessed May 1, <strong>2015</strong>. ProQuest ebrary,<br />

quoted in Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 5.<br />

21 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 9. The 2004 and 2007 enlargements<br />

emphasis was placed on sexual citizenship<br />

beginning with the accession of Croatia,<br />

Montenegro, and Serbia in the late 2000s. 22<br />

The author points to the European<br />

Commission Progress Report for Croatia and<br />

Article 33 of the EP Resolution 2012 on the<br />

European integration process of Serbia<br />

calling on the respective countries to do<br />

more against homophobia and to conform<br />

with European standards when it comes to<br />

protection of sexual minorities. 23 Kahlina<br />

purports that those stricter standards were<br />

imposed because of EU bias against the<br />

Western Balkan states, which were<br />

depicted as “backward,” “not civilized<br />

enough” and “not ‘European’ enough.” 24<br />

On the other hand, it could be<br />

argued that the EU’s motivation was<br />

sincerely founded upon a desire to create a<br />

more unified community that shared<br />

similar human rights values among other<br />

things. In Citizenship and the Problem of<br />

Community, Lynn A. Staeheli explains that<br />

citizenship is closely linked to community.<br />

She argues that “community is where<br />

contests are waged over membership and<br />

the political subjects and subjectivities that<br />

‘belong’ in a political community …<br />

[community] is a site in which power<br />

relationships are both expressed and<br />

solidified through citizenship formation.” 25<br />

Staehli suggests that citizenship is a<br />

struggle or contest to belong to a particular<br />

polity.<br />

included the following countries: Hungary, Poland,<br />

Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania,<br />

Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovenia. “EUROPA:<br />

The History of the European Union,” European<br />

Union, last visited April 16, 2014,<br />

http://europa.eu/about-eu/eu-history/2000-<br />

2009/index_en.htm.<br />

22 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 9.<br />

23 Ibid., 9-10.<br />

24 Ibid., 10.<br />

25 Lynn Staeheli, “Citizenship and the Problem of<br />

Community,” Political Geography 5, 7 (2008): 27.<br />

6 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 6

In studying how different<br />

communities in the Western Balkan states<br />

were imagined, Kahlina paid close<br />

attention to the sharp distinctions in the<br />

national imaginaries of the respective<br />

states. 26 Following the dissolution of the<br />

former Yugoslav federation, the previously<br />

repressed sense of ethnic belonging came<br />

to the forefront in the states once again. 27<br />

Kahlina finds that this concept of national<br />

imaginary built around ethnic identity is<br />

significant in the study of EU accession. In<br />

Croatia, for example, being more<br />

“European” was considered more desirable<br />

than being “Balkan,” which was the reverse<br />

in Serbia. 28 These distinctive discourses<br />

eventually led to different paths toward EU<br />

accession in the respective states. Building<br />

on national imaginaries can be a powerful<br />

tool for social change. Western<br />

democracies often pride themselves on<br />

issues such as inclusion of minorities,<br />

tolerance, and human rights. It is a way to<br />

mark their difference from the others. 29<br />

National imaginaries translate into<br />

legal realities. Kahlina explains that<br />

conceptions of nation, gender and sexuality<br />

define the citizenship status of sexual<br />

minorities because they not only relate in a<br />

cultural context but also in the allocation of<br />

rights through family codes, citizenship and<br />

immigration acts, and labor and health<br />

26 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 11-12.<br />

27 Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Social Identity, Intergroup<br />

Conflict, and Conflict Reduction, eds. Richard D.<br />

Ashmore, Lee Jussim & David Wilder (2001), 47-<br />

51.<br />

28 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 11.<br />

29 Fred Joseph LeBlanc, “Sporting<br />

Homonationalism: Russian Homophobia,<br />

Imaginative Geographies & the 2014 Sochi<br />

Olympic Games” (presentation, Sociology<br />

Association of Aotearoa New Zealand, Annual<br />

Conference December 2013)<br />

https://otago.academia.edu/FredLeBlanc/Confere<br />

nce-Presentations.<br />

insurance laws. 30 Kahlina, however, stops<br />

short from endorsing the concept of<br />

Europeanization of the Western Balkan<br />

states as a definite and progressive change<br />

in the national imaginaries that results in<br />

greater inclusion of sexual minorities. She<br />

suggests that importing Western European<br />

standards has also provided ammunition to<br />

conservative and nationalist groups to<br />

disenfranchise and discriminate against<br />

sexual minority groups, implying that there<br />

was no clear advancement of sexual<br />

minority rights as a result of the Western<br />

Balkan states’ legislative harmonization<br />

with EU requirements. Kahlina therefore<br />

suggests that the EU was not necessarily an<br />

unambiguous liberator of the oppressed<br />

sexual minorities in the former Yugoslav<br />

republics. She specifically cautions against<br />

the assumption that a Europeanization<br />

movement would become a protector of<br />

local LGBT populations. 31<br />

In fact, changes in the legal code<br />

that decriminalized homosexuality did not<br />

occur at the same time across the former<br />

Yugoslav states, Kahlina argues. It was not<br />

a single Europeanization wave that swept<br />

decriminalization of homosexuality<br />

through Yugoslavia at a particular point in<br />

time. Decriminalization of homosexuality<br />

actually began in 1977, long before EU<br />

accession, at a time when criminal law<br />

shifted from federal to the state level—<br />

Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro, and the<br />

Province of Vojvodina decriminalized in<br />

1977 but Serbia waited until 1994. 32 Serbia<br />

was actually one of the last countries in the<br />

Eastern European block to address the<br />

issue of homosexuality altogether. In fact,<br />

it took 15 years after the 1994<br />

30 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 4.<br />

31 Ibid., 5.<br />

32 Douglas Sanders, “Getting Lesbian and Gay<br />

Issues on the International Human Rights Agenda,”<br />

Human Rights Quarterly 67, 71 (1996): 18.<br />

7 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 7

decriminalization for the country to enact<br />

the first law banning discrimination based<br />

on sexual orientation, and it would not be<br />

until 2009 that the first non-violent gay<br />

pride parade took place. 33 The relative<br />

speed of change in Serbia is arguably<br />

slower compared to the neighboring<br />

countries, and the possible reasons behind<br />

this particular Serbian exception will be<br />

examined below.<br />

As SFRY broke up in 1992,<br />

Ragazzi and Sťiks explain, the successor<br />

states used their “founding documents,<br />

constitutions and citizenship laws as<br />

effective tools to accelerate nation-building<br />

and to ‘ethnically engineer’ their<br />

populations to the advantage of the<br />

majority ethnic group.” 34 The authors<br />

argued that the new citizenship laws both<br />

“deterritorialised inclusion and targeted<br />

exclusion” because in Croatia, for example,<br />

Croatian ethnicity at its core was used “not<br />

only to homogenise the national<br />

population through the exclusion of non-<br />

Croats, but also to include all ethnic Croats<br />

in a single national group, regardless of<br />

their place or country of residence.” 35<br />

In Negotiating Interests: Women and<br />

Nationalism in Serbia and Croatia, 1990-1997,<br />

Lilly and Irvine submit that nationalist<br />

ideologies in Serbia and Croatia reflect the<br />

concept of nation as a patriarchal family,<br />

assigning the role of the father in the<br />

public sphere as soldiers and workers, and<br />

positioning women to the private sphere as<br />

“reproducers and socializers of future<br />

citizens” teaching them the nation’s<br />

33 Bojana Dunjić-Kostić et al., “Knowledge: A<br />

Possible Tool in Shaping Medical Professionals’<br />

Attitudes Towards Homosexuality,” Psychiatria<br />

Danubina 24, 2 (2012): 143-144.<br />

34 Francesco Ragazzi & Igor Štiks, Citizenship Policies<br />

in the New Europe, eds. Rainer Bauböck, Bernhard<br />

Perchinig & Wiebke Sievers (2009), 339.<br />

35 Ibid.<br />

“history, traditions, culture, and values.” 36<br />

As such, women are framed as not only<br />

carriers of the genetic material of the ethnic<br />

group but also as transmitters of the<br />

cultural ethnicity. Heterosexuality emerged<br />

as the dominant and only legitimate form<br />

of sexual relationship, which de facto<br />

delegitimized other sexualities for the sake<br />

of the nation—this of course paved the<br />

way for exclusionary laws that made<br />

citizenship particularly difficult for sexual, 37<br />

and arguably, other minority groups.<br />

After the first decade of the<br />

breakup of the SFRY, Jović explains that a<br />

new consensus emerged towards<br />

Europeanization—notions of nationalism<br />

in Croatia were not necessarily being<br />

rejected but on the contrary, they were<br />

being secured by ensuring continuity of the<br />

nation through membership in powerful<br />

institutions such as the NATO and the<br />

EU. 38 It was a means to ensure Croatia’s<br />

survival as an independent state would not<br />

be challenged. 39 Kahlina posits that the<br />

defining or redefining of what it is to be<br />

Croatian or Serbian probably started<br />

around the same time as a result of the<br />

socio-political and symbolic processes of<br />

EU accession. 40 The question of what it is<br />

to be European was therefore posed, and,<br />

as a result, the place for sexual and other<br />

minorities also became part of the<br />

discourse. Ultimately, the question<br />

becomes whether these new aspiring EU<br />

states would become more like the<br />

36 Carol S. Lilly & Jill A. Irvine, “Negotiating<br />

Interests: Women and Nationalism in Serbia and<br />

Croatia, 1990-1997,” Eastern European Politics and<br />

Societies, 16 (2002): 112.<br />

37 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 7-8.<br />

38 Dejan Jović, The Western Balkans and the EU: ‘The<br />

Hour of Europe’, ed. Jacques Rupnik (Institute for<br />

Security Studies European Union, 2011), 40-41.<br />

39 Ibid.<br />

40 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 9.<br />

8 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 8

Western European nations, where<br />

difference and inclusiveness is a matter of<br />

national pride, or if they would follow a<br />

different trajectory.<br />

Croatia applied for EU<br />

membership in 2003, followed by<br />

Montenegro in 2008 and Serbia in 2009,<br />

and last year, in 2013, Croatia’s application<br />

was approved making it the 28 th member of<br />

the Union. 41 Montenegro and Serbia are<br />

still in the negotiation phase. 42 Kahlina<br />

posits that although desire to join the EU<br />

was “largely present” in the former<br />

Yugoslav republics, legal improvements for<br />

sexual minorities were however “portrayed<br />

as part of European values and EU<br />

conditionality . . . [which] in turn<br />

influenced the joining of homophobic,<br />

nationalist, religious, and anti-EU<br />

discourses in the mobilization against the<br />

transformation of sexual citizenship.” 43<br />

Sexual minority rights did not come<br />

as a pre-condition for accession until the<br />

2000s. 44 Kochenov points out that<br />

discrimination against sexual minorities was<br />

not raised as an issue until Council Directive<br />

2000/78/EC, which stated that<br />

“[d]iscrimination based on . . . sexual<br />

orientation may undermine the<br />

achievement of the objectives of the EC<br />

Treaty,” 45 and Kahlina points out that the<br />

issue similarly was not raised until the year<br />

2000 in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of<br />

41 “EU Enlargement: Check Current Status,”<br />

European Commission.<br />

42 Ibid.<br />

43 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 9.<br />

44 Ibid.<br />

45 Dimitry Kochenov, “Democracy and Human<br />

Rights - Not for Gay People?: EU Eastern<br />

Enlargement and its Impact on the Protection of<br />

the Rights of Sexual Minorities,” Texan Wesleyan<br />

Law Review 13, 2 (2007): 487,<br />

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_i<br />

d=1022307.<br />

the European Union. 46 It is noteworthy that in<br />

2000 the following member states, part of<br />

the original 15, still did not have antidiscrimination<br />

laws protecting the<br />

employment rights of sexual minorities :<br />

United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Belgium,<br />

Greece, Portugal and Austria. 47 They<br />

passed such legislations in 2003. 48<br />

But after Council Directive<br />

2000/78/EC and the Charter of Fundamental<br />

Rights of the European Union in 2000 and the<br />

subsequent legislative harmonization in the<br />

above EU member states, nondiscrimination<br />

on the basis of sexual<br />

orientation became a more pronounced<br />

European value. Therefore, countries that<br />

wanted to become more European or that<br />

had aspirations to join the EU, Kahlina<br />

suggests, probably started viewing<br />

movements toward liberal pluralism more<br />

favorably. 49 This can be argued in the case<br />

of Croatia where, following the dissolution<br />

of SFRY, strong anti-Balkanist sentiment<br />

46 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 9. The charter specifies “[a]ny<br />

discrimination based on any ground such as sex,<br />

race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features,<br />

language, religion or belief, political or any other<br />

opinion, membership of a national minority,<br />

property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation<br />

shall be prohibited.” European Convention,<br />

“Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European<br />

Union,” Official Journal of the European Communities<br />

(2000) (emphasis added),<br />

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_e<br />

n.pdf.<br />

47 Robert Wintemute, “Sexual Orientation and<br />

Gender Identity Discrimination: The Case Law of<br />

the European Court of Human Rights and the<br />

Court of Justice of the European Union,” ILGA-<br />

Europe (2013): 1, http://www.ilgaeurope.org/content/download/19297/124445/vers<br />

ion/4/file/Council+of+Europe+(Comm+for+HR<br />

)+2013-10-21.pdf. Notable exceptions in the list of<br />

the original 15, which passed such antidiscrimination<br />

provisions prior 2000 include France<br />

in 1985, and Denmark and Sweden in 1987. Ibid.<br />

48 Ibid.<br />

49 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 11.<br />

9 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 9

fueled the country, and because Croatians<br />

saw themselves more as Europeans they<br />

perceived EU accession as their grand<br />

return to Europe. They therefore became<br />

more accommodating to the imported<br />

European non-discrimination values—a<br />

cause which united both right and left wing<br />

politicians of the country. 50 Therefore from<br />

a Croatian perspective, it made sense to<br />

return to Europe given their selfperception,<br />

and they also understood it was<br />

in their security interest to become part of<br />

the EU and NATO.<br />

Kahlina argues that the same was<br />

not necessarily true for Serbia, however,<br />

and that Montenegro found itself<br />

somewhere in the middle of these two<br />

extremes. 51 Montenegrins did not view the<br />

Europe and Balkan notions as mutually<br />

opposing, and like Croatia, Montenegrin<br />

politicians, both left and right, were united<br />

behind the cause of EU accession. 52 These<br />

different perceptions of local attitudes<br />

toward Europe and the Balkans ultimately<br />

had an impact on the feasibility of the<br />

adoption of the imported European values.<br />

Whether the adoption of these<br />

imported European values is genuine and<br />

effective is another story, but what remains<br />

true and enduring is that mechanisms,<br />

structures, policies, and institutions<br />

required in the acceding countries can and<br />

will ultimately have an important impact in<br />

the facilitation and genuine integration of<br />

such values in civil society. Antidiscrimination<br />

laws and institutions that<br />

should monitor their implementation are<br />

now an inevitable part of the obligations<br />

imposed in the EU accession process. 53<br />

The EU, through its delegations and<br />

monitoring instruments in the acceding<br />

countries, can serve as an important<br />

50 Ibid.<br />

51 Ibid., 11-12.<br />

52 Ibid., 12.<br />

53 Ibid.<br />

promoter for the advancement of sexual<br />

minority rights in the respective states.<br />

These delegations paid particularly close<br />

attention to the Gay Pride Marches<br />

because they were seen as an important<br />

and visible “marker of democratization and<br />

human rights promotion,” argues<br />

Kahlina. 54<br />

In State-Sponsored Homophobia and the<br />

Denial of the Right of Assembly in Central and<br />

Eastern Europe: The “Boomerang” and the<br />

“Ricochet” between European Organizations and<br />

Civil Society to Uphold Human Rights,<br />

Holzhacker argues that gay pride marches<br />

are more than just symbolic public displays.<br />

These marches “communicate specific<br />

political and societal demands to elites,<br />

including social acceptance, the need for<br />

equality and antidiscrimination laws, as well<br />

as the recognition of same-sex partnerships<br />

and marriage.” 55 Holzhacker goes so far as<br />

to say that not providing adequate<br />

protection to participants or banning the<br />

gay pride marches altogether is a form of<br />

state-sponsored homophobia. The author<br />

argues that “such state action serves to<br />

legitimize homophobia in the broader<br />

society; cues other actors, such as<br />

employers, to engage in discriminatory<br />

behavior, and emboldens those who use<br />

verbal and violent attacks in the streets<br />

against [LGBT] persons who wish to<br />

exercise their right of assembly to bring<br />

about social and legal change.” 56<br />

Although gay pride marches may<br />

attract greater opposition, they are one of<br />

the few visual indicators available to the<br />

EU delegations and human rights watchers.<br />

54 Ibid., 15-16.<br />

55 Ronald Holzhacker, “State-Sponsored<br />

Homophobia and the Denial of the Right of<br />

Assembly in Central and Eastern Europe: The<br />

“Boomerang” and the “Ricochet” between<br />

European Organizations and Civil Society to<br />

Uphold Human Rights,” Law & Policy 1, 3 (2012):<br />

35.<br />

56 Ibid., 2.<br />

10 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 10

Also, these marches are not just symbolic<br />

because they are also the very embodiment<br />

of the human right of assembly, codified in<br />

articles 10 and 11 of the Declaration of<br />

Rights of Man and Citizen (1789), the First<br />

Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and<br />

in various regional European human rights<br />

treaties, notably article 11 of the European<br />

Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)<br />

and article 12 of the Charter of<br />

Fundamental Rights of the European<br />

Union. 57 Gay Pride embodies the political<br />

right of assembly. If the right of assembly<br />

cannot be protected, it is improbable that<br />

other rights such as protection from<br />

discrimination or even marriage equality<br />

could ever be achieved. For this reason, it<br />

is an important symbol that can be used by<br />

delegations to measure the extent of<br />

protection afforded to sexual minorities.<br />

The first Pride March in Belgrade<br />

took place in 2001, but was cut short<br />

because of the eruption of violent<br />

protests. 58 Instead of arranging for greater<br />

police protection, the second Pride March<br />

organized eight years later in 2009 was<br />

cancelled by city authorities out of fear that<br />

the march would erupt into widespread<br />

violence. 59 A year later, in 2010, the<br />

Belgrade Pride under the watchful eye of<br />

the head of the EU mission in Serbia,<br />

Vincent Degert, who said it was a moment<br />

to “celebrate the values of tolerance,<br />

freedom of expression and assembly," was<br />

again met with violent protests culminating<br />

in more than 100 people being injured,<br />

mostly police, and around another 100<br />

people being arrested. 60 The Pride March<br />

57 Ibid., 3.<br />

58 Mark Lowen, “Gay March Plan Tests Serb<br />

Feelings,” BBC News, last modified September 19,<br />

2009,<br />

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8263116.stm.<br />

59 Ibid.<br />

60 Mark Lowen, “Scores Arrested in Belgrade after<br />

Anti-gay Riot,” BBC News, last modified October<br />

was again cancelled in 2011, 2012, and<br />

2013 by the government citing fears of<br />

violent protests, which raised concerns at<br />

the European Commission when<br />

considering Serbian membership to the<br />

EU. 61<br />

Serbian resistance to inclusion of<br />

sexual minorities have come under various<br />

pretexts. Kahlina brings forth the issue of<br />

White Plague in Serbia, which is a term used<br />

to describe the decreasing birthrates and<br />

resulting insufficient reproduction of<br />

ethnically pure Serb-citizens. 62 The White<br />

Plague is closely linked to the concept of<br />

lineage and became a dominant theme<br />

following the breakup of SFRY in the<br />

1990s. 63 Per this framework, “nonreproductive<br />

practices and nonheterosexual<br />

identities were perceived as a<br />

direct threat to the nation . . . [and were to]<br />

be excluded from belonging to the national<br />

community.” 64 Kahlina points out how<br />

some activists organized anti-Pride protests<br />

called Family Pride under the White Plague<br />

theme, which framed the future existence<br />

of the pure Serbian nation as being<br />

compromised by an aggressive movement<br />

of the LGBT community. 65<br />

Pride Marches in the other<br />

acceding countries did not go without<br />

disruption either, but they were less violent<br />

than Belgrade’s. Zagreb held its first Pride<br />

10, 2010, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worldeurope-11507253.<br />

61 Julia Druelle, “La Serbie Interdit la Gay Pride<br />

pour la Troisième Année Consécutive” [Serbia Bans<br />

Gay Pride for the Third Consecutive Year], Le<br />

Monde, last modified September 28, 2013,<br />

http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2013/09/2<br />

8/la-serbie-interdit-la-gay-pride-pour-la-troisiemeannee-consecutive_3486625_3214.html.<br />

62 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 21.<br />

63 Ibid.<br />

64 Ibid.<br />

65 Ibid.<br />

11 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 11

in 2002, 66 and Montenegro did not have its<br />

first march until 2013. 67 Right of assembly<br />

is a core European value and human right,<br />

and Serbia’s consecutive cancellations of<br />

the Gay Pride marches have raised serious<br />

concerns at the EU. The Swedish Minister<br />

for European Affairs, Birgitta Ohlsson,<br />

stated in 2012 that the recent Gay Pride<br />

bans has damaged Serbia’s membership<br />

bid, and she also stressed that membership<br />

in the union comes with “commitment to<br />

human rights, commitment to minority<br />

rights, commitment to freedom of speech,<br />

commitment to freedom of assembly.<br />

These are the core values of the union.<br />

LGBT-rights are human rights.” 68<br />

Similarly, commenting on the<br />

violence at the first Split Pride in Croatia in<br />

2011, the Dutch EU MP Marije<br />

Cornelissen, who participated in the<br />

parade, explained that the violence in Split<br />

showed that “Croatia still ha[d] a lot to do<br />

to properly protect human rights” and to<br />

firmly combat homophobia. 69 Stella<br />

Ronner Grubačić, Ambassador of the<br />

Kingdom of the Netherlands in Croatia,<br />

went even further and stated that the EU<br />

should more closely monitor Croatia in<br />

66 “Croatian Gays Join First 'Pride' March,” BBC<br />

News, last modified June 29, 2002,<br />

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2074653.stm.<br />

67 “Monténégro: Incidents en Marge de la Première<br />

Gay Pride” [Montenegro: Incidents at the First Gay<br />

Pride], Le Parisien, last modified October 20, 2013,<br />

http://www.leparisien.fr/flash-actualitemonde/montenegro-incidents-en-marge-de-lapremiere-gay-pride-20-10-2013-3243477.php.<br />

68 “Cancelled Pride Festival Damages Serbia’s EU<br />

Membership Bid,” Alliance of Liberals and Democrats<br />

for Europe Party, last modified October 8, 2012,<br />

http://www.aldeparty.eu/en/news/cancelled-pridefestival-damages-serbias-eu-membership-bid.<br />

69 “Unsafe Pride Event in Croatia Casts Shadow<br />

over Accession Prospects,” The European Parliament's<br />

Intergroup on LGBT Rights, last modified June 13,<br />

2011, http://www.lgbt-ep.eu/press-releases/unsafepride-event-in-croatia-casts-shadow-over-accessionprospects.<br />

relation to the accession process following<br />

the violent protests at the 2011 march. 70 It<br />

is likely that these marches were serving as<br />

important social indicators to EU officials<br />

in evaluating whether the acceding<br />

countries were indeed endorsing and<br />

practicing European values of inclusion<br />

and respect for minority rights.<br />


Kahlina’s paper maintains a<br />

conservative approach in giving the EU<br />

accession process credit for advancing<br />

sexual citizenship in the former Yugoslav<br />

republics. In contrast, this paper will<br />

examine the significance of EU-inspired<br />

legislative reform. Regardless of whether<br />

endogenously or exogenously promulgated,<br />

such reforms are arguably always<br />

accompanied with local strife, and in the<br />

end, either path, local or supranational, can<br />

ultimately lead to significant advances in<br />

sexual minority rights. The important point<br />

to analyze here is : (1) whether setting the<br />

law in a hierarchical manner in a<br />

supranational context can be effective in<br />

transforming sexual citizenship and<br />

assuring equal rights, or (2) whether the<br />

advancement of sexual minorities come<br />

from the groundswell support of the<br />

individual peoples constituting a nation.<br />

Kahlina suggests a cautious<br />

approach in examining the effectiveness of<br />

a supranational approach in advancing<br />

sexual minority rights, but it can be argued<br />

that both approaches, supranational and<br />

local, acting individually or in concert with<br />

each other, can lead to significant gains in<br />

the cause of sexual citizenship. However,<br />

70 “Gay Pride u Zagrebu: Nova Kušnja Tolerancije<br />

u Hrvatskoj” [Gay Pride in Zagreb: New Test of<br />

Tolerance in Croatia], Deutsche Welle, last modified<br />

June 18, 2011, http://www.dw.de/gay-pride-u-<br />

zagrebu-nova-kušnja-tolerancije-u-hrvatskoj/a-<br />

15170887.<br />

12 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 12

to become most transformative, these<br />

battles should probably be fought both at<br />

the supranational law level and at the local<br />

level by civil society organizations. Often<br />

times, it is via the engagement of the local<br />

NGOs using supranational law to pressure<br />

their governments that advancement in<br />

sexual citizenship can be most effectively<br />

attained. 71 However, this analysis finds that,<br />

even alone, EU-inspired legislative reform<br />

can become an effective instrument to<br />

ensure equal citizenship rights.<br />

It is also quite possible that the EU<br />

process is not the actual cause of the<br />

mobilization of religious and nationalist<br />

groups against local gay communities, but<br />

the very nature of the legal reforms<br />

themselves. Whether via the<br />

instrumentation of the EU or that of any<br />

other institution at the local, national,<br />

regional, supranational or even<br />

international level, the advancement for<br />

equal rights has almost always been<br />

accompanied by violent protests of the<br />

powerful ruling majorities, regardless of the<br />

impetus for reform.<br />

Considering France, a progressive<br />

country in Western Europe and founding<br />

member of the EU, for example, it<br />

legalized same sex marriage just in May<br />

2013 – this legislative act came into<br />

existence only after months of severe and<br />

violent protests by the hundreds of<br />

thousands in the streets of Paris. 72 The<br />

71 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 13-14. Montenegro, for example, has<br />

been slow in implementing legal protections for the<br />

LGBT community, and one of the reasons could be<br />

although in the midst of pre-existing supranational<br />

law, there was low pressure from local activists,<br />

who became more organized and visible only<br />

recently.<br />

72 Steven Erlanger, “Hollande Signs French Gay<br />

Marriage Law,” New York Times, last modified May<br />

8, 2013,<br />

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/world/euro<br />

pe/hollande-signs-french-gay-marriagemain<br />

right wing party of former President<br />

Nicolas Sarkozy, the Union pour un<br />

Mouvement Populaire [Union for a<br />

Popular Movement] was opposed to the<br />

same-sex marriage law. 73 The radical right<br />

wing parties, the Front National 74 and the<br />

Parti Chrétien-Démocrate [Christian<br />

Democrat] were also against it. 75 In<br />

addition, almost all religious groups in<br />

France united against the proposed law. 76<br />

On November 17, 2012, there were 70,000<br />

activists, according to police, and 200,000,<br />

as reported by protest organizers, in Paris<br />

rallying against same sex marriage – the<br />

same month that the draft bill was<br />

submitted in Parliament. 77 On January 13,<br />

2013, there were 340,000, according to the<br />

police, and 1 million, per organizers,<br />

law.html?_r=1&.<br />

73 Laura Smith-Spark, “French Lawmakers Approve<br />

Same-Sex Marriage Bill,” CNN.com, last modified<br />

April 24, 2013,<br />

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/23/world/europe<br />

/france-same-sex-vote.<br />

74 “Contre le “Mariage Pour Tous”, Marine Le Pen<br />

en Appelle au Principe de Précaution” [Marine Le<br />

Pen Against Marriage for Everyone], 20 Minutes, last<br />

modified January 27, 2013,<br />

http://www.20minutes.fr/ledirect/1088305/contre<br />

-mariage-tous-marine-pen-appelle-principeprecaution.<br />

75 Alexandre Lemarié, “Christine Boutin: “Il y a des<br />

Lois Supérieures à la Loi de la République””<br />

[Christine Boutin: There are Superior Laws than the<br />

Laws of the Republic], Le Monde, last modified May<br />

20, 2013,<br />

http://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2013/05<br />

/20/christine-boutin-il-y-a-des-lois-superieures-a-laloi-de-la-republique_3378882_823448.html.<br />

76 Bernadette Sauvaget, “Les Cathos sur la Voie du<br />

Veto” [Catholics on the Path to Veto], Libération,<br />

last modified May 10, 2012,<br />

http://www.liberation.fr/societe/2012/05/10/lescathos-sur-la-voie-du-veto_817881.<br />

77 “Mariage Gay: Entre 70,000 et 200,000<br />

Opposants ont défilé à Paris” [Gay Marriage:<br />

Between 70,000 to 200,000 Opponents Marched in<br />

Paris], Le Parisien, last modified November 17, 2012,<br />

http://www.leparisien.fr/societe/mariage-gay-les-<br />

opposants-se-rassemblent-a-paris-et-en-province-<br />

17-11-2012-2329543.php.<br />

13 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 13

assembled in Paris against same sex<br />

marriage. 78<br />

In addition to protests on the<br />

streets, homophobic violence also tripled<br />

during the time the law was under<br />

consideration. 79 In 2013, in less than a sixmonth<br />

period, the number of homophobic<br />

violence reported to the nonprofit SOS<br />

Homophobie had already equaled the 2012<br />

record, which was in itself already 27<br />

percent higher than the previous year. 80 In<br />

April 2013, a month before the enactment<br />

of same-sex marriage in France, SOS<br />

Homophobie confirmed in a communiqué<br />

that it was a receiving about 10 reports of<br />

homophobic violence a day, which was<br />

three times the level of the year before. 81 A<br />

different organization, Refuge, which hosts<br />

young gays and lesbians between 15 and 25<br />

years old rejected by their families, also saw<br />

a tripling in the number of phone calls they<br />

were receiving. 82 Refuge confirmed that<br />

since December of 2012 when the debate<br />

on same-sex marriage had just started in<br />

Parliament, the number of phone calls<br />

reached around 400 to 450 a month in<br />

78 “Opposition au Mariage Gay: Le Récit de la<br />

Journée de Manifestation” [Opposition to Gay<br />

Marriage: A Day of Protest], Le Parisien, last<br />

modified January 13, 2013,<br />

http://www.leparisien.fr/societe/en-direct-lesopposants-au-mariage-gay-defilent-deja-en-outremer-13-01-2013-2476941.php.<br />

79 “Homophobie: Un Nouveau “Record””<br />

[Homophobia: A New “Record”], Marianne, last<br />

modified September 4, 2013,<br />

http://www.marianne.net/Homophobie-unnouveau-record_a231754.html.<br />

80 Ibid.<br />

81 Michaël Szadkowski & François Béguin, “Des<br />

Associations Dénoncent la "Radicalisation" des<br />

Actes Homophobes” [LGBT Organizations<br />

Denounce Rise in Radical Homophobic Acts], Le<br />

Monde, last modified April 9, 2013,<br />

http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2013/04/0<br />

8/des-associations-denoncent-une-radicalisationdes-actes-homophobes_3156119_3224.html#.<br />

82 Ibid.<br />

comparison to just around 150 calls a<br />

month before the debate. 83<br />

Nicolas Noguier, president and<br />

founder of Refuge, explained that he does<br />

not think that there is as a radical increase<br />

in homophobic violence in France as much<br />

as there is a revelation of the existing hidden<br />

homophobia. 84 Noguier argued that the<br />

marriage debate in fact only highlighted or<br />

provoked a public expression of existing<br />

homophobia. He emphasized that the<br />

debate around marriage equality had<br />

ultimately allowed for the “liberation of<br />

this homophobic expression” which had to<br />

be put out in the open anyway. 85 For<br />

Noguier, the new marriage equality law was<br />

“necessary,” but it was accompanied by<br />

“important collateral damage” as well. 86<br />

The sociocultural and geopolitical<br />

dynamics in France and the former<br />

Yugoslav republics are worlds apart, and<br />

yet in both cases advances in sexual<br />

minority rights have yielded similar<br />

aggressive protests and opposition. If equal<br />

citizenship rights were truly a Western<br />

European concept, how are such rights<br />

also vehemently opposed when it came<br />

down to the legalization of same-sex<br />

marriage in France in 2013? Could it be<br />

that public debates on equal citizenship<br />

and the visibility of gay pride marches are<br />

not the cause but the revelation of existing<br />

homophobia, as explained above by<br />

Noguier? In colloquial language, are public<br />

debates around same-sex marriage in<br />

France or Gay Prides in the former<br />

Yugoslav republics bringing homophobia<br />

out of the closet but not necessarily causing<br />

it?<br />

Regardless of whether these<br />

debates are the cause or the revelation of<br />

homophobia, stating the law of the land or<br />

83 Ibid.<br />

84 Ibid.<br />

85 Ibid.<br />

86 Ibid.<br />

14 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 14

egion in favor of equal rights can<br />

ultimately lead to significant gains for<br />

minority communities, even if such legal<br />

changes also spur violent opposition. The<br />

net effect seems positive in the end. Taking<br />

the United States for example, after the<br />

landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown<br />

v. Board of Education, which held that racially<br />

segregated educational facilities were<br />

inherently unequal, in spite of the massive<br />

and violent resistance organized across the<br />

Southern states, the ultimate impact of<br />

Brown was groundbreaking for the civil<br />

rights movement and for the integration of<br />

African Americans in civil society. In June<br />

2013, the Supreme Court in United States v.<br />

Windsor held that the federal government<br />

could not discriminate against same-sex<br />

couples and that the Defense of Marriage<br />

Act was unconstitutional. 87 The Windsor<br />

decision led to a number of cases in lower<br />

courts around the country on the issue of<br />

same-sex marriage prohibitions. The<br />

important point to note here is the<br />

implications of an overarching law, which<br />

states or smaller jurisdictions have to<br />

subsequently follow. Whether it is U.S.<br />

federal law determined by the Supreme<br />

Court or EU supranational law, stating<br />

87 Alison M. Smith, “Same-Sex Marriage: A Legal<br />

Background after United States v. Windsor,”<br />

Congressional Research Service, (2014): 1,<br />

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43481.pdf. As of<br />

October 2014, there were already 18 states:<br />

California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware,<br />

Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland,<br />

Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New<br />

Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island,<br />

Vermont, Washington, and the District of<br />

Columbia that allow for same-sex marriage.<br />

Following Windsor, federal district courts in Utah,<br />

Oklahoma, Virginia, Michigan, and Texas have<br />

struck down same sex marriage bans in those states.<br />

Id. at 5. In Kentucky and Ohio, federal district<br />

courts held that they are to recognize same-sex<br />

marriages validly entered in other jurisdictions. Id. at<br />

7. All these rulings have been stayed pending<br />

appeal. Id.<br />

equal status of minorities in the eyes of the<br />

law goes a long way not only in advancing<br />

their legal status but also leads to a greater<br />

fulfillment of the promise of citizenship.<br />

This is illustrated by the gradual integration<br />

of African Americans in “white-only”<br />

public schools or the grant of marriage<br />

rights to gays and lesbians, at least at the<br />

Federal level for the time being.<br />

EU accession is an attractive<br />

economic and national security goal, and<br />

tying membership conditions with equal<br />

rights and non-discrimination against<br />

sexual minorities ultimately promises more<br />

good than harm. Opposition against full<br />

citizenship rights for sexual minorities<br />

happens in other places where EU<br />

accession is not a factor at all, from<br />

Uganda to progressive France. Reforming<br />

the law and establishing institutions to<br />

monitor implementation of these laws as a<br />

condition of membership can be an<br />

effective instrument to ensure full<br />

citizenship rights for sexual minorities.<br />

Today, all three states: Croatia, Serbia and<br />

Montenegro have anti-discrimination acts<br />

that explicitly condemn discrimination<br />

against sexual minorities, and they have<br />

also set up instruments to report and<br />

monitor any such discrimination. 88<br />

88 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 12-14. The following offices have<br />

been set up: in Croatia, there is an Ombudsperson<br />

for Gender Equality; in Serbia, a Commissioner for<br />

the Protection of Equality, and there is an office for<br />

the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of<br />

Montenegro. Other legal changes also took effect in<br />

the former Yugoslav republics – a Same-Sex<br />

Partnership Act was passed in Croatia although it<br />

provided only a few limited rights to same-sex<br />

couples instead full marriage rights. Before the<br />

Zakon o suzbijanju diskriminacije [Anti- discrimination<br />

Act] in 2008, which explicitly banned discrimination<br />

on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity<br />

and gender expression, the Croatian Parliament had<br />

already incorporated anti-discrimination stipulations<br />

in a number of acts covering social, economic and<br />

political life, namely: the Zakon o radu [Labor Act],<br />

15 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 15

These legal changes were often<br />

presented by local politicians as<br />

exogenously imposed requirements on<br />

states applying for membership to the<br />

EU. 89 However, regardless of the EUscapegoating,<br />

the fact remains that these<br />

countries are passing laws to protect sexual<br />

minorities on a number of civic, social and<br />

political fronts. Positioning the move<br />

toward equal citizenship for gays and<br />

lesbians as EU-imposed does not take away<br />

from the very fact that in the end: equality<br />

in the eyes of the law for such minorities is<br />

achieved. Becoming equal in the eyes of<br />

the law is no small feat. If the law of the<br />

land of an EU member country is to hold<br />

any meaning—it follows that justice and<br />

remedies should become eventually<br />

accessible and achievable.<br />

The Ombudsperson for Gender<br />

Equality in Croatia indeed plays an<br />

important role in monitoring the<br />

implementation of the Anti-discrimination<br />

Act. The office is responsible for the<br />

investigation of individual complaints and<br />

to provide assistance to petitioners about<br />

discrimination based on sex, marital or<br />

the Zakon o medijima [Media Law], the Zakon o sportu<br />

[Sport Act], and the Zakon o znanosti i visokom<br />

obrazovanju [Science and Higher Education Act]<br />

among others. Similarly in Serbia, before passing<br />

the Zakon o zabrani diskriminacije [Anti-discrimination<br />

Act] in 2009, explicitly forbidding discrimination on<br />

the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation,<br />

the country also enacted stipulations banning<br />

discrimination against sexual minorities in a number<br />

of laws, namely: the Zakon o javnom informisanju<br />

[Public Informing Act], the Zakon o radu [Labor<br />

Act], the Zakon o visokom obrazovanju [Higher<br />

Education Act], and the Zakon of Radiodifuziji<br />

[Broadcasting Act]. The Montenegrin government<br />

on the other hand passed the Zakon o zabrani<br />

diskriminacije [Anti-discrimination Act] in 2010,<br />

which included sexual orientation and gender<br />

identity as protected classes, and they also passed<br />

the Zakon o radu [Labor Act] and the Zakon o<br />

medijima [Media Law], also geared toward increasing<br />

protection for sexual minorities.<br />

89 Ibid.<br />

family status and sexual orientation. 90 In its<br />

2012 Annual Report, the office reported a<br />

slight increase in complaints based on<br />

sexual orientation. 91 The slight yearly<br />

increases could suggest growing visibility<br />

and reliability of the institution as an<br />

effective instrument to channel<br />

discrimination complaints. 92<br />

The Commissioner for Protection<br />

of Equality in Serbia explained in its 2012<br />

Abridged Report that discrimination based<br />

on sexual orientation is still widespread in<br />

the country. 93 In 2012, there were only<br />

eight discrimination complaints on the<br />

90 Ombudsperson for Gender Equality, “Annual<br />

Report 2012,” Republic of Croatia (2013): 8,<br />

http://www.prs.hr/attachments/article/858/IZVJ<br />

ESCE%202012%20-%20ENG2-KB.pdf.<br />

91 Ibid., 10. There were 39 cases (10.6 %) in 2012<br />

compared to 16 cases (8.5%) in 2011, 12 cases<br />

(5.8%) in 2010, and 9 cases (4.4%) in 2009<br />

92 Ombudswoman for Gender Equality, “Annual<br />

Report for 2011,” Republic of Croatia (2012): 10,<br />

http://www.prs.hr/attachments/article/107/Summ<br />

ary%20of%20Annual%20Report%20for%202011%<br />

20web.pdf. In its 2011 Annual Report, the office<br />

mentioned that there was 22 criminal charges for<br />

hate crimes against LGBT people and 103<br />

misdemeanor charges against 62 people after the<br />

Split Pride in June 2011. Ibid. And using her<br />

authority under Anti-Discrimination Law, the<br />

Ombudswoman also intervened in four judicial<br />

proceedings in 2011 concerning discrimination<br />

claims based on sexual orientation: one case before<br />

the Municipal Court, one before the Administrative<br />

Court, and two before the Supreme Court. Ibid. In<br />

its 2011 report, the Ombudsperson for Gender<br />

Equality also made recommendations in a number<br />

of areas from education curriculum in public<br />

schools to the training of judges, prosecutors and<br />

law enforcement officials concerning discrimination<br />

issues against LGBT persons, and finally the report<br />

also asked for the development of a new legal<br />

framework that would appropriately protect LGBT<br />

persons in accordance with obligations vis-à-vis the<br />

EU and the Council of Europe. Ibid., 24.<br />

93 Commissioner for the Protection of Equality,<br />

“Abridged Report for 2012,” Republic of<br />

Serbia (2013): 43,<br />

http://www.ravnopravnost.gov.rs/jdownloads/files<br />

/engleski-web.pdf.<br />

16 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 16

asis of sexual orientation, accounting for<br />

only 2 percent of all claims. 94 Of the eight<br />

complaints, discrimination was found only<br />

in one case. 95 The report pointed out that<br />

such a small number suggests that cases<br />

were not being sufficiently reported. 96 The<br />

Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms<br />

of Montenegro handled 64 cases in 2012,<br />

and only three were discrimination claims<br />

based on sexual orientation and gender<br />

identity. 97 Although the 2012 Annual<br />

Report says that progress has been made in<br />

regards to the rights of LGBT persons, 98<br />

still per the same report, as of 2012, only<br />

one person in Montenegro had publicly<br />

declared himself as an LGBT person. 99<br />

However, the report also points out that<br />

adoption of the Strategy of Improvement<br />

of the Quality of Life of LGBT Persons<br />

2013-2018, which ensures freedom of<br />

assembly at public events like the Gay<br />

Pride along with a new law on same-sex<br />

unions would help contribute to the<br />

advancement of sexual minorities in<br />

Montenegro. 100<br />

94 Ibid., 15-16.<br />

95 Ibid., 44.<br />

96 Ibid. The report also expressed its concern over<br />

the consecutive cancellations of the Belgrade Pride<br />

in 2011 and 2012. Ibid., 43. Finally, the report<br />

concluded with recommendations for the education<br />

curriculum in public schools and training of law<br />

enforcement, judges, and prosecutors in regards to<br />

discrimination issues, among others. Ibid., 64-66.<br />

The report noted that the recommendation made in<br />

the previous year in regards to amending the<br />

Criminal Code to provide adequate punishment for<br />

hate crimes, including those based sexual<br />

orientation of the victim, had been implemented.<br />

Ibid., 64.<br />

97 Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of<br />

Montenegro, “Annual Report 2012,” Government of<br />

Montenegro (2013): 82,<br />

http://www.ombudsman.co.me/docs/izvjestaji/19<br />

112013_Final_Izvjestaj.pdf.<br />

98 Ibid., 106.<br />

99 Ibid.<br />

100 Ibid.<br />

A brief review of the work<br />

implemented by these newly installed<br />

organizations shows that although they<br />

have only achieved modest success, these<br />

Western Balkan states are moving in the<br />

right direction with increasing political<br />

support. In fact, local politicians have been<br />

able to use EU conditionality to externalize<br />

the reasoning behind enacting unpopular<br />

anti-discrimination laws. Therefore, in<br />

many instances, EU conditionality has<br />

enabled local politicians to undertake risky<br />

political maneuvers that would have<br />

otherwise been impossible given the<br />

cultural context. 101<br />

Hence, although change could be<br />

more effective when it comes directly from<br />

a grassroots level, these supranationallyinspired<br />

organizations can and do play an<br />

important role in strengthening local civil<br />

society organizations by ensuring and<br />

advocating for their freedoms of assembly<br />

and speech. In addition, creating a<br />

supranational standard for equal rights is<br />

no de minimis feat either. The accompanying<br />

changes in the national legal codes will<br />

have a lasting impact and will also provide<br />

additional and alternative recourse at the<br />

supranational judicial bodies. In the end,<br />

having supranational anti-discrimination<br />

laws is of great significance.<br />

Yet some of these new laws don’t<br />

go as far as they should—like the Same-Sex<br />

Partnership Act in Croatia, which provides<br />

only three stipulations: “the right to<br />

common property, the right to be sustained<br />

by the partner, and prohibition of<br />

discrimination on the grounds of same-sex<br />

relationship and homosexual<br />

orientation.” 102 Nevertheless, it is<br />

uncontestably a move in the right direction<br />

in comparison to the previous legal regime<br />

that was in place.<br />

101 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 20.<br />

102 Ibid., 12.<br />

17 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 17

Finally, in the post-Yugoslav space,<br />

could EU conditionality be the actual<br />

culprit for the increased violence against<br />

sexual minorities? Not necessarily so—<br />

because such violent acts did peak up even<br />

in the absence of EU conditionality as a<br />

factor in other spaces, like same-sex<br />

marriage legislation in France. The<br />

common denominator in these cases seems<br />

to be increased visibility and public debates<br />

around issues of equal citizenship, and it is<br />

this common denominator that radicalizes<br />

and galvanizes the anti-gay movements,<br />

and that is regardless of the source of these<br />

debates—whether local, national or<br />

supranational. Same-sex marriage in France<br />

and EU conditionality requiring protection<br />

of sexual minorities in the former Yugoslav<br />

republics both essentially led to massive<br />

demonstrations, protests and violence<br />

against LGBT communities. Arguably, it is<br />

not the origin or the source of these<br />

debates that causes such unrest and<br />

detrimental effects on gay communities,<br />

but rather it is the very nature of these<br />

debates. Equal citizenship rights whether at<br />

the behest of national or supranational laws<br />

both tend to radicalize the opponents of<br />

such causes.<br />


The eternal debate in human rights<br />

scholarship is often fixated on the issue of<br />

cultural relativism. Inevitably, cultural<br />

perceptions of human dignity often varies<br />

from society to society, but the main<br />

question raised in this paper is that – can<br />

the law serve as an effective instrument to<br />

set a universal standard on some basic<br />

rights afforded to Mankind? More<br />

specifically, this paper looks to the<br />

European Union and posits whether the<br />

law of the supranational union can serve as<br />

a positive force in effecting change or is it a<br />

detriment in the advancement of sexual<br />

minority rights? Kahlina argues that the<br />

EU should not be confounded as an<br />

unambiguous liberator and that sexual<br />

minority groups have suffered<br />

consequences emanating from EUimposed<br />

legal changes. On the other hand,<br />

this paper presented a comparative and<br />

interpretive analysis, which argued that<br />

because similar backlashes occurred in the<br />

French context during the endogenous<br />

legalization process of same-sex marriage<br />

in 2013, causality for anti-gay sentiment is<br />

not necessarily because legal reform is<br />

exogenously promulgated by supranational<br />

bodies but is rather an expression of<br />

heteronormative preference in many<br />

societies.<br />

Strides toward augmenting<br />

citizenship rights for minorities often come<br />

at a cost and are usually part of a slow and<br />

incremental process. The battle for equal<br />

citizenship continues today in the EUacceding<br />

countries and across the world,<br />

from Uganda to the United States.<br />

Whether the movement for equal<br />

citizenship is spurred at a grassroots level<br />

or by an external supranational body does<br />

not necessarily determine the rate of<br />

acceptance of such causes. Despite being<br />

an imperfect tool, EU conditionality can<br />

actually serve as an effective instrument to<br />

broaden the scope of rights of sexual<br />

minorities in the acceding countries. In just<br />

the space of eleven years, the Croatian<br />

capital city of Zagreb has transformed:<br />

while the first Zagreb Pride in 2002 was<br />

mostly remembered for the violent protests<br />

against the marchers, numbering around<br />

200, 103 the 2013 Zagreb Pride had around<br />

15,000 participants, and it went on without<br />

disruption. 104<br />

103 “Croatian Gays Join First 'Pride' March,” BBC<br />

News.<br />

104 “ALDE Party Vice President joins Ljubljana<br />

Pride,” Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe<br />

Party, last modified June 15, 2013,<br />

18 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 18

Although Kahlina does not<br />

unequivocally state that EU-inspired<br />

reforms in regards to LGBT rights has<br />

been completely counterproductive, she<br />

nevertheless argues against representing the<br />

EU as an “unambiguously liberating force”<br />

and that EU accession in fact facilitated<br />

turning “sexual citizenship into a contested<br />

terrain where the struggles between the<br />

competing visions of ‘Europeanness,’<br />

national identity, and tradition take<br />

place.” 105 While the second part of this<br />

conclusion could be quite plausible,<br />

especially in regards to the debate on<br />

‘Europeanness,’ national identity, and<br />

tradition being probably partly encouraged<br />

by the LGBT rights movement, however,<br />

the impressively liberating force of the EU<br />

accession process should nevertheless also<br />

be recognized. It is not as ambiguous as<br />

the author professes.<br />

The accession process has firstly<br />

put forward a legal guarantee for sexual<br />

minorities that enables them to utilize their<br />

rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of<br />

speech. Over the first decade of the new<br />

millennium, this legal right has been<br />

translated into tangible changes for sexual<br />

minorities in the acceding countries. By<br />

asking for guarantees of a safe space for<br />

the LGBT community, EU accession has<br />

contributed by giving to this group a<br />

chance to give expression to its rights and<br />

identity. Thus, the EU-inspired legal rights<br />

have created a gateway for both the antigay<br />

and LGBT groups to bring this cultural<br />

conflict into the sphere of public debate.<br />

Now Zagreb, Belgrade, Podgorica and<br />

others can speak, both for and against,<br />

openly about these issues just like they do<br />

in Paris. Before the EU-inspired reforms,<br />

these debates were largely taboo, which is<br />

http://www.aldeparty.eu/en/news/alde-party-vicepresident-joins-ljubljana-pride.<br />

105 Kahlina, “Contested Terrain of Sexual<br />

Citizenship,” 24.<br />

counterproductive to the LGBT rights<br />

movement. And from this perspective,<br />

even catalyzing protest against new laws is<br />

also a good thing in itself because it’s part<br />

of the public debate on something that was<br />

previously unmentionable.<br />

By allowing this issue to come out<br />

in public, even in the midst of violent<br />

protests, different stakeholders are given<br />

the opportunity to debate the merits and<br />

prioritization of the values that define their<br />

societies. What does it mean to be Serbian<br />

and European? Is this about a clash of<br />

values—is equal dignity, respect and rights<br />

of every human being, irrespective of one’s<br />

sexual orientation, exclusively a Western<br />

value or is it a universal human value? Like<br />

the Former Secretary of State Hillary<br />

Rodham Clinton once said: calling gay<br />

rights as such is by no means “creating new<br />

or special rights” for the LGBT people, it<br />

is only a way of “honoring rights that<br />

people always had.” 106 She went on to say<br />

that “[l]ike being a woman, like being a<br />

racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority,<br />

being LGBT does not make you less<br />

human. And that is why gay rights are<br />

human rights, and human rights are gay<br />

rights.” 107<br />

EU accession enables these<br />

societies to bring this kind of debate out in<br />

the open because in existing legal and<br />

social relations, inequality had already been<br />

institutionalized and unexamined. The law<br />

plays a unique role here as it makes an<br />

explicit and public promise that the<br />

legitimate authorities will act within<br />

particular boundaries 108 and allow this<br />

106 Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State,<br />

“Remarks in Recognition of International Human<br />

Rights Day,” U.S. Department of State, last modified<br />

December 6, 2011,<br />

http://www.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/r<br />

m/2011/12/178368.htm.<br />

107 Ibid.<br />

108 Holzhacker, “State-Sponsored Homophobia,” 5.<br />

19 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 19

debate to take place. As such, stakeholders<br />

in the EU-acceding states are given the<br />

opportunity to negotiate whether these<br />

legal reforms are consistent with their<br />

national values. Law reflects community<br />

morality, and the importance of change in<br />

law cannot be underestimated because it’s<br />

also a testament of the changing values in<br />

society, which here is concluded via a<br />

negotiation process that is guaranteed in<br />

the EU space. Hence, in that sense, EU<br />

accession has in fact been an awesome<br />

liberator by allowing sexual minority<br />

groups to bring this debate out in the open.<br />

If a country wants to be member of<br />

an institution, it has to follow certain rules.<br />

And thus imposing non-discrimination<br />

provisions as a condition of entry into<br />

exclusive economic partnerships, like the<br />

EU, can be an effective way to ensure<br />

equal citizenship across the membership.<br />

This is more effective than non-binding<br />

resolutions, conventions and charters on<br />

human rights because of the legal<br />

enforcement and remedies available within<br />

the EU-acceding states and at the<br />

supranational judicial level.<br />

Although not currently on the<br />

agenda, the question could ultimately be<br />

posed as to whether the international<br />

landscape would look any different if we<br />

impose human rights provisions as a<br />

condition of membership into vital<br />

economic organizations like the WTO,<br />

IMF or World Bank? Although such<br />

organizations pursue a wholly different<br />

aim, could requiring strict adherence to<br />

human rights provisions from members,<br />

with sanctioning mechanisms in place,<br />

actually change the world for the better? In<br />

fact, the World Bank is currently reviewing<br />

its “lending policies to make sure that no<br />

loan assists discrimination” and has<br />

currently put on hold a $90m loan to<br />

Uganda after the country enacted one of<br />

the most severe and cruel anti-gay laws. 109<br />

While many argue that the poor are the<br />

ones who ultimately suffer from such cuts<br />

and not the politicians, a more appropriate<br />

strategy is not to cut all aid but rather to<br />

redirect the funds to international aid<br />

agencies and local NGOs like Britain<br />

currently does. 110<br />

Attaching economic sanctions to<br />

human rights violations can send a very<br />

strong signal to the world community.<br />

Redirecting funds to local NGOs and<br />

international aid agencies can paralyze, or<br />

at the very least take some power away<br />

from, local governments that are engaging<br />

in the persecution of minority groups.<br />

Imposing non-discrimination requirements<br />

at a supranational level is already having an<br />

impact on the advancement of sexual<br />

citizenship in the EU. The challenge of this<br />

century is for our world leaders to make<br />

the bold linkage between human rights and<br />

membership in supranational economic<br />

organizations. After two world wars, the<br />

Universal Declaration of Human Rights<br />

(UDHR) was adopted– the world<br />

community was united in its resolve that<br />

everyone was entitled to the rights and<br />

freedoms in that declaration, irrespective of<br />

one’s belonging to a minority group.<br />

However, we see that the translation of the<br />

UDHR into actually securing the rights of<br />

minorities in member countries is not<br />

109 “The World Bank: Right Cause, Wrong Battle,”<br />

The Economist, last modified April 12, 2014,<br />

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/216006<br />

84-why-world-banks-focus-gay-rights-misguidedright-cause-wrong-battle.<br />

110 Alex Whiting, “Western Donors Cut Aid to<br />

Uganda in Response to Anti-Gay Law,” Thomson<br />

Reuters Foundation, last modified February 26,<br />

2014, http://www.trust.org/item/20140226160032-<br />

td4jl/. In addition to the World Bank, the following<br />

countries, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway,<br />

United States, Austria and Sweden, have also<br />

followed the same strategy by cutting or threatening<br />

to cut direct economic aid to the Ugandan<br />

government because of its anti-gay laws.<br />

20 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 20

necessarily effectual. But, the EU as an<br />

economic union, on the other hand, has<br />

succeeded not only in keeping Europe safe<br />

after two world wars, it has also actively<br />

augmented the rights of its citizens. Nondiscrimination<br />

on the basis of sexual<br />

orientation is de jure the current state of<br />

affairs in the EU member countries. It is<br />

this sort of economic union and<br />

interdependence that’s leading to a new<br />

order in world affairs. Rather than<br />

continually adopting human rights nonbinding<br />

resolutions, societies should maybe<br />

move toward an economic, social and legal<br />

belonging strategy, as magnificently<br />

employed by the EU.<br />

SÉHZAD M.<br />

SOOKLALL is a<br />

graduating law<br />

student at Yeshiva<br />

University Benjamin<br />

N. Cardozo School of<br />

Law and a concurrent<br />

Master of Arts in<br />

Politics candidate at<br />

New York University.<br />

Séhzad completed his<br />

first year law school<br />

curriculum at Tulane<br />

University after graduating summa cum laude<br />

from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge<br />

with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication<br />

and a minor in International Studies.<br />

Additionally, he also holds a Master of Public<br />

Administration from the LSU College of<br />

Business. Séhzad would like to thank the<br />

following people—foremost his parents,<br />

Sahejakoom and Farozia Sooklall; his American<br />

parents, John and Annette Douthat; his uncle,<br />

Kader Parahoo, and his professors and<br />

supervisors: Dr. Carole L. Jurkiewicz, Josephine<br />

Mason Ellis, Morgan Russell, Sheri P. Rosenberg,<br />

Julia Harrington Reddy, Kammae Owens, and<br />

Hafida Lahiouel. Finally, Séhzad would like to<br />

thank these very important people for their<br />

constant love, support, and friendship: Thomas<br />

Kyle Bridges, Kathlyn Van Buskirk, and Barbara<br />

Douthat Chatelain.<br />

21 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 21

Does Official<br />

Development Assistance<br />

Contribute to Long-<br />

Term Growth and<br />

Stability in Afghanistan?<br />

David Esmati<br />

Since 2001, the United States and the<br />

international community have pledged<br />

$90 billion towards reconstructing<br />

Afghanistan’s infrastructure, education<br />

system, healthcare,and public institutions.<br />

With more than half of the disbursed aid<br />

spent on military and peacekeeping<br />

operations, the $57 billion in official<br />

development assistance (ODA) already<br />

disbursed represents only a fraction of the $90<br />

billion promised. Although the international<br />

community has explicitly made economic<br />

development a priority, the use of disbursed<br />

aid for security purposes proves otherwise. In<br />

order to analyze the impact of the ODA<br />

pledged so far, this article seeks to address the<br />

question: Does official development assistance<br />

contribute to stable economic and political institutions<br />

that can sustain economic activity and long-term<br />

economic growth in Afghanistan?<br />

Donor countries reassure the<br />

international community that their aid will<br />

positively impact the lives of millions of<br />

Afghans. According to the report released by<br />

the International Crisis Group, “[a]ccess to<br />

education has improved, with 6.2 million<br />

children attending school, 85 percent of all<br />

Afghans now have access to some form of<br />

healthcare, compared to 9 percent in 2002.” 1<br />

1 “Human Rights in Afghanistan,” Aid and Conflict in<br />

Afghanistan 210 (2011), The International Crisis<br />

Group, August 4, 2011, accessed October 13, 2013.<br />

However, the bulk of this aid is spent on<br />

security operations: the United States alone is<br />

spending $36 billion a year on security-related<br />

issues, resulting in $57 received per capita per<br />

Afghan citizen. 2 By relying on NGOs and<br />

foreign contractor companies, the donor<br />

community does not directly disburse ODA<br />

to the central government of Afghanistan, but<br />

rather directs the bulk of the aid to private<br />

contractors. Consequently, the Afghan people<br />

are not the beneficiaries of ODA. Instead,<br />

NGOs and contractors conducting projects<br />

are utilized on behalf of foreign donors. As a<br />

result, the pledged aid does not address the<br />

long-term development of Afghanistan’s<br />

economy. It does not address the lack of<br />

public institutions and the enforcement of the<br />

rule of law. The international community has<br />

failed to “adequately support state institutions<br />

such as parliament and the judiciary, that<br />

could provide a check on the power of the<br />

executive.” 3 ODA provided directly to<br />

domestic public institutions would lead to<br />

better development outcomes in Afghanistan.<br />

Long-term economic growth is a realistic<br />

outcome only when ODA ownership shifts<br />

from that of the recipient to the host country.<br />

The technical assistance provided by the<br />

international community coupled with state<br />

ownership of ODA contributes to an<br />

educated labor force in the long-term.<br />

http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/southasia<br />

/afghanistan/210aid-and-conflict-in-afghanistan.aspx.<br />

2 Matt Waldman, “Falling Short: Aid Effectiveness in<br />

Afghanistan,” Oxfam, March 2008, accessed on<br />

October 13, 2013.<br />

https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/A<br />

CBAR_aid_effectiveness_paper_0803.pdf.<br />

3 “Human Rights in Afghanistan,” The International<br />

Crisis Group.<br />

22 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 22



There is a lack of consensus on the<br />

role of official development assistance.<br />

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, in<br />

Economic Backwardness in Political Review, stress<br />

that development aid primarily benefits the<br />

political elite, those individuals close to the<br />

governing body. 4 These individuals are ready<br />

to incur any costs to stay in power and<br />

sometimes “may block technological and<br />

institutional development” to do so. 5 This<br />

argument emphasizes the “political<br />

replacement effect,” in which those in power<br />

or close to the governing body want to<br />

maintain the status quo due to the<br />

destabilization of the existing system. 6 The<br />

fear of losing power forces the ruling class to<br />

decide whether they will adopt technologies<br />

and institutional changes that would<br />

undermine their control or not. Similarly, their<br />

model suggests that interest groups or<br />

monopolists seek to protect their interests by<br />

taking advantage of weak government<br />

institutions, and a lack of rule of law<br />

enforcement.<br />

Claudia R. Williamson highlights, in<br />

Exploring the Failure of Foreign Aid: The Role of<br />

Incentives and Information, the purpose of foreign<br />

aid and its implications for both the donor<br />

and the receiving state. She points out that<br />

“despite a large amount of time and resources<br />

devoted to development assistance, two<br />

competing theories have emerged: public<br />

interest versus the public choice perspective.” 7<br />

4 Daron Acemoglu, and James A. Robinson,<br />

“Economic Backwardness in Political Perspective,”<br />

American Political Science Review, February 2006, accessed<br />

on October 13, 2014.<br />

http%3A%2F%2Feconomics.mit.edu%2Ffiles%2F447<br />

1.<br />

5 Ibid.<br />

6 Ibid.<br />

7 Claudia R. Williamson, “Exploring the Failure of<br />

Foreign Aid: The Role of Incentives and Information,”<br />

The Review of Austrian Economics 23, no. 1 (2010),<br />

accessed October 13, 2013.<br />

Public interest theory, “argues that foreign aid<br />

is necessary to fill a financing or investment<br />

gap, and this will in turn lift countries out of a<br />

so-called poverty trap.” 8 The public choice<br />

theory “contends that foreign aid is ineffective<br />

and possibly damaging to recipient<br />

countries.” 9 The public interest theory holds<br />

that those involved with the distribution of<br />

aid seek to advance their narrow institutional<br />

interests. Williamson highlights three forms of<br />

aid channels that result from such special<br />

interest incentives. “Tied aid” is a regimen<br />

that “requires recipients to purchase a certain<br />

percentage of goods from the donor country,<br />

often overcharging recipients from being able<br />

to purchase goods cheaper elsewhere.” 10 For<br />

the U.S., this means about 75% of all aid<br />

spending has to go to back to U.S. companies.<br />

Food aid is another channel that<br />

Williamson highlights as a way for donors to<br />

benefit from the exchange at the expense of<br />

the recipients. The aid is “mainly in-kind<br />

provision of foods that typically could be<br />

purchased much cheaper in recipient local<br />

markets.” 11 As for technical assistance, she<br />

holds that it is often not beneficial for the<br />

host country because “donors usually require<br />

these technicians to be from the donor<br />

country.” 12 Instead of training the local and<br />

national capacity of the developing country,<br />

the recipient of the aid must make do with<br />

consultants who may or may not understand<br />

the political and cultural landscape of the<br />

region. And should the programs fail to meet<br />

their goals, a donor may act “as a budget<br />

maximizing bureaucracy calling for increases<br />

in foreign aid in order to increase its own<br />

budget and thus increase its agency” rather<br />

than adjust the programs. 13<br />

http://dri.fas.nyu.edu/docs/IO/12361/WilliamsonRA<br />

EAid.pdf.<br />

8 Ibid.<br />

9 Ibid.<br />

10 Ibid., 5.<br />

11 Ibid.<br />

12 Ibid.<br />

13 Ibid.<br />

23 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 23

Simply redirecting the aid to domestic<br />

institutions may not solve the problem.<br />

Actors within the recipient country, like the<br />

NGOs and special interest groups from the<br />

international arena, may have their own<br />

political agendas. Much of the disbursed aid<br />

goes to corrupt institutions. “Under the guise<br />

of official development assistance,” foreign<br />

aid “is aiding the ability of dictators to remain<br />

in power.” 14 As a result, the Good Samaritan<br />

dilemma emerges, in which the “recipients<br />

believe that future poverty will increase the<br />

likelihood of more foreign aid, aid could<br />

actually worsen incentives to invest” while<br />

“citizens now face an even stronger incentive<br />

to consume and become dependent on the<br />

donors.” 15 Accordingly, foreign aid has little<br />

to no effect on infrastructure and long-term<br />

development efforts. Acemoglu, Robinson,<br />

and Williamson all imply that foreign aid<br />

compromises state’s institutions and the rule<br />

of law. Since the involvement of foreign aid<br />

introduces external actors in the form of<br />

consultants and special interest groups, the<br />

competing interests of multiple actors does<br />

not allow for the state to follow policies that<br />

best address the economic needs of the<br />

people and the state as a whole.<br />

On the other hand, NGOs and<br />

international organizations have indeed<br />

contributed significantly to the development<br />

of Afghanistan. This was made possible in<br />

part by the Paris Declaration on Aid<br />

Effectiveness. It is a practical, action-oriented<br />

roadmap to improve the quality of aid and its<br />

impact on development. It ensures that<br />

recipient countries utilize their own strategies<br />

to better outline their needs, whilst improving<br />

the overall quality of public institutions. With<br />

the help of NGOs and other international<br />

organizations that adhere to the Paris<br />

Declaration principles, developing countries<br />

have been able to better coordinate efforts to<br />

avoid duplicating services. Less developed<br />

14 Ibid., 6.<br />

15 Ibid., 6.<br />

countries such as Afghanistan have been able<br />

to increase their standard of living and<br />

improve national healthcare partly due to such<br />

efforts.<br />

Nonetheless, in his book The End of<br />

Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs explains that the reason<br />

certain countries are rich and others are poor<br />

is because of multitude of barriers preventing<br />

the poor from climbing the economic<br />

ladder. 16 These barriers include: poverty and<br />

fiscal traps, physical geography, weak<br />

institutions and governance failure, cultural<br />

and trade barriers, lack of innovation, and the<br />

demographic trap. All of these factors<br />

demonstrate the intense complexity of<br />

obstacles that threaten to preclude economic<br />

development efforts in the world’s poorest<br />

countries. This further delineates the<br />

importance—but also the limits—of foreign<br />

aid. The proper implementation of<br />

development aid initiatives is of critical<br />

importance when domestic institutions and<br />

NGOs alike seek to navigate the abovereferenced<br />

challenges to socioeconomic<br />

development in poor countries.<br />



With multiple channels of aid opening<br />

up to assist the Afghan Interim Authority in<br />

winter 2001, the international community, at<br />

the January 2002 Conference on the<br />

Reconstruction of Afghanistan in Tokyo,<br />

“pledged more than $4.5 billion in aid for the<br />

next five years, increasing to $9.7 billion for<br />

2001-2003.” 17<br />

16 Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities<br />

for Our Time (New York: Penguin, 2005).<br />

17 “Human Rights in Afghanistan,” The International<br />

Crisis Group.<br />

24 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 24

Subsequently, in April 2004 at the<br />

Berlin Conference, “the international<br />

community increased its commitment to $8.2<br />

billion over three years.” 18 At the same time,<br />

U.S. non-military pledges rose from $250<br />

million in FY2003 to $720 million in<br />

FY2004. 19 At the 2006 London Conference in<br />

2006, donor countries pledged a further $10.5<br />

billion, and then $21 billion at the Paris<br />

Conference two years later. 20 Since 2002, the<br />

external assistance flowing into Afghanistan<br />

increased exponentially but without proper<br />

justification of how and where the ODA was<br />

needed and spent. The rise in ODA as a<br />

percentage of Afghanistan’s GDP conveyed<br />

the notion that the Afghan Central<br />

Government had successfully implemented<br />

programs to address the economic challenges.<br />

However, the overall amount of ODA<br />

given to Afghanistan has failed to distinguish<br />

between humanitarian, rehabilitation, and<br />

reconstruction needs. “[A]s a result, by 2006,<br />

roughly one-third of funds were directed<br />

towards humanitarian assistance rather than<br />

reconstruction or development projects that<br />

would have helped rebuild and revive a<br />

18 Ibid.<br />

19 Ibid.<br />

20 Ibid.<br />

devastated infrastructure and economy and<br />

the state’s capacity to deliver basic services.” 21<br />

And since the U.S. led the international<br />

community in providing both military and<br />

humanitarian or economic assistance, most of<br />

the aid was channeled through local proxies.<br />

These proxies included local warlords, special<br />

interest groups, and NGOs with connections<br />

to the inner circle of the Afghan presidential<br />

office. By concentrating power into the hands<br />

of these few, political figures received the aid<br />

and then channeled it to the most politically<br />

rewarding destinations.<br />

Moreover, the establishment of nonmilitary<br />

structures to channel funds<br />

throughout the 34 provinces of Afghanistan<br />

has created a loophole in which contractors<br />

and government officials have been able to<br />

operate without proper oversight from the<br />

international community. Since one of the<br />

primary objectives of international assistance<br />

is to make sure Afghanistan does not unravel<br />

into a series of fiefdoms, the conjoining of<br />

military and humanitarian assistance led to the<br />

creation of the Provincial Reconstruction<br />

Teams (PRT). The PRT program was<br />

established to “assist the Islamic Republic of<br />

Afghanistan to extend its authority in order to<br />

facilitate the development of a stable and<br />

secure environment in the identified area of<br />

operation, and enable Security Sector Reform<br />

and reconstruction efforts.” 22 The funding of<br />

these teams is solely up to its eleven donor<br />

countries. Therefore, the level of coordination<br />

between the Afghan government and its<br />

donors is often weak and heavily influenced<br />

by the political relationships with the donor<br />

country. Coupled with weak oversight, a<br />

majority of the PRT projects have produced<br />

poor results due to subcontracting or the<br />

transfer of large-scale projects to unqualified<br />

individuals. Because of this, the PRTs “have<br />

slowed the emergence and development of<br />

state institutions at local level, which<br />

21 Ibid.<br />

22 Ibid.<br />

25 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 25

jeopardizes the broader prospects for medium<br />

to long term state-building.” 23<br />

This also “hinders efforts to increase<br />

Afghan ownership of the development<br />

process,” when ownership of aid plays a key<br />

role in the long-term economic growth of a<br />

state. Stated as the central element of the Paris<br />

Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, “national<br />

ownership is critical to achieving development<br />

results.” 24 Hence, the Afghan government<br />

stresses the ownership of ODA, yet more<br />

than “two-thirds of foreign assistance<br />

bypasses the Afghan government.” 25 One<br />

consequence of this lack of ownership is that<br />

it “limits ability of ministries to recruit and<br />

retain qualified staff as they are attracted by<br />

higher salaries with donors or donor-funded<br />

projects.” 26 With majority of the funds being<br />

channeled through the external budget,<br />

instead of the “core” budget, the Afghan<br />

national government cannot build the human<br />

capacity needed to strengthen and maintain<br />

public institutions.<br />



At the state level, international<br />

assistance to Afghanistan has yet to produce<br />

sustainable economic results. Lack of<br />

government accountability is still a major<br />

concern for citizens and international NGOs.<br />

According to an Integrity Watch Afghanistan<br />

(IWA) survey, “one in seven adults paid a<br />

bribe in 2010, 28 percent were to obtain a<br />

public service, including health and<br />

education.” 27 At the international level, NGOs<br />

and private contractor workers have taken<br />

advantage of weak regulatory institutions and<br />

a lack of legal enforcement. They have funded<br />

23 Waldman, “Falling Short: Aid Effectiveness in<br />

Afghanistan.”<br />

24 Ibid.<br />

25 Ibid.<br />

26 Ibid.<br />

27 “Human Rights in Afghanistan,” The International<br />

Crisis Group.<br />

many state-building projects that are not<br />

properly assessed or do not meet state<br />

requirements. With the addition of high<br />

oversight budgets, the lack of oversight<br />

resulted in contract workers receiving<br />

disproportionately high salaries. For example,<br />

282 foreign advisors (including 120<br />

contractors) within the Afghan Interior<br />

Ministry are “absorbing a total of $36 million<br />

a year,” and “international staff reportedly<br />

outnumber the Afghans they advise by 45 to<br />

fourteen” in the ministry’s logistics arm. 28<br />

There is a self-perpetuating cycle here.<br />

Donor countries rely heavily on private<br />

contractors and NGOs to implement the<br />

majority of the ODA. In return, these groups<br />

exercise oversight of donor-funded projects<br />

since the Afghan government lacks the<br />

capacity to monitor all development<br />

assistance. Between 2007 and 2009, “USAID<br />

obligated 53 percent of its construction funds<br />

($2 billion of $3.8 billion)” to just two<br />

American contractors: the Louis Berger<br />

Group and Development Alternatives. 29 The<br />

overcharging and misuse of billions of dollars<br />

in administrative fees and personnel<br />

compensation has failed to produce public<br />

benefits and strengthen the rule of law. These<br />

projects, initially given to international<br />

construction firms have been subcontracted<br />

to either Afghan or other private firms in<br />

return for a percentage of the overall budget.<br />

In some large contracts, there were multiple<br />

layers of subcontractors, in each case taking a<br />

10-20% profit.<br />

Contractors and NGOs requiring<br />

substantial administrative fees coupled with<br />

billions of dollars in subcontracting profits are<br />

wasting much of the ODA requisitioned to<br />

complete national projects throughout<br />

Afghanistan. The Kabul Bank fraud, for<br />

example, highlights the “susceptibility of<br />

international assistance and the need for<br />

vigilant oversight in a corrupt and insecure<br />

28 Ibid.<br />

29 Ibid.<br />

26 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 26

environment.” 30 Providing both logistical and<br />

technical assistance to USAID, Deloitte<br />

Consulting was the lead organization in<br />

capacity building and supervision at<br />

Afghanistan’s Central Bank. However,<br />

Deloitte “failed to warn authorities” about the<br />

rampant corruption with the Kabul Bank. 31<br />

The reconstruction of the Khair Khana<br />

maternity hospital in Kabul is a striking<br />

example of the misuse of aid. In order to<br />

double the hospital’s capacity, the Italian<br />

government contracted UNFPA with $2.2<br />

million for the work. It was first<br />

subcontracted to the UN Office for Project<br />

Services (UNOPS), then an Italian contractor,<br />

and, finally, a local construction firm. This<br />

arrangement ultimately consumed about half<br />

of the project’s finances, and what was left<br />

was spent on poor quality building materials<br />

that posed a health hazard. 32 A further<br />

example of this sort of problem is the<br />

[continued on page ]<br />

30 Ibid.<br />

31 Ibid.<br />

32 Waldman, “Falling Short: Aid Effectiveness in<br />

Afghanistan.”<br />

27 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 27

Total planned and committed government and donor spending per capita, per province in<br />

2007<br />

Data Source: Oxfam. Afghan Ministry of Finance<br />

Completed, ongoing, planned and funded PRT spending per capita, per province<br />

Data Source: Oxfam. ISAF, May 2007<br />

28 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 28

construction of a short stretch of the road in<br />

the province of Badakhshan, linking the town<br />

center to the area airstrip. In an unfortunately<br />

familiar pattern, the road “was subcontracted<br />

to a private company by USAID for just<br />

under half a million dollars,” then “again<br />

subcontracted to an Afghan private<br />

construction company for a cost of just<br />

$250,000.” 33<br />


The disbursement of aid plays a vital role in<br />

impacting the lives of the Afghan people. In<br />

order to analyze whether official development<br />

assistance contributed to the economic<br />

growth throughout the provinces of<br />

Afghanistan, the study will assess the Afghan<br />

central government’s implementation of<br />

ODA separately from the international donor<br />

community.<br />

The difference in the amount of<br />

spending per capita throughout the provinces,<br />

as illustrated in both of the charts above,<br />

signifies the difference between the Afghan<br />

government and the international<br />

communities’ priorities in the provinces that<br />

need the most assistance. The security<br />

spending does not significantly help because it<br />

is spent in ways that only exacerbate<br />

unaccountability and donor preferences over<br />

local needs and rule of law. The amount of<br />

spending per capita by the PRTs in each of<br />

the 34 provinces, primarily led by<br />

international donors and private contractors,<br />

takes into account military and administrative<br />

costs for the total amount of spending.<br />

The regional disparity in ODA shows<br />

that the international community is looking to<br />

fund provinces that are the least militarily<br />

secure in the short term. The main focus of<br />

the PRTs and international assistance is in the<br />

south and southeast regions of Afghanistan,<br />

33 Ibid.<br />

areas where the Taliban’s insurgency is<br />

strongest. Provinces with the smallest<br />

populations, such as Badghis and Uruzgan,<br />

received the highest amount of PRT<br />

assistance. Meanwhile, the central<br />

government’s core budget spending mainly<br />

focuses on centralizing power in the<br />

provinces closest to Kabul. Although they<br />

emphasize development efforts in areas that<br />

are the least secure, they do not neglect<br />

provinces in the northern parts of the country<br />

to the same degree as international donors do.<br />

For example, the Afghan national government<br />

spent more in the provinces of Faryab and<br />

Badakhshan, installing irrigation systems and<br />

building agriculture infrastructure to help the<br />

local farmers of the region. The PRTs and the<br />

international community spent well below $50<br />

per capita in the same provinces. The<br />

northern provinces of Afghanistan have fertile<br />

soil and a climate more suitable for<br />

agriculture. By providing farmers the technical<br />

aid they need to maintain their crops yearround,<br />

the Afghan government’s technical<br />

assistance encourages the growth of the<br />

agriculture sector of the economy.<br />

The emphasis on quick impact<br />

projects led by the PRTs has not been<br />

accompanied by a strengthening of the<br />

Afghan government’s capacity to sustain the<br />

goals of these projects over time. The limited<br />

provincial development funds “undercut the<br />

government’s credibility, since districts or<br />

provinces might attract aid but have no funds<br />

to sustain projects once they are transferred to<br />

local authorities,” leading to the perception<br />

among Afghans that these projects are just<br />

another tool being used by external forces to<br />

impose control over them. 34 The multiple<br />

channels of funding are creating a rift between<br />

the provinces and the central government,<br />

both fiscally and ideologically. Shortsighted<br />

34 “Human Rights in Afghanistan,” The International<br />

Crisis Group.<br />

29 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 29

development efforts have been difficult to<br />

sustain due to the PRTs and international<br />

communities’ biased funding mechanisms.<br />

Consequently, once the drawdown of foreign<br />

contractors, advisors, and security personnel<br />

began in December of 2014, provincial<br />

leaders lacked adequate funding to maintain<br />

development projects. The lack of skilled<br />

native talent overall, and within government<br />

offices in particular, due to the<br />

overrepresentation of foreigners and skewed<br />

hiring practices of locals is contribution to the<br />

unraveling of more than ten years of ODA to<br />

Afghanistan.<br />


After spending $57 billion on<br />

humanitarian assistance over the past fourteen<br />

years in Afghanistan, the international<br />

community is looking for answers as to why<br />

Afghanistan’s dependence on aid has not<br />

fallen at a rate the World Bank and the<br />

international donor community had hoped it<br />

would. Afghanistan now more than ever,<br />

needs economic and technical assistance to<br />

ensure that it does not collapse into the same<br />

state it was a decade ago. The Taliban have<br />

once again started to rise in the southern<br />

provinces of Afghanistan. Furthermore, it is<br />

crucial to note that since the international<br />

community led the majority of the<br />

development efforts, the infrastructure has<br />

been built for their own security purposes, not<br />

civil reconstruction. As the younger<br />

generation of Afghans start to take advantage<br />

of the greatly expanded education system, the<br />

need for a coherent economic development<br />

effort is vital to reduce high unemployment.<br />

In the case of Afghanistan,<br />

Williamson’s “public choice perspective” can<br />

best describe the effort to rebuild<br />

Afghanistan’s weak and dependent economy.<br />

Weak rule of law and the lack of<br />

accountability have created an environment<br />

for private contractors and NGOs to reap<br />

millions of dollars in profits from ODA<br />

without creating sustainable infrastructure. As<br />

a result, national public works projects that<br />

can benefit millions of Afghans have been<br />

poorly managed and in some cases have not<br />

even been implemented. Weak oversight<br />

coupled with high corruption have led to<br />

backdoor deals between the political elite and<br />

the international donor community,<br />

marginalizing Afghan citizens in dire need of<br />

humanitarian assistance. The Karzai<br />

Administration has been under scrutiny by the<br />

World Bank, IMF, and the United States for<br />

taking advantage of Afghanistan’s weak<br />

financial regulatory bodies by using millions<br />

of dollars of foreign aid for personal gains. 35<br />

Ownership of ODA plays a significant<br />

role in the long-term economic growth of<br />

Afghanistan. Since most of the aid bypasses<br />

the Afghan government and is directly<br />

disbursed to private firms and NGOs,<br />

provincial governments and the central<br />

administration cannot build the capacity they<br />

need to operate with the proper funding to<br />

attract and train native talent. Instead of using<br />

contractors and NGOs, both the Afghan<br />

government and international aid agencies<br />

must take greater advantage of the local talent,<br />

and work to cultivate it. By doing so, national<br />

projects will be far more effective and<br />

sustainable because the morale of the people<br />

will change from that of being a recipient state<br />

to that of a developing state.<br />

The ODA given to Afghanistan has<br />

been utilized for short-term gains in security<br />

and economic development: as a result,<br />

neither has been advanced in the long run.<br />

Long-term security and economic growth in<br />

Afghanistan are most likely to occur when the<br />

international community accepts that the<br />

Afghan people have a greater part to play in<br />

development efforts.<br />

35 James Risen, “Karzai’s Kin Use Ties to Gain Power<br />

in Afghanistan,” The New York Times, October 5, 2010,<br />

accessed on October 13, 2013.<br />

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/06/world/asia/06<br />

karzai.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.<br />

30 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 30

DAVID ESMATI is a<br />

second year M.A.<br />

student in International<br />

Relations. He earned his<br />

B.A. degree in<br />

International Relations<br />

Honors from the Wilf<br />

Family Department of<br />

Politics at New York<br />

University. He is interested in international security<br />

issues, Afghanistan-Pakistan, sustainable<br />

development, financing for development and postconflict<br />

recovery. His past work experience in<br />

related fields includes work with The Permanent<br />

Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations, The<br />

United States Mission to the United Nations, NGOs<br />

and think tanks.<br />

31 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 31

From Operation Serval<br />

to Barkhane<br />

Understanding France’s<br />

Increased Involvement in<br />

Africa in the Context of<br />

Françafrique and Postcolonialism<br />

Carmen Cuesta Roca<br />

François Hollande did not enter office<br />

amid expectations that he would<br />

become a foreign policy president.<br />

His 2012 presidential campaign carefully<br />

focused on domestic issues. Much like<br />

Nicolas Sarkozy and many of his<br />

predecessors, Hollande had declared, “I will<br />

break away from Françafrique by proposing a<br />

relationship based on equality, trust, and<br />

solidarity.” 1 After his election on May 6,<br />

2012, Hollande took steps to fulfill this<br />

promise. He became the first president of<br />

the Fifth Republic not to have an “Africa<br />

cell” 2 and appointed as his Africa adviser<br />

Hélène Le Gal, a diplomat with previous<br />

experience in East Africa and far removed<br />

from the old networks of France’s former<br />

colonies.<br />

Fast forward to January 2013. Four<br />

thousand French troops were deployed to<br />

Mali as part of Operation Serval, following<br />

the United Nations Security Council<br />

Resolution 2085 in December 2012 and an<br />

official request from the Malian interim<br />

government for French assistance. 3 That<br />

1 “Engagement 58,” Parti Socialiste, February 2, 2012,<br />

accessed December 1, 2014, http://www.partisocialiste.fr/articles/engagement-58.<br />

2 Founded during the Charles de Gaulle<br />

administration, this is a location where the President<br />

and his advisors take decisions on military support<br />

for African countries or for the ruling governments.<br />

3 United Nations, “Security Council Authorizes<br />

Deployment of African-Led International Support<br />

Mission in Mali for Initial Year-Long Period<br />

Meetings Coverage and Press Releases,” UN News<br />

same year, Hollande sent French troops to<br />

the Central African Republic (CAR) to curb<br />

ethno-religious warfare. During a visit to<br />

three African nations in the summer of<br />

2014, the French president announced<br />

Operation Barkhane, a reorganization of<br />

troops in the region into a counter-terrorism<br />

force of 3,000 soldiers.<br />

In light of this, what is one to make<br />

of Hollande’s promise to break with<br />

tradition concerning France’s African<br />

policy? To what extent has he actively<br />

pursued the fulfillment of this promise, and<br />

does continued French involvement in<br />

Africa constitute success or failure in this<br />

regard? France has a complex relationship<br />

with Africa, and these ties cannot be easily<br />

cut. This paper does not seek to provide a<br />

critique of President Hollande’s policy<br />

toward France’s former African colonies.<br />

Rather, it uses the current president’s<br />

decisions and behavior to explain why<br />

France will not be able to distance itself<br />

from its former colonies anytime soon.<br />

It is first necessary to outline a brief<br />

history of France’s involvement in Africa,<br />

with an emphasis on the exclusivity of<br />

France’s relationship with its former<br />

colonies and the period of “decolonization.”<br />

Interpretations of the term Françafrique (a<br />

French word used to described the special<br />

relationship between France and Africa) will<br />

be assessed, with particular attention paid to<br />

its neocolonial connotations, as well as an<br />

assessment of its utility and relevance as a<br />

tool of analysis. With this in mind, an<br />

examination of the French intervention in<br />

Mali will follow, with a focus on the<br />

Françafrique debate that has surrounded the<br />

conflict. Does the French intervention in<br />

Mali constitute change or continuity in<br />

terms of France’s colonial past? Why has<br />

this intervention, unlike others, been<br />

received with such popular support in<br />

France and Mali alike? The recent<br />

announcement of Operation Barkhane has<br />

also raised many questions concerning<br />

France’s involvement in Africa. This paper<br />

Center, December 20, 2012.<br />

www.un.org/press/en/2012/sc10870.doc.htm.<br />

32 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 32

will analyze different interpretations of this<br />

operation, while highlighting a fundamental<br />

aspect of the relationship between France<br />

and her former colonies: debt. In assessing<br />

Hollande’s decisions on African policy since<br />

his election in 2012, this paper examines<br />

France’s special relationship with its former<br />

colonies and explores the reasons why it<br />

continues to be difficult for France to break<br />

away from a Françafrique-style relationship<br />

with its colonies.<br />


AFRICA<br />

Historically, France has deep<br />

economic and political relations with Africa<br />

that date back to the 17 th Century. A<br />

distinction can be made between the First<br />

colonial empire, which had been mostly lost<br />

by 1814, and the Second colonial empire,<br />

whose beginning and end are marked by the<br />

takeover and independence of Algeria in<br />

1830 and 1862, respectively. This division is<br />

made because by 1814 France had lost most<br />

of the colonies gained in earlier years. The<br />

Berlin Conference of 1884 marked the<br />

beginning of organized conquest of the<br />

region, and aimed at regulating European<br />

colonization and trade in Africa. The<br />

federation of French West Africa (Afrique<br />

occidentale francaise) was established in 1904,<br />

and soon after in 1910, the federation of<br />

French Equatorial Africa (Afrique équatoriale<br />

francaise) was created. These federations<br />

grouped a number of French colonies<br />

together under the same authority in an<br />

effort to coordinate French colonization on<br />

the African continent. Countries today that<br />

were affected by this re-organization<br />

include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon,<br />

Central African Republic, Chad, Congo,<br />

Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Libya, Mali,<br />

Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.<br />

It is important to note that France’s<br />

involvement with its colonies was very<br />

different from other European powers’<br />

involvement in Africa. Britain’s colonial<br />

policy was primarily based on economic<br />

exploitation of its colonies, but France had a<br />

distinct mission. Metropolitan France<br />

additionally pursued a cultural and political<br />

assimilation policy that ignored regional<br />

cultures. This was done in a bid to enhance<br />

France’s international influence by<br />

extending to Africa the French values of<br />

human rights. This is the defining notion of<br />

France’s unique relationship with its<br />

colonies: “The British saw its colonies as<br />

foreign lands, the French saw them as a part<br />

of France, therefore France imposed its<br />

culture on Africa.” 4 This distinction still<br />

lingers today, and it adds a layer of<br />

complexity to the relationship between<br />

France and her former African colonies.<br />

The Brazzaville Conference of 1944<br />

marked a pivotal point in this relationship.<br />

Held in the capital of French Equatorial<br />

Africa, the conference assembled many<br />

prominent African leaders to discuss the<br />

revision of France’s relationship with its<br />

colonies. Many view this erroneously as the<br />

beginning of decolonization, when the<br />

reality is that, for Charles de Gaulle and<br />

other leading officials, the “aim of the<br />

conference was, on the contrary, to<br />

consolidate the colonial system definitively<br />

by renovating it.” 5 Even at this point,<br />

however, the idea of independence for<br />

African states was rejected among the<br />

French. As De Gaulle stated, “The aims of<br />

France's civilizing mission preclude any<br />

thought of autonomy or any possibility of<br />

development outside the French empire.<br />

Self-government must be rejected—even in<br />

the more distant future.” 6<br />

Yet, from the 1950s to the 1970s,<br />

independence became a reality for many<br />

French colonies. Many of these<br />

independences were achieved around the<br />

same time as each other and without<br />

4 Abdurrahim Siradag, “Understanding French<br />

Foreign and Security Policy towards Africa:<br />

Pragmatism or Altruism”, Afro Eurasian Studies, 3, no.<br />

1 (<strong>Spring</strong> 2014): 100.<br />

5 Yves Person, “French West Africa and<br />

Decolonization,” in The Transfer of Power in Africa:<br />

Decolonization, 1940-1960, ed. Prosser Gifford and<br />

Louis William Roger (New Haven: Yale University<br />

Press, 1982), 144.<br />

6 Donald A. Low, Britain and Indian Nationalism: The<br />

Imprint of Ambiguity 1929-1942, (Cambridge:<br />

Cambridge University Press, 1997), 16.<br />

33 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 33

considerable violence (with the exception of<br />

Cameroon). As such, France has continued<br />

to maintain its economic and political<br />

relations with its former colonies.<br />

Importantly, France has a special strategic<br />

security partnership with the African<br />

countries. At the time of independence, the<br />

French government created African national<br />

armies that would serve as branches of the<br />

French army overseas. 7 It was in this<br />

context that a number of bilateral security<br />

agreements were signed with each newly<br />

independent state: between 1960 and 1993,<br />

two-dozen agreements were signed between<br />

France and most of her former colonies. 8<br />

France has intervened militarily in Africa<br />

more than 50 times since 1960. 9<br />

Two of these interventions,<br />

Operation Serval and Operation Barkhane,<br />

require further investigation. Serval refers to<br />

a 2013 operation in which France<br />

intervened in Mali following the country’s<br />

request for assistance in the ousting of<br />

Islamic militants. Barkhane is France’s latest<br />

military endeavor in Africa, another<br />

counter-terrorist operation stretching from<br />

Mauritania to Chad that aims at limiting the<br />

mobility of jihadists in the region. The<br />

particularities of French colonial history in<br />

Central and West Africa lay the foundation<br />

for a unique relationship between France<br />

and its former African colonies. This helps<br />

explain why France still has such a<br />

connection to Africa, while other former<br />

colonial powers do not.<br />


Today this relationship is often<br />

referred to in France as la Françafrique. The<br />

term is not a new one, however, and its<br />

meaning has changed over time along with<br />

the shifting relationship between France and<br />

7 Guy Martin, “Francophone Africa in the Context of<br />

Franco-African Relations,” in Africa in World Politics,<br />

eds. John W. Haberson and Donald Rothchild<br />

(Boulder, CO: Westview 1995), 178.<br />

8 Xavier Renou, “A New French Policy For Africa?”<br />

Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 20, no. 1, (2002):<br />

10.<br />

9 Siradag, “Understanding French Foreign and<br />

Security Policy towards Africa”, 100.<br />

her former African colonies. It was in 1963<br />

that Felix Houphouët-Boigny, former<br />

president of Cote d’Ivoire, coined the term<br />

Françafrique. Initially Houphouët-Boigny’s<br />

notion of Françafrique was positive, and was<br />

used “to describe the common destiny and<br />

promote the special relationship between<br />

France and Africa that he supported and<br />

wanted to maintain.” 10 But today the term<br />

has negative connotations, often used to<br />

denounce France’s alleged neocolonial<br />

relationship with its former colonies.<br />

Andrew McKillop has described the notion<br />

of Françafrique as “a colonial hangover.” 11<br />

François Xavier Vershave, founder of the<br />

NGO Survie, used the term Françafrique to<br />

describe “the unsullied tip of the iceberg [of<br />

Franco-African relations]: France as the best<br />

friend of Africa, development and<br />

democracy.” 12 What lies beneath is a<br />

complicated connection that many believe<br />

signifies France’s enduring domination of its<br />

former colonies.<br />

In 2012, Hollande promised to<br />

move away from Françafrique behavior.<br />

During his first visit to the continent, in<br />

Senegal, Hollande declared, “The time of<br />

Françafrique is over: there is France, there is<br />

Africa, and there is the partnership between<br />

France and Africa, with relations based on<br />

respect, brightness, and solidarity.” 13 Yet<br />

just three months later, he sent French<br />

troops to Mali, after having expressed that<br />

he would not send French troops on the<br />

10 Tony Chafer, “Hollande and Africa Policy,” Modern<br />

Contemporary France, 22, no. 4 (2014): 529.<br />

11 Andrew McKillop, “What’s Really Behind France’s<br />

Sudden Scramble to Save Central Africa”, 21 st Century<br />

Wire, December 6, 2013, accessed on Nov. 30, 2014,<br />

http://21stcenturywire.com/2013/12/06/whatsreally-behind-frances-sudden-scramble-to-savecentral-africa/<br />

12 Francois X. Vershave, “Defining Francafrique”,<br />

Survie, February 18, 2006, accessed Nov. 27, 2014,<br />

http://survie.org/francafrique/article/definingfrancafrique-by-François<br />

13 “François Hollande à Dakar: ‘Le temps de la<br />

Françafrique est révolu,’” Le Monde, October 12,<br />

2012, accessed November 27, 2014,<br />

http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2012/10/12<br />

/hollande-exprime-sa-grande-confiance-dans-lesenegal-et-l-afrique_1774886_3212.html<br />

34 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 34

ground, 14 but would instead support an<br />

African-led force to deal with the crisis. The<br />

French intervention in Mali is highly<br />

complex in a number of ways, evident<br />

through the multitude of interpretations<br />

concerning French involvement in the<br />

conflict.<br />


SERVAL<br />

Operation Serval was a successful<br />

effort to push Islamic militants out of Mali.<br />

It was President Hollande’s first<br />

intervention in the region, spanning a total<br />

of 19 months, from January 2013 to July<br />

2014. On January 11, 2013, after new<br />

clashes between the army and insurgent<br />

groups, President Hollande announced the<br />

launching of a military operation: Serval.<br />

Just a day later, hundreds of French troops<br />

were involved in the military operation in<br />

Mali. The French army, navy, and air force<br />

were all deployed to assist in the operation.<br />

It was led by approximately 4,000 French<br />

troops supported by 2,000 Chadians and<br />

implemented in coordination with the<br />

Malian army. In fact, assistance from France<br />

was specifically requested from the Malian<br />

government. The operation was considered<br />

a success. Three of the five Islamic militant<br />

leaders were killed and the militant groups<br />

were driven from cities and later from the<br />

mountains of Adrar. 15<br />

President Hollande celebrated this<br />

triumph on a visit to the capital of Bamako<br />

where, clearly impressed by the strength of<br />

the popular welcome in the streets, he<br />

claimed, “I have just, without a doubt,<br />

experienced the most important day of my<br />

14 “François Hollande: ‘Je viens pour ecrire avec<br />

l’Afrique une nouvelle page,’” RFI, November 10,<br />

2012, accessed December 3, 2014,<br />

http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20121011-Françoishollande-afrique-francophonie-sommet-interviewnouvelle-page/<br />

15 Isaline Bergamaschi, “French Military Intervention<br />

in Mali: Inevitable, Consensual, Yet Insufficient,”<br />

Stability: International Journal of Security and Development,<br />

2, no.2 (2013), accessed December 3, 2014.<br />

http://www.stabilityjournal.org/rt/printerFriendly/s<br />

ta.bb/70<br />

political life.” 16 The intervention received a<br />

huge amount of popular support from<br />

Malians, and France’s action “has very<br />

seldom been accused of neocolonialism<br />

internationally.” 17 This may be in part due<br />

to historical reasons and the fact that Mali<br />

doesn’t quite fall under the category of the<br />

French pré carré, a term used to describe<br />

France’s sphere of influence in Africa: the<br />

country assumed one of the more radical<br />

positions towards Paris, unilaterally<br />

declaring independence in 1960.<br />

This is why Tony Chafer, professor<br />

of French Area studies at Portsmouth<br />

University, argues, “the presentation of<br />

France’s military intervention in the country<br />

in 2013 as the latest avatar of the Françafrique<br />

tradition is at the very least misleading,<br />

insofar as it fails to take account of the<br />

complex, often tense nature of Franco-<br />

Malian relations in the post-colonial<br />

period.” 18 This refutes the notion of<br />

Françafrique as a model of analysis for the<br />

French intervention in Mali as it<br />

oversimplifies a long and complex history<br />

between France and Africa.<br />

The intervention in Mali also<br />

received praise, in part due to Hollande’s<br />

reluctance to intervene in Africa, a striking<br />

contrast to former president Nicolas<br />

Sarkozy. Sarkozy had a history of using<br />

aggressive foreign relation moves to gain or<br />

maintain popularity at home. In August<br />

2008, for example, he succeeded<br />

in negotiating a Russo-Georgian ceasefire<br />

without being invited to be a<br />

peacemaker. In 2011, Sarkozy took France<br />

to war in Libya without informing his<br />

parliament or foreign minister, Alain Juppé.<br />

In opposition, “the trouble taken by<br />

Hollande to seek African opinion before<br />

16 Ben Clift, and Raymond Kuhn, “The Hollande<br />

Presidency 2012-14,” Modern and Contemporary France,<br />

22, no. 4 (2014): 432.<br />

17 Isaline Bergamaschi and Mahamadou Diawara,<br />

“The French military intervention in Mali: Not<br />

exactly Françafrique but definitely postcolonial,” in<br />

Peace operations in the francophone world: global governance<br />

meets post-colonialism, ed. Bruno Charbonneau and<br />

Tony Chafer (Abingdon: Routledge, 2014), 137.<br />

18 Chafer, “Hollande and Africa Policy,” 516.<br />

35 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 35

going ahead with military intervention<br />

contrasted with past practice.” 19<br />

Yet, despite Hollande’s “subtler ear<br />

for the tone of African diplomacy,” 20 France<br />

still has a vested interest in the region, many<br />

aspects of which also contributed to<br />

France’s decision to intervene in Mali.<br />

Although France does not have specific<br />

economic interests in Mali, it certainly has<br />

economic interests in the wider region.<br />

Nigerian uranium, for instance, is central to<br />

France’s energy security: one quarter of<br />

France’s electricity production relies on<br />

uranium. There is also speculation<br />

concerning an interest in oil in the north of<br />

Mali that could be considered a new<br />

potential economic gain. However,<br />

Bergamaschi and Diawara assert, “the<br />

presence of oil resources has been suspected<br />

for a long time but never clearly and<br />

formally established.” 21<br />

French political motivations behind<br />

intervention should also be considered.<br />

France is a permanent member of the UN<br />

Security Council, and thus, has international<br />

obligations specifically to West Africa,<br />

where it has troops stationed in Senegal,<br />

Côte d’Ivoire, and Chad. As Chafer<br />

postulates, “faced with the threat of an<br />

Islamist takeover, the prospect of a<br />

humanitarian disaster and a request from the<br />

Malian government to intervene, it would<br />

have been extremely difficult for France to<br />

refuse.” 22 Chafer’s interpretation, that<br />

France is simply honoring its international<br />

obligations, may be overly generous. As<br />

Bergamaschi and Diawara explain, “acting<br />

for stability in Africa remains a key tool to<br />

defend the French seat at the UN Security<br />

Council.” 23 It should also be noted that<br />

African countries provide a valuable source<br />

of supportive votes for France at the UN.<br />

Although France may have simply been<br />

fulfilling its international duty, the benefits<br />

of intervention in this sense are undeniable.<br />

Even if circumstances forced France to<br />

intervene in Africa, to be present militarily<br />

in a number of African countries requires a<br />

type of Françafrique behavior.<br />


DOUBT<br />

In the summer of 2014, Hollande<br />

declared the objectives of Operation Serval<br />

accomplished, 24 but victory in Mali is not as<br />

absolute as has been suggested. This is<br />

demonstrated by the announcement in July<br />

2014 of a new military operation in the<br />

region: Operation Barkhane. Unlike Serval,<br />

Barkhane is preventative in its intent. While<br />

Serval aimed at fixing a problem that was<br />

deteriorating in Mali, Operation Barkhane<br />

has been labeled as a counterterrorist<br />

operation, although many specifics remain<br />

unclear. Hollande has said the Barkhane<br />

force will allow for a "rapid and efficient<br />

intervention in the event of a crisis” 25 in the<br />

region. This summer, Hollande began a<br />

three-nation visit to Africa, stopping in Côte<br />

d’Ivoire, Niger, and Chad. The focus of the<br />

visit was related to security, with Operation<br />

Serval coming to a close, only to be replaced<br />

by Operation Barkhane. Named after a<br />

crescent-shaped sand dune in the Saharan<br />

desert, the operation involves the<br />

deployment of 3,000 military personnel<br />

across the vast Sahel region, backed by six<br />

19 Paul Melly and Vincent Darracq, “A New Way to<br />

Engage? French Policy in Africa from Sarkozy to<br />

Hollande,” Chatham House Africa 2013, 10, accessed<br />

December 1, 2014.<br />

http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamh<br />

ouse/public/Research/Africa/0513pp_franceafrica.p<br />

df<br />

20 Ibid., 10.<br />

21 Bergamaschi and Diawara, “The French military<br />

intervention in Mali,” 141.<br />

22 Chafer, “Hollande and Africa Policy,” 524.<br />

23 Bergamaschi and Diawara, “The French military<br />

intervention in Mali”, 141.<br />

24 Sara M. Llana, “Mali, one year later: France's mission<br />

accomplished – but much left to do,” Christian Science<br />

Monitor, January 11, 2014, accessed December 1, 2014,<br />

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2014/0<br />

111/Mali-one-year-later-France-s-missionaccomplished-but-much-left-to-do<br />

25 “Hollande announces new military operation in<br />

West Africa,” France<br />

24, July 19, 2014, accessed March 14, <strong>2015</strong>.<br />

http://www.france24.com/en/20140719-hollandeannounces-new-military-operation-west-africa/.<br />

36 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 36

fighter jets, 20 helicopters and three drones.<br />

The mission forms a belt of French military<br />

presence in five African countries: Burkina<br />

Faso, Mali, Chad, Niger and Mauritania.<br />

In an article published prior to the<br />

French president’s three-nation visit this<br />

summer, France 24 speculated, “mission<br />

accomplished or mission creep?” 26 Another<br />

article described Operation Barkhane as “a<br />

blurred French strategy.” 27 The notion of<br />

mission creep describes a gradual shift in<br />

objectives during the course of a military<br />

campaign, often resulting in an unplanned<br />

long-term commitment. Operation<br />

Barkhane can be interpreted as a form of<br />

“mission creep” in that it is the expansion of<br />

a project (Operation Serval), following initial<br />

successes. Mission creep is considered<br />

dangerous because it tends to forge a path<br />

of increasingly ambitious attempts at victory<br />

that ultimately result in great failure.<br />

Understood in these terms, the transition<br />

from Serval to Barkhane is inconsistent with<br />

Hollande’s promise to break from<br />

Françafrique, and Operation Barkhane may<br />

see French troops remain in the region for a<br />

number of years.<br />

Some have dubbed Mali as the next<br />

Afghanistan, 28 comparing Operation Barkhane<br />

to the U.S. “war on terror.” Using the same<br />

term coined at the dawn of U.S. involvement in<br />

Afghanistan, this labeling provokes many<br />

pejorative conceptions of the motivations<br />

behind the operation. If the notion of<br />

Françafrique is based on the exploitation of<br />

African countries for the advancement of<br />

France’s own power, viewing Operation<br />

26 Leela Jacinto, “It’s time for Africa again as<br />

Hollande starts three-nation visit”, France24, July 16,<br />

2014, accessed December 1, 2014,<br />

http://www.france24.com/en/20140716-francewest-africa-hollande-sahel-ivory-coast-niger-chad/.<br />

27 Sarah Diffalah, “DeServalàBarkhane:lamissionfrançaise<br />

loind'êtreterminée,” LeNouvelObservateur,July 16, 2014,<br />

accessed December 1, 2014,<br />

http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/guerre-aumali/20140715.OBS3744/mali-de-serval-a-barkhanela-mission-francaise-loin-d-etre-terminee.html.<br />

28 Mark Doyle, “Mali: Dangers of dealing with<br />

‘Afghanistan of West Africa,’” BBC News, June 14,<br />

2012, accessed December 5, 2014,<br />

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18427541<br />

Barkhane in a similar light as the “war on<br />

terror” suggests that France is using the<br />

justificatory framework of counter-terrorism to<br />

remain involved in the region and benefit from<br />

this involvement. Such benefits include<br />

defending France’s position in the UN, as well<br />

as in the international arena.<br />

Hollande declared, during his<br />

presidential speech at Niemey, “Operation<br />

Barkhane is a structure built to accompany<br />

Africans and allow them to ensure their own<br />

security.” 29 The operation was presented as a<br />

way to regionalize counterterrorist movements,<br />

and to protect both the security of countries in<br />

the West and Central Africa, and that of<br />

France. Hollande has made sure to present<br />

Operation Barkhane under his initial promise<br />

to break away from Françafrique, just as he did<br />

with Operation Serval. There is one distinct<br />

difference, however. Operation Serval was<br />

launched after the interim Malian president<br />

Dioncounda Traoré asked for the assistance of<br />

the UN and of France. Operation Barkhane<br />

has no such precedent; it merely constitutes a<br />

continuation of the work of Operation Serval.<br />

Under Operation Serval, the French<br />

president and his advisors made claims to<br />

support Africans in their own development<br />

and security, when the role played by the<br />

French military was much more significant in<br />

reality. Hollande stated in late 2012, “France<br />

will not, in any case, intervene in Mali.” 30 Due<br />

to UN support, the mission was presented as<br />

multilateral. Once French troops arrived in<br />

Mali, France worked hard to ensure legality<br />

through the UN framework, making the case<br />

for an interpretation of UN Resolution 2085.<br />

This resolution, however, only authorized an<br />

29 Laurent Lagneau, “Selon M. Le Drian, l'objectif de<br />

l'opération Barkhane est “l'éradication du terrorisme<br />

jihadiste,”” Zone Militaire, July 22, 2014, accessed<br />

December 7, 2014,<br />

http://www.opex360.com/2014/07/22/selon-m-ledrian-lobjectif-de-loperation-barkhane-leradicationdu-terrorisme-jihadiste/.<br />

30 Ursula Soares, “Opération militaire au Mali : la<br />

France n’interviendra pas «elle-même»,” Radio France<br />

Internationale, November 13, 2012, accessed<br />

December 1, 2014,<br />

http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20121113-operationmilitaire-mali-france-interviendra-pas-elle-memeunion-africaine-addis-abeba-conseil-securite/.<br />

37 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 37

African-led mission. 31 Bergamaschi and<br />

Diawara claim “France’s decision to<br />

intervene was unilateral,” 32 but more<br />

accurately, it was a bilateral decision,<br />

considering support was in fact requested by<br />

Mali. Had it not been, France may not have<br />

intervened. This is not to say France acted<br />

solely out of obligation or as a response to<br />

Mali’s cry for help, but rather that such a<br />

request provided an opportunity upon<br />

which France could capitalize.<br />

African responses to French<br />

intervention and involvement in the region<br />

are demonstrative of France’s special<br />

relationship with its former colonies.<br />

Despite the domination of the period of<br />

colonization, most countries achieved<br />

independence peacefully and responsibility<br />

rather than blame emerged in the discourse<br />

of the time.<br />


The expectation that France can and<br />

should continue to help its former African<br />

colonies is inextricably linked to the notion<br />

of debt: France’s debt to Africa for the<br />

period of colonization as well as their debt<br />

for African military participation in several<br />

wars including the two world wars. Those<br />

African soldiers who served France are<br />

known as tirailleurs sénégalais (Senegalese<br />

infantrymen), despite recruitment not being<br />

limited to Senegal. It was during this time<br />

that Blaise Diagne, mayor of Dakar,<br />

“cultivated the expectation that those who<br />

served would be rewarded both symbolically<br />

and materially.” 33 This notion of “blood<br />

debt” (dette de sang) or colonial debt is still<br />

noticeably present today.<br />

Hollande was welcomed warmly in<br />

Cote d’Ivoire during his three-nation visit to<br />

31 United Nations, Resolution 2085, December 20,<br />

2012, accessed December 1, 2014,<br />

http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?sy<br />

mbol=S/RES/2085.<br />

32 Bergamaschi and Diawara, “The French military<br />

intervention in Mali: Not exactly Françafrique but<br />

definitely postcolonial,” 143.<br />

33 Gregory Mann, Native sons: West African veterans and<br />

France in the twentieth century, (Durham: Duke<br />

University Press, 2006), 70.<br />

Africa in July 2014. Fraternité Matin, the<br />

local Ivorian governmental news outlet, ran<br />

a piece on the day of the French president’s<br />

visit to Abidjan that stated, “Even if France<br />

does not, at this moment, provide support<br />

economically, she still has a lot to contribute<br />

for the reconstruction of our<br />

infrastructure.” 34 There is a tendency to<br />

think France is responsible for development<br />

in its former colonies: both from citizens of<br />

former French colonies, and from within<br />

the French government itself.<br />

This notion of debt may help to<br />

explain why the French intervention in Mali<br />

was received with such popular support in<br />

the country. During a speech delivered in<br />

Bamako in February 2013, the French<br />

president said, “I remember that when<br />

France was attacked, when she was looking<br />

for assistance and allies, when she was<br />

threatened, when her territorial unity was at<br />

stake, who came to support her then? Africa<br />

did, Mali did, thanks to Mali. Today we are<br />

paying our debt to Mali.” 35 Even the choice<br />

of the Chadian capital N’Djamena as the<br />

headquarters of Operation Barkhane could<br />

be interpreted as a reward for Chad’s timely<br />

intervention in Northern Mali. In early 2013<br />

Chad sent troops to support Operation<br />

Serval, providing essential support to France<br />

with their experience in desert warfare.<br />

During a speech delivered in front of the<br />

French community at N’Djamena<br />

announcing the launch of Operation<br />

Barkhane, Hollande thanked Chad a number<br />

of times, stating, “I wanted to express to<br />

you my gratitude.” 36 His presentation of this<br />

34 Venance Konan, “Akwaba, Hollande!”, Fraternité<br />

Matin, July 17, 2014, accessed December 2, 2014,<br />

http://www.fratmat.info/edito/item/17429-akwabahollande.<br />

35 François Hollande, cited in Bergamaschi and<br />

Diawara, “The French military intervention in Mali:<br />

Not exactly Françafrique but definitely postcolonial,”<br />

146.<br />

36 Francois Hollande, “Discours du président<br />

François Hollande devant la<br />

communauté française à Ndjamena,” Elysee, July 19,<br />

2014, accessed December 5, 2014,<br />

http://www.elysee.fr/assets/pdf/discours-dupresident-François-hollande-devant-la-communautefrancaise-a-ndjamena-2.pdf<br />

38 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 38

new operation within a context of<br />

appreciation demonstrates that a form of<br />

postcolonial debt still exists between France<br />

and its former colonies, and is being used as<br />

a way to justify involvement in the region.<br />

France’s notion of debt to its former<br />

colonies is a dangerous one. It perpetuates a<br />

postcolonial political community that makes<br />

it extremely hard for France to cut ties from<br />

her former African colonies. The notion of<br />

debt is problematic in two ways. First, it<br />

provides a justification for France to stay<br />

involved in African affairs. Second, it<br />

normalizes French involvement in Africa<br />

among the African population.<br />

The central role to be played by<br />

Chad in Operation Barkhane is also<br />

concerning, given that the President of<br />

Chad since 1996, Idriss Déby, is widely<br />

considered to be a dictator. 37 Déby‘s<br />

administration is widely believed to be<br />

responsible for the disappearance of the<br />

opposition leader, Ibni Oumar Mahamat<br />

Saleh. 38 Saleh disappeared after his arrest by<br />

the Chadian government in 2008.<br />

Previously, he served in the Chadian army<br />

and was made commander-in-chief under<br />

Hissène Habré. In 1985, he was removed<br />

from his post and sent to Paris to pursue a<br />

course at the École de Guerre.<br />



One fundamental aspect of<br />

Françafrique has been the close bond shared<br />

by French and African leaders. Many<br />

African leaders at some point attended<br />

university in Paris, or elsewhere in France,<br />

where they met their French counterparts.<br />

This was the case with many prominent<br />

37 Joshua Norman, “The world’s enduring dictators:<br />

Idriss Déby, Chad,” CBS News, June 19, 2011,<br />

accessed December 9, 2014,<br />

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-worldsenduring-dictators-idriss-Déby-chad-19-06-2011/<br />

38 “Chad: Repressive tactics against government<br />

critics must come to an end,” Amnesty International,<br />

October 24, 2013, accessed April 11, <strong>2015</strong>,<br />

https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/news/2013/1<br />

0/chad-repressive-tactics-against-government-criticsmust-come-end/.<br />

figures, of which Leopold Sédar Senghor<br />

and Georges Pompidou are good examples.<br />

Senghor served as Senegal’s first president<br />

for over two decades, and Pompidou was<br />

Prime Minister of France and later President<br />

from 1969 until his death in 1974. Their<br />

friendship began in 1929-30 and Senghor<br />

once admitted in an interview that it was<br />

Pompidou “who converted me to<br />

socialism.” 39 It is interesting to note that<br />

Déby also has this academic connection<br />

with France, but what is even more<br />

concerning is the new relationship between<br />

Hollande and Déby.<br />

Recently, with the announcement of<br />

Operation Barkhane and the use of Chad as<br />

the headquarters of the mission, Hollande<br />

has established diplomatic relations with<br />

Déby. During his speech at N’Djamena on<br />

July 19, 2014, Hollande stated, “We have a<br />

deep seeded relationship of cooperation<br />

with Chad. And a solid and precious<br />

relationship with Déby.” 40 However, one<br />

reporter at the summit tweeted that<br />

Hollande in fact left at the start of Déby’s<br />

speech and only returned upon its close:<br />

“@fhollande has returned to the room to<br />

listen to Paul Biya after blowing off Déby’s<br />

speech @OIFfrancophonie #NAOIF14.” 41<br />

From this account, it seems that the<br />

relationship between the two leaders may<br />

not be as amicable as initially perceived.<br />

This does not, however, diminish the<br />

concern caused by collaborating with a<br />

dictator known to disregard human rights.<br />

It is, of course, far too easy to judge<br />

President Hollande for his actions, especially<br />

in the context of Françafrique, when the<br />

reality is that, “military interventions in Mali<br />

39 Leopold S. Senghor, cited in Jean-François Sirinelli,<br />

“Deux etudiants “coloniaux” à Paris à l’aube des<br />

anneés trente,” Vingtième Siècle, 18, (April – June<br />

1988): 81.<br />

40 Lénaïg Bredoux, “Hollande au Tchad: Comment<br />

Idriss Déby est redevenue le meilleur ami de la<br />

France,” Makaila, plume combattante et indépendante, July<br />

19, 2014, accessed December 3, 2014,<br />

http://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/1907<br />

14/hollande-au-tchad-comment-idriss-Déby-estredevenu-le-meilleur-ami-de-la-france.<br />

41 Thierry Hot’s Twitter account, accessed December<br />

3, 2014, https://twitter.com/Hotthierry1<br />

39 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 39

and Central Afrique mean there is no way<br />

around the despot Idriss Déby.” 42 Chad<br />

holds a very important position<br />

geographically in the region. It is true,<br />

however, that upon his election, Hollande<br />

not only promised at break from the old<br />

days of Françafrique, but also went so far as<br />

to condemn Déby. That has all changed<br />

now, in the name of security, and Chad is<br />

presented as vital, militarily (as proven<br />

during Operation Serval) and geographically,<br />

to the success of Operation Barkhane.<br />


It certainly is problematic to<br />

substantiate claims that Hollande’s actions<br />

comprise a definite return to Françafrique. As<br />

Chafer’s argument highlights, the use of<br />

Françafrique as a tool of analysis<br />

oversimplifies a very complex relationship.<br />

The fact that a relationship exists at all<br />

cannot be construed as Françafrique<br />

behavior, given France’s complicated history<br />

with Africa as well as their economic ties to<br />

the continent. It should be recognized that<br />

France’s role in Africa will always be shaped<br />

by history, by economics, and by<br />

international pressures. France has a very<br />

unique historical position concerning Africa,<br />

and this aspect of the relationship will not<br />

change: it is a factor that will always shape<br />

France’s policy toward Africa. Yet close<br />

historical bonds do not necessarily indicate a<br />

future of Françafrique, just as the very<br />

existence of a close relationship doesn’t<br />

immediately indicate a return to Françafrique.<br />

The root of the problem may be that<br />

Hollande’s promise to break with<br />

Françafrique was simply too ambitious, and<br />

unrealistic. The mistake the president has<br />

made is not in simply maintaining a<br />

relationship with former colonies, or even<br />

supporting them (this may very well always<br />

be the case due to deep historical roots), but<br />

with trying to utterly deny the power of<br />

such a deep-seeded bond as he did back in<br />

2012. Hollande’s presidency has proven that<br />

42 Bredoux, “Hollande au Tchad.”<br />

completely avoiding Africa is not a viable<br />

option for France. As Mustapha Tossa,<br />

editor-in-chief of Monte Carlo Doualiya,<br />

France 24’s Arabic language sister radio<br />

station, explains, “The fact is, France was<br />

forced to intervene in Africa, to be present<br />

militarily in a number of African countries,<br />

which requires a type<br />

of Françafrique behavior. So, Françafrique is<br />

still alive under François Hollande. And I<br />

do not see how he can get rid of it since<br />

France is so engulfed in protecting its allies<br />

and interests in the region.” 43 It is for this<br />

reason that no matter how lightly President<br />

Hollande treads in Africa; he will always fall<br />

under criticism concerning the Françafrique<br />

nature of his policies, as will presidents to<br />

come.<br />

While it is right to be skeptical of<br />

President Hollande’s motivations behind<br />

Operation Serval and Operation Barkhane,<br />

it is most certainly true that thus far, he has<br />

proceeded with more caution toward Africa<br />

than any other president before him.<br />

Hollande’s desire to lead France away from<br />

Françafrique may be genuine, but reality and<br />

circumstance will not permit him to fully<br />

follow through on his promise.<br />


ROCA is a Masters<br />

student in Journalism<br />

and French Studies at<br />

NYU. An avid learner of<br />

new cultures and<br />

languages, she hails<br />

from the UK, but has<br />

Spanish heritage.<br />

Carmen is working<br />

toward a career in<br />

journalism - currently a<br />

local news junkie - but she hopes to spend<br />

her post-NYU days reporting<br />

internationally. This summer she will travel<br />

to Haiti to report for her thesis and on other<br />

stories.<br />

43 Mustapha Tossa, quoted in Jacinto, “It’s time for<br />

Africa again as Hollande starts three-nation visit.”<br />

40 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 40

China’s Economic<br />

Espionage<br />

Stealing, Not Destroying<br />

Reema Hibrawi<br />

This paper seeks to examine the<br />

economic espionage threat to the<br />

national security of the United States<br />

from the Chinese government in the private<br />

and public sector. In this paper, economic<br />

espionage will refer to the unauthorized<br />

access and use of information by a foreign<br />

entity for strategic, tactical, or economic<br />

purposes. 1 The theft of trade secrets with the<br />

intent of an economic benefit by a foreign<br />

power, also falls under economic espionage. 2<br />

The key research questions of this paper are:<br />

1) Which U.S. targets are pursued by the<br />

Chinese government? 2) Why is China<br />

engaging in economic espionage against the<br />

U.S.? 3) What are the implications for U.S.<br />

national security?<br />

This paper seeks to specifically discuss<br />

the economic, military, and security risks to<br />

U.S. national security. Economic risks include<br />

the loss of trade secrets and competitive<br />

advantage. Military risks include the theft of<br />

strategic information on operations,<br />

equipment, and personnel. 3 Security risks refer<br />

1 Economic Espionage Act of 1996: Title 18 Crimes and<br />

Criminal Procedure, Part I Crimes, Chapter 90<br />

Protection of Trade Secrets, Pub. L. No. 104-294, 110<br />

Stat. 3488 (Oct. 11, 1996), codified at 18 U.S.C. §1831.<br />

Passed as part of the National Information Infrastructure<br />

Protection Act of 1996.<br />

2 Charles Doyle, “Stealing Trade Secrets and Economic<br />

Espionage: An Overview of 18 U.S.C. 1831 and 1832,”<br />

Congressional Research Service (July 25, 2014).<br />

3 Testimony of Larry M. Wortzel, “Cyber Espionage<br />

and the Theft of US Intellectual Property and<br />

Technology,” before the House of Representatives,<br />

to infrastructure and government functions<br />

that rely on digital networks. The main focus<br />

will be on Chinese government network<br />

exploitation and attacks, as well as intellectual<br />

property theft. 4<br />

The analysis predicts that the Chinese<br />

government will continue to focus on<br />

persistent and aggressive economic espionage<br />

of the United States. This judgment is made<br />

due to the vast information from private<br />

security consulting and public intelligence<br />

agencies on attacks originating from China,<br />

and the current Chinese cyber strategy. It is<br />

less clear how the Chinese will continue to use<br />

economic espionage as a tool to maintain their<br />

economic growth. This uncertainty is due to<br />

the opaque and complex internal strategy on<br />

China’s economic espionage. This may or may<br />

not be the main tool or focus for China’s<br />

economic growth moving forward. Just as<br />

uncertain but highly probable is that the<br />

Chinese will continue to resist ratifying an<br />

international legal framework for cyber<br />

monitoring and security that is restrictive.<br />

This is based on failed negotiations in the<br />

past, and China’s continued focus on<br />

maintaining legitimacy through its domestic<br />

and foreign policies.<br />


Historically, China is not known for<br />

its prowess in modernity. It has lagged behind<br />

the U.S. in innovation and resources in much<br />

of the 20 th Century. China was inefficient,<br />

stagnant, and poor due to tight economic<br />

control and isolation by the state. 5 A shift<br />

occurred in the late 1970’s, with the<br />

Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee<br />

on Oversight and Investigations (July 9, 2013).<br />

4 Mark Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, 6 th<br />

Edition (Sage/CQ Press, 2014), 456.<br />

5 Wayne Morrison, “China’s Economic Rise: History,<br />

Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United<br />

States,” Congressional Research Service (October 9, 2014).<br />

41 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 41

implementation of free market reforms 6 China<br />

continued to push for foreign direct<br />

investment (FDI) to this economic<br />

development. 7 It has become more influential<br />

as a result of improving its technology and<br />

intelligence capabilities. 8 This includes the<br />

modernization of its signal intelligence<br />

(SIGINT). 9 It has also shown space-borne<br />

capabilities in the form of anti-satellite<br />

(ASAT) tests in 2007 and 2013. 10 In the<br />

education sector, the state has emphasized<br />

science fields to continue this growth. There<br />

has since been an increase in Chinese students<br />

attending physics and computer science<br />

programs in U.S. universities and graduate<br />

programs. 11 This is seen as both an effort to<br />

modernize the population and develop cyber<br />

hacking capabilities for state use. The aim of<br />

modernizing into an information and<br />

industrial society has inspired the<br />

Informatization Plan of 2006. 12 One of the<br />

main goals is to close the digital divide. 13<br />

China is on track to do just that as illustrated<br />

by its successful economic espionage on U.S.<br />

civilian and military organizations. 14 With its<br />

growing power as a world economy and<br />

6 Beina Xu and Eleanor Albert, “The Chinese<br />

Communist Party: Backgrounders,” Council on Foreign<br />

Relations (November 17, 2014).<br />

7 Jim Lewis, “China Economic Reform Timeline: Jim<br />

Lewis Blog,” Center for Strategic & International Studies<br />

(December 11, 2014).<br />

8 Wayne Morrison, “China’s Economic Rise: History,<br />

Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United<br />

States,” Congressional Research Service (October 9, 2014).<br />

9 Mark Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, 456.<br />

10 Ibid.<br />

11 Ibid.<br />

12 Amy Chang, “Warring State: China’s Cybersecurity<br />

Strategy,” Center for New American Security (December<br />

2014).<br />

13 Zhongzhou Li, “China’s Information Strategy and its<br />

Impact on Trade in ICT Goods and ICT Services,”<br />

UNCTAD Expert Meeting, in Support of the<br />

Implementation and Follow-Up of WSIS: Using ICTs<br />

to Achieve Growth and Development (December<br />

2006).<br />

14 Ibid.<br />

increasing need for resources, Chinese<br />

intelligence and technology capabilities have<br />

improved to meet these demands.<br />


Along with these developments, the<br />

cyber domain is relatively new and<br />

unregulated, which makes economic<br />

espionage without consequences more<br />

prevalent. There are no legal frameworks to<br />

monitor cyber security at the international<br />

level, 15 and no precedent exists in policy at the<br />

domestic or international level. 16 The<br />

sovereignty of digital information is a point of<br />

contention between states like China and the<br />

U.S.; China prefers a more flexible<br />

interpretation which will not affect its<br />

domestic and political stability. 17 This has led<br />

to stalled agreements on international cyber<br />

security and norms. 18 The U.S. infrastructure<br />

is reliant on digital networks for its electricity,<br />

water, transportation, flight travel, and the<br />

economy. 19 Like most industrialized states, the<br />

U.S. is more vulnerable to economic<br />

espionage due to the level of integration<br />

between digital networks and national<br />

infrastructure. 20 Government social services<br />

like healthcare, industry, and commerce have<br />

transferred to digital structures. Besides the<br />

government, the public also is increasing its<br />

use and trust of digital technologies. 21 One<br />

third of the world is digitally connected and<br />

15 James Clapper, Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US<br />

Intelligence Community (January 29, 2014).<br />

16 Michael Hayden, “The Future of Things ‘Cyber’,”<br />

Strategic Studies Quarterly (<strong>Spring</strong> 2011).<br />

17 Amy Chang, “Warring State: China’s Cybersecurity<br />

Strategy,” Center for New American Security (December<br />

2014).<br />

18 Ibid.<br />

19 White House Online, “International Strategy for<br />

Cyberspace” (May 2011).<br />

20 James Clapper. Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US<br />

Intelligence Community (January 29, 2014).<br />

21 Ibid.<br />

42 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 42

this is likely to increase as more countries<br />

modernize and develop technology. 22<br />

For these reasons, the Director of<br />

National Intelligence (DNI) threat assessment<br />

of 2013 lists cyber security as a current and<br />

growing future threat to the U.S. and<br />

highlights China and Russia as the most<br />

pervasive and persistent in attacks against the<br />

U.S. 23 Chinese programs infiltrated over 1,295<br />

computers in 103 nations. 24 They target U.S.<br />

national defense and national lab sites, 25 as<br />

well as cyber and technology firms. 26 These<br />

are substantial motivations for cyber security<br />

and protection from economic espionage as a<br />

key strategic initiative for the most recent<br />

Department of Defense (DoD) strategy of<br />

2011. 27 The executive branch also lists<br />

cybercrime as a key focus in the White House<br />

International Strategy for Cyberspace. 28<br />


China has persistently denied<br />

existence of cyber units or economic<br />

espionage. It describes these claims as<br />

fictitious and baseless. 29 In 2010, of 614<br />

known advanced persistent threats (APT)<br />

with distinct IP addresses attacking<br />

infrastructure systems, 100% were found<br />

22 Ibid.<br />

23 Ibid.<br />

24 A study undertaken by the University of Toronto in<br />

2009, in Mark Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to<br />

Policy, 457.<br />

25 Mark Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, 457.<br />

26 Mandiant Online. “APT1: Exposing One of China’s<br />

Cyber Espionage Units.” A private security consulting<br />

service periodically releases cyber threat reports against<br />

the US and private sector companies.<br />

27 Department of Defense, “Department of Defense<br />

Strategy for Operations in Cyberspace” (July 2011).<br />

28 White House Online, “International Strategy for<br />

Cyberspace” (May 2011).<br />

29 Adam Segal, “Axiom and the Deepening Divide in<br />

U.S – China Cyber Relations,” Council on Foreign<br />

Relations (October 29, 2014).<br />

operating out of Shanghai. 30 A prominent<br />

espionage unit, referred to as APT1, has<br />

instigated massive attacks and continues to<br />

steal huge quantities of information.<br />

Hundreds of investigations on economic<br />

espionage found that most activities<br />

originated in China and with government<br />

knowledge. 31 The extent of the attacks and<br />

resilience of the group suggest they have<br />

strong financial backing in addition to a<br />

sophisticated structure. With the highly<br />

monitored Chinese environment, it is unlikely<br />

the state is unaware. Evidence suggests the<br />

state must be supporting these activities<br />

because its attacks have not stopped. 32 The<br />

top industries include information technology,<br />

high-tech electronics, aerospace, public<br />

administration, and satellites and<br />

telecommunications. 33 Strong evidence shows<br />

that APT1 is Unit 61398 which is the People’s<br />

Liberation Army (PLA) Third Department<br />

cyber espionage unit. Cyber activity originates<br />

in the same area where Unit 61398 is<br />

located. 34 The same structure, mission, and<br />

methodology exists in both units. The<br />

similarities between the two groups are<br />

difficult to ignore. The sophistication and<br />

investment in this espionage unit explains the<br />

assessment of China continuing persistent<br />

economic espionage against the U.S. as likely.<br />

The U.S. must continue to prepare for China’s<br />

espionage activities.<br />

Of exemplary importance, Unit 61398<br />

targets civilian technology and proprietary<br />

information. Evidence shows that APT1<br />

started stealing data as early as 2006. 35<br />

Information that is targeted includes strategic<br />

plans, goals, calendar items, optimization<br />

30 Mandiant Online. “APT1: Exposing One of China’s<br />

Cyber Espionage Units,” 2013.<br />

31 Ibid.<br />

32 Ibid.<br />

33 Ibid.<br />

34 Ibid.<br />

35 Mandiant Online. “Trends: Beyond the Breach, 2014<br />

Threat Report.”<br />

43 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 43

processes, and joint venture information. 36<br />

This suggests that the attacks are meant to<br />

understand how executives and decision<br />

makers think. 37 China is looking to gain<br />

influence through several means: economic,<br />

political, diplomatic, and military platforms.<br />

China-based attacks steal ideas and the<br />

process to developing those ideas. The cost<br />

for these activities is minimal. Risk is low and<br />

gaining access to large quantities of<br />

information can be done quickly by<br />

manipulating networks, e-mail, and digital<br />

downloads to external storage devices. 38<br />

Detection is difficult over networks because<br />

the location of the perpetrator can also be<br />

masked. 39<br />

U.S. private sector firms, academia,<br />

and private citizens of various countries are<br />

prime targets for China. Evidence shows that<br />

Marathon Oil, ExxonMobil, and<br />

ConocoPhillips were hacked in the summer of<br />

2008 and lost data detailing the quantity,<br />

value, and location of oil discoveries around<br />

the world. The loss of such data per company<br />

ranges in the millions of dollars. 40 The<br />

Chinese are the most pervasive and relentless<br />

actors in economic espionage, besides<br />

Russia. 41 The U.S. is the leader in<br />

technological and economic development<br />

which makes it a target by its competitors, and<br />

especially China. 42 Information and stolen<br />

data is provided to Chinese state owned<br />

enterprises which cuts costs, research and<br />

development timelines, and improves the<br />

competitive edge of these industries. 43 The<br />

economy as a whole can also be damaged by<br />

the compromise of private sector trade<br />

secrets, which can affect job creation, profits,<br />

and future innovation. 44<br />

Military economic espionage has<br />

targeted several DoD weapons systems<br />

including ballistic-missile defense systems,<br />

Black Hawk helicopters, and combat ships. 45<br />

Military operations and the individuals<br />

involved are compromised when military<br />

documents are stolen. China seeks<br />

information on the manufacture of weapons<br />

and their systems to replicate and counter<br />

their designs. This is an effort to modernize<br />

the state and improve its military capabilities.<br />

Evidence of this is seen through its antisatellite<br />

tests to counter U.S. military use of<br />

satellites for offensive behavior. 46 More<br />

specifically, evidence has also shown that<br />

Chinese hackers stole classified information in<br />

February 2012 about the technology behind<br />

the F-35 joint strike fighters. 47<br />


Currently, China’s cyber strategy is an<br />

extension of its national security strategy. This<br />

36 Ibid.<br />

37 Ibid.<br />

38 “Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in<br />

Cyberspace,” Counterintelligence Security, Office of<br />

the National Counterintelligence Executive, Report to<br />

Congress on Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial<br />

Espionage, 2009-2011 (October 2011).<br />

39 Ibid.<br />

40 “Cybersecurity: A list of significant cyber events<br />

since 2006,” Center for Strategic and International<br />

Studies (April <strong>2015</strong>).<br />

41 “Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in<br />

Cyberspace,” Counterintelligence Security, Office of<br />

the National Counterintelligence Executive, Report to<br />

Congress on Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial<br />

Espionage, 2009-2011 (October 2011).<br />

42 Ibid.<br />

43 Testimony of Larry M. Wortzel, “Cyber Espionage<br />

and the Theft of US Intellectual Property and<br />

Technology,” before the House of Representatives,<br />

Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee<br />

on Oversight and Investigations (July 9, 2013).<br />

44 “Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in<br />

Cyberspace,” Counterintelligence Security, Office of<br />

the National Counterintelligence Executive, Report to<br />

Congress on Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial<br />

Espionage, 2009-2011 (October 2011).<br />

45 Ibid.<br />

46 Mark Lowenthal. Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, 457.<br />

47 “Cybersecurity: A List of Significant Cyber Events<br />

Since 2006,” Center for Strategic and International<br />

Studies (April <strong>2015</strong>).<br />

44 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 44

is to maintain legitimacy of the Chinese<br />

Communist Party (CCP). It is likely China will<br />

resist ratifying an international legal<br />

framework to maintain legitimacy. The CCP<br />

maintains legitimacy by ensuring domestic<br />

stability, military modernization, economic<br />

growth, and territorial integrity. 48<br />

In order to become a better innovator<br />

of information and industry, Chinese<br />

domestic policy needs to focus on technology<br />

and science and the current leader in both<br />

technology and innovation is the U.S. It<br />

follows that China’s main targets are U.S.<br />

private companies, military, and government.<br />

Chinese economic espionage serves several<br />

purposes: political, military, and economic. 49<br />

China is simultaneously maintaining<br />

legitimacy, anticipating cyber conflict, and<br />

growing its economy. For these reasons, it is<br />

likely that China would use economic<br />

espionage as an integral tool for economic<br />

growth and other domestic policy objectives.<br />

Understanding that China seeks economic<br />

espionage for several reasons, mostly to<br />

maintain power and economic growth, is<br />

important in anticipating future U.S. targets.<br />

It has been argued that China is using<br />

economic espionage solely for military<br />

offensive strategy or economic growth. Either<br />

premise is too simplistic and overlooks the<br />

Chinese style of governance in the last<br />

century. As previously mentioned, a major<br />

objective of the CCP is to maintain its<br />

legitimacy. All policies, both domestic and<br />

foreign, are shaped by this priority of self-<br />

48 “Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in<br />

Cyberspace,” Counterintelligence Security, Office of<br />

the National Counterintelligence Executive, Report to<br />

Congress on Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial<br />

Espionage, 2009-2011 (October 2011).<br />

49 James Lewis and Simon Hansen, “China’s<br />

cyberpower: International and Domestic Priorities,”<br />

Australian Strategic Policy Institute (November 12, 2014).<br />

preservation. 50 Because a major objective of<br />

the CCP is to maintain its political legitimacy,<br />

it is prone to using economic espionage to<br />

meet both objectives—military prowess and<br />

economic development, as both are important<br />

contributors to CCP’s legitimacy. The<br />

combination of military and economic growth<br />

is a stronger method of maintaining authority<br />

than either alone. The CCP has been in power<br />

for over eighty years, and has remained in<br />

power by maintaining political and economic<br />

stability. 51 Chinese President Xi Jingping has<br />

also emphasized the importance of cyber<br />

technology in China’s pursuit of power<br />

through the 2006 Informatization Plan, and in<br />

recent national security law drafted specifically<br />

to establish “systems of cyber and<br />

information security and national cyber<br />

sovereignty.” 52 This law highlights the<br />

importance of cyber technology and security<br />

for Xi and the CCP in maintaining legitimacy.<br />

Economic espionage is likely to continue to<br />

be a tool for that end.<br />

The U.S. does not have complete<br />

information about the motivations and<br />

patterns of Chinese economic espionage. This<br />

is because not every Chinese economic<br />

espionage attack has been successful or<br />

detected. 53 The limitations of the CCP cyber<br />

strategy is also unknown. Few public<br />

50 Amy Chang, “Warring State: China’s Cybersecurity<br />

Strategy,” Center for New American Security (December,<br />

2014).<br />

51 Beina Xu; Eleanor Albert, “The Chinese Communist<br />

Party: Backgrounders,” Council on Foreign Relations<br />

(November 17, 2014) ; Amy Chang, “Warring State:<br />

China’s Cybersecurity Strategy,” Center for New American<br />

Security (December 2014).<br />

52 “China defines overall national security outlook in<br />

draft law,” People’s Daily (April 20, <strong>2015</strong>).<br />

53 Testimony of Dr. Larry M. Wortzel before the<br />

House Armed Services Committee, “China’s Military<br />

Modernization and Cyber Activities,” Strategic Studies<br />

Quarterly 8, no. 1: 3-22. International Security and Counter<br />

Terrorism Reference Center (<strong>Spring</strong> 2014).<br />

45 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 45

documents exist on this secretive program. 54<br />

There are assumptions that the CCP would<br />

not steal information that could be seen as an<br />

act of war. Yet there is no evidence from the<br />

CCP or Xi if this assumption is accurate. The<br />

CCP may have its own unspoken rules about<br />

what to collect and what not to prioritize.<br />

This standard may be an understanding within<br />

the top leadership culture, not documented<br />

officially, and also kept secret.<br />

The highest priority for the Chinese<br />

government is maintaining domestic stability.<br />

If this were to change, China would be forced<br />

to focus on domestic rather than foreign<br />

policy. It is not likely that espionage acts<br />

would stop, but the attacks would decrease as<br />

focus is shifted to the domestic sphere and<br />

managing censorship or internal attacks. If<br />

China agrees to ratify an international legal<br />

framework, this might also alter the structure<br />

of China’s economic espionage units. China<br />

still believes it needs the information provided<br />

by its economic espionage units to modernize<br />

and grow, so again economic espionage would<br />

continue.<br />


The aim of Chinese espionage has<br />

historically been to gain an economic edge<br />

over its competitors. Because espionage has<br />

been a relatively low-cost method to obtain<br />

important technology for economic<br />

development, and because China needs these<br />

technologies at its current level of<br />

development, it is likely that such economic<br />

espionage will continue. On the other hand,<br />

this paper has found that China has not used<br />

its stolen information for military aggression,<br />

although it targets military intelligence in both<br />

nuclear and satellite classified information. 55 It<br />

is unlikely China will have a major cyber-<br />

54 Amy Chang, “Warring State: China’s Cybersecurity<br />

Strategy,” Center for New American Security (December,<br />

2014).<br />

55 Ibid.<br />

attack on U.S. infrastructure that would cause<br />

wide scale disruption. 56 It is also unlikely<br />

China will use cyber warfare in the next three<br />

years unless it believes its vital interest, the<br />

political legitimacy of the CCP regime, is<br />

violated.<br />


Chang, Amy. “Warring State: China’s<br />

Cybersecurity Strategy.” Center for New<br />

American Security. December, 2014.<br />

“Cybersecurity: A List of Significant Cyber Events<br />

Since 2006.” Center for Strategic and<br />

International Studies, April <strong>2015</strong>.<br />

Mandiant Online. “APT1: Exposing One of<br />

China’s Cyber Espionage<br />

Units.” https://www.mandiant.com/resource<br />

s/mandiant-reports/.<br />

Segal, Adam. “Axiom and the Deepening Divide<br />

in the U.S – China Cyber Relations.” Council<br />

on Foreign Relations: Net Politics. October 29,<br />

2014.<br />

White House Online. “International Strategy for<br />

Cyberspace.” May 2011.<br />

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/fil<br />

es/rss_viewer/international_strategy_for_cyb<br />

erspace.pdf.<br />

Wong, Edward. “For China, Cybersecurity is Part<br />

of Strategy for Protecting the Communist<br />

Party.” The New York Times. December, 3,<br />

2014.<br />

56 Adam Segal, “The code not taken: China, the United<br />

States, and the future of cyber espionage,” Bulletin of the<br />

Atomic Scientists (2013).<br />

46 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 46

Reema Hibrawi is a Syrian-American with an<br />

international background having lived and<br />

studied in the Middle East, Europe, and the US.<br />

Her educational background includes a<br />

Bachelor's of Science in Business<br />

Administration with a focus in HR, and<br />

currently is pursuing a Master's of Arts in<br />

International Relations at New York University.<br />

Currently a corporate planning intern at the<br />

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) her career<br />

goals include continuing to work on<br />

international affairs and project management<br />

within civil society and international<br />

organizations, or think tanks with a<br />

concentration on post-conflict development,<br />

and diplomacy and civil society.<br />

47 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 47

The Anti-Communist<br />

Myth<br />

A critical examination of<br />

aggregate U.S. foreign policy<br />

analysis of the Cold War<br />

Dylan Heyden<br />

With the exception of being<br />

located on the same continent,<br />

there are perhaps no two South<br />

American countries that are more different<br />

than Argentina and Bolivia. Still, in light of<br />

their differences it is quite common for<br />

scholars to lump the two together along<br />

with other South and Central American<br />

countries when analyzing U.S. foreign<br />

policy pertaining to Latin America. This<br />

tendency is most evident in scholarly<br />

analysis of the Cold War era that often<br />

frames U.S. foreign policy decisions as<br />

being exclusively anti-communist.<br />

This paper examines U.S. foreign<br />

policy toward Argentina and Bolivia during<br />

the presidential administration of Richard<br />

Nixon. It postulates that the U.S. support<br />

of a coup in Bolivia and lack thereof in<br />

Argentina indicate the administration’s<br />

nuanced approach in foreign policymaking.<br />

It also argues that anti-communism was<br />

only one of a variety of factors to influence<br />

U.S. interventions in the region. This<br />

analysis seeks to expand current views on<br />

the transitory nature of Richard Nixon’s<br />

presidency vis-à-vis the Cold War, and the<br />

calculative and meticulous nature of the<br />

Richard Nixon-Henry Kissinger foreign<br />

policy-making mechanism. To do so, the<br />

first section will provide background<br />

information about the issue at hand—<br />

aggregated analysis that paints U.S. policy<br />

in Latin America with a broad brush. The<br />

second section will explain the historical<br />

context of the U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia,<br />

and its precursors. The third section will<br />

highlight the parallel sociopolitical situation<br />

in Argentina and identify a few similarities.<br />

The concluding section demonstrates that<br />

because the purely anti-communist thesis<br />

breaks down in the comparison of just two<br />

case studies, nuanced analysis that focuses<br />

on individual countries is more apt to<br />

explain the variety of factors guiding U.S.<br />

foreign policy decisions during the Cold<br />

War era.<br />


Argentina and Bolivia occupy the<br />

same continent, share an official<br />

language—Spanish—but have little else in<br />

common. The first, a particularly large<br />

country with a culture of tango, mate, and<br />

strong European roots, takes pride in its<br />

heritage of gauchos de La Pampa<br />

(romanticized “cowboys”), asados<br />

(barbecues), and contributions to Latin<br />

American literature. Argentina has an<br />

immense coastline, but its crown jewel is its<br />

vibrant capital city, Buenos Aires, which is<br />

often referred to as the Paris of South<br />

America. Bolivia, on the other hand, is<br />

landlocked (and has been since the 19 th<br />

century). This is in some ways analogous to<br />

its current geopolitical predicament—being<br />

backed into a corner by three major South<br />

American players: Chile, Argentina, and<br />

Brazil. Bolivia is also smaller both in area<br />

and population than most of its neighbors<br />

(inhabitants number 10.5 million whereas<br />

the Buenos Aires metro area alone boasts<br />

15 million). 1 The ethnic makeup of Bolivia,<br />

1 Central Intelligence Agency, “South America:<br />

Bolivia,” The World Factbook.<br />

https://www.cia.gov/llibrary/publications/theworld-factbook/geos/bl.html;<br />

Central Intelligence<br />

48 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 48

which is mostly indigenous, is also of stark<br />

contrast to the country’s paler Argentinian<br />

counterparts, and the people’s habit of<br />

choice is chewing coca leaves or steeping<br />

them in a tea as opposed to drinking mate.<br />

In spite of these differences, it is<br />

quite common for scholars to focus their<br />

analysis of the impacts of U.S. foreign<br />

policy on the region—grouping the two<br />

countries together along with other South<br />

American nations and even Mexico, the<br />

Caribbean, and Central America. This is<br />

especially true in the context of the Cold<br />

War. For instance, Peter H. Smith says of<br />

the period that:<br />

The United States sought to<br />

extend and consolidate its<br />

political supremacy<br />

throughout the hemisphere.<br />

Launching an anticommunist<br />

crusade, the United States<br />

institutionalized military and<br />

political alliances with the<br />

nations of the region [and]<br />

offered to collaborate with<br />

authoritarian regimes so long<br />

as they were anticommunist. 2<br />

He argues, “By the mid 1950s,<br />

Washington laid down policy lines that<br />

would continue through the 1980s.” 3<br />

Spanning nearly 44 years (1947-1991), any<br />

claims about “Latin American” history, or<br />

U.S. foreign policy with respect to the<br />

region during this time deserve a great deal<br />

more nuance. While the Cold War was a<br />

period often characterized by monolithic<br />

anti-communist foreign policy, U.S. foreign<br />

policy towards Latin America was much<br />

Agency “Country Comparison: GDP - per Capita<br />

(PPP),” The World Factbook.<br />

2 Peter H. Smith, Talons of the Eagle: Dynamics of U.S.-<br />

Latin American Relations (New York: Oxford UP,<br />

1996), 117.<br />

3 Ibid.<br />

more fluid, and varied from country to<br />

country. The goal of the United States for<br />

Latin America as early as the mid-1950s, as<br />

Smith identifies, was to mitigate the<br />

“communist threat”. 4 The strategies of<br />

doing so, however, and the value ascribed<br />

to this policy depended as much on the<br />

global and regional context as on the<br />

person sitting in the oval office. Even a<br />

blanket statement like the “threat of<br />

communism” does not take into<br />

consideration the continuum of populist<br />

and leftist movements that had to be<br />

evaluated by U.S. foreign policy makers for<br />

their viability as threats to the United<br />

States. Moreover, different U.S. officials<br />

would likely describe what constitutes a<br />

threat differently.<br />

Shrouded in mystery, due in part to<br />

the social peculiarities of both figures, the<br />

Nixon-Kissinger relationship with respect<br />

to U.S. foreign policy is often represented<br />

as quintessentially Cold War. Early in his<br />

presidency, Nixon was an anti-communist<br />

ideologue with the primary objective of<br />

stopping the spread of communism. 5<br />

Kissinger, however, was very much a<br />

product of the realist school of thought in<br />

international relations and viewed power<br />

and its maintenance and protection as<br />

being at the core of the pursuit of U.S.<br />

interests. It was ultimately Kissinger’s<br />

realist approach in the calculation of<br />

foreign policy that came to heavily<br />

influence Nixon. 6 The vision of the duo as<br />

manipulative architects, bending<br />

international actors to their will for the<br />

sake of an anti-communist crusade,<br />

4 Ibid.<br />

5 Larry Ceplair, Anti-communism in Twentieth-century<br />

America: A Critical History (Santa Barbara, CA:<br />

Praeger, 2011), 144.<br />

6 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Volume E-10, eds. Erin Mahan and Edward C.<br />

Keefer (Washington: Government Printing Office,<br />

2010), Preface.<br />

49 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 49

though, is overstated—at least insofar as<br />

the belief that they were motivated solely<br />

by the perception that communism as an<br />

ideology was an inherent danger. This is<br />

illustrated by the U.S. intervention in<br />

Bolivia and lack thereof in Argentina<br />

during the Nixon administration.<br />

In both Bolivia and Argentina there<br />

existed similar characteristics that would<br />

have satisfied the pretexts for intervention<br />

if ideology were the primary motivation.<br />

However, because the U.S. response to the<br />

situations in both countries proved to be<br />

more discerning, the “crusade against<br />

communism” thesis loses credibility.<br />

Instead, it is likely that ideology was not a<br />

primary concern. Rather, a confluence of<br />

factors influenced Nixon and Kissinger in<br />

their decision-making processes including<br />

economic interests, U.S. national security,<br />

and continued preeminence in the region.<br />

Insofar as the rise of popular politicians in<br />

Latin America threatened geopolitical<br />

order, Nixon-Kissinger policy sought to<br />

squash it. When less viable threats were<br />

identified, though, there existed more<br />

political and ideological liberty for Latin<br />

American leaders than many scholars<br />

identify.<br />



In April 1971, the United States<br />

supported a coup d’état in Bolivia that<br />

brought Hugo Banzer to power. The<br />

growing revolutionary fervor that justified<br />

this intervention in the eyes of the United<br />

States began with the non-democratic<br />

ascension of René Barrientos Ortuño to<br />

the presidency in 1964. He promised to<br />

realign Bolivia on the path of revolution<br />

that began in 1952 and later fizzled.<br />

Barrientos Ortuño believed that the<br />

previous 12-year regime of single party rule<br />

in the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement<br />

(MNR) had been led astray. 7 While<br />

Bolivia’s economy greatly benefited from<br />

Barrientos’ policies, he found few<br />

supporters particularly in the rural regions<br />

due to his continued efforts to subdue the<br />

labor force. After Barrientos’ untimely<br />

demise in 1969, General Alfredo Ovando<br />

Candia, who had been co-president with<br />

Barrientos until January 1966, assumed the<br />

presidency. 8<br />

Partially aligning himself with the<br />

populist contingent of the increasingly<br />

radical public, Ovando sought to end<br />

Bolivia’s favoritism of the U.S. by<br />

nationalizing Gulf Oil Company’s holdings.<br />

In a memo to the President dated<br />

September 26, 1969, Kissinger argued that<br />

Ovando’s presidency could threaten U.S.<br />

interests. In particular he stated that:<br />

Mining and oil<br />

investments…will<br />

undoubtedly be affected by<br />

the change of government.<br />

Gulf Oil, which has drawn<br />

fire in the Bolivian congress<br />

and press, will probably be<br />

the first to feel pressure at<br />

least in the form of requests<br />

for greater share of profits<br />

through higher taxes,<br />

royalties or creation of mixed<br />

companies. 9<br />

7 Dennis M. Hanratty & Rex A. Hudson, “A<br />

Country Study: Bolivia,” Country Studies, Library of<br />

Congress Federal Research Division, December<br />

1989.<br />

8 Ibid. The official story is that Barrientos died in a<br />

helicopter crash, but many of the details are still<br />

unknown. There is speculation that his death may<br />

have been part of some sort of plot, but this has not<br />

been proven.<br />

9 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Volume E-10, eds. Erin Mahan and Edward C.<br />

Keefer (Washington: Government Printing Office,<br />

2010), Document 79.<br />

50 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 50

While correctly predicting that Gulf Oil<br />

holdings would be compromised by regime<br />

change, Kissinger’s predictions of potential<br />

outcomes proved much less severe. After<br />

Ovando elected to nationalize Gulf Oil<br />

holdings, Kissinger mentioned in another<br />

memo to President Nixon, “nationalization<br />

of Gulf, the largest foreign investment, was<br />

in many ways a ‘revolutionary’ symbol and<br />

a watershed…The nationalistic<br />

elements…moved suddenly.” 10 Kissinger’s<br />

memo expresses concern for U.S.<br />

“interests,” in this case economic, and also<br />

a concern for “revolution” and<br />

“nationalism,” but neither are directly<br />

rooted in the threat of communism. In<br />

this way, the origins of what would become<br />

the deteriorating political situation in<br />

Bolivia were not of ideological concern at<br />

the onset. Only insofar as they led to<br />

policies in Bolivia that threatened U.S.<br />

private interests did Kissinger choose to<br />

highlight them.<br />

Over the course of his presidency,<br />

Ovando’s oscillation between populist and<br />

nationalist rhetoric, while in some instances<br />

courting the right, further polarized the<br />

country and the military. This paved the<br />

way for the coup against him and the<br />

emergence of José Torres González.<br />

Torres was a left-wing general who took an<br />

even more aggressive stance against the<br />

United States. Although at times, Kissinger<br />

alluded to the fact that Torres might have<br />

pursued a moderate course with U.S.<br />

support, and that members of Torres’<br />

cabinet were fairly moderate. 11 During this<br />

time, the U.S. pursued a policy of selling<br />

tin to Bolivia from the U.S. government’s<br />

stockpile, which ended indefinitely on<br />

April 9, 1971. 12 Torres’ response shortly<br />

after was “favorable” according to a note<br />

from Kissinger to Nixon. The memo<br />

states, “[Torres] said he valued cordial<br />

relations with the U.S. ‘more than with any<br />

other country’ and he took your action as a<br />

clear sign of the U.S. concern for Bolivia<br />

and for its problems.” 13 What remains<br />

unclear is what later provoked Torres to<br />

expel the Peace Corps from Bolivia.<br />

Regardless, a transcribed conversation<br />

from two months later illustrates Kissinger<br />

and Nixon’s concerns regarding Bolivia,<br />

and potentially orchestrating a coup. The<br />

text reads:<br />

(Kissinger): We are having a<br />

major problem in Bolivia,<br />

too… I’ve told Karamessines<br />

to crank up an operation<br />

post-haste…<br />

(Nixon): What does<br />

Karamessines think we need?<br />

A coup?<br />

(Kissinger): We’ll see what<br />

we can, whether—in what<br />

context. They’re going to<br />

squeeze us out in another<br />

two months. They’ve already<br />

gotten rid of the Peace<br />

Corps, which is an asset, but<br />

now they want to get rid of<br />

USIA and military people…<br />

(Nixon): Remember, we gave<br />

those goddamn Bolivians<br />

that tin. 14<br />

10 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Document 80.<br />

11 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Document 95.<br />

12 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Document 99.<br />

13 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Document 98.<br />

14 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Document 101.<br />

51 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 51

Weeks later, the CIA proposed potential<br />

covert actions that could be taken by the<br />

United States to topple the Torres regime.<br />

On August 19, 1971, NSC staffer Arnold<br />

Nachmanoff confirmed with Kissinger that<br />

opposition forces in the country’s capital,<br />

La Paz, were well aware of American<br />

support of a coup. 15 Ultimately, Colonel<br />

Hugo Banzer, who proved more favorable<br />

to U.S. interests, led a coup in August 1971<br />

that resulted in Torres’ exile.<br />

In light of all of this, the “dealing<br />

with the communist threat” paradigm<br />

seems nonexistent. The only mention of<br />

communism at all is Ambassador Ernest V.<br />

Siracusa’s remarks in June 1971 that failure<br />

to support opponents of the Torres<br />

regime, “might leave the door open for<br />

communists to gain yet another foothold in<br />

the Americas.” 16 Even so, the Ambassador<br />

mentions in a later memo that a coup may<br />

not be wise either, as the political climate<br />

of the situation is unstable, and a successful<br />

coup may simply result in the rise of<br />

another leftist leader. 17 In spite of this one<br />

remark, Nixon and Kissinger’s exchanges<br />

do not include any mention of<br />

communism. Therefore, in the context of<br />

Bolivia, the notion of a “communist<br />

crusade” is at best a secondary explanation.<br />

Compared to more significant U.S.<br />

interests like maintaining influential<br />

preeminence and the recuperation of<br />

financial losses due to the nationalization<br />

of various Bolivian industries, anticommunism<br />

was a less influential<br />

justification for the coup, if at all.<br />

Identifying the similarities and<br />

differences between the Bolivian<br />

experience during the Nixon<br />

15 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Document 107.<br />

16 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Document 76a.<br />

17 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Document 106.<br />

administration and the Argentinian<br />

experience until Nixon’s resignation in<br />

1974, illuminates the nuances of the<br />

Nixon-Kissinger approach to U.S. foreign<br />

policy and its break with the traditional<br />

understanding of U.S. policy toward the<br />

region.<br />



Richard Nixon was elected in the<br />

U.S. just as the Argentinian Revolution<br />

celebrated its third year. The Argentinian<br />

president at the time, Juan Carlos Onganía,<br />

had come to power after a coup that<br />

ousted center-left president Arturo<br />

Umberto Illia. 18 The regime proved to be<br />

an oppressive one that greatly limited civil<br />

liberties. Public approval for Onganía and<br />

his successors Roberto Levingston and<br />

Alejandro Lanusse, who remained in power<br />

until 1973, were at an all-time low. At the<br />

same time, the Argentinian political system<br />

was significantly impacted by the legacy of<br />

former president Juan Domingo Perón. 19<br />

Perón, who was forced into exile in<br />

1955, served as president of Argentina for<br />

two terms (1946-1955). 20 A difficult<br />

political figure to categorize in terms of<br />

ideology, Perón was known as a president<br />

who favored labor groups like the General<br />

Confederation of Labor (CGT), but also<br />

cited his admiration for the fascist regimes<br />

of Europe that fought in World War II.<br />

After his numerous political successes, he<br />

became a hero among Argentinians in spite<br />

of his eighteen years in exile. In fact<br />

Argentinians loved him more because of it.<br />

In exile, Perón remained an active critic of<br />

the military regimes that replaced him and<br />

18 Robert A. Potash. The Army & Politics in Argentina<br />

(Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1969).<br />

19 Ibid.<br />

20 Joseph A. Page. Perón̤: A Biography (NY: Random<br />

House, 1983).<br />

52 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 52

continued to build relationships from his<br />

temporary home in Franco’s Spain. His<br />

legacy in Argentina was a new political<br />

ideology specific to the country’s politics<br />

called Peronism. 21 It drew from Peron’s<br />

ideas to create a “third way” in the Cold<br />

War context that avoided the two extremes<br />

of capitalism and communism. The<br />

nostalgia built around the figure of Perón<br />

among Argentinian society is what led<br />

organizations like the Peronist Armed<br />

Forces (FAP), Montoneros, and People’s<br />

Revolutionary Army (ERP) to launch<br />

radical campaigns in his name against the<br />

repressive regimes of the Onganía,<br />

Levingston, and Lanusse. 22 These groups<br />

resorted to acts of terror as a result of the<br />

worsening sociopolitical situation.<br />

Peronists were presumed responsible for<br />

the bombing of the Sheraton Hotel in<br />

Buenos Aires. 23 The Montoneros resorted<br />

to similar acts of terror: in 1970 they<br />

kidnapped and executed former anti-<br />

Peronist president, Pedro Eugenio<br />

Aramburu. 24 The ERP was also responsible<br />

for waves of bombings and arson attacks in<br />

the early 1970s. 25 Perón’s degree of<br />

connection with these groups remains<br />

disputed, but the emergence of these<br />

groups is demonstrative of an increasingly<br />

radical population during this period.<br />

Perón later returned to Argentina<br />

in 1973 after a return to democracy. He<br />

was banned from participating in the<br />

elections, but his selection for President,<br />

Héctor Cámpara won by a sizeable margin.<br />

The perspective of the U.S. State<br />

21 James P. Brennan. Peronism and Argentina<br />

(Wilmington, DE: SR, 1998).<br />

22 Thomas C. Wright, Latin America in the Era of the<br />

Cuban Revolution (New York: Praeger, 1991).<br />

23 “Peronists Blamed in Hotel Bombing," The Free<br />

Lance-Star, October 17, 1972.<br />

24 James Ciment, World Terrorism: An Encyclopedia of<br />

Political Violence from Ancient times to the Post-9/11 Era<br />

(Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2011), 167.<br />

25 Ibid.<br />

Department on Perón’s return is difficult<br />

to ascertain as declassified documents end<br />

in 1972. A telegram from that year,<br />

however, predicts that a triumphant return<br />

of Perón would be a positive development<br />

for Argentina, even though Perón’s<br />

ideology influenced the emergence of<br />

militant leftist groups. 26 The Nixon<br />

administration ultimately did not elect to<br />

intervene in Argentina. This idea is a clear<br />

demonstration of the administration’s<br />

nuanced approach in the region.<br />

In Bolivia, for example, Nixon<br />

expressed his concerns with guerilla<br />

movements that threatened Bolivian<br />

stability, so much so that he asked the<br />

Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.)<br />

director to look into it further. 27 On the<br />

other hand, in Argentina with a growing<br />

number of insurgent groups, some steeped<br />

deeply in Marxist ideology, there exists no<br />

mention in declassified State Department<br />

documents of the risks to Argentinian<br />

security (and therefore U.S. national<br />

security and interests) that these groups<br />

posed. Within the report that favors the<br />

return of Perón, for example, there is no<br />

indication as to how Perón’s return might<br />

affect these groups and their operations.<br />

This lack of concern for the militant left in<br />

Argentina represents nuanced<br />

understanding that although high profile<br />

acts of terrorism were occurring, the<br />

country was ultimately not at risk of a<br />

takeover by the militant left as much as<br />

Bolivia. In addition, it represents a careful<br />

analysis of the aims of both types of armed<br />

militant groups. Those found in Bolivia<br />

threatened the country’s stability, and were<br />

largely led by Che Guevara, who had<br />

26 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Volume E-10, eds. Erin Mahan and Edward C.<br />

Keefer (Washington: Government Printing Office,<br />

2010), Document 76.<br />

27 Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976,<br />

Document 92.<br />

53 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 53

already proven himself a successful<br />

commander in the realm of revolutionary<br />

uprisings. The FAP, ERP, and Montoneros<br />

in Argentina, however, were more likely<br />

associated with the fringes of the political<br />

system without any potential for complete<br />

disruption of the political order and the<br />

political system. Indeed, their violent<br />

actions were more reactionary than<br />

revolutionary.<br />

Additionally, Héctor José Cámpora<br />

decided to normalize diplomatic relations<br />

with Cuba immediately after his election.<br />

By this time Cuba was aligned with the<br />

Soviet bloc. The United States, however,<br />

took no recourse in Argentina. Therefore,<br />

it can be assumed that at the very least the<br />

U.S. tolerated Campora’s move. This<br />

supports the claim that the Nixon-<br />

Kissinger foreign policy mechanism was<br />

capable of acknowledging the fact that a<br />

country—at limited risk to communist<br />

insurgents—could successfully establish a<br />

relationship with another country under<br />

the Soviet umbrella while remaining<br />

outside of the Soviet sphere of influence.<br />

This calls into question the United<br />

States’ “global crusade against<br />

communism” thesis. If the U.S. had been<br />

concerned solely with the spread of the<br />

ideas of communism throughout Latin<br />

America, a different reality would have<br />

emerged. The U.S. would have been much<br />

less discriminate, eliminating any and all<br />

potential communist groups. This kind of<br />

indiscriminate squashing across the<br />

continent, however, is precisely what did<br />

not occur under Nixon. Similarly, a reversal<br />

of the proverb “the enemy of my enemy is<br />

my friend” to “the friend of my enemy is<br />

my enemy” would have been more<br />

apropos. 28 As Argentina normalized<br />

diplomatic relations with Cuba, the Nixon<br />

28 Kautạlya & L. N. Rangarajan. The Arthashastra<br />

(New Delhi: Penguin India, 1992).<br />

administration did not impose this<br />

doctrine. In this sense, the blanket of anticommunism<br />

and its application as the<br />

guiding principle behind all overt and<br />

covert foreign policy actions taken by the<br />

United States in Latin America—at least<br />

during the Nixon administration—has<br />

considerably lost steam.<br />


The countries that make up Latin<br />

America have understandable similarities,<br />

yet this often causes scholars to group the<br />

entire region as a single bloc. The reality is<br />

each country has its own idiosyncrasies,<br />

and U.S. foreign policy during the Cold<br />

War, as it relates to Latin American<br />

countries, illustrates these distinct qualities.<br />

In addition to the fact that context is often<br />

considered in policymaking, the ways in<br />

which foreign policy is enacted also<br />

depends on the leadership involved.<br />

Looking strictly at one president, Richard<br />

Nixon, it has become clear that even within<br />

the same larger global context, there were<br />

no preordained indicators that would<br />

precipitate a certain type of response.<br />

Yet in examining both Bolivia and<br />

Argentina, there are some noteworthy<br />

similarities in their respective narratives<br />

during the Nixon period. For one, Torres<br />

and Perón were similar leaders in that their<br />

ideologies were complex and could not<br />

simply be described as communist,<br />

socialist, or Marxist. In some ways this<br />

made their behavior unpredictable,<br />

particularly in the case of Torres. Second,<br />

both countries were in a relative state of<br />

sociopolitical turmoil during their<br />

respective leaders’ times in power (in this<br />

case after Perón’s exile). Finally, both<br />

exhibited some degree of repudiation for<br />

the United States. In the case of Torres,<br />

this manifested itself through his expulsion<br />

of the Peace Corps and nationalization of<br />

54 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 54

different assets. With Perón, this was<br />

expressed through an adherence to a “third<br />

way” foreign policy by seeking to forge a<br />

nonalignment path between the U.S. and<br />

Soviet Union. The result in both countries,<br />

however, was entirely different; in Bolivia<br />

the U.S. orchestrated a coup, and in<br />

Argentina the U.S. pursued a policy of<br />

economic assistance.<br />

The specific rationale that lies<br />

behind each of these decisions is cryptically<br />

represented in declassified correspondence<br />

between Nixon and Kissinger, but what the<br />

discrepancy indicates is that U.S. foreign<br />

policy towards Latin America during the<br />

Nixon administration was more fluid than<br />

is typically understood in scholarship. In<br />

addition, what is commonly thought to be<br />

the unitary thread in all foreign policy<br />

decisions during the Cold War, the specter<br />

of communism, did not play a significant<br />

role in the United States’ decision to act in<br />

Bolivia or not to act in Argentina. Instead,<br />

it was a confluence of factors. These<br />

examples demonstrate the calculated nature<br />

of the Nixon-Kissinger foreign policy<br />

agenda. By separating just two countries<br />

that are often analyzed as components of<br />

the Latin American bloc, more detailed and<br />

complex insights begin to take shape. This<br />

is indicative of one of the many pitfalls of<br />

aggregate foreign policy analysis—that is<br />

characterizing U.S. foreign policy as being<br />

consistent toward certain regional,<br />

economic, or ideological groupings. The<br />

fact is this form of grouping lacks the sort<br />

of local context required to understand the<br />

intricate nature of the U.S. foreign policy<br />

making mechanism.<br />

DYLAN HEYDEN is a first year M.A. student in<br />

International Relations. He graduated magna<br />

cum laude from the University of San Diego in<br />

2013, with a B.A. in International Relations &<br />

Spanish. Some of his prior research experiences<br />

include working for the University of San Diego's<br />

Trans-Border Institute analyzing rule of law in<br />

Mexico and U.S.-Mexico relations, and traveling<br />

to Nicaragua as a USD Changemaker Scholar to<br />

pursue his senior thesis.<br />

55 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 55

An Appraisal of the Joint<br />

Development Approach<br />

to the South China Sea<br />

Dispute<br />

Prospects and Challenges<br />

Guan Hui Lee<br />

The issue of overlapping sovereign<br />

claims over land and maritime<br />

resources in the South China Sea has<br />

been a major source of conflict between<br />

China, 1 Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia,<br />

Brunei and Indonesia. This analysis examines<br />

aspects of the joint development approach as<br />

a conflict prevention tool in the South China<br />

Sea dispute. It first seeks to explain the<br />

underlying logic behind joint development<br />

and the reasons why the approach was able to<br />

come to fruition from 2005 to 2008, in the<br />

form of a Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking<br />

(JMSU) between the state-owned oil<br />

corporations of China, Vietnam and the<br />

Philippines. It then proceeds to explain why<br />

the joint development approach used from<br />

2005 to 2008 is neither likely to be applied nor<br />

sufficient to resolve the dispute at present,<br />

given the recent development of affairs in the<br />

region by the parties involved. The analysis<br />

concludes with three conditions that are<br />

necessary for joint development to be a<br />

realistic conflict management strategy in the<br />

South China Sea.<br />

1 Throughout the paper, use of the term “China”<br />

pertains to both the People’s Republic of China and the<br />

Republic of China (Taiwan).<br />


The dispute over sovereign rights in<br />

the South China Sea is a long-standing one.<br />

This chiefly concerns the sovereignty of the<br />

Paracels and the Spratly Islands, as well as the<br />

waters around them. The People’s Republic of<br />

China and the Republic of China (Taiwan)<br />

share a common perspective in this dispute,<br />

but so far only Beijing has been actively<br />

dispatching navy patrol boats to the region.<br />

China bases its claims on historical grounds—<br />

specifically from maps dating back to 1947<br />

during the Kuomintang period which contain<br />

an eleven-dash line maritime boundary that<br />

effectively includes almost all of the South<br />

China Sea. However, China has never<br />

established effective control over the full<br />

extent of their claim. To date, China only<br />

effectively controls the Paracels, which were<br />

forcibly taken over from Vietnam in 1974, 2<br />

and parts of the Spratly Island group.<br />

However, the largest land feature in the<br />

Spratlys, Itu Aba, has always been<br />

administered by Taipei and not Beijing. 3<br />

Despite this, in May 2009, Beijing formally<br />

submitted a map with a nine-dash line 4 to the<br />

UN Commission on the Limits of the<br />

Continental Shelf (CLCS), defining areas<br />

included in the 1947 maps as “historic<br />

2 Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Maritime<br />

Territorial Disputes in East Asia: Issues for Congress,”<br />

CRS R42930, 23 January 2013.<br />

3 Ralf Emmers, “The Changing Power Distribution in<br />

the South China Sea: Implications for Conflict<br />

Management and Avoidance,” Political Science 62, No.<br />

118 (2010).<br />

4 Beijing revised the original eleven-dash line into a<br />

nine-dash line under Zhou Enlai after 1949. Claimed<br />

areas implied by both versions have remained<br />

essentially unchanged.<br />

56 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 56

waters.” 5 The nine-dash line not only includes<br />

all of the Paracels and the Spratlys, but also<br />

overlaps with Brunei’s claim of Louisa Reef,<br />

and reaches as far south as the eastern waters<br />

of Natuna Island, to which Indonesia stakes a<br />

claim. 6 Vietnam likewise lays claim to the<br />

Paracels and the Spratlys on both a historical<br />

basis and on current effective control (it<br />

controls 21 of the Spratly Islands). Malaysia,<br />

on the other hand, bases its claims on the<br />

natural prolongation of its continental shelves<br />

off Peninsula Malaysia and Borneo, which<br />

leads it to claim the southern islands in the<br />

Spratly archipelago. 7 In 2009, Vietnam and<br />

Malaysia submitted a joint claim to UN CLCS<br />

on areas of the South China Sea beyond their<br />

200 nautical mile exclusive economic zones<br />

(EEZ). It was believed that this sparked<br />

China’s response in the form of the nine-dash<br />

line. In June 2012, Vietnam’s National<br />

Assembly passed a Maritime Law that lays<br />

down formal claims to the Paracels and the<br />

Spratlys. 8<br />

Lastly, the Philippines’ claim is based<br />

on contiguity of the continental shelf, and a<br />

1978 Presidential Decree that declared<br />

sovereignty over what was called the<br />

“Kalayaan Island Group” (KIG), which<br />

5 Sam Bateman, “Regime building in the South China<br />

Sea— Current Situation and Outlook,” Australian<br />

Journal of Maritime and Ocean Affairs 3, No. 1 (2011), p.<br />

29.<br />

6 Thao Nguyen Hong and Ramses Amer, “A New<br />

Legal Arrangement for the South China Sea?” Ocean<br />

Development and International Law No. 40 (2009).<br />

7 Thao Nguyen Hong and Ramses Amer, “A New<br />

Legal Arrangement for the South China Sea?” Ocean<br />

Development and International Law No. 40 (2009).<br />

8 Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Maritime<br />

Territorial Disputes in East Asia: Issues for Congress,”<br />

CRS R42930, 23 January 2013.<br />

includes the east and northeast parts of the<br />

Spratlys. 9 The Philippines and China also<br />

compete over the sovereignty of Scarborough<br />

Shoal, a 150 square kilometers shoal that is<br />

situated to the northeast of the Spratlys. In<br />

terms of effective control, the Philippines<br />

currently occupies eight islands in the eastern<br />

Spratlys that were considered terra nullius. 10<br />

Fig. 1: Map of the South China Sea showing disputed<br />

claims by various countries, including PRC’s/ROC’s<br />

“nine-dash line” (Congressional Research Service<br />

(CRS), “Maritime Territorial Disputes in East<br />

Asia: Issues for Congress.” CRS R42930, 23<br />

January 2013)<br />

There are several elements of this<br />

dispute that are relevant to conflict<br />

management approaches. First, the South<br />

China Sea dispute is a complex web of<br />

bilateral and multilateral disputes. Some<br />

islands, like the Spratly Island group, are<br />

contested by China, Taiwan, the Philippines,<br />

Malaysia and Vietnam to various extents,<br />

whereas other islands, like the Paracels, are<br />

9 Leszek Buszynski, “The South China Sea Maritime<br />

Dispute: Legality, Power, and Conflict Prevention,”<br />

Asian Journal of Peacebuilding 1, No. 1 (2013).<br />

10 Ibid, 6.<br />

57 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 57

essentially just part of a bilateral dispute<br />

between China and Vietnam. This complicates<br />

conflict management because each friction<br />

point will then have to be dealt with<br />

individually, as not all countries have a stake<br />

(or an equal stake) in all of the disputed<br />

territories.<br />

Second, a major point of contention<br />

lies in whether some of the islands in question<br />

are legally recognized as “islands,” which are<br />

entitled to their own 200-mile EEZs, or<br />

whether they are merely “rocks,” which are<br />

given only 12nm territorial sea. 11 According to<br />

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea<br />

(UNCLOS) Article 21, Paragraph 3, “rocks<br />

which cannot sustain human habitation or<br />

economic life of their own shall have no<br />

exclusive economic zone or continental<br />

shelf.” 12 On this issue, China firmly believes<br />

that the islands in question are undeniably<br />

“islands” in the legal sense and hence generate<br />

their own EEZs, even though some of these<br />

islands are fully submerged at high tide and<br />

are incapable of sustaining economic life.<br />

Third, because not all countries have<br />

defined the boundaries of their claims in an<br />

official legal manner, UNCLOS cannot be<br />

used to resolve the existing disputes.<br />

UNCLOS stipulates that “countries with<br />

overlapping claims must resolve their claims by<br />

good faith negotiations,” 13 but with claims<br />

from each party not having been defined<br />

precisely, UNCLOS cannot be properly<br />

applied to the South China Sea situation.<br />

Moreover, China made a statutory declaration<br />

on 25 August 2006 to the UN Secretary<br />

General that it would not accept any<br />

international court or arbitration in disputes<br />

over sea delimitation or territory. 14 This means<br />

that the option of international arbitration as a<br />

conflict resolution tool is essentially a nonstarter.<br />

Competition over energy resources<br />

has been identified as a key driving force<br />

behind the current dispute. A preliminary<br />

Chinese survey in 1989 estimated that the<br />

Spratlys held deposits of 25 billion cubic<br />

meters of natural gas and 105 billion barrels<br />

of oil. 15 The US and Russia reported much<br />

lower estimates in their own surveys (15.8<br />

billion and 7.5 billion barrels of oil,<br />

respectively), but even those numbers serve to<br />

prove that the potential oil and gas resources<br />

under the South China Sea are extremely<br />

tempting to countries that border it. If<br />

resource exploitation is indeed a core<br />

underlying objective of the South China Sea<br />

claimants, one conflict management approach<br />

could be to reframe the issue from one of<br />

sovereignty to one of joint resource<br />

development and management. The next<br />

section examines the logic behind joint<br />

development in conflict management<br />

literature, and the brief use of this approach<br />

from 2005 to 2008 in the Spratlys by China,<br />

Vietnam and the Philippines, in the form of a<br />

tripartite agreement — Joint Marine Seismic<br />

Undertaking (JMSU).<br />

11 Thao Nguyen Hong and Ramses Amer, “A New<br />

Legal Arrangement for the South China Sea?” Ocean<br />

Development and International Law No. 40 (2009), p. 340.<br />

12 Ralf Emmers, “The Prospects for Managing and<br />

Resolving Conflict in the South China Sea,” Harvard<br />

Asia Quarterly XII (3&4) (Winter 2010), p. 16.<br />

13 Ibid, italics mine.<br />

14 David Scott, “Conflict Irresolution in the South<br />

China Sea,” Asian Survey 52, No. 6 (Nov/Dec 2012), p.<br />

1022.<br />

15 Craig Snyder, “The Implications of Hydrocarbon<br />

Development on the South China Sea,” International<br />

Journal 52, No. 1 (Winter 1996/1997).<br />

58 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 58





The theory and practice of conflict<br />

management is replete with notions of joint<br />

development. William Zartman makes an<br />

oblique reference to joint development when<br />

he notes that the key to successful preventive<br />

diplomacy is using the right tactics to change<br />

relevant stakes and attitudes. 16 According to<br />

him, preventive diplomacy should change the<br />

perception of stakes from zero-sum to<br />

positive sum, and the attitude of conflict<br />

parties from conflictual to accommodative. In<br />

the case of territorial disputes, Zartman<br />

asserts that preventive diplomacy should shift<br />

the nature of claims from territorial<br />

possession to “some lesser form of<br />

concern.” 17 In the case of the South China<br />

Sea, viewing the conflict as a joint<br />

development puzzle instead of a zero-sum<br />

sovereignty contest addresses the issue of<br />

access to resources that sovereignty claims are<br />

presumed to entail. In addition, it also avoids<br />

stoking fear in non-claimant countries like<br />

Japan, India and the US, who would be<br />

concerned about freedom of navigation in the<br />

South China Sea if the dispute were to be<br />

framed as a sovereignty issue.<br />

Zou Keyuan defines the<br />

characteristics of joint development with a<br />

definition given by the British Institute of<br />

International and Comparative Law:<br />

16 William I. Zartman, Preventive Negotiation: Avoiding<br />

Conflict Escalation (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield,<br />

2001), p. 7.<br />

17 Ibid, p. 12.<br />

(a) is an arrangement between two<br />

countries; 18<br />

(b) is usually concerned with an<br />

overlapping maritime area;<br />

(c) can be used as a provisional<br />

arrangement pending the settlement of<br />

the boundary delimitation disputes<br />

between the countries concerned;<br />

(d) is designed to jointly develop the<br />

mineral resources in the disputed area or<br />

a defined area shared by two countries. 19<br />

This is particularly useful to the South<br />

China Sea because joint development does<br />

not pay attention to boundary delimitation<br />

claims among disputants. Hence, countries<br />

that participate in joint development need not<br />

worry about the possibility of having their<br />

sovereignty claims weakened. 20<br />

Sam Bateman defines joint<br />

development as “a functional approach that<br />

exploits the common interests of claimant<br />

countries,” 21 and lists steps by which joint<br />

development can be achieved: identifying a<br />

particular function to cooperate in; defining<br />

the area of joint development; finding a<br />

formula to share costs and resources;<br />

establishing a management body. Craig Snyder<br />

further explains what these “common<br />

interests” may be. Commercial benefits and<br />

18 This is because there has yet been an ongoing, fully<br />

functional multilateral joint development arrangement<br />

that has been established in international law.<br />

19 Zou Keyuan, “Joint Development in the South<br />

China Sea: A New Approach,” The International Journal of<br />

Marine and Coastal Law 21, No. 1 (2006), p. 90.<br />

20 Mark J. Valencia, “In Response to Robert Beckman,”<br />

RSIS Commentaries 53 (2007).<br />

21 Sam Bateman, “Regime building in the South China<br />

Sea— Current Situation and Outlook,” Australian<br />

Journal of Maritime and Ocean Affairs 3, No. 1 (2011), p.<br />

30.<br />

59 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 59

technology transfer, according to him, can be<br />

strong incentives for countries to engage in<br />

joint development. He asserts that if “the<br />

desire to develop hydrocarbon resources<br />

outweighs the desire to win a boundary<br />

dispute,” 22 a joint development agreement is<br />

an inherently feasible conflict resolution tool.<br />

There have been instances where joint<br />

development was used in Southeast Asia to<br />

mitigate resource disputes. The Timor Gap<br />

Treaty in 1989 between Indonesia and<br />

Australia was an extensive case of joint<br />

development, where both countries<br />

established twelve separate joint development<br />

zones for each area of overlapping claims in<br />

the Timor Sea. 23 Malaysia and Thailand agreed<br />

in 1990 to a Joint Development area to<br />

manage natural gas reserves in disputed waters<br />

in the Gulf of Thailand. 24 In 1992, Vietnam<br />

and Malaysia signed a memorandum of<br />

understanding over oil exploration and<br />

production in the Gulf of Thailand. 25<br />

The 2005 JMSU was the first attempt<br />

at a multilateral joint development agreement<br />

in the South China Sea. Instead of a<br />

government-level memorandum of<br />

understanding, it was a commercial agreement<br />

between the state-owned oil corporations of<br />

China, Vietnam and the Philippines —<br />

CNOOC, PetroVietnam, and PNOC-EC,<br />

respectively. 26 JMSU dictated protocols with<br />

regard to seismic exploration of hydrocarbons<br />

in specific parts of the South China Sea, and<br />

stated that the three parties “jointly owned”<br />

data and information acquired through such<br />

seismic work. 27 However, after “the<br />

Philippines… ha[d] made breathtaking<br />

concessions in agreeing to the area of study,<br />

including parts of its own continental shelf<br />

not even claimed by China and Vietnam,” 28<br />

Philippine legislators protested against the<br />

continuation of JMSU, claiming that JMSU<br />

did not conform to Philippine state laws on<br />

oil exploration within Philippine territory. The<br />

agreement was hence allowed to expire in July<br />

2008.<br />

Although no actual exploitation was<br />

conducted under JMSU, the seismic surveys<br />

conducted under JMSU would qualify as joint<br />

development. After JMSU expired in 2008,<br />

the Philippines under President Benigno<br />

Aquino suggested a similar proposal — Zone<br />

of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and<br />

Cooperation (ZoPFFC). Alluding to the<br />

concept of joint development, the ZoPFFC<br />

proposed by the Philippines would<br />

“segregate” disputed areas from non-disputed<br />

areas, and “establish a joint agency to manage<br />

seabed resources and fisheries” in the<br />

22 Craig Snyder, “The Implications of Hydrocarbon<br />

Development on the South China Sea,” International<br />

Journal 52, No. 1 (Winter 1996/1997), p. 152.<br />

23 Zou Keyuan, “Joint Development in the South<br />

China Sea: A New Approach,” The International Journal of<br />

Marine and Coastal Law 21, No. 1 (2006), p. 96.<br />

24 David Scott, “Conflict Irresolution in the South<br />

China Sea,” Asian Survey 52, No. 6 (Nov/Dec 2012), p.<br />

1040.<br />

25 Craig Snyder, “The Implications of Hydrocarbon<br />

Development on the South China Sea,” International<br />

Journal 52, No. 1 (Winter 1996/1997), p. 154.<br />

26 Thao Nguyen Hong and Ramses Amer, “A New<br />

Legal Arrangement for the South China Sea?” Ocean<br />

Development and International Law No. 40 (2009), p. 343.<br />

27 Christina E. Tecson, “Exploring Exploration: Fitting<br />

the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking and Oil<br />

Exploration Laws into the Mold of Section 2, Article<br />

XII of the 1987 Constitution,” Ateneo Law Journal 55,<br />

No. 149 (2010), p. 187.<br />

28 Barry Wain, “Manila’s Bungle in the South China<br />

Sea,” Far Eastern Economic Review 171 (January/February<br />

2008), p. 45.<br />

60 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 60

disputed areas. 29 However, this idea did not<br />

come to fruition because the boundaries<br />

claimed by each country have not all been<br />

precisely defined, and hence it is impossible to<br />

delineate ‘disputed areas’ from ‘non-disputed<br />

areas.’ 30 Moreover, China’s stance was<br />

extremely critical of the Philippines’ proposal,<br />

as the state-run media called it a “trick<br />

designed to encourage the United States to<br />

meddle in the South China Sea.” 31<br />




Given the ostensible benefits of joint<br />

development in the South China Sea, why has<br />

there not been sustainable progress in that<br />

direction? This paper argues that the current<br />

political conditions in the South China Sea<br />

have not met the prerequisites of the joint<br />

development approach to become a<br />

sustainable solution for the region.<br />

Specifically, this paper will discuss three key<br />

reasons that present as obstacles to joint<br />

development: (1) the growing power<br />

asymmetry between the disputants; (2) the<br />

lack of an institutionalized mechanism to<br />

enforce and regulate joint development, in<br />

particular the inability of ASEAN to fill that<br />

capacity; (3) the association with identity<br />

politics and nationalism.<br />

First, the growing power asymmetry in<br />

China’s favor strengthens the notion of a<br />

29 Ian Storey, “ASEAN and the South China Sea:<br />

Movement in Lieu of Progress,” China Brief 12, No. 9<br />

(27 April 2012).<br />

30 Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Maritime<br />

Territorial Disputes in East Asia: Issues for Congress,”<br />

CRS R42930, 23 January 2013, p. 12.<br />

31 Ibid 28, p. 10.<br />

security dilemma. From 2000 to 2011, China<br />

has increased its announced defense budget<br />

by an average of 11.8 percent annually. 32 The<br />

PLA Navy has also expanded a major base on<br />

Hainan Island for submarines and vessels,<br />

signaling its increasing military presence in the<br />

South China Sea. China’s actions naturally<br />

alarmed its Southeast Asian neighbors, who<br />

have also started strengthening their military<br />

capabilities, thus raising the specter of a<br />

security dilemma. Vietnam, for example,<br />

announced in 2010 its purchase of six Russian<br />

Kilo-class submarines. 33<br />

As a result of the growing asymmetry<br />

in military forces, there is a prevailing<br />

perception among the Southeast Asian<br />

disputants that China is seeking to gain<br />

control over the disputed islands by force.<br />

Recent actions taken by the Chinese in the<br />

region have lent credence to this perception.<br />

For instance, Vietnam has alleged on several<br />

occasions that Chinese maritime surveillance<br />

vessels have severed the exploration cables of<br />

Vietnamese survey ships. 34 The 2012<br />

Scarborough Shoal standoff between China<br />

and the Philippines further indicates the<br />

tendency for military presence in the region to<br />

escalate the conflict. The Chinese motivation<br />

behind these actions is presumably to<br />

strengthen its hand on legal grounds. Since<br />

“first discovery” is not a sufficient basis to<br />

32 Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Maritime<br />

Territorial Disputes in East Asia: Issues for Congress,”<br />

CRS R42930, 23 January 2013.<br />

33 Ralf Emmers, “The Changing Power Distribution in<br />

the South China Sea: Implications for Conflict<br />

Management and Avoidance,” Political Science 62, No.<br />

118 (2010).<br />

34 Leszek Buszynski, “The South China Sea Maritime<br />

Dispute: Legality, Power, and Conflict Prevention,”<br />

Asian Journal of Peacebuilding 1, No. 1 (2013).<br />

61 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 61

claim legal sovereignty, China has been<br />

attempting to establish ‘administrative and<br />

physical’ control over the disputed islands in<br />

order to demonstrate sovereignty. To illustrate<br />

a case in point, Indonesia lost an International<br />

Court arbitration against Malaysia over the<br />

Ligitan and Sipadan islands in 2002 because it<br />

failed to protest the construction of<br />

lighthouses by Malaysia since 1963. 35<br />

The absence of a security guarantee to<br />

the weaker parties of the South China Sea<br />

dispute is inimical to the joint development<br />

approach. The logic of joint development<br />

assumes adequate ‘goodwill’ between the<br />

disputants to negotiate and follow rules<br />

established by a certain joint development<br />

agreement. However, without a security<br />

guarantee, weaker parties are not sufficiently<br />

assured that the stronger parties are<br />

committed to a joint development approach,<br />

since it may be feasible for the stronger<br />

parties to achieve complete victory by<br />

exercising military force. In fact, China’s<br />

actions post-JMSU have fed perceptions<br />

contrary to the spirit of joint development.<br />

Second, there is a notable lack of a<br />

supranational authority to establish and<br />

enforce the terms of joint development. The<br />

Association of Southeast Asian Nations<br />

(ASEAN), a potential candidate in this regard,<br />

has been particularly unhelpful so far. Because<br />

ASEAN’s operations rely on an informal style<br />

of diplomacy and consensus building, it is<br />

often considered too weak to institutionalize<br />

negotiations under a joint development<br />

framework, let alone enforce the terms of a<br />

35 Thao Nguyen Hong and Ramses Amer, “A New<br />

Legal Arrangement for the South China Sea?” Ocean<br />

Development and International Law No. 40 (2009).<br />

possible joint development outcome. 36 Huge<br />

disagreements between ASEAN states have<br />

also impeded the viability of ASEAN to enter<br />

as an impartial actor in this dispute.<br />

Cambodia, in particular, adopts the Chinese<br />

stance on this issue, and rejects any<br />

“institutionalization” of the South China Sea<br />

dispute. 37 Opinion among ASEAN members<br />

on this issue has been so divisive that the<br />

2012 ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting,<br />

chaired by Cambodia, failed to produce a joint<br />

communiqué because of major disagreements<br />

over a unified stance on the issue.<br />

Because there is no suitable candidate<br />

to administer joint development agreements<br />

on the South China Sea issue, it is difficult to<br />

envision joint development on the issue going<br />

beyond the level achieved by JMSU. It is<br />

important to note here that JMSU succeeded<br />

in part because it was a commercial<br />

agreement, which entailed that it did not<br />

invoke the application of international law<br />

that regulates interstate behavior. Important<br />

details of joint development, such as the<br />

delimitation of the joint development area,<br />

taxation of revenues generated by joint<br />

development, and a dispute settlement<br />

mechanism, cannot be established without the<br />

institution of a governing body. Without a<br />

governing body, countries can jeopardize<br />

existing joint development agreements<br />

according to their individual state interests.<br />

Third, the emphasis on a nationalistic<br />

element to the South China Sea dispute post-<br />

36 Ioana-Bianca Berna, “Managing Intra-Regional<br />

Conflicts in Southeast Asia: The Case of the South<br />

China Sea,” Journal of Defense Resource Management 4, No.<br />

2 (2014).<br />

37 Ian Storey, “ASEAN and the South China Sea:<br />

Movement in Lieu of Progress,” China Brief 12, No. 9<br />

(27 April 2012), p. 12.<br />

62 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 62

JMSU has demonstrated that the conflict is<br />

still being viewed through the lens of national<br />

sovereignty. As mentioned earlier, the premise<br />

of joint development is to induce perceptual<br />

change in disputants, from viewing the<br />

conflict as a zero-sum sovereignty contest to a<br />

positive-sum resource allocation problem.<br />

However, the prominence of nationalistic<br />

sentiment on the issue in recent years has<br />

invited the participation of the general public<br />

in the various claimant countries, and<br />

effectively escalated the conflict. At present,<br />

the prospects of successful joint development<br />

are dim, because of the association of the<br />

sovereignty claims with national pride, which<br />

has increasingly solidified the framing of the<br />

problem as that of national sovereignty<br />

instead of resource allocation. To name a<br />

precedent, the joint development agreement<br />

between China and Japan on the<br />

Chunxiao/Shirakaba gas fields in 2008 has<br />

been jettisoned by nationalistic Chinese public<br />

opinion, which deemed the agreement as<br />

“betraying the national interests and forfeiting<br />

China’s sovereignty.” 38<br />

Aside from this, the professional<br />

autonomy of the PLA Navy allows it to frame<br />

its own operating goals within the broad<br />

policy parameters set by the Chinese<br />

leadership. 39 This means that there is a side<br />

incentive for the Chinese military to pursue<br />

the South China Sea dispute as a national<br />

sovereignty issue to an extent that may be<br />

outside the control of the Chinese leadership<br />

bureaucracy.<br />

38 Thao Nguyen Hong and Ramses Amer, “A New<br />

Legal Arrangement for the South China Sea?” Ocean<br />

Development and International Law No. 40 (2009), p. 344.<br />

39 Leszek Buszynski, “The South China Sea Maritime<br />

Dispute: Legality, Power, and Conflict Prevention,”<br />

Asian Journal of Peacebuilding 1, No. 1 (2013).<br />

The idea of a joint development<br />

approach cannot move forward when national<br />

sovereignty is regarded by conflict parties as<br />

their utmost priority. In fact, the JMSU failed<br />

to be a sustainable solution because there is a<br />

strong tendency among claimants that joint<br />

development “should not be attempted in an<br />

area which a claimant believes to be its own,<br />

and should only be attempted in areas outside<br />

its claims.” 40 A ‘without prejudice’ clause<br />

seems to be a precondition for joint<br />

development. Without the provision of such a<br />

clause, any attempt to cooperate will be seen<br />

as a ‘sell-out’ on a disputant’s sovereignty<br />

claims. 41<br />





The first two obstacles outlined in the<br />

previous section point to the need of an<br />

institutionalized regime to act as a security<br />

guarantee for conflict parties to participate in<br />

joint development. For that to be a reality,<br />

claimant countries need to “freeze” their<br />

existing territorial claims and commit to the<br />

concept of joint development. 42 The<br />

purported rationale behind China’s increased<br />

military assertiveness in the South China Sea<br />

is that it sees room for conflict escalation at<br />

40 Zou Keyuan, “Joint Development in the South<br />

China Sea: A New Approach,” The International Journal of<br />

Marine and Coastal Law 21, No. 1 (2006), p. 102.<br />

41 Mark J. Valencia, “In Response to Robert Beckman,”<br />

RSIS Commentaries 53 (2007).<br />

42 Ralf Emmers, “The Changing Power Distribution in<br />

the South China Sea: Implications for Conflict<br />

Management and Avoidance,” Political Science 62, No.<br />

118 (2010), p. 131.<br />

63 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 63

little cost to itself. However, one could also<br />

note that there are limits to such behavior, as<br />

China is aware of its dependence on regional<br />

and international economic order, and hence<br />

would not at present ‘cross the Rubicon’ by<br />

attempting to militarily force a resolution of<br />

this dispute in its favor. Judging from this<br />

fact, increased military balancing by the<br />

United States may force China to reevaluate<br />

its costs and benefits from its current actions<br />

and hence induce a more amenable position in<br />

China. However, there is also the danger of<br />

descending into a brinkmanship contest that<br />

results in further escalation of the conflict.<br />

Therefore, a delicate balance of military and<br />

diplomatic measures needs to be carried out<br />

on the part of the United States.<br />

Zou suggests the establishment of a<br />

supranational “Spratly Management<br />

Authority” to regulate joint development in<br />

the Spratly Islands. 43 In particular, he points<br />

out that Rifleman Bank is an ideal place to<br />

begin joint development, as it falls outside the<br />

200-mile EEZ of Vietnam, outside the<br />

continental shelf limits of Brunei and<br />

Malaysia, and outside of the Philippine claim<br />

of the “Kalayaan Island Group.” This is,<br />

nevertheless, subject to China’s and Vietnam’s<br />

‘compromise’, as Vietnam currently occupies<br />

Rifleman Bank, whereas China claims<br />

sovereignty over it. Mark Valencia et al. also<br />

proposes a regional organization that “grants<br />

permits for exploration and joint<br />

development, and would direct financial<br />

resources of claimants into a common fund to<br />

promote joint exploration efforts.” 44<br />

43 Ibid 39, p. 96.<br />

44 Leszek Buszynski, “The South China Sea Maritime<br />

Dispute: Legality, Power, and Conflict Prevention,”<br />

Asian Journal of Peacebuilding 1, No. 1 (2013), p. 55.<br />

These proposals seem far-fetched<br />

without the appropriate change in perceptions<br />

of stakes and attitudes. More support can be<br />

given to official or Track II workshops that<br />

discuss the establishment of functional<br />

frameworks on the South China Sea issue. For<br />

example, Indonesia has hosted informal<br />

Workshops on Managing Potential Conflicts<br />

in the South China Sea (SCSW) since the early<br />

1990s. 45 The Council for Security Cooperation<br />

in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) Study Group on<br />

Maritime Security has also been a informal<br />

multilateral platform where representatives<br />

from each country have highlighted issues<br />

indicative of their country’s main concerns in<br />

the South China Sea dispute, including<br />

information sharing and law enforcement. 46<br />

While ASEAN may not be the ideal regional<br />

organization to preside over this dispute, it<br />

can contribute to confidence building<br />

measures (CBMs) on an official level, such as<br />

in maritime security dialogues under the<br />

ASEAN Regional Forum or the ASEAN<br />

Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+). 47<br />

Nguyen Dang Thang advocates that joint<br />

development can adopt a neo-functionalist<br />

approach, first taking place in a fisheries<br />

arrangement before proceeding to an oil and<br />

gas arrangement, with the latter considered as<br />

45 Mikael Weissmann, “The South China Sea Conflict<br />

and Sino-ASEAN Relations: A Study in Conflict<br />

Prevention and Peace Building,” Asian Perspectives 34,<br />

No. 3 (2010).<br />

46 Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific<br />

(CSCAP), “1st Meeting of the CSCAP Study Group on<br />

Maritime Security,” Australian Journal of Maritime and<br />

Ocean Affairs 5, No. 2 (2013).<br />

47 Ioana-Bianca Berna, “Managing Intra-Regional<br />

Conflicts in Southeast Asia: The Case of the South<br />

China Sea,” Journal of Defense Resource Management 4, No.<br />

2 (2014).<br />

64 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 64

a more sensitive area of cooperation. 48 In sum,<br />

these confidence building measures should be<br />

regarded as a first step towards a realistic<br />

conception of joint development in the South<br />

China Sea.<br />


The concept of “joint development” is<br />

a tempting option for a potential resolution of<br />

the South China Sea sovereignty issues, given<br />

that it has been attempted previously in other<br />

regional disputes. However, in order for joint<br />

development to come to fruition, claimant<br />

countries have to temporarily “freeze” or<br />

suspend their zero-sum sovereignty claims<br />

and commit to a positive-sum resource<br />

allocation problem. Unfortunately, one has yet<br />

to see this happen in the context of the South<br />

China Sea, especially with China’s growing<br />

naval power, and the continued lack of a<br />

supranational authority presiding over the<br />

issue. Various measures can contribute to this<br />

mindset change. ASEAN can be a vehicle for<br />

establishing CBMs on an official level, or even<br />

in the form of closed-door meetings, where<br />

disputants are deemed to be more honest<br />

about their priorities and interests. A neofunctionalist<br />

approach, for example, by<br />

starting with a fisheries arrangement before<br />

proceeding to an oil and gas arrangement,<br />

should also be considered in the hope of<br />

eventually leading to the settlement of core<br />

disputes.<br />

GUAN HUI LEE is a first-year Master's<br />

student majoring in International<br />

Relations. He received his undergraduate<br />

degree in IR from<br />

Peking University<br />

in 2013. His<br />

academic interests<br />

include U.S.<br />

foreign policy,<br />

political theory<br />

and U.S.-China<br />

foreign relations.<br />

His senior thesis<br />

compared aspects<br />

of Reaganite neoconservatism and the<br />

2010 Tea Party conservative movement.<br />

He is currently interning at the National<br />

Committee on U.S.-China Relations, where<br />

he has the opportunity to interact with<br />

like-minded people in his field.<br />

48 Thang Nguyen Dang, “Fisheries Cooperation in the<br />

South China Sea and the (Ir)relevance of the<br />

Sovereignty Question,” Asian Journal of International Law<br />

2 (2012).<br />

65 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 65

Is Sustained Economic<br />

Growth in Russia’s<br />

Future?<br />

Joel Alexander<br />

Russia’s economic history is one told<br />

through booms and busts. Since<br />

the collapse of the Soviet Union,<br />

Russia has witnessed growth intermitted by<br />

crises in 1998 and 2008. Each crisis wiped<br />

out the preceding economic progress,<br />

ultimately keeping Russia in a state of<br />

overall stagnation. From 1991 to 2008,<br />

Russia’s economy transformed from a<br />

communist economy to a fledging capitalist<br />

economy. Despite its transformation,<br />

however, Russia’s economy battles with the<br />

prototypical problem of an authoritarian<br />

structure—achieving sustained growth.<br />

However, growth in Russia is not about<br />

overcoming the remnants of its communist<br />

society, nor is it about adopting liberal<br />

capitalism. Jack A. Goldstone addresses<br />

this problem in his essay “Efflorescences<br />

and economic growth in world history:<br />

rethinking the "rise of the west" and the<br />

industrial revolution,” where he reexamines<br />

the distinction between pre-modern and<br />

modern economies, ultimately calling for a<br />

separation of liberal Western economics<br />

from modern economic growth.<br />

Goldstone critiques the normative<br />

approach of analyzing economic growth in<br />

world history that specifies two norms—<br />

modern economic growth stemming from<br />

Western nations and pre-modern<br />

unsustainable growth from non-Western<br />

nations. This distinction rests on the<br />

assumption that pre-modern societies<br />

could not achieve sustained growth<br />

because of structural and political problems<br />

in how those countries were managed.<br />

Moreover, this approach claims that<br />

Western nations were better suited<br />

structurally, politically, and culturally to<br />

evolve and achieve sustained economic<br />

growth, thus making them modern<br />

economies. Goldstone purports that such a<br />

normative approach is a fallacy. Employing<br />

a historical analysis, he asserts that every<br />

nation goes through periods of growth,<br />

stability, stagnation, and crisis. He<br />

proscribes their ability to achieve sustained<br />

growth to their own unique cultural<br />

contents and organizational frameworks—<br />

or their own “peculiar local phenomena,”<br />

—which allows a nation to better utilize its<br />

human capital and resources to achieve<br />

sustained growth. To arrive at this analysis,<br />

Goldstone uses the theoretical lenses of<br />

efflorescence. Goldstone’s notion of<br />

“efflorescence” is a more<br />

multidimensional, holistic concept of<br />

economic growth, compared to the binary<br />

theories of growth that postulated a zerosum<br />

growth or no-growth environment.<br />

Moreover, efflorescence allows for the<br />

equalizing of both Eastern and Western<br />

nations, refuting that the liberal Western<br />

economic model definition of economic<br />

growth. By seeing all pre-modern history as<br />

punctuated by efflorescences, Goldstone<br />

argued, “growth and prosperity were not<br />

monopolies of the modern or Western (or<br />

even "capitalist") worlds.” 1 If all economies<br />

went through periods of efflorescence, and<br />

it was a “peculiar local phenomena” that<br />

allowed them to achieve sustained growth,<br />

the question is no longer how much a<br />

country emulates Western liberal<br />

economies, but rather, which intrinsic<br />

aspects of a country will promote a<br />

transition away from unsustainable growth<br />

to modern economic growth?<br />

1 Jack A. Goldstone, “Efflorescences and Economic<br />

Growth in World History: Rethinking The ‘Rise Of<br />

The West’ and The Industrial Revolution,” Journal of<br />

World History 13, no. 2, (2002), 47, 377-378.<br />

66 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 66

This lens is particularly helpful<br />

when understanding Russia’s political<br />

economy in boom and bust cycles. This<br />

paper clarifies that Russia witnessed<br />

periods of efflorescence after the 1998<br />

Asian financial crisis and then again after<br />

the 2008 global financial crisis. Specifically,<br />

there were factors of Russia’s economy<br />

that promoted efflorescence and those that<br />

stifled efflorescence, leading to<br />

unsustainable growth. After transitioning<br />

from a communist society to a semicapitalist<br />

economy, Russia experienced a<br />

period of economic growth, which was<br />

ultimately undermined by its Oligarchconducive<br />

policies. Later its economic<br />

growth advanced and then declined<br />

because of the economy’s dependence on<br />

natural resources, namely oil and gas. 2<br />

Then, in 2010, Russia witnessed a rise of a<br />

peculiar phenomenon. The phenomenon<br />

stemmed from a mixture of Russia’s<br />

growing middle class and the demands they<br />

imposed on the political system, and<br />

Russia’s apparent top-down approach to<br />

innovation and investment in its human<br />

capital. First, this paper will reanalyze<br />

Russia’s political economy through an<br />

explanation and exploration of Goldstone's<br />

efflorescence theory. It will then clarify the<br />

drivers for and against sustained<br />

efflorescence in Russia, which stem from<br />

the country’s own peculiar local<br />

characteristics rather than from the<br />

absence of liberal capital reforms.<br />


THEORY<br />

In his seminal work on<br />

Efflorescence Goldstone makes a<br />

distinction between the historical<br />

2 This economic phenomenon is known as “Dutch<br />

Disease,” and will be enumerated on at later points<br />

in the analysis.<br />

understanding of modern and pre-modern<br />

nations. This is important for Goldstone<br />

because it allows for the “rethinking of the<br />

‘rise of the West,’” which takes the strength<br />

from those advocates that assume<br />

modernization has a Western façade. By<br />

studying economic growth from the 10 th<br />

century to the early 18 th century, Goldstone<br />

disproves the historical fallacy of the rise of<br />

the West. He finds that the trends<br />

observed in Europe which were “proof of<br />

‘early modern’ character,” such as technical<br />

innovations, and extensive trade networks,<br />

to name a few, were also manifested<br />

outside Europe prior to the eighteenth<br />

century. 3 There is no sufficient connection<br />

between the “rise of the West” and<br />

sustained economic growth. Goldstone<br />

begins by inventing the neologism<br />

“efflorescence” and deconstructing our<br />

customary methods of conceptualizing<br />

growth.<br />

In the absence of an economic<br />

crisis, there may be growth, stagnation, or<br />

stability; each phase is cyclical and as<br />

important as the next. Efflorescence is the<br />

converse of a crisis: “a relatively sharp,<br />

often unexpected upturn in significant<br />

demographic and economic indices, usually<br />

accompanied by political<br />

expansion…institution building, and<br />

cultural synthesis”. 4 Without the distinction<br />

of efflorescence, the toolkit for<br />

understanding economic growth stems<br />

from two classifications. First, there is<br />

Kuznetzian/Schumpeterian Growth where<br />

growth is defined by internally driven and<br />

self-sustaining rapid increases in indices<br />

such as income per capita, and total output.<br />

This process occurs through creative<br />

destruction, whereby older technologies and<br />

firms are replaced by more efficient<br />

3 Goldstone, “Efflorescences and Economic<br />

Growth in World History: Rethinking The ‘Rise Of<br />

The West’ and The Industrial Revolution,” 6.<br />

4 Ibid, 9.<br />

67 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 67

substitutes. Second, there is<br />

Extensive/Smithian Growth, which is<br />

growth that lacks significant technological<br />

improvements, as in the Kuznetzian<br />

model. Instead, higher incomes per capita<br />

and total output increase because of a<br />

country’s comparative specialization<br />

expanding trade and the mobility of<br />

specific resources. According to the theory,<br />

this growth is not sustainable and will<br />

eventually be counterbalanced by the<br />

leveling off population growth, and/or the<br />

depletion of resources—known as<br />

Malthusian constraints. Goldstone opines<br />

that those two distinctions of growth<br />

create a zero and one binary of growth or<br />

stagnation. Efflorescence, can account for<br />

a country’s growth that does not fit the<br />

characterizations provided by only an<br />

Schumpeterian-type or Smithian-type of<br />

growth.<br />

Equipped with Goldstone’s theory,<br />

this paper re-contextualizes the story of<br />

Russia as one of various efflorescences,<br />

which have cyclically emerged and then<br />

contracted. Analyzing Russia through the<br />

lens of efflorescence theory can help<br />

identify the various reasons why<br />

efflorescence waned in Russia, and ways in<br />

which it may evolve to a more sustainable<br />

efflorescence and thus achieving “modern”<br />

economic growth. However, before one<br />

can speak of the Russian experience with<br />

efflorescence, it is first necessary to<br />

understand how efflorescence occurs.<br />

According to Goldstone, efflorescence<br />

tends to occur under the following<br />

conditions:<br />

(1) During periods when<br />

international trade and<br />

sustained contact lead to a<br />

mixing of cultures and ideas;<br />

and (2) in places that are<br />

centers of international trade,<br />

in which people, goods, and<br />

techniques are focused on<br />

meeting multiple commercial<br />

demands. One could add as a<br />

third factor that (3) such<br />

efflorescences also seem<br />

more likely during periods of<br />

reconstruction following a<br />

collapse or massive challenge<br />

or change in government or<br />

society that unleashes new<br />

energies or social groups or<br />

provides integration and<br />

order over larger territories. 5<br />

Conversely, efflorescence is unlikely in<br />

societies isolated from cross-cultural<br />

influences or in societies that depend on a<br />

few commodities, which make the<br />

countries vulnerable to global shifts and<br />

limit their ability to diversify toward<br />

“multiple commercial demands” 6 . It is also<br />

unlikely during periods of unchallenged<br />

political order, where elites reject creative<br />

reconstruction and instead enforce<br />

conformity to existing practices.<br />

Many times in Russia, periods of<br />

oscillating efflorescence were due to<br />

fluctuations in the oil and natural gas<br />

markets. Russia faces a significant threat<br />

from negative impacts on its economy<br />

stemming from overreliance on a small set<br />

of commodities, specifically oil and gas. In<br />

the occurrence of the economic<br />

phenomenon termed “Dutch Disease,” 7<br />

overreliance on natural resources distorts<br />

the economy because the country slackens<br />

its other means of revenue generation (tax,<br />

infrastructure, investment) and depends on<br />

the revenues from a single set of<br />

commodities.<br />

5 Ibid, 31<br />

6 Ibid.<br />

7 The term stems from the 1960s and 1970s, a<br />

period when the Dutch economy became too<br />

specialized in the export of natural resources,<br />

ultimately crowding out other industries.<br />

68 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 68

Structurally, it is difficult to claim<br />

that economic “backwardness,” stemming<br />

from Russia’s authoritative policies and its<br />

integrated economic structure, was the<br />

main cause for Russia’s unsustainable<br />

growth and waning efflorescence. In fact,<br />

after the collapse of the Soviet Union,<br />

some domestic reforms such as liberal<br />

market reform and cultural change from<br />

tacit compliance to glasnost—a period of<br />

free speech and expression—brought on<br />

temporary efflorescence. However,<br />

Russia’s domestic reforms, such as<br />

perestroika under Soviet Union President<br />

Mikhail Gorbachev played a notable role in<br />

creating an entrenched oligarchic<br />

community in Russia, which still holds<br />

significant power and works to reinforce<br />

conformity to a natural resource, their<br />

pecuniary base. 8 As Goldstones makes<br />

clear, elite entrenchment diminishes<br />

efflorescence. These conditions constitute<br />

aspects of Russia’s “peculiar path.”<br />

Efflorescence opens the door to<br />

understanding Russia’s growth trajectory<br />

more effectively, which may have posed<br />

illusive if the country was analyzed under a<br />

strict Schumpeterian or Smithian<br />

framework, or under the belief that<br />

modernization needs to mimic Western<br />

economies. Thus, by separately examining<br />

Russia’s efflorescences after the 1998 and<br />

2008 crisis, we uncover the mechanisms<br />

driving and destroying a sustainable<br />

efflorescence in Russia.<br />

8 Perestroika literally means “restructuring.” It was a<br />

policy implemented to introduce market-like<br />

reforms into the Soviet System. Its most<br />

prototypical reform was privatization with<br />

vouchers. These vouchers are chiefly responsible<br />

for what we now term “Russian oligarchs.”<br />

1998 AND 2008 CRISES<br />

Russia underwent a seven-year<br />

period of efflorescence after the creation of<br />

the Russian Federation in 1991. Faced with<br />

a challenging economic situation, the<br />

economy made incremental movements<br />

toward positive GDP growth from 1991 to<br />

1997. In transitioning from a fiscal deficit<br />

representing -12.6 percent of GDP in 1994<br />

to a fiscal surplus of 1.4 percent of GDP in<br />

1997, Russia’s efflorescence changed the<br />

economic landscape, increasing the quality<br />

of life for its citizens and reconstructing its<br />

position in the global economy. 9 The<br />

growth from 1994 to 1997 relates directly<br />

to factors one and two of Goldstones<br />

causes for efflorescence: increased<br />

international trade, heightened<br />

international connections, and a period of<br />

reconstruction following the collapse the<br />

old regime. Both the World Bank (WB)<br />

and the International Monetary Fund<br />

(IMF) supported the formation of the<br />

Russian Federations, which also helped<br />

attract foreign investment. Moreover, to<br />

address its fiscal deficit, the Russian<br />

government engaged in financial<br />

innovations such as creating Government<br />

Short-Term Commitments (GKO)—shortterm,<br />

zero-coupon Russian government<br />

treasury bills—which provided noninflationary<br />

means toward financing budget<br />

deficits.<br />

Unfortunately, this period of<br />

efflorescence ended abruptly. Unlike the<br />

trends for successful efflorescence that<br />

Goldstone outlines, Russia’s international<br />

trade did not meet enough commercial<br />

demands. The geographical distribution of<br />

Russian foreign trade changed after the<br />

collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1985,<br />

around 55 percent of Soviet exports and<br />

9 Iris van de Wiel, “The Russian Crisis 1998:<br />

Economic Research,” (The Netherlands:<br />

Rabobank, 2013).<br />

69 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 69

imports were within the Eastern Bloc, or<br />

Comecon countries. 10 By 1991, only 23<br />

percent of exports and imports were with<br />

the former Comecon member states.<br />

However, after 1991, trade with advanced<br />

economies such as Europe, Japan, and the<br />

U.S. were growing but not enough to<br />

compensate for the falloff in trade with<br />

past allies. Moreover, oil, natural gas,<br />

metals, and minerals, accounted for 65<br />

percent of total exports in 1993 indicating<br />

that Russia’s export sector was nascent. 11<br />

Additionally, the change in the government<br />

after the collapse of the Soviet Union<br />

brought about new institutional problems,<br />

namely corruption. The broader fragility of<br />

Russia’s economy would become more<br />

apparent over time.<br />

Owing to burgeoning global<br />

financial interconnections, the Asian Crisis<br />

of 1997, which started with the collapse of<br />

the Thai baht currency in July, kick-started<br />

a global economic crisis. 12 Russia felt the<br />

reverberations of the Asian Crisis as<br />

investor speculation against the Russian<br />

ruble caused a devaluation of the currency.<br />

Between defending their currency by<br />

spending almost USD 6 billion of foreign<br />

exchange reserves and the tumble in world<br />

commodity prices, Russia experienced its<br />

most severe crisis in August of 1998. 13<br />

Eventually, defending the currency failed<br />

and the ruble devalued. Russia defaulted on<br />

10 The Comecon countries are: Soviet Union,<br />

Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German<br />

Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary,<br />

Romania, Poland, Cuba, the Mongolian People's<br />

Republic (Mongolia), and Vietnam.<br />

11 Glenn E. Curtis, “Foreign Economic Relations”<br />

in Russia: A Country Study ed., (Washington: GPO<br />

for the Library of Congress, 1996).<br />

12 This was purportedly due in large to massive<br />

currency speculation by New York hedge fund<br />

manager George Soros, after he shorted the<br />

currency that year.<br />

13 “National Wealth Fund Statistics,” Russian<br />

National Wealth Fund.<br />

http://old.minfin.ru/en/reservefund/index.php<br />

its GKOs and coupon-bearing Federal<br />

Loan Bonds (OFZ), and announced a 90-<br />

day moratorium on payments to foreign<br />

creditors by commercial banks: effectively,<br />

a sovereign default. 14<br />

Adding to the destruction, Russia’s<br />

dependency on world energy prices<br />

exacerbated the damage. From 1991 to<br />

1997, rising oil and energy prices led to<br />

Russia’s efflorescence. However, in the<br />

wake of the Asian crisis, the natural<br />

commodities market plummeted with<br />

energy prices, sliding from 1997 onwards,<br />

further burdening Russia’s economy. The<br />

torrents of economic mayhem affected<br />

Russia throughout 1998 and by the<br />

beginning of 1999, actual GDP, and GDP<br />

growth were both below their pre-1996<br />

levels.<br />

Luckily, by the late-1990s investor<br />

sentiment started to relax, capital flight<br />

slowed and world commodity prices<br />

bounced back. The price of crude oil,<br />

which played a big role in pulling the<br />

Russian economy out of efflorescence<br />

between 1998 and 1999, conversely stoked<br />

efflorescence after 1999. The price rose to<br />

an average $10 USD per barrel higher than<br />

the previous 5 years. The commodity<br />

boom bolstered the rate at which the<br />

Russian economy was able to recover from<br />

the 1998 crisis. During the third quarter of<br />

1999, Russia’s annual GDP grew by 11.5<br />

percent and then by 12.1 percent in the<br />

fourth quarter of 1999.<br />

If the 1998 crisis was the first and<br />

only crisis to have impacted Russia, foreign<br />

analysts and Russians alike would have<br />

easily overlooked the apparent signs of a<br />

fragile economy. Emphasis would have<br />

been placed on Russia’s rapid recovery, and<br />

its high dependency on oil and energy<br />

would have been praised as a successful<br />

14 Wiel, “The Russian Crisis 1998.”<br />

70 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 70

hedge. Analysts could have claim that it is<br />

inevitable for a nascent market economy<br />

recovering from the collapse of a<br />

communist society to face initial hardship.<br />

However, Russia’s deep structural<br />

economic weaknesses were revealed by<br />

crisis in 2008. In 2009, Russian Specialist,<br />

Jeffery Mankoff, criticized Russia’s internal<br />

economic mechanics that persisted since<br />

the 1998 crisis:<br />

[A] foreign policy based on<br />

the revenues from highenergy<br />

prices is necessarily<br />

hostage to fluctuations in the<br />

global energy market, as<br />

indeed it was during the<br />

Soviet Union’s economic<br />

boom of the 1970s and the<br />

subsequent bust of the 1980s.<br />

Moreover, Russia’s economy<br />

is still inflexible and<br />

uncompetitive. 15<br />

The 2008 crisis proved that future<br />

efflorescence in Russia would be<br />

unsustainable if the country saw no<br />

structural changes. The Russian economy<br />

could not sustain growth because it<br />

suffered from internal weaknesses and an<br />

over-reliance on one commodity.<br />

However, structural reform can be a very<br />

tough pill to swallow, especially if structural<br />

inefficiency allowed for quick recoveries<br />

from two financial crises.<br />

Russia may have suffered the most<br />

of all the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and<br />

China) countries at the onset of the<br />

financial crisis, but Russia grew faster<br />

before the crisis, and its recovery was<br />

quicker thanks to its oil dependency. As<br />

Clifford Gaddy and Barry Ickes succinctly<br />

exemplify:<br />

15 Jeffrey Mankoff, Russian Foreign Policy: The Return<br />

of Great Power Politics. (USA: Rowman & Littlefield,<br />

2009), 48.<br />

This is worth<br />

repeating…Russia is still<br />

significantly richer in 2010<br />

than it would have been had<br />

it grown at a rate as fast as<br />

the next-fastest BRIC<br />

[country] since 1999. Russia<br />

clearly would not have gained<br />

from having “diversified”<br />

away from energy in 1999. 16<br />

Russia’s growth was in large part due to its<br />

massive reserve fund, and the revenues that<br />

it had built through natural resource sales.<br />

The reserve fund, a product of the<br />

stabilization fund put in place after the<br />

1998 crisis, gave Russia access to foreign<br />

currency that it could spend to fight off<br />

capital flight and bolster the depreciating<br />

currency.<br />

Unlike other countries that were<br />

forced to invoke significant monetary<br />

policy mechanisms which lead to inflation<br />

and devalued currencies, Russia could<br />

offset most of the pain by drawing upon its<br />

reserves fund. This allowed the country to<br />

curtail unnecessary monetary policy, which<br />

could prove problematic after external<br />

shocks subside and business-as-usual<br />

returns. During the financial crisis, Russia’s<br />

increase in expenditures outpaced the<br />

revenues raised by the government, leading<br />

to a budget deficit by 2009. Additionally,<br />

Russia spent 22 percent of its total<br />

reserves, or USD $1.3 billion from 2008 to<br />

2009. This illustrates that in order to<br />

counteract the 2008 crisis, Russia spent an<br />

excessive amount of its reserves and<br />

diminished its fiscal balance.<br />

To recover, four years of building a<br />

healthy fiscal balance disappeared, and a<br />

year worth of reserves evaporated. The<br />

16 Clifford G. Gaddy and Barry W. Ickes. “Russia<br />

After The Global Financial Crisis.” Eurasian<br />

Geography and Economics 51, no.3 (2010), 291.<br />

71 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 71

sheer amount spent to offset the crisis is a<br />

cause for concern. Without oil revenues<br />

replenishing its reserves, Russia could not<br />

justify spending such large sums.<br />

Moreover, during the second half of 2008,<br />

Russia’s stock market had shed more than<br />

90 percent of its value. By 2009, after such<br />

large fiscal injections consumer spending<br />

still shrank by 7.9 percent, indicating that<br />

Russian’s were worried about the future of<br />

their economy. 17 For the first time since<br />

1999, Russia again ran a budget deficit.<br />

In light of this, we see that the<br />

reserves built via the high dependency on<br />

oil only points to a more integral flaw. The<br />

effects of the 2008 crisis highlighted<br />

Russia’s Dutch disease, and its vulnerability<br />

to the sways of the international<br />

environment. Because oil revenues are<br />

accumulated through export sales, Russia’s<br />

government budget depends on oil prices,<br />

and international demand/supply<br />

dynamics. Ultimately, Russia’s dependency<br />

on oil helped to revive the economy from a<br />

crisis, but it also jeopardized it when those<br />

commodity prices tumbled. Gaddy and<br />

Ickes point out this observation as well<br />

when he states:<br />

First, the crisis has reminded<br />

us of how thoroughly<br />

dependent Russia is on oil<br />

and gas. Looking at the<br />

period before the crisis,<br />

during the crisis, and now in<br />

the rebound, the picture is<br />

unambiguous. Very few<br />

important developments,<br />

positive or negative, cannot<br />

be traced back to fluctuations<br />

in the volume of wealth—the<br />

rents—that accrue to Russia<br />

from these resources.<br />

(Resource) addiction’s most<br />

pernicious feature is that it is<br />

self-reinforcing, which means<br />

that it continually deepens<br />

and reproduces<br />

backwardness and<br />

inefficiency in the Russian<br />

economy. 18<br />

Ultimately, both crises of 1998 and 2008<br />

draw out the pertinence in understanding<br />

how efflorescence occurred in Russian.<br />

After the 1990 collapse of the Soviet<br />

Union, Russia experienced a brief<br />

efflorescence that was stumped because its<br />

export was still immature. After the 1998<br />

crisis, Russia’s dependence on oil allowed<br />

for another efflorescence, but overreliance<br />

on oil and gas revenues limited its<br />

expansion along multiple economic<br />

indicators, ultimately creating a short-term<br />

efflorescence, restricting it in the long run.<br />

Nevertheless, disagreement still<br />

exists on whether the 1998 and 2008 crises<br />

illustrate Russia’s dependency on a few<br />

commodities. Many of the country’s<br />

analysts and economists question whether<br />

Russia, in fact, suffers from “Dutch<br />

disease.” To find answers they often<br />

evaluate the future of Russia’s natural<br />

resource sector to consider its ability to rely<br />

on oil and gas exports and what<br />

relationship that has on Russia’s willingness<br />

to diversify its economy.<br />


If one does not look deeply into<br />

the problem, Russia’s dependency on its<br />

natural resources may appear positive<br />

rather than negative. It may be true that the<br />

Reserves Fund and National Wealth Fund<br />

have had beneficial impacts on Russia’s<br />

17 Mankoff, Russian Foreign Policy: The Return of Great<br />

Power Politics.<br />

18 Gaddy and Ickes. “Russia After The Global<br />

Financial Crisis,” 282.<br />

72 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 72

economy. However, a closer look at the<br />

long-term perspective exposes the negative<br />

effects of overreliance on such funds.<br />

Russia’s exports in the oil and gas sector<br />

accounts to 70 percent of its exports or 28<br />

percent of its GDP. To place that in<br />

context, India’s oil sector, for example, is<br />

only 18 percent of all exports.<br />

Comparatively, for the U.S., capital goods,<br />

industrial goods, and consumer goods<br />

together make up 65 percent of all<br />

exports. 19 Because Russia can generate<br />

revenue and saving from oil and gas sales,<br />

it is dis-incentivized to innovate new<br />

avenues of wealth creation.<br />

This level of dependency has<br />

proven to be problematic before. Firstly,<br />

Russia’s economic growth closely tracks<br />

worldwide oil demand and price. Secondly,<br />

when oil price is stable but other exports<br />

and sources of revenue are not developed,<br />

the economy approaches decline. In 2012,<br />

Russia’s economic growth was 3.4 percent,<br />

the lowest level since 1990 minus the<br />

global recession of 2008-2009. This was<br />

primarily because the volume of Russia’s<br />

exports other than oil and gas had declined<br />

amid worldwide recessions. 20<br />

High correlations between crude oil<br />

prices and Russian trade and exports<br />

exemplify structural risk. For example,<br />

trade mainly mirrored the movements of<br />

Urals oil prices in 2011 and 2012 rising to<br />

$400 million in 2011 when oil prices<br />

reached $120, and falling together by the<br />

middle of 2012 when oil sank below<br />

$100. 21 Additionally, the trend in export<br />

follows that of global oil demand. The<br />

figures illustrate Neil Rubinstein’s claim<br />

that “when oil prices have been high,<br />

Russia has grown its economy and<br />

balanced its budget; when they have been<br />

low, growth has reversed, and deficits have<br />

returned.” 22<br />

Furthermore, in 2003, 40 percent<br />

of Russia’s revenues were based on oil and<br />

gas taxes. That number increased by 8<br />

percent through 2010. 23 Thus, with this<br />

trend we see that when demand for oil<br />

decreases, revenues also decrease because<br />

fewer taxes are collected Additionally, the<br />

reliance on oil has linked Russia to the<br />

global world more integrally in many ways.<br />

As presented, both crises of 1998 and 2008<br />

were based on external tremors. More<br />

threats from external sources may lie<br />

ahead. By investing in a diversified<br />

economy, Russia can decouple its growth<br />

from natural resource rents, allowing it to<br />

have sectors of its economy insulated from<br />

external shocks.<br />

Though Russia’s dependency on oil<br />

does not pose immediate threat to its<br />

economy, a series of future problems will<br />

affect its growth in the long term. Crude oil<br />

prices are on a slow decline in recent years.<br />

Decreasing oil and gas demand in Europe,<br />

Russia’s number one importer of oil and<br />

gas, is also a cause for concern. Fiscal and<br />

monetary instability in Europe led to an<br />

economic slowdown for Russia in the<br />

second half of 2012. Additionally, Europe<br />

is continuously looking for new sources of<br />

energy to deter its reliance on Russian oil<br />

and gas. In response, Russia has turned to<br />

strategic relations with China. The growing<br />

population and expanding economy of<br />

China has prompted the need for higher<br />

19 Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) and<br />

Roubini Global Economics, “Oil Security Index,”<br />

www.OilSecurityIndex.org, October 2013.<br />

20 The National Institute for Defense Studies, “East<br />

Asian Strategic Review” (Tokyo, The Japan Times,<br />

Ltd., 2013), 254.<br />

21 Ibid.<br />

22 Neil Robinson, ed., “Russia's Potential Role in<br />

the World Oil System” in Political Economy of Russia<br />

(USA: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), 156.<br />

23 Robertson and Graeme, “Russian Protesters: Not<br />

Optimistic But Here to Stay,” Russian Analytical<br />

Digest, 20, no.115 (2012).<br />

73 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 73

natural resource consumption. However,<br />

between China’s slowing economy and its<br />

own endeavors for acquiring natural<br />

resources abroad, the short-term likelihood<br />

of China bringing a big boost to the<br />

Russian economy is low.<br />

At the writing of this report, based<br />

on the rising stockpiles of crude oil in the<br />

U.S. and higher-than-expected production<br />

of oil in Libya, crude oil prices have been<br />

on a continuous decline since November<br />

2013. 24 This decline in oil prices mirrors a<br />

stagnating Russian economy. Based on<br />

Roubini Global Economics’ projections,<br />

Russia’s GDP growth for 2014 will be as<br />

low as 2 percent and its current growth is<br />

about 1.4 percent. 25 In the past, Russia has<br />

been consistently lucky with the strength of<br />

oil prices. However, in this case, strength<br />

can be equivalent to overreliance. It is<br />

important not to ignore how Russia’s<br />

efflorescences have emerged cyclically due<br />

to changes in the oil price. It is<br />

understandably beneficial to recover<br />

quickly from a crisis, but it is just as bad to<br />

have a country’s growth stripped from it<br />

because of resource prices. If Russia is to<br />

aim for sustained economic growth and<br />

efflorescence that maintains stride long<br />

enough to become a modernizing<br />

economy, diversification is needed. The<br />

question is, as asked in Thane Gustafson’s<br />

book, Wheel of Fortune: The battle for power and<br />

oil in Russia, is Russia “a classic petro-state,”<br />

with its “hypertrophied hydrocarbon<br />

industries inflicting a ‘resource curse’ on<br />

non-energy industries suffering from<br />

Dutch disease.” 26 The answer to such a<br />

24 ICN.com, “Oil Set For First Three-Week Slide In<br />

2013: Commodity Market Commentaries,”<br />

Oilngold.com, April 19, 2013.<br />

25 “Russia Country Analysis,” Roubini Global<br />

Economics. Accessed on December 2013,<br />

https://www.roubini.com.<br />

26 Thane, Gustafson, Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for<br />

Oil and Power in Russia, (USA: Harvard University Press,<br />

2012).<br />

question continues to be elusive because of<br />

the recent changes in Russia’s economic<br />

growth plan.<br />

Currently, Russia is investing in<br />

infrastructure, using the National Wealth<br />

Fund as a source of revenue. Here it is<br />

important to note the change in strategy.<br />

Instead of using those reserves to avoid<br />

diversified investment, Russia appears to<br />

be changing its approach. Additionally,<br />

Russia is attempting to provide incentives<br />

for companies to explore the East Siberian<br />

and Far East Greenfields as well as the<br />

offshore arctic Bluefield for untapped oil<br />

reserves where oil is harder to access but of<br />

higher quality. 27 Here we see a positive<br />

relationship with its oil rents whereby<br />

Russia rolls over surplus into productive<br />

investments. Nonetheless, this trend is<br />

nascent and it cannot be guaranteed to<br />

persist. Moreover, oil is only one particular<br />

bottleneck Russia may be facing in regards<br />

to maintaining efflorescence.<br />

Goldstone addresses that selfsustaining<br />

growth is not dependent on a<br />

“cluster of innovations,” or by alleviating a<br />

particular bottleneck, “rather it is a matter<br />

of developing a particular approach to<br />

production and technological innovations.”<br />

Additionally, he claims, “it is long overdue<br />

to incorporate changes in social<br />

attitudes…into our conceptions of what<br />

underlay the sudden onset of selfsustaining<br />

and accelerating growth.” 28 In<br />

accord with his statement, I turn to the<br />

regime of Vladimir Putin and to the<br />

developments in Russia’s civil society after<br />

the 2011 protests.<br />

27 Ibid.<br />

28 Goldstone, “Efflorescences and Economic<br />

Growth in World History: Rethinking The “Rise Of<br />

The West” and The Industrial Revolution,” 31.<br />

74 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 74


RUSSIA<br />

In his theory of efflorescence,<br />

Goldstone points out that efflorescences<br />

are usually accompanied by massive<br />

challenges against the social order or<br />

challenges against governments. Thus, the<br />

social fabric of a country is as important to<br />

efflorescence as any other indicator. In this<br />

regard, Russia has a recent trend worth<br />

noting. By late 2011, civil society started to<br />

visibly stir in Russia. Protests began to pop<br />

up in Moscow and other major Russian<br />

cities. Many Russian specialists watched<br />

attentively as protesters amassed, calling<br />

for a structural change and the stepping<br />

down of President Putin. In December,<br />

Putin reinforced the idea of a tandem<br />

leadership between himself and then<br />

President Dmitry Medvedev—announcing<br />

that he would be swapping positions with<br />

Medvedev for Presidency over Vice-<br />

Presidency. Not long after this<br />

announcement, discontented protestors<br />

took to the street to express their views on<br />

domestic corruption. Chants for “Rossiya<br />

bez Putina - Russia, without Putin,” could<br />

be heard en masse roving down the busy<br />

streets of Moscow. Financial instability<br />

amongst the population has caused some<br />

citizens to worry about the conditions of<br />

their country. Moreover, due of the rising<br />

middle class, the amount of educated<br />

civilians who are aware of corruption rose.<br />

By December 2011, it became apparent<br />

that the changing dynamics of Russia’s civil<br />

society would pose significant challenges to<br />

the government. These events will have<br />

much to do with the potential durability of<br />

efflorescence in Russia post the 2008 crisis.<br />

It is important to place these<br />

challenges amidst the phenomenon of<br />

creative destruction. This concept, as<br />

previously referenced, pertains to the<br />

elimination of older technologies as more<br />

efficient alternatives are developed. As<br />

society unleashes new energies that aim to<br />

provide a new structure more capable of<br />

sustaining efflorescence, older structures<br />

are challenged and dissolved. However,<br />

Goldstone warns that many times a<br />

country falls into Caldwell’s law, which<br />

states that when new productive practices<br />

or forces cause growth in an economy, they<br />

will also create interest groups vested by<br />

the political and social elite. These interest<br />

groups constrict future creative destruction<br />

because they desire to reap the benefits<br />

from the monopolies they have acquired.<br />

Thus, such groups generate stagnation, and<br />

decline of efflorescence. For Russia,<br />

Caldwell’s law depicts the country’s schism<br />

between its citizenry—Oligarchy vs. the<br />

budding middle class. Goldstone explains<br />

that when this occurs, “only a major social<br />

or political upheaval is then likely to create<br />

new opportunities for major episodes of<br />

growth.” 29 Many indeed thought this<br />

particular upheaval was occurring in Russia<br />

during 2011. Graeme Robertson stated,<br />

“Russia had woken up.” 30 His words were<br />

mirrored by a series of academics and<br />

analysts who saw 2011 as the time for civil<br />

society in Russia to start its engine toward<br />

Russia 2.0. Unfortunately, such changes are<br />

much harder to initiate than initially<br />

thought.<br />

In 2012, Putin regained his<br />

presidency. A vast amount of the<br />

protestors had been arrested before and<br />

after the State Duma elections and Putin’s<br />

inauguration. By June 2012, legislation was<br />

passed to sharply raise the fines imposed<br />

for engaging in unauthorized<br />

demonstrations, and in October Russia’s<br />

criminal code was amended to classify such<br />

29 Ibid.<br />

30 Graeme Robertson, “Russian Protesters: Not<br />

Optimistic But Here to Stay.” Russian Analytical<br />

Digest 20, no.115 (2012).<br />

75 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 75

activities as acts of treason. 31 As it became<br />

more difficult for massive social uprising to<br />

form, confidence in reforms diminished.<br />

Cases such as the “Pussy Riot” arrests have<br />

frightened many youths who do not want<br />

to be jailed. Harsh fines have made<br />

protesting a sport for the wealthy.<br />

Evghenia Sleptsova, a Russian<br />

economic analyst writing on Russian<br />

Growth, states, as well as many others, that<br />

“Putin’s model of governance, whereby the<br />

population gives up part of democracy in<br />

return for economic stability, [is] adding to<br />

the political risks.” 32 In order to enjoy the<br />

fruits of economic growth, people are<br />

coerced to deal with the system. This<br />

method appears counter intuitive and<br />

ineffective in light of Goldstone’s<br />

efflorescence theory. Goldstone warns<br />

against conforming to existing practices<br />

enforced by elite command. By siding with<br />

the status quo, Russia begs for its own<br />

stagnation. Indeed, such stagnation has<br />

already arrived.<br />

The government acknowledged its<br />

own sluggishness during fiscal year 2013,<br />

and has abandoned its hopes of 4 percent<br />

GDP growth, forecasting downward to 2.5<br />

percent. 33 Thus, Robertson’s statement is<br />

brought back in the form of a question: will<br />

Russia wake up? Analyst Sleptsova stated<br />

that:<br />

By slashing the long-term growth<br />

forecast the government effectively<br />

admits that growth will continue to<br />

track the stagnant oil prices and<br />

demand, and does not expect any<br />

significant economic break-through<br />

or diversification of the economy.<br />

31 The National Institute for Defense Studies, “East<br />

Asian Strategic Review 2013.”<br />

32 Evghenia Sleptsova, “Russian Growth: Slowing<br />

Down and Not Much Acceleration in Sight.”<br />

Roubini Global Economics.com, November 11, 2013.<br />

33 Ibid.<br />

Therefore, as stagnant hydrocarbon<br />

revenues and restrictive fiscal<br />

policy will constrain public<br />

investment, and private sector<br />

investment will continue to be<br />

suppressed by weak rule of law and<br />

corruption, investment will serve as<br />

a drag on growth. 34<br />

It must be said, however, that it is unfair to<br />

tell this tale as if the Russian government is<br />

not ostensibly aiming to suppress<br />

stagnation-causing policies. Putin has<br />

implemented a series of small fixes, which<br />

have boosted Russia’s 2013 World Bank<br />

rating up 20 points from 112 th to 92 nd ,<br />

signifying that Russia is taking steps toward<br />

improving its business climate. Moreover,<br />

Putin ambitiously states that he wants that<br />

ranking to rise to 20 th place by 2018.<br />

Additionally, Russia plans to spend 13.6<br />

billion rubles on public infrastructure.<br />

However, many see these changes as only<br />

minimal—maintaining stagnation, but not<br />

spurring efflorescence. Specialists at The<br />

Economist are also skeptical. They state that<br />

“profound reforms” will now be needed.<br />

Mirroring the statement of Sleptsova, they<br />

call particularly for reforms to the courts,<br />

legal system, judiciary system, and law<br />

enforcement. 35 With an anachronistic<br />

examination of economic growth, it may<br />

seem that such changes will only stem from<br />

Schumpeterian growth and the adaptation<br />

of liberal democratic reforms. However,<br />

this author cautions against overt cynicism<br />

and instead encourages moderated caution<br />

in regards to the Russian government’s<br />

ability to implement the needed reforms.<br />

Ultimately, the question is, how<br />

threatened is the Russian system by its<br />

inability to allow creative destruction to run<br />

34 Ibid.<br />

35 “The S word; Russia's economy,” The Economist,<br />

November 9, 2013.<br />

76 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 76

its course? Currently, Russia is taking steps<br />

that prove it can liberate itself from an<br />

overreaching government and a corrupt<br />

oligarchic system. One interesting<br />

movement in this direction has been the<br />

reappointment of Alexey Kudrin, former<br />

liberal Finance Minister from 2001. Putin<br />

appointed Kudrin to the Presidium of the<br />

Economic Council on October 31 2013. In<br />

2012, Silvana Malle, former head of the<br />

Non-Member Economies Division at the<br />

OECD Economics Department stated,<br />

“Alexey Kudrin have been pointed out as<br />

possible leaders of alternative parties” 36<br />

During the 2008 economic crisis, Kudrin<br />

played a key role in steering the country<br />

through the global financial crisis, famously<br />

quitting his position as Russia’s military<br />

budget ballooned against his will.<br />

Furthermore, developments such as the<br />

government voting to allow free mayoral<br />

elections in Russia’s largest cities, illustrate<br />

that creative destruction can be<br />

implemented from the top down. 37<br />


By examining Russia under the lens<br />

of Goldstone’s historical economic<br />

efflorescence, a less ambiguous and<br />

evolving picture of Russia’s current<br />

situation surfaces. Over the years, Russia<br />

has established a consistent reliance on its<br />

key resources and over-utilization of<br />

political power to ride out its crises. These<br />

tactics were not predominantly all bad<br />

choices. They have allowed Russia to grow<br />

on many occasions. However, the bigger<br />

picture is also visible. The purpose of<br />

36 Silvana Malle, "The Policy Challenges of Russia's<br />

Post-Crisis Economy," Post-Soviet Affairs 28, no.1,<br />

(2012), 82.<br />

37 Yulia Latynina, “How Yevgeny Roizman Became<br />

Mayor,” (The Moscow Times, September 18, 2013).<br />

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article<br />

/how-yevgeny-roizman-becamemayor/486235.html.<br />

efflorescence is to foster sustained<br />

economic growth and to evolve into a<br />

flourishing and modernizing economy. It is<br />

during this final transition that Russia's<br />

methods lose their appeal. High reliance on<br />

oil encourages resource addiction, allowing<br />

Russia to finance many of its problems and<br />

recover quickly from shocks. However,<br />

such reliance also causes Russia to<br />

strengthen only a few commodities sectors<br />

instead of diversifying. In an evolving<br />

world, such tactics are risky. Oil may not<br />

disappear, but developed countries<br />

throughout the world are investing in new<br />

technologies. Europe is pedantically<br />

watching its reliance on Russia, and China<br />

is voraciously scouring the globe for its<br />

own means to development. However, in<br />

contrast, this essay has also illustrated<br />

aspects that may lead to sustained<br />

efflorescence in Russia.<br />

In recent years, a tendency for the<br />

government and private corporations to<br />

turn to various investments, such as their<br />

military modernizations, investments in<br />

infrastructure, and the expansion of oil<br />

exploration technologies may enable Russia<br />

to overcome some of its bottlenecks. In<br />

Russia, as with all nations, it is important to<br />

heed Goldstone’s insight: every economy<br />

overcame economic stagnation in a way<br />

specific to its own resources and<br />

conditions. The future investments Russia<br />

plans to make, and the investments it has<br />

already made, point to a new and<br />

interesting occurrence of top-down<br />

reforms. This method is yet to be fully<br />

tested; however, it does not automatically<br />

call for skepticism.<br />

Russia’s future falls heavily on three<br />

developments: First, Russia needs to<br />

follows its proposed projects to limit its<br />

resource dependency. Second, Russia must<br />

address its legal system to stave off<br />

corruption, and implement reforms that<br />

may lead to creative destruction. Finally, as<br />

77 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 77

the social attitudes, and the civil conditions<br />

in Russia evolve we can heed Goldstone’s<br />

claim:<br />

It just so happened that in the<br />

background of …efflorescences –<br />

that of eighteenth-century<br />

England—there lurked a particular<br />

cultural content … that combined<br />

with that otherwise normal<br />

efflorescence to create wholly novel<br />

breakthroughs… 38 (Emphasis<br />

added.)<br />

Cultural content was the creation of a<br />

“scientific culture” in England, which led a<br />

rich culture in experimentation eventually<br />

leading to the invention of the steam<br />

engine. This cultural content will always be<br />

different and specific to a country. For<br />

Russia, a cultural content may be budding<br />

in its civil society’s changing temperament.<br />

Larger swaths of Russian citizens now<br />

express new desires and demands; they<br />

want a new way to structure their lives<br />

based on less corruption, more freedom to<br />

protest, advanced avenues for<br />

entrepreneurship by shrinking oligarchic<br />

monopolies, and enhanced access to the<br />

global economy which brings with it a vast<br />

array of goods. It is possible that among<br />

those many demands lay the fodder for<br />

structural change in Russia.<br />

Regrettably, over time, the ability of<br />

Russia’s civilians to cause upheavals against<br />

the system seem to be combatted by strict<br />

laws and centralized power. As the world<br />

around Putin gives birth to more protests<br />

and rebellions, he appears to become more<br />

cautious of domestic ruckus. Depending<br />

on the tide of civil society, Russia could be<br />

compelled to meet the demands of its<br />

middle class. Those citizens, who want<br />

more than abstract GDP growth, will<br />

demand for the diversification of their<br />

economy. As civil unrest strains the powersharing<br />

structure between the government<br />

and the oligarchs it is undeniably important<br />

when considering Russia’s ability to break<br />

from its “otherwise normal” oscillations<br />

between efflorescence and stagnation, to<br />

look for the creation of a “cultural<br />

content.” Such content will define Russian<br />

society in a way best suited for advanced<br />

growth. This will be both a structural<br />

change and consequently, a change in the<br />

collective mentality.<br />

As Russia continues its struggle to<br />

sustain efflorescence, analysts should<br />

consider a Russia-specific phenomenon as<br />

the solution. It is only in this way that<br />

observers will understand more holistically<br />

the potential for sustained, and enduring<br />

efflorescence in Russia.<br />

JOEL ALEXANDER graduated with a bachelor's<br />

degree in Political Science from Columbia<br />

University, and is currently pursuing a master's<br />

degree in Global Affairs at New York University’s<br />

Center for Global Affairs in the International<br />

Business and Economics concentration. He is<br />

currently the Vice President for the Society of<br />

International Business and Economics at NYU.<br />

38 Goldstone, Jack A, “Efflorescences and<br />

Economic Growth in World History: Rethinking<br />

The “Rise Of The West” and The Industrial<br />

Revolution,” 376.<br />

78 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 78

Iraq: State Or National<br />

Collapse?<br />

Paul Mutter<br />

I<br />

I<br />

n the twentieth and twenty-first centuries,<br />

Iraq has lacked a strong sense of<br />

nationhood and a stable civil society. In<br />

their place rose a “fierce state” that prioritized<br />

the maintenance of security services to uphold<br />

the leaders’ power and an “uncivil society” of<br />

the country’s ruling class who existed apart<br />

from the lumpen masses but were barred<br />

from associating and organizing freely.<br />

Following U.S. occupation in 2003, Iraq’s<br />

“fierce state” and “uncivil society” unraveled<br />

quite rapidly. In the absence of a state for all<br />

its citizens, or more inclusive civil society<br />

institutions, sectarianism became the primary<br />

mode of political association. It is in sectarian<br />

terms that disputes are still framed, and armed<br />

camps organized. The question is, why have<br />

state building efforts failed across the<br />

spectrum in Iraq: is it because of the<br />

authoritarian state’s inherent weakness there,<br />

or because the depths of Iraqi sectarianism<br />

defy attempts to forge a common<br />

nationalism?<br />

The underlying problem, in fact, lies in<br />

the structural weaknesses of the Iraqi state.<br />

Iraq was and is a “fierce state,” but not a<br />

strong one, and this has been the case since its<br />

establishment as a nominally independent<br />

country in 1932. The fundamental weaknesses<br />

predate the U.S. occupation, which merely<br />

exposed them for the international stage. A<br />

“fierce state” seeks to control all aspects of its<br />

peoples’ lives to prevent them from acting on<br />

their rights as citizens. 1 And Iraqi uncivil<br />

1 M. E. Bouillon, “Iraq’s State-Building Enterprise:<br />

State Fragility, State Failure and a New Social<br />

Contract,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi<br />

Studies 6, no. 3 (2012): 286, accessed May 5, 2014.<br />

http://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu:15301/eds/pdfviewer/p<br />

society—which consisted of state-mandated<br />

membership for the ruling class in party<br />

organizations—was still basically tribal (as<br />

were most illegal associations outside of<br />

official circles). The Americans’ forced<br />

removal of this type of uncivil society in 2003<br />

saw a proliferation of multiple uncivil societies<br />

organized along ethnosectarian lines. 2<br />

Whether ex-Baathists, Shia militias, the<br />

Kurdish Regional Government, the U.S.- and<br />

Iran-backed federal government, or Sunni<br />

tribal gatherings, the rush to compete in this<br />

new order resulted in massive insecurity and<br />

violence. Sectarian rhetoric often served as<br />

cover for pursuing nakedly materialistic goals<br />

and vendettas. Iraq established a Shiadominated<br />

federal system, but the limited<br />

rights this system observes with respect to<br />

non-Shia means that Iraq will continue to be<br />

wracked by multiple insurgencies. Even now,<br />

the most forceful opponents of the<br />

government are ex-Baathists and Sunni tribes<br />

who see the naked sectarianism of al Qaeda in<br />

Iraq (now reorganized as the “Islamic State of<br />

Iraq and the Levant”) as a vehicle to advance<br />

their interests.<br />


Why does the prewar condition of the<br />

Iraqi state matter? As M. E. Bouillon has<br />

noted, after the 1920s, “the state [in Arab<br />

countries] evolved from coveted prize and<br />

target of societal competition to instrument in<br />

the hands of those who had managed to<br />

capture it.” 3 This is what is meant by the<br />

fierce state in the literature. But “fierce” does<br />

not necessarily refer to a strong and stable<br />

dfviewer?sid=012545a9-6521-4dc9-915aa3e4383c5b05%40sessionmgr111&vid=8&hid=104.<br />

2 Phil Williams, “Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents:<br />

Organized Crime in Iraq,” Strategic Studies Institute<br />

(2009): xiii, accessed May 5, 2014.<br />

http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/<br />

pub930.pdf.<br />

3 Bouillon, “Iraq’s State-Building Enterprise,” 283.<br />

79 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 79

state. The fierceness of the state lies in its<br />

need to enforce its rule through violence and<br />

control the distribution of resources to<br />

concentrate (rather than dilute) power in the<br />

hands of a ruling coalition. What happened<br />

after 2003 was not a reverse of the process<br />

that Bouillon saw occurring between the<br />

1920s and the 1960s (when Iraqi Baathists<br />

seized power) but a revival across multiple<br />

coalitions. The paramount challenge for<br />

nation building in Iraq is less a matter of<br />

creating a coherent nationalism for all people<br />

within the border, than creating a state<br />

structure and rule of law within it. Francis<br />

Fukuyama's point that "reconstruction is<br />

possible when the underlying political and<br />

social infrastructure has survived conflict or<br />

crisis" is applicable here because in questions<br />

of building a nation, reconstruction is only<br />

possible if the machinery of state has survived<br />

intact. 4 State structure is a prerequisite to a<br />

successful nation. 5<br />

In Iraq, the rapidity and scale of "de-<br />

Baathification" meant that this premise was<br />

completely undone. 6 Iraqi functionaries forced<br />

out by the U.S. occupation authorities became<br />

rejectionists quite rapidly, aided by access to a<br />

cornucopia of arms caches and a lack of<br />

American troops to put out all the fires they<br />

set. The resulting sectarian conflicts in Iraq<br />

show, as Hawzhin Azeez suggests, “an<br />

attempt to forge their own sense of social<br />

consensus” but this presumes that an Iraq<br />

where the Sunni-Shia divide is still so raw is<br />

one that can actually agree on state structures. 7<br />

The question of “the nation” cannot be<br />

4 Francis Fukuyama, Nation-Building: Beyond Iraq and<br />

Afghanistan, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University<br />

Press, 2010), Kindle locations 146-147.<br />

5 Ibid., Kindle locations 3916-3918.<br />

6 RAND. “Chapter Ten: Iraq.” In America’s Role in<br />

Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq. Eds. Dobbins,<br />

James et al. (Santa Monica: RAND, 2003), 166.<br />

7 Hawzhin Azeez, “Reconstructing Iraq: Iraq Statebuilding,<br />

Nation-building, and Violence,” Nebula 7, no.<br />

4 (2010): 80, accessed on May 5, 2014.<br />

http://nobleworld.biz/images/Azeez.pdf.<br />

decided without prior acceptance of powersharing<br />

norms short of internecine warfare.<br />

With several of the country’s major cities still<br />

under the control of the so-called Islamic<br />

State and much of the Kurdish north acting<br />

independent of Baghdad, such norms remain<br />

an illusion. 8 True, even with an extensive<br />

welfare state and security apparatus in place,<br />

the state was weak in Iraq because of the<br />

Baathist’s long rule: one elite group captured<br />

the state, refusing to countenance any other<br />

kind of arrangement or power-sharing<br />

structure that would diminish its powers. 9<br />

This is what made Iraq’s top 1-10% of<br />

citizens—the people who ran the various<br />

ministries and security services—an uncivil<br />

society. They were committed to an order that<br />

barred them and the rest of the population<br />

from forming alternative, non-state forums to<br />

associate in. 10<br />

Iraqi states in the modern era have all<br />

been weak on the institutional level. Violence<br />

was commonly used to settle disputes among<br />

the ruling classes repeatedly: first in 1920 and<br />

1941, against the British, again in 1958 against<br />

the pro-British monarchy, and in 1963 with<br />

the establishment of the Baathist dictatorship.<br />

But the fierce state of Saddam Hussein was<br />

also weak in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s<br />

because of the way the state was organized: as<br />

a "totalitarian, patrimonial system" that also<br />

"was an amalgam of a single-family and a<br />

8 Michael Barnett, “Building a Republican Peace:<br />

Stabilizing States after War,” International Security 30, no.<br />

4, (2006): 89, accessed May 5, 2014.<br />

http://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu:15301/eds/pdfviewer/p<br />

dfviewer?vid=9&sid=012545a9-6521-4dc9-915aa3e4383c5b05%40sessionmgr111&hid=104.<br />

9 Abbas Kelidar, “States without Foundations: The<br />

Political Evolution of State and Society in the Arab<br />

East,” Journal of Contemporary History 28, no 2 (1993):<br />

324, accessed May 5 2014.<br />

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/260713?uid=3<br />

739808&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=211037528<br />

35571.<br />

10 Nazih Ayubi, Over-Stating the Arab State: Politics and<br />

Society in the Middle East, (London and New York, I. B.<br />

Tauris, 1995: 22.<br />

80 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 80

single-party system.” 11<br />

A strong state structure, according to<br />

Abbas Kelidar, is necessary for the growth of<br />

nationalism. This has proven elusive in Iraq<br />

because “a powerful force of national and<br />

social mobilization has been incapable of<br />

serving as the foundation of political<br />

organization” due to a lack of shared<br />

historical identities within its borders. 12 Across<br />

the whole of the Middle East, multiconfessional<br />

political movements in other<br />

post-Ottoman Arab states often failed to<br />

agree on how to share power because the<br />

"state" was not seen as a legitimate<br />

participatory venue. The frequent recourse to<br />

violence suggested less a weak sense of<br />

nationhood than a dearth of acceptable<br />

power-sharing arrangements. 13 So, the contest<br />

for power among these factions has<br />

historically ended with one or two of them<br />

capturing the state and resorting to divideand-rule<br />

politics. These factions fail to agree<br />

on power-sharing arrangements, instead<br />

resorting to officially sanctioned violence to<br />

maintain the status quo and, for the<br />

persecuted have-nots, insurgency. 14<br />

The late dictator’s policies were not<br />

“conducive to the development of an<br />

integrative condition in which a coherent<br />

11 Faleh Jabar, Postconflict Iraq: A Race for Stability,<br />

Reconstruction, and Legitimacy, (Washington, D.C.: USIP,<br />

2004): 7, accessed May 5, 2014.<br />

http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/sr120.pdf.<br />

12 Kelidar, “States without Foundations,” 320.<br />

13 As’ad AbuKhalil, “The Longevity of Arab Regimes:<br />

Causes of Oppression,” in Modern Middle East<br />

Authoritarianism: Roots, Ramifications, and Crisis. Eds.<br />

Benoun, Noureddine; Kia, Mehrdad; and Kirk, Mimi.<br />

(New York: Routledge, 2014). 50.<br />

14 North Yemen, now part of the Republic of Yemen,<br />

was another example of such a polity, a state where<br />

there was barely any “state” beyond the barracks.<br />

Whether under a monarch (before 1962), generals’<br />

clique (from 1974) or nepotistic family of bureaucrats<br />

(to 2011), coups were depressingly common in North<br />

Yemen because there was no other “accepted”<br />

mechanism for the transfer or modification of power.<br />

The North Yemeni state was also a fierce state, then.<br />

sense of political identity and stable political<br />

institutions could be established on firm<br />

foundations.” 15 Military institutions showed<br />

similar favoritism, failing to become vehicles<br />

for shared national identity given the high<br />

concentration of Sunni Arab officers and<br />

specialists (in other countries, like Lebanon or<br />

North Yemen, one could see Christians or<br />

Shia in similar positions). The Shia and<br />

Kurdish insurgencies in Iraq were, from the<br />

insurgents’ perspective, the only logical<br />

responses to this situation: to be<br />

acknowledged, they had to fight the state<br />

because no other form of protest was<br />

“legitimate.”<br />

“State-building in the Middle East”<br />

says Stephen Townley, “may function best at<br />

the sub-state level” precisely because it<br />

requires varied groups lacking a concrete<br />

national identity accepting that they need to<br />

agree on a set of rules to provision their own<br />

constituencies and then, moving forward,<br />

interact with others. 16 This has been how<br />

Iraqis have groped towards building a “new”<br />

Iraq since 2003: by attempting to renounce<br />

winner-take-all political violence in favor of<br />

negotiated transfers of authority and other<br />

arrangements, like revenue sharing. 17 The<br />

process is far from complete. Though the<br />

“nation” of Iraq is a fragile one, the real<br />

problem at hand is the failure of an Iraqi state<br />

to provide a secure space for citizens of<br />

different associations present to see<br />

themselves a part of, and have a stake in<br />

maintaining, the state even if it makes them<br />

more insecure and less privileged relative to<br />

other groups.<br />

15 Kelidar, “States without Foundations,” 327.<br />

16 Stephen Townley, “Perspectives on Nation-<br />

Building,” The Yale Journal of International Law 30, no.<br />

347 (2005: 359, accessed May 5, 2014.<br />

http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hei<br />

n.journals/yjil30&div=13&id=&page=.<br />

17 Bouillon, “Iraq’s State-Building Enterprise,” 292.<br />

81 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 81


CLAY<br />

The Iraqi state was, in short, “over<br />

stated”: it was imagined to be much stronger<br />

than it was simply because it projected such<br />

an image. 18 So how were the Iraqi Baathists<br />

able to build a state that was, at its core,<br />

extremely weak as a set of institutions and<br />

norms despite its authoritarian longevity? The<br />

Baathist regime, set up in 1963, endured until<br />

2003, with only a short interruption of its rule<br />

in the late 1960s. The three basic conditions<br />

of the “fierce state” existed throughout this<br />

period. A “democracy of bread” that was the<br />

oil-subsidized welfare system, a brutal internal<br />

policing mechanism, and a rallying cry of<br />

exclusivist nationalism over competing<br />

ideologies such as communism, pan-Arabism,<br />

and Islamism. 19<br />

The Baathist authorities offered Iraqis<br />

a “choice,” so to speak: accept a social<br />

contract that stultifies civil society in exchange<br />

for welfarism. Such states appear strong, but<br />

rely on the consent of the (un)governed: any<br />

form of mass protest or security disturbance<br />

has the potential to bring down the whole<br />

edifice if not crushed immediately, which is<br />

why the Baath Party responded so brutally<br />

both to attempted insurgencies and the<br />

mildest forms of dissent. 20<br />

Joining the Baathist Party was a<br />

prerequisite for career advancement, and was<br />

predicated on stifling any unapproved or<br />

potentially disruptive associations. 21 The<br />

Punishment Law 111 (Section 200) of the<br />

Baath Party’s charter allowed the regime to<br />

sentence party members to death if a member<br />

had any unlicensed affiliations with other<br />

political movements in Iraq—which is to say,<br />

all of them. Special attention was also paid to<br />

inductees who had been active in any<br />

movement that was banned after 1968, since<br />

this meant they had had such associations. 22<br />

Informing on colleagues was encouraged, and<br />

torture was common as well. 23 All of this<br />

helped the state prevent the emergence of<br />

civil society by promoting distrust and<br />

isolation: members of Saddam Hussein's<br />

family were not even immune from such<br />

checks on their power if they were seen by<br />

him to have stepped out of line. 24 Even the<br />

military remained divided, under suspicion,<br />

and, given the shortages plaguing the country<br />

after 1991, a competitor in internal “politics.”<br />

Although Western and Arab intelligence<br />

services expected palace coups to take place<br />

against Saddam Hussein during the 1990s, the<br />

officer corps remained loyal to him.<br />

Uncivil society building in Iraq also<br />

meant breaking up tribal associations, because<br />

these could serve as the basis for reforms,<br />

demands, and agitation. Tribes were, and are,<br />

central to Iraqi political organization:<br />

“Saddam co-opted the tribal organizations<br />

that undergirded Iraq,” according to Peter<br />

Van Buren, “manipulating the local sheiks<br />

toward his own ends by giving power to<br />

some, money to others, and depriving those<br />

who crossed him of both.” 25 The Baath Party<br />

divided and ruled tribes by creating two levels<br />

of leadership within each of them that would<br />

18 Ayubi, Over-Stating the Arab State, 3.<br />

19 RAND, “Chapter Ten: Iraq,” 178.<br />

20 Stephen Kotki,. Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of<br />

the Communist Establishment, (New York: Random House<br />

Publishing Group, 2009): Kindle location 2776.<br />

21 Phebe Marr, “Where Is Iraq Headed?” American<br />

Foreign Policy Interests 25 (2003): 368, accessed May 7,<br />

2014.<br />

http://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu:15301/eds/pdfviewer/p<br />

dfviewer?vid=4&sid=012545a9-6521-4dc9-915aa3e4383c5b05%40sessionmgr111&hid=104.<br />

22 Mark Magnier, “Documents Reveal Extent of Baath<br />

Party Rule,” The Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2003,<br />

accessed May 2, 2014.<br />

http://articles.latimes.com/2003/apr/06/news/warbaath6.<br />

23 Marr, “Where Is Iraq Headed?” 370.<br />

24 AbuKhalil, “The Longevity of Arab Regimes,” 45.<br />

25 Peter Van Buren, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose<br />

the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, (New<br />

York: Henry Holt and Co., 2011): Kindle location 75.<br />

82 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 82

e at odds with one another. 26<br />

Efforts to create a strong state in Iraq<br />

largely failed due to domestic political<br />

maneuverings, but uniquely among other<br />

fierce states in the Middle East, external<br />

factors had a significant impact. No other<br />

Middle Eastern dictatorship has ever been as<br />

sanctioned as Iraq between 1991 and 2003. 27<br />

These external factors crippled what state<br />

infrastructure did exist prior to 2003, and<br />

undermined (though did not collapse) uncivil<br />

society’s bargain with the state. Yet people's<br />

“strategies of survival” did become less<br />

dependent on state agencies than on the<br />

United Nations, their extended families, and<br />

local notables with access to humanitarian<br />

goods and permits. Saddam Hussein<br />

exacerbated these developments when he<br />

turned a blind eye to rampant government<br />

corruption to focus on placating his most<br />

important loyalists. As for the rest of the<br />

population, sixty percent of Iraqis lived below<br />

the poverty line by 2003, and an equal number<br />

received their daily bread from the UN's Oil<br />

for Food program. 28 Even the usually wellprovisioned<br />

internal security services were not<br />

unaffected: their duties in Baghdad Province<br />

increasingly fell to hastily deputized Sunni<br />

militias, simply due to the cost saving<br />

measures this move produced. 29<br />

While Baathism prevented the<br />

emergence of civil society under Saddam<br />

Hussein's rule, internal conflict did not “end”<br />

when the Baathist took power. Iraqi Shia,<br />

26 Williams, “Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents:<br />

Organized Crime in Iraq,” 26.<br />

27 RAND, “Chapter Ten: Iraq,”163.<br />

28 Hasan Latif Kathim al-Zubaydi, “Iraq's Poverty Since<br />

the 1980s—A Story of National Decline,” Niqash,<br />

January 9, 2007, accessed on May 5, 2014.<br />

http://www.niqash.org/articles/?id=1986.<br />

29 Eric Davis, “Sectarianism, Historical Memory, and<br />

the Discourse of Othering: The Mahdi Army, Mafia,<br />

Camorra, and ‘Ndrangheta,” in Uncovering Iraq:<br />

Trajectories of Disintegration and Transformation. Eds.<br />

Toensing, Chris and Kirk, Mimi, (Washington, D.C.:<br />

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, 2010): 91.<br />

especially, continued to exist outside of the<br />

state structure and build their own networks,<br />

states within states. Kurdistan was effectively<br />

independent after 1995. These disputes could<br />

not simply be frozen by the regime’s policies,<br />

and exploded after 2003. 30 As one Iraqi man<br />

asked Foreign Service Officer Van Buren<br />

during his tour in Anbar Province, “when will<br />

you [Americans] close the door you opened in<br />

our country?” 31 This is the reality that the U.S.<br />

and Iraqis faced in 2003, “a plethora of social,<br />

institutional, economic, and cultural forces,<br />

hitherto dormant, emerged in full force”—<br />

and no one was ready for what came next. 32<br />

Sunnis have reacted to their diminished power<br />

by resorting to violence, which spurs Shias to<br />

press harder against them—while the Shias'<br />

act of holding onto power through force<br />

means they are fanning the flames of the<br />

Sunnis’ rejectionist position.<br />

It was extremely unlikely that national,<br />

democratic institutions could function<br />

effectively in these conditions. 33 They did not,<br />

and this outcome reflected an absence of<br />

“civic culture” among communities. The<br />

process has unfolded differently among<br />

various communities in Iraq, but several<br />

commonalities are present, and these play<br />

against one another across group actors.<br />


The Sunni experience in the “new”<br />

Iraq has been especially jarring, and indicative<br />

of the challenges of state building that Iraq<br />

faces. 34 The Sunnis in Iraq had, until 2003,<br />

been the ruling class, initially due to the Turks<br />

and the British. Though nationalist and<br />

secularist regimes after WWII tried to<br />

subsume Sunni identity in uncivil society<br />

30 Davis, “Sectarianism, Historical Memory, and the<br />

Discourse of Othering,” 93.<br />

31 Van Buren, We Meant Well, 90.<br />

32 Jabar, Postconflict Iraq, 14.<br />

33 Davis, “Sectarianism, Historical Memory, and the<br />

Discourse of Othering,” 67.<br />

34 Bouillon, “Iraq’s State-Building Enterprise,” 287.<br />

83 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 83

ased on patronage and the politics of fear,<br />

that privileged tribalism never disappeared. As<br />

noted above, Sunni tribal autonomy grew<br />

during the 1990s due to the impoverishment<br />

of the state after the First Gulf War. 35 Because<br />

they were denied the ability to form free<br />

associations, Sunni leaders had become used<br />

to in-group welfarism and corruption, the<br />

latter simply an extension of welfare and<br />

patronage politicking. This uncivil society was<br />

effectively forced to disband by the Coalition<br />

Provisional Authority (CPA) in 2003, putting<br />

over half a million people out of work. These<br />

men and women fell back on tribal, familial,<br />

and criminal network that had emerged in<br />

place of an authentic civil society. Forcing all<br />

of these individuals out of their jobs proved<br />

to be an undesirable undertaking from a<br />

security standpoint. It meant renegotiating a<br />

social contract and finding capable<br />

administrators in impossibly short time. 36<br />

Iraqis finally had the chance to build a civil<br />

society but could not depend on paid<br />

employment, safe travel, or even regular<br />

access to water and electricity.<br />

Then came the 2005 national<br />

elections. The electoral list that year was very<br />

closely identified with the CPA by Sunnis, as<br />

well as the U.S. and Iran more broadly, both<br />

of whom were resented for expanding their<br />

influence into the country. 37 The Sunnis had<br />

been stripped of power, while the Iraqi Shia—<br />

despite having experience organizing their<br />

communities—had never run anything at the<br />

national level. In this situation, the barriers to<br />

35 Williams, “Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents:<br />

Organized Crime in Iraq,” 26.<br />

36 Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco: The American Military<br />

Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005, (New York: Penguin<br />

Group US, 2006): Kindle location, 161-2.<br />

37 Bellin, “The Robustness of Authoritarianism in the<br />

Middle East: Exceptionalism in Comparative<br />

Perspective.” Comparative Politics 36:2, 2004.<br />

. Accessed 5<br />

May 2014. 150.<br />

national unity were tremendous because the<br />

short-term incentive for Iraqi politicians was<br />

to build up competing, exclusivist state<br />

capacities within their particular<br />

ethnosectarian associations. 38 In Sunni areas, a<br />

U.S. military survey noted at the time, “the<br />

vast middle ground does nothing to stop<br />

[Baathist insurgents] and to date does not see<br />

it in their interest to help us corner them.” 39<br />

Though the 2005 elections had been<br />

demanded by many Iraqi leaders—taken as a<br />

sign of a willingness to build a state where<br />

power would be contested through<br />

institutions—the process arguably ended in<br />

failure. 40 Those appointed were meant to<br />

represent a balance of émigré and domestic<br />

politicians, and the country’s largest ethnic<br />

groups. This approach was unreflective of the<br />

new social spaces emerging within the<br />

country. It signaled to Iraqis that the central<br />

state was not worth supporting, but was<br />

worth capturing. This led to some of the first<br />

waves of attacks on those associated with the<br />

occupation had focused on perceived<br />

collaborators with the occupying forces. 41<br />

Another significant challenge was that Sunnis<br />

simply refused to “buy in” to a unified state<br />

due to Shias controlling distribution of basic<br />

resources and welfare assistance.<br />

The Sunni tribal “Sons of Iraq”<br />

movement had the potential to be a<br />

significant moment in state building. It was,<br />

however, ultimately compromised by the<br />

inability of the central government to accept<br />

the legitimacy of the movement and give up<br />

some of its power by recognizing the Sons'<br />

security gains against their common enemy, al<br />

Qaeda in Iraq (AQI, now ISIL or the “Islamic<br />

State”). Prior to the movement's formation,<br />

38 Wayne White, “The Saga of Iraqi Electoral<br />

Disappointment,” LobeLog, May 8, 2014, accessed on<br />

May 8, 2014. http://www.lobelog.com/the-saga-ofiraqi-electoral-disappointment/.<br />

39 Ricks, Fiasco, 216.<br />

40 Jabar, Postconflict Iraq, 8.<br />

41 Ricks, Fiasco, 215.<br />

84 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 84

the incessant attacks on Sunni communities<br />

by Shia militias and AQI led many Sunnis to<br />

decide not to trust the new authorities since<br />

“the very force that was designed to protect<br />

them [the Iraqi national police] preyed on<br />

them instead.” 42 In response to this, and the<br />

depredations of AQI, Sunni leaders in the<br />

western reaches of the country began<br />

organizing themselves into self-defense<br />

leagues and soliciting U.S. assistance, which<br />

from 2007 to 2009, was provided in<br />

significant quantities. Yet when Sunni leaders<br />

went to Baghdad to obtain official blessing,<br />

the government of Nouri al-Maliki only<br />

reluctantly granted it. Maliki and his pro-Iran<br />

coalition had to be dragged into supporting<br />

the “Awakening.” 43 Baghdad eventually<br />

reneged on promises to integrate Sunnis from<br />

these self-defense units into the security<br />

apparatus, and the Shia-dominated police<br />

were especially hostile to them. This has<br />

become even more pronounced since 2014<br />

with the upgrading of many Shia militias’<br />

capabilities by the Baghdad government (and<br />

Iran) to take over counterinsurgency<br />

operations from the national army that<br />

collapsed before the onslaught of the Islamic<br />

State due to mass desertions. Though some<br />

token Sunni militias fight alongside these<br />

heavily armed irregulars, Shia formations like<br />

Katib Hezbollah and the Badr Organization<br />

far outnumber them and the regular Iraqi<br />

National Army forces, and have ethnically<br />

cleansed Sunni or Kurdish areas in the north<br />

and west of the country.<br />

Even before this, the Shia leadership<br />

saw few reasons, after the U.S. troop<br />

withdrawal negotiated by the Bush<br />

Administration took effect, to accede to<br />

further American pressure to recognize the<br />

Sons. This, in turn, convinced some Sunni<br />

42 Williams, “Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents:<br />

Organized Crime in Iraq,” 15.<br />

43 Thomas E. Ricks, The Gamble: General Petraeus and the<br />

American Military Adventure in Iraq, (New York: Penguin<br />

Group US, 2009): Kindle Locations 1456-1457.<br />

groups they were better off keeping their arms<br />

and rejecting vague promises of recognition<br />

and salaried positions. 44 The new wave of<br />

violence in the Sunni-majority Al Anbar<br />

Province that began in 2013—several years<br />

after the supposed success of the<br />

“Awakening”—was precipitated by the<br />

Baghdad authorities' cracking down on<br />

opposition Sunni politicians there. 45 Prior to<br />

that, as a result of the questionable 2010<br />

election results that returned Maliki to power,<br />

“Sunnis lost faith in the political process and<br />

the jihadists were once again able to make<br />

inroads among them.” 46<br />


For Iraqis to accept the idea that “the<br />

costs of democratic politics [were] preferable<br />

to the costs of resorting to violence in terms<br />

of achieving their goals of acquiring power” is<br />

a tall order in light of their country’s history.<br />

But, Shia parties in the country have started to<br />

accept this principle to a degree. 47 This is<br />

because of a conscious decision to contest<br />

authority by becoming authority, rather than<br />

operating outside of the system.<br />

Unfortunately, intimidation and patronage are<br />

44 Joel Wing, “Continued Problems Integrating The<br />

Sons of Iraq,” Musings on Iraq, August 10, 2010,<br />

accessed on April 28, 2014.<br />

http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2010/08/continu<br />

ed-problems-integrating-sons-of.html.<br />

45 Dexter Filkins, “What We Left Behind,” The New<br />

Yorker, April 28, 2014, accessed on May 7, 2014.<br />

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/04/28/1<br />

40428fa_fact_filkins?currentPage=all.<br />

46 Joel Wing and Peter Mansoor, “Inside The Surge An<br />

Interview With Prof Peter Mansoor Former Executive<br />

Officer To Gen Petraeus,” Musings on Iraq, December<br />

31, 2013, accessed on May 7, 2014.<br />

http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2013/12/insidesurge-interview-with-prof-peter.html.<br />

47 Eric Davis, “Islamism, Authoritarianism, and<br />

Democracy: A Comparative Study of Egypt and Iraq,”<br />

in Modern Middle East Authoritarianism: Roots,<br />

Ramifications, and Crisis. Eds. Benoun, Noureddine; Kia,<br />

Mehrdad; and Kirk, Mimi, (New York: Routledge,<br />

2014), 218.<br />

85 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 85

still accepted means to contest others for<br />

power, whether against other Shia factions or<br />

those outside that community. Such actions<br />

have done little to foster a less-exclusivist<br />

ideal of nationalism. The paradox is that<br />

building a stronger central state has led to<br />

sub-national groupings increasing their power<br />

at the state’s expense by siphoning off<br />

resources. 48<br />

It is more appropriate to compare<br />

Shia militias and their affiliated<br />

political/welfare arms with criminal<br />

organizations than with purely sectarian<br />

vehicles for power. 49 The Shia leadership in<br />

Iraq as whole, despite sectarian and regional<br />

differences, has shared a common historical<br />

experience in that they had been ruled by<br />

foreigners, deliberately neglected by the state<br />

after independence, and viewed as inherent<br />

troublemakers or the indolent poor. Because<br />

successive governments in Baghdad “failed to<br />

demonstrate any form of civil commitment<br />

toward the local population,” multiple “extralegal<br />

social organizations” arose at the<br />

expense of a common national identity. 50<br />

Since the 1920s, Shia sectarian identity has<br />

hardened as community leaders built up their<br />

own state within a state to provide services to<br />

neglected communities. The Baathists'<br />

crushing of Iraqi nationalists, communists,<br />

and pan-Arabists after seizing power in 1963<br />

further solidified Shia identity. The Baathists<br />

destroyed actors who could or would bridge<br />

the gaps to the much larger Shia population.<br />

Once these movements were taken care of,<br />

active measures against prominent religious<br />

figures in the predominantly Shia cities of<br />

Najaf and Karbala began in earnest in the<br />

1970s. These sweeps culminated in a series of<br />

mass killings in 1992 following a failed<br />

48 Williams, “Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents:<br />

Organized Crime in Iraq,” 204.<br />

49 Davis, “Islamism, Authoritarianism, and<br />

Democracy”. 207.<br />

50 Davis, “Sectarianism, Historical Memory, and the<br />

Discourse of Othering,” 78.<br />

uprising in the south of the country by<br />

Iranian-backed Shia insurgents.<br />

After this failed uprising, Muqtada al-<br />

Sadr came to represent the new approach to<br />

politics and state building. His father,<br />

assassinated by the Baathist secret police in<br />

1999, had set the groundwork for him, by<br />

turning to the UN for relief aid under the<br />

sanctions regime and using this aid to<br />

organize a committed following. But, the elder<br />

al-Sadr differed from his predecessors who<br />

had founded Iraq’s first Islamist party (Da'wa)<br />

in that he sought to become part of the state<br />

apparatus in order to co-opt it. 51 The Sadrists’<br />

model was not unlike Hezbollah’s in Lebanon:<br />

a charity, an army, and an electoral list all at<br />

the same time. The divide was, according to a<br />

2003 report in The Baltimore Sun, between<br />

“older ayatollahs … counseling patience with<br />

the occupation” and “the younger faction<br />

[that] wants to found an Islamic state” around<br />

the younger al-Sadr. 52<br />

Sadr, who took a more conciliatory<br />

tone with the U.S.-backed government at the<br />

start than other aspiring political strongmen,<br />

revolted in 2004 after a crackdown on his<br />

organization. His forces took over local<br />

government offices and disarmed the police in<br />

Shia communities. 53 Faced with a determined<br />

U.S. response, Sadr eventually backed down<br />

and announced that he regarded the interim<br />

elections set for 2005 as legitimate. But his<br />

insurrection had proven a point. 54 Sadr was<br />

51 Robert Baer, The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New<br />

Iranian Superpower, (Crown Publishing Group, 2008):<br />

Kindle locations 731-3.<br />

52 New York Times News Service, “Blast kills 90, top<br />

Shiite cleric,” The Baltimore Sun, August 30, 2003,<br />

accessed on May 8, 2014.<br />

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2003-08-<br />

30/news/0308300269_1_najaf-al-hakim-importantshiite.<br />

53 Marr, “Where Is Iraq Headed?” 366.<br />

54 Tareq Y. Ismael and Max Fuller, “The disintegration<br />

of Iraq: the manufacturing and politicization of<br />

sectarianism,” International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi<br />

Studies 2, no. 3 (2008): 465, accessed May 7, 2014.<br />

http://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu:15301/eds/pdfviewer/p<br />

86 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 86

very successful in building a shadow state that<br />

could and still does provide security for his<br />

followers. 55 Sadr, like other Shia leaders,<br />

decided in the wake of his initial military<br />

actions against the U.S. and its Iraqi<br />

collaborators that his organization had the<br />

chance to take “control of a state apparatus<br />

stripped bare by the looting,” in “an<br />

opportunity to obtain resources and benefits<br />

long denied them.” 56 So even as the country<br />

fell into civil war, some Shia leaders opted in<br />

to the U.S.-backed order. Even the popular<br />

Ayatollah Sistani, who had earlier railed<br />

against the country's first elections, reversed<br />

course and publicly backed the process.<br />

Acquiring control of the state would produce<br />

an even greater chance to provision the Shia<br />

community, so that by 2006, Prime Minister<br />

Nour al-Maliki led the opting-in of Iraqi Shia to<br />

form a central government. For Maliki and<br />

company the Americans “became adjudicator<br />

and enforcer in criminal disputes dressed up<br />

as political differences, siding with one set of<br />

violent armed groups engaged in criminal<br />

activities against other groups judged more<br />

dangerous.” 57 Sadr's militia, too, “bought in”<br />

when faced with the prospect of further<br />

armed conflict with the U.S. and Maliki's<br />

security services. His organization was<br />

ostensibly disbanded, with its gunmen folded<br />

into the security services or national<br />

parliament. Yet while it may have given up its<br />

paramilitary operations, the group’s political<br />

leaders remained committed to providing<br />

welfare services and “protection” to Shia<br />

communities in a long line of Shia state within<br />

a state activities. 58 In any event, the Sadrists<br />

remobilized their paramilitary wing in 2014 in<br />

dfviewer?vid=18&sid=012545a9-6521-4dc9-915aa3e4383c5b05%40sessionmgr111&hid=104.<br />

55 Ibid., 460.<br />

56 Williams, “Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents:<br />

Organized Crime in Iraq,” 202.<br />

57 Ibid., xv.<br />

58 Davis, “Sectarianism, Historical Memory, and the<br />

Discourse of Othering,” 96.<br />

order to fight the Islamic State after the<br />

national army’s repeated failures to do so.<br />

Although the Sadrist organizations<br />

decided that the best bet for their future was<br />

to sign on to a broader Shia bloc, they have<br />

long dropped hints that they are willing to<br />

return to the barricades. It is incorrect to<br />

imagine that Sadr has full control over them<br />

in this respect, or that his own followers’<br />

actions do not tie his hands because the<br />

organization has a very ill-defined power<br />

structure since it aspires to be a big tent<br />

movement over its rivals, including members<br />

of Sadr's own family. 59 “The Mahdi Army has<br />

become a worrisome burden on the Sadrist<br />

movement, which seeks to become a political<br />

faction that does not work with weapons,”<br />

reported an Iraqi journalist in 2013, adding<br />

that most of the movement’s leadership<br />

outside of Sadr’s own circle subscribes to the<br />

view that the electoral process cannot be<br />

trusted to protect their communities’<br />

security. 60 This sort of behavior is driven by<br />

lack of security, but it is also driven by the<br />

common themes of “political ambition, and<br />

the imperatives of resource generation” in a<br />

country where state capture is the objective of<br />

most organized political actors. 61<br />

The Sadrists and the current ruling<br />

coalition now find themselves confronted<br />

with Shia militias like Asaib Ahl al-Haq, which<br />

while declaring its support for a united Shia<br />

bloc in parliament uses intimidation to<br />

59 Harith Hasan, “Is Muqtada al-Sadr retiring or<br />

repositioning?” Al-Monitor, Transl. Rani Geha, Al-<br />

Monitor, February 21, 2014, accessed on May 7, 2014.<br />

http://www.almonitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/sadr-decisionretire-repositioning.html#ixzz312eE9Ld7.<br />

60 Ali Abel Sadah, “Sadr Reconsiders Political Role,<br />

Mahdi Army,” Transl. Sahar Ghoussoub, Al-Monitor,<br />

August 28, 2013, accessed on May 7, 2014.<br />

http://www.almonitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/08/iraq-clashesmahdi-army-asaib-ahl-al-haqsadr.html#ixzz312cdBVDx.<br />

61 Williams, “Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents:<br />

Organized Crime in Iraq,” xi.<br />

87 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 87

compete with its fellow Shia. 62 Within the Shia<br />

communities of Iraq, then, is a lack of<br />

acknowledgment for “a larger and more<br />

diverse cultural and political universe.” 63 Even<br />

at the height of his power, Maliki only directly<br />

controlled a few military units: he was<br />

otherwise very reliant on former members of<br />

the Badr Organization, who were at odds with<br />

the Sadrists. 64 A proliferation of such<br />

organizations weakens state structures and the<br />

idea of an “Iraqi nation” through<br />

parochialism. The Sadrists, in particular, are<br />

characterized by vigilantism and extensive<br />

local autonomy that cannot easily be reined<br />

in. 65 Newer groups formed in the wake of the<br />

army’s 2014 disasters, are much more<br />

assertive in using armed action to carve out a<br />

space for themselves. One of these new<br />

militia leaders, when asked by a reporter “will<br />

you train the security forces, or bring your<br />

own men?” in the event of further jihadist<br />

attacks on Shia communities said that he<br />

would bring his own men in. 66 Though there<br />

is no reason to doubt that sectarian beliefs are<br />

sincerely felt as part of their worldview, it is<br />

worth noting that religious fiat is merely the<br />

tool that paramilitaries use to win political<br />

power by force.<br />

62 Ali Mamouri, “The Rise of 'Cleric Militias' in Iraq.”<br />

Transl. Tyler Huffman, Al-Monitor, July 23, 2013.<br />

http://www.almonitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/08/iraq-clashesmahdi-army-asaib-ahl-al-haqsadr.html#ixzz312cdBVDx.<br />

63 Davis, “Sectarianism, Historical Memory, and the<br />

Discourse of Othering,” 69.<br />

64 Thomas E. Ricks, “The Best Defense Iraq, the<br />

unraveling (VI): looming intra-Shia violence?” Foreign<br />

Policy, April 24, 2009, accessed on May 5, 2014.<br />

http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/04/24/ira<br />

q_the_unraveling_vi_looming_intra_shia_violence.<br />

65 Williams, “Criminals, Militias, and Insurgents:<br />

Organized Crime in Iraq,” 239.<br />

66 Watheq al-Battat, “Iraqi Shiite Militia Leader Watheq<br />

al-Battat: I Would Support Iran in a War against Iraq,”<br />

MEMRI, October 23, 2013, accessed on May 7, 2014.<br />

http://www.memri.org/clip_transcript/en/4046.htm.<br />



As Toby Dodge writes, Iraq was<br />

imagined by its American occupiers as a<br />

country where the central government's<br />

“capacity is ultimately grounded in the extent<br />

to which its administrative staff successfully<br />

upholds the claim to the monopoly of the<br />

legitimate use of physical force in the<br />

enforcement of its order.” 67 The dictum that<br />

“the real goal is to create as many Iraqis as<br />

possible who feel they have a stake in the new<br />

Iraq” sounds like an effective solution, but the<br />

reality is that without an agreed-upon “Iraqi<br />

state,” the violence will continue within and<br />

among armed factions. 68 This underlines just<br />

how much the Government of Iraq has failed<br />

to create conditions conducive to the<br />

formation of a sense of national identity (or<br />

even sectarian identity) that, if felt across the<br />

political spectrum, would help reduce violence<br />

within Shia communities, and against outgroups<br />

like the Sunnis or other minorities by<br />

the Shia-dominated security services. 69<br />

A state structure that Iraqis of all<br />

creeds and ethnicities can accept as legitimate<br />

requires “space for societal actors to<br />

determine for themselves what the good life is<br />

and how to achieve it.” 70 Ultimately, the state<br />

can only be accepted as legitimate when it<br />

operates in “a regularized fashion.” 71 The only<br />

way forward is for civil society—which<br />

despite all of the setbacks and catastrophes of<br />

the past decade (and its stunting under<br />

67 Toby Dodge, “Iraq: the contradictions of exogenous<br />

state-building in historical perspective,” Third World<br />

Quarterly 27, no. 1 (2006): 189, accessed May 7, 2014.<br />

http://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu:15301/eds/pdfviewer/p<br />

dfviewer?vid=15&sid=012545a9-6521-4dc9-915aa3e4383c5b05%40sessionmgr111&hid=104.<br />

68 Ibid., 190.<br />

69 Dahr Jamail, “Maliki's Iraq: Rape, Executions and<br />

Torture,” Truthout, March 21, 2013, accessed May 20,<br />

2014. http://truth-out.org/news/item/15246-malikisiraq-rape-executions-and-torture.<br />

70 Barnett, “Building a Republican Peace,” 90.<br />

71 Bouillon, “Iraq’s State-Building Enterprise,” 290.<br />

88 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 88

Saddam Hussein and other autocrats) has<br />

grown tremendously with the loosening of<br />

censorship and state patronage—to develop,<br />

and learn “the arts of consensus building,<br />

[and] compromise.” 72 The challenge remains:<br />

that civil society move toward underwriting a<br />

state structure, especially, a working legislative<br />

process and a national army not beholden to<br />

different tribal leaders and bureaucratic<br />

factions.<br />

Now that some factions have started<br />

to grope towards a consensus of state power,<br />

they can no longer ride out in opposition and<br />

must make compromises to compete within<br />

the framework set by the central government.<br />

This often means cooperating with an outgroup<br />

and enforcing conformity among<br />

internal dissenters. Ideally, this should<br />

strengthen the community's sense of being<br />

protected by the state and thus, part of a<br />

single nation within the state's borders. But in<br />

order to placate core constituencies, some<br />

groups will brutalize and extort both Sunni<br />

and Shia citizens. Clearly, a civil society that<br />

does not resort to violence to win a share of<br />

the pie is still a long way off in light of the<br />

Shia parties’ recent debates over how to do<br />

just that. 73<br />

The door the Americans opened is<br />

not going to close anytime soon, so a<br />

“national identity” will likewise remain elusive,<br />

especially as the counterinsurgency against the<br />

Islamic State takes on a more sectarian<br />

character. Shia militias persecute all Sunnis in<br />

an area of operations, regardless of their<br />

complicity. Kurdish forces have evicted non-<br />

Kurds from their areas of operation for<br />

“security reasons,” and Sunni communities<br />

have turned on their non-Sunni neighbors,<br />

especially if they are part of Iraqi’s smallest<br />

minority groups (and therefore, the least<br />

militarily-organized or influential). The Iraqi<br />

state remains over stated, and increasingly, so<br />

is the concept of a common Iraqi nationality<br />

whose survival is now in much more doubt<br />

than it ever was during the first years of the<br />

Iraqi Civil War.<br />

PAUL MUTTER is a graduate student at NYU<br />

pursuing an MA in International Affairs. He is a<br />

blogger for the Foreign Policy Association, and<br />

also writes for War Is Boring, The Arabist and<br />

Souciant Magazine.<br />

72 Jabar, Postconflict Iraq, 16.<br />

73 Marr, “Where Is Iraq Headed?” 371.<br />

89 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 89

Power to the<br />

Babushkas?<br />

Reconsidering the Relationship<br />

between Russian Politics and<br />

the Elderly<br />

Ilaria Parogni<br />

“P<br />

arty for everybody! Dance!”<br />

This was the refrain of a song<br />

performed by Buranovskiye<br />

Babushki, a group of elderly women from<br />

the Russian village of Buranovo Udmurt<br />

Republic, during the 2012 Eurovision<br />

Song Contest. The number was a success,<br />

and the group finished in second place in<br />

the contest. 1 In the often-bizarre setting of<br />

Eurovision, the image of this colorful<br />

group of smiling grandmothers mixing<br />

folk tradition with pop seemed perfectly<br />

placed. Yet, it was much more difficult to<br />

conciliate it with the ideas most<br />

commonly associated with the elderly as<br />

the poor, disgruntled, and most progovernment<br />

segment of the Russian<br />

population. 2<br />

1 Eurovision Song Contest, About Buranovskiye<br />

Babushki (December 10, 2014),<br />

http://www.eurovision.tv/page/history/year/part<br />

icipant-profile/?song=26973.<br />

2 OECD. OECD Reviews of Labour Market and Social<br />

Policies: Russian Federation 2011 (December 2011):<br />

162, http://www.oecdilibrary.org/employment/oecd-reviews-of-labourmarket-and-social-policies_20743408;<br />

Denis Pinchuk, “Russian Pensioners Protest<br />

against High Food Prices,” Reuters (November 3,<br />

2007),<br />

http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/11/03/usprotest-russia-food-idUSL0312283020071103;<br />

This contrast reveals the power of<br />

stereotypes (and, yes, Buranovskiye<br />

Babushki themselves could be said to<br />

embody a stereotype) in shaping the ways<br />

in which observers cast an entire social<br />

group. In an attempt to go past the<br />

stereotypes associated with the Russian<br />

elderly as a homogeneous group of<br />

enfeebled victims of state neglect, I will<br />

explore the political significance of the<br />

elderly in contemporary Russia,<br />

highlighting the potential impact that<br />

members of this demographic can have<br />

on politics. 3 By looking at how voting<br />

patterns and issues related to Russian<br />

pensioners have both constrained and<br />

facilitated certain political outcomes, I will<br />

bring attention to the precariousness of<br />

the relationship between the Russian<br />

government and the country’s older<br />

citizens.<br />

In the first section, I will discuss<br />

the connection between politics and old<br />

age in Russia, focusing on the main<br />

themes defining their exchange and the<br />

challenges in researching this subject due<br />

to the limited scholarship and data<br />

available. In the second section, this<br />

report will offer an overview of instances<br />

in post-Soviet history from 1991 on that<br />

reveal recurring patterns in Russian<br />

politics vis-à-vis its senior citizens. In the<br />

final section, I will show how these<br />

patterns might be a destabilizing factor in<br />

the current political environment and a<br />

Aleksei Levinson, “The Institutional Framework<br />

of Old Age: Old Age as Gender,” Sociological<br />

Research 52, no. 3 (May–June 2013): 53.<br />

3 Aleksei Levinson, “The Institutional<br />

Framework,” 53;<br />

Andrea Chandler, “Democratization, Social<br />

Welfare and Individual Rights in Russia: The Case<br />

of Old-Age Pensions,” Canadian Slavonic Papers /<br />

Revue Canadienne des Slavistes 43, No. 4 (December<br />

2001): 429.<br />

90 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 90

potential danger to the longevity of the<br />

Putinist enterprise. As unfavorable<br />

economic circumstances are exacerbated<br />

by the imposition of economic sanctions<br />

by the West and declining oil prices, could<br />

Russia’s pensioners rise in revolt against<br />

the system?<br />



Politics and society can interact in<br />

different ways depending on the political<br />

system in place and the level of<br />

development of civil society. In the<br />

majority of cases, however, this<br />

interaction is reciprocal—society defines<br />

and constrains politics as much as politics<br />

shapes society. This is, of course, also true<br />

of Russia. Various scholars, including<br />

Anna Arutunyan in The Putin Mystique, and<br />

Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy in Mr.<br />

Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, have adopted<br />

this outlook. 4 Both present in-depth looks<br />

4 Anna Arutunyan, The Putin Mystique. Inside Russia’s<br />

Power Cult. Northampton, (MA: Olive Branch<br />

Press, 2014).<br />

In her book The Putin Mystique, Arutunyan (2014)<br />

investigates the roots of Vladimir Putin’s popular<br />

regime. Her study delves into the inner workings<br />

of the Russian mind by analyzing the relationship<br />

between the ruled and the ruled. Arutunyan<br />

highlights the quasi-sacral aspect of this bond<br />

through a series of portraits of individuals<br />

belonging to different groups: the “subjects”<br />

(regular citizens), the “oprichniki” (the security<br />

apparatus), and the “boyars” (the oligarchs). The<br />

author looks back to history to highlight elements<br />

of continuity in Russia’s penchant for the cult of<br />

power and power leaders, highlighting how<br />

Russians experience state power as a “mystical<br />

entity” able to act to establish order when laws fail.<br />

In Arutunyan’s account, Putin exploits the<br />

mystique surrounding the figure of the president as<br />

a god-like figure.<br />

at the state established by Putin and his<br />

inner circle through the prism of his<br />

relationship with his subjects, thus<br />

discarding the view of the current regime<br />

as a monolithic dictatorship solely defined<br />

by those in power.<br />

The notion of society as a<br />

“victim” of politics is an easy trap to fall<br />

into when the elderly are involved,<br />

especially in Russia. Ever since the<br />

collapse of the Soviet Union, as the<br />

economic crisis engulfed the country,<br />

images of Russian babushkas<br />

(grandmothers) begging on the streets of<br />

Moscow have become tragically iconic.<br />

Pensions in Russia, for both civilian<br />

workers and military servicepeople, are<br />

Fiona Hill and Clifford J. Gaddy, Mr. Putin:<br />

Operative in the Kremlin, (Washington, D.C.:<br />

Brookings Institution Press, 2013).<br />

In Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, Hill and Gaddy<br />

(2013) offer an overview of Russia under Putin<br />

through a thoughtful analysis of various identities<br />

associated with the Russian leader. Each identity –<br />

the Statist, the History Man, the Survivalist, the<br />

Outsider, the Free Marketer, and the Case Officer<br />

– is connected with a specific moment in Putin’s<br />

personal history. In their assessment, the various<br />

identities define Putin’s role as CEO of the<br />

country as a corporate empire (“Russia, Inc.”) in<br />

which the private commercial interests are tied<br />

together with those of the Russian state. The result<br />

is a state that operates on two levels: the formal<br />

political institutions and the informal system,<br />

“which provides access to prestigious positions<br />

and a whole array of perks and privileges,<br />

including the possibility of self-enrichment” (p. 5).<br />

The authors argue that the model envisaged,<br />

however, cannot work on a mass scale because the<br />

widespread corruption that prevents the model<br />

from functioning is also the glue that holds the<br />

system in place.<br />

91 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 91

extremely low by European standards. 5<br />

Foreign and Russian media often<br />

emphasize the struggles and gloomy<br />

outlook faced by the older portion of the<br />

population. 6 And yet, anyone who has<br />

visited Russia over the last few years will<br />

likely have encountered the feisty and<br />

tougher side of the country’s senior<br />

citizens, be it in the form of a pensioner<br />

chanting communist slogans at a protest<br />

or a museum guard shouting at the<br />

tourists getting too close to the paintings<br />

in St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum.<br />

Scholars have replicated the<br />

tendency to assume that the Russian<br />

elderly are passive victims by depriving<br />

them of attention as agents of change. No<br />

study thus far has captured the ways in<br />

which the relationship between the state<br />

and the elderly is structured in Russia.<br />

Most of the scholarship dedicated to<br />

issues affecting Russian pensionery<br />

(pensioners) focuses on pension law and<br />

reform, often taking a top-down approach<br />

to these issues. 7 Even when scholars have<br />

been able to appreciate that the exchange<br />

5 The Associated Press, “How Retirement Systems<br />

Vary, Country to Country,” Finance Yahoo,<br />

(December 30,<br />

2013),http://finance.yahoo.com/news/retirementsystems-vary-country-country-055009752.html;<br />

Andrew E. Kramer, “Russia Raises Some Salaries<br />

and Pensions for Crimeans,” The New York Times,<br />

(March 31, 2014),<br />

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/01/world/eur<br />

ope/russia-raises-pensions-for-crimeans.html.<br />

6 “What it means to get old in Russia,” RT (Russian<br />

Today), (February 10, 2011),<br />

http://rt.com/news/old-russia-elderly-people/.<br />

7 For example: Linda J. Cook, Postcommunist Welfare<br />

States: Reform Politics in Russia and Eastern Europe,<br />

(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007);<br />

Theodore P. Gerber and Jonas Radl (2014).<br />

“Pushed, Pulled, or Blocked? The Elderly and the<br />

Labor Market in Post-Soviet Russia,” Social Science<br />

Research 45 (May 2014): 152-169.<br />

is far from unilateral, as is the case with<br />

Andrea Chandler’s 2004 study of pension<br />

reform in post-Soviet Russia, this<br />

approach has not developed into a deeper<br />

study of the relationship. 8<br />

There is an absence of a solid<br />

body of qualitative and quantitative data<br />

analyzing the political behavior of the<br />

elderly, which partly explains why scholars<br />

have paid little attention to the issue. Only<br />

a few surveys focus on political attitudes<br />

and preferences by age group in Russia,<br />

and polling data on the voting behavior of<br />

the elderly is even rarer. 9 Moreover, an<br />

analysis of electoral results and data issued<br />

by Russian government organizations<br />

cannot avoid facing questions regarding<br />

the veracity of the materials available due<br />

to repeated reports of fraud and<br />

irregularities in the Russian electoral<br />

process. 10<br />

It is therefore important to initiate<br />

a discourse on this topic. While academics<br />

still debate the possibility of a recovery<br />

from the demographic crisis that hit<br />

Russia in the 1990s, it is now increasingly<br />

difficult to argue against the idea of its<br />

population growing older as life<br />

expectancy and fertility rate continue to<br />

8 Andrea Chandler, Shocking Mother Russia:<br />

Democratization, Social Rights, and Pension Reform in<br />

Russia, 1990-2001, (Toronto, Canada: University of<br />

Toronto Press, 2004).<br />

9 “Faktory Elektoral’nogo Vybora,” FOM<br />

(December 18, 2003),<br />

http://bd.fom.ru/report/cat/elect/parl_el/dd034<br />

929;<br />

“Vyborye Prezidenta: Kak Golosovali Sotsialnye<br />

Gruppy.” Levada Tsentr (March 27, 2012):<br />

http://www.levada.ru/27-03-2012/vyboryprezidenta-kak-golosovali-sotsialnye-gruppy.<br />

10 James Balls, “Russian Election: Does the Data<br />

Suggest Putin Won Through Fraud?” The Guardian,<br />

(March 5, 2012),<br />

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/201<br />

2/mar/05/russia-putin-voter-fraud-statistics.<br />

92 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 92

ise. 11 Moreover, the notion according to<br />

which Russian pensioners are among the<br />

most politically active segments of the<br />

population and some of Putin’s most loyal<br />

supporters has become so commonplace<br />

both in academia and the media that it<br />

deserves to be put to the test.<br />


In Soviet times, the Russians<br />

developed the country’s first national old<br />

age pension system, and kept improving<br />

benefits for selected categories of<br />

workers. 12 The cornerstone of the Soviet<br />

approach to pensions was the 1956<br />

Pension Law, which made the state solely<br />

responsible for pensions and guaranteed<br />

pensions automatically after a certain<br />

number of years spent working. 13 The<br />

system might have prevented the<br />

accumulation of personal wealth, but it<br />

was fairly generous and, above all,<br />

universal. 14<br />

With the dissolution of the USSR,<br />

the situation worsened dramatically for<br />

the Russian elderly. Even before the<br />

collapse, social scientists and economists<br />

11 Max Fisher, “Did Russia Just Overcome Its 20-<br />

Year Demographic Crisis?” The Washington Post<br />

(November 1, 2012),<br />

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldvie<br />

ws/wp/2012/11/01/did-russia-just-overcome-its-<br />

20-year-demographic-crisis/;<br />

Aleksei Levinson, “The Institutional Framework,”<br />

53.<br />

12 Andrea Chandler, Shocking Mother Russia, 24.<br />

13 Andrea Chandler, “Democratization, Social<br />

Welfare,” 418.<br />

14 Linda J. Cook, Postcommunist Welfare States, 2;<br />

John B. Williamson and Michelle L. Maroto, “The<br />

Political Economy of Pension Reform in Russia: Why did<br />

Russia Adopt the World Bank Model?” Presented at<br />

100th Annual Meeting of the American<br />

Sociological Association held in Philadelphia, PA,<br />

August 13-16 (2005): 3.<br />

among the proponents of Mikhail<br />

Gorbachev’s perestroika had included the<br />

pension law among the targets of their<br />

restructuring efforts. 15 After 1991, a<br />

reform program was supposed to be<br />

gradually implemented between 1990 and<br />

1992, but, as aptly pointed out by<br />

Chandler, the situation was “overtaken by<br />

events.” 16 The adoption of “shock<br />

therapy” under Boris Yeltsin and the<br />

economic crisis that followed directly<br />

affected the life of the population at large,<br />

with poverty, inequality, and<br />

unemployment growing exponentially. 17<br />

By 2001, Chandler had identified the<br />

plight of pensioners in Russia as “one of<br />

the most tragic social consequences of the<br />

collapse of communism.” 18<br />

The elderly were among the most<br />

severely affected, with their meager<br />

pensions losing their value as inflation<br />

wiped out many families’ savings.<br />

Payments were increasingly delayed, as the<br />

budget deficit inherited from the<br />

communist era became unbearable. 19<br />

Meanwhile, the liberalization process was<br />

investing politics too. Competitive<br />

elections, as well as the competition<br />

between the legislative power represented<br />

by the State Duma and the executive<br />

power of the presidency before 1993,<br />

ensured that discussion of poverty among<br />

the elderly became a highly politicized<br />

issue. 20<br />

15 Linda J. Cook, Postcommunist Welfare States, 56.<br />

16 Andrea Chandler, “Democratization, Social<br />

Welfare,” 423.<br />

17 Linda J. Cook, Postcommunist Welfare States, 63.<br />

18 Andrea Chandler, “Democratization, Social<br />

Welfare,” 409.<br />

19 Andrea Chandler, Democracy, Gender, and Social<br />

Policy in Russia: A Wayward Society. (Croydon, UK:<br />

Palgrave Macmillan, 2013): 87.<br />

20 Andrea Chandler, “Democratization, Social<br />

Welfare,” 423.<br />

93 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 93

From this point of view, Russia’s<br />

senior citizens were among the “victims”<br />

of circumstances. On a different level,<br />

however, one could argue that politicians<br />

were equally constrained by their reliance<br />

on popular support. In his essay “The<br />

Collapse of Civility in Russia: The Young<br />

and Aged in a Failed Society,” Ronald E.<br />

Jones illustrates how maintaining support<br />

among the older portion of the population<br />

was considered essential by the Soviet<br />

authorities, as a generous pension and full<br />

employment were the two core values of<br />

the system. 21 In an attempt to maintain<br />

this support, they would rely on shortterm<br />

solutions, such as increasing<br />

pensions to specific groups of workers,<br />

without considering the structural changes<br />

that would have been required for the<br />

system to become sustainable in the long<br />

run. 22<br />

This tendency to rely on shortterm<br />

solutions has, according to Chandler,<br />

become an institutionalized habit in<br />

Russia. 23 As the pension arrears threatened<br />

Yeltsin’s popularity ahead of the 1996<br />

presidential elections, for example, the<br />

Russian president publicly condemned the<br />

issue and used his authority to unblock<br />

the payments. 24 His inner circle fully<br />

supported this measure.<br />

Another issue that Yeltsin had to<br />

face was the emergence of the elderly as<br />

an active force in the political arena. In<br />

particular, as pensioners disillusioned with<br />

capitalism filled the ranks of the<br />

Communist Party of Russia, as well as the<br />

smaller Party of Pensioners, opposition<br />

parties made the protection of pensioners’<br />

rights a top platform plank. 25 This directly<br />

threatened Yeltsin’s position in power, as<br />

many of those who had personally<br />

experienced the disastrous consequences<br />

of the economic crisis opposed his<br />

reelection, supporting Communist leader<br />

Gennady Zyuganov instead as he<br />

promised a return to Soviet-style<br />

welfarism. Many have argued that Yeltsin<br />

might have lost, had he not relied on the<br />

oligarchs to rig the elections. 26<br />



A defining aspect of the<br />

relationship between the state and the<br />

elderly in Russia is the fact that economic<br />

concerns have often created situations of<br />

imbalance, with discontent leading to<br />

active opposition. As argued by Chris<br />

Gilleard and Paul Higgs in The Power of<br />

Silver: Age and Identity Politics in the 21 st<br />

Century, while political militancy among<br />

the elderly has failed to materialize in the<br />

West, it is much more likely to develop in<br />

post-Communist countries. 27 This partly<br />

explains the narrative according to which<br />

Putin has the support of the older<br />

population, since his arrival on the<br />

political scene coincided with the gradual<br />

improvement of the economic situation<br />

within the country. The favorable<br />

economic conditions allowed the Russian<br />

leader to complete the deferred reform of<br />

the pension system with the introduction<br />

of a centralized national pension fund.<br />

21 Ronald E. Jones, “The Collapse of Civility in<br />

Russia: The Young and Aged in a Failed Society,”<br />

Sociological Inquiry 72, Issue 3 (Summer 2002): 413.<br />

22 OECD, OECD Reviews, 3.<br />

23 Andrea Chandler, Shocking Mother Russia, 26.<br />

24 Andrea Chandler, “Democratization, Social<br />

Welfare,” 430.<br />

25 Stephen White, “Soviet Nostalgia and Russian<br />

Politics,” Journal of Eurasian Studies 1(2010): 7.<br />

26 Anna Arutunyan, The Putin Mistique, 174.<br />

27 Chris Gilleard and Paul F. D. Higgs, “The<br />

Power of Silver: Age and Identity Politics in the<br />

21st Century,” Journal of Aging & Social Policy<br />

21(2009), 12.<br />

94 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 94

The system transitioned towards a “multipillar<br />

arrangement,” bringing together<br />

features of different pension schemes,<br />

including mandatory and voluntary<br />

provisions, as well as a pay-as-you-go<br />

system of contributions and pre-funding<br />

to finance benefits. 28 This coincided with<br />

visible improvements in the lives of<br />

Russian pensioners that happened to<br />

coincide with the reforms’ timing: most<br />

arrears in pensions and benefits were<br />

eliminated, and the average pension rose<br />

above the above subsistence level. 29<br />

Yet even Putin approached the<br />

elderly with care, cultivating support<br />

among the interested parties through<br />

public speeches and pension increases,<br />

timed to coincide with the introduction of<br />

the reforms. 30 Moreover, the government<br />

was able to absorb the Party of Pensioners<br />

within the “managed opposition”—<br />

showing the importance placed on<br />

defusing its political independence.<br />

Having merged with other two parties to<br />

form “Just Russia,” the Party of<br />

Pensioners led by Igor Zotov left this bloc<br />

in 2012 to form the Russian Pensioners<br />

For Justice Party. 31 The “new” pensioners’<br />

party has consistently supported Vladimir<br />

Putin and United Russia. 32<br />

All of this effort on the<br />

government’s part might be justified.<br />

After all, Russian pensioners have gone<br />

rogue under Putin before. When a law<br />

came into effect in 2005 that replaced<br />

28 OECD, OECD Reviews, 174.<br />

29 Linda J. Cook, Postcommunist Welfare States, 150.<br />

30 Andrea Chandler, Shocking Mother Russia, 143;<br />

157.<br />

31 “Istoriya Partii,” Rossiyskaya Partiya Pensionerov za<br />

Spravedlivost, http://www.ppzs.ru/2013-06-23-14-<br />

42-57/история6-23-14.<br />

32 “Rossiyskaya Partiya Pensionerov,” FOM<br />

(March 31, 2005),<br />

http://bd.fom.ru/report/map/projects/dominant<br />

/dom0513/dd051332/printable/.<br />

longstanding social benefits (including<br />

free public transportation and healthcare)<br />

with monthly cash payments, groups of<br />

pensioners took to the street to express<br />

their opposition to it. In a comment piece<br />

published in The Nation, Katrina vanden<br />

Heuvel described the protests as “the<br />

largest, angriest and most passionate since<br />

Putin came to power,” hinting that they<br />

could pose a serious challenge to the<br />

stability of his regime. 33 The Russian<br />

leader’s response—doubling increases in<br />

pension payments and reintroducing free<br />

public transport—proved that Russian<br />

pensioners could exact concessions from<br />

the authorities much more than previously<br />

imaged. 34 This approach brings to mind the<br />

policies pursued by the leader of another<br />

post-Soviet country: the Belarusian<br />

president Alexander Lukashenko. In<br />

power since 1994, and dubbed by the<br />

West as “Europe’s last dictator,” has often<br />

relied on the country’s older demographic<br />

groups for support. To maintain his<br />

power base, throughout the years he has<br />

repeatedly increased pensions. 35 President<br />

Lukashenko has fully embraced the image<br />

33 Katrina vanden Heuvel, “Babushkas vs. Putin,”<br />

The Nation (January 20, 2005),<br />

http://www.thenation.com/article/babushkas-vsputin.<br />

34 Claire Bigg, “Protests Across Russia Force Putin<br />

to Double Increase in Pension Payments,” The<br />

Guardian, (January 18, 2005),<br />

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/jan/19<br />

/russia.<br />

35 “Pensions Increased by 15.3 Per cent in<br />

Belarus,” BBC Monitoring International Reports<br />

(September 22, 1998);<br />

President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander<br />

Lukashenko Signs Decree on Raising Pensions, (October<br />

24, 2014):<br />

http://president.gov.by/en/news_en/view/alexan<br />

der-lukashenko-signs-decree-on-raising-pensions-<br />

10065.<br />

95 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 95

of president as champion of the elderly,<br />

speaking out, for example, against the<br />

unpopular proposal of increasing the<br />

country’s retirement age. 36 The Belarusian<br />

strategy, while feasible in the short term,<br />

however, could prove financially<br />

unsustainable in the future, as highlighted<br />

in a 2009 study by the European<br />

Commission. 37 In contrast, Ukraine, a<br />

country facing severe economic and<br />

security issues, has had to deal with<br />

pressure from Europe to take a tougher<br />

stance in the pension sector. In March<br />

<strong>2015</strong>, the Ukrainian government approved<br />

pension cuts alongside a whole set of<br />

other austerity measures, hoping to get<br />

financial help from the IMF in exchange. 38<br />

Pensions in Ukraine were lower than in<br />

Russia even before the cuts, as proved by<br />

the increase in pension size experienced<br />

by the residents of Crimea following the<br />

Russian annexation of the peninsula in<br />

2014 and their adjustment to Russian<br />

rates. 39 Ever since Putin’s return to the<br />

presidency in 2012, Russian experts have<br />

36 “Lukashenko Speaks against Raising Retirement<br />

Age in Belarus,” Belarus Bureau Prime-Tass (March<br />

16, 2012), http://www.primetass.by/english/print.asp?id=98447.<br />

37 European Commission, Social Protection and Social<br />

Inclusion in Belaru (2009),<br />

http://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=43<br />

46&langId=en.<br />

38 Anastasia Forina, “Verkhovna Rada Revises $20<br />

Billion Budget, Cuts Pensions in Hopes of $25<br />

Billion in Loans,” Kyiv Post (March 13, <strong>2015</strong>),<br />

http://www.kyivpost.com/content/politics/verkh<br />

ovna-rada-revises-20-billion-budget-cuts-pensionsin-hopes-of-25-billion-financial-aid-382405.html.<br />

39 Andrew E. Kramer, “Russia Raises Some<br />

Salaries and Pensions for Crimeans,” The New York<br />

Times (March 31, 2014),<br />

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/01/world/eur<br />

ope/russia-raises-pensions-forcrimeans.html?_r=2.<br />

noted how the government has moved<br />

closer to the Russian Orthodox Church<br />

and presented itself as the promoter of<br />

traditional values and nationalism. To<br />

some, like Arutunyan, this was a move<br />

aimed at creating a split within the<br />

opposition. 40 Yet, it could be argued that<br />

the move is also a way to capture the<br />

favor of the part of the population that<br />

traditionally has a more conservative<br />

outlook on the issues targeted, including<br />

homosexuality and respect for religious<br />

authorities. Putin’s nod to the patriotic<br />

sentiment of the country, as embodied by<br />

the great fanfare that surrounds<br />

celebrations honoring World War II<br />

veterans, can be explained in a similar<br />

way. 41<br />

Finally, looking at the mass<br />

protests that took place in Russia between<br />

2011 and 2013, it is also important to<br />

notice that they saw the participation of<br />

people belonging to all age groups: the<br />

young, the middle-aged, and the elderly. 42<br />

So far, this essay has highlighted<br />

the patterns that dominate the relationship<br />

between the Russian authorities and the<br />

elderly. The main goal of this approach<br />

has been to provide foundation to the<br />

thesis according to which the current<br />

situation in Russia might prove to be a<br />

defining moment for the country’s<br />

politics, and that one of the reasons for<br />

this might be the complexity of the<br />

exchange between politics and the older<br />

segment of population.<br />

Against the backdrop of the<br />

Ukrainian crisis, Russia faces severe<br />

40 Anna Arutunyan, The Putin Mystique, 266.<br />

41 “Putin Thanks WWII Veterans for Their<br />

Heroism during War,” ITAR-TASS (May 9, 2014),<br />

http://itar-tass.com/en/russia/731040.<br />

42 Anton N. Oleinik, “Mass Protests in the<br />

Context of the Russian Power Regime,” Russian<br />

Social Science Review 54, no. 3 (May- June 2013), 2.<br />

96 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 96

economic issues, including rampant<br />

inflation, an impending recession, and<br />

declining oil prices. The situation has been<br />

exacerbated by the introduction of<br />

economic sanctions by Western countries<br />

in response to Russia’s position over<br />

Crimea. 43 In response to the economic<br />

downturn, the Russian government has<br />

targeted pensions in particular. In August<br />

2014 the government dipped into pension<br />

funds, diverting $8 billion in contributions<br />

earmarked for retirement schemes<br />

towards government spending. 44 In<br />

October 2014, in an even more<br />

controversial move, the Russian State<br />

Duma passed in its first reading a bill,<br />

known as the Rotenberg Law, which<br />

would allow citizens and companies who<br />

have lost property abroad due to the<br />

economic sanctions to seek<br />

reimbursement from the state. 45<br />

According to both Western and Russian<br />

media, it is likely that the money to<br />

finance the refunds will be taken from<br />

pension funds. 46 Former Finance Minister<br />

43 Moody’s, Moody's: Russia Sanctions Exacerbate the<br />

Country's Economic Challenges But Liquidity Crisis<br />

Unlikely in the Short-Term (July 14, 2014),<br />

https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-<br />

Russia-sanctions-exacerbate-the-countryseconomic-challenges-but-liquidity--PR_305457.<br />

44 Allison Schrager, “Unlike Russia, the U.S.<br />

Government Won't Take Your Pension Outright,”<br />

Bloomberg Businessweek (August 18, 2014),<br />

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-08-<br />

18/russia-seized-citizens-pension-funds-dot-couldthat-happen-in-the-u-dot-s-dot.<br />

45 Sam Skove, “Russia's State Duma Passes Law<br />

Compensating Western Asset Seizures in First<br />

Reading,” The Moscow Times (October 8, 2014),<br />

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/articl<br />

e/russias-state-duma-passes-law-compensatingwestern-asset-seizures-in-firstreading/508651.html.<br />

46 Alexey Eremenko, “Cabinet Wants to<br />

Compensate Russian Victims of 'Illegal' Asset<br />

Seizures Abroad,” The Moscow Times (2014,<br />

Alexei Kudrin has severely condemned<br />

the renewed reliance of the government<br />

on pension savings as a move that<br />

threatens the long-term stability of the<br />

system. 47 “The concentration of resources<br />

at the expense of long-term stability—this<br />

is the result of the view that the task is to<br />

‘withstand’ the next two or three years,”<br />

Kudrin wrote in a column for Russian<br />

newspaper Kommersant. 48<br />

Kudrin’s words echo the<br />

considerations made in this essay<br />

regarding the tendency showed by Russian<br />

authorities towards preferring short-term<br />

solutions over long-term planning.<br />

Moreover, as previously highlighted, the<br />

relationship between politics and Russia’s<br />

senior citizens tends to shift whenever the<br />

economic conditions undergo a dramatic<br />

change—like it is the case in today’s<br />

Russia. The behavior of the Russian<br />

government, willing to return on its steps<br />

when facing discontent among the elderly,<br />

due to its unpopular policies, proves that<br />

Russian pensioners are perceived as a<br />

volatile yet important segment of the<br />

population. And while it is true, as<br />

pointed out by Mariya Riekkinen of<br />

Finland’s Åbo Akademi University, during<br />

October 2, 2014),<br />

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/articl<br />

e/russian-government-backs-rotenberg-bill-toblunt-western-sanctions/508304.html;<br />

Moskovskiy Komsomolets, Krepostnaya Rossiya<br />

(October 2, 2014),<br />

http://www.mk.ru/politics/2014/10/02/krepostn<br />

aya-rossiya.html.<br />

47 Reuters, “Kudrin Joins Growing Criticism of<br />

State's Use of Pension Savings,” The Moscow Times<br />

(August 8, 2014),<br />

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/articl<br />

e/kudrin-joins-growing-criticism-of-state-s-use-ofpension-savings/504810.html.<br />

48 Alexey Kudrin, “Pravila Igry,” Kommersant<br />

(August 8, 2014),<br />

http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2540459.<br />

97 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 97

a Skype interview in November 2014, that<br />

today’s pensioners will not be affected by<br />

Russia’s decision to dip into pensions<br />

funds, the situation sets the scene for a<br />

future in which the elderly might see their<br />

pensions threatened. 49<br />

One must also not forget the fact<br />

that Russian pensioners have consistently<br />

proved to be politically active and<br />

heterogeneous in their approach to<br />

politics. 50 From Communists to convinced<br />

Putinists, from anti-Putin liberals to<br />

grandparents who rarely vote, the elderly<br />

will turn out on the streets to protest. This<br />

could prove to be a double-edged sword<br />

for Putin. Even though so far he has<br />

proven to be able to control the political<br />

outcome and has restrained discontent<br />

among the elderly, such a multi-layered<br />

social group can become unpredictable in<br />

situations of crisis and more difficult to<br />

manage.<br />


According to the views of the<br />

economists of The Russian Presidential<br />

Academy of National Economy and<br />

Public Administration (RANEPA), Russia<br />

is too old for a revolution. 51 RANEPA<br />

bases its assumption on two main<br />

observations: that the group of Russians<br />

aged 55 and older will grow much more<br />

solidly than the other age groups, and that<br />

in the 2012 presidential elections the<br />

majority of older votes went to Putin.<br />

RANEPA is only one of the many<br />

organizations guilty of oversimplifying the<br />

49 Skype interview with Mariya Riekkinen, Åbo<br />

Akademi University, Finland on November 17,<br />

2014.<br />

50 Aleksei Levinson, “The Institutional<br />

Framework,” 55.<br />

51 “Rossiya Slishkom Stara Dlya Revolutsiya,”<br />

Finmarket.ru (December 13, 2013),<br />

http://www.finmarket.ru/main/article/3577467.<br />

relationship between Russian politics and<br />

the elderly.<br />

As illustrated in this essay,<br />

scholars, the media and politicians too<br />

often regard the elderly as victims and<br />

subjects of the state, rather than as<br />

participating actors with the potential to<br />

push for policy changes. At the same time,<br />

the relationship between the Russian<br />

government and its pensioners remains<br />

understudied. This led to an<br />

underestimation of the complexities of<br />

this relationship and their relevance when<br />

trying to assess and predict the ways in<br />

which the current political situation in<br />

Russia will evolve.<br />

It is for this reason that this report<br />

recommends a framework that highlights<br />

a few features in the relationship that<br />

might hint at a shift in the balance.<br />

Namely, Russia’s tendency to rely on<br />

short-term solutions instead of focusing<br />

on long-term stability; the defining quality<br />

of economic factors in shaping the ways<br />

in which the government is constrained by<br />

or able to rely on the support of the<br />

elderly; the high levels of political activism<br />

and the heterogeneity of the politically<br />

active pensioners as a complicating factor<br />

in Russia’s attempt to manage the<br />

opposition. As the economic climate<br />

deteriorates further, those elements can<br />

become increasingly important. The fall of<br />

the ruble’s value and a food ban on some<br />

Western imports in response to the<br />

sanctions appear to have driven up the<br />

cost of basic foods, which is a major<br />

concern for the elderly given their special<br />

dietary needs and fixed incomes. 52 A 2014<br />

money-saving health care reform<br />

52 “Russians Feel the Pinch of Rising Food Prices<br />

as Inflation Bites,” The Moscow Times (February 19,<br />

<strong>2015</strong>),<br />

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article.php?id<br />

=516256.<br />

98 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 98

threatens the quality of the services<br />

delivered by Russian hospitals. 53 All are<br />

issues that promise to become primary<br />

concerns for the elderly.<br />

So, is Russia “too old for a<br />

revolution?” It is unlikely that Russian<br />

babushkas will be the force driving an<br />

actual revolution, especially if one<br />

subscribes to the theory according to<br />

which Russia’s revolutionary path has<br />

more often being forged by the<br />

intellectual and/or political elites rather<br />

than by the masses. 54 Yet, the complexity<br />

of the relationship between politics and<br />

the elderly shows that the ground might<br />

be fertile for a disruption of the status<br />

quo. For that, Russia might just be old<br />

enough.<br />

53 Nataliya Vasilyeva, Thousands of Hospital Staff to Be<br />

Sacked in Russian Healthcare Reforms (November 28,<br />

2014),<br />

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/euro<br />

pe/thousands-of-hospital-staff-to-be-sacked-inrussian-healthcare-reforms-9891710.html.<br />

54 Sergei V. Kulikov, “Revolutions Invariably<br />

Come from Above. The Fall of Tsarism through<br />

the Prism of the Elite Circulation Paradigm,”<br />

Russian Studies in History 47, no. 4 (<strong>Spring</strong> 2009), 8–<br />

39.<br />

99 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 99


Arutunyan, Anna. The Putin Mystique. Inside<br />

Russia’s Power Cult. Northampton,<br />

MA: Olive Branch Press, 2014.<br />

Chandler, Andrea. Shocking Mother Russia.<br />

Democratization, Social Rights, and<br />

Pension Reform in Russia, 1990-2001.<br />

Toronto, Canada: University of<br />

Toronto Press, 2004.<br />

Cook, Linda J. Postcommunist Welfare States.<br />

Reform Politics in Russia and Eastern<br />

Europe. Ithaca: Cornell University<br />

Press, 2007.<br />

Gerber, Theodore P. and Radl, Jonas.<br />

Pushed, Pulled, or Blocked? The<br />

Elderly and the Labor Market in<br />

Post-Soviet Russia. Social Science<br />

Research 45, 2014.<br />

Hill, Fiona and Gaddy, Clifford J. Mr.<br />

Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.<br />

Washington, D.C.: Brookings<br />

Institution Press, 2013.<br />

Oleinik, Anton N. Mass Protests in the<br />

Context of the Russian Power<br />

Regime. Russian Social Science<br />

Review, vol. 54, no. 3, May–June,<br />

2013.<br />

vanden Heuvel, Katrina. Babushkas vs.<br />

Putin. The Nation. January 20,<br />

2005.<br />

ILARIA PAROGNI is an MA candidate in<br />

Journalism and Russian and Slavic<br />

Studies at New York University. She<br />

graduated with honors from University<br />

College London with a BA in European<br />

Social and Political Studies. Previously,<br />

she served as Director of Social Media at<br />

Russia Beyond the Headlines and was<br />

the co-founding editor of The Kompass, a<br />

website on Russian culture in the UK.<br />

Her work has been published by the<br />

Huffington Post, The Telegraph, Russia<br />

Direct, NewEurasia.net, Bedford &<br />

Bowery and others.<br />

100 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 100

From Multi-Party to<br />

Two-Party System<br />

The Applicability of Duverger’s<br />

Law and the Taiwanese Election<br />

Reform<br />

Pei-Yu Wei<br />

T<br />

he Republic of China (ROC), more<br />

commonly known and accepted as<br />

Taiwan, has been ruled by the<br />

Kuomintang (KMT) for the greater part of<br />

its history. After the Nationalist Party fled to<br />

the island of Taiwan following the loss of<br />

China to the Mao-led Chinese Communist<br />

Party, the KMT froze the constitution<br />

granting voting rights to citizens. It was not<br />

until 1986 that the government lifted its<br />

restrictions on political participation, and<br />

the first direct presidential election was not<br />

held until 1996.<br />

The elections of the Legislative<br />

Yuan, the highest legislature body in<br />

Taiwan, were also democratized in 1992,<br />

and the majority of legislators were elected<br />

under the Single Non-transferable Vote<br />

System (SNTV). Under the SNTV system, a<br />

voter casts one vote for one candidate in a<br />

multi-candidate race for multiple seats, and<br />

the candidates with the highest number of<br />

votes are elected. 1 In 2004, electoral reforms<br />

were put into place due to increasing public<br />

pressure against the negative aspects of the<br />

SNTV system, which included the<br />

cultivation of party factions and the<br />

opportunities for radical candidates who<br />

held niches in agendas and target only a<br />

specific minority to be elected. 2<br />

1 Specifically, of the 225 members, 168 were elected<br />

under the SNTV system, 8 were elected to represent<br />

the aboriginal population, 8 were elected to represent<br />

overseas Chinese under proportional representation,<br />

and 41 were elected under proportional<br />

representation.<br />

2 Hans Stockton, “How Rules Matter: Electoral<br />

Reform in Taiwan,” Social Science Quarterly 91, no. 1<br />

(2010): 21-41.<br />

Among the changes undertaken<br />

were the halving of the number of<br />

legislators to 113, and switching to a system<br />

of mixed member parallel (MMP), in which<br />

voters essentially participate in two separate<br />

elections, with one ballot for parties where<br />

the seats are decided through proportional<br />

representation, and another ballot for<br />

candidates where the winners are decided on<br />

a first-past-the-post basis. In the new<br />

system, 73 constituency seats are decided<br />

through the single member district (SMD)<br />

system, and 34 seats from party lists are<br />

decided through proportional<br />

representation. In addition, the party seats<br />

are allocated proportionally for parties that<br />

have gained at least five percent of the total<br />

party votes cast in the election cycle. The<br />

new system was enacted in the 2008<br />

Legislative elections. 3<br />

This paper will examine the<br />

applicability of Duverger’s Law on the<br />

electoral system before and after the reform.<br />

Duverger believes that under proportional<br />

representation systems, voters will be<br />

induced to vote based on their own<br />

preferences. However, under plurality<br />

systems, where only the candidate with the<br />

most vote(s) win the position, people tend<br />

to vote “strategically” for the candidate that<br />

they believe has the best chance of winning.<br />

This paper finds that while the law generally<br />

holds for the SNTV system and the SMD<br />

component of Taiwan’s MMP system,<br />

namely the constituent vote, the smaller<br />

parties’ ability to be represented in the<br />

legislature are actually being constricted,<br />

contradictory to the intention of Duverger’s<br />

Law. The paper will be divided into three<br />

components. First, it will briefly outline the<br />

theory of Duverger’s Law and the<br />

methodology applied in the paper. Then, an<br />

empirical analysis from the data available<br />

will follow. It will draw comparisons and<br />

provide explanations of the differences<br />

between the two results and between the<br />

results and expectations of the theory.<br />

3 Jih-wen Lin, “The Politics of Reform in Japan and<br />

Taiwan,” Journal of Democracy 17, no. 2 (2006): 118-<br />

131.<br />

101 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 101

Lastly, possible explanations for the<br />

deviations of the actual outcomes from the<br />

predicted ones will be offered, and<br />

conclusions drawn.<br />


Duverger’s Law links the number of<br />

parties to the electoral system. Duverger<br />

finds that two-party systems often develop<br />

under plurality voting rules, in which every<br />

person only has one vote to cast for a<br />

candidate competing for a single seat in a<br />

district or a region (this is also known as the<br />

SMD system) 4 . Duverger provides two<br />

reasons for this phenomenon: the “fusion”<br />

or the coming together of weak parties to<br />

retain competitiveness, and the elimination<br />

of the weaker parties by the stronger parties<br />

through their superior resources and voters’<br />

strategic voting. Proportionality as electoral<br />

rule, on the other hand, encourages the<br />

formation of multi-party systems, since<br />

voters understand that their votes are more<br />

likely to influence the formation of the<br />

government. It is not impossible for twoparty<br />

systems to form, but it is<br />

comparatively more difficult under<br />

proportionality systems than it is under<br />

plurality systems. These observations<br />

combined make up what is known as<br />

Duverger’s Law.<br />

From these two rules further<br />

expectations could be inferred about<br />

different systems. In the SNTV system,<br />

similar to the SMD, voters only have one<br />

vote, with the major difference being that<br />

there are multiple seats up for contest.<br />

Hence, Duverger’s Law, when applied to<br />

SNTV, predicts that in districts with M seats<br />

open for election, there will be M+1 viable<br />

candidates contesting for them. 5 The<br />

empirical study on the SNTV system in<br />

4 Maurice Duverger, “Factors in a Two-Party and<br />

Multiparty System,” in Party Politics and Pressure<br />

Groups: A Comparative Introduction, Maurice Duverger<br />

(New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1972), 23-32.<br />

5 Steven R. Reed, “Structure and Behaviour:<br />

Extending Duverger's Law to the Japanese Case,”<br />

British Journal of Political Science 20, no. 3 (1990): 335-<br />

356.<br />

Taiwan done by Hsieh and Niemi provides<br />

evidence to support this. It also shows that<br />

the larger the district magnitude, the lower<br />

the level of strategic voting, since it would<br />

be more difficult for candidates and voters<br />

to calculate the probabilities of winning. 6<br />

This means that the more seats that are up<br />

for grabs in a single district, the more the<br />

voters will vote based on their real<br />

preferences and not because they believe<br />

that certain candidates stand higher chances<br />

of winning. Thus, in larger districts, the<br />

results will be more proportional in nature,<br />

and with a higher possibility of having more<br />

than M+1 candidates competing.<br />

Although there have not been many<br />

studies done on the applicability of<br />

Duverger’s Law to mixed systems, it is still<br />

possible to formulate expectations to the<br />

outcomes of the elections. Since Taiwan’s<br />

system is an unlinked parallel one (MMP),<br />

there is a relatively clear separation between<br />

the proportional representation (PR) and the<br />

SMD aspects of the ballots. It is true that in<br />

a mixed system, the party leaders or<br />

decision-makers may have other<br />

considerations. These include the placement<br />

of candidates on the party list or running in<br />

constituencies, and of candidates deciding<br />

whether to vie for a higher place on the<br />

party list or run in “safe constituencies.”<br />

However, for voters, since the party vote<br />

and the constituent vote are largely<br />

unconnected, it is safe to assume that their<br />

decisions for the two votes would also be<br />

separated instead of being interconnected.<br />

This is because voters do not need to<br />

consider the effects of splitting their ballots<br />

among different parties or candidates on the<br />

overall representation of their preferred<br />

parties. Therefore, for the SMD portion of<br />

the seats, we can expect to observe the<br />

dominance of two parties, while for the PR<br />

seats we can expect to see the presence of<br />

smaller parties, as per Duverger’s theory.<br />

Whether the system leans towards a two-<br />

6 John Fuh-sheng Hsieh and Richard G. Niemi, “Can<br />

Duverger’s Law be Extended to SNTV? The Case of<br />

Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan Elections.” Electoral Studies<br />

18, no. 1 (1999): 101-116.<br />

102 <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2015</strong> 102

party system or a multi-party system<br />

depends on the relative ratio of the PR seats<br />

and the SMD seats. 7<br />

This paper will utilize the data of the<br />

Legislative Yuan elections from 1992 to<br />

2012, which comprises seven election cycles,<br />

because 1992 was the first year of direct<br />

legislative elections. Thus, to avoid the<br />

problem of regime change, this paper will<br />

not consider the data before 1992. The next<br />

section will examine the makeup of the<br />

different legislatures for each election cycle,<br />

a general empirical pre-reform and postreform<br />

comparison.<br />


This section will analyze the seven<br />

Legislative Yuan elections individually, and<br />

then the pre-reform and post-reform<br />

differences will be examined<br />

comprehensively. Due to the number of<br />

new parties participating in each election<br />

cycle and the fluidity of small parties, apart<br />

from the few large parties that have<br />

maintained a somewhat steady presence in<br />

the elections since democratization, the<br />

majority of the parties participating in<br />