Category Archives: Foreign Policy

Supporting the Pro-Democracy Movement in Russia

Supporting the Pro-Democracy Movement in Russia
Natalia Arno, President and Founder of the Free Russia Foundation

Last week we had an opportunity to hear from Natalia Arno, the highly capable and passionate president and founder of the Free Russia Foundation (FRF). We’ve worked with FRF on two major programs in Washington, DC: the first connected political actors and activists with technology experts to see how technology could help the democracy movement in Russia; the second celebrated the results of that help by bringing in ten young, newly-elected politicians from local city councils around Moscow and elsewhere in Russia who had won elections in 2017 and 2018 despite the heavy-handed opposition of the State apparatus. We had Board members, staff, Jackson Fellows and community members in attendance, but I wish even more people could have heard Natalia describe the work that FRF is doing to promote Russian democracy. She stressed the importance of bringing people together to strategize in 2014, at a time of great political disenchantment because of the crackdown on civil society and the unlawful seizure by Russia of Crimea. Our conference allowed people to gather in a safe place and to, in her words, get re-energized and re-focused on the struggle ahead. Natalia sees a straight line from that gathering – both the public conference and the substantial private workshops to go over strategy and tactics – that led to successes in local elections in 2017 and 2018. Our second conference this past May featured the victorious democratic players and made a strong case for the power of local politics even in a politically repressive environment.

Supporting the Pro Democracy Movement in Russia 4
Newly elected Russian politicians discuss strategy at May 2018 conference.

Natalia spoke movingly of what she sees as the connection between Senator Jackson and the famous Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which tied free emigration for Soviet Jews to trading rights for the USSR with the U.S., to today’s Sergei Magnitsky Act, which penalizes corruption and human rights abuses by Russian actors through targeted sanctions. (A Global Magnitsky Act now extends to countries beyond Russia.) Free Russia Foundation’s work seeks to convey a deeper understanding of Russia’s political goals and activities at home and abroad, something unfortunately we have all become too familiar with in this brave new world.

We were one of the first foundations to support the Free Russia Foundation in 2016 and helped put it on the map. Our staff has continued to be impressed with how well they leverage our money and that of other supporters to share their stories with key players in the administration, Congress, the State Department, and with other agencies and NGOs throughout Washington.

I hope that we will continue to partner with the Free Russia Foundation, as they are a group that understands the legacy of Senator Jackson and appreciates the value that a strategic investment by the Foundation can make in promoting democratic values in Russia.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

A Conversation with Ukrainian Ambassador Valeriy Chaly

Lara and ChalyThe Jackson Foundation and the World Affairs Council of Seattle convened a high-level conversation with Ambassador Valeriy Chaly, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States before a packed room in downtown Seattle last week.  I had the opportunity to moderate the session with the Ambassador, who was forthcoming about Ukraine’s challenges – both domestic and international – over the next several months.  This conversation took place with the backdrop of Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014, an act that provoked an unusually unified response from the U.S. and its European allies in the form of sanctions against Russia.  Russia also has started an ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine that has left 10,000 Ukrainians dead and over a million more displaced from their homes.

Given that Ukraine is facing enormous economic hardship and financial crisis in the midst of the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the Ambassador was particularly appreciative of recent, high-level meetings that he had held with U.S. officials in Washington, DC about Ukraine as well as Russia.  Russia has played an aggressive, destabilizing role in current Ukraine affairs, apart from its role in bringing in arms and mercenaries to push for a separatist movement in Eastern Ukraine and the seizure of Crimea.  “Ukraine was faced with the choice of two partners when it became independent from the USSR.  Now the choice is only one – the United States.  Russia no longer provides an opportunity for partnership,” the Ambassador said.

roomAmbassador Chaly expressed his gratitude to the U.S. for its standing by Ukraine during this period, although he felt that the U.S. “did not have a vision as to where Ukraine fits within its foreign policy moving forward.”  This perhaps reflects the complex relationship with Russia and the West, and the role Moscow can still play in negotiations with Syria in particular.

Ambassador Chaly was optimistic when talking about the eventual decisions faced by European Union countries as to whether or not to continue sanctions against Russia.  “The Europeans continue to be supportive of Ukraine and I fully expect them to vote to keep the sanctions in place,” he predicted, in response to a question which noted that some European leaders have seemed anxious to resolve the sanctions issue for their own economic and political benefit.  “The European Union is also a critical partner to Ukraine at this moment,” he said.

The conversation also touched on the recent resignation of Ukraine’s finance minister, who specifically called out what he saw as the corruption endemic to the political and economic circles at the highest levels in Ukraine.  “It is not about a single person, whether he resigns or not,” Ambassador Chaly contended, noting that Ukraine has established a new anti-corruption bureau in recent days.  While European and U.S. observers are alarmed over this new development, wondering what to make of Ukraine’s commitment to reform, the Ambassador was unruffled.  “We have long-term goals and a long-term struggle,” he concluded.

He noted that he had come to Seattle in part to meet with Boeing and Microsoft executives, and also, as a reflection of the more than 60,000 Ukrainian immigrants who currently reside in the state.   In meetings with the Seattle Mayor, a possible sister-to-sister relationship with Lviv, Ukraine and Seattle was even discussed.  The interest in Ukraine was reflected in the intense audience questions which followed the formal conversation.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

 

 

 

Sanctions and Russia: Europe and the U.S. Take Stock

“Vladimir Putin is not the man we hoped he would be or we thought he would be.”  David J. Riley, 1st Secretary, foreign and security policy, British Embassy to the U.S., made this remark on a fascinating panel discussion in Seattle about Russian sanctions and the future of the U.S.-EU and Russia relationship convened by the Jackson Foundation, in partnership with the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, in early October.  William Pomeranz, deputy director of the Washington, DC-based Kennan Institute, and Nelson Dong, partner, Dorsey & Whitney, head of its National Security Law Group, also joined the panel.  I moderated the discussion, which veered toward the pessimistic, particularly in light of the very recent Russia move into the Syrian conflict.

Shot with DxO ONE
Panelists David Riley and Nelson Dong

There was considerable speculation about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motives, both in seizing Crimea and moving into Eastern Ukraine, and in the Syrian situation.  “Putin wants to show that Russia is a major international player,” Pomeranz said, and Riley agreed, adding “Putin’s isolation [due to Western sanctions] has hurt him the most.  He wants to remind everyone that he matters.”

Nelson Dong confirmed that in his assessment of the business sector, sanctions have hurt Russia considerably and noted that the policy was deliberately crafted to hit certain areas:  “The sanctions against Russia are unlike those in the past against Cuba and Iran.  The Russian sanctions are extraordinarily targeted.” His conclusion:  “Sanctions, along with reduced oil prices, have resulted in a recession in Russia.”

Will Pomeranz and Panelists
Left to Right:  Lara Iglitzin, Will Pomeranz, David Riley, and Nelson Dong

Will Pomeranz agreed that Russia has suffered internally due to its aggressive foreign policy and tied Putin’s latest moves in Syria to the worsening economic situation in Russia: “With the growing economic recession, there is a need to distract public attention away from that issue.  On television, the government is showing all Syria, all the time” in a deliberate policy to change the conversation.

Pomeranz and Riley, when asked about the possibility of a split between the EU and the U.S. on Russia policy, agreed that, as Pomeranz said, “Putin is the great unifier – he has unified the EU in their actions to undertake sanctions against Russia; he has unified what is left of the Ukraine against him.  Even in the halls of Congress Putin has caused unity!”

There was a clear consensus that Putin had caused the West to rethink its relationship with Russia, moving from a view of Moscow as a strategic partner to that of a “strategic competitor,” in Riley’s words.  The increasing crackdown on civil society in Russia, something that the Jackson Foundation has been closely monitoring in the human rights and NGO sector there, provides the backdrop for the uptick in tensions between the U.S., Europe and Russia moving forward.

This will be one of several events this year that the Jackson Foundation will convene in Seattle relating to heightened concerns about Russia’s behavior at home and abroad.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

 

Honoring Professor Kenneth B. Pyle

Kenneth Pyle webOur culture celebrates our sports heroes – from Michael Jordan to Derek Jeter to Kobe Bryant.  We marvel at their ability to play on, through pain and years, achieving fame and success.  Few of us have had the opportunity to publicly celebrate the careers of other, less famous giants in their fields.  I’m delighted to cast the spotlight on one such unsung hero, Professor Kenneth B. Pyle, longtime historian and teacher at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies.  Ken – retiring after 51 consecutive years of teaching, which certainly qualifies him for MVP – has won numerous teaching awards over the years.  Equally important, he’s touched the lives and shaped the scholarship of thousands of young minds at the University.  His students speak of him fondly, whether they now serve in the State Department or teach at other universities around the nation.

I’ve had the good fortune to have had Dr. Pyle on the Jackson Foundation Board of Governors during my tenure on the staff.  He was a founding member of our Board, having forged a close alliance with Senator Jackson in the days when Ken headed what was to become the Jackson School, and Jackson sought Ken out for advice on China and U.S. foreign policy toward Asia.  Ken has spoken movingly of that seminal relationship, which began with Senator Jackson dropping by Ken’s office at the U.W. and peppering him with questions for two hours.  Jackson and Pyle shared a concern that there was a national shortage of people who truly understood the workings of Asian and Slavic countries, and both believed that an immersion in the study of these areas was critical to achieve an understanding in U.S.-China and U.S.-Soviet relations.  From that moment forward, Scoop and Ken collaborated – in enhancing international studies at the University, in traveling to China together in the early days of détente with China, and in mentoring young students.

Anne & Kenneth Pyle Professorship

We at the Jackson Foundation value the role that Professor Pyle has played at the Jackson School and at the University of Washington for the past 50-plus years.  We were delighted to name a recent professorship at the Jackson School in American foreign policy in honor of Anne H. H. and Kenneth B. Pyle out of respect and recognition of Ken’s major achievements in his field and his leadership of the Jackson School, and of his wife Anne’s integral partnership with Ken in that success.At the end of this month, there will be a public program to celebrate the career of Ken Pyle.  We invite you to join us for this substantive program, featuring distinguished professor T.J. Pempel, University of California Berkeley, and many top-level colleagues from the Jackson School.

Congratulations, Ken.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Sanctions as a Tool of American Foreign Policy: Do They Work?

The Jackson Foundation and the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute jointly sponsored a timely conference last week in Washington, D.C., focused on sanctions as a tool of American foreign policy:  Do they work?  Why are some sanctions more effective than others?  When do they fail?  What are the unintended consequences of sanctions policies?  The conference brought some rigor to often politicized discussions about sanctions.  Speakers assessed sanctions from a historical perspective in an effort to determine what has been effective and why.  Panelists then explored current-day dilemmas facing Congress and the Executive Branch – specifically, Iran, Russia, and Cuba.

Ambassador Daniel Fried

A few themes emerged.  One, voiced by Ambassador Daniel Fried, Coordinator for Sanctions Policy at the U.S. Department of State in his keynote address and echoed by others throughout the day, is that multilateral sanctions offer the most effective policy.  Working together in coordination with other nations is the best recipe for success – with U.N. Security Council sanctions as the “gold star” of sanctions policy.  When the U.S. and Europe joined together to sanction Russia for its Ukraine aggression, for example, that policy had a better chance of hitting the desired target.  Least effective, on the other hand, are unilateral sanctions – think U.S. sanctions on Cuba.

Second, sanctions historically don’t work well when aimed at regime change or at an authoritarian government.  Those sanctions tend to spur a popular backlash in the country being sanctioned.  On a panel I moderated that took a historical look at sanctions, Daniel Drezner of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University called this “rallying around the flag.”  And Ted Henken, of Baruch College, CUNY, a specialist on Cuba, quoted Raul Castro to this effect, “The more you punch us and kick us, mas revolucion,” he said.  “Instead of promoting human rights and weakening the government, sanctions on Cuba have done the opposite,” Henken concluded.

Lara Iglitzin, Daniel Drezner, George Lopez, Ted Henken
Lara Iglitzin, Daniel Drezner, George Lopez, Ted Henken

Finally, the conference explored the popularity today of so-called “smart sanctions,” which target financial services as well as specific industries and individuals closely tied with the sanctioned government.  According to Ambassador Fried, “Sanctions should hit where they have the right balance of impact: hit the target of sanctions, not us and our friends.”  Richard Perle of the American Enterprise Institute and a Jackson Foundation Board member said that “smart sanctions are possible in a way they never could be before” and argued that “they had undoubtedly driven the Iranians to the negotiating table.”

Panel
Mark Gitenstein, Meg Lundsager, Richard Perle

As John Hempelmann, Foundation president, said in his opening remarks, “the issue of sanctions holds special resonance for the Jackson Foundation, given the historic Jackson-Vanik Amendment.  That legislation provided a new approach to foreign policy that explicitly linked America’s human rights ideals with economic relations through targeted sanctions on the USSR.”  It also gave the sanctioned party a very clear path of what it could do to get sanctions lifted.  Forty years later, we heard that sanctions with a very clear policy goal – and incentives to get them removed – will be the most likely to succeed.

John Hempelmann
John Hempelmann

Following the event the Wilson Center conducted interviews with some of the panelists on their perspectives on sanctions.  View them here.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director