Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 31/01/14


Udo von Massenbach

Guten Morgen.

* Stan McChrystal *Co-Founder and Partner at McChrystal Group *Productivity Hacks: Is Your Organization in a Fighter’s Stance?*

Massenbach* Netanyahu holds Jewish settlers should stay in Palestinian state

DEBKAfile January 26, 2014, 7:10 PM (IST)

An official in the Israeli prime minister’s office said Sunday Binyamin Netanyahu believes Jewish settlers should have the option of staying in a future Palestinian state. In Davos, he told the World Economic Forum Saturday that he did not intend to uproot any Israelis in a peace deal. The prime minister sees no reason why a Palestinian state should be “ethnically cleansed,” the official explained.


Karel De Gucht

EU Trade Commissioner

Es gilt das gesprochene Wort.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Where do we stand on the hottest topics in the current debate?

Ladies and gentlemen,

"Manchmal kommt mir in den Sinn,

nach Amerika zu segeln,

nach dem großen Freiheitsstall,

der bewohnt von Gleichheitsflegeln",

said the great poet Heinreich Heine, born here in Düsseldorf long before the Atlantik Brücke was founded. Freedom and equality were his themes, as was democracy and giving a voice to the people.

For a politician of today, Heine’s approach still strikes a sympathetic chord. So, thank you for coming and listening to my thoughts on the current state of play of the negotiations with the United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

The EU-US negotiation has drawn interest from more people across Europe – and in Germany in particular – than any other trade discussion in the last ten years. A public debate is happening in the press, on television, online and at events like this across the Union. Many people have expressed many views from many different perspectives.

I can only welcome this interest: It is very healthy for our European democracy.

My role as the main political negotiator of TTIP is to listen, to persuade, and where necessary to provide information, so that the debate is based on facts, not fear or hyperbole.

Out of the multitude of files and aspects that characterise these negotiations, there are four on which I would like to focus tonight, as they are those that, in the early stages of the talks, are the hottest in the debates:

1. The work we are doing on regulatory barriers to trade,

2. What we want to achieve on investment,

3. How we are engaging with people on the negotiations,

4. And why we are doing all of this in the first place.


First, regulation: Some people are afraid that a trade deal with the Americans will allow companies to sell unsafe food and environmentally damaging products, or for banks to play fast and loose with people’s savings. Regulation has been introduced in Europe to defend us against these risks.

If – as a result of the negotiations – the EU was going to lower standards of protection for citizens regarding food or the environment…

if we were going to abandon our policy on genetically modified food or on beef hormones…

if we were going to take a soft approach on financial regulation and give the banks a free hand to speculate with people’s savings…

That would indeed be unacceptable.

But here I stand, and cannot but say:

The EU is not going to do any of these things as a result of TTIP.

True, we will be talking about the present and future barriers between Europe and America related to regulation. However, we are not going to eliminate all of them. In many areas, there are good reasons for our different regulations. It is not a question of who is right or wrong, or better or worse. Sometimes, policy preferences differ deeply between the two sides of the ocean for cultural reasons, beliefs, or societal differences.

But where we can, we want to find solutions that are in the interest of both sides, without compromising our values and without lowering the level of protection. A lot of the barriers our companies are confronted with take the form of unnecessary costs that spring from the differences in regulations, standards and conformity assessments that Americans and Europeans have worked out each in their own corner, in isolation. There is a lot to be gained from regulatory cooperation.

For example…

… we can recognise each other’s safety standards for car seats…

… we can have a common approach to make sure medical devices are traceable back to their producers…

… we can share expertise as we evaluate the safety of chemicals – even if the decisions about what is safe remain in our own hands.

None of these examples would lower levels of safety or protection. Rather, they would allow our authorities to save money on enforcement and so become more effective. And allow companies to save money and so grow faster and create more jobs.

That is in all our interest. And, most importantly, it is feasibly, as has been shown in some of the most sensitive areas imaginable, such as aviation safety.


The second big area of debate today – in Germany and across the continent – is on investment rules and in particular the way disputes would be resolved between a foreign investor and the host government.

I’m speaking here about the system known as investor-to-state dispute settlement, which would allow companies to take direct claims against governments on investment matters to international arbitration panels.

For critics of the system, it is an assault on the rule of law. For proponents, it is essential to underpin a modern global economy.

Let me first recall some facts in this regard.

Investment protection agreements are not new. There are already some 1400 of these agreements in force. All EU Member States except Ireland have them with countries all over the globe where our companies have invested.

ISDS has not prevented nine of our most recent EU member states from acquiring the entire body of EU law, including for example our very strict rules on GMOs, on beef hormones, on chemical products, or on equal pay and equal pension rights. All of these countries had investment agreements with the US before they joined the EU. And yet there has been no challenge from any American company to any of this new regulation.

Investment agreements also exist for a reason. Europe’s economy – and Germany’s in particular – benefits from the investments our companies make in other countries. And it is a sad fact that governments in those countries sometimes use their power to treat foreign companies unfairly, putting those investments – and ultimately European jobs – at risk.

Investment rules, including the dispute settlement system – are an important protection against these unfair actions. And they can be necessary: European companies were behind every second investment case launched globally in 2012!

For all this, however, I am well aware that there have been problems in the way investment protection agreements have sometimes worked in practice. I understand, for example, that people are worried when they see a tobacco company taking the Australian government to international arbitration for its ban on logos and designs on cigarette packaging.

The fundamental objective of our international investment policy is to reinforce the legitimacy and transparency of these rules. That means ensuring that non-discriminatory regulatory policies cannot be subject to successful challenges. At the same time we want to preserve the value of the current system.

In other words, I have been tasked by all EU member states to work on improving the system to stop potential legal loopholes being used for frivolous claims against the state whilst preserving fair and balanced investment protection for companies – including, very importantly, SMEs. We want – once and for all – to prevent potential abuse of the investment system in the future through new, modern, transparent state-of the-art investment arrangements.

That is what we seek to achieve. However, public interest is intense and, indeed, the scale of our investment relationship with the US.

That is why I yesterday announced my decision to launch a public consultation on investment protection in these negotiations.

Allow me to clarify what the public consultation process means in practice.

I have decided that the EU needs a public consultation in order to reflect on what the EU’s negotiating position on investment protection issues will be – with a particular focus on investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS). This consultation is part of the Commission’s overall determination to ensure that the TTIP negotiations are as open and transparent as is possible. We are taking this unprecedented step in relation to investment protection specifically both because of the intense public interest in the issue and because of the specific technical challenges that this area involves – For example: finding the right legal language to balance the need for policies to protect people and the environment on the one hand and – on the other – protecting and encouraging investment and with it jobs and growth.

This is a great opportunity to get important feedback from the public and from all those who have a stake in a successful TTIP outcome. The conclusions of the public consultation will then feed into the process and allow the EU to form its position on these issues for the negotiations on the text in respect of this particular issue.

This 3 month period of reflection will begin in March and my team is currently working on the details and practicalities of this consultation.

Now, I have seen a number of newspaper headlines claiming that either the TTIP negotiations – or at least part of the negotiations – will be suspended. This is not correct. The negotiation process continues full steam, with the next round of talks taking place in March.


This brings me to my third point: involving people in TTIP.

People are eager to understand where the process is going. They are concerned that important decisions that affect their future may be made behind their backs.

I understand that concern. But the Commission is never negotiating in a black box. Nor would we want to. It would be impossible to negotiate without input from many different points of view and areas of expertise. Trade deals are complicated and technical. I am well aware the Commission doesn’t have all the answers.

That is why we get guidance and input from all stakeholders in a number of different ways:

The first and most important is through the European Union’s institutions – the European Parliament and the Council – which is where Germany sits, alongside all the other Member States.

The Commission negotiates trade agreements, but it does so under the close guidance of the other institutions. They advise us on how to proceed and on the scope of the negotiations, representing their own constituents.

And they have the final decision on the result. Trade agreements only become law when the people’s representatives approve them.

On top of this close scrutiny, the Commission also takes in the opinions of the public directly:

Before we ever started this negotiation we held three official public consultations on what should be in the deal.

Since then we publicly released the EU’s opening position on the key issues in the negotiation, to help people understand what we are actually negotiating.

And we have held regular open meetings with groups interested in labour rights, the environment, health, consumer rights and, certainly, groups representing businesses. Our lead negotiators spend a full afternoon during every negotiating round listening to stakeholders‘ views.

The next step in this engagement will be for us to convene a more structured advisory group of experts, balanced between that same broad range of interests. The group would provide us with practical advice and expertise on the areas under negotiation, so that we have a better understanding of the sensitivities. My services are now finalising the details of this process, and I hope to be able to announce it very soon.

I cannot stress enough that this represents an unprecedented level of openness for the EU’s trade negotiations.

I also acknowledge, however, that it is not complete openness which may be disappointing for some. But complete openness is neither feasible nor desirable.

Negotiations of all kinds – and certainly trade negotiations – involve building trust between both partners. They also involve subtle negotiating tactics and trade-offs. Negotiations are basically impossible with TV cameras in the room.

If we want a good result, some level of confidentiality is required.

But it is important to remember that at the end of the process, the whole deal – in all its glorious technical detail – will be completely open to scrutiny, long before any decision is made to accept it or reject it.


The last point of my speech goes back to basics. Let me recall why we launched the negotiations in the first place.

The reason is simple – to strengthen the European economy, so that European people are better off and have more employment opportunities.

There is no other reason than that: no shadowy corporations that we are trying to appease; no naïve attempt to curry favour with Washington.

Concluding an ambitious transatlantic trade and investment partnership would show that both the European Union and the United States continue to believe in open markets, even in the choppy waters we are in today. That removes one source of uncertainty for business, providing a boost to confidence.

How much extra growth TTIP will bring in the decade to come is impossible to say with great precision.

But economists are able to make relatively reliable predictions of what trade agreements mean for an economy by economic model simulations that keep other factors unchanged.

For this reason, before we launched the negotiations, the Commission asked the Centre for European Policy Reform – a widely-respected pan-European network of economists – for a TTIP simulation.

They made some assumptions about the negotiations based on the Commission’s views on what is possible in the TTIP. We gave them several scenarios, all of which are plausible – including the most ambitious.

They used a state-of-the-art economic model to deliver the results and their findings have landed in the mid-range of other efforts to estimate the value of the agreement. They aren’t the biggest numbers by far, nor are they the smallest.

If we achieve our objectives for the agreement – on tariffs, services, regulatory barriers and procurement – it will deliver a permanent increase in the size of the EU economy.

The analysis points to an output gain of about a half a per cent of GDP once all the effects of the agreement are felt. That would translate into about 545 euro to the annual income of each European household – very much worth having.

Now a model is by definition an approximation of reality and cannot capture all the direct and indirect gains of a transatlantic trade deal. Perhaps the biggest value of an agreement will be in our relations with rest of the world. Why? Because the EU and the US are the world’s largest markets and the most influential regulators. Any common approach will double that influence. And it may shape regulation around the world, including in countries like Brazil, India, China and Russia, where today standards are typically much lower than in the US and the EU.

That would be hugely beneficial for Europe – since we are the world’s largest exporter and importer and host and source of foreign investment.


Ladies and gentlemen,

As a public representative I have to make decisions on behalf of 500 million Europeans. Some of them are difficult. Sometimes it is a close call.

But that was not a problem for my decision to seek a mandate for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations. The gains will be clear.

But these gains will only materialise if we get the right deal. If we get a deal that the people consider worth supporting. A deal which pursues our interests and preserves our values.

When Heine looked at America in the 19th century, he pointed to values which the people in Europe had not yet achieved by then.

Luckily, today in the 21st century we can aspire to them together with our American friends. Let us build another, even stronger bridge over the Atlantic!

Thank you very much for your attention.



Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* What’s Good for Women is Good for Business

This week The Shriver Report launched a groundbreaking report, A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink," which describes the tremendous challenges women face in the US workforce. It makes the case that despite the promotion of high-profile women CEOs, there is still a significant wage and career gap for working women, leading to poverty, family crisis, and education problems with our children.

In particular, Maria Shriver’s personal essay, "Powerful and Powerless", (video here) makes a very compelling case. You may be surprised to learn, for example, that 70% of low wage workers do not get sick leave and that women make up two-thirds of this population. 63% of women are now breadwinners and more than 40% are sole breadwinners. These are often the women who serve us in restaurants, teach our children, work behind the counter, or even work next to us in the office.

Much of the solution to this problem lies in the hands of employers.

In this article I’d like to help business leaders and HR managers understand why and how they can help address this issue. I will describe four pieces of research which clearly describe how and why we should improve the life of women at work. (Note this article is an extract from the original article published on The Shriver Report.)

Point 1: Good Work and Good Wages Pay Off

The Shriver Report notes that women still take home between 9% and 30% less than men for similar jobs. Does this make business sense?

Well putting aside the possible discrimination issue, should business leaders always try to keep the cost of labor as low as possible? Much data says no. When we pay people low wages they do not invest in the job itself, turnover is often high, and engagement is low – with overall lower sales as a result.

Remember that people are not like machines: they are what we call an “appreciating asset.” When people are paid well they engage more deeply in the business and ultimately their value goes up.

(Zeynep Ton, an adjunct profession at MIT, studied this issue in her newbook "The Good Jobs Strategy," which makes a compelling case for higher wages in retail.)

She studied Costco, Trader Joe’s, QuikTrip, and Mercadona (the largest supermarket in Spain). Her research shows that these companies, which pay 150-200% higher wages than their competitors, deliver much greater profitability over time than their competitors. Her argument is that by investing in retail employees (by giving them training, autonomy, and what she calls “slack time”) these companies empower their people to spend more time with customers, provide better service, and sell more product.

A recent article in the New York Times article makes this point well. The author describes his frustrating trip to Ikea and points out that certain retailers make retail buying easy, and others make it hard. Those that make it easy seem to be more profitable and sustainable than the others.

Consider Costco. According to the Times article the company pays its workers $21 an hour, well above the $13 minimum wage. Why? Costco believes that this enables them to hire people who will learn the business, work harder, take more time with customers, and take responsibility for local store sales. This focus on a high value workforce, coupled with its simplified business model, has enabled Costco’s stock to outperform its retail competitors for years.

The point is simple: while it may appear that low wages save money, companies should seriously evaluate changing their thinking. A highly engaged employee who is well trained and ready to work is a huge competitive advantage.

Point 2. Creating a Flexible Work Environment Pays Off

The second issue is that of flexible working conditions. The Shriver Report study states that 70% of hourly workers have no sick leave. This of course means that they come into work sick (if they can make it), which of course makes life worse for them and their co-workers. Worse yet they lose wages and suffer at home.

It makes one ask: why would companies create rigid work policies that punish people for coming in late, taking time off, or getting sick? It turns out it’s often bad business.

I recently spent time with a senior HR executive at a large telecommunications company. His company employees tens of thousands of people and he was complaining to me of high turnover in the call centers. Some of their service centers have turnover greater than 100% (every employee is replaced each year).

It turned out, after he did some research, that managers were penalizing employees for coming in late by giving them night shifts. This punitive environment was reducing morale and creating high turnover.

We have entered an economy where good people look for good work. When an employer gives someone a little extra time off, encourages them to stay home when sick, or gives them time to handle a family situation, they build a stronger bond. The employee feels better about their job, their boss, and their company. And as a result they serve customers better, sell more products, and help others in the team.

Study after study has shown that in today’s high-stress work environment flexibility is one of the greatest (and cheapest) benefits you can provide. (And this is just as big a problem for men as it is for women.)

Sick leave and job flexibility are the #1 benefit requested by workers. Think about your work environment: are you giving people the time and flexibility they need to live a meaningful life? A little flexibility goes a long way in building employee engagement.

Point 3. Diverse and Inclusive Work Environments Pay Off

The third and fourth topics discuss the issue of opportunities and career growth for women: research proves that diverse and inclusive companies outperform their peers. One could argue that women, which make up half the working population, don’t qualify as “diversity” – but in most companies women are a minority and they certainly are a minority in leadership.

Most big companies have a "Diversity & Inclusion" program which measures the number of women and minorities in various roles. Companies try very hard to avoid discrimination (which is illegal and often subconscious) to help them hire good people and build an inclusive work environment that attracts good people of all races, genders, ages, and cultures.

However our research shows that these strategies are even more powerful than most business leaders understand. Despite attempts to push diversity itself, many companies have a hard time building a truly inclusive culture. So while companies hire many women and minorities, they are less frequently promoted to leadership (we discuss below) and they often feel “unincluded.” In such an environment they may not fully express their opinion, take risks, or strive to take on more responsibility.

Maria Shriver talks about the need for women to define themselves as “providers” and build their life around a real career. Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In talks about the need for professional women to build self-confidence and assert their natural role as leaders in business. Well one of the reasons this is hard is that organizations themselves have inadvertently created a "non-inclusive" environment without even knowing it. By not promoting women into management and leadership, for example, women naturally feel un-included.

Deloitte Australia studied this issue in a famous research report entitled "Waiter is that Inclusion in my Soup?" This groundbreaking research studied the behavior and performance of several thousand employees in several organizations and found that employees who work in a "high-inclusion and high-diversity" environments perform at 80% higher rates than those who work in "low-diversity and low-inclusion" environments!

Recent Deloitte US research went further: 82% of women at work change their appearance in some way to get ahead, and 53% believe that their ability to "cover" their true self helps them get ahead. (Men are impacted by this as well.) Is this any way to come to work?

This research confirms other studies we’ve uncovered. A major manufacturing client told me that they looked at the innovation and manufacturing efficiency of dozens of programs in their company and found definitively that the "highly diverse" teams were statistically more innovative and delivered higher quality than their peers.

When a team has a diverse make up (which includes gender, age, nationality, personality, thinking style, race, and other factors) more ideas are tested and commonly held wisdom is challenged. Many of the best decisions are made when people think outside the box and "see the truth," rather than "see what everyone else sees." Women in male-dominated organizations bring this new perspective.

Point 4. Promoting Women into Leadership Pays Off

The last piece of research addresses the issue of women in leadership. Research shows that when women lead, the business performs.

Catalyst, a leading research firm that studies women in business, found that a 10% increase in women on the board correlates to a 21% increase in women in executive positions, and even more importantly:

  • Return on Equity: Companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 53 percent.
  • Return on Sales: Companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 42 percent.
  • Return on Invested Capital: Companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 66 percent.

This has certainly been my own personal experience. In the company I founded (Bersin by Deloitte), many of our best analysts, sales people, and marketing leaders are women. In fact more than half our business is women.

This is a challenge which remains unsolved. Despite the promotion of Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Ginny Rometti (IBM), Indira Nooyi (Pepsi), and other high-profile executives, progress seems stalled:

  • Women held only 16.9% of corporate board seats in 2013, indicating no significant year-over-year uptick for the 8th straight year.
  • Only 14.6% of Executive Officer positions were held by women—the 4th consecutive year of no year-over-year growth.
  • Women of color continued to fare particularly poorly, holding just 3.2% of all board seats.
  • 10% of companies had no women serving on their boards; more than 2/3 of companies had no women of color directors.
  • Women held only 8.1% of top earner slots—again no change from prior year.

If you are a business leader or HR manager look around at your own leadership. Are women represented adequately? If not, I challenge you to ask why.

Bottom Line: Employers Can and Should Make a Difference

The Shriver Report study makes a compelling case. Too many women still find the workplace difficult, uninviting, or unrewarding. Too many women live in poverty. And even professional women (and men) struggle to balance the demands of their employer with the needs of their family.

My point is that this is not only hard on people, it’s also bad business. Paying people well, creating flexible working conditions, and creating an inclusive environment improves business performance. It creates a workplace of engaged, hard-working, collaborative people. And this in turn increases sales, customer service, and long term profitability.

A famous 2008 Harvard Business Review article “The Service Value Chain” proves that employee-centric companies like Southwest Airlines outperform their peers on a regular basis. This lesson, which was learned many years ago, needs to be re-learned today.

What’s good for people is always good for business. Think about these issues in your own work environment and ask yourself are we doing what’s best for our people and our customers? If you do I think you’ll find many opportunities to help women in your own work environment, and improve your bottom line as well.

Josh Bersin writes and researches corporate talent, learning, leadership, and HR best-practices around the world. He is Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and founder of Bersin by Deloitte. You can follow Josh here or on twitter josh_bersin or at .



Politics: From Vision to Action

Deutschland, Allein zu Haus

American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University

January 6, 2014

Von: Michael Inacker | Im: Foreign & Domestic Policy Program
Themen: Security and Defense | Tags: EU, Foreign and Domestic Policy, Germany, United States

Man konnte es in Berlin beobachten. Als der Economist im Sommer 2013 in einer aufwendigen Titelgeschichte Deutschland als „zögerlichen Hegemon“ bezeichnete, fühlte sich die deutsche Außenpolitik seltsam geschmeichelt. Natürlich wurde in offiziellen Reaktionen die Assoziation zwischen Deutschland und „Hegemon“ als nicht passend zu einer „Kultur der Zurückhaltung“ (Guido Westerwelle) zurückgewiesen. Aber in vielen Hintergrundgesprächen schwang doch so etwas wie ein Bewusstsein neuer Bedeutung mit. Die Wege nach Europa führen über Berlin. Das weiß man inzwischen in den internationalen Hauptstädten, und in der deutschen Hauptstadt verändert die Fremdeinschätzung die Selbsteinschätzung. Allerdings nicht zum Guten.

Das eigene und fremde Schulterklopfen überdeckt dabei wachsende oder sogar neu aufbrechende emotionale Distanzen. Denn Deutschland und seine Außenpolitik geben derzeit nicht nur den europäischen und amerikanischen Partnern Rätsel auf, sondern auch internationalen Akteuren anderswo. Einige wenige große Konstanten der deutschen Nachkriegspolitik waren – bei allen taktischen Abweichungen – immer berechenbar: Westbindung, transatlantische Solidarität, Mitarbeit an der europäischen Integration und später die notwendige Ergänzung der Verankerung im Westen durch eine aufgeklärte Ostpolitik.

Selbst die anfänglich von den USA misstrauisch verfolgte Ostpolitik wurde zur logischen Konsequenz erfolgreicher Westpolitik. Gerade weil die transatlantische Bindung eng war und auf breitem Fundament stand, konnte die Bonner Regierung die Kanäle Richtung Osten verbreitern. Die großen Linien heute – jenseits Euro-Rettung und „Kultur der Zurückhaltung“ – sind jedoch schwer auszumachen. Wer die internationale Lage Deutschlands nüchtern betrachtet, muss sich Sorgen machen. Deutschland droht ein einsames Land zu werden. Wie eine Art Großer Koalition in der Außenpolitik haben die Kanzlerschaften von Gerhard Schröder und Angela Merkel die größte Industrienation Europas in ein internationales Zwischenreich geführt – und das sowohl inhaltlich als auch machtpolitisch. 15 Jahre Regierung von wirklichen Nachkriegskanzlern haben ausgereicht, um Deutschland einer neuen, gefährlichen Drift auszusetzen. Entschuldigend kann man sagen, dass dahinter keine Strategie steckt und wenig innere Überzeugung. Vielmehr sind drei Regierungen seit 1998 unkoordiniert in etwas hineingestolpert und haben teilweise Außenpolitik für innenpolitische Zwecke instrumentalisiert – und somit bestehende Konstanten verbogen.

Da sind zunächst die Verhaltensmerkmale, die sich geändert haben: Man neigt dazu, bei Konflikten der „westlichen“ Bündnispartner auszuscheren und in deren Konflikten mit Dritten oder überhaupt in Konflikten zwischen Dritten als ausgleichende „Friedensmacht“ zu wirken. Andererseits ist die Herausbildung eines neuen deutschen Selbst- und Sendungsbewusstseins zu beobachten. Moralische Ober- und Untertöne überlagern die Melodie einer pragmatischen Außenpolitik, die bislang Werte und Interessen einigermaßen ausbalancierte. Im Rahmen des routinierten Pragmatismus, den die deutsche Außenpolitik über viele Jahrzehnte auch ausgezeichnet hat, machen sich wachsende Aufgeregtheiten bemerkbar. Man ignoriert Geopolitik, und betont allein die Außen-wirtschaftspolitik. Schließlich folgt nach einer zurückhaltenden Öffnung für den Einsatz des militärischen Instruments seit den neunziger Jahren inzwischen wieder dessen grundsätzliche Infragestellung.

Deutsche Unzuverlässigkeit

Diese Verhaltensauffälligkeiten bedeuten einen Rückschritt. Sie führen in den Hauptstädten der deutschen Partner zum Vorwurf der deutschen Unzuverlässigkeit. Aus diesem Grund wird wohl derzeit ein Buch des Zeithistorikers Hans-Peter Schwarz wieder aktuell, der 1985 unter dem Titel „Die gezähmten Deutschen. Von der Machtbesessenheit zur Machtvergessenheit“ die Extrem-Ausschläge deutscher Außenpolitik seziert hat. Schwarz wies darauf hin, dass sich in der neuzeitlichen Geschichte die Nachbarn nicht nur über deutsche Unfriedlichkeit und Schneidigkeit aufzuhalten pflegten, sondern auch über „harmonisierende Furchtsamkeit“. So widmete die Londoner Times 1860 der preußisch-deutschen Außenpolitik die folgende Charakteristik: „Preußen lehnt sich immer an jemanden an, möchte immer, dass ihm jemand hilft, ohne jemals bereit zu sein, sich selbst zu helfen. Es ist stets bei der Hand, in gründliche Erwägungen einzutreten, nie aber, sich zu entscheiden. Auf Kongressen ist es immer dabei, auf dem Schlachtfeld nie. Es spricht und schreibt immer nur über eine Frage, nimmt aber nie pro oder contra Stellung. Zwar ist es stets bereit, mit jeder Menge von Idealen oder Gefühlen zu Diensten zu sein, scheut aber vor allem zurück, das nach Wirklichkeit und Aktualität riecht. Es hat eine große Armee, aber diese hat den notorischen Ruf, nicht zum Kampf geeignet zu sein. Es produziert eine Unmenge von Zirkularschreiben und Noten, hat aber im Regelfall für beide Seiten etwas zu sagen. Niemand verlässt sich auf seine Freundschaft; niemand droht ihm als Feind. Wie es eine Großmacht wurde, lehrt uns die Geschichte; warum es eine bleibt, vermag niemand zu sagen.“

Inzwischen vernimmt man solche Stimmungen in den Hauptstädten der Partner wieder. Aus Stimmungen können inhaltliche Meinungsverschiedenheiten, aus Meinungsverschiedenheiten machtpolitische und strategische Veränderungen werden. Dabei trägt Deutschland sicherlich nicht die alleinige Schuld für diese Veränderungen. Auch seine Partner fallen in alte Denkmuster, unilaterale Politik oder auch traditionelle Allianzen zurück, beispielsweise in die wiederbelebte britisch-französische „Entente Cordiale“ in der Sicherheitspolitik. Inzwischen werden Trends sichtbar, die Deutschlands außenpolitisches Koordinatensystem verändern. Aus der bisherigen bundesrepublikanischen Tradition einer stetigen Berliner Teilnahme an einem internationalen Konzert droht ein außenpolitisches Solo zu werden.

Zerbrechende Freundschaft mit den USA

Die NSA-Abhöraffäre und der direkte Informationszugriff der amerikanischen Dienste auf das Handy von Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel sind nicht Ursache, sondern vor allem weiterer Höhepunkt in der nicht nur politischen, sondern auch emotional-kulturellen Entfremdung der Deutschen von den USA. Sicher, gäbe es einen russischen oder chinesischen Snowden, dann wäre der deutschen Öffentlichkeit vielleicht klarer, dass Staaten insbesondere Interessen verfolgen. So aber empfindet eine idealisierende Nation mit einer idealisieren den Außenpolitik enttäuschte Liebe über das offenkundige Misstrauen von Freunden gegen Freunde. Und aus enttäuschter Liebe wird schnell Verbitterung und Abwendung.

Der Honeymoon der deutsch-amerikanischen Beziehungen, als ein euphorisierter George Bush im weltpolitischen Epochenjahr 1989 Helmut Kohl „Partnership in Leadership“ anbot und dies von den Deutschen nicht verstanden und abgelehnt wurde, begann schon mit dem ersten Irak-Krieg zu verblassen. Fiel damals deshalb erst einmal nur der Karneval aus, so veränderte der zweite Irak-Krieg mit der auf einem Marktplatz vollzogenen öffentlichen Distanzierung der damaligen Schröder-Regierung vollends das Meinungsklima. Antiamerikanische Proteste bis in die Kindergärten hinein prägten mit anhaltender Wirkung die Wahrnehmung der amerikanischen Politik in Deutschland. Doch etwas anderes kam in den Folgejahren hinzu. War die Distanzierung von Amerika vor allem ein linkes Phänomen, so wurden auch bürgerlich-konservative Kreise dafür anfällig und rümpfen heute die Nase über eine kapitalistische Gesellschaft ohne Werte und Stil. Auch die deutsche Wirtschaftselite, traditionell eher transatlantisch geprägt, begann (noch verhalten) an den USA zu zweifeln. Es ist bislang wenig beachtet geblieben, welche negativen Folgen die Ermittlungen der amerikanischen Börsenaufsicht (SEC) bei Daimler und Siemens im Bewusstsein deutscher Manager angerichtet haben, die inzwischen heftig über die exterritoriale Anwendung amerikanischen Rechts in Deutschland klagen. Zwischen Deutschland und Amerika hat es mit dem Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts einen politisch-kulturellen Bruch gegeben, der inzwischen weite Kreise der deutschen Bevölkerung erfasst hat. Beide Länder sind sich so fremd wie nie, und vor allem die deutsche Politik hat weder die zerbrechende Freundschaft erkannt, noch weiß sie offenbar um die Risiken oder hat den Willen zum Neustart.

Kluft zwischen Paris und Berlin

In der gerne nabelschauenden, großkoalitionären Berliner Republik ist eine Entwicklung übersehen worden, die mehr als alles andere über den wahren Zustand der deutsch-französischen Beziehungen aussagt. Paris überlegt, aus der deutsch-französischen Brigade auszusteigen. Sparzwang ist zwar das formale Argument, doch französische Kritiker dieser europäischen Armee im Kleinen verweisen darauf, dass die Brigade nach 20 Jahren der Zusammenarbeit noch nie in gemeinsamen Auslandseinsätzen gekämpft hat. Aus Pariser Sicht steht das für die Untauglichkeit des ganzen Unternehmens. Wer sollte es Paris verdenken – als Frankreich Anfang 2013 in Mali intervenierte, bestand der deutsche militärische Beitrag aus der Entsendung zweier klappriger Transall-Transportmaschinen.

Auch in einem anderen Projekt konkreter Zusammenarbeit ist Entfremdung zu beobachten. Als der deutsche Vorstandschef des deutsch-französischen Luft- und Raumfahrtkonzern EADS, Thomas Enders, 2012 eine Fusion mit dem britischen Rüstungsunternehmen BAE-Systems anstrebte, hatte er sehr schnell die Unterstützung von Paris, wo ausgerechnet die staatsgläubige sozialistische Regierung ein Vorhaben mittrug, das den öffentlichen Einfluss verwässert hätte – während Berlin das Projekt zum Schluss stoppte. Noch tiefer gehen die Meinungsverschiedenheiten in der Euro-Rettungspolitik.

Isolierung Deutschlands in der EU

Deutschland ist durch das Krisenmanagement in der Euro-Rettung zum dominanten Staat in Europa geworden. Auch wenn man die Inhalte dieser Politik (Sanierung der öffentlichen Haushalte, Reformen und keine Haftung für Schulden anderer EU-Staaten) für richtig hält – die Kommunikation ist es nicht. Es ist unübersehbar, dass sich gegenüber dem „reluctant hegemon“ eine wachsende Distanz, ja Aversion aufbaut. Viel zu wenig sind vor allem Kanzlerin Merkel und Finanzminister Wolfgang Schäuble in einen Dialog mit den Öffentlichkeiten der Krisenländer Griechenland, Italien, Spanien, Portugal und schließlich auch Frankreich eingetreten, um die Haltung Deutschlands in der Euro-Krise zu erklären und für die deutsche Sichtweise zu werben.

Mit dem Pochen auf Alternativlosigkeit kommt man im Verhältnis zwischen Nationen mit ihrer je eigenen Sicht auf Würde und Souveränität nicht weiter. Man kann mit einer politischen Form von Gleichgültigkeit so vorgehen, muss sich aber nicht wundern, wenn dadurch die zentrifugalen Kräfte um Deutschland herum wachsen. Dies gilt auch und gerade im Umgang mit den kleinen Ländern der EU, die Bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl immer besonders gepflegt hat. Ein Beispiel zeigt das mangelnde Fingerspitzengefühl: Zur Krönung des neuen niederländischen Königs Willem-Alexander am 30. April 2013, der Amtseinführung des Staatsoberhaupts unseres Nachbarn, war Deutschland weder durch Präsident, Bundeskanzlerin oder Außenminister vertreten – sondern hatte als offiziellen Vertreter die ehemalige Bundestagspräsidentin Rita Süssmuth geschickt. Es fällt schwer, dies als Symbol besonderer Wertschätzung zu lesen – und das ausgerechnet gegenüber einem Land, das zu den wenigen Unterstützern Deutschlands im europäischen Krisenmanagement zählt.

Non-verhältnis mit Russland

Das Verhältnis zu Russland – einst eine wichtige Disziplin in der deutschen Außenpolitik – ist auf gegenseitiges Unverständnis reduziert. Man muss den russischen Präsidenten Wladimir Putin nicht zu einem „lupenreinen“ Demokraten machen, um eine aktive Russland-Politik zu betreiben. Aber zwischen Kaltem-Kriegs-ähnlichem Misstrauen einerseits und einer aus antiwestlichen Ressentiments gespeisten russophilen Haltung andererseits gibt es eine Vielzahl von Zwischenstufen, die der zumindest teilweisen Interessenübereinstimmung zwischen Moskau und Berlin – beispielsweise in der Energiepolitik, dem Kampf gegen den islamischen Extremismus, der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, dem Freihandel – entsprechen. Auf der Basis einer pragmatischen Russland-Politik könnte sich wiederum der Dialog bei den Konflikthemen mit Moskau – Syrien, Iran, EU- und NATO-Erweiterung in Ost- und Südosteuropa – erleichtern.

Derzeit wird das Verhältnis zwischen Deutschland und Russland von Sprachlosigkeit geprägt. Auch hier ist die deutsche Außenpolitik weit entfernt von einem Konzept der konstruktiven Partnerschaft mit der gestutzten Großmacht, die aber weiterhin ein international wichtiger Akteur bleibt und ohne dessen Mitwirkungen sich einige zentrale Krisen der Welt nicht lösen lassen.

China scheint inzwischen der einzige Staat auf der weltpolitischen Bühne zu sein, bei dem der Ansatz eines Konzepts und einer langfristig angelegten außenpolitischen und außenwirtschaftlichen Strategie Berlins erkennbar ist. Obwohl in China ähnliche rechtsstaatliche und menschenrechtliche Defizite wie in Russland zu beobachten sind, ist hier die deutsche Politik deutlich stärker geneigt, aus politischen und wirtschaftlichen Interessen eine pragmatische Haltung zu verfolgen.

Schwierig nur, dass in Asien bei den Nachbarn Chinas – Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapur, den Philippinen – die Sorge über die machtpolitischen Ambitionen Pekings wächst. Hier verfolgt man sehr genau, wer willens ist, zur Wahrung des regionalpolitischen Status quo auch einen begrenzten Konflikt mit Peking zu wagen. Bei der jüngsten Auseinandersetzung um das Südchinesische Meer war jedenfalls in Berlin nur Schweigen zu vernehmen.

Eine Asien-Politik sollte aber mehr umfassen als nur eine enge Partnerschaft mit China. Warum startet Berlin nicht eine Initiative für eine umfassende Partnerschaft mit Japan – mit dem Land, das sich vor ähnlichen gesellschaftlichen (Demografie) und politischen Herausforderungen (Energiepolitik) sieht wie Deutschland? Beide Nationen könnten mit Blick auf wichtige wirtschaftliche und industriepolitische Standards als die immer noch führenden Industriestaaten wichtige Rahmenbedingungen setzen oder zumindest beeinflussen.

Keine Partnerschaftsstrategie mit Kontinenten im Aufbruch

Südamerika, vor allem Brasilien, ist ein neuer, aufstrebender Akteur in der Weltpolitik. Welche Vorstellungen hat die deutsche Außenpolitik für dieses Land? Wie will sie in dieser Region wirken? Wenn man davon ausgeht, dass das 21. Jahrhundert sicherlich kein europäisches mehr sein wird und auch Deutschland aufgrund seines demografisch bedingten Bevölkerungsverlusts ab 2030 spürbar an wirtschaftlicher Wachstumsdynamik verliert, braucht Berlin Partner, mit denen es zusammenarbeiten und wirtschaftlichen Erfolg erzielen kann. China hat im Falle seiner Expansion nach Afrika gezeigt, dass es einen aus deutscher Sicht für verloren gehaltenen Kontinent mit konsequenter Interessenpolitik für seine Strategie zu nutzen weiß.

Unterschiedliche Sicherheitsphilosophien führen Deutschland in die Isolation

Die Kriege im Irak und in Afghanistan haben die Deutschen ernüchtert. Sie haben den Eindruck gewonnen, dass das militärische Instrument falsch eingesetzt wurde – und stellen es deshalb gänzlich in Frage. Es entsteht ein moderner Gleichgültigkeitspazifismus, der ähnlich wie ein latenter Antiamerikanismus linke wie bürgerlich-konservative Kreise des Landes erfasst. Sicherlich fällt die Bilanz der Kriege mit westlicher Beteiligung in den vergangenen Jahrzehnten durchwachsen aus. Der erste Irak-Krieg zur Befreiung des besetzten Kuwaits war ein Erfolg, der zweite Irak-Krieg wird heute als ein „ungerechter“ Krieg wahrgenommen, und Afghanistan gilt nach über zehn Jahren als Fehlschlag mit unnötigen deutschen Opfern.

Die neuen Formen der Kriegführung treffen auf eine überkritische deutsche Öffentlichkeit. Waffensysteme wie Drohnen gelten als verwerflich – als ob es einen moralischen Unterschied mache, einen Al-Kaida-Führer mit einem bemannten Flugzeug anzugreifen und zu töten oder per ferngesteuerter Drohne. Schon bei den neuerlichen Spannungen in der chinesischen Südsee ist zu beobachten, dass andere Länder wie Japan – lange ebenfalls in einer Kultur militärischer Zurückhaltung lebend (die eigenen Streitkräfte wurden verschämt „Selbstverteidigungskräfte“ genannt) – aus nackter Interessenlage dem militärischen Instrument wieder einen deutlich anderen Stellenwert einräumen.

Und selbst wenn man im Falle Syriens eine westliche Militärintervention ablehnt, weil die Lage zu unübersichtlich ist – gegenüber einem Diktator wie Baschar al-Assad darf man die militärische Option nie von vornherein ausschließen, wie es die deutsche Außenpolitik in solchen Konflikten gerne tut. Sogar das Feuilleton der Süddeutschen Zeitung schrieb in ihrer Ausgabe vom 30.11./1.12.2013 selbstkritisch: „In Berlin trinkt man heute Ingwer-Bionade, wo einst die Grenztruppen der DDR an der Mauer Streife gingen.“ Aber der „Rest der Welt“, so SZ-Autor Hubert Wetzel, „ist immer noch voller Mauern, voller Bedrohungen. Und allein mit dem Strafgesetzbuch ist den Diktatoren, Menschenschindern und Dschihadisten zwischen Mali und Pakistan nicht beizukommen.“

Trends, die entfremden

Jede der aufgezählten Entwicklungen ist für sich genommen noch nicht kritisch. Die Summe der außenpolitischen Trends jedoch entfremdet Deutschland vom Kreis seiner bisherigen Partner und stellt die Stabilität seines Bündnisrahmens in Frage. Gleichzeitig sind neue Allianzen und Bündnisse, die ein auch nur annäherndes Gewicht bei gleichzeitiger relativ hoher Übereinstimmung im Wertefundament haben, nicht in Sicht. China beispielsweise wird immer nur ein funktionaler, aber kein umfassender Partner wie die USA sein können.

Die internationalen Partner Berlins verfolgen Deutschlands Außenpolitik mit gewisser Ratlosigkeit. In höflicher Diskretion wird diese Entwicklung noch nicht zum Thema gemacht. Zu wichtig ist Deutschlands Rolle derzeit bei der Euro-Rettung. Bei einigen Treffen zu zentralen außen- und sicherheitspolitischen Fragen kommen inzwischen die Regierungsvertreter aus den USA, Frankreich und Großbritannien schon mal ohne Deutsche aus. Mit Deutschland macht man Geschäfte – aber keine Politik. So einsam wie heute ist Deutschland schon seit langem nicht mehr gewesen. Mit dieser Einsamkeit kann ein Land sicherlich auch leben, vor allem wenn es sich dabei moralisch gut fühlt. Nun mag es eine Frage der Perspektive sein, ob die Mauern, von denen Hubert Wetzel spricht, die Welt nach wie vor teilen, einhegen oder schützen. Sie müssen aber in jedem Fall bemannt sein. Die Frage ist deshalb, was passiert, wenn eine dieser neuen Mauern angegriffen wird, die auch Deutschland schützen. Deutschlands Außenpolitik entspricht, so schreibt die Süddeutsche Zeitung in dem zitierten Beitrag, phänotypisch „einem netten, mittelalten untersetzten Herrn, der am liebsten seine Ruhe hätte“. Mit so einem Herrn trinkt man gerne auf internationalen Konferenzen ein Glas Wein oder Champagner. Aber auf ihn verlassen möchte man sich nicht. Und wenn er dann mal anruft, um in der Not um Hilfe zu bitten, dann kann es wohl durchaus sein, dass man ihn warten lässt.


The African Watershed in Global Affairs

Conflict emerges in Africa as the PRC battles to push resource exports toward the Indian Ocean

PEOPLE’s REPUBLIC OF CHINA (PRC) OFFICIALS are becom­ing increasingly apprehensive about the rise in the use of the westward corridor to export oil, diamonds, and rare minerals out of South Sudan and the Central African Re­ public via Cameroon. Iri other words, this creates a flow to Atlantic sea and air transportation routes, rather than routes eastward to Indian Ocean trade routes…. (see attachment)



Suter* Award-winning paper: How “the Pill” reduced the gender wage gap

Posted on January 22, 2014 by IZA Press

Hershbein, Zimmermann, Bailey, Giulietti, Miller

At the traditional IZA reception during the Annual Meeting of the Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA), held in Philadelphia in January 2014, IZA Director Klaus F. Zimmermann and Research Director Corrado Giulietti presented the 2013 IZA Young Labor Economist Award to Martha Bailey (University of Michigan), Brad Hershbein (Upjohn Institute) and Amalia Miller (University of Virginia) for their article “The Opt-In Revolution? Contraception, Fertility Timing and the Gender Gap in Wages” (American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2012, 4 (3), 225-254).

The award-winning paper is a prime example of how careful empirical research can enhance our understanding of the functioning of labor markets. The paper starts out from a classic and long-standing puzzle in labor economics – the gender wage gap and the question what determines whether the gap widens or declines. The paper then comes up with a creative and original hypothesis about a potential driver of the wage gap. Finally, the authors combine a large amount of data from various sources to convincingly show that their hypothesized mechanism is actually empirically relevant.

The puzzle to be explained is why the gender wage gap, after being relatively stable for about 30 years, declined rapidly and substantially in the 1980s. The authors hypothesize that the introduction of “the Pill” played an important role in this reduction. Oral contraception could be relevant for women’s life-time earnings, for instance, because it changed women’s incentives to invest in education, it allows them to accumulate more labor market experience, and it could change the type of jobs that women select into.

To test the influence of the Pill on the gender wage gap, the authors follow a sample of U.S. women who were born in 1943-1954 and who were interviewed by the National Longitudinal Survey of Young Women at several points in time from 1968 onwards. Some of these women lived in U.S. states where legal access to the Pill under age 21 was introduced earlier than in other states. The authors use these differences in early legal access to test whether and why the Pill really had a causal impact on the women’s labor market experience.

The paper demonstrates that early legal access had indeed a dramatic impact on several important outcomes in the life of these women. In particular, the authors show that women who had early legal access to the Pill were more likely to be enrolled in school in their early 20s and had reached higher levels of education at age 25. Consistent with greater school enrollment, these women had lower labor force participation rates and work hours in their early 20s, but they worked more afterward, so that by their early 40’s they had cumulated higher levels of work experience. Women with early legal access also received more formal job training and were more likely to work in professional occupations and in jobs that were traditionally “non-female occupations”. The greater human capital investments and the higher labor market participation led to steeper wage profiles and higher overall wages. By age 50, the women with early legal access to the Pill earned as much as 8 percent higher hourly wages.

In sum, the paper provides important new insights on the reasons behind the observed trends in the gender wage gap. It also enhances our understanding of the links between fertility, education, and life-cycle wages, more generally.



Middle East

Israeli officer: With 30,000 Al Qaeda fighters in Syria, Israel re-evaluates its neutrality in civil war

DEBKAfile Special Report January 25, 2014, 7:03 PM (IST)

Tags: IDF, Al Qaeda Syria, Al Qaeda Egypt, Israel-Syria,

Ahrar al-Sham jihadists fighting in Syria

In a special briefing to foreign correspondents Friday, Jan. 24, a high-ranking Israeli intelligence officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, reported that more than 30,000 al-Qaeda-linked fighters are active in Syria, a huge increase over the 2,000 jihadis present there two years ago. With jihadis in control of Syrian territory on Israel’s northern borders, the high-ranking officer said “many discussions are taking place behind closed doors about the possibility of rethinking its strategy” of neutrality in the Syrian civil war.

The inference drawn from this disclosure is that, for the first time in Syria’s three-year civil conflict, Israel is ready to embark on cross-border military action to stem this direct threat.
In his briefing, the Israeli officer stressed that the Islamic rebel groups massing in Syria have openly threatened to turn their sights on Israel after toppling Assad.
He went on to report that another 1,200 Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters have taken up a presence in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Furthermore, coordination has deepened among Al Qaeda’s branches in Syria and Egyptian Sinai, where its local Salafist supporters have formed a jihadist coalition calling itself Ansar Beit al Maqdis (the Jerusalem Front).
This front carried out four terrorist attacks in Cairo Friday, killing at least 6 people and injuring more than 60. It exhibited for the first time a capacity for coordinated terrorist attacks inside the Egyptian capital.

Last week, Sinai Salafists fired two Grad missiles at the Israeli town of Eilat, after a rash of attacks on Israeli forces and a numerous lethal assaults on Egyptian military targets in Sinai.

The IDF has never before released figures on the scale of Al Qaeda’s deployment in Syria, or revealed its concentration on the Israeli border. The policy overhaul the officer described offered the rationale for potential Israeli intervention in Syria in order to push the jihadist menace back from its northern towns and villages.
Israel targeted after Syria and Iraq

Thousands of foreign fighters from across the Muslim world, as well as Europe and North America, have flocked to Syria to bolster the al-Qaeda-linked groups operating in Syria. They have big plans to establish a big independent Islamic state at the heart of the Middle East. This is the conclusion of intelligence experts, according to debkafile’s counter-terror and military sources. This state is intended in the first instance to devour large swathes of Iraq and Syria, before the founders turn their sights on Israel and Jordan.

However, if their first goal of toppling the Assad regime is frustrated by the Russian-Syrian-Iranian-Hizballah alliance, they are ready to reverse this order and go straight for Israel.
Four radical Islamist fighting groups are active in the Syrian civil war:

1. Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, operates under direct orders from the top, the Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zuwahiri.

Wednesday, Jan. 22, the Shin Beit reported foiling a plot he had hatched for a mixed team of jihadists to carry out three terrorist operations in Israel. Local Palestinians and al Qaeda terrorists coming in from Turkey or Syria and the Russian Caucasian republics were to blow up the US Embassy in Tel Aviv as well as the Convention Center and a bus route in Jerusalem.
This disclosure provided the background for the briefing the IDF offered foreign correspondents Friday.
2. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which has captured large areas of eastern Syria, including some of its oil fields, and seized strategic districts of western Iraq, including the towns of Fallujah and Ramadi.

3. Ahram al Sham (Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant). Though less known in the West, this organization has raised a force of 15,000 combatants from Al Qaeda and various radical Salafist movements. It heads the newly-formed Islamist Front of seven anti-Assad terrorist groups.
While this front has separated itself from Al Qaeda and is funded and armed by Saudi Arabia, it shares the same ideology and dedication to Israel’s destruction.
Ahram al Sham’s relations with al Qaeda have been the subject of speculation among US and Israeli intelligence specialists. The guessing was laid to rest in early January, when the group’s leader Abu Khalid al-Syria admitted for the first time that he is a member of al Qaeda.
4. Jaish al-Islam (the Army of Islam). This is the largest Syrian rebel force present in the Damascus area, and Riyadh’s favored group for assistance, judging from the fact that, in addition to arms and funds, Saudi intelligence has sent Pakistani military instructors to train its members.

Israel’s military options
Although the IDF officer did not go into Israel’s military plans for tackling the burgeoning Al Qaeda threat, debkafile’s military sources project some options.
a) Carving out secure buffer zones, permanent or temporary, on the Syrian side of the border. This would be contingent on the cooperation of local Syrian militias willing to rid their lands of Al Qaeda incursions.

b) Air and ground strikes against jihadist border concentrations.
c) Deep thrusts inside Syria and Iraq to block al Qaeda forces’ advances to threaten the Kingdom of Jordan.
d) Targeted assassinations of top al Qaeda commanders.
e) Thwarting jihadist drives to extend their conquests of strategic areas of Syria for use as springboards against Israel. One example is Jebel Druze, whose population has preserved neutrality and stayed out of the Syrian civil war.
Israel’s recourse to military action against the jihadist threat from Syria would require learning US military tactics for combating terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The IDF has no experience of this kind or scale of warfare. It would have to re-write its war doctrine and retrain substantial commando forces in preparation for long years of close-up combat against the jihadist enemy.
Israel would also need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of a military campaign against al Qaeda’s Syrian deployment, taking into consideration that resorting to a campaign against al Qaeda would ease the pressure on the Assad regime and its allies, Iran and Hizballah. That is a hard call to make.





SABIC expects to enter US shale market this year

DAVOS, Switzerland: Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) is in talks with several US firms to invest in the US shale gas industry, and expects to enter the market this year, Chief Executive Mohamed Al-Mady said.

"We’re currently in talks with a few big names in the US for investment in shale gas. We expect to enter the market sometime this year. This will be great for SABIC and will globalize our operations," he said.

Al-Mady, speaking to Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, later said the investment would be in downstream operations.
He did not elaborate on the size or type of US shale gas operations that SABIC was contemplating, or reveal its potential partners.

Last year Al-Mady said SABIC, one of the world’s biggest petrochemical producers, planned to build a shale gas cracker in the US.

Any investment would not be heavy in the initial stages, Al-Mady said, adding the company had no urgent funding needs so he doubted it would tap the bond market this year.

"We hope our profit will increase next year. There won’t be any significant investment in the coming two to three years. Most of the shale investment will come in 2017."


Use of Rail in Crude Transport Unlikely to Slow Down Despite

With limited pipeline infrastructure available to transport oil to refineries – and the downsides of greenhouse gas emissions, fuel costs and road damage resulting from hauling fuel by truck – the oil and gas industry does not have many other options available for transporting crude oil, said Ankur Jajoo, environmental industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan, in an interview with Rigzone.

“The energy industry as a whole works on the economics. Whether it’s upstream, midstream or downstream, transportation is a key area for reducing costs. The industry looks to save where it can. If using rail is more economic versus trucks, then that is what companies will use,” said Ankur Jajoo, environmental industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan, in an interview with Rigzone.

Barring any significant developments, rail will continue to be widely used over the next several years, given the amount of time needed to construct pipeline infrastructure and bring it online. The key challenge for industry is that the North Dakota incident is the second rail disaster in the past year or so.

The surge in Canadian oil sands production and U.S. unconventional oil production over the past five years, which severely stressed North America’s transportation infrastructure and caused quality dislocations and price disparities for benchmark crudes, created supply and demand imbalances and logistical bottlenecks indicate a need for better long-term pipeline solutions and a more efficient pipeline network, according to a 2013 Ernst & Young report.

However, pipeline permitting and construction delays and pricing incentives have resulted in railways becoming a serviceable transportation option for inland crudes. While not a replacement for pipelines, it is positioned to grow and will remain as a long-term strategic complement or supplement to pipelines.

“Given the optionality on destinations that rail has created, producers are increasingly reluctant to commit volumes to new pipelines,” according to the Ernst & Young report. “Rail has allowed producers to link inland prices to a broader set of benchmarks than just West Texas Intermediate amid a very dynamic pricing environment.”

Brigham A. McCown, managing director with Nouveau Corp., a firm that advises public and private sector clients on energy, transportation, infrastructure and logistical matters, views pipelines as the best source of transportation for moving oil long distances and across state lines.

“Pipelines do have an edge in the safety arena because they are largely underground, out of sight, and pose less of a chance of interactions with the public than people’s interactions with cars, trucks, trains or ships. “Pipelines are the only pure one way transportation system we have, whereas railcars and trucks have to get back from point B to point A after making a trip.”

Pipelines also use less energy to transport crude.

In its review of U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) safety and accident statistics for the existing U.S. pipeline network, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research found that pipelines provide a substantial cost advantage, and their use result in fewer spillage incidents and personal injuries than road and rail.

“As America continues to ramp up production of oil and natural gas, our pipeline infrastructure becomes more important,” according to the Manhattan Institute report. “We need better pipelines to get oil from North Dakota to the refineries in the Gulf, and natural gas from the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania (and New York, should the Empire State allow production to move forward) and the Utica shale in Ohio to the rest of the country.”

A Jan. 15 report from the American Petroleum Institute (API) found that pipelines are “extremely safe and efficient” for transporting energy across the United States. The report, which API conducted with the Assocation of Oil Pipe Lines, also found that industry’s continual efforts to improve the safety of the nation’s network of crude and petroleum product pipelines have reduced pipeline incidents by 62 percent from 2011-2012.

“Statistically, pipelines have an almost 100 percent safety record and reaching a perfect record of safety is our industry’s goal,” said API Pipeline Director Peter Lidiak in a Jan. 15 press release. “Key to that effort is to prevent accidents by improving inspection technology and management practices and oversight. In that regard, the industry has implemented best practices that have lowered corrosion-caused spills by almost 80 percent since 2012.”

Over 14 billion barrels of crude oil and petroleum products were transported by nearly 186,000 miles of liquids pipelines in 2012. The industry also invested $1.6 billion in infrastructure safety and inspected more than 35,000 miles of pipeline with “smart-pig” in line technology, according to the Annual Liquid Pipeline Safety Performance Report & Strategic Plan.

Keystone Remains at Standstill Despite Rail Incidents The string of accidents involving railcars carrying crude will not deter the movement of Bakken oil to market, even if the Keystone XL pipeline is not approved. “Even if you don’t approve Keystone, the oil will still find its way to market,” said McCown, adding that he now believes that the delay in the Keystone pipeline is “100 percent about politics” and zero percent about safety.

Noting that it took less time for the United States to win World War II than approve the Keystone pipeline, McCown said that, by blocking Keystone, environmentalists may actually cause more carbon emissions and undermine their own environmental safety argument. The recent disaster will provide a key discussion point for proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline to get the project approved; Jajoo doesn’t believe Keystone’s approval will hinge on the recent incident.

“The scale of the incident is not like the Deepwater Horizon,” Jajoo commented. “Industry will pick itself up and move forward.” While railcars may be cheaper now, the recent issues with derailments and safety measures may mean that pipelines will serve as a better long-term solution. “This is dependent upon other factors such as the potential of proven recoverable reserves in a particular basin justifying the investment in pipelines,” said Jajoo.

The industry is certainly seeking the investment for pipelines, but faces not only environmental but geopolitical challenges. “The pipelines will run through multiple states for which some states may not agree to allow pipelines to run through them,” said Jajoo. “Oil prices are very volatile and temporary dips in prices are not usually a long-term challenge. Exploration and production companies will really seek whatever is the most cost effective solution for them.”


Republican Senators Urge Obama To Move On Keystone XL

WASHINGTON, Jan 24 (Reuters) – All 45 Republican U.S. Senators urged President Barack Obama on Friday to end delays and approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline that would connect Canada’s tar sands with refiners at the Gulf of Mexico.

The letter was timed ahead of the president’s annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday, although it is unknown if Obama will make a reference to Keystone. "Given the length of time your administration has studied the Keystone XL pipeline and the public’s overwhelming support for it, you should not further delay a decision to issue a Presidential permit," the senators wrote to Obama in an effort led by John Hoeven of North Dakota and John Barrasso of Wyoming.

First proposed in 2008, TransCanada Corp’s pipeline is currently awaiting a final environmental impact statement (EIS) from the U.S. State Department, which is involved in the process because the pipeline crosses a national border. That report was thought likely to have been released in late 2013, although there was no firm deadline.

The impact statement will trigger several more steps on the path to an approval or rejection of Keystone. "We, therefore, request that you issue the final EIS and Presidential permit approving the pipeline as soon as possible and tell us when we can expect your decision," the senators wrote. The lawmakers noted that Obama told Senate Republicans in March that a decision on Keystone would be made before the end of 2013. "We are well into 2014 and you still have not made a decision," they said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said he was unaware of the conversation with the president that the senators cited, and he noted that the State Department was driving the process. The 1,200 mile (1,930-km) pipeline would carry some 830,000 barrels a day from the Alberta tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The southern leg of the pipeline, from the Gulf to a storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, started operations this week. "We need a safe and efficient system to transport crude oil in this country. The Keystone XL pipeline is a vital piece of the puzzle," the senators wrote. Secretary of State John Kerry on Jan. 17 offered no timetable for a decision on Keystone, but said he hoped an analysis of the thousands of public comments on its environmental impact would be done "soon."



* Stan McChrystal *Co-Founder and Partner at McChrystal Group *

Productivity Hacks: Is Your Organization in a Fighter’s Stance?

The military is, ultimately, a massive pool of human capital. That human capital must be recruited, trained, equipped, housed, fed, deployed, and given clear plans to execute. Doing each of those things is complex, but they all have one variable in common: they each take time. In the 20 century, gaining efficiency in all of these steps was the goal, and the world’s dominant militaries had these processes honed to scientific perfection. As I moved up the ranks, I became more and more capable of factoring time into any broader military context: I understood the time it took to create a qualified Ranger; the time between budget approval and new equipment arrival; the time to fully train a platoon for a combat deployment – all of this was measured and optimized.

But in the post-9/11 environment, something changed. As the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, I realized that the complexity of variables for which we needed to account, and the rate at which those variables were changing, had outstripped our advantages of efficiency. Gone almost instantly were the days of identifying a requirement on the battlefield, then surging forces or resources to fill the gap. Of course, this was still part of the process, but a myriad of other issues needed to be considered as well. What were the tribal dynamics in the region? Did Al Qaeda hold influence there? How were American military units, the State Department, aid groups, and others interacting? Even more critically, when all of those factors shifted—which they did, rapidly and continuously—how could we keep up?

All the tools I was using to solve problems were the same ones I had used my entire career—the best trained forces in the world, operating with the same highly efficient processes I knew well. But we quickly found ourselves moving from crisis to crisis and from near-term target to near-term target. It consumed my personal focus. When I was pulled into the minutia of the fight, I was unable to shape our efforts at a strategic level. I was spending the bulk of my time “putting out fires.”

Since retiring and spending time with leaders in other sectors, I have seen the same pattern unfolding. Leaders in every space can get thrown off course due to a crisis. They can lose sight of their strategic priorities as the day-to-day fight to survive takes hold. But every decision taken by a leader burns resources, the most important of which is time. Given the constant change facing today’s businesses, deploying two-dimensional optimization processes can still lead to wasted time.

So how can leaders maintain strategic focus? For our special operations forces in Iraq, one key was to establish a Battle Rhythm— a steady cadence for the organization. This involved holding a repeating series of constantly refined key communication forums for information sharing and decision-making; but each focused around and specifically aligned against our strategic objective of defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The meetings occurred without fail. At first blush, a Battle Rhythm might appear to be the height of inefficiency – meetings for meetings’ sake. It is anything but that. Our battle rhythm became the breath of our organization. In the body, during crisis, oxygen continues to feed brain and muscle functions. (If you had to force yourself to think about making your heart beat and your lungs breathe, it would be difficult to tackle your other problems). A good Battle Rhythm helps an organization maintain its "fighter’s stance," providing stability and balance, allowing it to constantly assess and react to the inevitable challenges that arise. If nothing else, a Battle Rhythm gave our organization plentiful, predictable opportunities to align on a common objective. There may have been days where it would have been more efficient to cancel our daily, hours-long Operations and Intelligence Update, but repetition made that meeting an institution unto itself, an investment of timethat improved our ability to align and adapt.

With a battle rhythm established, my team developed a critical productivity tool: the Synchronization Matrix (or “Sync Matrix” as we called it). The Sync Matrix was an enterprise-wide Gantt chart-like display, onto which we plotted all of our “Battle Rhythm events.”

But instead of simply tracking linear processes and sequencing them in time, we used our Synch Matrix to pull in all of the new variables that made the environment so complex. Political cycles, key historic dates, and important religious remembrances were displayed—anything we thought would help us apply pressure to the enemy. Against the backdrop of our deeply-internalized Battle Rhythm, future requirements or conflicts for potential resources would be highlighted. We used the tool to rank different efforts in descending order of importance, and matched them to resources, milestones, and manning requirements. We were able to visually highlight the effects of any change of focus. Grasping information from the Sync Matrix became intuitive to any observer, not just its creators.

While a Battle Rhythm might seem merely like a strict calendar or meeting schedule, in reality it is far more, and that the necessity for it inhered in the complexity and fluidity of our operations. Likewise, the concept of the Sync Matrix seems basic. But it isn’t just a calendar visualization. We now work to design Battle Rhythms and Synch Matrixes for civilian and business organizations with which we work; in every case, the practices only become truly valuable when they are used to mesh an organization’s operations along with the layers of factors and flux in its environment, enabling accurate prioritization and de-confliction over time.

Operating on a Battle Rhythm and using a Synch Matrix require one core ingredient: discipline. In today’s world, these sorts of practices are necessary. To reclaim their time, leaders need to adapt to the information age. Developing your own Battle Rhythm and Sync Matrix can be your way of moving beyond a culture of crisis, to a culture of strategic success – and put your organization in its fighter’s stance.

Posted by:

Stan McChrystal




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