Assessment of Nationalism in Bosnia and its Ramifications for Foreign Intervention

Editor’s Note: This article is the result of a partnership between Divergent Options and a course on nationalism at the George Washington University.


Chanson Benjamin recently enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve as a Psychological Operations Specialist.  He is currently an undergraduate student at The George Washington University.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.


Title:  Assessment of Nationalism in Bosnia and its Ramifications for Foreign Intervention

Date Originally Written:  August 10, 2019.

Date Originally Published:  September 12, 2019.

Author and / or Article Point of View:  The author recently enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve. This article is written from the point of view of America towards the Balkans while taking into account other nation building campaigns. 

Summary:  Nationalism is a relevant political force, especially in the Balkans. Under President Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia was one nation. Since Tito’s death, ethnic differences, exacerbated by the U.S.-facilitated Dayton Accords, have split the country. These ethnic divisions suggest that nationalist sentiment cannot be replaced immediately with liberal democratic structures but that said structures need to be built up in tandem with economic support. 

Text:  Nationalism is relevant. There is no consensus on what exactly it is, but it is a force that influences, intentionally or otherwise, political discourse and action. It affects the nation, an equally vague term defining some subset of humanity with characteristics made salient by their presence or lack thereof in non-nationals. Nationalism provides a motivator for people to act in a way that subsumes personal identity and interests to those of the collective nation. Nationalism provides an opportunity for collective action by defining an associated identity that the actors can emotionally invest in. This collective action can be harnessed by different groups, but it is first and foremost an opportunity to build up effective, stable states[1]. 

In the Balkans, especially Bosnia-Herzegovina, nationalism is especially relevant because of the current political situation and the history that preceded it. The country is split into two political entities: the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The former consists mainly of ethnic Serbs while the latter is mostly Croats and Bosniaks. All are Bosnians, reflecting their status as citizens, but many Serbian and Croatian Bosnians feel an ethnic identity linked to the neighboring countries of Serbia and Croatia. The internal political situation is split along these lines, both in terms of parties and in official state structures; for example, the presidency has three members[2].

For much of the Cold War, the country was ruled as part of Yugoslavia by Josip Broz Tito, a Communist strongman. He built up a Yugoslavian national identity based on past glories and a cult of personality. Self-liberation in World War 2 and rejection of Soviet influence in favor of his nationally-oriented socialism were things Yugoslavians could be proud of and invest in simply by having the national identity of Yugoslavia. Tito did not appeal to any of the shared cultural traditions of Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats because he was more interested in securing his own power than intentionally developing the nation, but by forcibly removing any opposition he ended up unintentionally doing exactly that[3][4].

Tito’s nationalism benefited the people of Yugoslavia by bringing them together as one nation without ethnic violence, and many former citizens still cherish the memory of Tito because of this[5]. Nationalism, by relying on identity markers common across ethnic groups, could bridge the literal Balkanization of the region to create one nation, stable under Tito. This nationalism was dependent on Tito as the face and guarantor of Yugoslavian national identity, so it died with him. However, when he was alive the genuine nationalism he unintentionally cultivated provided a basis for unified collective action and stability. 

After Yugoslavia broke up, the Balkans fell into ethno-nationalist conflict. To stop the violence, American diplomats took leaders from all three sides to Dayton, Ohio where they produced the Dayton Accords: a peace treaty that would define the political structure of modern Bosnia-Herzegovina. By defining the nations as reflective of ethnic identities, the agreement implicitly says nationalism as a motivating force will only act upon ethnic identity rather than one Bosnian identity. There is no Bosnian nationalism under Dayton, because there is no Bosnian nation[6].

The intention was to give ethnicity a role in society somewhere between Titoist repression and the violence that followed it and allow for the controlled venting of ethnic tensions. However, the result of the Dayton Accords is that the three most popular political parties are ethnically defined[7]. Furthermore, the history of the Bosnian War means venting will always have a subtext of real violence. The Bosnian society produced by Dayton is almost too fragmented to function, and nationalism only creates opportunities for dividing the country and promoting instability based on existing ethnic divides. 

Comparing Yugoslavia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, it is apparent that if nationalism is to grant opportunities for stability, a constitutive story must be implemented that unifies all citizens behind a controlled and abstract concept of nationhood. This means there must be some myth, real or imagined, which becomes an important identity marker for nationals. The treatment of ethnicity in the Dayton Accords precludes these identity markers. Nation-building means offering a set of identity markers that have emotional value. Dictators like Tito offer these by definition. Support of the military conjures up imagery of success on the battlefield, incentivizing citizens to buy into the idea of the nation in order to view themselves as winners. Authoritarian rule is perpetuated through a form of selection bias: those who do not buy into the nation are less likely to remain alive. Finally, the dictator serves as a symbol of the nation, seen as a tangible embodiment of all people who are nationals. Lacking this cultivated nationalism, people in an area will fall victim to ethnic or other differences as they did in Yugoslavia and Bosnia after Tito died.

Building a nation in the vacuum left by the fall of an authoritarian dictator demands actively fulfilling national identity markers while effectively promoting economic success. Otherwise, the people of a country will fall into Balkanized nationalist divides based on previously suppressed identity markers, like ethnicity after Tito died. A toppled dictator cannot be replaced by democratic institutions meant to determine who will rule the nation without the cultivation of the nation itself, as an entity congruent with the state and superseding other sub-national cleavages. A dictator can only be replaced by a new and wholeheartedly national identity and the improvement of economic conditions, from which liberal democracy can then arise. 

A nation needs some seed from which its identity grows. World War 2 provided an excellent opportunity for Tito to build up his own myth along with that of Yugoslavia; the Bosnian War and the Dayton Accords both built up national myths of three nations in Bosnia. Once this myth has been identified or manufactured, nationalism provides an opportunity for stability through collective action and through an emotional awareness that a citizen has a national identity shared with all nationals, congruent with a state, and separate from all non-nationals.


Endnotes:

[1] Hechter, M. (2010). Containing Nationalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[2] Hajdari, U., & Colborne, M. (2018, October 12). Why Ethnic Nationalism Still Rules Bosnia, and Why It Could Get Worse. Retrieved August 10, 2019 from https://www.thenation.com/article/why-ethnic-nationalism-still-rules-bosnia-and-why-it-could-get-worse/

[3] Djilas, Aleksa. (1995, July/August). Tito’s Last Secret: How Did He Keep the Yugoslavs Together? Retrieved August 10, 2019 from https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/review-essay/1995-07-01/titos-last-secret 

[4] Gellner, Ernst. (2006). Nations and Nationalism. Cornell: Cornell University Press.

[5] Synovitz, Ron. (2010, May 4). Thirty Years After Tito’s Death, Yugoslav Nostalgia Abounds. Retrieved August 10, 2019 from https://www.rferl.org/a/Thirty_Years_After_Titos_Death_Yugoslav_Nostalgia_Abounds_/2031874.html 

[6] Hajdari, U., & Colborne, M. (2018, October 12). Why Ethnic Nationalism Still Rules Bosnia, and Why It Could Get Worse. Retrieved August 10, 2019 from https://www.thenation.com/article/why-ethnic-nationalism-still-rules-bosnia-and-why-it-could-get-worse/

[7] (2018, September 4). Key political parties. Retrieved August 10, 2019 from https://balkaninsight.com/2018/09/24/key-political-parties-09-21-2018/ 

Bosnia Chanson Benjamin Nationalism Option Papers

Assessment of the European Intervention Initiative and Overcoming Nationalist Barriers

Editor’s Note: This article is the result of a partnership between Divergent Options and a course on nationalism at the George Washington University.


David Perron is a recent graduate of The George Washington University, with a B.A. in International Affairs and concentration in international economics.  His interests lie in the intersection of international relations and private enterprises, and regionally in France and the European Union.  He can be found at https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-perron/. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.


Title:  Assessment of the European Intervention Initiative and Overcoming Nationalist Barriers

Date Originally Written:  August 10, 2019.

Date Originally Published:  September 6, 2019.

Author and / or Article Point of View:  This article examines the European Intervention Initiative (EI2) within the long-term goals and vision of French president Emmanuel Macron: that EI2 would lead to a “real European army,” which would increase security and foreign policy-making capabilities for the continent. 

Summary:  EI2 is a proposed joint-European military force which would protect European security interests abroad. Member states would benefit from increased power projection capabilities which would enhance collective security and reduce military reliance on the U.S. However, nationalism may pose risks to future EI2 membership and its long-term durability.

Text:  French President Emmanuel Macron has become a leading supporter of the European Intervention Initiative (EI2). EI2 will be a joint military force which would deploy forces abroad in response to European security interests. Work on EI2 began in response to threats posed by Russia after their 2014 annexation of Crimea. EI2 has been further catalyzed due to recent uncertainty in European Union (EU)-U.S. relations. EI2’s official objective is to “develop a shared strategic culture, which will enhance our ability, as European states, to carry out military missions and operations under the framework of the EU, NATO, the UN and/or ad hoc coalition[1].” However, Macron has publicly stated that he envisions a “real European army” which would remove the continent’s security dependence on the U.S.[2].

EI2 would create European joint operations, which could involve the use of military forces outside of Europe, in both combat and non-combat operations. EI2 is intended to increase the security of its member states while maximizing their total military resources. For Macron, and other EI2 proponents, the long-term strategic benefits would be vast. Europe would not only have greater collective security, but it would gain a powerful option in its foreign-policy toolkit. EI2 would secure Europe’s long-term position against rising actors such as Russia, China, and transnational terrorist groups.

But EI2’s goals also imply that member states will lose some level of sovereignty with regards to use of their military forces. Similar characteristics can be observed in the integration policies of the EU. EU members give up some sovereignty in exchange for greater social, economic, or political benefits. This surrendering of sovereignty has led to backlash from populist movements, with right-wing nationalist movements calling for the dissolution of the EU. The consequences of such backlash have been increased political division and economic uncertainty, such as in the case of Brexit. But in other cases, the surrendering of sovereignty has led to violence, as seen in the Yellow Vest protests in France. The areas that nationalist-populist groups in Europe contest include immigration, culture, and security[3]. These protested areas are issues in national identity, and the link between what the national unit is and what the state is. These are subjects which are inherently national. 

Conflicts with European integration policies have created national sentiment. As scholar Ernest Gellner states in Nations and Nationalism, “nationalist sentiment is the feeling of anger aroused by the violation of the principle, or the feeling of satisfaction aroused by its fulfilment[4].” The principal nationalist violation which arises from European integration policies is that of political rule. Nationalist sentiment can arise “if the rulers of the political unit belong to a nation other than that of the majority ruled[5].” In this case, sentiment will arise when the EI2, as a supranational institution governed by people who are not all members of the nation, make decisions which are perceived as either neglecting or hurting the nation. The world should expect a positive relationship between the increase in military cooperation and reactionary nationalist sentiment in EI2 member states.

National sentiment would challenge the development and durability of EI2. States will need to be convinced to set aside some sovereignty and national interests as EI2 integration continues. Furthermore, Brexit and the rise of nationalist-populist political parties have shown that European integration can be fragile. Thus, the durability of EI2 will continue to be contested by certain groups within member states. This is an area Russia can continue to exploit to destabilize European nations. If Macron and other EI2 proponents want the initiative to be successful, they will need to address nationalist sentiments through accommodation or construction.

There have already been some concerns voiced over EI2, as Germany has signaled a reluctance to take a part in “unnecessary military adventures” led by French foreign interests[6]. France’s foreign interventions have been largely related to its former colonies. Meanwhile, Germany’s memories of the World Wars have made them cautious of military operations. The different foreign policy focuses of France and Germany are guided by their distinct constitutive stories. From a constructivist view, these are stories which shape national identity. As Rogers M. Smith states, constitutive stories typically have three features: (1) they are intrinsically normative, (2) explain the importance of membership in the nation, and (3) are “less subject to tangible evidence than economic or political power stories[7].” Each member of EI2 has a distinct constitutive story, recurrent in their politics and culture, and distributed through mass-schooling and social traditions. Currently, the way that EI2 has been drafted has accommodated these differing stories by making compromises in its policies.

But another possibility which may be pursued is to change the construct of nationality. An important element of this change will be to alter Europe’s constitutive story, just as the EU is attempting to. This change is implied within the first part of the EI2 objective statement: “The ultimate objective of EI2 is to develop a shared strategic culture[8].”  The EU, for example, emphasizes values such as pluralism, secularism, and suffrage as preconditions to acceptance and profiting from various economic and political agreements. These are values which deemphasize Europe’s historical legacies of feudalism, non-secularism, and authoritarianism. This EI2 “strategic culture” could create a shared constitutive story which unifies members under a new narrative thereby defining when intervention is morally correct and what its benefits are, beyond strictly political or economic terms. If all EI2 members accept and recirculate this story, it could create popular support for the project, increasing membership in EI2 and make it more durable.

For Macron, nationalism presents a great barrier to EI2 and his aspirations for a “real European army.” For EI2 to work, it must transcend barriers created by distinct constitutive stories. EI2 will either develop in a manner which reduces nationalist sentiments by accommodating each nation’s unique demands, or leaders will change the constitutive story all together. If these nationalist barriers are overcome, the payoff would be a more secure, more capable, and more unified Europe.


Endnotes:

[1] Ministère des Armées. (2018). Letter of Intent Between Defense Ministers of Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom Concerning the Development of the European Intervention Initiative (EI2). Paris, FR: Author.

[2] Europe 1. (2018, November 26). Emmanuel Macron: son interview par Nikos Aliagas sur Europe 1 (INTEGRALE) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ilggBgh8Lhw

[3] Gramlich, J., & Simmons, K. (2018). 5 key takeaways about populism and the political landscape in Western Europe. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: https://pewrsr.ch/2N6j8cx

[4] Gellner, E. (1983). Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

[5] Gellner, E. (1983). Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

[6] Sanders, L. (2018). Germany cautious as France leads European defense initiative. DW News. Retrieved from: https://p.dw.com/p/37r61

[7] Smith, R. M. (2001). Citizenship and the Politics of People-Building. Citizenship Studies, 5(1), 73-96.

[8] Ministère des Armées. (2018). Letter of Intent Between Defense Ministers of Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom Concerning the Development of the European Intervention Initiative (EI2). Paris, FR: Author.

Allies & Partners Assessment Papers David Perron Europe European Union France Nationalism

Assessment of the Inclusiveness of American Nationalism

Editor’s Note:  This article is the result of a partnership between Divergent Options and a course on nationalism at the George Washington University.


George Taboada has worked in the 19th District New Jersey State Legislative Office in the United States of America.  He currently is an undergraduate student at The George Washington University.  He can be reached at gleetaboada@gmail.com.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.


Title:  Assessment of the Inclusiveness of American Nationalism

Date Originally Written:  August 9, 2019.

Date Originally Published:  August 19, 2019.

Author and / or Article Point of View:  The author is a grandchild of Cuban immigrants to the United States of America. He believes that progressive political action (anti-discrimination, improved access to healthcare, debt-relief, etc.) is necessary to form a truly democratic society in the USA. 

Summary:  The rise of far-right terrorism in the United States is bringing the question of who and what constitutes the American nation to the forefront of public consciousness. If Americans fail to write their own history as one of inclusion rather than exclusion, violence and ostracization will continue.

Text:  In the wake of two mass shootings and the new surge in far-right terrorism, Americans peer further and further into the belly of the beast that is their nation. What has been statistically clear has slowly drilled itself into the center of the public consciousness: most terrorist attacks in the United States are perpetrated by domestic far right elements rather than Islamist actors. Between 2009 and 2018, 73.3% of murders related to extremist political ideologies were committed by those on the right-wing[1]. The names of innocent communities such as Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, and Parkland have become synonymous with fascist violence. The United States as a whole is beginning to garner a similar dark reputation; Uruguay and Venezuela joined an already expansive list of countries that issue travel warnings to citizens visiting the US due to white supremacist and gun violence[2]. 

It is no coincidence that Jill Lepore published her article “A New Americanism” in the midst of a very old kind of American violence. Indeed, she writes that the conflict between egalitarian and ethnocentric forces “was a struggle over two competing ideas of the nation-state. This struggle has never ended; it has just moved around[3].” In this, Lepore explores a framework of understanding American history that is most condensed in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Alexander describes an America where successive generations “have not ended racial caste in America… but… merely redesigned it.” The slavery, the lynching, the segregation, the poverty, and the police brutality inflicted upon African Americans are not separate systems, but rather the same perpetual phenomenon that is modified to make their suffering palatable to the white majority[4]. At the essence of both of these arguments are the questions that floats through the minds of Americans after the terror and sorrow of a brutal hate crime subsides. Who are we and how much more are we willing to tolerate fascist violence?

There are new factors in this current discourse, but it is also retreading themes of classical literature on nationalism. In fact, Jill Lepore cites Ernest Renan’s defining work, “What is a Nation?[5].” According to Renan, nationalist ideology “presupposes a past but is reiterated in the present by a tangible fact: consent, the clearly expressed desire to continue a common life[6].” Despite the myths of great men being the writers of history, the core dynamic of nationalism is in the hands of anyone who reads, writes, and reforms it. The discourse that defines the nation occurs not just in Congress, but in classrooms, in cafes, in homes, and in the street. Renan’s theory of nationalism is at its core democratic; in the “daily plebiscite,” the people themselves give the nation substance by supporting it and participating in its reformations.

However, republics are vulnerable to those who participate in their institutions with the intent to destroy the values that define and defend democracy. The danger of democratic backsliding is that those who are assaulting human rights do so while wrapping their language in the rhetoric used by those trying to defend it. White supremacists have a long history of doing just that. Leading Nazi figure Joseph Goebbels wrote, “We enter the Reichstag to arm ourselves with democracy’s weapons. If democracy is foolish enough to give us free railway passes and salaries, that is its problem… We are coming neither as friends or neutrals. We come as enemies! As the wolf attacks the sheep, so come we[7].”

This “boots for suits” tactic is not a foreign phenomenon; Lepore and Alexander have both chronicled its centrality to the American republic. The Confederate government formalized white supremacy by writing it into their constitution[8]. Alexander traces the family history of Jarvious Cotton, an American man. Time and time again, the Cottons are denied the fundamental ability to participate in Renan’s daily plebiscite: the ballot. Either through legal restrictions or through real physical violence. The slave-owner, the Klansman, and the police beat black people out of the discourse; constitutions, Jim Crow, and laws make the public feel as though that abuse is justified[9].

Beyond the question an American may ask themselves regarding who they are and how much longer they are willing to tolerate fascist violence lies another question: How much longer should we wait to end fascist ostracization? There is only one answer: immediately. But answering that question has eluded Americans of all kinds for over four centuries. The United States’ constitutive story as a nation is one that promises people freedom and viciously excludes wide swaths of humanity from those inalienable rights. To academicize the question of, “Who are we?”, the author posits, “How do we include people in a constitutive story written to specifically exclude them?”

Without a truly democratic daily plebiscite, those who are victimized by far-right violence will continue to be pushed to the margins of American society. To counter disenfranchisement, a discursive space where all are able to contribute to the building of the nation is necessary. However, open discourse about the nation’s path cannot exist as long as people who seek to raze it to the ground are afforded the same privileges as those who seek to enrich it. Without safeguards that prevent those who target the most vulnerable in society from disenfranchising them, marginalization will persist.

By including the experiences of other nations in the fight for liberation, Americans can further shatter the illusion of a racial ethnostate. Americans can find answers to their soul-searching in a wide range of countries and societies. There is already a prolific literature comparing denazification in Germany to American Reconstruction after the Civil War. From Germans, Americans can learn how to secure justice after a civilizational crime[10]. Another example is the progress of LGBTQ+ rights in Cuba. After the Revolution succeeded in 1959, Cuba was the second country in the world to establish marriage as a strictly heterosexual institution. Since the turn of the century, Cuban society has been more inclusive and more proactive towards achieving LGBTQ+ equality. Those LGBTQ+ who were once violently excluded from the foundation of the Cuban nation were able to write themselves into the Revolution and make it their own. 

To conclude, if Americans fail to write their own stories, those who carry the torches of Klansmen will gladly pick up the pen.


Endnotes:

[1] Anti-Defamation League (2019). Murder and Extremism in the United State in 2018. ADL. 

[2] Hu, Caitlin (2019, August 10). What they really think: America seen through the world’s travel warnings. CNN.

[3] Lepore, Jill (March/April 2019). A New Americanism. Foreign Affairs, 98.

[4] Alexander, M. (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York: New Press.

[6] Renan, Ernest (1882, March 11) What is a Nation? text of a conference delivered at the Sorbonne on, in Ernest Renan, Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?, Paris, Presses-Pocket, 1992. (translated by Ethan Rundell).

[7] Goebbels, Joseph (1935) Aufsätze aus der Kampfzeit. Der Angriff, pp. 71-73.

[8] Lepore, Jill (March/April 2019). A New Americanism. Foreign Affairs, 98.

[9] Alexander, M. (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York: New Press.

[10] Neiman, Susan (2013, August 12). History and guilt: Can America face up to the terrible reality of slavery in the way that Germany has faced up to the Holocaust? Aeon.

[11] De Llano, Pablo (2018, July 23). After decades of homophobia, Cuba closer to allowing same-sex marriage. El País.

Assessment Papers George Taboada Human Rights / Universal Rights Nationalism United States

Assessment of the Effects of Chinese Nationalism on China’s Foreign Policy

Adam Ni is a China researcher at the the Department of Security Studies and Criminology at Macquarie University in Sydney. He can be found on his personal website here or on Twitter. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.


Title:  Assessment of the Effects of Chinese Nationalism on China’s Foreign Policy

Date Originally Written:  April 15, 2019.

Date Originally Published:  June 10, 2019.

Summary:  Chinese nationalism can affect Beijing’s foreign policy deliberations through: 1) framing narratives and debates; 2) restricting Beijing’s foreign policy options; and 3) providing justifications for Chinese actions and/or leverages in negotiations. However, the effects of popular nationalism on foreign policy outcomes may not be significant. 

Text:  Chinese nationalism today is rooted in narratives of China’s past humiliations and weaknesses, present day revival, and aspirations for national rejuvenation. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) actively tries to shape nationalist discourses to bolster its popular legitimacy. State-led nationalism attempts to cast Chinese foreign policy in a positive light, and to prevent discontent on foreign policy issues from kindling widespread criticism of the Chinese government for its perceived weaknesses and inability to uphold Chinese interests and dignity.

The rise of Chinese nationalism is often seen as a cause of China’s increasing assertive foreign policy, including its approach to territorial disputes. The argument is quite simple: China is becoming richer and more powerful, and as a result its citizens are more proud, and this is reflected in China’s new-found confidence. Despite the simple and intuitive appeal of this line of reasoning, the empirical evidence is unclear[1]. Putting aside the complexity of defining Chinese nationalism in the first place, it is unclear that Chinese nationalism is in fact rising. Indeed, there are trends that may be working against rising nationalism, including increased exposure to foreign peoples and cultures due to economic globalization, and improved education.

Despite the lack of clarity regarding Chinese nationalism,  there is evidence that Chinese public opinion is generally hawkish[2]. The Chinese support greater defense spending and using armed forces to deal with territorial disputes, such as these in the East and South China Seas. They also see U.S. military presence in Asia as a threat. Generally speaking, younger Chinese hold more hawkish views than their parents.

Given these hawkish views, and even if assuming Chinese nationalism have risen over recent years, it does not necessarily follow that popular sentiments have a major effect on Chinese foreign policy. One study looking at China’s foreign policy in the South and East China Seas since 2007, for example, found that popular nationalism had minimal effects on China’s assertive turn[3]. Indeed, other factors may be more important in Beijing’s foreign policy deliberations, including strategic considerations and preferences of top Chinese leaders.

The current international environment makes caution all the more important in China’s foreign policy-making. The intensifying strategic competition between the U.S. and China, and the increasing wariness with which countries around the world are viewing China’s growing power, makes China adopting nationalist prescriptions to its international challenges all the more risky.

In addition, China’s authoritarian political system arguably better insulates foreign policy making from public opinion than liberal democracies. For one, the ruling CCP does not face public elections. In fact, the Chinese government has at its disposal a range of powerful tools to shape public opinion, and if need be, shut down public debates. This include powerful state media and censorship systems, and the ability to silence dissent with swift and harsh efficiency.

Another difficulty in linking popular nationalistic sentiments to foreign policy outcomes is that Chinese nationalism gives rise to all kinds of foreign policy prescriptions, including contradictory ones. For example, nationalist discourses can prescribe a cautious approach to China’s international relations that focus on keeping a low profile, instead of advocating a confrontational approach.

Despite the difficulties in conceptualizing and measuring Chinese nationalism, there are a number of ways in which public opinion can affect China’s foreign policy. First, popular nationalist narratives, such as ones based on China’s past humiliations at the hands of encroaching foreign powers, frame and color contemporary foreign policy debates. In fact, a mentality of victimhood makes China more likely to react with a sense of grievance and moral righteousness to perceived slights to its dignity.

Second, Beijing’s spectrum of foreign policy options are constrained by popular sentiments. Perceived weakness and inability to defend China’s interests and dignity is costly for the Chinese government and leaders. The CCP have long feared that popular discontent on international issues could kindle widespread criticism directed at the Chinese government. Moreover, Chinese leaders are keen to appear tough on international issues to the domestic audience lest they weaken their position in the party system vis-à-vis their internal rivals.

Third, domestic pressures are sometimes used as justifications for Chinese actions or leverages in negotiations. Chinese leaders, for example, have attributed China’s more assertive stance in the South China Sea to the hardening of popular opinion[4]. Appeals to domestic pressures driven by nationalistic sentiments do play a role in China’s foreign policy. Whether these purported pressures are real or not is another question all together.

The above analyses indicate that Chinese nationalism could affect China’s foreign policy in a number of ways despite the difficulties of working out precisely how much popular sentiments influence Beijing’s foreign policy deliberations. This inability to measure influence is complicated by the fact that China’s authoritarian system enables the CCP to shape public debates in a way that would be impossible in liberal democracies. The lines between state-led and popular nationalism are blurry at the best of times.

Lastly, understanding nationalist discourses in China is still important for analysing Chinese foreign policy because it provides the domestic context for China’s international actions. There is little doubt that nationalist discourses in China will continue to exert an important influence on Chinese perceptions of its national past and aspirations for the future.


Endnotes:

[1] Alastair Iain Johnston, “Is Chinese Nationalism Rising? Evidence from Beijing,” International Security, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Winter 2016/17), 7-43. Available at: https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/ISEC_a_00265.

[2] Jessica Chen Weiss, “How Hawkish Is the Chinese Public? Another Look at “Rising Nationalism” and Chinese Foreign Policy,” Journal of Contemporary China, published online March 7, 2019. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10670564.2019.1580427.

[3] Andrew Chubb, “Assessing public opinion’s influence on foreign policy: the case of China’s assertive maritime behavior,” Asian Security, published online March 7, 2018. See https://doi.org/10.1080/14799855.2018.1437723.

[4] Ying Fu and Shicun Wu, “South China Sea: How We Got to This Stage,” The National Interest, May 9, 2016. Available at: https://nationalinterest.org/feature/south-china-sea-how-we-got-stage-16118.

 

Adam Ni Assessment Papers China (People's Republic of China) Nationalism

Assessment of the Threat of Nationalism to the State Power of Democracies in the Information Age

James P. Micciche is an Active Component U.S. Army Civil Affairs Officer with deployment and service experience in the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan, Europe, and Indo-Pacific.  He is currently a Master’s candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.


Title:  Assessment of the Threat of Nationalism to the State Power of Democracies in the Information Age

Date Originally Written:  April 9, 2019.

Date Originally Published:  May 20, 2019.

Summary:  Historically, both scholars and political leaders have viewed nationalism as an advantageous construct that enhanced a state’s ability to both act and exert power within the international system.  Contrary to historic precedence, nationalism now represents a potential threat to the ability of modern democracies to project and exercise power due to demographic trends, globalized economies, and the information age. 

Text:  At its very core a nation is a collection of individuals who have come together through common interest, culture, or history, ceding a part of their rights and power to representatives through social compact, to purse safety and survival against the unknown of anarchy.  Therefore, a nation is its population, and its population is one measure of its overall power relative to other nations.  Academics and policy makers alike have long viewed nationalism as a mechanism that provides states an advantage in galvanizing domestic support to achieve international objectives, increasing comparative power, and reducing the potential impediment of domestic factors within a two-level game.  Globalization, the dawn of the information age, and transitioning demographics have fundamentally reversed the effects of nationalism on state power with the concept now representing a potential threat to both domestic stability and relative power of modern democracies. 

Looking beyond the material facets of population such as size, demographic trends, and geographic distribution, Hans Morgenthau identifies both “National Character” and “National Morale” as key elements of a nation’s ability to exert power. Morgenthau explains the relationship between population and power as “Whenever deep dissensions tear a people apart, the popular support that can be mustered for a foreign policy will always be precarious and will be actually small if the success or failure of the foreign policy has a direct bearing upon the issue of domestic struggle[1].  Historically, scholars have highlighted the role nationalism played in the creation and early expansion of the modern state system as European peoples began uniting under common identities and cultures and states utilized nationalism to solidify domestic support endowing them greater autonomy and power to act within the international system[2].  As globalization and the international movement of labor has made western nations ethnically more diverse, nationalism no longer functions as the traditional instrument of state power that was prevalent in periods where relatively homogenous states were the international norm.  

Key to understanding nationalism and the reversal of its role in state power is how it not only differs from the concept of patriotism but that the two constructs are incompatible within the modern paradigm of many industrialized nations that contain ever-growing heterogeneous populations.  Walker Connor described patriotism as “an emotional attachment to one’s state or country and its political institutions” and nationalism as “an attachment to ones people[3].”  A contemporary manifestation of this concept was the rise of Scottish Nationalism during the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum that was in direct opposition to the greater state of the United Kingdom (patriotism) leading to the prospective loss of British power.  Furthermore, the term nationalism both conceptually and operationally requires a preceding adjective that describes a specific subset of individuals within a given population that have common cause, history, or heritage and are often not restricted to national descriptors. Historically these commonalities have occurred along ethnic or religious variations such as white, Hindu, Arab, Jewish, or black in which individuals within an in-group have assembled to pursue specific interests and agendas regardless of the state(s) in which they reside, with many such groups wishing to create nations from existing powers, such as Québécois or the Scots.  

The idea that industrialized nations in 2019 remain relatively homogenous constructs is a long outdated model that perpetuates the fallacy that nationalism is a productive tool for democratic states.  The average proportion of foreign-born individuals living in a given European country is 11.3% of the total population, Germany a major economic power and key NATO ally exceeds 15%[4].   Similar trends remain constant in the U.S., Canada, and Australia that have long histories of immigrant populations and as of 2015 14% of the U.S. population was foreign-born[5].    Furthermore, projections forecast that by 2045 white Americans will encompass less than 50% of the total population due to a combination of immigration, interracial marriages, and higher minority birth rates[6].  The aforementioned transitions are byproducts of a modern globalized economy as fertility rates within Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations have dropped below replacement thresholds of 2.1[7] the demand for labor remains.

One of the central components of the information age is metadata. As individuals navigate the World Wide Web, build social networks, and participate in e-commerce their personal attributes and trends transform into storable data. Data has become both a form of currency and a material asset that state actors can weaponize to conduct influence or propaganda operations against individuals or groups whose network positions amplifies effects.   Such actors can easily target the myriad of extra-national identities present within a given nation in attempts to mobilize one group against another or even against the state itself causing domestic instability and potential loss of state power within the international system.  Russian digital information operations have recently expanded from the former Soviet space to the U.S. and European Union and regularly target vulnerable or disenfranchised populations to provoke domestic chaos and weakening governance as a means to advance Russian strategic objectives[8].

As long as western democracies continue to become more diverse, a trend that is unalterable for at least the next quarter century, nationalism will remain a tangible threat, as malign actors will continue to subvert nationalist movements to achieve their own strategic objectives.  This threat is only intensified by the accessibility of information and the ease of engaging groups and individuals in the information age.  Nationalism in various forms is on the rise throughout western democracies and often stems from unaddressed grievances, economic misfortunes, or perceived loss of power that leads to consolidation of in-groups and the targeting of outgroup.  It remains justifiable for various individuals to want equal rights and provisions under the rule of law, and ensuring that systems are in place to protect the rights of both the masses from the individual (tyranny) but also the individual from the masses (mob rule) has become paramount for maintaining both state power and domestic stability.  It falls on citizens and policy makers alike within democracies to promote national identities that facilitate patriotism and integration and assimilation of various cultures into the populace rather than segregation and outgrouping that creates divisions that rival states will exploit. 


Endnotes:

[1] Morgenthau, H., & Thompson, K. (1948). Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace-6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.

[2] Mearsheimer, J. J. (2011). Kissing Cousins: Nationalism and Realism. Yale Workshop on International Relations, vol. 5.

[3] Connor, W. (1993). Beyond Reason: The Nature of The Ethnonational Bond. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 373 – 389.

[4] Connor, P., & Krogstad, J. (2016, June 15). Immigrant share of population jumps in some European countries. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from Pew Research Center: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/15/immigrant-share-of-population-jumps-in-some-european-countries/

[5] Pew Resarch Center. (2015). Modern Immigration Wave Brings 59 Million to U.S. Driving Population Growth and Change Through 2065. Washington DC: Pew Rsearch Center.

[6] Frey, W. H. (2018, March 14). The US will become ‘minority white’ in 2045, Census projects. Retrieved April 8, 2019, from The Brookings Institution : https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2018/03/14/the-us-will-become-minority-white-in-2045-census-projects/

[7] World Bank. (2019). Fertility Rate, Total (Births per Women). Retrieved April 9, 2019, from The World Bank Group: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN

[8] Klein, H. (2018, September 25). Information Warfare and Information Perspectives: Russian and U.S. Perspectives.Retrieved April 6, 2019, from Columbia SIPA Journal of International Affairs:https://jia.sipa.columbia.edu/information-warfare-and-information-perspectives-russian-and-us-perspectives

Assessment Papers Information Systems James P. Micciche Nationalism

An Assessment of the Threat Posed by Increased Nationalist Movements in Europe

Major Jeremy Lawhorn is an active duty U.S. Army Psychological Operations Officer with over a decade in Special Operations.  He has served in the United States Army for over 19 years in a variety of leadership and staff officer positions, both domestically and internationally.  His academic interest is primarily in military strategy, specifically the competition phase. His current research focuses on understanding resistance movements. He currently holds a Master’s Degree from Norwich University, Duke University, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.  He is currently working on his Doctorate at Vanderbilt University.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of any official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.  The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of the United States Army or any other government agency.


Title:  An Assessment of the Threat Posed by Increased Nationalist Movements in Europe

Date Originally Written:  March 18, 2019.

Date Originally Published:  April 15, 2019.

Summary:  If left unchecked, the current nationalist movements on the rise throughout Europe threaten the integrity of the European Union (EU), the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Alliance, and the overall security of Europe. Leveraging nationalist sentiments, Russia is waging a hybrid warfare campaign to support nationalist opposition parties and far-right extremist groups to  create disengagement among EU and NATO members.

Text:  In recent years there has been a groundswell of nationalism and far-right extremism across Europe, allowing far-right political parties to gain power in several countries as well as representation in the European Parliament. Today there are more than 59 nationalist parties, 15 regionalist parties, more than 60 active nationalist-separatist movements, and a growing radical right-wing extremist movements throughout the EU. Collectively, far-right nationalist groups occupy 153 of 751 seats in the European Parliament representing 21 of the 28 EU member states. This rise in nationalist sentiment is the result of growing Euroscepticism that has been driven in part by the Eurozone debt crisis, increased opposition to mass immigration, fear of cultural liberalization, and the perceived surrender of national sovereignty to external organizations. These nationalist movements threaten the integrity of the EU, the future of the NATO Alliance, and the overall security and stability of Europe. Leveraging nationalist sentiments, Russia is waging a hybrid warfare campaign to achieve their own political objectives by supporting nationalist opposition parties and far-right extremist groups to increase Euroscepticism and ultimately create disengagement among EU and NATO members.

Today’s nationalist movements are gaining strength in part because they are creating large networks of support across Europe. These movements have created transnational alliances to support each other to oppose the EU. The Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD or EFD2), and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) are nationalist Eurosceptic groups made up of members from several EU members states that collectively have significant representation in the European parliament. These group’s stated purpose is to work for freedom and co-operation among peoples of different States to return power back to the people of sovereign states, to focus on respect for Europe’s history, traditions and cultural values with the belief that peoples and Nations of Europe have the right to protect their borders and strengthen their own historical, traditional, religious and cultural values[1]. These groups are also committed to sovereignty, democracy, freedom and ending mass immigration so that members may advance their own interests at the domestic level[2]. The collective strength of these groups empower local nationalist movements, enabling them to gain influence and power that might not otherwise be possible. As each individual nationalist movement gains power, the larger alliance gains power to support other movements.

The rise of nationalist sentiments is also emboldening right-wing extremism groups. While not all nationalist parties are affiliated with right-wing extremism, the similarity in ideologies creates sympathetic leanings that are destructive for society. In recent years, right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies[3]. These relationships can be used to serve mutually supportive positions while leaving room for plausible deniability. These violent far-right groups have not only embraced similar populist language of the nationalist political movements, they also espouse openly racist epithets and employ violence to pursue their goals of reestablishing ethnically homogenous states[4]. Not unlike the Nazi party of the past and consistent with nationalist rhetoric, these groups portray immigrants and ethnic minorities as the cause for economic troubles and demonize as threats to the broader national identity[5]. In essence, nationalist parties benefit from national fervor generated by these right-wing extremist without having to openly support their violent activities.

European nationalist parties are not the only ones benefitting from the growth in nationalist sentiments. Russia is also a key beneficiary and benefactor of European nationalist movements. Russia generally views the West with contempt as they see the expansion of NATO and the influence of the EU as an encroachment on their sphere of influence. Anything that challenges the cohesion of NATO and the EU is seen as a benefit for Russia. While Russia may not be responsible for creating these movements, they have supported a variety of nationalist opposition and far-right extremist groups throughout Europe to achieve their own political aims. Russia is playing a vital role to empower these groups with offers of cooperation, loans, political cover and propaganda. The Kremlin is cultivating relationships with these far-right parties, by establishing ‘‘cooperation agreements’’ between the dominant United Russia party and parties like Austria’s Freedom Party, Hungary’s Jobbik, Italy’s Northern League, France’s National Front, and Germany’s AfD (Alternative for Germany)[6]. Kremlin-linked banks are also providing financial support for nationalist parties like France’s National Front party to support their anti-EU platform. Kremlin-linked oligarchs are also supporting European extremist groups like Germany’s neo-Nazi NPD party, Bulgaria’s far-right Ataka party, Greece’s KKK party, and the pro-Kremlin Latvian Russian Union party[7].

Russian propaganda is also playing a major role in destabilizing the EU and fueling the growth of nationalist and anti-EU sentiment. According to a resolution adopted by the European Parliament in November 2016, Russian strategic communication is part of a larger subversive campaign to weaken EU cooperation and the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of the Union and its Member States. Russia’s goal is to distort truths, provoke doubt, divide EU Member states, and ultimately undermine the European narrative[8]. In one example, Russian attempted to create division by manipulating the Brexit referendum. Researchers at Swansea University in Wales and the University of California at Berkeley found that more than 150,000 Russian-sponsored Twitter accounts that tweeted about Brexit in order to sow discord. In the 48 hours leading up to referendum, Russian-sponsored accounts posted more than 45,000 divisive messages meant to influence the outcomes[9]. Another example of Russian interference was during the Catalan crisis in 2017. Pro-Kremlin Twitter accounts amplified the Catalan crisis by 2,000% in an effort to support the Catalan Independence Referendum and cause further friction within Europe[10]. On October 1, 2017, 92 percent of the population voted in favor of independence and on October 27 the Parliament of Catalan declared independence from Spain sparking unrest in Spain.

This rise in nationalism presents a challenge not only to the future integrity of the EU, but also the security and stability of the region. Continuing to capitalize on the growing nationalist sentiments, Russia is achieving its interests by supporting nationalist political parties and far-right extremist groups that are increasing fractures within and between European states. These actions present an existential threat to European security and the future viability of the EU and NATO.


Endnotes:

[1] Janice, A. (n.d.). About Europe of Nations and Freedom. Retrieved February 15, 2019, from http://www.janiceatkinson.co.uk/enf/

[2] Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2019, from http://www.europarl.europa.eu/elections-2014/en/political-groups/europe-of-freedom-and-direct-democracy/

[3] Holleran, M. (2018, February 16). The Opportunistic Rise of Europe’s Far Right. Retrieved February 15, 2019, from https://newrepublic.com/article/147102/opportunistic-rise-europes-far-right

[4] Frankel, B., Zablocki, M., ChanqizVafai, J., Lally, G., Kashanian, A., Lawson, J., Major, D., Nicaj, A., Lopez, R., Britt, J., Have, J.,&  Hussain, A., (Eds.). (2019, March 06). European ethno-nationalist and white supremacist movements thrive. Homeland Security Newswire. Retrieved March 10, 2019, from http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20190306-european-ethnonationalist-and-white-supremacist-movements-thrive

[5] Ibid., 2019

[6] Smale, A. (2016, December 19). Austria’s Far Right Signs a Cooperation Pact With Putin’s Party. The New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/world/europe/austrias-far-right-signs-a-cooperation-pact-with-putins-party.html

[7] Rettman, A, (2017, April 21) Illicit Russian Money Poses Threat to EU Democracy, EUobserver, Retrieved February 20, 2019, from https://euobserver.com/foreign/137631

[8] European Parliament Resolution of (2016, November 23) EU Strategic Communication to Counteract Propaganda against it by Third Parties, 2016/2030(INI), Nov. 23, 2016. . Retrieved February 15, 2019, from https://oeil.secure.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/popups/printficheglobal.pdf

[9] Mostrous, A., Gibbons, K., & Bridge, M. (2017, November 15). Russia used Twitter bots and trolls ‘to disrupt’ Brexit vote. The Times. Retrieved February 15, 2019, from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/russia-used-web-posts-to-disrupt-brexit-vote-h9nv5zg6c

[10] Alandete, D. (2017, October 01). Pro-Russian networks see 2,000% increase in activity in favor of Catalan referendum. El Pais. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from https://elpais.com/elpais/2017/10/01/inenglish/1506854868_900501.html

 

Assessment Papers Europe Jeremy Lawhorn Nationalism Option Papers

Call for Papers: Nationalism and Extremism

Nationalism

Image: https://eyes-on-europe.eu/nationalism-a-turning-point-for-europe/

 

extremist

Image: https://www.localgov.co.uk/Suspected-jihadis-offered-houses-in-counter-extremism-programme-/44109

 

Background:

Divergent Options is a non-politically aligned non-revenue generating national security website that, in 1,000 words or less, provides unbiased, dispassionate, candid articles that assess a national security situation, present multiple options to address the situation, and articulate the risk and gain of each option.  Please note that while we assess a national security situation and may provide options, we never recommend a specific option.

Call for Papers:

Divergent Options is calling for national security papers assessing situations or discussing options related to nationalism and extremism.

Please limit your article to 1,000 words and write using our Options Paper or Assessment Paper templates which are designed for ease of use by both writers and readers alike.

Please send your article to submissions@divergentoptions.org by April 12, 2019.

If you are not interested in writing on this topic, we always welcome individual articles on virtually any national security situation an author is passionate about.  Please do not let our call for papers cause you to hesitate to send us your idea.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Call For Papers Nationalism Violent Extremism