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How Peru Got its Territory Back

Territorial conflict has been a continuing problem in South America and is often related to the possession of natural resources that represent a considerable income to the countries in dispute. On January 27, 2014, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) gave its verdict on a case brought before the court in 2008 by Peru, which asserted a territorial claim on approximately 38,000 sq km of the Pacific Ocean bordering with Chile. The court ruled in Peru’s favour, in a judgment that was widely regarded as fair.

This is not the first confrontation between Peru and Chile. “Guerra del Pacifico” War of the Pacific (1879-1883) was a well-known conflict between both countries and resulted in the annexation of valuable disputed territory on the Pacific coast. It grew out of a dispute between Chile, Peru and Bolivia over control of a part of the Atacama Desert located between 23rd to 26th parallels of the South American Pacific coast, known for an abundance of mineral resources, particularly sodium nitrate.

After years of confrontation between the three countries, Chile and Peru signed the Treaty of Ancón relinquishing the Province of Tarapacá as well as the departments of Arica and Tacna to Chile in 1883. These territories would remain under Chilean control, however, the two nations were unable to agree on how or when to hold the plebiscite, and in 1929, both  countries signedthe Treaty of Lima, in which Peru gained Tacna and Chile maintained control of Arica. Even though Peru regained Tacna, some fishing dominions were given to Chile thereby angering Peruvians financially dependent on artisanal fishing. Diplomatic relations between the two nations have consequently remained tense for many years.

Today both countries are once again disputing, this time in relation to claims on maritime territories. The issue was brought to the fore in 2008 when Peru filed the claim at the International Court of Justice in The Hague that marine boundaries had never been formally agreed upon by the two countries and needed objective international approval. In its defense, Chile posits that the line had been defined in agreements signed in 1952 and 1954, which Peru argued were strictly fishing accords.

After 5 years of tension, the court has finally ordered that the common marine border be redrawn to follow the current border for 80 miles from the coast but then will veer southwest for 120 miles, giving Peru the disputed “external triangle.” The current border runs due west from the coast for a full 200 miles, a demarcation that Chile has enforced since it won the Pacific War with Peru and Bolivia.

In a statement issued after the verdict was announced, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said “Peru is pleased with the outcome” of the court’s decision, and would “take the required actions and measures immediately for its prompt implementation.” The Peruvian government also said that the decision applied to nearly 19,000 square miles of offshore territory, or more than half of the 37,000 square miles it originally sought. Peru’s fishing industry estimates that the disputed zone has an annual catch of 565m Peruvian nuevo soles ($200m; £121m), particularly of anchovies which are used to make fishmeal. Peru will also gain access to some extra swordfish, tuna and giant squid.

Peru’s victory will not only significantly increase income in its fishing industry, but will also go a long way in restoring nationalism after a humiliating defeat to Chile in the 19th Century.

Alternatively, Michelle Bachelet, who will assume the Chilean presidency in March, stressed that even though Chile had lost none of its territorial waters (which extend for 12 nautical miles from the coast), the ruling is a “painful loss” considering the importance of this external triangle. As a condition for implementing the agreement representatives from the government of Chile have also suggested that Peru sign an International Convention on the Law of the Sea and accept the line through Hito 1 as its land border (losing 350 meters of beach); an agreement Peru remains reluctant to address, hoping instead for swift implementation of the ICJ’s verdict.

Andrea was born in Bogota, Colombia, and immigrated to Canada in 2006. She graduated in June 2012 from York University with a Bilingual BA in International Studies. After finishing her BA, she moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where she had the opportunity to do an internship with the World Health Organization (WHO). She is pursuing a Double Master in Public Policy and Human Development at the University of Maastricht, Holland. This article was re-published by permission and appeared in original form at The Atlantic Council of Canada.  

Drones, Ethics, and The Indispensable Pilot

The on-going conversation about the ethics of drones (or of remotely piloted aircraft[1]) is quickly becoming saturated. The ubiquity of the United States’ remotely piloted aircraft program has arisen so suddenly that ethicists have struggled just to keep up. The last decade, though, has provided sufficient time for thinkers to grapple with the difficult questions involved in killing from thousands of miles away.

In a field of study as fertile as this one, cultivation is paramount, and distinctions are indispensable. Professor Gregory Johnson of Princeton offers a helpful lens through which to survey the landscape. Each argument about drone ethics is concerned with one of three things: The morality, legality, or wisdom of drone use.[2]

Arguments about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of drones typically make value judgments on drones based upon their efficacy.[3] One common example argues that, because of the emotional response drone strikes elicit in the targets’ family and friends, drone strikes may create more terrorists than they kill.

Legal considerations take a step back from the question of efficacy. These ask whether drone policies conform to standing domestic and international legal norms. These questions are not easily answered for two reasons. First, some argue that remote systems have changed the nature of war, requiring changes to the legal norms.[4] Second, the U.S. government is not forthcoming with details on its drone programs.[5]

The moral question takes a further step back even from the law. It asks, regardless of the law, whether drones are right or wrong–morally good, or morally bad. A great deal has been written on broad questions of drone morality, and sufficient summaries of it already exist in print.[6]

If there is a void in the literature, I think it is centered on the frequent failure to include the drone operator in the ethical analysis. That is, most ethicists who address the question of “unmanned” aircraft tend to draw a border around the area of operations (AOR) and consider in their analysis everything in it–enemy combatants, civilians, air power, special operations forces (SOF), tribal leaders, hellfire missiles, etc. They are also willing to take one giant step outside the AOR to include Washington–lawmakers, The Executive, military leaders, etc. Most analyses of the ethics of drones, then, include everyone involved except the operator.[7] This is problematic for a number of reasons discussed below.

Bradley Strawser, for example, argues in favor of remote weapons from a premise that leaders ought to reduce risk to their forces wherever possible. He therefore hangs his argument on the claim that drone pilots are not “present in the primary theater of combat.”[8] While this statement is technically correct, it is misleading. The pilot, while not collocated with the aircraft, plays a crucial role in the ethical analysis.

Sarah Kreps and John Kaag argue that the U.S.’s capability to wage war without risk, may make the decision to go to war too easy. Therefore, any decision to go to war under such circumstances may be unjust.[9] This view is contingent upon a war without risk, which fails to consider the operator, and the ground unit the operator supports.

Paul Kahn goes so far as to call remote warfare “riskless.” But suggesting that remote war is riskless supposes that at least one side in the conflict employes no people at all. Where there are people conducting combat operations, there is risk. Contrary to Kahn’s position, drones are controlled by people, in support of people, and thus, war (as we know it) is not riskless.

The common presupposition throughout these arguments, namely that remote war does not involve people in an ethically meaningful way, is detrimental to a fruitful discussion of the ethics of remote warfare for three reasons.

First, the world has not yet seen, and it may never see, a drone-only war. What that means is that even though the drone operator may face no risk to him or herself, the supported unit on the ground faces mortal risk.[10] The suggestion, then, that a remote warfare capability produces war without risk is empirically untenable.

Second, there exist in this world risks that are non-physical. Cases of psychological distress (both in the military and outside it) abound, and the case has been made in other fields that psychological wounds are as real as physical ones.[11] There have already been a small number of documented post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cases among drone operators.[12] Though the number of cases may be small, consider what is being asked of these individuals. Unlike their counterparts, RPA crews are asked to take life for reasons other than self defense. It is possible, and I think plausible, to suggest that killing an enemy, in such a way that one cannot ground the justification of one’s actions in self-defense, may carry long-term, and latent, psychological implications. The psychological risk to drone operators is, then, present but indeterminate.

Finally, there is the often-neglected point that a government which chooses to conduct remote warfare from home changes the status of its domestic military bases. That government effectively re-draws the battlespace such that it includes the drone operators within its borders. RPA bases within the Continental United States (CONUS) become military targets that carry tremendous operational and tactical significance, and are thereby likely targets.

There is a fine point to be made here about the validity of military targets. According to international norms, any violent action carried out by a terror network is illegal. So what would be a valid military target for a state in wartime is still an illegal target for al Qaeda. Technically, then, a U.S. drone base cannot be called a valid military target for a terrorist organization, but the point here about risk is maintained if we consider such bases attractive targets. Because the following claims are applicable beyond current overseas contingency operations against terror networks, the remaining discussion will assume the validity of U.S. drone bases as targets.[13]

The just war tradition, and derivatively the international laws of war, recognize that collateral damage is acceptable as long as that damage does not exceed the military value of the target.[14] The impact of this fact on domestically operated drones is undeniable.

Suppose an F-15E[15] pilot is targeted by the enemy while she sleeps on a U.S. base in Afghanistan. The collateral damage will undoubtedly include other military members. Now suppose a drone operator is targeted while she sleeps in her home near a drone base in the U.S.. In this scenario, the collateral damage may include her spouse and children. If it can be argued that such a target’s military value exceeds the significance of the collateral damage (and given the success of the U.S. drone program, perhaps it can) then killing her, knowing that her family may also die, becomes legally permissible.[16] Nations with the ability to wage war from within their own domestic boundaries, then, ought to consider the consequences of doing so.[17]

There will be two responses to these claims. First, someone will object that the psychological effects on the drone operator are overstated. Suppose this objection is granted, for the moment. The world of remote warfare, though, is a dynamic one, and one must consider the relationship between technology and distance. The earths sphere creates a boundary to the physical distance from which one person can kill another person. If pilots are in the United States, and targets are in Pakistan, then the geometric boundary has already been reached.

It cannot be the case, now that physical distance has reached a maximum, that technology will cease to develop. Technology will continue to develop, and with that development, physical distance will not increase; but information transmission rates will. The U.S. Air Force is already pursuing high definition cameras,[18] wide area motion imagery sensors,[19] and increased bandwidth to transmit all this new data.[20]

If technology has driven the shooter (the drone pilot, in this case) as far from the weapons effects as Earths geometry allows, then future technological developments will not increase physical distance, but they will increase video quality, time on station and sensor capability. Now that physical distance has reached a boundary, future technological developments will exceed previously established limits. That is, the psychological distance between killers and those they kill will decrease.[21] 

The future of drone operations will see a resurgence of elements from the old wars. Crews will look in a mans face, seeing his eyes and his fearthe killer must shoot at a person and kill a specific individual.[22] Any claim that RPA pilots are not shooting at people, but only at pixels will become obsolete. The command, dont fire until you see the whites of their eyesmay soon become as meaningful in drone operations as it was at Breeds Hill in 1775.[23]

As this technology improves, the RPA pilots will see a target, not as mere pixels, but as a human, as a person, as a husband and father, as one who was alive, but is now dead. Increased psychological effects are inevitable.

A second objection will claim that, although RPA bases may make attractive targets, the global terror networks with whom the U.S. is currently engaged lack the capability to strike such targets. But this objection also views a dynamic world as though it were static. Even if the current capabilities of our enemies are knowable today, we cannot know what they will be tomorrow. Likewise, we cannot know where the next war will be, nor the capabilities of the next enemy. We have learned in this young century that strikes against the continental United States are still possible.

The question of whether drones are, or can be, ethical is far too big a question to be tackled in this brief essay. What we can know for certain, though, is that any serious discussion of the question must include the RPA pilot in its ethical analysis. Wars change. Enemies change. Tactics change. It would seem, though, that remotely piloted weapons will remain for the foreseeable future.

Joe Chapa is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He served as a pilot and instructor pilot in Oklahoma, Nevada and Missouri, and completed two deployments to Afghanistan and Europe. He earned a B.A in Philosophy from Boston University, an M.A. in Theological Studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and an M.A. in Philosophy from Boston College (anticipated 2014). The views expressed here are of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Air Force, the DoD or the U.S. government.

[1] Throughout this essay, I will use the terms ‘remotely piloted aircraft’ and ‘drone’ synonymously. With these terms I am referring to U.S. aircraft which have a human pilot not collocated with the aircraft, which are capable of releasing kinetic ordnance.

[2] This distinction comes from a Rev. Michael J. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics, and Culture panel discussion held at The College of The Holy Cross. Released Mar 13, 2013. https://itunes.apple.com/us/institution/college-of-the-holy-cross/id637884273. (Accessed February 25, 2014).

[3] The following contain arguments on the wisdom of drones. Audrey Kurth-Cronin, “Why Drones Fail:When Tactics Drive Strategy,”Foreign Affairs,July/August 2013; Patterson, Eric & teresa Casale, “Targeting Terror: The Ethical and Practical Implications of Targeted Killing,”International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence”18:4, 21 Aug 2006; and Jeff McMahan, “Preface” in Killing by Remote Control: The Ethics of an Unmanned Military, Bradley Strawser, ed., (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

[4] For example, Mark Bowden, “The Killing Machines,” The Atlantic (8/16/13): 3. Others disagree. See Matthew W. Hillgarth, “Just War Theory and Remote Military Technology: A Primer,” in Killing by Remote Control: The Ethics of an Unmanned Military, Bradley Strawser, ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013): 27.

[5] Rosa Brooks, “The War Professor,” Foreign Policy, (May 23, 2013): 7.

[6] For an excellent overview of the on-going discussion of drone ethics, see Bradley Strawsers chapter Introduction: The Moral Landscape of Unmanned Weaponsin his edited book Killing By Remote Control (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013): 3-24.

[7] This point highlights the merits of the Air Force’s term ‘remotely piloted aircraft’ (RPA). The aircraft are not unmanned. Etymologically, the term “unmanned” most nearly means “autonomous.”  While there are significant ethical questions surrounding autonomous killing machines, they are distinct from the questions of remotely piloted killing machines. It is only because the popular term “drone” is so pervasive that I have decided to use both terms interchangeably throughout this essay.

[8] Bradley Strawser, “Moral Predators: The Duty to Employ Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles,” Journal of Military Ethics 9, no. 4 (16 Dec 2010): 356.

[9] Though I do not have the space to develop it fully, this argument is well-grounded in the just war tradition, and is one of the stronger arguments against a military use of remote warfare technology.

[10] Since September eleventh, 2011, U.S. “drone strikes” have been executed under the Authorizatino for The Military Use of Force, signed by Congress in 2001. From a legal perspective, then, all drone strikes, even those outside Iraq and Afghanistan have been against targets who pose an imminnent threat to the United States. Thus, even any reported “targeted killings” in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, or elsewhere, were conducted in self-defense, and therefore involved risk.

[11] By way of example, consider cases of hate speech, bullying and ‘torture lite’ in Rae Langton, “Beyond Belief: Pragmatics in Hate Speech and Pornography,” in Speech & Harm: Controversies Over Free Speech, ed. Ishani Maitra and Mary Kate McGowan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, May, 2012), 76-77.; Isbani Maitra, “Subordinating Speech,” in Speech & Harcm: Controversies Over Free Speech, ed. Ishani Maitra and Mary Kate McGowan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, May, 2012), 96.; Jessica Wolfendale, “The Myth of ‘Torture Lite’,” Carnegie Council on Ethics in International Affairs (2009), 50.

[12] James Dao, “Drone Pilots Found to Get Stress Disorders Much as Those in Combat Do,” New York Times, (February 22, 2013).

[13] The question of whether organizations like al Qaeda are to be treated as enemy combatants (as though they were equivalent to states) or criminals remains open. For more on the distinction between combatants and criminals, see Michael L. Gross, “Assassination and Targeted Killing: Law Enforcement, Execution or Self-Defense?” Journal of Applied Philosophy, vol. 23, no. 3, (2006): 323-335.)

[14] Avery Plaw, Counting the Dead: The Proportionality of Predation in Pakistan,Bradley Strawser, ed. in Killing by Remote Control (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013): 135.

[15] A traditionally manned U.S. Air Force asset capable of delivering kinetic ordnance.

[16] This statement is only true of enemy states. As discussed above, all terror network targets are illegal targets.

[17] I have developed this argument more fully in “The Ethics of Remotely Piloted Aircraft” Air and Space Power Journal, Spanish Edition, vol. 25, no. 4, (2013): 23-33.

[18] Exhibit R-2, RDT&E Budget Item Justification, MQ-9 Development and Fielding, February 2012, (page 1). (http://www.dtic.mil/descriptivesum/Y2013/AirForce/stamped/0205219F_7_PB_2013.pdf) accessed 30 July 2013.

[19] Lance Menthe, Amado Cordova, Carl Rhodes, Rachel Costello, and Jeffrey Sullivan, The Future of Air Force Motion Imagery Exploitation Lessons from the Commercial World, Rand Project Air Force, (page iii). (http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2012/RAND_TR1133.pdf) accessed 30 July 2013.

[20] Grace V. Jean, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Fuel Demand for Satellite BandwidthNational Defense Magazine,  July 2011. (http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2011/July/Pages/RemotelyPilotedAircraftFuelsDemandforSatelliteBandwidth.aspx) accessed 30 July 2013.

[21] Ibid, 97-98.

[22] Ibid, 119.

[23] George E. Ellis, Battle of Bunkers Hill, (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, 1895), 70.

The Diplomat and the DeLorean

“The past isn’t dead.  It isn’t even past.”  – William Faulkner. 

The crisis in Ukraine highlights a shortcoming in materialist theories, and a derivative shortcoming in our foreign policy process: the rhetorical battle between Russia and Ukraine is presently jumping across eleven hundred years of history, invoking symbols and identities from at least five different eras simultaneously into the present.  Our policy-making ‘now’ is the last election, while the Russians and Ukrainians are all drawing on a millennium-long ‘now’ in their argument with each other.  We are missing most of what is being said with our myopic lens, and much of what ‘power’ means hinges on these identity questions. 

First, two ideas from academic literature help explain what’s happening. 

      ‘Master Cleavage’ – Stathis Kalyvas describes how local leaders invoke larger narratives to address local issues during civil wars.  What is presently happening is a dynamic, inside-out version of that process.  There are any of a number of potential historical cleavages, depending on which pieces of the past are more present at any given time.  For instance, to energize Ukrainian nationalists, the Red-and-Black flag of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) speaks of fierce resistance to both Soviets and Fascists during the Second World War.  However, the UPA treated Poles brutally between Ukraine and Poland, so the Ukrainians would greatly prefer to decouple the UPA from their framing with Poland, and instead situate that relationship within the era of Soviet Occupation.  What era is present, and with whom, is a key aspect of the current struggle.  Whoever builds a better pastiche of history gets to choose the identity frame.

      ‘Polychronic’ Cultures – The ability to navigate this space hinges on a culture’s mode of interacting with the past.  Hall, in his work on culture, describes two broad views of time – monochronic, where a culture experiences the flow of time as a linear progression of events, and polychronic, where a culture experiences multiple timeframes in parallel.  In a monochronic culture, the past is ‘how we got here,’ but it’s not ‘here.’   In a polychronic culture, the past is ‘here’ in different ways for different things.  The United States foreign policy process is explicitly monochronic.  While many of those who inhabit that process are polychronic, ideas from these frames rarely last long in institutions to whom they are foreign.  This is a problem when trying to understand polychronic identity struggles. 

Second, since history is a battlefield of this present crisis, here’s a quick and semi-humorous video crash course on Russian history.  There are at least five eras currently in play – these are horribly over-simplified, and I highly recommend reading a proper history on them.

First, the Kievan Rus’is the most fundamental identity dispute between Russia and Ukraine. The Rus’ was first identifiable state of the Eastern Slavs (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus,) the Kievan Rus’ was founded by Vikings in the 9th Century AD, and lasted until the 13th Century, when it was destroyed by the Mongols.  During this time, the Rus’ converted to Christianity and aligned themselves with Constantinople.  This was a golden age of sorts, at least in memory, and both Russia and Ukraine claim the mantle of the Kievan Rus’. Russia’s claim derives from being the strongest successor state to the Rus’, and from an influx of immigration following the Mongol conquest. In this version, Moscow leads the eventual resistance to the Mongols, and evolves as a Eurasian state.  In the course of this evolution, strength and autocracy become necessary defenses; the consolidation of power under the Czars and the concomitant management of rebels is the natural state of play.

Ukraine’s claim derives from geography – Kiev was the leading city of the Rus.’ In this, the Rus’ provided a source for deep Ukrainian national identity – in the 1990s, the Ukrainian state shifted toward the hrivna currency, the same name as that of the Rus’, and the Trident symbol was a royal seal of the leaders of the Rus’.  Soviet historiography declared the Kievan Rus as a feudal state, in order to fit a dialectical materialist model of history, while Ukrainian historians generally see the Rus’ as a proto-republic, proto-capitalist confederation. From this retelling, Moscow served as tax collectors to the Mongols, and the increasingly powerful city-state drifted toward autocracy.  Therefore, the corruption of Yanukovych hearkens to the Mongol yoke, and the natural orientation of the Rus’ is toward Europe.

A second frame is the 16th to 18th Century Cossacks, and their conflicts with both the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth and the Russian Czars.  This was a tremendously tumultuous period for all parties involved, and too complicated to meaningful recount here.   In present memory, the Cossack culture of freedom and their Hetman leaders provide identity markers for Ukraine, and a basis for the rejection of autocracy.  Conversely, this was a ‘time of troubles’ for Moscow, and the Russians the Cossacks more as raiders and bandits.  What this period means for modern interpretations of Ukrainian identity vis-à-vis their neighbors depends greatly on the interpretation of this time – the Cossacks alternatively supported and fought almost all of their neighbors during this period.

The Second World War provides the third frame for this argument.  As described before, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army’s (UPA) red-and-black banner was a common sight in EuroMaidan – this is a direct challenge to the Russian leadership, who transpose onto the Soviet Union in this frame.  The Soviets were deeply invested in framing the UPA as Fascist collaborators; while it is difficult to capture the entirety of a guerilla movement, the UPA described themselves as at war with both Soviets and Nazis.  In the current struggle, Putin continues using the Soviet frame, with Russia Today describing the Ukrainians as neo-Nazis.  (This echoes a refrain from Yugoslavia – the preferred anti-Croatian slur referred to a WWII collaborationist government.)  The general Ukrainian framing takes the UPA at its word and sees it as a nationalist movement.  Interestingly, in present memory, the UPA’s symbols have become more inclusive than the UPA itself likely was.  The UPA’s hallmark phrase, ‘Slava Ukraini, Heroyam Slava,’ (Glory to Ukraine, Glory to her heroes,) is now being applied to the protestors killed in Kyiv’s Independence Square during the recent protests – East and West Ukrainian alike.

The Communist domination of Eastern Europe, in particular the Soviet interventions into Prague and Budapest, provides the most useful frame for the Ukrainian to reach out to their immediate Western neighbors.  Framing the Soviet invasion of the Crimea in these terms invokes these memories amongst the Poles, Bulgarians and Romanians.  For obvious reasons, the Russian government has little to gain from invoking this era, and their narratives steer clear of it.

Finally, the most recent memory frame is the chronological present and the contrast between the European Union and the Russian-led Eurasian Union.  This is the frame best understood by our policy process, but it is misleading to view the previous eras as prologue rather than present.  Note that the flags from these eras fly alongside each other – these symbols are all invoked in parallel.  To some extent, all nations use parallel symbols, but what is particularly fascinating here is that the Ukrainians are making multiple identity bids to different eras all at once. 

How does all of this matter?  First, in this case, materialist approaches actually turn on identity.  Russia obviously overmatches Ukraine in any sort of a tank-count.  But it is a quite different overmatch if the Russians pin the Ukranians in the 17th Century as the rebellious Zaporozhian Cossacks fighting the Tsar than if Kiev traps the Putin in the 10th Century by claiming the mantle of the Kyivskaya Rus’ against the Mongol thralls of Muscovy.  If this is the story of the Ukrainian language against the dominion of Greater Russia, then East Ukraine is properly on the Russian side of the struggle; in this story, the Ukrainians would be fighting on Russian turf until they reached Kyiv, and defections of Russophone units should be common.  Conversely, if this is about the idea that the greater Rus’ is by its nature both European and free, then command and control becomes far easier for Kyiv, and Russian supply lines in Donetsk or Khar’kov would find themselves under partisan attack.  The realist tank-count turns on the remarkably fluid identity contest.

Second, we cannot interpret many of the actions of either side without access to these texts and without the understanding that they run in parallel.  Most dramatically, the battle over the mantle of the Kievan Rus’ has profound implications over the significance of the outcome of this crisis.  If the Ukrainians can sustain the argument that descendants of the Rus’ aren’t inherently predisposed to autocracy, this immediately links to Belarus and even Russia itself.  If the Ukrainians can do so in a way that fully incorporates East Ukraine in the project, then Putin’s irredentist strategies turn back on him, and Russophone Ukrainians become a visible threat to the narrative he is advancing.

To this point, the hub of Ukrainian nationalism, Lviv, spontaneously chose to speak Russian for a day a few days ago in a show of solidarity with East Ukraine.  Donetsk, the easternmost major city in Ukraine, reciprocated by speaking Ukrainian for a day.   The now-famous Colonel Mamchur of the Ukrainian Air Force, who marched his unit back onto their base, similarly demurred from ethnic chauvinism:

“It makes no sense. I can’t even say whether I am Ukrainian or Russian – it’s not a choice any of us can really make. My wife’s Belarusian, her mother is Russian. We’ve all got relatives on both sides,” said Col Mamchur. “When all this started we got calls from friends in Moscow who were simply in shock.” “Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine are really one Slavic people,” said the Colonel. “The divisions are only formalities. Whoever gave the order for this operation set brother against brother. It’s a crazy situation.”

This is potentially far more important than naval bases and the Black Sea fleet.

Note that in the Euromaidan protests, the previous Belarusian flag flew alongside the Ukrainian flag and the EU flag, and the Ukrainians are using a Belarusian protest rock song from as an anthem.  (The lyrics are hardly ‘Winds of Change’ – the chorus goes, roughly, “Warriors of the Light.”  The band actually played for EuroMaidan last December.)  Moreover, the phrase ‘Slava Ukraina, Zhivye Belarus’ pops up fairly often in the comments section of viral videos from EuroMaidan supporters – “Glory to Ukraine, Long Live Belarus’.”  These phrases and symbols are attempting to harmonize these different eras, all in the present – a spray painted trizub symbol [photo] speaks to this idea.  At least in part, the identity challenge is intertwined with the strategic challenge; ‘who are we’ is as much a battleground as ‘what do we want.’ 

Our monochronic, rationalist, materialist foreign policy process deals well with answering the latter question.  We have a deep problem, especially when dealing with peoples adept at harmonizing polychronic time rather than sequencing monochronic moves, in dealing with the former question.  Recalling the painful market transitions of the 1990s, along with the technical economic issues, nations that synthesized liberal reforms into their national identity found the social capital to continue through difficult times.  Poland was ideologically committed to reform, and was able to persist in part because of this.  These reforms were generally presented as ‘Western,’ in contrast to a ‘traditional’ model in Russia.  Mining the past would have perhaps provided deeper national connections to these projects – it is always easier to rediscover your golden age (even if you have to update it a bit) than to accept someone else’s vision of who you should be.  Doing so requires skill and knowledge, but not a tremendous amount of cost.

Similarly, in the counter-terror world, we generally took al-Qaeda’s word for what the Caliphate looked like.  Bin Laden was no Salah ad-Din, and Zawahiri is laughably distant from an Averroes or an Avicenna.  The Caliphate was, in many ways, a customs union and an empire of trade; through this lens, Dubai is a more legitimate successor to the Caliphate than anything that al-Qaeda built in the mountains of Afghanistan.  We should have contested the past rather than agreeing to our adversary’s framing by presenting the future in its stead.  

While mastering the mechanics of polychronic time requires far more than a simple transpose, we cannot afford to be blind to the present memory of history nor deaf to the symbols through which that history is contested.  We certainly cannot afford to do so in this conflict, where history is so present in the present.  At least amongst the Rus’, the past is hardly past.

Dave Blair is an active duty officer in the United States Air Force and a PhD student at Georgetown University. The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Air Force, the DoD or the U.S. government.

Innovation Collaboration between CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell and Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport

The CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) had an opportunity to meet with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, RI in November, 2013. The CRIC is a group of 15 junior officers and enlisted in the Navy who explore the range of ideas and technologies being employed in the military, government, and commercial sector, and then experiment to see if they could be applied in the Navy. NUWC is a Department of the Navy Warfare Center, which develops and supports undersea capabilities. The objectives of the visit included building a greater understanding of operators’ concerns among scientists, engineers, and analysts at NUWC and link some of those concerns to products that could be used as potential project ideas, and provide warfighters information on technologies currently available or under development. Below, we discuss the approach and high-level results from the event.


Two separate sessions were held to generate ideas. The first was a facilitated “ideation,” or idea-generation, session in which CRIC members were interspersed with scientists, engineers, and analysts from across NUWC to brainstorm challenges and opportunities facing the undersea force. The somewhat hectic sessions produced a wide range of ideas, it also helped to develop a broader perspective about problems at various stakeholder levels before jumping into the weeds during the second session.

The second session consisted of small groups (2-3 people) of CRIC members and NUWC personnel touring some of the technical innovation underway across NUWC. These tours were structured to encourage discussion – the small groups and time available allowed for the CRIC to be easily shift between topics or delve into deeper detailed discussions based on a potential concept’s applicability. The visit was augmented for CRIC participants with visits to other NWC and NUWC groups: the Halsey Groups, Gravely Group, and Wylie Group, which helped to establish strategic context in which new ideas would be applied.

Brainstorming Results

Over the course of the event, there were a number of ideas (methods and technology solutions) that drew interest, but most intriguing were the differences in how the CRIC members and NUWC employees approached the same problem – in some ways a variation on the truism that “where you stand depends on where you sit.” CRIC members (principally junior officers and enlisted) tended to view the elementary fighting unit in the Navy as the sailor and tended to focus on solutions that centered on or leveraged human elements. They tended to seek ways to create change among people, but favored solutions that implied they had less power to create change in technical systems. On the other hand, NUWC employees tended to view the elemental fighting unit as the platform itself and tended to focus on solutions that employed systems to address problems at a higher level of warfare. From this perspective, NUWC participants’ ideas presumed an ability to easily change systems, but had little control in how these systems were used by people.

Most of the solutions identified by the CRIC focused on bio-inspired systems, autonomous systems, or systems to assist the individual operator. NUWC, on the other hand, focused on solutions for the ship or technical networking solutions (to create more of an operational-level effect). Brainstorming across these two perspectives provided a variety of responses, and also helped each group of participants better understand the perspective and strengths of the other.

Also noteworthy, when asked to vote on the ideas generated during the ideation session, CRIC and NUWC participants all tended to more heavily favor technology-based solutions.

Big Takeaways

The problems identified in the brainstorming session tended to fall into three categories: survivability, cognitive loading, and deckplate experimentation. Survivability problems dealt with improving the fleet’s performance against a capable adversary. Cognitive loading issues looked at how to increase the operator’s bandwidth to process and understand information, along with using technology to decrease the drain on the operators from stress or tasking. Deckplate experimentation problems focused on the desire to provide more opportunity for technical as well as operational experimentation onboard ships. Several times the idea of sailor-led innovation or experimentation was brought up, and that these innovations need not be material-based. Participants broadly agreed that any time a sailor tries a new way of accomplishing a task, it creates a potential for innovation. Both groups showed great interest in finding more ways to enable sailor-led innovation (with the understanding that this task is much easier said than done).

The event’s greatest benefit was the opportunity to close the gap between the warfighter and technologist, if even only a little. It is not always easy to completely understand the problems facing the warfighter or the solutions offered by the technologist. The lists of requirements and priorities are only as helpful as the understanding of their own problem. (An adage in systems analysis says the customer never understands his own problem.) The CRIC and NUWC Newport demonstrated that there is no substitute for a face-to-face exchange to help better understanding of the realm of the possible.

Christopher Kona is a warfare analyst at Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, RI. He is a member of the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC), and a former submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. He was project lead for the CRIC’s Fleet Battle School wargame project.