27 March 2014

Odessa Remains Defiant Amid Invasion Rumors

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale


Citizens of Odessa are expressing defiance as rumors sweep this Texas city of an impending invasion from Moscow, Idaho. In a televised speech earlier today, the mayor declared that Odessa would "resist aggression to the last man, woman, and child."

In recent days, gun-racked pickup trucks have become a common sight on the streets of Odessa. Sporting goods stores, including major chains such as Big 5, have completely sold out of all types of firearms and ammunition as the city braces for whatever may come. "We're gonna kick their ass!" hollered a local resident dressed in battle dress uniform and a John Deere cap. "And we'll spit chew at 'em!" He then proceeded to demonstrate his prowess.

Cattle guards are unlikely to be an effective barrier.

Former Texas governor George W. Bush issued a statement rallying Odessans in his native Spanish: "Es mejor morir de rodillas que vivir en sus pies!"

Meanwhile, officials in Moscow have denounced rumors of a looming attack on Odessa as "Western propaganda" and "the paranoia of people who have obviously watched too many John Milius movies and drunk too much Lone Star beer." A highly-placed spokesperson declared, "The idea of one red state attacking another red state is plainly ridiculous. We hold firm to the doctrine that all bubbas are brothers. The ultimate triumph of global bubbahood is a historical inevitability."

Filmmaker Milius, whose credits include "Red Dawn" (1984), was unavailable for comment. Close associated deny that he is dusting off the script for the long-delayed sequel.

In related news, the situation remains tense as Moscow troops patrol the streets of Sebastopol, California for a second week.

26 March 2014

Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 4

a policy paper
Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale and Marilyn Dudley-Flores



The world needs to decide what the end state is that it can accept as “victory.” One end state is the most obvious one: Russia returns to Ukraine Crimea (and any other territory that Russia may occupy or annex). This would be a humiliating defeat for Russia, and therefore it is unlikely to be achieved and only at great cost, as imposing such a defeat will meet with the bitterest resistance. A second end state may be more achievable, and ultimately it may be palatable to both sides.

The Russian perspective must be seriously considered. The costs that the international community can impose on Russia have been discussed. Balanced against these are what Russia values:

1) Crimea was Russian territory for nearly two centuries before the advent of the Soviet Union, and it remained part of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic until 1954, when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian who had recently come to power and who was still consolidating his power, transferred Crimea from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR. This transfer made little difference “on the ground” while both Russia and Ukraine were republics of the Soviet Union. It only became a distinction with a difference with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Ukrainian independence in 1991. Compared with the centuries of history as part of Russia and then the Soviet Union, Crimea’s experience as a constituent part of an independent Ukrainian state is only 23 years old.
2) The population of Crimea is predominately ethnic Russian.
3) By agreement between Ukraine and Russia following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet is based in ports in Crimea.

The diplomatic and economic sanctions that can be imposed are intended to make this cost of holding Crimea unacceptably high to the Russian government. A second approach is to offer a solution that is less costly to Russia, the cession of Crimea to Russia at a fair price.

The cession of territory from one sovereign state to another has most commonly occurred as a feature of a treaty ending a war: one side wins and one side loses. In the case of Crimea, the appearance of such an arrangement must be avoided assiduously. If there is to be a negotiated settlement of the Crimean Crisis, everyone must go home a winner.

A much less common type of cession is a familiar facet of American history: the Louisiana Purchase, the Gadsden Purchase, and the Alaska Purchase. More than one-third of the territory of the United States was bought from foreign powers. However, the history of sovereign territorial purchases is virtually nonexistent outside of the nineteenth century United States, and thus, unfortunately, it is a potential solution that has been overlooked in the Crimean Crisis.

Nevertheless, a Crimea Purchase would allow Russia to gain what it values at a much lower cost than what it stands to lose from global diplomatic and economic isolation. In exchange for offering Crimea to Russia, Ukraine could expect a cash settlement that its government desperately needs, given that it is on the brink of default on international loans. Furthermore, Ukraine could expect to negotiate a contract for Russian oil and natural gas at a price guaranteed and subsidized by the Russian government for a certain term of years. Russia gets what it wants, Ukraine gets what it needs, the national pride of both sides is satisfied, and the world can get back to the business of building peace and prosperity for all.

This offer should be deployed at a strategic moment early in the middle game when the Russian leadership has come to realize that the steps taken by the international community in the opening game is Indeed merely the beginning of its response and that there are more consequences to come.

Any war, including a cold war, has an overall negative utility function. Even the eventual victors must accept damage in the pursuit of inflicting an unacceptable level of damage on the enemy, and the economic isolation of Russia would impose not inconsiderable costs on the global economy. In contrast, a negotiated settlement to a crisis has a positive utility function. Everyone gains something that they value.


The twenty-first century world is more deeply integrated than was the post-Second World War world. Because of this, some assert that waging a Second Cold War would be impractical; that the global economy, having been woven together, its unraveling will hurt everyone. While this is undoubtedly true, and even obvious, it is also irrelevant. In the power politics of the realist perspective of international relations theory, relative gains are a more important consideration than absolute gains.

In 2002, Gangale wrote: “Because the world as a whole has yet to arrive at Francis Fukuyama’s (actually an update on G. W. F. Hegel’s) “End of History,” realism may from time to time inform our dealings with nonliberal [sic] regimes who are still stuck in History.” While other theoretical perspectives have their valuable insights according to the nature of the prevailing international situation, in times of tension realism comes to the fore. Putin has decided to drag Russia back into History, and in response, we must practice realpolitik once again.

Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 1
Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 2
Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 3

25 March 2014

Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 3

a policy paper
Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale and Marilyn Dudley-Flores



Russia’s aggression demonstrates that under its present leadership, it has once again become a diseased state, just as it was under communist rule. Its internal symptoms are repression and corruption, and its external symptom is territorial ambition, that is to say that like cancer it loves to spread. Many observers believed that Russia enjoyed a period of remission during the 1990s; it was weak, yes, from the amputations of the Soviet breakup and from economic “shock therapy,” but it was now cancer-free. Quite the contrary, the cancer was still there, learning to attack different types of cells, and now it has come roaring back.

Such a diseased state must be isolated and contained… or destroyed. Obviously, the former course of treatment is the more principled one, and also the safer one. Thus, the international community would do well to re-familiarize itself with the George Kennan playbook for winning the First Cold War, to review what worked well and what did not, and to make the necessary adjustments for the different circumstances of the early twenty-first century. Most of all, there must be a deep, global commitment to winning the Second Cold War if it is to be fought effectively, cohesively, consistently, and brought to a successful conclusion quickly. Failure of commitment will result in a second Crimea, possibly in eastern Ukraine, possibly in northern Kazakhstan, possibly elsewhere, but surely the cancer will spread.

Accordingly, the international community must engage in a coordinated effort to put unbearable pressure on the Russian leadership. It must be pressed on all points imaginable and feasible, as long as the utility function of the policy is positive, i.e. it hurts Russia much more than it hurts us, and it is consistent with international norms of state behavior.

Hopefully, Yulia Tymoshenko will stand for election to the Ukrainian presidency and win. She is very likely the strongest unifying force in Ukrainian politics, and she has the street credibility of on-the-job experience and jail time. The opening moves in the chess game against the Russian leadership will be played before the election, but once a new government is in place in Kiev, one that has the legitimacy of a free and fair election, the forces available to be deployed against the Russian leadership will be multiplied. In particular, with Tymoshenko as president, opposition to Russian aggression can play the gender card to great effect, portraying Vladimir Putin as the matinee villain tying the beautiful damsel to the railroad tracks. At this point, we move to the middle game. Severe travel restrictions, asset freezes, strong economic sanctions, and diplomatic isolation should follow the election within a few weeks.

Additional steps to be considered later in 2014 are:

  • Suspend of Russian membership in international organizations such as the Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization). Expulsion from these institutions would be the next step.
  • Accelerate Ukrainian entry into the European Union.
  • Initiate the process of adding Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

There is no infrastructural connection between Crimea and Russia other than a ferry. Severance of all trade between Ukraine to Crimea: electrical power lines, natural gas and water pipelines, food transport, and communications cables would impose enormous costs on Russia to provide the material needs of the Crimean population. It would also give Russia a propaganda issue of a humanitarian crisis manufactured by the West. Additionally, such an action would carry the risk of a violent Russian reaction, using it as a pretext to install a puppet government in Kiev. A subtler approach would be for Ukraine to incrementally raise prices on the goods and services that it provides to Crimea. Additionally, because of Ukraine’s weakness compared to Russia, the Ukrainian government should look for ways to “best” Russia (since it cannot “beat” Russia, it should endeavor to find a way to come off better than expected) via a “Machiavella strategy” as described by feminist international relations scholar Karin M. Fierke in 1999.

Vladimir Putin relies on a small circle of intimates for advice; their thinking is insular. John Dalberg-Acton is remembered for his observation, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Often overlooked is the second sentence of the quote: “Great men are almost always bad men.” This is because it is the human mind that is susceptible to the corruptive nature of power, and therefore, the longer one holds power, the more ones character is warped by it. Putin has been in power since the beginning of this century; his mind is no longer what it was when he first took power. The strategy of the international community should be to make the mind of Putin and of his circle its primary targets. The present Russian leadership circle will make mistakes that the international community should overlook no opportunity to exploit. In contrast, the necessity for a pluralistic international community to build consensus is often seen as a weakness, one that the Putin regime aims to exploit, yet this also has its strengths in that it presents the opportunity for diverse points of view to be aired, reducing the risk of “group-think” and of miscalculation. The international community must endeavor to be as decisive and as swift as possible within its inherent constraints, mindful that although Putin’s small circle can be swifter, it runs the perennial danger of being swift in the wrong directions. Ultimately, these corrupted old men will suffer the agony of power slipping away in their declining years, adding to their rage against the Darkness.

Actions to be considered in out-years of the conflict:

The international community should continue to ratchet up the diplomatic isolation of Russia. It should continue to vote on resolutions in the United Nations Security Council, forcing Russia to exercise its veto. Among the resolutions that should be considered, so long as there is the prospect of support by a majority of the members and of the permanent members, are to:

1) Suspend Russia’s membership in the UN pursuant to Article 5 of the Charter,
2) Expulsion of Russia from the UN pursuant to Article 6 of the Charter.
3) Creation of an International Criminal Tribunal for Russia for the purpose of indicting Russian leaders for war crimes and crimes against the peace of the world.

The US should rapidly develop its natural gas fields as well as the ability to service the European market.

The fifteen republics of the Soviet Union and their half-dozen eastern European satellite states were not a successful autarky. An economically isolated Russia is even less viable. Many of the economic ills of the Soviet system remain in different forms. The economy is dominated by monopolies and oligopolies. Left to itself, the Russian economy will perform poorly. As their standard of living falls farther behind the rest of the world, Russians will seriously reflect on why their nationalism has angered the world, and they will increasingly and more openly question the Russian leadership.

Finally, the West should continue to be just what it is. The most invasive program to Putin’s political machine is the message of liberty. The Russian people have been receiving that message since the end of the Cold War, and their ability to connect to the rest of the world has increased with the development of the Internet. Closing the barn door now would be problematic. Putin can only fool some of the people some of the time. Russians’ appetite for outside news and entertainment will increase as it becomes increasingly restricted, and despite the drumbeat of Kremlin propaganda, they will wonder why the Kremlin turned with world against Russia yet again.

Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 1
Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 2
Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 4

24 March 2014

Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 2

a policy paper
Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale and Marilyn Dudley-Flores



In a just society, the purpose of law is to provide for the rights of life, liberty, and property, and to effect equitable solutions to disputes. It must also impose appropriate punishment for breaches of the law, else the integrity of the legal system itself is compromised. More than any other legal system, international law suffers from a dearth of integrity because it has few enforcement mechanisms. Indeed, in many cases, an alleged perpetrator of an international wrong must consent to be bound by international law. Imagine a society where if the defendant decides not to appear in court, there is no legal proceeding. That is international society for the most part. There is no world policeman; the citizens of international society, that is the sovereign states, must either cajole or intimidate the defendant to appear in court, or take the law into their own hands. On the international scene, we call the former “sanctions,” the latter is called “war.” When a breach of international law occurs that is so egregious that the act is a threat to the integrity of the international order, whatever sanctions that are necessary to convince the perpetrator to cease and desist must be imposed in the defense of the international order itself, for the failure to do so must ultimately endanger the peace of the world.

The three principles underlying the international system of sovereign territorial states that evolved from the 1648 Peace of Westphalia are:

1) The principle of the sovereignty of states and the fundamental right of political self-determination.
2) The principle of legal equality between states.
3) The principle of non-intervention of one state in the internal affairs of another state.

Although an exhaustive recitation of sources of international law is beyond the scope of this paper, several may be noted here.

1) Article 8 of the Convention on Rights and Duties of States, signed at Montevideo on 26 December 1933, states:

No state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another.

2) Article 11 of the said Convention states:

The contracting states definitely establish as the rule of their conduct the precise obligation not to recognize territorial acquisitions or special advantages which have been obtained by force whether this consists in the employment of arms, in threatening diplomatic representations, or in any other effective coercive measure. The territory of a state is inviolable and may not be the object of military occupation nor of other measures of force imposed by another state directly or indirectly or for any motive whatever even temporarily.

3) Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco on 26 June 1945, states:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Failure to uphold in Ukraine the principle of territorial integrity that is at the heart of the international system of legally equal, sovereign states will encourage other entities to resort to force to redraw international borders. Although the term “nation-state” is ubiquitous, it is also woefully inaccurate. A “nation” is a “people,” a group that has an identity by virtue of a distinct language, religion, culture, or history. A “state” is a government that exercises sovereignty over a defined territory. It is the norm rather than the exception that peoples straddle international borders, and that states encompass multiple ethnic groups. Historically, warfare has been the favorite means for redrawing International borders, until the rise of the new international norm against annexation by right of conquest in the mid-twentieth century. The ascendance of that norm ended the World Wars, and the frequency of smaller wars between nations diminished. Absent that norm the Cold War might have erupted into a Third World War. Russia’s occupation and annexation of Crimea weakens that norm, and threatens to make war between nations for the sake of territorial gain more common.

Failure to uphold the security guarantees given to Ukraine in 1994 in exchange for decommissioning the vast nuclear arsenal that it inherited from the Soviet Union would set a poor example to states who have developed or are developing nuclear weapons outside of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The probability of any of these states ever giving up their nuclear weapons and programs drops to near zero under this scenario. If anything, more states will be motivated to initiate clandestine nuclear weapons programs.

A world of more frequent wars and more nuclear-armed states will be the consequence of allowing the annexation of Crimea to stand, and therefore reversing Russia’s aggression is worth any price the international community must pay, short of war.

Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 1
Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 3
Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 4

23 March 2014

Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 1

a policy paper
Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale and Marilyn Dudley-Flores


The authors have considerable experience in publishing in academic journals; however, the approval and publication process usually takes several months and can consume as much as a year. The authors are concerned that the 2014 crisis in Ukraine is developing rapidly into the most serious threat to international order since the Second World War. Accordingly, the authors have chosen to self-publish on the Internet as quickly as possible. If the ideas contained in this policy paper can be of value to national decision-makers, this would be far more important than adding one more professional publication to our curricula vitae.


As the world spirals deeper into the Ukraine crisis, if it is serious about upholding international law and rolling back the most brazen land grab since the 1940s, the world needs to come to terms with the prospect of a Second Cold War with Russia and hunker down for another long, twilight struggle. If the world develops an effective strategy and executes it properly, the Second Cold War need not take as long nor be as costly to win as the First Cold War.


In violation of the agreement between Ukraine and Russia regarding the stationing of Russian military personnel in Crimea, Russian troops deployed beyond the confines of their bases and rapidly seized control of strategic buildings and facilities in key Crimean cities. That Russian military personnel may have been aided by sympathizers in the Crimean population does not absolve the Russian military personnel of the international crime of aggression against the sovereign state of Ukraine.


That official Russian statements have been inconsistent regarding this crime of aggression in itself shows them to be fabrications. On one hand, it is claimed that these thousands of uniformed, well-armed and well-organized troops are local Crimean militia; however, it is not credible that such a large local militia could have equipped and trained itself while escaping the notice of Ukrainian authorities. Due to the massive influx of troops bereft of insignia and with no official cover, Ukrainians have taken to referring to them as “little green men” as though they dropped down from Mars.

On the other hand, Russian authorities assert the right to intervene in any part of Ukraine where a substantially Russian population may be threatened by the deterioration of civil order. This or indeed any pretext is clearly prohibited by Article 11 of the Montevideo Convention, and such action constitutes the use of force against the territorial integrity of Ukraine in violation of Article 2 of the UN Charter.

Yet a third excuse offered up by Russia is that it is upholding the right of self-determination of Crimea’s Russian population. This is a deliberate distortion of the meaning of the principle of national self-determination in international law; the right of self-determination is not a right of secession from a sovereign state. Certainly the principle of self-determination has gained in importance in the course of the past century; however, this right, as with all rights, is not absolute, and the application of this principle as it conflicts with the principle of territorial integrity of a sovereign state is highly problematic. Particularly with regard to democratic states, whether unitary or federal, international law presumes that a people can exercise their right of self-determination within the political system of the sovereign state. In 1998, the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the province of Quebec did not have a right to secede either under international law or under the municipal law of Canada. In the same vein, Crimea does not have a right to secede under international law, or under the municipal law of Ukraine unless approved in a nationwide referendum. It is important to note that the 16 March 2014 referendum on Crimean secession from Ukraine was not nationwide, and therefore it was illegal under Crimean law. It is also important to note that Crimea enjoys considerable autonomy under the Ukrainian constitution. It is not at all clear that Crimea would enjoy a greater level of self-determination, or even an equal one, as a constituent part of the Russian Federation given the Russian state’s control of the media and its increasingly brutal crushing of dissent. Perhaps the strongest case that was ever made for secession was penned by Thomas Jefferson. “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” Such a case was not, and cannot be, made for Crimea. There could have been no “patient sufferance” of a “long train of abuses and usurpations,” given that the Crimea’s secession referendum occurred only a few weeks after the formation of the new government in Kiev that Crimean Russians allegedly feared.

As for the Russian claim that in annexing Crimea it rights a historical wrong, consider the following analogy. A parent gave a family heirloom to a cousin who was a minor. The parent’s minor child resented this, feeling that the parent should have passed down the heirloom to him. Decades later, the parent having died, the grownup child breaks into his cousin’s house and robs him at gunpoint. At his trial he asserts that he merely righted a historical wrong. You be the judge.

Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 2
Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 3
Cold War or Hot Deal: The World's Options in the Ukraine Crisis, Part 4

Crimean Solution: Emporium Not Empire

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Gangale

The current crisis in Ukraine can hardly come as a surprise to anyone who remembers that two decades ago Samuel P. Huntington cited it as one of the "cleft countries" that straddle the fault lines between what he referred to as "civilizations," or to anyone who has bothered to give a casual glance to voting pattern maps throughout Ukraine's post-Soviet history. Western Ukraine, mostly Ukrainian-speaking and Roman Catholic, wants to be a member of the club of European states, while eastern Ukraine, mostly Russian-speaking and Russian Orthodox, wants to be a member of a club of Eurasian states.

The problem is that the internal borders of the Soviet Union were drawn for certain purposes of domestic politics of the time, and that these borders became international borders when the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. Those borders are now forced to serve purposes that were not intended when they were drawn, and they serve modern purposes badly. Unfortunately, while the borders of internal political territorial divisions are easy to change, borders become set in stone once they become international borders. The integrity of such borders is a fundamental principle of the Westphalian system of sovereign nation-states.

In 1954 Premier Nikita Khrushchev was able to transfer Crimea from Russian Republic to the Ukrainian Republic within the Soviet Union with a mere stroke of the pen. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and in 2014 Crimea, the territory of a sovereign Ukraine, cannot be handed back to Russia so easily.

Territorial annexation by right of military conquest was once axiomatic in international relations, but an international norm began to develop against this ancient principle in the early 20th century in reaction to the devastation of the First World War, and this norm became even stronger as a result of the Second World War, to the point that territorial expansion through the use of force became illegal.

However, there is no prohibition against the peaceful transfer of territory by an international treaty. It comes down to the art of the deal. Ukraine and Russia could avoid a violent conflict by coming to the negotiating table in good faith.

Russia wants Crimea for historical reasons, because of the peninsula's majority Russian population, and because of its strategic naval ports and other military facilities. That is understandable. At the same time, Ukraine wants to keep Crimea simply because, as they say, "possession is nine points of the law." That is understandable as well. However, the Ukrainian government is on the brink of insolvency, and its economy needs Russia as an energy supplier. So, why not negotiate a treaty ceding Crimea to Russia in exchange for such economic compensation as Russia assuming the Ukrainian government's debt to date, or Russia supplying Ukrainian energy needs at a subsidized price for a specified number of years? Both sides would walk away from the table with something of value, and neither one would suffer the ravages of war. Do svidaniya, and don’t get any on ya.

It was thoughtful of Comrade Nikita Sergeyevich to give Crimea to his native Ukraine, but sometimes well-intended gifts prove to be unsuitable. The modern capitalist practice is to return such a gift in exchange for a cash refund or a store credit.

With the Crimean crisis thus defused, there would be time for cooler heads to consider the ramifications of future Ukrainian membership in the European Union or in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


In 2002, at the very beginning of his international relations studies, Gangale urged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to continue inviting Eastern European nations to become members, citing that this would enhance European security, would incentivize these states to build stable democracies, and in parallel with membership in the European Union, would provide opportunities to build prosperous market economies. Although other international relations scholars predicted that these fragile states in tradition from communism would be unable to bear the costs of upgrading their militaries to NATO standards, in fact these states posted higher economic growth than what then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referred to as the "Old Europe." Also, some scholars were warning that NATO's eastward expansion would antagonize Russia and encourage the rise of ultranationalist influence in the Russian government, yet this did not come to pass; we had Vladimir Putin then and we still have Vladimir Putin now. (Note that the 2014 crisis has been precipitated by Putin’s fear of the prospect of Ukraine developing economic ties to the European Union, whereas prior to the crisis NATO had not seriously considered Ukrainian membership in the Atlantic alliance.) Gangale also pointed out back then that NATO becomes less threatening as it expands its membership simply because decisions for “out of area operations” must be taken by consensus among an increasing number of members. In retrospect, his 2002 work on NATO expansion has been a most successful prediction of the future.