Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 01/11/13


Udo von Massenbach
DEBKAfile: Obama’s potential release of $12bn of frozen Iranian assets would be followed by $35 billion from Europe *

Guten Morgen. 24801594,22597419,dmData,maxh,480,maxw,480,3eru0110.jpg „Laut Branchenverband sind solche Unglücke extrem selten.“,20641266,24801270.html

The Handyüberwachung Disaster

Massenbach* Why America Should Spy on Europe

In 2008, then-senator Barack Obama spoke to an adoring crowd in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park. Obama called for a “true partnership” between America and Europe. “Most of all, [we must] trust each other,” he said. Across Europe, the reaction was one of near ecstasy. The president-to-be seemed to embody the anti-Bush: deferential, fashionable, and liberal. A European-style American. Edward Snowden’s revelations changed all that.

Facing reports that the NSA has been monitoring the communications of chancellors and citizens alike, the EU is calling for an intelligence conference with the United States. According to the BBC, France and Germany will demand an EU “no-spying” pact, one similar to the longstanding agreement between the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (aka “Five Eyes”).
On paper it seems sensible enough. The U.S. is supposed to be a friend of the EU — surely it makes sense to codify a relationship of trust?
In fact, it makes no sense. There are three key reasons why.

First, such an agreement would ignore the reality of U.S.-EU counter-terrorism efforts.

At a basic level, the EU and the U.S. embrace counter-terrorism strategies that are unified in purpose (preventing attacks) but divergent in approach. On the EU side, the majority of counter-terrorism operations take place under a law-enforcement orbit. In Europe and abroad, EU intelligence operations are generally limited to “cycling” information on a terrorist network’s capabilities and intentions. Conversely, the U.S. government orients its counter-terrorism strategy under a far more aggressive methodology. One day we see arrests by the FBI (law enforcement), but the next day we read about drone strikes by the CIA in Yemen, Pakistan, or elsewhere (intelligence/covert action). The next day we hear about a Special Forces operation in Somalia or Libya (military/direct action). Every day we suspect that things happen of which we hear nothing. Where America subscribes to a “war” mentality, the Europeans take pride in their criminal-justice mentality.

It’s crucial that we recognize this reality; after all, it has caused serious tensionseven between the U.K. and the U.S. At the defining level, EU states are far more willing to tolerate terrorist elements in their midst. Instead of “taking down” terrorist networks — a choice that would inevitably require revealing sources and methods in a civilian court — EU authorities often attempt to recruit extremists as “double agent” assets (sometimes failing disastrously), conduct surveillance operations, and hope for the best. Nevertheless, with limited resources and facing a large number of suspects, the EU paradigm cannot satisfy U.S. national-security imperatives. The simple fact is that the U.S. intelligence community has the resources to see through the cracks — to find the plots that have not yet been found. Travel to the United States is not complex for anyone possessing a European passport. The U.S. must do everything possible to protect the American people.

To be sure, this isn’t solely about confronting terrorists per se. At present, EU ransom money provides a major source of funding for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This is the same organization that nearly succeeded in bringing down a passenger plane packed with innocent civilians. Even if reluctantly, EU states are directly funding terrorism. They require attention.

Second, healthy American democracy requires informed leadership.

Consider the continuing economic difficulties in Europe — a crisis of profound importance to the global economy and thus to the United States. By understanding what’s happening in EU budget negotiations, U.S. policymakers have the opportunity to make better decisions.

Intelligence collection on EU business transactions also informs policymaker awareness. Take an example from 2003. In the prelude to the Iraq War, many French companies maintained . Still, intelligence on French duplicity afforded U.S. policymakers the knowledge that the sanctions regime was crumbling.

This is an ongoing problem. Even today, German banks grease Iran’s nuclear development.

Third, the U.S. government must protect against EU intelligence operations targeting American interests. Let’s be serious; whatever French president François Hollande might claim, an appraisal of longstanding history strongly suggests that France wouldn’t live up to the deal. Indeed, French intelligence is masterful at manipulating French law.

Ultimately, effective intelligence collection must balance prospective knowledge against the risk of blowback. German chancellor Angela Merkel encapsulates this truth. In the end, however, intelligence collection is only a metaphor for a larger truth: States act in their own interests, and in this vein, spying makes sense. The United States has a compelling array of reasons to spy in Europe. Yes, building trust with EU states makes sense for all parties involved. Yet until those relationships can claim a history of implicit trust vindicated by explicit action — the kind of trust that underpins the Five Eyes alliance — America must continue to spy on Europe.

Tom Rogan is a blogger based in Washington, D.C., and a contributor and the Guardian.

Policy = res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* The Handyüberwachung Disaster

BERLIN — Germany, of course, has already concocted a compound word for it: Handyüberwachung. That would be spying on cellphone calls.

The U.S. surveillance in question targeted the phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Or at least she was convinced enough of this to call President Obama, express outrage at a “serious breach of trust” and declare such conduct between allies “completely unacceptable.”

The White House’s assurance to her that the United States “is not” and “will not” monitor her communications was tantamount to confirmation through omission that in the past it has.

Merkel is measured. For her to lift the phone and go public with her criticism leaves no doubt she is livid. As she said last July, “Not everything which is technically doable should be done.” This, on the now ample evidence provided by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, is not the view of the N.S.A., whose dragnet eavesdropping has prompted fury from Paris to Brasília.

Obama, in his cool detachment, is not big on diplomacy through personal relations, but Merkel is as close to a trusted friend as he has in Europe. To infuriate her, and touch the most sensitive nerve of Stasi-marked Germans, amounts to sloppy bungling that hurts American soft power in lasting ways. Pivot to Asia was not supposed to mean leave all Europe peeved.

But all Europe is. The perception here is of a United States where security has trumped liberty, intelligence agencies run amok (vacuuming up data of friend and foe alike), and the once-admired “checks and balances” built into American governance and studied by European schoolchildren have become, at best, secret reviews of secret activities where opposing arguments get no hearing.

The disquiet of Snowden that turned him into a whistle-blower now encounters overwhelming sympathy. Impatience is high with statements from the Obama administration that surveillance is under review. A backlash could see Europe limit its sharing of financial and other data with the United States or impose heavy fines on American telecommunications companies that pass on European user details. The word “ally” is beginning to feel like a 20th-century idea that has lost its relevance.

None of this serves U.S. interests. Intelligence, counterterrorism and military cooperation with Germany and France, the two nations most outraged by recent disclosures, is critical. The relative power of the United States and Europe is declining, so cooperation is doubly important. Of course it will continue, but Obama faces a crisis of confidence in trans-Atlantic relations that vague promises about seeking the right balance between freedom and security will not allay. Merkel wants specifics; she is not alone.

Even before this furor, Germany was incensed by what it has perceived as a dismissive U.S. attitude. A senior official close to Merkel recently took me through the “very painful” saga of the Obama administration’s response to Syrian use of chemical weapons. It began with Susan Rice, the national security adviser, telling the Chancellery on Aug. 24 that the United States had the intelligence proving President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons, that it would have to intervene and that it would be a matter of days. German pleas to wait for a United Nations report and to remember Iraq fell on deaf ears. Six days later, on Friday Aug. 30, Germany heard from France that the military strike on Syria was on and would happen that weekend — only for Obama to change tack the next day and say he would go to Congress.

Things got worse at the G-20 St. Petersburg summit meeting the next week. Again, Germany found the United States curtly dismissive. It wanted Germany’s signature at once on the joint statement on Syria; Germany wanted to wait a day until a joint European Union statement was ready and so declined. “The sense from Rice was that we are not interested in your view and not interested in the E.U. view,” the official said. “We left Petersburg very offended. This is not what you want your best partner to look like.”

Germany found the atmosphere at the summit terrible. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, insisted the Syrian opposition was behind the use of chemical weapons. He compared this to the Nazis burning of the Reichstag in 1933 in order to blame and crush their opponents (the fire’s origin is disputed). Putin, to the Germans, appeared much more powerful than Obama. His strengthened international standing after America’s Syrian back-and-forth worries a Germany focused on bringing East European nations like Ukraine and Moldova into association accords with the E.U. This European rapprochement is strongly resisted by Putin, who wants a Eurasian Union that bears an eerie likeness to the old Soviet Union.

Geopolitics on this continent is not dead. A re-pivot to Europe is in order, as is an internal U.S. security-freedom rebalancing. Handyüberwachung on Europe’s most powerful leader is the last thing America needs.


Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* U.S. Foreign Policy from the Founders‘ Perspective
George Friedman

Last week I discussed how the Founding Fathers might view the American debt crisis and the government shutdown. This week I thought it would be useful to consider how the founders might view foreign policy. I argued that on domestic policy they had clear principles, but unlike their ideology, those principles were never mechanistic or inflexible. For them, principles dictated that a gentleman pays his debts and does not casually increase his debts, the constitutional provision that debt is sometimes necessary notwithstanding. They feared excessive debt and abhorred nonpayment, but their principles were never completely rigid.

Whenever there is a discussion of the guidelines laid down by the founders for American foreign policy, Thomas Jefferson’s admonition to avoid foreign entanglements and alliances is seen as the founding principle. That seems reasonable to me inasmuch as George Washington expressed a similar sentiment. So while there were some who favored France over Britain during the French Revolutionary Wars, the main thrust of American foreign policy was neutrality. The question is: How does this principle guide the United States now?

A Matter of Practicality

Like all good principles, Jefferson’s call for avoiding foreign entanglements derived from practicality. The United States was weak. It depended heavily on exports, particularly on exports to Britain. Its navy could not guarantee the security of its sea-lanes, which were in British hands and were contested by the French. Siding with the French against the British would have wrecked the American economy and would have invited a second war with Britain. On the other hand, overcommitting to Britain would have essentially returned the United States to a British dependency.

Avoiding foreign entanglements was a good principle when there were no other attractive strategies. Nonetheless, it was Jefferson himself who engineered a major intrusion into European affairs with the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France. Initially, Jefferson did not intend to purchase the entire territory. He wanted to own New Orleans, which had traded hands between Spain and France and which was the essential port for access between the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi-Ohio-Missouri river system. Jefferson sensed that Napoleon would sell New Orleans to finance his war in Europe, but he was surprised when Napoleon countered with an offer to sell all of France’s North American holdings for $15 million. This would change the balance of power in North America by blocking potential British ambitions, opening the Gulf route to the Atlantic to the United States and providing the cash France needed to wage wars.

At the time, this was not a major action in the raging Napoleonic Wars. However, it was not an action consistent with the principle of avoiding entanglement. The transaction held the risk of embroiling the United States in the Napoleonic Wars, depending on how the British reacted. In fact, a decade later, after Napoleon was defeated, the British did turn on the United States, first by interfering with American shipping and then, when the Americans responded, by waging war in 1812, burning Washington and trying to seize New Orleans after the war officially ended.

Jefferson undertook actions that entangled the United States in the affairs of others and in dangers he may not have anticipated — one of the major reasons for avoiding foreign entanglements in the first place. And he did this against his own principles.

The reason was simple: Given the events in Europe, a unique opportunity presented itself to seize the heartland of the North American continent. The opportunity would redefine the United States. It carried with it risks. But the rewards were so great that the risks had to be endured. Avoiding foreign entanglements was a principle. It was not an ideological absolute.

Jefferson realized that the United States already was involved in Europe’s affairs by virtue of its existence. When the Napoleonic Wars ended, France or Britain would have held Louisiana, and the United States would have faced threats east from the Atlantic and west from the rest of the continent. Under these circumstances, it would struggle to survive. Therefore, being entangled already, Jefferson acted to minimize the danger.

This is a very different view of Jefferson’s statement on avoiding foreign entanglements than has sometimes been given. As a principle, steering clear of foreign entanglements is desirable. But the decision on whether there will be an entanglement is not the United States‘ alone. Geographic realities and other nations‘ foreign policies can implicate a country in affairs it would rather avoid. Jefferson understood that the United States could not simply ignore the world. The world got a vote. But the principle that excessive entanglement should be avoided was for him a guiding principle. Given the uproar over his decision, both on constitutional and prudential grounds, not everyone agreed that Jefferson was faithful to his principle. Looking back, however, it was prudent.

The Illusion of Isolationism

The U.S. government has wrestled with this problem since World War I. The United States intervened in the war a few weeks after the Russian czar abdicated and after the Germans began fighting the neutral countries. The United States could not to lose access to the Atlantic, and if Russia withdrew from the war, then Germany could concentrate on its west. A victory there would have left Germany in control of both Russian resources and French industry. That would have created a threat to the United States. It tried to stay neutral, then was forced to make a decision of how much risk it could bear. The United States opted for war.

Isolationists in World War II argued against involvement in Europe (they were far more open to blocking the Japanese in China). But the argument rested on the assumption that Germany would be blocked by the Soviets and the French. The alliance with the Soviets and, more important, the collapse of France and the invasion of the Soviet Union, left a very different calculation. In its most extreme form, a Soviet defeat and a new Berlin-friendly government in Britain could have left the Germans vastly more powerful than the United States. And with the French, British and German fleets combined, such an alliance could have also threatened U.S. control of the Atlantic at a time when the Japanese controlled the western Pacific.

A similar problem presented itself during the Cold War. In this case, the United States did not trust the European balance of power to contain the Soviet Union. That balance of power had failed twice, leading to alliances that brought the United States into the affairs of others. The United States calculated that early entanglements were less risky than later entanglements. This calculation seemed to violate the Jeffersonian principle, but in fact, as with Louisiana, it was prudent action within the framework of the Jeffersonian principle.

NATO appeared to some to be a violation of the founders‘ view of a prudent foreign policy. I think this misinterprets the meaning of Jefferson’s and Washington’s statements. Avoiding entanglements and alliances is a principle worth considering, but not to the point of allowing it to threaten the national interest. Jefferson undertook the complex and dangerous purchase of Louisiana because he thought it carried less risk than allowing the territory to remain in European hands.

His successors stumbled into war partly over the purchase, but Jefferson was prepared to make prudent judgments. In the same way, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, realizing that avoiding foreign entanglements was impossible, tried to reduce future risk.

Louisiana, the two world wars and the Cold War shared one thing: the risks were great enough to warrant entanglement. All three could have ended in disaster for the United States. The idea that the oceans would protect the United States was illusory. If one European power dominated all of Europe, its ability to build fleets would be extraordinary. Perhaps the United States could have matched it; perhaps not. The dangers outweighed the benefits of blindly adhering to a principle.

A General Role

There is not an existential threat to the United States today. The major threat is militant Islamism, but as frightening as it is, it cannot destroy the United States. It can kill large numbers of Americans. Here the Jeffersonian principle becomes more important. There are those who say that if the United States had not supported Israel in the West Bank or India in Kashmir, then militant Islamism would have never been a threat. In other words, if we now, if not in the past, avoided foreign entanglements, then there would be no threat to the United States, and Jefferson’s principles would now require disentanglement.

In my opinion the Islamist threat does not arise from any particular relationship the United States has had, nor does it arise from the celebration of the Islamic principles that Islamists hold. Rather, it arises from the general role of the United States as the leading Western country. The idea that the United States could avoid hostility by changing its policies fails to understand that like the dangers in 1800, the threat arises independent of U.S. action.

But militant Islamism does not threaten the United States existentially. Therefore, the issue is how to apply the Jeffersonian principle in this context. In my opinion, the careful application of his principle, considering all the risks and rewards, would tell us the following: It is impossible to completely defeat militant Islamists militarily, but it is possible to mitigate the threat they pose. The process of mitigation carries with it its own risks, particularly as the United States carries out operations that don’t destroy militant Islamists but do weaken the geopolitical architecture of the Muslim world — which is against the interests of the United States. Caution should be exercised that the entanglement doesn’t carry risks greater than the reward.

Jefferson was always looking at the main threat. Securing sea-lanes and securing the interior river systems was of overwhelming importance. Other things could be ignored. But the real challenge of the United States is defining the emerging threat and dealing with it decisively. How much misery could have been avoided if Hitler had been destroyed in 1936? Who knew how much misery Hitler would cause in 1936? These thoughts are clear only in hindsight.

Still, the principle is the same. Jefferson wanted to avoid foreign entanglements except in cases where there was substantial benefit to American national interests. He was prepared to apply his principle differently then. The notion of avoiding foreign entanglements must therefore be seen as a principle that, like all well-developed principles, is far more complex than it appears. Foreign entanglements must be avoided when the ends are trivial or unattainable. But when we can get Louisiana, the principle of avoidance dictates involvement.

As in domestic matters, ideology is easy. Principles are difficult. They can be stated succinctly, but they must be applied with all due sophistication.


Suter* High school counselors effectively help students choose the right college major

Choosing the right field of study at college is a very important, but also a very difficult decision. Many prospective students face a high level of uncertainty as they have little information on employment prospects and the wage structure of occupations they may work in after graduating. And they can often only guess whether their individual preferences will match the actual job characteristics. Hence, reducing uncertainty about the right field of study could result in substantial efficiency gains, leading to higher individual job satisfaction, higher overall productivity and a lower likelihood of changing the field of study or dropping out of college before graduating.

A new IZA discussion paper by Lex Borghans, Bart H.H. Golsteyn, Anders Stenberg points at an effective way to reduce this costly uncertainty. The paper provides evidence that an individual meeting with a study counselor at high school significantly improves the quality of choice of tertiary educational field. The results are strongest among students with low educated parents – a group which is likely to have the least information at the outset. Tentative analyses also indicate that counselors reduce students‘ uncertainty about their own individual preferences at least to the same extent as uncertainty about objective measures such as employment prospects.

Read abstract or download discussion paper.

IZA Press | October 28, 2013 at 10:15 am | URL:


Middle East

Obama’s potential release of $12bn of frozen Iranian assets would be followed by $35 billion from Europe

Tehran stands to gain access to nearly $50 billion if the Obama administration decides to free up $12 billion of frozen Iranian assets in the US, inevitably followed by Europe’s release of another $35 billion. The White House was reported Friday, Oct. 18 to be weighing a proposal to offer Iran access to these funds “in installments” against „steps to cut down on its nuclear program.“

DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources: This plan offers Barack Obama a way to ease sanctions on Iran, while avoiding political and diplomatic fallout in Congress and from Jerusalem that would result from an attempt to get the sanctions legislation repealed or amended.

US lawmakers and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continue to call for harsher measures against Iran, after the Geneva conference last week failed to achieve any breakthrough in the controversy on Iran’s nuclear program.

Although its delegation avoided any pledge to suspend uranium enrichment and offered no plan to dismantle its enrichment facilities, US officials complimented the Iranian position as “more candid and substantive” than in previous diplomatic encounters.

Indeed, according to our sources, the Iranian delegation advised the six world powers on the opposite side of the table to simply accept Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s fatwa as an ironclad pledge of the Islamic Republic’s commitment to refrain from developing a nuclear weapon and continue to pursue a peaceful program.
As for a substantial proposal to cut back on their nuclear operations, the Iranian negotiators said firmly: Sanctions relief first; concessions only at the end of the road.
Ahead of the next round of talks on Nov. 7-8, the Obama administration hopes to warm world opinion to the proposition that Iran’s leaders, especially President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his deputy Abbas Araghchi, need more incentives for concessions. They must be able to show their doctrinaire colleagues at home that diplomacy and smiles win more than intransigence.

Even before the Geneva conference, the White House was already putting in place the plan for relieving sanctions by the release of frozen funds – which is why the US delegation included for the first time the Director of the OFAC (the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control), Adam Szubin.

Asked by CNN what Szubin was doing there, senior US negotiator Undersecretary Wendy Sherman said:

“The purpose of having our sanctions team here with us is because … Iran wants to get sanctions relief. But they also have to understand what the range of our sanctions are, what they require, how they work, what it takes to implement sanctions relief, what sanctions we believe need to stay in place.”

Even this gesture failed to elicit from the Iranian delegates any concrete concessions. The obviously fed-up senior Russian delegate, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, summed up his impression of the conference by commenting sourly that it was “…better than Almaty“ (where the last round of talks took place in April) but offered “no guarantee of future progress.”

Nevertheless, President Obama is determined to keep up his strategy of appeasing Tehran and showing Congress and the Israeli prime minister that they are wasting their time by trying to stop him easing sanctions on Iran, because he will bypass them with presidential decrees.
Most of all, Obama is set against allowing himself to be persuaded by Netanyahu’s arguments of the terrible danger posed by a nuclear Iran.
Foreign Minister Zarif put his oar into the conflict between Washington and Jerusalem Friday with this comment: “There is a high possibility that the talks will be disturbed by various efforts on the part of Israel,” he said. “This reflects Israel’s frustration and warmongering.”


*Massenbach’s – Recommendation*

A Pax Sinica in the Middle East?
By Spengler

English-language media completely ignored a noteworthy statement that led Der Spiegel’s German-language website October 12, a call for China to „take on responsibility as a world power“ in the Middle East. Penned by Bernhard Zand, the German news organization’s Beijing correspondent, it is terse and to the point: now that China imports more oil from the Middle East than any other country in the world, it must answer for the region’s security. „America’s interest in the Middle East diminishes day by day“ as it heads towards energy self-sufficiency, wrote Zand, adding:

China’s interest in a peaceful Middle East is enormous, by contrast. Beijing is not only the biggest customer of precisely those oil powers who presently are fanning the flames of conflict in Syria; as a VIP customer, Beijing has growing political influence, which it should use openly. The word of the Chinese foreign minister has just as much weight in Tehran and Riyadh as that of his American counterpart.

China’s situation, Zand continues, is rather like Germany’s after reunification: a state whose economic power is growing will

eventually be asked what it puts on the table politically. He concludes:

The time when American could be counted on to secure Beijing’s supply lines soon will come to an end – America’s budget deficit will take care of that by itself. Whoever wants to be a world power must take on responsibilities.

I have no idea how China envisions its future role in the Middle East. Americans will learn the intentions of the powers who gradually fill the vacuum left by Washington’s withdrawal from the world „well after the fact, if ever“, as I wrote on September 16 (See US plays Monopoly, Russia plays chess, Asia Times Online). That is why I have retired from foreign policy analysis. It is helpful, though, to take note of what the rest of the world is saying, particularly when not a single English-language source made reference to it. Der Spiegel’s public call for China to assume a leading geopolitical role in the Middle East, though, did not appear out of context.

American commentators have regarded China as a spoiler, the source of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons technology, Iran’s ballistic missiles, and other alarming instances of proliferation. It is worth considering a radically different view of China’s interests in the lands between the Himalayas and the Mediterranean: no world power has more to lose from instability than does China.

Iran’s nuclear weapons program poses the greatest risk to the region, and China has been viewed as uncooperative in the extreme by Western diplomats trying to tighten the economic screws on Tehran. Chinese companies, moreover, have helped Iran bypass trade sanctions, but at great cost, and with a complex result. The New York Times on September 30 profiled the problems of Iran’s economy under the sanctions, and took note of the country’s dependence on China:

One economist, Mohammad Sadegh Jahansefat, said the government had been taken hostage by countries benefiting from the sanctions – particularly China, which he called the worst business partner Iran had ever had.

„China has monopolized our trade – we are subsidizing their goods, which we are forced to import,“ he said, adding of its work in the energy industry, „They destroy local production and leave oil and gas projects unfinished so that no one can work with them.“ [1]

China’s capacity to exert pressure on the Iranian regime is considerable. Apart from its interest in avoiding nuclear proliferation in the Persian Gulf, China has a number of points of conflict with Iran, well summarized in an October 17 survey by Zachary Keck in The Diplomat. [2] The one that should keep Tehran on its toes is the Islamic Republic’s border with Pakistan. Iran announced October 26 that it had hanged 16 alleged Sunni rebels in Baluchistan province on the Pakistani border, the latest in a long series of violent incidents.

„With a population of 170 million, Pakistan has 20 million men of military age, as many as Iran and Turkey combined; by 2035 it will have half again as many,“ I observed in 2009 (see Hedgehogs and flamingos in Tehran, Asia Times Online, June 16, 2009). It also has nuclear weapons.

Iran sits between two Sunni powers -Turkey and Pakistan – that depend to a great extent on Saudi financing, and that also have excellent relations with China. Turkey’s still-disputed agreement to buy a Chinese air defense system represented a revolution in Chinese-Turkish relations, motivated by a Chinese promise to transfer the whole package of relevant technology to Turkey and to help the Turks to manufacture the systems, a more generous offer than ever Ankara got from the West. Turkey is the logical terminus for the „New Silk Road“ of road, rail, pipelines and broadband that China has proposed to build in Central Asia.

China, it might be added, also has excellent relations with Israel, whose premier technical university just was offered a US$130 million grant from Hong Kong magnate Li Ka-shing to fund part of the costs of building a branch in China. Chinese provincial and local governments will contribute another $147 million. The seamless interchange of ideas and personnel between Israel’s military, universities and tech entrepreneurs is a success story in miniature that China hopes to reproduce in scale. As Singapore-based political scientist Michael Raska reports, China’s military modernization envisions the spread of dual-use technologies to private industry.

Without attributing any geopolitical intention to Beijing, the visible facts make clear that China has the capacity to exercise strategic influence in the Middle East, and it has an unambiguous interest in maintaining stability. What China might choose to do, Washington will learn after the fact, if ever. If China wished to influence Iran, for example, it has considerable means to do so, and a great deal else besides.

1. Iran Staggers as Sanctions Hit Economy, New York Times, September 30, 2013.
2. China and Iran: Destined to Clash?, The Diplomat, October 17, 2013.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. He is Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. His book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regnery Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It’s Not the End of the World – It’s Just the End of You, also appeared that fall, from Van Praag Press.
Forging an American Grand Strategy: Securing a Path Through a Complex Future.
Selected Presentations.

On November 8-9, 2011, the National Defense University (NDU) held a conference entitled „Forging an American Grand Strategy: Securing a Path Through a Complex Future.“ The discussion that began at that conference needs to be further developed and continued. More importantly, we, as a nation, need to explore together the path ahead as well as questions that have yet to be answered regarding how and why we, as a nation, struggle with grand strategies. If developed and executed with a systemic orientation, grand strategies could help us shape our future in an ever changing and complex world. This volume represents a compilation of some of the presentations given at the NDU conference. They represent the great diversity of opinions regarding this subject.Forging an American Grand Strategy: Securing a Path Through a Complex Future. Selected Presentations from a Symposium at the National Defense University

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WSJ: Europe shared spy data with US
Australian- October 31, 2013 12:00AM

MILLIONS of phone records at the centre of a firestorm in Europe over spying by the National Security Agency were secretly supplied to the US by European intelligence services – not collected by the NSA, upending a furore that cast a pall over trans-Atlantic relations.

The revelations suggest a greater level of European involvement in global surveillance, in conjunction at times with the NSA. The disclosures also put European leaders who loudly protested reports of the NSA’s spying in a difficult spot, showing how their spy agencies aided the Americans.

The phone records collected by the Europeans – in war zones and other areas outside their borders – were shared with the NSA as part of efforts to help protect American and allied troops and civilians, US officials said.

European leaders remain chagrined over revelations that the US was spying on dozens of world leaders, including close allies in Europe.The new disclosures were separate from those programs, but they underline the complexities of intelligence relationships, and how the US and its allies co-operate in some ways and compete in others.

„That the evil NSA and the wicked US were the only ones engaged in this gross violation of international norms -that was the fairy tale,“ said James Lewis, a former State Department official, now a technology-policy specialist at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

„It was never true. The US’s behaviour wasn’t outside the norm. It is the norm.“Consecutive reports in French, Spanish and Italian newspapers over the past week sparked a frenzy of finger-pointing by European politicians. The reports were based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and purportedly showed the extent to which the NSA sweeps up phone records in those countries.
France’s Le Monde said the documents showed that more than 70 million French phone records between early December last year and early January this year were collected by the NSA, prompting Paris to lodge a protest with the US.
In Spain, El Mundo reported that it had seen NSA documents that showed the US spy agency had intercepted 60.5 million Spanish phone calls during the same time period.US officials initially responded to the reports by branding them as inaccurate, without specifying how.

Late yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the data cited by the European news reports wasn’t collected by the NSA but by its European partners.US officials said the data was provided to the NSA under long-standing intelligence sharing arrangements.Hours later, in a congressional hearing, the National Security Agency director, General Keith Alexander, confirmed the broad outlines of the Journal report, saying the specific documents released by Mr Snowden didn’t represent data collected by the NSA or any other US agency and didn’t include records from calls within those countries.He said the data, displayed in computer-screen shots, was instead from a system that contained phone records collected by the US and NATO countries „in defence of our countries and in support of military operations“.He said conclusions the US collected the data were „false. And it’s false that it was collected on European citizens. It was neither.“

The US until now had been silent about the role of European partners in these collection efforts to protect the relationships. French officials declined to comment. A Spanish official said Spain’s intelligence collaboration with the NSA has been limited to theatres of operations in Afghanistan, Mali and international operations against jihadist groups. The data published in El Mundo was gathered during these operations, not in Spain. At yesterday’s house intelligence committee hearing, politicians pressed General Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on the NSA’s tapping of world leaders‘ phone conversations, including the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. Asked whether US allies spy on the US, Mr Clapper said: „Absolutely.“

Democrat congressman Adam Schiff asked why congress had not been informed when US spies tapped a world leader’s telephone.Mr Clapper said congress wasn’t told about each and every „selector“, the intelligence term for a phone number or other information that would identify an espionage target.“Not all selectors are equal,“ Mr Schiff responded, especially „when the selector is the chancellor of an allied nation.“ Mr Clapper said intelligence agencies followed the priorities set by the President and key departments, but did not necessarily provide top officials with details on how each requirement was being fulfilled.

The White House did, however, see the final product, he said. Reporting to policymakers on the „plans and intentions“ of world leaders was a standard request to intelligence agencies such as the NSA, Mr Clapper said, and the best way to understand a foreign leader’s intentions was to obtain their communications. Privately, some intelligence officials disputed claims that the President and top White House officials were unaware of how such information was obtained.“If there’s an intelligence report that says the leader of this country is likely to say X or Y, where do you think that comes from?“ the official said.

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