Featured Image: a view of Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev, Ukraine (2018). By Juan Antonio Segal, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Frederick L. Schuman (1904-1981) was the U.S. international relations scholar whose writings on the Soviet Union were important contributions in the 1950-1960s and whose birth anniversary we note on 24 February.
24 February is also the one-year anniversary of the Russian intervention in Ukraine. The “Special Military Operation ” – Russian invasion of Ukraine has created security tensions we thought were left behind with the end of the Cold War in 1991. In many ways, I have the feeling of being back to the early 1950s when I started to analyse world politics. Thus I turned back to Frederich Schuman.
The Challenge of Anarchy in World Affairs: Striving for Peace and Stability.
He sets out the broad framework. “In a world community lacking world government, and therefore afficted with anarchy in the relationships among rival sovereignties, the successive patterns of power politics which follow one another bewildering in the kaleidoscope of world affairs change rapidly and radically through time. They are never the product of the decisions of any one group of power-holders or policy-makers in any one sovereignty, but they are always the product of the confused interaction among rival policy-holders in rival sovereignties. The resulting design for power, with no one willing the result, is sometimes a design for conflict and violence, and sometimes a design for peace and stability.” (1)
I would estimate that the current pattern is a design for conflict and violence. Thus, as Citizens of the World, we have to promote policies that will lead to a design for peace and stability through negotiations in good faith. We are challenged by the tensions of this time to strive for a vision of the steps needed.
Assessing Russian Policy and Motivations: The Challenge of Negotiating a Settlement for the Ukraine Conflict.
Schuman asked the questions which again face us today. “How do the rulers of Russia behave toward the West and why do they behave the way they behave? How may we expect them to behave in the future in light of the long past and in the light of the triumphs, the tragedies, and the immense transformations of the past years? (2)
The proposals for a negotiated settlement of the Ukraine conflict will be colored by the assessments of Russian policy and especially by the evaluation of the motivations of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Certain commentators have seen the conflict as a proxy war between NATO and Russia. It is unclear how many of the NATO State leaders have a real influence in policy making on the Ukraine issue. There are some proposals being publicly presented – trial balloons as they say. We will have to see if they are shot down as was the Chinese balloon.
The Importance of Timing in Negotiations: A Historical Perspective on U.S.-Soviet Tensions.
It is certain that in situations where opinions are deeply divided, proposals for negotiations are often considered as “giving in to the other side.” In the leadup to the 1948 elections in the U.S.A. Frederick L. Schuman was a key member of the committee drafting the Platform of the newly-created Progressive Party in July 1948. Schuman wrote the foreign policy section with its emphasis on U.S.-Soviet tensions. “Responsibility for this tragic prospect of war is an American responsibility insofar as the leaders of the bipartisan foreign policy have placed monopolistic profits and military power ahead of peace in their dealings with other nations. It is a Soviet responsibility insofar as the leaders of the Soviet Union have subordinated the preservation of peace and concord to aggaradizement and power politics.”
Schuman stressed that instead of the economic Cold War, the U.S.A and the U.S.S.R. should work together, through the United Nations for world economic reconstructions and development. After demonstrating non-aggressive and humanitarian intensions, the United States and her allies should enter in good faith into negotiations with Russia and her allies, with a view to achieving a world settlement which would be in the best interests of all.
1948 was too early for such views to influence U.S. government policy. In negotiations, timing is of crucial importance.
Is the time ripe for negotiations on Ukraine?
1) Frederick L. Schuman.”Toward a World Settlement. The Half-Way House of 1954″ Talk delivered before the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 9 April 1954.
2) Frederick L. Schuman “The Cold War: Retrospect and Prospect” (Baton Rouge, LA, Louisiana State University Press, 1967).
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.