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Volume XIX A project by students, for students. There is no better example of the strength and drive of undergraduates in the University of Toronto's International Relations program than their willingness to engage with each other’s ideas and share them broadly. What follows in this totally re-designed volume of The Attaché is the independent work of a committed team that has volunteered their time to create this model of active and engaged learning. While the students have retained exclusive editorial control, and the opinions and ideas below should be attributed only to the authors themselves, the edition does signify something truly wonderful about our undergraduate students as a group: They are willing to dive into their research and develop their writing, all while engaging deeply with the past and thinking about the future.

Timothy Sayle

Director and Assistant Professor International Relations Program


The AttachÊ is Canada’s leading undergraduate International Relations journal.

Est. 1998, our work drives policy debates and moves the needle on the issues that matter.

This is our nineteenth edition.


+++ MASTHEAD Editors-in-Chief: Isaac Nikolai Fox Feaven Tekabo Senior Editors: Joshua Rossetti Angus Lee Andrea Ho Wardah Malik Leah Gibbins Junior Editors: Armin Safavi Stephen Chankov Drew-Anne Glennie Zara Lal Other Contributors: Emily Chu Maighdlin Mahoney Nancy Ji

Design and creative direction by Isaac Nikolai Fox. All photos are under creative commons licenses from Unsplash. The Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy 1 Devonshire Pl, Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7 All rights reserved, the writers and photographers. Š2019//The AttachÊ Journal of International Affairs


04 masthead

06 foreword

08 the end of cold war independence

32 putin’s crimean improv


02 about the attaché

05 table of contents

07 letters from the editors

18 collective amnesia: the holocaust in the balkans

46 a middle power in the korean war

the shallow waters of the pink tide

A•tta•ché 5

Foreword I

t is a privilege to offer this foreword to the 19th edition of The Attaché. With a new look, this journal continues to showcase representative examples of the work of undergraduate students in the University of Toronto’s International Relations program, based at Trinity College. An interdisciplinary program of political science, history, and economics along with courses in other fields such as international law thrown in, this program allows students to explore questions concerning the relations between states, international bodies, and transnational developments. While the essays in this issue draw most heavily from the first two disciplines, elements of each are present to varying degrees. Geographically, they cover a large part of the globe. This issue offers a historical example of Canada as a middle power coming of age in its first post-war conflict and its first entirely outside of Europe. We are also given an overview of how the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, largely representing the decolonizing world in Asia and Africa, challenged the Cold War’s bipolar order, the legacy of which now carries on in our emerging multipolar world. We are also presented with insight into recent crises; whether they be in Venezuela, which is placed within a broader analysis of Latin America’s so-called “Pink Tide”, or the Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, the annexation of which is scrutinized in depth. Finally, we have an insightful examination of how the Baltic republics have addressed their collective memory of the Holocaust and of Soviet rule. I trust readers will appreciate the insight and creativity with which our students have addressed these topics, some of which are well familiar and others less so. I commend The Attaché’s editorial team for their dedication to enabling this publication to go forward. John Dirks, Ph.D, Lecturer, and Researcher International Relations Program 6

Editors’ Notes W

hen Feaven and I first worked as junior editors of The Attaché’s 2018 edition, I stumbled into an unspoken problem in academia: Academics are the only ones who read research papers – and even for them, it’s not always easy. I’m no different; getting through dense papers can be a challenge for me too.

Our nineteenth edition is a first stab at solving this problem. The Attaché has existed in many forms since 1998, but we’ve stripped them all

down and started afresh. Each writer’s research tells a story about the world, and we tailored our designs to their work, to bring out their unique stories in a way that a bare wall of text just can’t. We have passionate writers, total creative control, not to mention all the glossy pictures. These are our strengths. We’ve been free to try something entirely new, and we hope that our experiment points the way forward. Thank you to all who helped.

Isaac Nikolai Fox, Co-Editor-in-Chief


t’s our pleasure to present you with the latest edition of The Attaché. Being involved with The Attaché has been an absolute privilege. Every year, this journal showcases some of the best work that has been produced by undergraduate students here at the University of Toronto.

a broad range within the field of international affairs. We hope you enjoy reading them – and find yourself learning something new in the process.

We’ve sought to continue this tradition with this year’s edition.

I want to also express our sincere gratitude to our copy editors, our sponsors, and the staff and professors in the International Relations program who helped with the journal. Your efforts have made this journal possible, and we are deeply grateful.

Our submissions in this edition are all thought-provoking, and cover

We look forward to seeing where you take it in the future.


Feaven Tekabo, Co-Editor-in-Chief


The End Of Cold War Neutrality The Non-Aligned Movement claimed neutrality in the Cold War, but it unravelled when its leaders were forced to pick sides. Emily Chu


A•tta•ché East Java, Indonesia.



n the context of growing tensions between the two Great Cold War Powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, the landmark conferences at Bandung, Indonesia and Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1955 and 1961 laid the foundation for a new ideological movement centered on Third World cooperation: the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). However, the founders of the movement could not have foreseen how widespread conflict and instability throughout the 1950s-70s would shake the foundations of the newly-formed movement. This new era of conflict threatened the unity of NAM in two ways: first, it eroded the central principle of neutralism, and second, conflict forced non-aligned leaders to prioritize domestic issues over the development of an international consensus, thereby undermining the prospect of cooperation and collective action. This process is evident in the early postwar experiences of Egypt, Indonesia, Cuba, and India. Faced with conflict within or near their borders, leaders of these states were forced to seek aid from the United States or the Soviet Union to help arm, finance, and, in some cases, fight their battles. Consideration of Yugoslavia, the only state that remained truly nonaligned in this period, also reveals the relationship between conflict and successful adherence to NAM principles. In this way, although NAM supposedly offered a viable alternative for Third World countries to disengage from the Cold War, “the Non-Aligned Movement was as much a participant in the Cold War…as it was a victim.”1 Thus, the Non-Aligned Movement began as a beacon of unprecedented cooperation between Third World states in the postwar era. However, leaders who faced new and resurgent conflicts increasingly saw alignment with a Great Power as a preferable option for survival, dampening the legitimacy of the burgeoning movement founded upon neutralism and unity. To properly evaluate the shift away from non-alignment despite the continuity of leadership from Bandung onwards, this paper will focus 1 Lorenz M. Lüthi, “The NonAligned Movement and the Cold War, 1961-1973,” Journal of Cold War Studies 18, no.4 (2016): 147.

on the time period from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s in order to analyze how early adopters of non-alignment came to abandon its principles so shortly after its inception.

A number of the leaders in the nonaligned movement chose to align with Great Powers to survive, as the Cold War intensified and the fallout spilled across borders.

Before exploring the individual experiences of several non-aligned member states, it is important to explore the origins and founding principles of non-alignment to understand exactly how member states later deviated from the original ideology as the Cold War progressed. The origins of NAM stem from growing Third World cooperation amidst alienation from the bipolar Cold War power structure in the early postwar period, with key developments occurring at the 1955 Bandung Conference and the 1961 Belgrade Conference.


he Bandung Conference of 1955 solidified Asia, Africa and the Middle East as a coherent political community.2 In the words of scholar Kweku Ampiah, Bandung “epitomized the sense of anxiety permeating the emerging Third World in relation to the mutuallyexclusive ideologies of the superpowers and their ambitions to conquer the world.”3 What would later become known as the non-aligned ideology was founded upon principles of peaceful coexistence, anti-colonialism, and resistance to Great Power alliances that had emerged at the outset of the 1950s, including the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Warsaw Pact.4 In essence, the ideology that emerged at Bandung rejected the seemingly neoimperial will of both the United States and the Soviet Union, which these powers had sought to impose upon the rest of the

2 Kweku Ampiah, The Political and Moral Imperatives of the Bandung Conference of 1955 (Folkestone: Global Oriental, 2007), 25. 3 Ibid, 23. 4 Peter Willetts, The Non-Aligned Movement: The Origins of a Third World Alliance (London: Frances Pinter Ltd., 1978), 114.

world.5 Now, this principled resistance to both Great Powers is commonly misconstrued as neutrality, meaning absolute abstention from either side’s alliances or ideologies. However, neutrality, or “neutralism” as it was understood by the leaders of NAM, was very specific to the Cold War environment.6 Indeed, historians describe neutralism as a “national policy of maintaining…equal relations with the communist and the free nations and avoiding close cooperation with either bloc.”7 While this was an admirable goal, neutralism was in tension with another aim of the movement: the desire to exercise a collective Third World voice upon international affairs.8 This contradiction, more often than not, tended to induce alignment, as involvement with international affairs usually required engagement with one or both of the United States or the Soviet Union.9 As early as the Bandung Conference, the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, acknowledged hints of alignment between the participants, noting that divisions between them “reflect[ed] a projection of the Cold 5 Ampiah, The Political and Moral Imperatives of the Bandung Conference of 1955, 23. 6 Ibid, 15. 7 Ibid, 15. 8 Lüthi, “The Non-Aligned Movement and the Cold War, 1961-1973,”: 99. 9 Ibid, 99-100. 10

War affiliations.”10 Nevertheless, there was enough enthusiasm expressed at Bandung to continue on the track of South-South cooperation.


hile Bandung marked the inception of non-aligned ideals and principles, the movement began in earnest during the 1961 Belgrade Conference, which saw the emergence of three central leaders of NAM: Nehru of India, Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. The conference was attended by 25 states including Cuba and Indonesia, and resulted in the first official recognition of the movement as a set of foreign policy objectives to be adopted by each member state.11 The participants addressed issues such as anti-imperialism, development aid via the United Nations, and the declaration of support for independence struggles in countries such as Angola and Palestine.12 Despite some early hints of disunity, the stage was set for a new era of collective Third World diplomacy and relations that would resist engagement with Cold War conflicts, led by the members of NAM and guided by Bandung principles. Unfortunately, this newfound cooperation was quickly hindered by the realities of conflict faced by many Bandung and Belgrade participants once they returned home. The experiences of Egypt, Indonesia, Cuba, and India are significant because they serve as clear examples regarding why several NAM members eagerly or reluctantly aligned themselves with the Western or Eastern blocs so shortly after the powerful rejection of the Great Powers at Bandung and Belgrade. For the purposes of this paper, deviation from NAM principles is characterized as firm entrenchment within the American or Soviet bloc. In many cases, principles of non-alignment were not fully abandoned, but in all cases, experiences of conflict catalyzed 10 Ampiah, The Political and Moral Imperatives of the Bandung Conference of 1955, 45. 11 Willetts, The Non-Aligned Movement, 13. 12 Aleksandar Životić and Jovan Čavoški, “On the Road to Belgrade: Yugoslavia, Third World Neutrals, and the Evolution of Global Non-Alignment,” Journal of Cold War Studies, 18, no.4 (2016): 96.

Gamal Abdel Nasser. Portrait by Khalid Shahin. alignment that undermined cooperation between the non-aligned member states. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, one of the NAM’s founding leaders, was faced with two largescale Arab conflicts in the two decades following the beginning of the Cold War: the 1956 Suez Crisis and the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. These conflicts posed a substantial challenge to maintaining a non-aligned stance, as Nasser faced growing domestic pressure to resolve these crises. In a telegram from the British Embassy in Jakarta summarizing remarks at Bandung, Nasser is quoted as emphasizing the need for “close cooperation” among Afro-Asian states and the pursuit of economic development

for “peaceful purposes.”13 However, just over a year after Bandung’s conclusion, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, instigating a multi-state conflict that began his drift towards the left. A strong declaration against European dominance, Nasser’s move was met by a joint invasion between British, French, and Israeli soldiers in October of 1956. The United States, unhappy with the actions of its allies, used economic means to pressure the three forces to withdraw.14 13 “Summary of the introductory speeches at the Bandung Conference (18-19 April 1955),” CVCE – University of Luxembourg, last updated 01/03/2017. 14 Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 125. 11

The Arab-Israeli war was disasterous for the Nasser government, and forced the Egpytian leader to seek the USSR’s help in driving the Israelis out of the Sinai peninsula.


n an effort to capitalize on the United States’ interjection into the conflict, Nasser quickly appealed to the U.S. after the crisis for aid, but was denied support.15 In response to this rejection, Egypt courted anti-Western sentiment in neighbouring Syria by supplying troops to combat American covert operations, creating his own Arab communist bloc that stood in opposition to the pro-Western Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. Egypt also developed closer financial relations with the Soviet Union when it replaced the U.S., Great Britain and the World Bank as primary financers of the Aswan Dam in October 1958.16 While hints of alignment emerged following the Suez crisis, it was the conflict with that Israel propelled Egypt into an precarious domestic situation, forcing Nasser to strengthen military ties with the USSR that ultimately solidified Egypt’s alignment with the Eastern bloc.


he 1967 Arab-Israeli war was disastrous for Egypt; at the conflict’s conclusion, Israeli forces had occupied the Sinai Peninsula, stripping Egypt of a significant source of revenue. This development, combined with the country’s lack of private business due to Nasser’s widespread nationalizations earlier in the decade, meant that the country was in dire financial straits. The public responded loudly, and protests swept the nation in March of 1968, demonstrating to Nasser that victory in a renewed fight against Israel would quell domestic tensions.17 Despite Nasser’s leadership at Belgrade just seven years prior, domestic turmoil forced Nasser to break with neutralism and turn to the Soviet Union for weapons, equipment, and military training.18 He wanted to ensure that the Soviets came to see “Egypt’s defeat [as] their defeat.”19 In this way, Nasser’s motivation to win the next conflict with Israel eclipsed his desire to foster peaceful international cooperation and abstention from Cold War alliances. Therefore, it is clear that both the Suez and Arab-Israeli conflicts in the 1950s-60s catalyzed Nasser’s turn towards alignment by provoking domestic pressures that forced him to abandon neutralism and international cooperation. In contrast to Egypt’s experience with external conflict, Indonesia’s experience with the Sumatra Rebellion in the late 1950s offers the clearest account of the shift from nonalignment to alignment as a result of internal conflict. Sukarno, the first President of Indonesia, was one of the first allies of Nehru, Nasser, and Tito among NAM members. During the 1956 Suez Crisis, Sukarno condemned Britain’s diplomatic overtures as “a camouflage for aggression,” even telling Tito of his idea to hold another NAM conference to have Afro-Asian leaders address this “decisive battle of decolonization.”20 However, Indonesia’s neutralism was incredibly short lived. In an unexpected turn to the left, Sukarno vied for the support of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) by increasing his anti-Western rhetoric shortly after Bandung, criticizing elites with Western commercial interests. Sumatran anti-communist leaders were disillusioned by Sukarno's communist pivot and sought American military aid and financial assistance to mount a rebellion against 15 William R. Keylor, A World of Nations, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 371. 16 Ibid, 371. 17 Michael N. Barnett and Jack S. Levy, “Domestic Sources of Alliances and Alignments: The Case of Egypt, 1962-73,” International Organization, 45, no.3 (1991): 382-383. 18 Ibid, 384. 19 Ibid, 384. 20 Životić and Čavoški, “On the Road to Belgrade: Yugoslavia, Third World Neutrals, and the Evolution of Global Non-Alignment”: 88.

Similarly, Indonesia’s Sukarno government brokered an alliance with the United States that helped it quash the Sumatran rebellion in the late 1950s.


Havana, Cuba. 13

his regime.21 Echoing the Sumatrans' fears about Sukarno, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, alongside Malaysia and Singapore, responded by covertly sending arms and communications equipment to the Sumatran rebels beginning in 1956. Fearing revolt, Sukarno sought out his own external support from the Soviet Union; Khruschev pledged over $100M for military purchases in line with his commitment to winning the Third World, and Communist China extended its ties with Indonesia as well.22 By the mid-1960s and with several years of de facto alignment already behind him, Sukarno solidified his conversion to the Eastern bloc, stating bluntly in a speech given on 17 August 1964: “I am a friend of the Communists, because the Communists are revolutionary people.”23 He explained to Tito, at the Cairo NAM Summit later that year, that the relationship between the Indonesian nationalists and the Communists was too important to the success of the state, demonstrating how the Sumatran rebellion ultimately led to Sukarno’s abandonment of international cooperation in favour of domestic victories.24 Indeed, this is because when he was faced with rebellion, Sukarno allied himself with the Eastern bloc to secure his power, which consequently undermined the NAM principles of neutralism and pan-national unity.


evolution and rebellion also influenced the alignment of Cuba. The Cuban Revolution, led by Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara began as a non-aligned nativist rebellion against dictator Fulgencio Batista, but became aligned with the Soviet Union following the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. The revolution concerned Batista’s alleged failure to bolster Cuban development through the acceptance of American exploitation.25 By January 1959, the rebels ousted Batista, and Castro was declared leader of Cuba, who began his presidency by offering gestures of good faith to the Americans, meeting Vice President Richard Nixon in April 21 22 129. 23 24 25

Keylor, A World of Nations, 323. Westad, The Global Cold War, Ibid, 187. Ibid. Ibid, 170.

of the same year. However, shortly after this meeting, Castro abolished all rival political parties to his Communist Party, nationalized several U.S. electricity and telephone companies, and instituted land reforms that threatened land held by American sugar companies. He continued to antagonize the United States by describing the “criminal hand of Yankee imperialism” as a mortal threat to Cuban society.26 At the United Nations General Assembly meeting on 26 September 1960, Castro asked the crowd “how great our world would be today” if like the Soviet Union, “all nations were able to say ‘Our country has no colonies and no investments in any foreign country,” solidifying Cuba as a firm supporter of the Soviet Union on the world stage.27

promptly signed a financial deal with the USSR to combat American economic sanctions.29 By 1964, Cuba was deeply diplomatically and militarily aligned with the Soviet Union by all measurements, which had consequences for Cuba’s cooperation with other Third World states.30 While repeatedly pleaded for unity against imperialism with Latin American countries such as Venezuela and African states such as the Congo, his alignment with the Communist bloc subjected him to criticism from the USSR and other communist Latin Americans states, who advised Castro against interfering.31 Thus, the Bay of Pigs invasion pushed Fidel Castro to abandon any hope of neutralism in favour of joining the Soviet bloc, who then prevented him from acting on his desire for international anti-imperial cooperation.

Cuba did not fully align with the Soviet Union until after the CIA-led Bay of Pigs invasion. Castro’s goverment deepened its ties to the Warsaw Pact, and abandoned any pretense of neutrality.


espite these early overtures of alignment, it was not until the Bay of Pigs invasion by the United States in April 1961, a response to what the Americans viewed as Castro’s unacceptable economic policies, that Cuba ended diplomatic relations with the U.S. and fully aligned with the Soviet bloc. Cuban forces decisively repulsed the American CIA invaders, and following the victory, Castro internalized the Marxist influences of his brother Raul and Che Guevara and and turned to the left.28 Cuba

nlike the experiences of Egypt, Indonesia, and Cuba, India’s experiences with non-alignment were more complex, as a result of its own regional conflicts with both China and Pakistan that threatened Nehru’s pursuit of a “third way.”32 At the closing session of Bandung, the Indian Delegation, of which Nehru was a part, remarked that “we are determined in this new chapter of Asia and Africa to make good,” and that “we have to live together and cooperate together in this modern world.”33 Unfortunately, these sentiments of cooperation were short-lived due to tensions with regional enemies. In 1962,

26 Fidel Castro, “On the Exploitation of the Cuban Nation,” in Conflict & Cooperation: Documents on Modern Global History, 4th ed. ed. by Tracey J. Kinney (Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2018), 282. 27 Fidel Castro, “Fidel Castro Denounces Imperialism and Colonialism at the United Nations,” Castro Speech Database, Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC), September 1960. 28 Westad, The Global Cold War, 172.

29 Keylor, A World of Nations, 196197. 30 Willetts, The Non-Aligned Movement, 120. 31 Westad, The Global Cold War, 176-77. 32 Keylor, A World of Nations, 333. 33 “Statement by the Indian Delegation at the Closing Session (Bandung, 17-24 April 1955),” in Conflict & Cooperation: Documents on Modern Global History, 4th ed. ed. by Tracey J. Kinney (Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2018), 199.



themselves.”39 Thus, the Indian experience is extremely valuable in evaluating conflict as a catalyst for alignment, as evidenced by the Sino-Indian and IndianPakistani battles that pushed India closer to the USSR.

conflict arose between Communist China (PRC) and Indian forces along the contentious Tibetan border over the protection of the Dalai Lama. Wanting to avoid defeat, Nehru pleaded the United States for military support, which was granted by President Kennedy shortly thereafter, but ultimately did not lead India to victory.34 The conflict continued past Nehru’s death in 1964, and Indian decisionmakers departed from Nehru’s stances and sought help from the USSR on the grounds of a common Chinese enemy.35 As historian Odd Arne Westad explains, the Sino-Indian conflict severely undermined the “authority India had as a Gandhian arbiter of international disputes.”36


ubsequently, India’s conflict with fellow NAM-member Pakistan over the still-disputed territory of Kashmir in the late 1960s strengthened India’s relationship with the Soviet Union. Fearing a conflict with China as a result of their alliance with Pakistan, India signed a military treaty with the USSR in August 1971 to ensure their intervention 34 Itty Abraham, “From Bandung to NAM: Non-Alignment and Indian Foreign Policy, 1947-65,” Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 46, no. 2 (2008): 212. 35 Keylor, A World of Nations, 334. 36 Westad, The Global Cold War, 107.

if PRC forces got involved.37 India’s shift to the Soviet bloc eroded the prospect of cooperation with the United States, which joined the PRCPakistan alliance because of President Nixon’s attempt to improve relations with China.38 India’s era of neutralism had ended, largely due to the priority of domestic conflicts with its longstanding enemies over international cooperation. Despite the fact that it was not Nehru who set the course for India’s deviation from NAM, India’s military alliance with the USSR stood in sharp contrast to Nehru’s forceful condemnation of military alliances at Bandung, where he stated “it is an intolerable thought to me that the great countries of Asia and Africa should come out of bondage into freedom only to degrade themselves and humiliate

Perhaps the only state that managed to remain truly nonaligned in this era was Yugoslavia, led by Josip Broz Tito. Although Tito was unmistakably communist in his values, he was not a subordinate to Moscow; the Yugoslav partisans succeeded in gaining political power in the country after the Second World War without the assistance of the Soviets.40 Unlike the other states explored in this paper, Yugoslavia actually transitioned from alignment to nonalignment. Tito initially supported the Soviet Union in the Cold War, but by 1949, he was gladly accepting economic aid from the Truman administration in response to the USSR’s growing discontent with Tito’s independence.41

The only state which remained commited to non-alignment was Josip Tito’s Yugoslavia, a communist state whose relationship with the USSR was strained for decades.

37 335. 38

Keylor, A World of Nations, Ibid, 333-335.


owever, his eager engagement with both sides of the Cold War ended after his trip to India and Burma in 1954-55, where Tito identified areas of mutual interest in non-aligned cooperation and shifted his direction towards the movement. Although not present at Bandung, Tito shared many values with his Afro39 Abraham, “From Bandung to NAM: Non-Alignment and Indian Foreign Policy, 1947-65”: 207. 40 Keylor, A World of Nations, 1011. 41 Ibid. 15

Belgrade, Serbia. 16

Infighting and internal pressures ultimately forced nearly all the nonaligned states to choose sides in the Cold War. Asian counterparts, and emerged as the face of European non-alignment after the Belgrade Conference.42 Relations with the Soviet Union then continued on tenuous ground; the Soviet Union and the PRC saw Tito’s cooperative actions with Afro-Asian leaders as “attempting to sever relations” between the Soviet bloc and the Third World.43 However, Tito worked closely with the Soviet Union during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, but broke with the USSR once again when they invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, saying that the USSR was “trampling the sovereignty of a socialist country.”44


n the following decade, the most significant threat Yugoslavia faced was increasing pressure on Tito to devolve political power to regional authorities, in part to reduce tensions between the various ethnicities of the region. Tito responded favourably, drafting a new constitution in 1974 that reduced the authority of the federal government. The fact that the only conflict experienced by Yugoslavia was political and dealt with effectively by Tito without Great Power assistance demonstrates how the commitment to neutralism and international politics was easier for a state not pressured by involvement in an armed conflict.45 Tito would also maintain his leadership of NAM by continuing to hold conferences long after the movement's moment had passed. By the 1970s, all the big players were absent: Sukarno was overthrown, and Nasser and Nehru were both deceased. It was clear that the optimism envisioned by the founders of non-alignment had effectively disappeared.46 In all these cases, states ended up aligning with the Soviet Union instead of the United States, supporting the argument that perhaps it was not conflict, but the attractiveness of communism as an alternative to American quasi-imperialism that was the driving force behind the demise of NAM, which was populated by several recently independent former colonies. However, Egypt, India, and Cuba all made diplomatic overtures to the United States before doing the same to the USSR, suggesting that American rejection, combined with the need for support amidst ongoing conflict, pushed these states to join the Eastern bloc. However, this should not discount the importance of understanding communism and what it offered to peoples who had never experienced true independence, which can also help us better understand why NAM failed as a compelling alternative ideology to communism and capitalism during the Cold War.


Only Yugoslavia held out, and this was only possible because Tito faced little major internal or external conflict from the 1950s through the 1970s.

n conclusion, this paper has shown how experiences of conflict among the leading members of the Non-Aligned Movement ultimately doomed the ideology’s success. Egypt’s experience with the Suez Crisis and the Arab-Israeli war, Indonesia’s experience with the Sumatra Rebellion, India’s experiences with conflicts over Tibet and Kashmir, and Cuba’s experience with the Bay of Pigs invasion are all notable for how they reveal the impacts of conflict on the fragile non-aligned principles of neutralism and foreign policy orientation. Yugoslavia, which was the only state that remained truly committed to the principles of non-alignment, experienced no direct conflict during the 1950s-70s, further reinforcing this observation. The failure to replicate NAM’s extraordinary founding principles is disappointing, but small power cooperation continues in separate arenas. Bodies such as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) have become spaces where small powers can exercise institutionalized voices on international affairs. In many ways, the failure of NAM’s effectiveness does not lessen its inspirational value to small power states who continue to look towards it as a strong precedent for small power cooperation. 42 Životić and Čavoški, “On the Road to Belgrade: Yugoslavia, Third World Neutrals, and the of Global Non-Alignment”: 82. 43 Ibid, 91. 44 Lüthi, “The Non-Aligned Movement and the Cold War, 1961-1973”: 128-130. 45 Keylor, A World of Nations, 171-172. 46 Westad, The Global Cold War, 107. 17

Collective Amnesia: The Nazi and Soviet legacies continue to complicate studies of the Baltic Holocaust. Maighdlin Mahoney





cholars of the Holocaust in the Baltics have an uphill battle to fight against the region’s collective memory. Collective memory is distinct from history; while history refers to the actual past, collective memory refers to how groups represent their past – truthfully or otherwise.1 Despite the brutality of the Holocaust in Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, the region’s collective memory downplays its severity, and at times even borders on denial. As the generation that lived through the Nazi era fades into memory, it is increasingly important to probe how new generations understand these historical atrocities. To that end, this paper explores the four main factors that have shaped Baltic collective memory of the Holocaust: Soviet and Nazi propaganda, the two Soviet occupations, local collaboration with the Nazis, and the broader Baltic yearning for statehood and independence. Each of these events has affected Baltic collective memory, to such an extent that the study of public perceptions of the past is itself a major concern in the historiography of the Baltic Holocaust.

while the propaganda machines have long ceased to exist, their work continues to inform present-day opinion.


azi propaganda tended to conflate Jews with the extremely unpopular communist regime of the Soviet Union in what Lithuanian scholar Saulius Sužiedėlis calls the “Judeo-Bolshevik narrative.”3 In Estonia, both Nazi officials and Estonian collaborators used this myth to mobilize local cooperation with the Nazi regime, equating the destruction of the Jews with the destruction of the Bolsheviks.4 Though this myth originated during the Nazi occupation, its effects on the Baltic collective memory remain clear even in the current era of independence.

The Holocaust was vicious and brutal in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, but the region’s collective memory downplays its severity, and at times borders on denial.

Leading scholars of Eastern Europe’s modern history have stated that the most challenging barriers they face when studying the Holocaust in the Baltics are the disinformation campaigns run by both the Nazi and Soviet propaganda agencies.2 This argument – championed by historian Andrew Ezergailis – applies equally to Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, all of which were occupied by the Nazis and the Soviets. Both regimes’ propaganda agencies portrayed Baltic Jews and the Holocaust in ways that furthered the goals of their respective regime. And 1 Jörg Hackmann, “Collective Memories in the Baltic Sea Region and Beyond: National – Transnational – European?”, Journal of Baltic Studies, Vol. 39, No. 4: 382. 2 Ezergailis, Andrew. The Holocaust in Latvia: 1941-1944. Riga: The Historical Institute of Latvia, 1996, xv.

Anton Weiss-Wendt studies the reactions of Estonians to online newspaper articles about Estonian Jews or the Estonian Holocaust.5 He argues that anti-Semitism is frequently conflated with anti-Russian attitudes, and that the Judeo-Bolshevik myth of the 1940s has been replaced by a myth of a “Rus3 Sužiedėlis, Saulius. “Jews and Lithuanians on the Eve of the Holocaust 1939–1940”. Darbai ir dienos 67, 2017, 118. 4 Weiss-Wendt, Anton. Murder Without Hatred: Estonia and the Holocaust. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2009, 63. 5 Anton Weiss-Wendt, “Why the Holocaust Does Not Matter to Estonians”, Journal of Baltic Studies, 39, no. 4 (2008).

so-Jewish conspiracy.”6 Weiss-Wendt’s work indicates that in this light, many Baltic citizens see anti-Semitism as a branch of patriotism – and within this historical schema, the tragedy of the Holocaust is diminished. Dov Levin identifies a similar trend in popular Lithuanian representations of the Holocaust, which depict Jews as being complicit in the 1940 annexation by the Soviet Union of the independent Lithuanian state.7 Refuting this myth and attacking its presence in Baltic collective memory is a central concern of academic historians. These include historians such as Levin, Ezergailis, Weiss-Wendt, and Saulius Sužiedėlis, who call out the Judeo-Bolshevist myth’s fraudulence and draw attention to its traceable origins in Nazi propaganda. Their refutations, while well-intentioned and accurate, only further underline how deeply Nazi propaganda has entrenched the association between Judaism and Communism into the Baltic collective consciousness.


oviet propaganda also played a crucial role in shaping public opinion of Jews and the Holocaust, and has been just as influential on the Baltics’ warped memory of the genocide. Unlike Nazi propaganda – which simply worked to stoke the flames of anti-semitism – Soviet propaganda glossed over the Holocaust, and helped sanitize its raw brutality. Joseph Levinson argues that it was during the second Soviet occupation after the war that the Holocaust became a taboo subject for Lithuanians.8 As Levinson notes, un6 Weiss-Wendt, Anton. “Why the Holocaust Does Not Matter to Estonians,” 493. 7 Levin, Don. “Lithuanian Attitudes towards the Jewish Minority in the Aftermath of the Holocaust: The Lithuanian Press, 1991-1992”, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 7, no. 2 (1993): 252. 8 Levinson, Joseph. The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania, (Vilnius: VAGA Publishers, 2006), 324. 20


The ‘theory of two genocides’ minimizes the Holocaust and argues that a genocide of greater scale took place during the Soviet Union’s occupation. til the 1990s, the Soviets controlled all the territory where there was actual evidence of the Baltic Holocaust and had the ability to shape the historical narrative. They opted for revisionism, and throughout the Soviet years, details surrounding the Baltic Holocaust were obfuscated and covered up according to their propaganda needs.9 As historiographers of the former Soviet territories have frequently noted, Soviet propaganda after WWII worked to foster public ignorance and indifference towards the Baltic Holocaust. Ezergailis and Levinson both write that the Soviet Union suppressed public inquiry into the Holocaust, and led Latvian and Lithuanian citizens to generally favor revisionist Soviet interpretations of the Holocaust. Expounding on this point, Weiss-Wendt notes that in Estonia, discussion of the Holocaust has been suppressed and brushed aside to an even greater extent than in the other two Baltic countries.10


ather than accurately describing the Holocaust as a Jewish genocide, the Soviets reframed the Holocaust as German nationalists killing Soviet citizens, rather than Baltic citizens collaborating with the Nazis to exterminate their own Jewish countrymen.11 This framing of the Holocaust allowed the Soviet Union to situate itself as the primary victim, rather than the Jewish people. In the long-run, this narrative has remained dominant in the Baltic collective memory, and towards the topic in Baltic collective memory, as the Holocaust and war casualties were seen as merely a method through which the Soviet government justified its post-war expansion, militarism and policing. Consequently, Baltic citizens grew disinterested in discussing the Holocaust because it was generally remembered as a tool of Soviet propaganda.12 Another common trend in Baltic collective memory is questioning the extent of Jewish victimhood, or what Levinson calls the “theory of two genocides”.13 This theory stems from Batic citizens viewing their own victimization under the Soviet government as equal to and in many cases greater than that of the Jews during the Holocaust, and it remains incredibly influential on the region’s memory of the genocide to this day.


he theory has its roots in the first Soviet occupation of the region, which took place prior to the Nazi invasion. Weeks before the 1941 arrival of the Nazis in the Baltics, the Soviet Union carried out mass deportations in all three of the Baltic countries, separating many Baltic citizens from their families in a round of political cleansing. The second Soviet occupation, especially during the Stalinist period, contained more mass arrests and deportations, as well as renewed repressive measures aimed at permanently incorporating the Baltic states into the Soviet Union.14 The hardship endured under the two Soviet occupations formed the basis for the theory of two genocides – which does not deny the Holocaust’s existence, but casts it as a lesser form of genocide than that suffered by all Baltic citizens under the Soviet regime.


he Lithuanian press often portrays what Levin calls a “symmetry of events,” casting the Lithuanian and Jewish peoples as equal victims of the Nazi and Soviet

9 Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, xvii. 10 Ezergailis., xvii. Levinson, The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania, 11. Weiss-Wendt, “Why the Holocaust Does Not Matter to Estonians,” 475. 11 Levinson, The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania, 324. 12 Stevick, The Holocaust in Contemporary Baltic States: 90. 13 Levinson, The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania, 323. 14 Andres Kasekamp, A History of the Baltic States, (London: Palgrave, 2018), 130.

Despite being pure propaganda, the theory of two genocides remains deeply entrenched in the Baltic collective memory to this day.


Old Tallinn, Estonia. 23

occupations. 15 For example, one article sionism.20 erally.23 Discussions and perceptions of written by Juozas Fabijonavičius imlocal collaboration also depend greatly n the Latvian case, Ezergailis plies that Jews participated in the Soviet on the nation in question, since the argues that many locals became repression of Lithuanians and overly Holocaust transpired differently across absorbed in their own grief, and failed states that both groups “paid a similar Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. price.”16 The idea of parallel genocides in to become fully acquainted with the 21 till, there is a key similarity history of the Holocaust in their state. Lithuanian collective memory fuels leIn other words, he argues that the across most discussions of local gal action, leading to Jews who resisted theory of two genocides collaboration in the Baltic Holocaust: the Nazis by joining fosters ignorance of the the legalistic tone. This is unsurprising, the Soviet army being Holocaust by divertgiven that collaboration in genocide is prosecuted for war ing public focus from often viewed in reference to the Nazi 17 Many crimes. the Holocaust itself to legal system that authorized it during Lithuanians These prosecuinvestigating the Soviet and the Nuremberg commissions that tions parallel the tried it after the Second World War.24 went above and state’s persecution of Debates over Holocaust collaboration prosecution of Nazis nationals. beyond what the Latvian in the Baltics to be framed around after the war, and Levinson argues that Germans asked questions of true guilt, both personal or are further evidence the public’s knowledge communal. It also leads to debate over that Baltic collective of the Latvian Holoof them in their whether Baltic collaboration was an atmemory remembers caust both stems from persecution of the tempt to choose the ‘lesser of two evils’ the Holocaust and the and contributes to the Soviet occupation as popularity of the theory between Nazism and Communism. This Jews. equal genocides. In of two genocides, which phrase is also linked to the prosecution of genocide, where defendants often Estonia, this trend in he decries as a “poorly collective memory can masked attempt to justi- argued that their collaboration was a necessity for survival, and was combe seen in the politicization of Holofy the mass slaughter of the Jews.”22 pelled by force. In all three Baltic states, caust memorial statues, which have In the above mentioned cases, Baltic this legalistic language is a key feature attracted controversy since many Estocollective memory has had to be reof the historiography, particularly as it nians conflate memorializing the dead buked by historians, as it is riddled with relates to the debate between culpability 18 with celebrating the Red Army. The misconceptions that stem from propatwo genocides are not only equal, they and innocence in the states’ collective are in competition, and mourning one is ganda dissemimemories. nated during the tantamount to celebrating the other. Nazi and Soviet Beginning with The theory of two genocides is so occupations. Still, Lithuania: Nick Bravin pervasive in the Balkan collective mem- the public percepbrings up one case Latvian police ory that historians have had to devote tion of Baltic colthat powerfully and and paramilitary a considerable amount of the literature laboration tends succinctly shows to debunking it. Weiss-Wendt argues to elicit a more the ongoing debate units undeniably that this “victimization contest” is an nuanced response regarding Lithuanian participated in the unproductive approach to the Holocaust from historians, complicity. He comHolocaust – the main that causes most Estonians to simply who have found pares the “well-escast the subject aside.19 Instead of view- it difficult to debate concerns the tablished fact” that ing the Holocaust as a major historical identify to what thousands voluntarily degree to which they participated in Lithevent, the theory of two genocides has degree Baltic led Estonians to view the atrocities as a participation in chose to participate. uania’s Holocaust more commonplace historical tragedy, the Holocaust was apparatus with the one that does not require any national voluntary. Stevick low number of war self-evaluation. Furthermore, the idea identifies Baltic crime charges brought of Estonia as the ‘real’ victimized nation collaboration with against Lithuanians – leaves ample room for Holocaust revithe Nazi occupying authority as one of only three at the time of his article in the most difficult questions facing both 2009.25 Lithuania had the highest per15 Levin, “Lithuanian Attitudes”, historians and the Baltic countries gen252. 23 Stevick, “The Holocaust in Con16 Ibid, 256. temporary Baltic States”: 88. 17 Nick Bravin, “Baltic Ghosts”, 24 Weiss-Wendt, Anton. “Collabo20 Ibid., 491. Foreign Policy, no. 172 (2009). ration in Genocide: The Ottoman Empire 21 Ezergailis, The Holocaust in 18 Hackmann, “Collective Memo1915–1916, the German-Occupied Baltic Latvia, 11. ries”: 383. 1941–1944, and Rwanda 1994”, Holocaust 22 Levinson, The Shoah (Holocaust) and Genocide Studies 25, no. 3 (2011): 407. 19 Weiss-Wendt, “Why the Holocaust Does Not Matter to Estonians”, 484. in Lithuania, 323. 25 Bravin, “Baltic Ghosts”, 163. 24




Despite significant evidence to the contrary, Lithuanian popular opinion generally holds that only a handful of Lithuanians collaborated with the Nazis and that the existing cases of collaboration are vastly over-exaggerated.26 A concrete example of this attitude

occurred in Vilnius after the fall of the Soviet Union, when the Jewish community sought to erect a memorial statue. The statue was to bear an inscription honoring Jewish victims killed by the Nazis “and their local collaborators,” but Lithuanian authorities insisted on the deletion of the word “local” before granting permission to erect the statue. Levin uses this case as an example of how Lithuanian collective memory has rejected guilt for participating in the Holocaust, and resisted self-examination.27

n contrast to the views held by the Lithuanian general public, the orthodox view among historians of the Holocaust is that Lithuanian participation was voluntary – although they acknowledge that the use of the term “voluntary” is complicated by the fact that Lithuania was occupied by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Weiss-Wendt argues that local Lithuanian collaborators acted independently in their contributions to the Holocaust, to the point where most Lithuanian Holocaust victims barely interacted with German soldiers.28

26 Levin, “Lithuanian Attitudes,” 252. Levinson, The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania, 18.

27 252.

28 Weiss-Wendt, “Collaboration in Genocide”, 419.

centage of local Jews murdered out of any Baltic country, so the issue of collaboration is not whether or not Lithuanians participated in the genocide, but the extent to which they actively chose collaboration with the Nazis.

Levin, “Lithuanian Attitudes,”


Daugavpils, Latvia. 26

The Estonian government followed Nazi orders in a markedly more efficient and effective manner than its Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts. Weiss-Wendt points to the existence of the Hamann Commando, a killing unit staffed by ethnic Lithuanians that carried out the majority of the mass executions, as evidence that a strong segment of the Lithuanian population participated zealously.29 His case is compelling, and Levin goes even further and argues that many Lithuanians went above and beyond what the Germans were asking of them in persecuting the Jews.30 Overall, the general trend is while that Lithuanian collective memory minimizes the extent of collaboration, historians have identified a high volume of local collaboration, albeit while occupied by the Nazis.


n Latvia, collaboration took place within the same structures as in Lithuania – mostly police or pseudo-military units – but the Latvian debate tends to revolve around whether collaborators were acting of their own volition or simply following orders from higher up in the Nazi apparatus. Alexandra Covas accurately summarizes the two prevalent sides of the debate, stating that there are “those who argue that history has been distorted, and those who believe it is accurate but has been glossed over.”31 The first side Covas identifies holds that Latvian national history has been manipulated by Nazi and Soviet propaganda in such a way that it appears that Latvians participated of their own accord, while in actuality they were cooperating with the Nazis under duress. The second camp holds that Latvians were active and often willing participants in the Holocaust, and that this fact has been largely ignored. Ezergailis argues that Latvians widely believe that they share no responsibility for the Holocaust, but he takes a more legalistic approach in his own analysis of the subject.32 Ezergailis focuses his analysis on the Arjas Commando, an ethnically Latvian subset of the German Security police that notoriously participated in the mass murder of Latvian Jews.33 He argues that Latvians did participate in the Holocaust, but because Latvia was occupied, they must be considered to have been acting under Nazi command, rather than of their own accord.34 While Ezergailis certainly minimizes the agency of the Latvians, Covas more explicitly invokes the language of a “lesser of two evils.” She asserts that some Latvian participants may have been forced to participate, she also argues that Latvians’ choice to cooperate with the Nazis was influenced by public opinion that the Soviets were a worse alternative.35

Estonia had a relatively small Jewish population, which meant that there, the Holocaust took place in the shadows, without civilian death squads and segregated ghettos.


ovas also argues that the widespread fear of the Soviet Union even pushed some Latvians to see the Nazis as saviors of the Latvian state, subsequently causing them to be more willing collaborators in the Holocaust.36 Despite this one caveat, Covas’ argument generally supports the notion that the Latvians do not bear major culpability 29 Ibid, 418. 30 Levin, “Lithuanian Attitudes”, 247-8. 31 Alexandra Covas, “The Holocaust Through Latvia’s Eyes: How the Nazi Party Became the Lesser of Two Evils”, The Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society, 42 (2012): 37. 32 Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, 11, 24-26. 33 Weiss-Wendt, “Collaboration in Genocide”, 418. Kasekamp, A History of the Baltic States, 123. 34 Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, 53. 35 Covas, “The Holocaust Through Latvia’s Eyes”, 37. 36 Ibid. 27

for the Holocaust within their country, as their participation was compelled by necessity. And on the whole, despite some of their desire to minimize the severity of Latvian complicity, it remains true that Latvian historians have more nuanced opinions on their countrymen’s guilt than the rest of the Latvian general public. In Estonia, the local collaboration was distinct from in the rest of the Baltics, which has led to key differences in the debate surrounding Estonian complicity compared to the rest of the Baltics. The Estonian Holocaust was carried out more surgically, as the Jewish population in Estonia was a far smaller demographic than in either Lithuania or Latvia. While still brutal, there were no civilian death squads or mass Jewish ghettos in Estonia – in contrast to Latvia and Lithuania, where there were.37 The Estonian government also followed Nazi orders in a markedly more efficient and effective manner than their Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts.38 Consequently, Estonia has different public and historiographic issues than its other Baltic counterparts.


eiss-Wendt identifies two primary issues in the collective memory of the Estonian context. First, the legalistic manner in which the Holocaust was carried out caused some Estonians to believe there were legitimate reasons for the individual murders, and that “justice was served.”39 Second, this narrative remains more believable in Estonia’s collective memory than in Lithuania or Latvia since the Jewish population was a far smaller segment of their overall population, and the genocide was far more out-ofsight.40 As the leading scholar of the Estonian Holocaust, Weiss-Wendt himself promotes a more nuanced approach to the genocide. He argues that while Estonia’s collective memory generally portrays the Holocaust as a tragedy 37 Weiss-Wendt, “Why the Holocaust Does Not Matter to Estonians”, 476. 38 Weiss-Wendt, Murder Without Hatred, 60. 39 Weiss-Wendt, “Why the Holocaust Does Not Matter to Estonians”, 476. 40 Ibid, 477-8.


he most credible secondary motive is the Baltic search for independence. Weiss-Wendt argues that when the Nazis invaded, it was “hailed as a victory and not a defeat” by the BalThe organizations – both governtic populations because their long-term mental and judicial – that collaborated goal was regaining the independence with the Nazis they had lost during were staffed by the first Soviet occuethnic Estopation, which began nians, were in 1940.44 After the perceived by 1940 Soviet occupathe public to be The Baltic states tion, the Baltic states Estonian, and felt their culture and yearned for were therefore political indepenindependence, and representative dence were at risk of the general the Nazis granted of disappearing altopublic.42 Estonia political independence gether, and the Nazi had a smaller invasion – while an amount of local as an incentive for invasion nonethecollaborators, less – boded better participating in the but their efforts for independence in Holocaust. in the Holocaust their eyes.45 As Ezerreflected the gailis and Weissconfidence and Wendt would have support they it, the Holocaust can had from of the therefore be viewed general public, as merely one aspect of a broader and their actions were largely indepencollaboration with the Nazi regime, in dent of the German military apparatus. which the ultimate goal was regaining The fact that they had a high degree of long-term Baltic independence.46 autonomy also raises the question of The effectiveness of this strategy whether or not it can be said that Estocan be seen in Estonia, where willing nian collaborators were simply followNazi collaborators earned a substantial ing Nazi orders when they purged the amount of autonomy.47 The elimination Jewish population. of the Estonian Jews benefited EstoThe question of motive is also nia because, in the context of German powerfully linked to the unresolved occupation, it brought them closer to issues of collaboration. While Levinson their goal of independence – not merely and Sužiedėlis make compelling argubecause of latent anti-Semitism.48 The ments that anti-Semitism was festering Baltic Holocaust was therefore perin Lithuania throughout the 1930s and ceived in collective memory as a neces1940s, Ezergailis and Weiss-Wendt sary concession, overshadowed by the argue that solely blaming anti-Semitism prioritization of national independence. for the Baltic states’ participation in the The idea that Baltic Independence Holocaust is overly simplistic – in part supersedes the Baltic Holocaust conbecause there was far less evidence of tinues to permeate public perception in pre-WWII anti-Semitism than in Westthe post-Soviet era. The status of Jewish ern Europe.43 minorities in the independent Baltics is a contentious issue. Concessions made to Baltic Jews would also apply to Rus41 Weiss-Wendt, Murder Without 44 Weiss-Wendt, Murder Without Hatred, 324-325. Hatred, 323. 42 Ibid. 45 Ibid, 419-420. 43 Saulius Sužiedėlis, “Jews and 46 Weiss-Wendt, Murder Without Lithuanians,” 108-110. Levinson, The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania, 18. Weiss- Hatred, 335. Wendt, Murder Without Hatred, xviii. 47 Ibid, 343. 48 Ibid, 33. Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, xviii. 28 that only occurred under Nazi orders, it would be a deep mistake to cast Estonia’s institutions and citizens as innocent in the murderous pogroms.41

sian minorities, who are seen as a threat to the “culture survival” of the Baltic countries49 This rhetoric is strikingly similar to that applied at the time of the Holocaust – “protecting” Baltic independence is used to justify public dismissal or disinterest in Baltic Jews.


dditionally, the Baltic public sees the Holocaust – at least in part – as an excuse used by other nations to meddle in internal Baltic affairs. Levinson notes that many Lithuanians feel that Holocaust education is forced upon them by the West, and similarly, the Estonian government only began to investigate the Holocaust at the behest of the United States.50 The notion that Holocaust studies in the Baltics are a Western project is not unfounded, of course; it was mandated by NATO as a non-negotiable prerequisite to mem-

49 Stevick, “The Holocaust in Contemporary Baltic States”: 90-91. 50 Levinson, The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania, 21. Weiss-Wendt, “Why the Holocaust Does Not Matter to Estonians”, 479.

bership.51 However, the fact that the Baltics neglected to examine that chapter in their national histories until it proved absolutely necessary for entering the NATO alliance is telling, and is a modern parallel to their cooperation for autonomy during the actual Holocaust. Historians such as Weiss-Wendt even argue that the lack of public interest in the Baltic Holocaust has complicated fully unravelling what happened during the genocide. This argument inverts the usual dynamic between historians and the Baltic public. Normally, the historians are the ones influencing – or attempting to influence – public perception of the Baltic Holocaust, but as WeissWendt would have it, the public’s indifference and bias has actually skewed historians’ ability to do accurate research. In the Estonian Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity, for example, Weiss-Wendt points out 51 Stevick, “The Holocaust in Contemporary Baltic States”: 92.

that commissioners were chosen for their loyalty to Estonia, and that they worked to satisfy the investigatory requirements for joining NATO while not probing too deeply into local collaboration.52 Levin makes a similar argument for the Lithuanian case. He argues the achievement of Lithuanian independence has led many Lithuanians to feel that Holocaust investigations are largely unnecessary, since the genocide is seen as the product of a different regime – in addition to the fact that it is downplayed altogether.53 Weiss-Wendt and Levin both argue against public perception by asserting that the Baltic Holocaust needs to be discussed outside the context of independence, in order to fully process the atrocities that Jews in the Baltics suffered at the hands of the Nazis and their own countrymen.

52 Weiss-Wendt, “Why the Holocaust Does Not Matter to Estonians”, 479-480. 53 Levin, “Lithuanian Attitudes”, 252-3.

Lithuanian-born Holocaust survivor Yitzhak Kagan pictured visiting Jerusalem’s Chamber of the Holocaust Museum.


Baltic historians have to battle the region’s false collective memory of the Holocaust, which continues to complicate historical inquiry.


istorians of the Holocaust in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have to trace the region’s revisionist memory of the Holocaust in order to address and debunk it. Nazi and Soviet propaganda from the mid-20th century – such as myths of Judeo-Bolshevism or the Holocaust as a ‘nationalist’ narrative, linger in the Baltic collective memory to this day and skew public perception of the genocide.These complex and multifaceted issues create a lingering divide between Baltic collective memory and the actual historiography of the Baltic Holocaust, forcing Baltic historians to address, supplement, and often contend with popular understanding of the Holocaust. Ultimately, this paper has emphacized that historians have an important role to play in shaping the collective memories of key historical events. However, when the actual truth is different from what is assumed to be true, cases such as the Baltic Holocaust show that the challenges they face in shaping public opinions are fierce and enduring.

Further investigation into the Holocaust in the Balkans will be critical to correcting these long-held errors in public opinion, and debunking the JudeoBolshevik myth.


Farm outside Vilnius, Lithuania. 31

Putin’s Crimean Improv Five years removed, the Kremlin’s decision to annex Crimea looks like an act of impulse, not strategy. Isaac Nikolai Fox





t first glance, modern Russo-American relations appear cyclical. The election of a new president in one state prompts calls for a reset in bilateral relations, but after a brief period of relative calm, the competing regional interests of the superpowers invariably drive new conflict between the two countries. Any thaw in relations is shortlived, and conflict returns invariably to the forefront. For the Obama administration, the inflection point with Russia came in February 2014. After the pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was chased out of the Ukraine following months of protests, President Vladimir Putin sent unacknowledged but barelydisguised Russian troops to annex the Crimean Peninsula. The annexation was internationally condemned and sparked an aggressive, still-ongoing round of sanctions from the West, but Russia was not deterred from swallowing Crimea whole. Despite its global infamy, the annexation’s actual origins remain contentious among international relations scholars and the general public to this day. Understanding why Putin’s government felt the annexation was necessary, appropriate and possible is the key to understanding the driving doctrine behind his aggressive foreign policy, as well as to determining any culpability on the Obama administration’s part in this legacy-staining crisis. To thoroughly probe this key issue in contemporary international affairs, this paper adopts a comprehensive approach. It begins by offering a background on Russo-American relations throughout Obama’s early years in office, to help situate the Crimean crisis within the broader arc of the two states’ modern relationship. From there, this paper outlines the dominant narratives explaining why Putin’s government chose to annex the peninsula, which can be summarized as follows: ‘Putinas-Defender,’ ‘Putin-as-Imperialist,’ and ‘Putin-as-Improviser.’1

to the annexation, and the opening and denouement of the Crimean annexation. It concludes by firmly ruling out the notion that the annexation was in any way defensive, and argues that while Putin may indeed hold neoimperial ambitions, the Crimean annexation itself was a flawed, improvised response to a hastily-conceived military occupation that began with no real exit plan in place.

The Crimean annexation itself was a flawed, improvised response to a hastily-conceived military occupation that began with no real exit plan.


efore delving into the nuanced details behind the annexation of Crimea, it is first necessary to elaborate on the state of Russo-Americans relations as they stood in the years prior to the annexation. Russo-American relations had declined considerably throughout the last years of the Bush administration. Intense disagreements over the locations of missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic2 and Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 20083 plagued 2 MacAskill, Ewan. “Friendly Words but No Deal by Bush and Putin.” The Guardian. July 3, 2007. 3 Steele, Jonathan. “Bush Failed to Halt Georgia War, Says Putin.” The Guardian. September 12, 2008.

the two states’ bilateral relations, and tensions were at their highest point since the end of the Cold War. Following his inauguration, President Obama and his administration decidedly worked to break away from these past conflicts. To this end, in mid-2009, President Obama called for a ‘Russian reset’ based on “[identified] mutual interests” in order to fundamentally restructure bilateral relations between the two nations.4


ithin the first two months of the new administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had 4 Harding, Luke. “Barack Obama Calls for ‘reset’ in US-Russia Relations.” The Guardian. 2009.

To assess these competing narratives, the paper then delves into the domestic causes behind Yanukovych’s ouster, Ukraine’s relationship with NATO prior 1 Treisman, Daniel. “Why Putin Took Crimea.” Foreign Affairs. May 2016. 34

already been dispatched to Russia, where she presented Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a red ‘reset’ button symbolizing the two states’ hopes for renewed cooperation.5 Obama then met with the newly-elected President Dmitry Medvedev in April 2009, and the two presidents committed to a nuclear arms deal and a follow-up summit later that year. In July 2009, Obama and Putin – then the Prime Minister, but still Russia’s de facto power broker – met for the first time in Moscow. Despite the general ethos of renewal with which their initial meeting was framed, the discussion between the two leaders was frosty and focused on significant security concerns: such as counterterrorism, climate change measures, the American missile defence shield in Eastern Europe, and other “trouble spots in the US-Russian relationship.”6 Both leaders ultimately emerged with a terse respect for one another, and the high-level working relationships between the United States and the Russian governments appeared intact. And throughout the early Obama and Medvedev presidencies, this renewal even seemed to bear fruit, as cooperation on hard interests improved. Indeed, 2010 saw the New START Treaty ratified, committing both states to a significant reduction in strategic warheads and delivery vehicles, and the Russian government opened up their airspace to allow US military shipments into northern Afghanistan.7 Given this climate of political change and Obama’s calm diplomatic style throughout these early years, how did annexing Crimea become a viable and – in their eyes – appropriate policy to the Russian government?


he scholars, political figures, and media commentators, who have speculated on the driving causes behind the annexation of Crimea can be split into three broad camps, as identified by UCLA professor Daniel Treisman in 2016. 5 “Button Gaffe Embarrasses Clinton.” British Broadcasting Corporation. March 7, 2009. 6 Gerstein, Josh. “Obama meets with Vladimir Putin.” Politico. July 7, 2009. 7 “U.S.-Russia Relations: “Reset” Fact Sheet.” Obama White House. June 24, 2010.

The first – “Putin- asDefender” – argues that the Crimean invasion was a defensive reaction to continued NATO expansion along Russia’s western front.8 This narrative’s dominant voice is the political theorist John Mearsheimer; he contends that after Russian elites had long signaled that further NATO expansion eastward was a red line, “the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president [...] was the final straw.”9 Out of the three narratives, this is also the only one that views Obama’s actions as president as a driving cause for the annexation of Crimea. The second narrative – “Putinas-Imperialist” – paints Putin as an ambitious neo-Tzar, who chose to annex Crimea as part of an effort to recapture the prestige that Russia had lost since the end of the Cold War.10 This narrative has been frequently articulated by Ukrainian officials such as Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who wrote in The Guardian that Putin has a “voracious appetite for hegemony” and that Russia “greedily eyes other former states and satellites of the Soviet Union.”11 According to this camp, the Crimean annexation was part of a broader planned effort to restore Russian imperialism, an effort that included supporting pro-Russian separatists within Georgia and distributing Russian passports within Crimea as early as 2008,12 laying the groundwork for future invasions.

8 Treisman, 2016. 9 Mearsheimer, John. “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault.” Foreign Affairs. September 2014. 10 Treisman, 2016. 11 Klimkin, Pavlo. “Putin’s Desire for a New Russian Empire Won’t Stop with Ukraine.” The Guardian. March 25, 2017. 12 Treisman, 2016.


ast, the “Putin-as-Improviser” narrative argues that the annexation of Crimea was neither defensive nor the result of long-planned imperial machinations.13 Rather, this camp argues that after the unexpected overthrow of Yanukovych in February 2014, Putin’s decision to annex came after troops had been sent into the peninsula. After dispatching soldiers into the peninsula, pressure from proRussian Crimean officials and a desire to enhance domestic approval led the Putin government to pursue annexation for the region, rather than autonomy. This explanation for the annexation does not deny Putin’s imperial ambitions, which have been evident from his public rhetoric over the years; after all, he once claimed that “Ukraine is not even a country14 and that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the “greatest geopolitical tragedy of the twentieth century.”15 The distinction with this narrative is in the degree to which the annexation was pre-planned, which according to the improvisationalist camp was very little, if at all. Evaluating which of these narratives most accurately explains the Crimean annexation requires discussion 13 Ibid. 14 Stent, Angela. “Putin’s Ukrainian Endgame and Why the West May Have a Hard Time Stopping Him.” CNN. March 4, 2014. 15 Ibid. 35

Yanukovych battered the Ukraine’s fragile democracy by jailing his opponents, censoring the media, and bending the law to ensure electoral victory. of Ukrainian and Russian domestic politics, the Ukraine-NATO relationship, and the role of the United States with regards to both. Beginning with the Ukraine: after democratically winning reelection in 2010, Viktor Yanukovych’s government begun a rapid pivot towards pro-Russian authoritarianism.16 Yanukovych’s attacks on democratic society came from multiple fronts; his administration jailed Yulia Tymoshenko – his electoral challenger – along with a number of former officials, postponed local elections in order to pass laws granting his Party of Regions considerable electoral and structural advantages, and tightened control over the Ukrainian media.17


is base of support was primarily in eastern Ukraine, where the relative population of ethnic Russians was higher than in the more ethnically diverse west. Throughout his term, he attempted to strengthen this support, passing laws in 2012 that “legitimized and expanded the use of the Russian language”18 in an attempt to ensure his base’s loyalty. Furthermore, Yanukovych’s government also passed legislation that committed to keeping the Ukraine out of NATO, and to extend the use of Crimean port city Sevastopol to Russia’s navy for an extra twenty-five years, in exchange for reduced petrol prices.19 This policy course was justified as being necessary for maintaining constructive relations between the Ukrainian and Russian governments. Nevertheless, the Russian government remained concerned about Ukraine’s growing ties to Western Europe, as well as the general expansion of the West’s influence in the traditionally Russian-dominated Eastern European sphere. While the Ukraine under Yanukovych had committed to not joining NATO, the military alliance had twice expanded in 1999 and 2004, adding the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, among other states that formerly lay in Russia’s sphere of influence.20


iscussions of incorporating Georgia and Ukraine into the alliance commenced during the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, but stopped short of adding the states themselves for fear of provoking Russian antagonism. Instead, member states expressed support for Georgia and Ukraine’s aspirations and declared that they “will become part of NATO” someday, which did little to quell Russian anxiety.21 The two other Russian concerns that affected Yanukovych’s political calculus were the issues of European Union (EU) enlargement, and the ongoing pro-democracy campaigns that had taken place throughout Eastern Europe, funded by the United States and its allies. In 2008, the same year that Russia would go on to invade Georgia, the EU initiated an Eastern Partnership program - which was a forum designed to facilitate cooperation between the EU and former Soviet satellites as well as foster closer economic integration with these states.22 16 Yanukovych had previously served as President of Ukraine until 2004, when he lost his position in a controversial run-off election. 17 Ambrosio, Thomas. “The Fall of Yanukovych: Structural and Political Constraints to Implementing Authoritarian Learning.” East European Politics 33, no. 2 (2017): 189. 18 Ibid, 190. 19 “Ukraine’s Parliament Votes to Abandon Nato Ambitions.” British Broadcasting Corporation. June 3, 2010. 20 Mearsheimer, 2. 21 Gallis, Paul. CRS Report for Congress: The NATO Summit at Bucharest. Report. 2008. 6. 22 Mearsheimer, 3.

The Russian government’s longterm access to Sevastopol’s port would later prove invaluable for taking control of the Crimean peninsula.


Kyiv, Ukraine. 37

This may read as a net benefit to the Ukraine, but to the Russian government, this was an economic complement to the would-be military complement of a NATO-incorporated Ukraine. and was seen as a brazen attempt to drive the center of influence in Kiev westwards. Furthermore, the perceived economic and military incursions were compounded by nearly two decades of previous Western prodemocratic funding allocated via the National Endowment for Democracy to organizations promoting democratic values in the postSoviet bloc.23

his party following a controversial “11th-hour”26 decision to pull out from a popular EU association agreement. The association agreement had been in development since 2008, and aimed to integrate the Ukraine into the EU customs union.27 It was “initialled” in March 2012, but during summer 2013, Russia threw up barriers to Ukrainian imports and decreed that entering the association would be “suicidal” for the former satellite state.28

During one high-level meeting in January 2014 between the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Russian minister argued that “[by] dragging Ukraine to one side, telling it that it needs to choose [between the EU and Russia, the EU] is in fact trying to create such a sphere of influence.”30 In private, Putin was somewhat more conciliatory; according to one German source, he conveyed to Steinmeyer that Russia “welcomed steps towards economic convergence between Ukraine and the European Union.”31

As an alternative, Yanukovych chose to pivot to the Commonwealth of Independent States Free Trade Agreement (CISFTA). This was a free trade agreement between eight postSoviet states – including Russia – and with CISFTA in place, they declined to sign the final EU agreement in November 2013. This decision was highly unpopular, and sit-in student protests broke out in Independence Square in Kiev, which were quickly banned. But rather than quelling or suppressing the latent domestic tension, the decision to ban protests caused public furor to boil over.29 Despite all rallies being banned, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took the streets, demanding the resignation and departure of Yanukovych and his corrupt inner circle.

This internal respite inside the Ukraine would not hold, however. Throughout February 2014, a new wave bloody anti-government protests rocked the country, and dozens of protestors died in skirmishes with the Ukrainian police.32 Sensing the tide finally turning against his government, Yanukovych fled to the ethnically Russian eastern Ukraine, before eventually crossing into southern Russia. Without their leader, the Party of Regions’ will to continue quashing dissent crumbled.

There could have been no rational fear that Ukraine was about to join NATO, even after Yanukovych’s ouster in 2014.


iven these tensions, it is perhaps understandable that Yanukovych’s concessions to Russian interests were – at least in his party’s eyes – a pragmatic and necessary step towards rapprochement with their powerful, everanxious neighbour. However, the strategy of appeasement quickly backfired on the Party of Regions; ethnic Ukrainians saw the language laws as a blow against ethnic Ukrainian identity, and protests in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities erupted in response.24 Furthermore, this political backlash translated to the ballot box; the November 2012 regional elections saw Yanukovych’s party only managed to scrape 5% more of the vote than their nearest rivals,25 and further protests erupted following allegations of electoral fraud. Put simply, the Yanukovych presidency marked a weak pivot towards authoritarianism, one that failed to build any substantial coalition of support among the Ukrainian population and that was widely seen as too pro-Russian to earn lasting party loyalty.


anukovych’s already-precarious position was further weakened throughout the following year, and in November 2013, protests erupted against 23 24 25

Ibid, 4. Ambrosio, 190. Ibid, 189.


hese protests continued into the following year, and Yulia Tymoshenko – the imprisoned leader of the opposition – called for revolution from her hospital bed in prison. Internal tensions appeared to be slightly abating throughout late January 2014 as the volume of protests diminished while the EU attempted to help broker a truce, but they remained high internationally. 26 Grytsenko, Oksana. “Ukrainians Call for Yanukovych to Resign in Protests Sparked by EU U-turn.” The Guardian. December 2, 2013. 27 Gardner, Andrew. “The EUUkraine Association Agreement: A Potted History.” Politico. September 17, 2014. 28 Ibid. 29 Grytsenko, 2013.


n February 22, 2014, the Ukrainian parliament voted to banish Yanukovych and free Tymoshenko, and to transfer his Prime Ministerial authority to the speaker of parliament.33 Members of the Party of Regions supported this measure, blaming his inability to balance ties to the EU and Russia, and his inability to keep the peace for the ceaseless protests.34 This marked the end of Yanukovych’s brief, aborted authoritarian rule. The lead-up to Yanukovych’s ouster and the subsequent annexation has a number of important implications for assessing the driving cause behind the 30 Baczynska, Gabriela, and Alexandra Hudson. “Russia Accuses EU of Seeking Ukraine ‘sphere of Influence’.” Reuters. February 14, 2014. 31 Ibid. 32 Zinets, Natalia, and Alessandra Prentice. “Ukraine Sets European Course after Ouster of Yanukovich.” Reuters. February 22, 2014. 33 Booth, William. “Ukraine’s Parliament Votes to Oust President; Former Prime Minister Is Freed from Prison.” The Washington Post. February 22, 2014. 34 Zinets and Prentice, 2014. 38

[the United States’] biggest geopolitical foe.”37 Taken together, these points strongly undermine the “Putinas-Defender” narrative popularly championed by Mearsheimer, and indicates that concerns regarding Ukraine’s NATO membership and economic ties to the West were not the driving forces behind the Crimean annexation.

Crimean annexation. First and foremost, it underlines an obvious point: whether or not the Russian government had imperial designs upon the Ukraine, they did not want this former satellite state falling deep under the influence of the West. Still, the fact that the Russian government saw Ukrainian rapprochement with the West as undesirable does not mean that they invaded Crimea to prevent these ties from developing. As previously mentioned, Putin stated in private, high-level negotiations that his government was not entirely opposed to the Ukraine joining the European common market, casting serious doubt upon the notion that annexation could have been economically motivated. Provocation or anxiety aside, any economic benefits of absorbing the Crimean peninsula could not possibly have outweighed the intense round of retaliatory sanctions that Ukraine’s allies imposed on the entire Russian economy.


oreover, these developments show that while the Russian government did have some concerns about the EU’s interest in integrating the Ukrainian economy into the common market, there could have been no rational fear that Ukraine was about to join NATO, even after Yanukovych’s ouster in 2014. While Bush had been eager to add Ukraine to the military bloc, this action had been blocked by British, French and

German officials in 2008, and Obama had never prioritized the issues throughout his first six years in office.35 Furthermore, Medvedev and Putin never even raised the issue in any of their meetings with Obama between 2009 and 2012, as Treisman noted based on correspondence with Obama’s special assistant on Russia, who was present or listening remotely at all but one of these meetings.36

The domestic and international response to Yanukovych’s expulsion was intense and immediate. Obama’s White House was quick to recognize the legitimacy of the new interim government; spokesman Jay Carney stated that despite being democratically elected, his suppressive tactics meant he had forfeited all legitimacy and that he was “[no longer] actively leading the country”38 in the eyes of the American government. The Russian government was just as quick to criticize Yanukovych’s expulsion; Dmitry Medvedev – now once again the Prime Minister – argued that “if you consider Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks who are roaming Kiev to be the government to be the government, then it will be hard for us to work with that government.”39

Mere days after Yanukovych’s deposal, unidentified soldiers appeared in the Crimean peninsula, and began siezing control.


efensive concerns simply did not need to be an intense priority for the Russian government during Obama’s first term. Obama had pursued a overall strategy of reset and while his personal relationship with Putin was rather frosty, he still went so far as to attack Republican candidate Mitt Romney for suggesting that Russia was still “without question, 35 36

Treisman, 2016. Ibid, 2016.


or its part, the EU recognized the interim government in Kiev and offered a financial aid package, as well as the chance to revisit the trade deal that 37 Rayfield, Jillian. “Obama: The ‘80s Called, They Want Their Foreign Policy Back.” Salon. October 23, 2012. 38 Traynor, Ian. “Russia Denounces Ukraine ‘terrorists’ and West over Yanukovych Ousting.” The Guardian. February 25, 2014. 39 Ibid. 39

Forest outside Simferopol, Crimea. 40

Only a week after siezing control of the peninsula, the pro-Russian authorities controlling Crimea announced a referendum on the future status of the region. the Party of Regions had balked on signing the previous winter. In turn, Moscow withdrew the still-unpaid tranches from the $15 billion in affordable loans they had previously offered to the Yanukovych government as an incentive for backing out of the EU agreement.40 Still, this tit-for-tat was just the beginning. Mere days after Yanukovych’s deposal, seemingly-professional soldiers appeared in the Crimean peninsula, and begun seizing control of local government buildings, airports and infrastructure. Evident to any observer with a camera was that these were Russian soldiers; they bore the same guns used by the Russian military, their uniforms were nearly identical to Russian army uniforms, and they spoke fluent, native Russian.41 The only element missing from their military garb was the official Russian insignia. Furthermore, they originated from the Russian military bases in Crimea, which the Kremlin had access to through long-term contracts with the Ukrainian government.


ut in open defiance of reality, the Putin government denied all knowledge of their presence. As they would have it, they were simply Crimean members of “self-defence groups” who had bought replicas of Russian military armaments.42 The Russian media coined disarmingly innocent terms for the unrecognized intruders: “little green men,” or “polite men,” depending on the media outlet. Still, there was no pretense as to their origins; Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, remarked that “the little green men will turn into Russian troops very soon.”43 And they did. Before discussing exactly how this military occupation evolved into a formal annexation, it is worth noting that the key issue to address at this stage is to what degree the decision to annex the Crimean Peninsula was planned within the Russian government. This directly relates to whether the “Putin-as-Imperialist” or the “Putin-as-Improviser” narrative better describes the Kremlin’s decision to annex. The narrative claiming that the annexation resulted from Western provocation can largely be ruled out at this stage, since prior analysis has demonstrated that the potential Ukrainian accession to NATO and the European common market could not have been the primary driver behind the annexation.


his requires analyzing potential indicators that the annexation could have been planned in advance, the logistical implementation of the annexation, and the public rhetoric used to explain the annexation to the Russian people and the world. Critically, the picture that emerges is one of improvisation, and not one of detailed, empire-building coordination. That is to say: the “Putin-as-Improviser” narrative is the correct one.

The ‘little green men’ in Crimea fooled nobody – all parties involved knew they were the Kremlin’s troops from the start.

Now, to the annexation itself: the little green men’s once-obfuscated purpose in Crimea very quickly became clear. Only a week after seizing control of the peninsula, the proRussian authorities controlling Crimea announced a referendum on the future status of the region. The first version of the referendum proposed the question of autonomy, and asked the Crimeans to decide whether their region was “a self-sufficient state and … is part of Ukraine on the basis of treaties and agreements.”44 The language and the timing of the referendum was amended just a week later, posing the question of whether Crimea should remain part of 40 Zinets and Prentice, 2014. 41 Shevchenko, Vitaly. “”Little Green Men” or “Russian Invaders”?” British Broadcasting Corporation. March 11, 2014. 42 Ibid. 43 Ibid. 44 Triesman, 2014. 41

Ukraine, or officially secede to Russia. The new referendum was comprised of two questions posed in Ukrainian, Russian and Crimean Tatar: “do you support reunifying Crimea with Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation,” and “do you support the restoration of the 1992 Crimean constitution and the status of Crimea as a part of the Ukraine.”45 As the BBC noted, this was a quasiparadoxical choice between “[joining] Russia immediately or [gaining] greater autonomy within Ukraine,”46 and there was absolutely no option available that would restore the status quo. Referendum voters were given the option to vote in-person, or electronically via a website created specifically for the referendum. Despite being harshly condemned by the United States and the EU, the 45 “Crimean Referendum: What Does the Ballot Paper Say?” British Broadcasting Corporation. March 10, 2014. 46 Ibid.

referendum took place on March 16, 2014, just a matter of weeks after first being announced. The reported turnout was 83%, with more than 90% supporting immediate secession to Russia.47 The key word here is ‘reported;’ internationally, these results were broadly criticized as fraudulent, and Obama stated pointblank to Putin that the White House would “never recognize” the referendum results.48 The EU further echoed this disavowal, expressing their collective support for Ukraine’s interim government and the integrity of Ukraine’s old borders. For his part, the Ukraine’s acting Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk responded by roundly denouncing the results, vowing to bring the Crimean separatists and the

47 Laughland, Oliver, Conal Urquhart, and Alan Yuhas. “Crimea Referendum: Early Results Indicate ‘landslide’ for Secession – as It Happened.” The Guardian. March 16, 2014. 48 Ibid.

Russian troops backing them to justice.49


n response to these criticisms, the Kremlin issued a statement that in top-level talks between Obama and Putin, the Russian president had “[drawn] attention to the inability and unwillingness of Kiev’s current authorities to curb outbursts of ultranationalists and radical groups, who [were …] terrorizing residents, including the Russian-speaking population and our compatriots.”50 According to Putin, secession was both the will of the Crimean people and a case with relevant legal precedent; in speaking with his American counterpart, Putin cited Kosovo as a precedent for the secession of a region populated primarily by a persecuted ethnic minority, as the Russians were in Crimea.51

49 50 51

Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.



hile Putin’s duplicity regarding the peninsula’s occupation by unmarked Russian soldiers was evident, this take on the will of the Crimeans may not actually have been far from the truth. John Simpson, the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, was stationed in Crimea immediately following the referendum, and reported first-hand that the troop presence and annexation was ”welcomed by a large proportion of the local population.”52 Simpson reported that within Crimea, the annexation was almost entirely “bloodless” because it reflected the general will of the ethnically Russian Crimean population.53 Whatever the degree of local approval, however, the peninsula was now a de facto part of Russia and since being officially incorporated as the regions of Crimea and Sevastopol two days following the referendum,54 has remained decidedly so. As Treisman notes in his article for Foreign Affairs, there were some potential indicators that the Russian government had its sights on Crimea prior to the annexation and subsequent referendum. Besides the Russian government’s long-running rhetoric that Ukraine was not a true state, meetings between Crimean and Russian officials throughout 2013 and early 2014 show an increased rapprochement between their governments that some have claimed reveals their prior intent to incorporate the peninsula into Russia should Yanukovych fall.


ladimir Konstantinov, who was chair of the Crimean parliament and would become Chairman of the State Council of Crimea following annexation, had also made a number of trips to Moscow throughout late 2013 and early 2014 to meet with Russian officials. Following one such visit, during which he had met with Nikolai Patrushev, Russia’s most senior security official, Patrushev 52 Simpson, John. “Russia’s Crimea Plan Detailed, Secret and Successful.” British Broadcasting Corporation. March 19, 2014. 53 Ibid. 54 “Four Years since Russia’s Illegal Annexation of Crimea.” Government of Norway. March 14, 2018.

was reportedly “pleasantly surprised to learn [...] that Crimea would be ready to go to Russia if Yanukovych were overthrown.”55


urthermore, throughout late 2013 and early 2014, senior Putin advisor Vladislav Surkov made a number of trips to the Crimean capital to offer support for the construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait, which joins Crimea to the south of Russia.56 This infrastructure project was strategically important in the event of an annexation for the Russian supply and transportation lines, and has been suggested as evidence of further coordination between the Russian government and the Crimean parliament. Reports from Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta also claimed that memos circulated throughout the Russian executive branch “proposing the annexation of Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine if Yanukovych fell.”57

spent most of March in Moscow and on vacation with his wife in Sweden.59


far more logical explanation for this behaviour is that rather than preparing covertly for an annexation, the Kremlin was attempting to retrench their support for Yanukovych, a valuable ally who they sought to keep in power. This explanation squares well with the numerous sightings of Russian military and police support in Kiev – and not Simferopol – in the months prior to annexation, which suggest that before February 2014, Putin’s main priority was maintaining the status quo.60

“The Russian media coined disarmingly innocent terms for the unrecognized intruders: ‘little green men,’ or ‘polite men,’ depending on the media outlet.”

Still, as Treisman points out, the movements and meetings of government officials in the months pre-annexation do not ultimately point to the annexation being a longstanding Russian policy objective, as the “Putin-as-Imperialist” narrative would suggest. Had the aim of sending Surkov to Simferopol been to prepare the infrastructure for a long-planned annexation, Surkov would have been sent there far longer in advance, and the bridge would have actually been built, rather than gridlocked in negotiations with no feasibility studies completed between 2010 and 2014.58 Had he been overseeing the early preparatory stages for an annexation, it would have made little logical sense for Putin to remove him from his Crimean post in February 2014, as he did; by all accounts, Surkov 55 56 57 58

Treisman, 2016. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.

This notion is further supported by the fact that merely five days before Yanukovych was forced out of office, the Russian government vowed to immediately release a $2 billion tranche of the $15 billion bailout package it had promised the Ukrainian government in December 2013.61 Rather than leaning into the crisis as cover for executing a long-held plan of annexing Crimea, the Kremlin tried to stem the bleeding from the crisis up until the bitter end, and only removed officials such as Surkov who had been tasked with preserving Yanukovych’s rule after the hastily-conceived decision to occupy the peninsula was made. In turn, the apparent lack of prior operational planning lends greater credence to the “Putin-asImproviser” narrative for the Crimean annexation.


his explanation aligns perfectly with one of the first few candid statements that Putin made regarding the annexation, more than a year after the “little green men” had first entered Crimea territory. In a televised interview 59 Ibid. 60 Ibid. 61 “Ukraine Timeline: Developments since Political Crisis Erupted in Kiev.” ABC News. November 20, 2014. 43

After impulsively sending troops into Crimea, the Kremlin’s only real choice was annexation. in March 2015, the Russian president admitted not only that the decision to annex Crimea came several weeks before the referendum took place, but also that the Kremlin’s plans for “returning Crimea [to Russia]” had been drawn up the night of Yanukovych’s ouster.62 For once in the Crimean saga, Putin’s words did stand up to scrutiny. The last-minute Crimean annexation was executed as smoothly as it was put together – in other words, not smoothly at all. Key personnel like Surkov were being shifted like clockwork, and as seen through the evolution of the referendum language, the Kremlin did not send its troops into the peninsula with a clearly-defined vision for what Crimea’s future should be: autonomy or annexation. Once the Russian military had taken control, it was simply too late for the Kremlin to turn back. Crimean autonomy had no support from the west or from Ukraine’s interim government, and once the Putin administration realized this, annexation via a secession referendum – rather than an autonomy referendum – was the only possible course of action. By impulsively sending in his “little green men,” Putin had forced his own hand, and in the end, the Crimean annexation was a work of improvisation, not a work of rational self-defense or crafty imperialism.


he analysis developed throughout this paper strongly demonstrates that the Russian decision to annex Crimea was not an act of retaliation for Western threats, nor was it part of a pre-ordained neo-imperial land grab. Rather, it was a hastily improvised policy scrambled together by the Kremlin after their economic, military and logistical support failed to prevent the ouster of their ally within the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. Putin sent troops into the Crimean peninsula without any decisive plan for the future of the region, and publicly amended the wording of the referendum to support annexation as his government realized that neither autonomy not simply reversing their course of action was feasible. Still, while Putin’s decision to annex Crimea was impulsive, improvised, and earned a fierce round of international sanctions, there is no denying that his people loved him for it. A year on from the annexation, domestic polling showed that nearly nine out of ten Russians supported his brash Ukraine strategy.63


he revelation of Putin’s improvisational approach to annexation has consequential implications for the foreign policy legacy of Barack Obama, whose failure to check or reverse the annexation has frequently been cited as a blunder that defined his presidency. This paper touched briefly on his first-term reset policy and how his cautious engagement with the Kremlin ruled out self-defense as an explanation for the annexation, but reassessing his general Russia strategy in light of the findings of this paper could prove fertile ground for future scholars of international relations. While this avenue of research is beyond this paper’s scope, the point nevertheless remains: nobody, not Obama nor even Putin himself, saw the Crimean annexation coming.

62 “Putin Reveals Secrets of Russia’s Crimea Takeover Plot.” British Broadcasting Corporation. March 9, 2015. 63 Nardelli, Alberto, Jennifer Rankin, and George Arnett. “Vladimir Putin’s Approval Rating at Record Levels.” The Guardian. July 23, 2015.

No major power supported Crimean autonomy, and handing the peninsula back over to the Kiev goverment would have been disasterous for Putin’s domestic popularity.


Kiev, Ukraine. 45




power in

the korean war The Korean War marked Canada's comingof-age as a neutral broker in international conflicts. Nancy Ji


Gyeonghuigung, South Korea.



he outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 created an opportunity for Canada to exert a moderating influence as a middle power within the newly-established institutions of global governance: the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). However, histories of Canada’s role as a peacemaker generally start with the 1956 Suez Crisis, and Canada’s efforts to limit the bloodshed in the Korean War often go overlooked in the literature. To help fill this gap, this paper explores Canada’s role in the Korean War, and argues that it made valuable military contributions and used effective diplomacy to rein in American militarism and prevent a dangerous escalation of the Korean War. Understanding Canada’s actions in the Korean War requires background information on its alliances, its military and economic capabilities, and its stance on anticommunism in the years prior. Relations between Canada and the Soviet Union were not initially antagonistic; Canadian foreign policymakers in the mid-1940s had some concerns about the Soviet Union, but they did ultimately not perceive the ideology of the Soviet Union to be an imminent threat. Instead, they viewed the Soviet ideology as being a reaction to historical imperialism, and predicted that the Soviet foreign agenda would be “politically expansionary but not [inherently] militarily aggressive.”1 Furthermore, as an emerging actor on the international stage, Canada was not well-placed to adopt any sort of hardline approach to the Cold War and to Communism.


owever, when the 1945 Gouzenko affair revealed Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s attempts to steal nuclear secrets from Canada, relations between Canada and the Soviet Union

1 David J. Bercuson, “‘A People So Ruthless as the Soviets’: Canadian Images of the Cold War and the Soviet Union, 1946-1950,” in Canada and the Soviet Experiment, ed. David Davie (Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 1994), 90.

quickly deteriorated.2 By the spring of 1946, both Lester B. Pearson and Dana Wilgress – Canada’s ambassador to the Soviet Union – had begun to describe the Soviets as ruthless despots.3 Still, the Canadian view towards the USSR at this point was more a stance against their autocratic regime, rather a stance against Communist ideology altogether. David J. Bercuson argues that there was a “tendency for Canadians to see themselves as somehow more civilized and more balanced than Americans in their approach to international problems,”4 and this trend was also true with respect to anti-communism.

The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 gave Canada the chance to prove itself as a leader within the new institutions of global governance: the United Nations and NATO.


ompared to the Canadians, the Americans had a more pronounced fear of global Communism; their political leadership ascribed to the Domino Theory, which predicted that if one state fell to communism, neighboring states would soon experience the same fate. In order to forestall communism’s global expansion, the United States adopted a formal policy of containment in NSC-68, in line with the recommendations laid out four years earlier in Kennan’s Long Telegram. The containment policy was not adopted without cause; the years immediately post-WWII saw a series of Soviet acts of 2 Robert Bothwell, The Big Chill: Canada and the Cold War (Toronto: CIIA/ ICAI, 1998), 13. 3 Bercuson, “A People So Ruthless”, 90. 4 Ibid, 100.

aggression in Europe and Asia, as well as the ascent of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949. So when the tensions in the Korean peninsula boiled over into outright war, intervention was exactly in line with their overall strategy of containment. With a population of around 14 million people, it was also clear that Canada had recovered substantially from the Great Depression and WWII by the late-1940s.5 Indeed, Canada emerged from WWII stronger than it was going in, as shown by the consistent increases in GDP and standards of living throughout the war effort.6 With regards to the military, Minister of National Defense Brooke Claxton focused Canada’s peacetime army on defending the homeland, training reserves, and remaining prepared for a possible mobilization.7 Claxton announced in 1947 that while there was no perceivable threat of war in the near future, it was still necessary to take precautionary measures, in light of the rapid advances in technology.8 The Canadian military would need to set high education and proficiency standards in order to create an adequate expeditionary force when necessary.9 This advantageous domestic environment ultimately allowed Canada to provide substantial military contributions to the Korean conflict when called upon by the international community, as this paper will seek to demonstrate in subsequent sections.


ith this context on Canada’s position towards communism in mind, it is also important to discuss the origins of the Korean War itself. Japan’s surrender in September 1945 ended thirty-five years of colonial rule in Korea and was immediately supplanted by an American and Soviet occupation. 5 David J. Bercuson, Blood on the Hills: The Canadian Army in the Korean War (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999), 24. 6 Robert Bothwell, “Spies, Security, Communism, 1917-1957, From Vladimir Lenin to Herbert Norman,” (Lecture, History of Canadian Foreign Relations, Toronto, On, January 4, 2018). 7 Bercuson, Blood on the Hills, 37. 8 Ibid. 9 Ibid, 36. 48

Korea was carved in two under the Trusteeship Program, which split the peninsula at the 38th parallel. Under this program, the Soviet Union was appointed to indirectly govern the North, while the United States was given indirect control over the South.10


hen the North initially invaded the South, the Soviet Union was boycotting the United Nations as retaliation against the UN’s unwillingness to seat a representative from the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing in place of the Nationalist Chinese government.12 By refusing to participate in the UN, the Soviet Union was unable to exercise its veto power, and thereby could not prevent the UNSC from authorizing formal military intervention. Without the veto-prone USSR, President Truman was free to craft resolutions with other members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) that accused North Korea of mounting an “armed attack upon the republic of Korea,”13 and on June 25th, the UNSC passed UN Resolution 82, which condemned the militarism of the Kim Il-Sung government and called for the immediate withdrawal of North Korean forces to the 38th parallel.14

The Trusteeship program’s partition of the region did little to resolve the fierce political tensions between the Koreas. Northern leader Kim Il-Sung and Southern leader Syngman Rhee were both determined to unify the country under their respective forms of government,11 and both sides anticipated that a North-South war could offer a chance at full Korean reunification. There were frequent skirmishes along the border, a passive form of hostility that was tacitly supported by Stalin. After a particularly intense round of skirmishes along the border, the tension eventually erupted into a full-scale war on June 25th, 1950, which would last until July 27, 1953.

The UNSC also passed UN Resolution 83, which urged the member nations

10 Gye-Dong Kim, Foreign Intervention in Korea (Brookfield: Dartmouth Publishing Company, 1993), 3. 11 Ibid, 3.

12 Ibid, 47. 13 Bercuson, Blood on the Hills, 47. 14 John Melady, Korea: Canada’s Forgotten War (Toronto: Gage Publishing Limited, 1983), 18.

to provide military assistance to the South Korean army. Furthermore, the United States appointed General Douglas MacArthur, the former Chief of Staff of the United States Army, to send ammunition and supplies to Korea, begin the evacuation of American citizens, and deploy the US Seventh Fleet from the Philippines into the Formosa Strait.15 President Truman also ordered General MacArthur to utilize naval and air forces to aid the Republic of South Korea’s (ROK) army in defending their territory. Truman also swiftly dispatched ground troops to further support the ROK armed forces.16


lthough initially hesitant to engage in East Asian affairs, the Canadian government officials did respond to the strong international pressure to affirm the UNSC resolutions. On June 26th, Canadian Minister for External Affairs Lester B. Pearson addressed the House of Commons and declared that “Canada would give full support to the United Nations in its efforts to restore the peace in Korea.”17 Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent also 15 16 17

Ibid, 21. Bercuson, Blood on the Hills, 48. Melady, 22.


Lester B. Pearson shared Truman’s view that the Korean War was the first true test of NATO’s collective defence system. stated that if Canada was to be involved, it would not enter as an individual actor in war, but in the name of collective police action authorized by the United Nations.18 Pearson’s July 1950 telegram to the ambassador in Washington echoed St. Laurent’s concerns, and emphasized that Canada would only participate in a United Nations operation for the defense of Korea and not a reunification operation, regardless of American irritation or pressure.19


his development demonstrates that Canadian policymakers were primarily fearful of being dragged into a long, unwanted, war but beyond this, they were also hesitant to divert resources away from their primary area of concern: Europe. Canadian policymakers worried that the North Korean attack would disproportionately focus American and British military resources in Asia, allowing Stalin’s USSR to consolidate its growing sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and expand westward.20 Nevertheless, Pearson agreed with President Harry Truman and American Secretary of State Dean Acheson that the Korean War was the first true test of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in collective defense and security.21 On June 29th, the UN requested military observers to serve with the UN Commission on Korea, and Canada complied willingly with the order.22 The Canadian military was dedicated to the war effort, and the Canadian army played a particularly large role relative to the country’s navy and air force. The Canadian Chiefs of Staff Committee had previously argued that Canada did not have enough soldiers – and thus recommended against contributing ground forces to the Korean conflict – but St. Laurent quickly recruited a Canadian Army Special Force after the war began.23 This force was “specifically trained and equipped to be available for use in carrying out Canada’s obligations under the UN Charter or the North Atlantic Pact.24 It included 31 new units of infantry battalions, one regiment of artillery, a field ambulance, an infantry workshop, a transport company, and two light aid detachments for field repair.25


t its peak strength, the Canadian Army Special Force contained 8,123 troops of all ranks, while the British had close to 15,000 and the US had over 300,000.26 The enlisted men were sent to Wanwright, Alberta, Petawawa, Ontario, and Valcartier, Quebec for training, and shipped out in February 195127 to assist in the defense of South Korea.28 Brigadier John Meredith Rockingham, who had previously served as a lieutenant in the Second World War, was asked to lead the ground forces by Claxton. While in Korea, the Canadian army mainly saw action in a small area just north of Seoul, with a circumference of roughly 30 miles. They participated in a series of small but decisive battles, which this section will explore in further detail.29 18 Bercuson, Blood on the Hills, 48. 19 “Telegram from the Secretary of State for External Affairs to Ambassador in United States July 13, 1950,” Ottawa: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. 20 Bercuson, Blood on the Hills, 49 21 Ibid. 22 Herbert Fairlie Wood, Strange Battleground: The Operations in Korea and their Effects on the Defense Policy in Canada (Ottawa: Department of National Defense, Directorate of History and Heritage, 2008), 12. 23 Bercuson, Blood on the Hills, 51. 24 Wood, 27. 25 Wood, 27. 26 “Did You Know,” Veteran's Affairs Canada, Government of Canada, last modified October 23, 2014. 27 Ibid. 28 Melady, 38. 29 Ibid, 139.

Still, Canadian policymakers worried that the pivot to East Asia could distract the British and American forces from Soviet threats closer to home in Europe.


Dongsam-dong, South Korea. .



s part of the UN Command, the Canadian forces successfully hunted North Korean guerilla troops and directly confronted the Chinese Communist army. Perhaps their most notable contribution took place in Kapyong, a small mountainside town northeast of Seoul, where the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPLCI) fought a bloody battle in April 1951. A massive Chinese advance had occurred days before and sent the ROK fleeing past the Canadian defensive lines, alerting the 2nd PPCLI Battalion and the 27th Commonwealth Brigade. Canadian troops were able to position themselves defensively on Hill 677 – the interconnecting section of ridges found in the Kapyong Valley.30 Under the command of Colonel James Stone, the Canadians witnessed the Chinese attack the Australian forces on Hill 504 from their higher vantage point, and made the crucial decision to call for “B” Company, a division within the PPCLI, to move from their position to bridge the gap that was left from the withdrawal of the Australians.31 Left to face the Chinese alone, the Canadian forces found themselves surrounded and cut off from supply lines. After fending off waves and waves of Chinese soldiers, Colonel Stone knew his troops were in desperate need of fresh supplies, and he called for an airdrop from Japan.32 Hours later, C119s were dropped by parachute and included food, water, and mortar ammunition, which allowed the Canadians to rally and achieve a decisive victory.33 The heroism shown by the PPCLI at Kapyong was critical to preventing a breach in the UN line, and was a key victory that prevented Seoul from falling to the North Korean forces. The Canadian army was a major asset in the Korean War, but the nation’s navy and air force also contributed to the war effort. St. Laurent sent three destroyers of the Pacific division: Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Cayuga, Sioux, and Athabaskan, which were deployed from Esquimalt to the Sea of Japan where they would be available when 30 31 32 33

Melady, 72. Ibid, 74. Ibid, 77. Ibid, 77.

necessary.34 The destroyers arrived in Japan in July 1950, and were subsequently placed under the command of General MacArthur.35 They played a significant role in the Inchon Landings, an invasion that secured a decisive UN victory and led to the recapture of Seoul after the city had temporarily fallen to the North Korean armed forces36 The destroyers patrolled the waters, provided escort services, and successfully enforced a coastal blockade, which furthered UN objectives.37In addition, the HMS Cayuga successfully bombarded a number of enemy warehouses on the waterfront surrounding the port of Yosu.38 In total, the Royal Navy had sent 3,500 men to Korea and eight Canadian destroyers.39 The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) also played a notable role in the Korean War. Transport squadron No. 436 carried supplies from McChord Air Force Base in Washington to Japan,40 an airlift operation which involved a total of 34,000 flying hours and provided service to 13,000 UN troops. As the war intensified, 22 RCAF pilots were attached to the U.S. Fifth Air Force to provide fighter jet support.41 The 132 North Korean combat planes were quickly thinned out by the UN air forces, and by the end of the campaign, a mere 18 remained. Canadian flight Lieutenant Ernie Glover was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses for his major contributions to the South Korean air support throughout the war – with special emphasis on a raid where he shot down three enemy jets in just two days.42


n addition to these military contributions, Canada also effectively used diplomacy to help restrain the scope of the Korean War. While the United States attempted to use its leading role in the UN mission to forward its own policy of containment, Canada also used the UN as an instrument of restraint to prevent the Americans from dangerously 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42

Wood, 15. Bercuson, Blood on the Hills, 49. Melady, 58. Melady, 103. Ibid, 102. Ibid, 107. Ibid, 33. Ibid, 115. Ibid, 119.

escalating the war. The United States sought to eradicate communism in the long-term and contain its spread in the short-term. The Canadians, wary of the costs of a full rollback campaign, were hesitant to join a war that was poised to become an instrument of American geopolitical interests and were clear that the UN’s objectives in the Korean peninsula should be limited to establishing peace. This hesitancy shows Canada’s efficacy as a moderating influence within the UN, and its ability to act independently of American interests. Policymakers in Ottawa adamantly emphasized the importance of “[framing] the objectives of the UN combined forces, under MacArthur, in the principles of multilateral cooperation, and not Washington’s interests.”43 This played a critical role in shaping the resolutions passed by the UNSC, ensuring constraints were placed on American ambitions, and shoring up domestic support for intervention in Korea.


s part of Canada’s strategy of restraining American militarism, Canadian policymakers urged the United States to keep the war localized by refraining from intervening in the defense of Formosa, an island where Chinese nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek had taken up residence.44 Scholar Timothy Sayle argued that “they used their role in bilateral consultations to discourage the Americans from either relying on nuclear threats or escalating any small conflict into a global war”.45 In October 1950, the ROK army and the UN forces under MacArthur successfully pushed the North Korean forces back to the 38th parallel, and continued to push north towards China. At the time, General MacArthur argued it was necessary to extend the conflict to the Chinese border in order to achieve a

43 Denis Stairs, The Diplomacy of Constraint (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974), 67. 44 David S. McDonough, “Canada, Grand Strategy, and the Asia-Pacific: Past Lessons, Future Directions,” Canadian Foreign Policy, Vol. 18 No. 3 (2012): 279. 45 Ibid.


decisive, lasting victory.46 After eventually being fired from his role in Korea and replaced with General Ridgeway by President Truman, MacArthur would return to the US and give an address to Congress on April 19th, 1951. During the address, MacArthur argued that a surrender to communism would undermine American interests in Europe.47 Although President Truman disagreed with the general, he did suggest that economic and political sanctions should be imposed upon the Beijing government by UN member nations in order to attain a compromise after Chinese intervention in the war.48 This pivot alarmed the St. Laurent government – which believed that a more hardline approach to the communists and increased pressure would be detrimental to attempts of restoring peace and stability to the region. Pearson cautioned that “the effort to isolate Beijing would further divide Western and Asian members and would increase “neutral sentiment” at the UN.’49


he United States’ threats to impose sanctions and increase the scope of the war shifted Canada’s diplomatic focus to negotiating a ceasefire through the UN as a multilateral negotiating body. A Department of External Affairs policy concluded that Canada needed greater control over UN affairs to prevent military escalation,50 and in early 1951, Ottawa pursued a series of consultations with American officials – codenamed the “Wiser Talks” – to evaluate the “developing international situation 46 Greg Donaghy, “Blessed are the Peacemakers: Canada, the United Nations, and the Search for a Korean Armistice, 1952-53,” War and Society, Vol. 30 No. 2 (2013): 135. 47 “Transcript of General Douglas MacArthur’s Address to Congress, April 19, 1951,” Washington: Truman Papers, President’s Secretary’s Files. 48 Donaghy, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” 136. 49 Ibid. 50 George Egerton, “Lester B. Pearson and the Korean War: Dilemmas of Collective Security and International Enforcement in Canadian Foreign Policy, 1950-53,” International Peacekeeping, Vol. 4 No. 1 (1997): 56.

and [the] military measures necessary” to end the Korean War.51 Canada’s involvement in these talks was spurred in part by President Truman’s mid-1950 efforts to seek additional funding for nuclear weapons, the use of which would completely upend the power balance in the Korean War and alter the Americans’ strategy.52 Post-1945, atomic weapons were a neartaboo and their use would break the cohesion of the Atlantic community and strengthen the moral case for communism in Asia, both of which would be disastrous for the Cold War.


In addition to the nuclear question, the issue of repatriating prisoners of war (POWs) was also highly contested during the Wiser Talks. The United States favored non-forcible repatriation, and argued that people who did not wish to return to Communist countries did not have to.55Senior Chinese officials such as Zhou Enlai – Premier of the People’s Republic of China – initially rejected this proposal. Enlai suggested that in lieu of this plan, POWs who wished to go home should be repatriated, and the remaining POWs should be sent to a neutral state.56

Breaking with their American allies, Canadian lawmakers remained adamant that the United Nations should not use force to reunify the Koreas.

till, the Truman administration threatened the use of atomic weapons in January 1951 after the Chinese delegates refused a ceasefire proposal following an extended period of stalemate. Truman’s threat frustrated Pearson, who challenged Beijing to elaborate on their rejection, and managed to delay the Americaninitiated UN resolution that would label China as an aggressor.53 During the Wiser Talks, Canada leveraged its political capital against the U.S by denying the Canopy Agreement, which would have permitted rapid American armament and deployment in the event that a general war broke out.54 This is a clear example of Canada’s ability to diplomatically restrain aggressive American activity, and a critical one, as it prevented nuclear weapons from being used in war for the second time in history. 51 Timothy Andrews Sayle, “A Pattern of Constraint: Canadian-American Relations in the Early Cold War,” International Journal, Vol. 62 No. 3 (2007): 693. 52 Wood, 15. 53 Steven Hugh Lee, The Korean War (London, Pearson Education Limited), 56. 54 Ibid, 704.

The negotiating parties eventually agreed that there would be a post-armistice conference where POWs would be taken custody by a repatriation commission – composed of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, India, and Sweden – that would handle their surrender and rendition.57 Although the American and UNSC negotiators were unsatisfied with this outcome, Prime Minister Pearson followed his intuition and convinced the UNSC to make good faith amendments to accommodate some of the requests of the communists.


hile the Americans wished to unify the Korean peninsula under a Democratic-Capitalist model, Canada remained against the use of force in Korean reunification. This was a pragmatic as well as a principled stance; reunification by force had already proved an unsuccessful strategy during the 1950 UN campaign. Instead, St. Laurent and Pearson favored UNsupervised elections to select a unified Korean government, and reaffirmed that Canada only supported military

55 Donaghy, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” 141. 56 Donaghy, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” 143. 57 Ibid. 53

Pyongyang, North Korea. 54

The Korean War saw Canada grow into its place as a middle power, and use multilateral institutions as a bullhorn for its moderate foreign policy. campaigns approved by the UNSC.58 In a September 1953 article published by the Washington Post, Pearson expressed his belief that following the armistice, all foreign troops should be withdrawn from South Korea, and rejected Syngman Rhee’s request to prolonging the war in an attempt to unify the peninsula.59 This further demonstrates that Canada’s interest in the Korean conflict was limited to achieving the initial UN objectives and action. In one of his memos to St. Laurent, Pearson also argued that any political settlement should be negotiated through the United Nations.60 Pearson knew that the communists would not succumb to the democratization of the entire peninsula, and he was unsure whether the Americans would settle for a fragmented country, and without any compromise, he saw multilateralism as the best middle ground. Another dimension of Canada’s involvement in the Korean War was its support for the development and reconstruction of South Korea, whose infrastructure had been crippled by the years of war. The main institution supporting reconstruction was the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency (UNKRA), to which Canada contributed. The UNKRA was created in 1950 in anticipation of the post-war effort to rebuild the South Korean economy – and to help avoid a scarcity-driven pivot to communism.61 Despite the fact that the UNKRA did promote capitalist aims, it was yet another multilateral instrument that policymakers in Ottawa used to check the United States’ flagrant attempts to use the UN to further its own commercial interests. For example, Canada contributed $8 million to the UN body’s humanitarian and trade effort in Korea and strengthened the efforts of the UNKRA to create a forum for voices that opposed American imperialism.62 Canadians were determined to uphold the UNKRA’s neutrality as a UN body, and to prevent it from being seen as an American proxy organization.


espite its middle power status, Canada played an outsized role in the Korean War, and helped to prevent both a prolonged war effort and the Truman government’s use of nuclear force. The Canadian military fought courageously, patrolled and protected the Sea of Japan, and provided valuable air transport and resources. Despite its limited international influence, Canada was able to effectively use the UN as a diplomatic platform to challenge superpowers and promote its non-zero-sum approach to foreign policy. Canadian policymakers successfully lobbied for the localization of the conflict, and rallied behind a multi-state UN command that prevented the Korean War from becoming an exercise in anti-Communist containment. Ultimately, Canada’s effective power-balancing throughout the Korean War clearly shows the roots of the ‘peacekeeper’ identity the state would fully embrace following the 1956 Suez Crisis.63

Canada’s efforts to limit the intensity of the Korean War show the roots of the ‘peacekeeper’ identity the state would later take on following the 1956 Suez Crisis.

58 “Canada Bars War for Korean Unity,” The Washington Post (1923-1954), Sep 24, 1953. 59 “Canada Bars War,” The Washington Post. 60 “Telegram from the Secretary of State,” Ottawa: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. 61 Greg Donaghy, “Diplomacy of Constraint Revisited: Canada and the UN Korean Reconstruction Agency, 1950-55,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, Vol. 25 No. 2 (2014): 159. 62 Donaghy, “Diplomacy of Constraint Revisited,” 162. 63 “Korea War Cost High in Men, Misery, Money,” United Press International, July 27, 1953. 55

THE SHALLOW WATERS OF THE PINK TIDE. Latin America rejected neoliberalism during the 1990s –but what did the Pink Tide goverments actually look like in office?

Armin Safavi


“If I shut up, you will hear the shouts of the stones of all the peoples of Latin America willing to be free from 500 years of colonialism.” – Hugo Chavez




ne of the key legacies of the Reagan era was the creation of the Washington Consensus, the political-economic doctrine that continues to define neoliberalism. The proliferation of the Washington Consensus led to the widespread promotion of market deregulation, privatization, structural adjustment policies, and the growth of international institutions, namely the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Neoliberalism was not universally popular, however. After implementing the policy recommendations of the Washington Consensus, many Latin American nations found themselves plagued by worsening and stagnant conditions for the poor and landless, increased public sector debt, currency crises, recession, and rising unemployment. The backlash was swift. Beginning with the election of the Chavez administration in 1998, a ‘Pink Tide’ of democratically-elected left-wing governments quickly spread across the region, leading to left-leaning governments in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina and Bolivia, among others.1 This paper debunks three of the key misconceptions regarding the Pink Tide: the notion that governments it swept into power were seldom truly socialist (though assuredly left-leaning), the notion that they were anti-neoliberal in action, and the notion that they were universally anti-democratic. The degree to which the Pink Tide governments respected democratic norms varied widely across the region. It begins by analyzing the neoliberal experience in Latin America, context necessary to understand the Pink Tide. It then explores the extent to which the governments of the Pink Tide remained democratic, leftist and anti-neoliberal at all, through an analysis of the domestic and foreign policies of Pink Tide governments. For continuity and brevity, case studies in Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela are 1 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, London: Zed Books, 2009, 3

used as the primary focus of analysis, although examples from other states are employed as additional evidence throughout.

“The Latin American experience with the Washington Consensus was plagued by stagnant conditions for the poor and landless, increased public sector debt, currency crises, recession, and rising unemployment.”

While the Latin American experience under neoliberalism did vary regionally, there were three main results seen across all states in the region. First, neoliberal policies tended to lead to steep economic downturns, as the worldwide recessions of the 1980s cut Latin American export values while IMF structural adjustment policies doubled Latin America’s debt in the same decade.2 Second, neoliberalism allowed both domestic and foreign economic elites to dominate the lower classes. Third, while the Latin American neoliberal governments tended to be far less politically authoritarian than the military juntas by whom they were often preceded, the decline in living conditions caused by their economic policies resulted in fierce political backlash and new Pink Tide governments.3 In Brazil, the bulwarks of neoliberalism were the Brazilian Democratic Party (PMDB) and Brazilian Social Democratic Party (BSDP). Their periods of rule greatly deepened inequality, with land-owning elites benefiting the most from the export-oriented growth resulting from the deregulation of industry. In 1996, 1% of landowners owned 45% of the nation’s land, a stark contrast with the 4.5 million landless rural workers who owned nothing at all.4 2 Wright, Thomas C., Latin America since independence: two centuries of continuity and change, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017, 302. 3 For instance, the PMDB in Brazil succeeded a military Junta that ruled from 1964-85. The Menem administration in Argentina succeeded the brutal Alfonsin Junta, famous for kidnapping thousands of Argentinian civilians. In Bolivia, the MNR took power in 1985 after nearly 20 years of uninterrupted military rule. President Banzer himself was dictator from 1971-78, later serving as constitutional president from 1997 to 2001. See Prevost et. al for more. 4 Prevost, Gary, Carlos Oliva Campos, and Harry E. Vanden, Social movements and leftist governments in Latin America: confrontation or co-optation? 37

The Pink Tide party leading the charge against these governments was the Brazilian Workers Party (PT), led by Lula Ignacio da Silva, known popularly by his first name only. Lula’s political career began as part of the Sao Paulo metalworkers union and was not initially successful. 5 He lost several elections in the 1990s, and it was not until the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement threw their support behind his promises of land reform that he came to power. After waves of disruptive protests and widespread land occupations, the Cardoso Administration was driven from office and was replaced by Lula’s PT.6


or Venezuela, the neoliberal 1980s were a “lost decade” during which the collapse of oil prices and erosion of the social safety net led to the percentage of impoverished families to jump from 17.7% to 61.4% between 1980 and 1996.7 Venezuelan politics at the time were dictated by the Punto Fijo, an agreement between the Democratic Action (AD) and the Social Christian Party (COPEI) on various elements of governance to produce an effectively two-party system where both the incumbent and opposition shared power. This collusion succeeded as long as both parties reaped the benefits of 5 Ibid, 40. 6 Vergara-Camus, Leandro, Land and freedom: the MST, the Zapatistas and peasant alternatives to neoliberalism, London: Zed Books, 2014, 231. 7 Prevost, Gary, Carlos Oliva Campos, and Harry E. Vanden, Social movements and leftist governments in Latin America: confrontation or co-optation? 37. 58

sharing enormous sums of petrodollars. However, once the money dried up,8 Hugo Chavez, leader of the Fifth Republic Movement (MVR), took power in 1998 in a landslide electoral victory, six years after first attempting to take power in a failed coup.9 Of the case study countries, Bolivia’s neoliberal experience was the most tumultuous of all, and resulted in three different resource wars. The first was a water war, which ensued after the Banzer administration privatized water access in 1999, handing over control to the Bechtel Corporation in 1999. The contract included the prohibition of private wells and rainwater collection, causing water rates to increase 200400% and 60% of rural populations not having access to secure sources of water.10 The second was a gas war, which arose during Gonzalo de Lozada’s brief second administration (20022003), that commercialized Bolivian gas to be sold out of a Chilean port in exchange for shared revenue.11 The third was a coca war, which originated as a result of US anti-drug policy and the Andean Drug War starting in 1985.12


oca has long been a traditional Bolivian crop, but its use in cocaine production prompted fierce policies against coca cultivation, and the plant itself became a symbol of resistance against foreign control.13 Following furious protests during the

water war,14 a national referendum that rejected privatizing 80% of the state’s petroleum resources,15 and the mass mobilization of coca farmers behind the Bolivian Movement for Socialism (MAS), the region’s first indigenous president – Evo Morales – was swept to power in Bolivia’s Pink Tide. Having outlined the socioeconomic trends and forces that led to the Pink Tide, it is now important to assess the degree to which its governments can be said to be socialist and anti-democratic. This requires a framework for evaluating socialism and anti-democratism, to which the developments throughout the Pink Tide can be compared. Cambridge professor Kurt Weyland defines left-wing policies as those involving “economic growth and development, the equitable distribution of benefits of growth, and the political inclusion of marginalized groups.”16 The first of these criteria can be somewhat problematic, as economic growth – or lack thereof – is often outside 14 Prevost, Gary, Carlos Oliva Campos, and Harry E. Vanden, Social movements and leftist governments in Latin America: confrontation or co-optation? 56 15 Ibid, 58 16 Weyland, Kurt Gerhard, Raúl L. Madrid, and Wendy Hunter, Leftist governments in Latin America: successes and shortcomings, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, 2

government control. Instead, other criteria will be used, such as policies that aim to reduce inequality, that increase social spending, and that regulate free-market activity.


here is a definite overlap between anti-neoliberal policies and socialist policies, but anti-neoliberalism differs explicitly in that it incorporates direct resistance to US hegemony, and opposition to international institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank which support the global spread of the Washington Consensus. With this overarching framework in mind, analysis of the case studies reveals that despite popular misconception, the Pink Tide governments do not appear to be generally socialist, nor are they universally anti-democratic or antineoliberal. Returning first to the Brazilian case study: in general, Lula has offered little by way of alternative to the Washington Consensus during his tenure in Brazil. Just prior to his election, Lula released a letter to the Brazilian people stating that he would maintain a neoliberal economic orientation in the first part of his presidency to avoid scaring off foreign investment and worsening the country’s financial crisis.17 This also meant that Brazil’s foreign policy would – out of necessity – be more moderate and less confrontational with the United States 17

Ibid, 101

8 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 57-58. 9 Ibid, 59. 10 Prevost, Gary, Carlos Oliva Campos, and Harry E. Vanden, Social movements and leftist governments in Latin America: confrontation or co-optation? 56 11 Ibid, 58. 12 Ibid, 69. 13 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 95 59

than might otherwise have been expected.


acking the gas reserves of Venezuela and Bolivia, foreign direct investment was of central importance to Brazil’s economy, and Lula could not afford to do an about face on anti-neoliberalism that would sink his government from the start. However, his policies were not strictly neoliberal. Lula did pledge to increase social spending and to introduce regulation that controlled inflation – which had hit a dizzying high of 2000% shortly before he took office.18 Under his tenure, Brazil saw budget cuts, recessionary monetary policy and strict obedience to IMF structural adjustment.19 Inflation fell steeply, but unemployment rose to 20% in areas such as Lula’s hometown of Sao Paulo.20 Despite the loss of revenue caused by the lifting of the requirement of company owners to pay income tax on dividends or profits,21 and an accompanying 24% increase in transfer payments,22 fiscal surpluses of 4% were run between 2003 and 2006.23 During the same period, per capita pu Ablic expenditure increased a paltry 0.7%.24 When it comes to social spending, the two most important transfer programs launched by the PT were the Bolsa Familia and Zero Hunger policies.25 The former covered 11 million families at its height and functioned as a subsidy roughly equivalent to $35 USD per child to families that enrolled their children in school.26 The Zero Hunger policy involved land resettlement and transfer payments to rural Brazilians working in agriculture, the population segment most likely to experience daily hunger. The success of these policies remains debatable. On one hand, poverty levels fell by an average of 7.3% per year between 2003 and 2007.27 On the other hand, both policies were strapped by limited funding; the Bolsa Familia transfer payment was effectively a bare minimum wage, and only 6% of the Zero Hunger program’s budget was spent in its first year.28Furthermore, the steady economic growth throughout this period was counterbalanced by continued income inequality. In 2005, Brazil’s wealthiest 10% received 49.8% of gross national income, compared to 0.9% for the poorest 10%.29 This growth has therefore been attributed to regional development and the skyrocketing demand for exports developing-world markets like China and India and their skyrocketing demand for exports during the same period.30 Regardless of their efficacy, Lula’s policies were broadly popular, and the public goodwill they created led to the PT’s re-election in 2006.


ula’s second term finally yielded the increased public-sector spending he had promised in the letter. It came in the form of the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC), a 4-year, $236 billion investment plan in infrastructure, energy and communications that helped cut unemployment to 7.9% by 2008 and brought 20 million Brazilians into the middle 18 Ibid, 103 19 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 158 20 Ibid, 154 21 Ibid, 160 22 Weyland, Kurt Gerhard, Raúl L. Madrid, and Wendy Hunter, Leftist governments in Latin America: successes and shortcomings, 116 23 Ibid, 108 24 Ibid, 115 25 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 13 26 Prevost, Gary, Carlos Oliva Campos, and Harry E. Vanden, Social movements and leftist governments in Latin America: confrontation or co-optation? 44 27 Weyland, Kurt Gerhard, Raúl L. Madrid, and Wendy Hunter, Leftist governments in Latin America: successes and shortcomings, 112 28 Ibid, 116 29 Prevost, Gary, Carlos Oliva Campos, and Harry E. Vanden, Social movements and leftist governments in Latin America: confrontation or co-optation? 38 30 Gardini, Gian Luca, and Gemma Brown, Latin America in the 21st century: nations, regionalism, globalization, 99

Latin American states with access to significant oil reserves had more freedom to pursue anti-neoliberal policy platforms.


Sunset over Buenos Aires, Argentina. 61

class for the first time.31 His Pink Tide clearly did not wash away the neoliberal years, but it was also certainly not continuous with the past.


olitically, the Lula administration tolerated a large amount of corruption. Fisologismo, the practice of keeping coalitions together by offering cabinet positions to coalition members and turning a blind eye to patronage by those members was the modus operandi of the PT administration.32 Notably, the Mensalao Scandal erupted after Lula’s PT offered stipends to opposition members in exchange for voting with the government33 and more recently, the Petrobras scandal showed that the Brazilian elites received millions in kickbacks from the petroleum giant. This practice did not go entirely unchallenged. The PT’s environmental 31 Weyland, Kurt Gerhard, Raúl L. Madrid, and Wendy Hunter, Leftist governments in Latin America: successes and shortcomings, 119 32 Ibid, 121 33 Kitzberger, Philip, Media wars and the new left: Governability and media democratisation in Argentina and Brazil. Journal of Latin American Studies, 48(3), 447-476, 2016

ministry managed to both pressure the administration to set up Amazon conservation units in 2004 following the second-largest single year clearing of the rainforest, and enforce environmental standards on soya and sugar cane farmers after the spike in ethanol prices in 2007.34 Though undeniably corrupt, the presence of internal resistance from the environment ministry, the forced reshuffling of cabinet positions after a lengthy and in-depth trial following the Mensalao scandal, the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff,35 and the presence of regular elections suggest that Brazil remains largely democratic.36 Overall, Brazil’s Pink Tide government appears to have run right down the proverbial middle of the road when it comes to neoliberalism, anti-democratism and socialism.


urning now to Venezuela: despite being frequently labeled a socialist, Hugo Chavez deliberately omitted a reference to socialism of any kind when campaigning for election in 34 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 166-67 35 Kitzberger, Philip, Media wars and the new left: Governability and media democratisation in Argentina and Brazil. Journal of Latin American Studies, 48(3), 447-476, 2016 36 In 2015, Brazil ranked 51st in the Economist’s Democracy Index, 6th in the region. Economist Intelligence Unit, Democracy Index 2015: Democracy in an Age of Anxiety, London: The Economist, 2016

1997.37 In fact, his use of the term was primarily in reference to his “21st century socialism” policy – popularized during a 2005 speech to the World Social Forum.38 This policy was not garden-variety socialism; it referred specifically to Latin America’s history of anti-imperialism, religious references, and the opposition to privatized health and utilities. Chavez even went so far as to call Jesus a socialist, by his standards. The MVR implemented social programs via “misiones” and “conesjos communales,” community chapters which acted as local-level bureaucracies.39 They were staffed with Chavez supporters and helped enact the executive functions of the state. $6 billion was funneled into 17 of these local administrations in 2006,40 and their constitutional enshrinement as legitimate executive actors allowed Chavez to bypass the entire state apparatus and implement the policies of his choosing. The misiones were often aided by the military – spending on which increased sevenfold under his rule. He also created “Bolivarian circles”, workers’ council organizations comprised of civil society groups and militant Chavez supporters, and who would frequently bully opposition into silence.41 The Bolivarian circles would prove instrumental in protecting the Chavez regime from a coup in 2002,42 as well as in quashing civil unrest following the collapse of oil prices in 2008.43 The Chavez government’s primary economic strategy was nationalizing the PDVSA and using the profits to fund 37 Prevost, Gary, Carlos Oliva Campos, and Harry E. Vanden, Social movements and leftist governments in Latin America: confrontation or co-optation? 17 38 Becker, Marc, Twentieth-century Latin American revolutions, 214-216 39 Ibid, 36 40 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 64 41 Prevost, Gary, Carlos Oliva Campos, and Harry Vanden, Social movements and leftist governments in Latin America: confrontation or co-optation? 145 42 Ibid, 146 43 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 62 62

public sector development projects. As the acting secretary-general and one of the founding members of OPEC, Venezuela coordinated the worldwide increase of oil prices from $7 to $28 a barrel.44 The government-financed projects the oil boom funded were also accompanied by policies that encouraged domestic consumption – so called “buy national” laws – in order to reinforce local industry and reduce unemployment.45


utside the nationalization of oil, Chavez did not throw up many barriers to privatization, and did not break significantly with his neoliberal predecessors.46 There is even some dispute as to the extent to which the PDVSA itself was privatized; for instance, the government allowed the development of oil from private entities for sale to the state at a fixed rate. This meant that when oil prices were low, the government was technically buying its own oil at a loss.47


he Venezuelan government’s commitment to anti-neoliberal expenditure in the Chavez years remains equally contentious. The number of employees on the state payroll did increase by 53.5% and public spending rose from 18% to 34% of GDP in the decade after Chavez’ election.48 Still, when discounting military spending, actual per-capita spending on services did not increase significantly,49 and inflation spikes have led to misleading interpretations of increases in income for the poor.50 On the international stage, Pink Tide Venezuela has proven to be a regional beacon of anti-Americanism. The Chavez government led region-wide rejection of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) proposal – which would have 44 Ibid, 62 45 Weyland, Kurt Gerhard, Raúl L. Madrid, and Wendy Hunter, Leftist governments in Latin America: successes and shortcomings, 40 46 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 61 47 Ibid, 62 48 Weyland, Kurt Gerhard, Raúl L. Madrid, and Wendy Hunter, Leftist governments in Latin America: successes and shortcomings, 38 49 Ibid, 115 50 Ibid, 46

opened markets to American competition – and fiercely opposed the invasion Afghanistan after 9/11.51 This led the Bush Administration to channel millions in assistance to opposition parties in Venezuela and back an unsuccessful coup attempt in 2002.52 This did not deter Chavez’ government; lacking strong bilateral relations with United States, Venezuela strengthened its economic ties with China, Iran, Russia and other nonwestern nations, and fared respectably as long as oil prices remained steady.53 Domestically, Chavez was incredibly popular, and used his support to drive the passing of a new constitution in 1999 that drastically expanded his executive power.54 Among other changes, the 1999 constitution increased the number of justices from 20 to 36 and purged the Venezuelan state oil company (the PDVSA) and military. This allowed Chavez to appoint loyalists and dilute opposition power within Venezuelan bureaucracy. In addition, Chavez created several “enabling laws” which granted executive discretion to the President across multiple policy areas.55 These enabling laws allowed Chavez to bypass Venezuela’s National Assembly, and facilitated the expansion of his authoritarian ambitions. Even when he failed to pass a series of even more radical changes – including the imposition of an indefinite term limit – in a 2007 referendum, he was able to sidestep the opposition regardless using these enabling laws.56


his analysis indicates that especially in comparison to Brazil, Venezuela has been more starkly anti-neoliberal and anti-democratic, 51 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 68 52 Becker, Marc, Twentieth-century Latin American revolutions, 210 53 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 71 54 Ibid, 162 55 Weyland, Kurt Gerhard, Raúl L. Madrid, and Wendy Hunter, Leftist governments in Latin America: successes and shortcomings, 31 56 Weyland, Kurt Gerhard, Raúl L. Madrid, and Wendy Hunter, Leftist governments in Latin America: successes and shortcomings, 36

a direction that has had disastrous effects in recent years. Nonetheless, the continued presence of a market economy and the tendency to over-exaggerate the extent of public spending on social services indicate that Venezuela cannot be considered purely socialist, though it is undeniably left-of-centre. Similar to Venezuela, Bolivia’s Pink Tide government has used its rich gas reserves to help fund a series of public sector economic policies. These included “oportunidades” – transfers of $25.70 to schoolchildren much like the Bolsa Familia – universal health insurance, expansions of state pensions, subsidized housing, and the Junacito Pinto program, which funded the education of 2 million students via transfer payments.57


olivia’s state oil management under Evo Morales was also far more efficient than Venezuela’s. Instead of inefficient, direct management, the Morales administration negotiated individual, favorable contracts with other states and private corporations, and obtained an 82% take for their coffers. The resulting fiscal surpluses allowed the payment of IMF debt and freedom from policy conditionality, a trap that Venezuela was unable to break free from. Bolivian military spending was also significantly lower than in Venezuela. Rather than building up their state’s hard power, the Morales government allocated 60% of their investment funds for infrastructure spending, and their social spending increased to 2% of GDP.58 In stark contrast to the Venezuelan experience, the Bolivian government under the MAS and Morales has been hindered by internal political power struggles and consequently, has not become nearly as authoritarian. A legacy of civil and pro-democratic political organization was enshrined following Bolivia’s 1952 revolution, which was also the birth of the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) that ruled prior to Chavez’s ascension to the Presidency.59 57 Weyland, Kurt Gerhard, Raúl L. Madrid, and Wendy Hunter, Leftist governments in Latin America: successes and shortcomings, 67 58 Ibid, 66 59 Wright, Thomas C., Latin America since independence: two centuries of continuity and change, 203 63

Buenos Aires, Argentina. 64

In the past decade, the Pink Tide has receded, as a wave of conservative governments came to power in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. This strongly institutionalized political culture meant that in 1994, a pre-Pink Wave government was forced to pass a revolutionary constitution that recognized the “multi-ethnic and pluricultural composition of Bolivia’s population,” and protected the rights of indigenous peoples.60 When the MAS government took power, it was equally plagued by political gridlock and a strong, well-respected opposition. The gridlock was worsened after prolonged pressure from pro-business elites in the media luna region of the country and a 2006 referendum, the MAS conceded to the approval of autonomous state power in the region.61 Bolivia’s foreign policy under the Morales government has also aimed to reduce the United States’ influence in the region. One key measure undertaken to this end was the Andean Pact, as part of which Bolivia received offered economic and military assistance from the Venezuelans in exchange for cooperation and improved bilateral relations.62 Additionally, the country has prioritized regional trade through ALBA, an intergovernmental organization in Latin America,63 and through founding the Union of South American Nations (Unasur).64 Overall, Bolivia’s economic policies following the Pink Tide have resembled that of Venezuela, particularly with regards to the nationalization of oil in order to fund largescale public sector spending. However, Bolivia’s stronger opposition and public respect for democratic norms have helped forestall the pivot towards authoritarianism seen under Venezuela’s Chavez and Maduro governments. Meanwhile, Bolivia’s national policies of regional economic and political integration lend further credence to the country’s antineoliberal bonafides.


he analysis presented in this paper indicates that the reforms that arrived in the wake with the Pink Tide were not as uniform or as radical as is often assumed. While there was a region-wide revolt against neoliberalism in favor of left-wing governance, the new governments did not break with their neoliberal predecessors on all counts, nor did they fully embrace socialism. And despite coming to power amid near-revolutionary movements, some of the Pink Tide governments chose to pivot towards authoritarianism, while others were restrained through principle. The Pink Tide is now receding, but it is crucial to remember that it was never monolithic to begin with.

Other Pink Tide governments, such as the Morales and Maduro administrations, have managed to hold onto power despite fierce internal protests.

60 Prevost, Gary, Carlos Oliva Campos, and Harry E. Vanden, Social movements and leftist governments in Latin America: confrontation or co-optation? 53 61 Ibid, 60-65 62 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 106 63 Wright, Thomas C., Latin America since independence: two centuries of continuity and change, 309 64 Lievesley, Geraldine, and Steve Ludlam, Reclaiming Latin America: experiments in radical social democracy, 106 65



Profile for The Attaché Journal of International Affairs

The Attaché Journal of International Affairs – Volume XIX  

The Attaché Journal of International Affairs is Canada's longest-running undergraduate international relations journal. This is our nineteen...

The Attaché Journal of International Affairs – Volume XIX  

The Attaché Journal of International Affairs is Canada's longest-running undergraduate international relations journal. This is our nineteen...