Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 28/02/14

Massenbach-Letter

Udo von Massenbach

Guten Morgen.

Brigadegeneral a.D. Klaus Wittmann: „Aktive statt reaktive Politik!“

Steinmeier ist der Mann der Stunde * Frank-Walter Steinmeier hat dem Amt des Außenministers die Würde zurückgegeben *

Volkswagen and the UAW ( ) “This would be the first works council established in the United States.”

Obama to unveil new manufacturing institutes in Chicago, Detroit

Massenbach* Transatlantic Collaboration and Latin America: New Opportunities and Incentives?

WASHINGTON—When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last November that the Monroe Doctrine was over, few on either side of the Atlantic took much notice. But his words are significant against the backdrop of 21st century transatlantic ties. Despite Asian growth, transatlantic collaboration sustained by common interests and values will be critical in shaping the global order. Greater participation by Latin America — particularly Brazil, despite current obstacles— can strengthen this partnership.

Trade will be a prime vector for engagement. The mega-agreements under negotiation — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — encompass roughly two-thirds of global GDP. The open trade and investment regimes they envision can drive economic growth and social development for decades. The agreements will facilitate the participation of Latin America’s open traders in value chains, accelerate the dissemination of new technologies, and help spur competitiveness.

Regional integration within Latin America helps. The most successful example may be the new Pacific Alliance, encompassing Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Mexico. With a third of the region’s GDP and over half its manufactured exports, alliance states are advancing quickly toward a zero-tariff regime, integrated stock and capital markets, regulatory harmonization, free movement of labor, and greater political coordination. As Pacific Alliance states reach outward — all have free trade agreements with the EU and United States — they will have greater capacity, and influence.

Atlantic South America is more complicated, but still promising. Brazil, with its unique combination of scale, resources, talent, and national will, is the main protagonist. Brazil and Argentina sat out the push for trade integration embraced by Pacific Latin America, North America, Europe, and much of East Asia. Although Mercosur (encompassing Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Paraguay) furthered some short-term political objectives after the agreement’s establishment in 1991, its principle economies remain among the region’s most closed.

Brazil instead leveraged high commodity prices and sound macro-economic policy to achieve growth and reduce social inequity. But its statist, protectionist approach abetted by private sector complacency are unlikely now to produce the growth required to expand social gains. With persistent infrastructure, fiscal, and regulatory problems too, Brazil knows the status quo will leave it increasingly isolated and uncompetitive in the new global economy.

Diplomatically, relations with the United States and EU took a back seat to other priorities, including attempts to project Brazilian leadership in the global south and strengthen ties to emerging economies. Many Brazilians now question the effectiveness and appropriateness of these approaches. A number of developments — softer commodity prices (including for energy), stronger economic fundamentals in the United States, improving economic prospects in Europe, progress toward TPP and TTIP, and closer commercial and energy ties between Africa and the North Atlantic — suggest an emerging global economic environment very different from what Brazil’s leaders bet on.

The days of breathless rhetoric of an emerging Brazil seem to be over. As all societies know, reinvention is politically difficult. There are heated debates in Brazil about how best to pursue the country’s interests and what its role in the world should be.

Some signs suggest pragmatism may win out. More businesses are advocating open trade and investment regimes. And the public is demanding better services and accountability — demands hard to ignore, and impossible to fulfill in anemic growth scenarios.

After 14 years of discussion, the EU is awaiting final proposals on an EU-Mercosur free trade area. At issue is whether Brazil’s will suggest a two-track approach to facilitate a strong agreement with countries that are ready — Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay — leaving room for Argentina to follow later if it so decides. At Davos last month, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff seemed to back away further from Brazil’s defensive trade posture when she said it was time to recognize the role that trade plays in economic growth.

In its biggest defense upgrade in decades, Brazil just signed a contract with a European company, Saab, for a new generation of fighter aircraft. Brazilian interests require significantly upgraded national security and intelligence capabilities. The entire transatlantic community would benefit from this too, for example, through enhanced Brazilian maritime capacity in the South Atlantic, and more effective information-sharing for counterterrorism and law enforcement.

These are all areas where stronger transatlantic partnership can pay big dividends. A strong and practical partnership does not imply subservience or an identical outlook. Pursued in good faith, it can provide mechanisms to compartmentalize and manage differences while still achieving concrete progress on common goals. Both the EU and United States have various formal structured dialogues with Brazil. They have limited impact, and should be invigorated by all sides to drive more productive ties.

Beyond that, a more robust conversation is necessary between private sector, civil society, and academic players about our priorities and common interests. Understanding these will be critical as our societies assume a greater — perhaps leading — role in shaping relations throughout the wider Atlantic. Transatlantic collaboration is the world’s biggest generator of global public goods — and here is a chance to enhance it.

William McIlhenny is a senior Wider Atlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

http://blog.gmfus.org/2014/02/09/brazil-transatlantic/

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Germany Needs Europe to Balance U.S. Digital Hegemony

Posted on 22 January 2014.

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama’s speech last week may have been meant to dispel concerns at home and abroad about U.S. surveillance activities. But Europe, and Germany in particular, are unlikely to be satisfied by the measures announced to reform the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

German concerns about U.S. spying on officials of the German foreign ministry and members of the legislature have not been addressed. There is neither a “no spy” agreement nor any written guarantee that the cell phones of the foreign minister or deputies of the Bundestag will remain uncompromised in the future. Germany will just have to live with the fact that the United States — as the world’s digital hegemon — claims the right to spook on it whenever and wherever it is deemed to be in their national security interest. And it is quite likely that Britain and the other members of the “Five Eyes” (Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) will assist the United States in such efforts. Nor will planned NSA reforms do nothing to deepen transatlantic cooperation when it comes to finding the right balance between security needs and privacy concerns. It is very much reminiscent of the ancient Greek historian Thucydides’ insight that the strong do what they want and the weak suffer what they must.

The situation is not hopelessly doomed, however. Germany should reassess its options for making its position regarding privacy rights understood more clearly. It must use its European influence to explain plainly to the United States and Britain that an almost complete disregard for its concerns is unacceptable. Germany is powerful enough to do so. It has, in the words of British historian Timothy Garton Ash, become Europe’s “indispensable power.” Its financial support is of crucial importance to many European member states. No major decision in the European Union can be adopted against German interests or without its support. Germany is also of crucial importance for transatlantic relations. It is the United States’ largest trading partner within the EU and a crucial voice in the on-going negotiations over a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This powerful position is an important bargaining chip that Germany can and should use for rallying European support and making its concerns better understood in Washington.

The outcome of the recent transatlantic discussions will also have an important effect on the on-going debate about “technological sovereignty.” Since U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden made his revelations about the NSA’s surveillance activities, there has been a growing chorus demanding that European states support their digital companies to become more competitive, and for the European economy to become less dependent on U.S. companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. The European economy’s heavy reliance on U.S. companies is increasingly viewed as a liability that needs to be overcome. Deutsche Telekom has even proposed a “Schengen Routing” scheme that ensures that European data only leaves the EU if European data protection laws are applied. This is, of course, a nightmare for the liberal order and in clear conflict with the idea of an open Internet. It is a threat, however, that will become more real if European concerns are not taken seriously on the other side of the Atlantic.

In order to prevent a further fragmentation of the Internet and the transatlantic market, German concerns will have to find a pan-European voice, much as has been done with respect to trade policy. Ever since the European Community was set up, the center of European trade policy has been concentrated in Brussels. Europe is an economic superpower whose voice is well heard in Washington.

The same must be done with regard to data protection. The pooling of member state competencies in Brussels will go a long way towards transforming neglected German concerns into powerful European interests. Any progress on TTIP should be tied on the European side to the conclusion of the umbrella agreement on data protection and data use. It must be admitted, however, that Germany itself will have to change course in order to make this strategy work. The German government is among the member states that have prevented the adoption of the European regulations on data protection. Its resistance must end as soon as possible. The only meaningful way ahead for Germany to address its concerns is to integrate even more with Europe, not only on intelligence cooperation but also on data protection. This is probably also in the best interests of a liberal and cooperative transatlantic order.

http://blog.gmfus.org/2014/01/22/germany-needs-europe-to-balance-u-s-digital-hegemony/

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* US-Autogewerkschaft verlangt Neuwahlen

21.02.2014, 23:54 Uhr

Die US-Autogewerkschaft UAW wirft Politikern und Lobbygruppen im Kampf um das VW-Werk in amerikanischen Chattanooga Einmischung vor. Jetzt verlangen die Arbeitnehmervertreter Neuwahlen.

VW-Werk in Chattanooga, Tennessee: Die Mitarbeiter hatten mit 712 zu 626 Stimmen gegen die Vertretung gestimmt. Quelle: ap

Detroit. Die Autogewerkschaft UAW gibt sich im Kampf um das VW-Werk im amerikanischen Chattanooga noch nicht geschlagen. Nachdem die Mehrheit der Mitarbeiter gegen eine Vertretung ihrer Interessen durch die UAW gestimmt hatte, fechtet die Gewerkschaft das Ergebnis nun an. Sie begründete diesen Schritt am Freitag mit der „Einmischung von Politikern und Lobbygruppen“. Ziel sind Neuwahlen.

Im Vorfeld der Wahl hatten republikanische Politiker damit gedroht, bei einem Sieg der Gewerkschaft VW künftig von Investitionshilfen auszuschließen. Ein Senator sagte zudem, dass das VW-Werk bei einem gewerkschaftsfreundlichen Votum ein geplantes neues Modell verlieren würde. Das hätten ihm VW-Manager gesagt. Der Werksleiter dementierte. Nun muss die zuständige Aufsichtsbehörde National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) entscheiden, ob dies eine unzulässige Beeinflussung war.

Die Mitarbeiter in Volkswagens einzigem US-Werk hatten vor einer Woche mit 712 zu 626 Stimmen gegen die Vertretung durch die UAW votiert. Dies war ein herber Rückschlag für die Gewerkschaft, die seit Jahren vergeblich versucht, in den Autofabriken im Süden der Vereinigten Staaten Fuß zu fassen. Der mächtige VW-Konzernbetriebsrat hatte auf die Wahl gedrungen, um einen Betriebsrat nach deutschem Vorbild in dem Werk zu etablieren.

In einem Interview mit der „Süddeutschen Zeitung“ hatte vor wenigen Tagen auch der Gesamtbetriebsratschef des Wolfsburger Konzerns, Bernd Osterloh, den konservativen US-Politikern gedroht. „Ich kann mir durchaus vorstellen, dass ein weiterer VW-Standort in den USA, sofern dort noch einer aufgebaut werden soll, nicht unbedingt wieder in den Süden gehen muss“, hatte Osterloh gesagt. „Wenn das Thema betriebliche Mitbestimmung nicht von vorneherein geregelt ist, werden wir als Arbeitnehmer dem kaum zustimmen können.“ VW baut in dem Werk den Passat.

http://www.handelsblatt.com/unternehmen/industrie/vw-werk-us-autogewerkschaft-verlangt-neuwahlen/9521668.html

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Thirteen billboards, one paint-shop worker helped defeat union at VW plant in Chattanooga

Sat, Feb 22 2014

By Kevin Drawbaugh and Nick Carey

WASHINGTON/CHATTANOOGA (Reuters) – In the aftermath of the United Auto Workers‘ crushing defeat in a vote to represent workers at Volkswagen’s sole U.S. factory, a key question remains unanswered: did conservative politicians and anti-union groups work together to stymie the union?

In an appeal to the National Labor Relations Board on Friday, the UAW said there was a "coordinated effort" by state politicians, anti-union groups and Tennessee’s U.S. Senator Bob Corker to coerce a no vote in the February 12-14 election.

The union’s NLRB filing offered scant detail to support the allegation, and Reuters interviews with more than a dozen players over the past week also provide no evidence of close contacts either between the politicians and the groups or among the groups themselves.

However, through the interviews a more complete picture emerges of how at least five national organizations and one grassroots group – all apparently operating independently – mounted a formidable threat to the UAW and helped thwart what many initially viewed as the favorite to win the election.

How that loose coalition was able to help defeat the UAW could provide a blueprint for conservative groups to oppose the union as it presses on with its campaign for representation in its first foreign-owned auto plant in the U.S. South.

Central to the anti-union effort in Chattanooga, Tennessee was an attempt to win not just the hearts and minds of auto workers but also those of their friends and families.

The UAW ran a fairly traditional campaign: meeting workers, distributing fliers and running radio ads. Anti-union forces, who were not allowed to campaign at the plant, waged war outside. Throughout Chattanooga, they held town hall meetings, launched anti-UAW websites, wrote numerous op-ed opinion pieces and radio ads, and put up billboards.

"My thinking is workers don’t operate in a vacuum. They operate in a community and when the community realizes how much is at stake for everyone, then that message reaches everyone," said Matt Patterson, one of the chief architects of the winning anti-union strategy.

UNPRECEDENTED CAMPAIGN

Anti-union activists say there was no coordinated campaign to defeat the UAW and no strategizing with Republican politicians who were speaking out against the vote. But several of the high-profile conservative groups and their affiliates previously have worked together on such hot-button issues as right-to-work and the rights of public employee unions.

These included the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. All are based in or just outside of Washington, and all helped to get right-to-work legislation passed in Nevada.

"It was a fairly intensive campaign, the likes of which we haven’t seen previously in an NLRB election," said John Logan, director of Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State University, of the Chattanooga effort.

As union elections go, the one in Chattanooga was unusual because the employer did not oppose the union. Union leaders, more used to facing opposition from company bosses on the shop floor, appear to have been caught off-guard by their opponents‘ strategy to take their campaign from the factory to the streets of Chattanooga.

"The ferocity of outside political and financial forces was unprecedented," said AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka at his union’s winter meeting this week in Houston. Trumka described the opposition’s campaign in Chattanooga as "an experiment by forces of right-wing zealotry."

Conservative Republicans, including Tennessee’s governor, spoke out strongly against the UAW in the final days of the election campaign. Among the most vocal critics of the union was Senator Corker, the former mayor of Chattanooga who helped bring the plant to his city in 2008.

Some conservative leaders acknowledge that defeating the UAW in Chattanooga was crucial to their broader battle-plan to keep organized labor from making inroads in southern states.

"GATEWAY TO THE SOUTH"

Grover Norquist, a conservative activist who heads the influential Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform, described the UAW vote at Volkswagen as "step one" in a union march on the south. "They get this (plant), then they start moving toward the other large companies … This is the gateway to the South, and by that I mean all the right-to-work, not heavily unionized states."

Norquist said the strategy of the Center for Worker Freedom, an affiliate of his Washington group, was to focus on the community and not just the workers at the plant. Volkswagen had barred anti-union groups from campaigning on company premises.

The Center for Worker Freedom bought up every available billboard it could find in town – 13 in all, he said.

"The various billboards weren’t just to make sure that everyone driving to the plant would see them but also so that everybody in town would see them," said Norquist.

One billboard linked the UAW to Democratic President Barack Obama, whose national approval ratings are dismally low, and another to the demise of auto hub Detroit, which filed the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history last July.

While the UAW has focused much of its post-election ire on Corker, anti-union activists say a key player in their effort in Chattanooga was Patterson, a little-known Norquist lieutenant who heads the Center for Worker Freedom.

Patterson began laying the anti-union groundwork in Chattanooga last spring, while still working for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). He began writing a series of opinion pieces for newspapers and helped organize local events.

"I thought if the UAW was going to have a victory in the South, then this was going to be the place where they had the best chance," Patterson said in an interview.

Patterson was one of the featured speakers at an anti-union town hall last July in Chattanooga. The event was organized by Mark West, head of the Chattanooga Tea Party, and his neighbor Don Jackson, former head of VW’s Chattanooga plant.

Anti-union activists deny coordinating their efforts. But West and Jackson said Patterson shared information, including newspaper articles and opinion pieces, with Mike Burton, 56, a paint shop worker at the VW plant who last summer began organizing anti-UAW workers in Chattanooga and later formed a group called Southern Momentum.

Burton, who became a poster boy for the anti-union movement, raised more than $100,000, mainly from workers and local citizens, according to Maury Nicely, a Chattanooga attorney retained by Southern Momentum.

Some of the money was used to create a website, http://www.no2uaw.org, develop a YouTube video and print anti-UAW fliers.

The Washington-based National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation sent two of its lawyers to Chattanooga to provide free legal advice to VW workers and wrote up anti-union press releases, according to NRWLDF spokesman Patrick Semmens.

In January, the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a Nashville-based anti-union group hosted an "educational event" for about 75 community leaders at a Chattanooga hotel. It amplified its anti-union message through social media and local newspapers.

Beacon president and CEO Justin Owen said if it hadn’t been for the cumulative efforts of grass-roots groups and national groups, "the result could have been very different."

Norquist, Patterson and other conservative activists said they plan to take the anti-union battle to other southern states and manufacturers, including a Mercedes-Benz plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the UAW has had an active organizing effort for more than a year.

"This might become more a norm in organizing in the South, with these groups getting involved in a similar way" in other states and union elections, said labor expert Logan.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/22/us-autos-uaw-election-analysis-idUSBREA1L13220140222?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

CEI is funded by donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. Past and present funders include the Scaife Foundations, Exxon Mobil, the Ford Motor Company Fund, Pfizer, and the Earhart Foundation. … According to page nine of an undated, but prior to 2001 brochure from the CEI contained on the University of California, San Francisco’s Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (LTDL), the following companies and foundations were among those listed as supporting CEI’s work with annual contributions of at least $10,000, currently the CEI’s "Entrepreneurs" level:

Aequus Institute, Amoco Foundation, Inc., Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Coca-Cola Company, E.L. Craig Foundation, CSX Corporation, Earhart Foundation, Fieldstead and Co., FMC Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Gilder Foundation, Koch Family Foundations (including the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, and Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation), Philip M. McKenna Foundation, Inc., Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, Philip Morris Companies, Inc., Pfizer Inc., Precision Valve Corporation, Prince Foundation, Rodney Fund, Sheldon Rose, Scaife Foundations (Carthage Foundation and Sarah Scaife Foundation), and Texaco, Inc. (Texaco Foundation).

Other documents in the LTDL show that CEI has received funding directly from various tobacco companies. For example, the listing on the Philip Morris Glossary of Names: C gives the note "Received public policy grant from Philip Morris (1995); Pro-market public interest group dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government."

ExxonMobil Corporation was a major donor to CEI, with over $2 million in contributions between 1998 and 2005. In 2002, the company gave $405,000; in 2004, it gave CEI $180,000 that was earmarked for "global climate change and global climate change outreach." In 2006, the company announced that it had ended its funding for the group.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_Enterprise_Institute

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* Steinmeier ist der Mann der Stunde

Frank-Walter Steinmeier hat dem Amt des Außenministers die Würde zurückgegeben

Einen besseren Ehrengast hätte man sich beim Matthiae-Mahl am Freitagabend nicht vorstellen können: Frank-Walter Steinmeier ist der deutsche Politiker der Stunde. Eben noch erfolgreicher und mutiger Ermittler im sich anbahnenden Bürgerkrieg kam der Außenminister fast direkt aus Kiew nach Hamburg, auch wenn jeder verstanden hätte, wenn er seine Teilnahme an der historischen Mahlzeit angesichts der aktuellen Ereignisse in der Ukraine abgesagt hätte. Steinmeiers Besuch war der Höhepunkt des Abends, ein Glücksfall für die Organisatoren im Rathaus.

Denn als sie Steinmeier einluden, konnte niemand damit rechnen, dass der aktuell beliebteste Politiker der Republik in die Hansestadt kommen würde, der Mann, der dem Amt des Außenministers in wenigen Wochen seine Würde zurückgegeben hat. Und der große, um nicht zu sagen einzige Gewinner der neuen Koalition. Der SPD-Politiker hat seit seiner Rückkehr ins Auswärtige Amt vieles richtig gemacht, vor allem hat er aber all jene widerlegt, die am Ende der Ära Guido Westerwelle (FDP) dem Außenminister einen Bedeutungsverlust attestiert hatten.

Heute kann man sagen: Unter seinem Vorgänger mag das so gewesen sein, unter Steinmeier ist die Position wieder zur wichtigsten neben der Kanzlerin geworden. Dessen Popularität sagt deshalb auch einiges über Westerwelle aus, der mit dem Amt, wie es intern nur genannt wird, gefremdelt hatte – und umgekehrt. Während der frühere FDP-Frontmann dachte, die riesige Behörde könne froh sein, dass er an ihrer Spitze steht, weiß Steinmeier, dass das Gegenteil richtig ist. Wer einer Gruppe von Diplomaten vorsteht, muss zuallererst selbst einer sein – und damit zurückhaltend, integer, sich der Rolle und Geschichte des Amtes bewusst. So wie der aktuelle Minister, der von den Kollegen in Berlin aufgenommen wurde wie ein verlorener Sohn. Frank-Walter Steinmeier profitiert natürlich davon, dass er schon einmal Außenminister war, aber vor allem hilft ihm, dass er damals einen guten Job gemacht hat. Und heute? Als wäre er nie aus dem Amt gewesen, tritt er souverän in schwierigen außenpolitischen Zeiten auf, gibt zuletzt in Kiew ein Bild ab, das man Guido Westerwelle nicht zugetraut hätte. Keine Frage: Steinmeier ist aufgrund seiner Art und seiner Biografie die Idealbesetzung für den Posten, der spätestens seit Hans-Dietrich Genscher als besonderer in der Regierung wahrgenommen wurde. Wie Genscher hat Steinmeier dabei den Vorteil, dass er dem Kanzler nicht gefährlich werden kann/gefährlich werden will. So gut der SPD-Mann ob seiner geschilderten Eigenschaften als oberster Diplomat geeignet ist, so wenig würde er im Kanzleramt glücklich werden. Was angesichts seiner gescheiterten Kandidatur vor vier Jahren auch nicht mehr bewiesen werden muss.

Wahrscheinlich sind im aktuellen Kabinett nur Angela Merkel und Wolfgang Schäuble für ihre Ämter derart geeignet wie Steinmeier – und das, obwohl er eine Behörde führt, die an Komplexität kaum zu überbieten ist. Der Vorteil des neuen, alten Ministers ist, dass er weiß, wer wichtig ist, wem und vor allem dass er zuhören muss. Das Amt hat für alle Regionen dieser Welt Experten, und ein Außenminister kann gar nicht scheitern, wenn er sich deren Kompetenz und Netzwerke zunutze macht. Was übrigens gern gesehen wird: Wahrscheinlich gibt es wenige andere Behörden, in denen Mitarbeiter ihrem Chef derart umfassend zuarbeiten und sich freuen, wenn er von einem Großteil der Wähler geschätzt wird. Vorausgesetzt, er tut dann nicht so, als sei das allein sein Verdienst.

Diese Gefahr besteht bei Frank-Walter Steinmeier nicht. Er hat seinen Traumjob gefunden. Und die Bundesrepublik Deutschland endlich wieder einen echten Außenminister.

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„Aktive statt reaktive Politik!“

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

der beigefügte Gastbeitrag (Mittelbayerische Zeitung vom 15. Februar) zieht Folgerungen aus der Rede des Bundespräsidenten auf der Münchener Sicherheitskonferenz. Mit freundlichem Gruß,

Klaus Wittmann

Brigadegeneral a.D.

Dr. Klaus Wittmann

Senior Fellow Aspen Institute Deutschland

„….Konkret bedeutet eine solche Umorientierung vor allem: Erklären sicherheitspolitischer Erfordernisse, auch bei geringem Bedrohungsgefühl, des Paradigmenwechsels von Verteidigung zu komplexer Sicherheitsvorsorge und der instrumentalen Rolle des Militärs; Bedrohungsanalyse in enger Konsultation mit Verbündeten und aktive statt reaktive Politik bei krisenhaften Entwicklungen; die Erkenntnis, dass nach den Untaten des „Dritten Reichs“ Friedensverantwortung nicht totalen Pazifismus bedeutet, und dass auch Nichthandeln schuldig machen kann; ein kohärentes Konzept zu Zielen deutscher Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik, zu Interessen, regionaler Gewichtung und Kriterien für Mitwirkung; ressortübergreifende Sicherheitspolitik, aktives Anbieten deutscher Beiträge, und umfassende (nicht rein militärische) Einsatzmandate; das Ziehen von Lehren aus Auslandseinsätzen für Deutschland, Nato, EU und VN in systematischer Evaluierung und Auswertung; periodische sicherheitspolitische Leitliniendokumente nicht allein des BMVg (das letzte Weißbuch stammt von 2006!) und – über routinemäßige Mandatsbeschlüsse hinaus – regelmäßige Bundestagsdebatten zur Sicherheitspolitik; deutsche Impulse (im Einklang v.a. mit Frankreich und Polen) zur Ausgestaltung und Anwendung der Gemeinsamen Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik der EU; Konzentration auf die wirklichen Bedrohungen im Cyber-Raum….“

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Suter* Open Fire and Open Markets: The Asia-Pacific Pivot and Trans-Pacific Partnership

· Thomas Friedman once said the hidden hand of the market needs the hidden fist of the military.

· The TPP and the Obama administration’s Pacific Pivot pack both.

By increasing U.S. market access and influence with China’s neighbors, Washington is hoping to deepen its economic engagement with the TPP countries while diminishing their economic integration with China. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The struggle for food sovereignty in the Pacific got a major boost last December when Billy Kenoi, mayor of Hawai’i’s Big Island, signed a law that prevents farmers from growing any new genetically engineered crops (with the exception of papaya). This follows a successful push on Kauai, at the other end of the islands, to force large growers to disclose the pesticides they use and which genetically engineered crops they are growing.

This is a major step in the battle for more ecologically sustainable agriculture in Hawai’i, which has suffered for over a century under the heavy weight of U.S. corporate and military domination.

Yet like other local, state, and national regulations intended to protect the public and the environment, these anti-GMO laws can be swiftly overturned if President Obama signs the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the world’s most ambitious and far reaching free trade agreement yet. On January 9, the U.S. Congress introduced “fast-track” legislation allowing the Obama administration to sign the TPP without undergoing public debate. Fast-track authority would grant the White House the power to speed up negotiations, while giving Congress only 90 days to review the TPP before voting.

The TPP spans 12 countries — including the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam — comprising 40 percent of the world’s economy. Like nearly all trade agreements signed since NAFTA, the TPP is almost to certain to allow multinational corporations from anywhere in the bloc to sue governments in secret courts to overturn national or local regulations, such as Hawai’i’s recent GMO laws, that could limit their profits. So it’s not just Hawai’i’s food sovereignty that’s at risk.

“This is not mainly about trade,” explains Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “It is a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only five of them have to do with trade.” More than 600 corporate lobbyists representing multinationals like Monsanto, Cargill, and Wal-Mart have had unfettered access to shape the secret agreement, while Congress and the public have only seen a few leaked chapters.

But the TPP is even more than a corporate Trojan horse. It’s a core part of the Obama administration’s Asia-Pacific Pivot, which is centrally about containing China.

A New Cold War?

Ahead of the fall 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) meeting in Hawaii, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined a plan to transfer U.S. military, diplomatic, and economic resources from the Middle East to the Pacific, in what she called “America’s New Pacific Century.” Describing the pivot in militaristic terms as “forward-deployed diplomacy,” Clinton hailed the TPP as a “benchmark for future agreements” leading to “a free trade area of the Asia- Pacific.”

Yet the TPP excludes China, which has become the second largest economy in the world and is poised to outpace the U.S. economy in a matter of years — a fact that is none too pleasing to U.S. elites accustomed to unrivaled hegemony.

Like the United States, the future of China’s economic growth lies in the Asia-Pacific region, which by all indicators will be the center of economic activity in the 21st century. By 2015, according to a paper from the conservative Foreign Policy Research Institute, “East Asian countries are expected to surpass NAFTA and the euro zone to become the world’s largest trading bloc. Market opportunities will only increase as the region swells by an additional 175 million people by 2030.”

Enter the TPP. By increasing U.S. market access and influence with China’s neighbors, Washington is hoping to deepen its economic engagement with the TPP countries while diminishing their economic integration with China.

Obama’s “Pacific Pivot” also seeks to contain China militarily. By 2020, 60 percent of U.S. naval capacity will be based in the Asia-Pacific, where 320,000 U.S. troops are already stationed. The realignment will entail rebuilding and refurbishing former U.S. facilities in the Philippines, placing 2,500 marines in Australia, transferring 8,000 marines and their families from Okinawa to Guam and Hawai’i, and building new installations like the one on the tiny Pacific island of Saipan. Meanwhile, the U.S. military regularly stages massive joint military exercises involving tens of thousands of troops and nuclear-powered aircraft carriers with its key allies — and China’s neighbors — Japan and South Korea. It has been regularly conducting Cobra Gold exercises with Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and even Myanmar.

Official Washington seems to believe that these are necessary precautions. According to the RAND Corporation, for example, 90 percent of U.S. bases in the region are “under threat” from Chinese ballistic missiles because they are within 1,080 nautical miles of China. But who is threatening whom? The Chinese have precisely zero bases in the Asia-Pacific outside of their own borders.

Some U.S. analysts insist that a more robust U.S. military presence is necessary to curb China’s ambitious territorial claims in the region. Without a doubt, China has recently taken a more aggressive stance in regional territorial disputes over dwindling natural resources, angering many of its neighbors. But by turning to the United States as a check against China, less powerful nations invite a bargain with the devil as Washington will advance its own strategic interests. And by getting itself involved, Washington risks encouraging China’s rivals to behave more provocatively, as well as angering China itself. According to Mel Gurtov, “While accepting that the United States is a Pacific power, Chinese authorities now resist the notion that the United States has some special claim to predominance in Asia and the western Pacific.”

A One-Two Punch

“The hidden hand of the market,” as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman famously wrote in the 1990s, “will never work without a hidden fist.” The Asia-Pacific Pivot, a one-two neoliberal-militaristic punch, packs both.

Of all people in the world, Hawaiians know this especially well. Once a sovereign nation, Hawai’i was the starting point for America’s century of imperialism and conquest in the Pacific. Most people don’t know this critical history, but what fueled the overthrow of Hawai’i’s monarchy was trade. During the 1800s, American merchants were profiting handsomely from exporting sugar from Hawai’i to the United States. When faced with new tariffs that the U.S. government imposed to protect the domestic sugar industry in the American South, the exporters orchestrated a coup with the U.S. marines to overthrow the islands’ queen and annex Hawai’i so that Hawaiian sugar would not be subject to tariffs.

With the world facing the pressing issues of global climate change, biodiversity loss, rising food prices, and declining sources of fossil energy, what is now needed more than ever are policies that promote local, sustainable economies that ensure the well-being of their people and protect the ecosystems upon which all of our lives depend.

Local communities seem to get it — new laws like the GMO restrictions recently passed in Hawai’i are a step in that direction. But with multinational elites and the U.S. government pushing undemocratic monstrosities like the Pacific Pivot and the TPP, prospects for a more genuine security appear more distant than ever.

Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Christine Ahn is a Senior Fellow of the Oakland Institute and Co-chair of Women De-Militarize the Zone (DMZ).

http://fpif.org/open-fire-open-markets-asia-pacific-pivot-trans-pacific-partnership/

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Middle East

* WSJ: Saudi Arabia Replaces Key Official in Effort to Arm Syria Rebels *

Frustrated Kingdom Sets Out to Assuage U.S. Worries on Extremists in Three-Year Conflict

Feb. 19, 2014 12:17 p.m. ET

Saudi Arabia has sidelined its veteran intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, as leader of the kingdom’s efforts to arm and fund Syrian rebels, replacing him with another prince well-regarded by U.S. officials for his successes fighting al-Qaeda, Saudi royal advisers said this week.

The change holds promise for a return to smoother relations with the U.S., and may augur a stronger Saudi effort against militants aligned with al Qaeda who have flocked to opposition-held Syrian territory during that country’s three-year war, current and former U.S. officials said.

Prince Bandar, an experienced but at times mercurial ex-diplomat and intelligence chief, presided over Saudi Arabia’s Syria operations for the past two years with little success, as a rift opened up with the U.S. over how much to back rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who has won praise in Washington for his counterterror work against al Qaeda in Yemen and elsewhere, is now a main figure in carrying out Syria policy, a royal adviser and a security analyst briefed by Saudi officials said Tuesday.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, Saudi King Abdullah’s son and head of the Saudi National Guard, has also assumed a bigger share of responsibility for the kingdom’s policy towards Syria, the advisers said.

A Saudi analyst who serves as adviser to top royals said the changes signaled the kingdom would also now emphasize diplomatic means, including outreach to and pressure on Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, the main backers of Mr. Assad’s regime.

"Prince Miteb and Mohammed bin Nayef, they are in charge," the adviser said. The world will see a "new strategy for Syria—quieter, more open, not too extreme. There will be more politics to it, and probably much less military."

U.S. officials said Prince Mohammed enjoys good relations with Secretary of State John Kerry and CIA Director John Brennan. The latter first met the prince in 1999, shortly before he left Saudi Arabia after serving as the CIA station chief there. The officials also credit the prince with providing intelligence that foiled at least two al Qaeda bomb plots against Western targets.

The Saudi government made no official announcement of the shakeup.

Saudi Arabia has been the largest state supporter of rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad regime. It is locked with Iran, a key ally of the Syrian leader, in an intense regional and sectarian rivalry for power and influence in the Middle East.

However, Prince Bandar acknowledged to European diplomats last summer that his country’s campaign against Mr. Assad had so far failed. He blamed a U.S. prohibition against more forceful military intervention and pledged to step up support for the rebels, according to the diplomats who spoke to the prince.

Senior U.S. officials recently described Prince Bandar as "erratic" and "hot-headed." Mr. Kerry, in private meetings with U.S. officials, singled him out as "the problem" and complained about his conduct in orchestrating Saudi policy in Syria, according to meeting participants.

After President Barack Obama last fall canceled proposed U.S.-led airstrikes on the Syrian regime, U.S.-Saudi relations sunk to their lowest level in decades.

The changes put the Syria efforts in the hands of princes who are believed to have been among the most cautious among top royals about aggressively supporting the rebels.

The U.S. wants to see the moderate rebels it supports fight both the regime and radical fighters such as the al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS). Increasingly, this is happening on the ground in Syria.

"You could see a smarter Saudi approach, one more targeted on the Assad regime and one also targeting extremists," said Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute think tank. "It seems as if they continue to back the rebels. I think the question is what will that entail."

Americans for three years refused to approve the proposed Saudi transfer of antiaircraft artillery and other heavy weapons to rebels, citing the presence in insurgent ranks of al Qaeda-influenced fighters who could get their hands on the arms. Saudi officials have complained bitterly about the U.S. constraints.

The Saudis now plan to provide rebels with shoulder-fired missiles, or manpads, that can bring down jets and antitank missiles, an Arab diplomat and several opposition figures said recently. If the transfer takes place, it would be the first time rebels have such powerful weapons in any significant quantity.

Prince Mohammed, as a leading counterterror figure globally, is in a position to assuage American fears that if the West supplies weapons, they will wind up in the possession of radicals, said Mustafa Alani, a security analyst with the Gulf Research Center who is close to Saudi security and intelligence circles.

"The Americans have to change their policy, and Prince Mohammed is the right person to take this mission.…He’s the one who can calm their worries," Mr. Alani said.

Saudi officials have told their American counterparts that they intend to ramp up their support for the moderate opposition after the collapse of peace talks in Geneva last month.

U.S. officials say they haven’t given the Saudis a green light to move forward with plans to give shoulder-fired missiles that can bring down jets to hand-picked rebels. But it is unclear to what extent the U.S. would move to block the Saudis if they insisted on going ahead with the deployment of the weapons over Washington’s objections.

Prince Mohammed’s appointment reflects shifting U.S. interests in the conflict, with both the Americans and Saudis increasing their focus on countering al Qaeda-linked groups in Syria.

U.S. and European officials fear these groups could plot attacks against the West from camps in Syria and that foreign fighters now in Syria will pose a significant threat when they return home to Europe, the Gulf and the U.S.

The U.S. has gradually expanded its involvement in Syria at the urging of the Saudis, though not nearly as quickly as the Saudis had hoped. The Saudis persuaded the CIA to pay salaries to some fighters of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army rebel group, and the payments started about a year ago.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef REUTERS

Initially under the CIA program, between 50 and 100 fighters brought to the joint training base by the Saudis and Jordanians were vetted each month, a number Saudi officials complained was too small to make a difference.

U.S. and Arab officials say it now takes less time for the CIA to do the vetting and the program is turning out a significantly higher number of rebels each month.

Last week, with Prince Bandar having stepped away from the scene, Prince Mohammed met with U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice ahead of President Barack Obama’s March trip to the kingdom. Prince Miteb has worked with the Russians and other Europeans to make Saudi Arabia’s case for supporting the rebels.

Mr. Alani said Prince Bandar’s withdrawal was for a "genuine health reason" and began about two months ago. He cited the prince’s lingering back problems from a 1977 incident when he was a fighter pilot and made a hard emergency landing at a Saudi air show.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303775504579392942097203608?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303775504579392942097203608.html

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*Massenbach’s

Recommendation*

* Volkswagen and the UAW *

“This would be the first works council established in the United States.”

Together, Volkswagen Group of America (VWGOA) and the UAW will set a new standard in the U.S. for innovative labor-management relations that benefit the company, the entire workforce, shareholders and the community in general. From Feb. 12-14, Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., will decide the issue of union representation in a secret ballot election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. If the majority of workers vote for UAW representation, workers would then elect a bargaining committee from among VWGOA workers in Chattanooga to negotiate an agreement with the company, including how a works council would operate in the Chattanooga facility based on the principles of co-determination.

This would be the first works council established in the United States. Ultimately, such a labor relations model would give workers an integral role in co-managing the company and providing input on workplace improvements that would contribute to the success of the company and the workers. You can learn more about why Volkswagen Chattanooga workers want a works council and union representation in the , in addition to other resources.

For Media

Additional Resources

Videos

Solidarity

Recent Coverage

Op-Eds:

http://uaw.org/uawvw

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How has UAW helped automakers and communities rebound from the economic downturn?

After the recent global financial crisis, the UAW embraced fundamental change, flexibility, and innovation. We are proud of the role our members played in saving the domestic auto industry and the role they continue to play every day in producing the best products at the best value for our customers.

Through collaboration with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, after the recession, the UAW won commitments in contract negotiations to invest more than $23.7 billion in their plants, creating 20,000 new jobs at the domestic automakers and thousands more in jobs that support the auto industry in communities across the country. Since the recession, more than 50,000 direct jobs have been added at these companies.

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Obama to unveil new manufacturing institutes in Chicago, Detroit

February 22, 2014, 2:03 p.m.

WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to announce on Tuesday the opening of two new manufacturing institutes in the Chicago and Detroit areas as part of a larger plan to use public-private partnerships to advance his agenda despite opposition from Republicans in Congress.

Several federal agencies will join forces with companies and universities to run the institutes, which will be devoted to bridging the gap between applied research and product development, according to an administration official familiar with the plans.

Each institute will function as a “teaching factory,” the official said, and will provide training for workers while also helping companies get the expertise and equipment they need to offer new products and manufacturing processes.

The government will put up $140 million to match the more than $140 million promised by the private sector leaders involved with each project, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the plans before the official announcement next week. The federal government will devote $70 million to each of the two institutes.

The manufacturing initiative follows Obama’s new playbook for dealing with a deadlocked Congress unlikely to enact elements of his economic plan, which he will detail in the coming weeks in his budget proposal.

So far this year, Obama’s strategy has made heavy use of the bully pulpit and of his ability to convene private interests to combine efforts with the federal government he runs as chief executive.

Republicans have responded to those plans by pointing to their own solutions for job growth, like tax reform and trade expansion. White House officials are skeptical that GOP leaders will see eye-to-eye with Obama on much of his agenda.

So on Tuesday, Obama plans to unveil his latest effort to boost manufacturing and attract high-quality jobs — without the help of Congress.

The Chicago- and Detroit-area sites will bring the total number of institutes to four. The administration set up a pilot site in Youngstown, Ohio, in 2012, and a few weeks ago announced a new electronics manufacturing institute in Raleigh, N.C.

Obama has also pledged to launch competitions for four more institutes in the coming year in hopes of setting eight institutes in motion without any action by Congress.

Obama’s broader plan calls for a full national network of up to 45 institutes, but a program of that scope would require Congress to appropriate new resources.

The selection of Chicago to host a new institute drew praise from elected officials who have lobbying for it for months.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) predicted it would be a “shot in the arm” for the Chicago area. The amount of money may not seem “overwhelming,” he said, but the focusing of government and private resources will have a big local effect.

As long as Washington is gridlocked over budget issues, he said, this is probably the most effective way to promote manufacturing.

“I just don’t know if there’s an appetite by Republicans to help the president on this,” Durbin said. “But we have to do something, and this is the right moment.”

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Troops left to fend for themselves after Army was warned of flaws in rifle

Army Senior Warrant Officer Russton B. Kramer, a 20-year Green Beret, has learned that if you want to improve your chances to survive, it’s best to personally make modifications to the Army’s primary rifle — the M4 carbine.

Warrant Officer Kramer has been dropped into some of the most ferocious battles in the war on terrorism, from hunting Islamists in the mountains of northern Iraq to disrupting Taliban opium dealers in dusty southern Afghanistan. He was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery in Operation Viking Hammer to crush the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam in Iraq.

The warrant officer said he and fellow Special Forces soldiers have a trick to maintain the M4A1 — the commando version: They break the rules and buy off-the-shelf triggers and other components and overhaul the weapon themselves.

"The reliability is not there," Warrant Officer Kramer said of the standard-issue model. "I would prefer to use something else. If I could grab something else, I would."

Documents obtained by The Washington Times show the Pentagon was warned before the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that the iterations of the M4 carbine were flawed and might jam or fail, especially in the harsh desert conditions that both wars inflicted.

U.S. Special Operations Command in 2001 issued a damning private report that said the M4A1 was fundamentally flawed because the gun failed when called on to unleash rapid firing.

In 2002, an internal report from the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey said the M4A1 was prone to overheating and "catastrophic barrel failure," according to a copy obtained by The Times.

The test findings also carried ramifications for the regular Army. By 2002, soldiers were carrying thousands of the conventional, light-barrel M4, of which the service ultimately would buy nearly 500,000 and send them into long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The M4, at times, has been called upon to perform the same kind of rapid fire as the M4A1.

Colt Defense LLC of Hartford, Conn., which lost exclusive M4 design rights in 2009, has steadfastly defended the rifle through years of controversy. The Army contract went to another manufacturer last year.

Colt did not respond to requests for comment.

The gun manufacturer’s website states that "throughout the world today, the Colt’s M4 reliability, performance and accuracy provide joint coalition forces with the confidence required to accomplish any mission. Designed specifically for lightweight mobility, speed of target acquisition, and potent firepower capability, the M4 delivers. Proven in military combat operations all over the world, it is in a class by itself as a first rate combat weapon system."

Colt’s monopoly on the Army’s weapon ended in February 2013, when the service awarded the M4 contract to FN Herstal, a global firearms manufacturer owned by Belgium’s regional Walloon government and the operator of a plant in South Carolina.

Colt had a good run. Since the mid-1990s, the Army has spent $600 million to buy more than a half-million carbines.

Critics say the SoCom and Army reports should have prompted the Army to pursue a better design in the early 2000s. The Army periodically improved the rifle, but did not conduct a comprehensive upgrade until a senator pressured the top brass years later.

In 2011, a decade after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Army announced that it was converting M4s to the commando version with a heavier barrel and automatic trigger firing.

Some of the problems uncovered in 2001 and 2002, such as stoppages or jamming, became evident in the conventional firearm, most infamously in the 2008 Battle of Wanat in Afghanistan in which nine U.S. troops lost their lives.

"Realistically speaking, there’s been loss of life that is unneeded because there was a dumbing-down of the weapon system," said Scott Traudt, who advised the Army on how to improve the M4 a decade ago.

Today, he is a special adviser at Green Mountain Defense Industries of Strafford, Vt., a Colt competitor that is manufacturing a new rifle that it hopes to sell to special operations.

Replaced by SCAR

In an independent overall survey of soldiers back from Iraq and Afghanistan, 20 percent reported that the M4 jammed during battle, and one-fifth of those said the stoppages made a "large impact."

Faced with inaction by the Pentagon, soldiers such as Warrant Officer Kramer have taken matters into their own hands, even at the risk of discipline.

"There are enhancements you can do to your weapon to bring that reliability level up. While we’re not authorized to change our weapon or modify them in any manner, obviously there are some guys out there, including myself, we’ll add some things to our guns to bring that reliability level up," he told The Times. "I’d rather face six of my peers in a court martial versus being 6 feet down."

The M4 has brought consistent complaints about at least three shortfalls: At a 250-yard effective-kill distance, it lacks range; its 5.56 mm round lacks killing power; and the gun requires constant maintenance — cleaning and lubricating — in sandy conditions or is prone to jamming. Soldiers also complain that the magazine dents easily and the springs break.

The short-barreled weapon was suited for house-to-house fighting in Iraq. But in Afghanistan, its lack of range meant that the Taliban could operate at a safe distance.

Mr. Traudt said there are M4 failures in battle that do not get publicized. The fact that M4s broke down at Wanat was not known publicly until Army historians chronicled the battle and released their narrative in 2010. Even the general in charge of buying the gun said he had not heard of the problems until the press reported on the Army history.

There does not appear to be a comprehensive assessment of the M4 by any oversight agency — even though the weapon is the ground warrior’s most critical asset. The Government Accountability Office, Congress‘ auditor, has not assessed the M4 since it entered service in the mid-1990s. Likewise, the Pentagon’s top operational tester has not conducted live-fire tests of the M4 or the commando M4A1.

Alarmed after the 2001 test, SoCom developed its own gun, the Special Operations Forces Assault Rifle (SCAR), and handed it out to Army Rangers, Green Berets and Navy SEALs. Delta Force, the Army’s elite counterterrorism unit, bought a German-designed rifle. Sources say SoCom is not entirely happy with either gun and still relies on the M4A1.

"The 5.56 [caliber] SCAR was a failure from the viewpoint of the men," said Ryan Zinke, a former member of SEAL Team 6, the elite terrorist-hunting unit.

A questionable standard

The M4 carbine’s Iraq-Afghanistan history is replete with spotty tests and performance, but also with praise from a devoted cadre who took it to war. The M4, a lighter, shorter-range version of the M16 rifle, is generally popular among the majority of combat-savvy soldiers who completed questionnaires, Army surveys show.

The Times interviewed two active-duty special operations troops who noted flaws but expressed love for the Colt-developed gun.

"The reality for all armies is that governments cannot afford to purchase a perfect assault rifle. It is simply cost-prohibitive," said an Army Green Beret who is not authorized to speak on the record. "For its cost, I consider the M4 to be an amazing assault rifle. Between the M16 and M4, I’ve carried weapons from that family for nearly 30 years and would not trade them for any other fielded families of assault rifles."

A Marine commando who served in Afghanistan praised the firearm but noted that it requires constant cleaning or becomes vulnerable to jamming. "The first thing you do back at camp is clean the gun," he said.

Mr. Zinke, the former SEAL, said the M4A1 improved as its flaws were worked out.

"The M4 has become the standard special forces weapon system," said Mr. Zinke. "The rail system has greatly improved over time and can easily accommodate advances in optics, illumination and targeting. The 5.56 mm M4 provides an appropriate trade-off between range and firepower. Improvements and diversity in ammunition types has also improved its versatility."

Mr. Traudt, of Green Mountain Defense, said the military paid his company a decade ago for ideas for fixing the M4. He produced his company’s product, a 2001 technical report titled "Carbine extended life barrel and selected reliability improvement components identification."

"The M4s were substandard," he said. "The Army paid us to find a way to improve them, improve them cheaply with a little bit of extra engineering and metallurgical changes to make a gun that was markedly more reliable than the Colt weapon. The Army took our advice and did nothing with it."

‚It’s virtually useless‘

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, an artillery officer who earned the Silver Star in Vietnam, is a prominent M4 critic.

He said its 5.56-caliber bullet is too small and the gas-piston firing system is prone to stoppage. He said better weapons — the German Heckler-Koch G36 and Russian AK-74 (a version of the venerable AK-47) — use superior firing systems.

"Frankly, this whole thing is scandalous," Gen. Scales said. "We send soldiers into close combat with lousy weapons and we’ve done it since World War II and nobody complains. It’s a national outrage.

"It has no penetrating power," he said of the M4. "It’s ineffective against vehicles, against bunkers. It’s ineffective against virtually anything except a man in the open. Put a flak jacket on the enemy and it’s virtually useless."

The Army believes it is answering critics such as Gen. Scales with a 5.56 mm round — the "green" lead-free M885A1 introduced in 2010. The ammunition, the Army contends, has more penetration power and longer effective range to kill the enemy.

Gen. Scales also asks why the Army issues only one model of conventional carbine.

"More soldiers are killed because of small-arms engagement than air-sea battle, air-to-air combat," he said. "There is a difference between breaking down doors in Baghdad and fighting in the open, flat terrain of Afghanistan. One deserves a heavy bullet with longer range. One deserves to be light and nimble and maneuverable inside of buildings."

In 2009, eight years into the war, an Army officer wrote a study making that point.

"Open source reports from Afghanistan since 2001 reveal that soldiers are engaging the enemy at ranges from contact distance to beyond the maximum effective range of the M4 carbine," wrote Maj. Thomas P. Ehrhart, who at that time was attending the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. "Many comments focus on the ability of the soldier to hit his intended target or a failure of the bullet to achieve the desired effect."

He summed up his findings by concluding that the M4 is not the best weapon for America’s longest war: "Operations in Afghanistan frequently require United States ground forces to engage and destroy the enemy at ranges beyond 300 meters. While the infantryman is ideally suited for combat in Afghanistan, his current weapons, doctrine, and marksmanship training do not provide a precise, lethal fire capability to 500 meters and are therefore inappropriate."

Troublesome test reports

The first second-guessing on the M4 occurred inside the military in 2000, when U.S. Special Operations Command, in conjunction with gun specialists at Naval Sea Systems Command, conducted an exhaustive evaluation of its version — the heavier-barrel M4A1. At the time, SoCom had no idea it was testing a critical weapon on the eve of two major land wars that would thrust commandos into constant combat.

With SEALs and Green Berets in mind, testers subjected the carbine to the kind of constant barrel-burning fire in harsh conditions that would erupt in Iraq and Afghanistan.

SoCom’s private study called the M4A1 carbine "fundamentally flawed." Upon firing, the bolt opened and attempted to extract a cartridge case that was stuck to the chamber because of pressure from the fired round. The gun can be kept at "reasonable levels of reliability" if subjected to "intense maintenance," the report said.

The study also mentioned "alarming failures of the M4A1 in operations under harsh conditions and heavy firing." It blamed six factors, including spare parts shortages and a "decline in quality control along with mass production."

The report said that at a conference of joint special operations forces — SEALs, Rangers and Delta Force — the warriors "identified multiple operational deficiencies inherent to the M4A1" including reliability, safety and accuracy."

Barrels can become loose and "become inaccurate."

Still, the SoCom report said, the M4A1 "essentially meets the needs of conventional Army users."

Months later, the Army’s Armament Technology Facility, part of the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, conducted its own study of the M4A1.

The 2002 report sent by the facility’s chief to Special Operations Command told of "reliability problems related to the failure to extract and eject casings, broken bolts, failure to function in arctic and over-the-beach (surf zone, surface and subsurface swimmer) environments," according to a copy obtained by The Times.

"The M4A1 has also experienced cook-off [premature ammunition explosion] after a relatively few numbers of rounds have been fired at a high rate of fire," it said. "Catastrophic barrel failure has also been experienced after a relatively low number of rounds have been fired."

Preventing jamming

The Times asked Special Operations Command why it continued to distribute the M4A1.

"The M4A1 and M4 Carbines have served our forces well during more than a decade of sustained combat," said Navy Capt. Kevin Aandahl. "The Army has improved the M4A1/M4 significantly over the past 12 years. The Army developed a heavy barrel and placed it in production in 2002. In addition, the M4 and M4A1 have received improvements to the trigger assembly, extractor spring, recoil buffer, barrel chamber, magazine and bolt. These upgrades addressed the issues raised in the 2002 report."

Capt. Aandahl said the command on its own has fielded new gun parts to "improve the M4A1 capability to meet USSOCOM requirements for close-in, urban operations and room-clearing types of engagements that require this type of weapon."

The same year Picatinny weighed in, the Marine Corps conducted its own testing of the conventional M4. The Corps infantryman’s main rifle was then, and is today, the longer-range, heavier-barrel M16.

The Army Times, an independent Gannett newspaper, later reported that the "M4 malfunctioned three times more often than the M16A4."

To Mr. Traudt and other M4 critics, the testing should have prompted the Army to rethink the design as thousands of the carbines were about to be shipped overseas.

Mr. Traudt said he thinks the jamming problems encountered by a significant segment of troops over the past decade could have been avoided if special operations continued developing Green Mountain’s Reliability Product Improvement Kit.

The kit was tested at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., in 2001 and at Picatinny in 2002. It included replacing the extractor spring, ejector spring, gas tube and gas plug with more heat-resistant ones, and moving to a one-piece, four-coil system that was engineered from more thermally durable materials to make the gun function better.

"An M4A1, when equipped with those parts, will fire continuously on full-automatic magazine after magazine until its barrel disintegrates," Mr. Traudt said. "In our tests, M4A1 barrel failure occurred at 1,375 rounds. A normal Army M4A1 is out of action at 840 shots fired when equipped with its standard, metallurgically and technologically antiquated parts — and this isn’t even barrel failure. It’s gas system or bolt failure."

At the time of the tests, internal reports by SoCom and Picatinny said the M4A1 was terribly flawed and not suited for commando missions.

One person on Capitol Hill eventually took notice. By 2007, enough anecdotal evidence had poured in from the wars to prompt Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, to launch a campaign for the Army to find a new rifle.

"Considering the longstanding reliability and lethality problems with the M16 design, of which the M4 is based, I am afraid that our troops in combat might not have the best weapon," Mr. Coburn wrote to the Army in April 2007. "A number of manufacturers have researched, tested and fielded weapons which, by all accounts, appear to provide significantly improved reliability."

The senator fought a lonely battle the next five years. No other lawmaker joined his campaign for a better basic rifle, but in the end, he forced the Army to change.

http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/19/troop-left-to-fend-for-themselves-after-army-was-w/

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· Cover-up? Army historian says report on deadly Afghan battle was altered to absolve faulty gun *

· Survivors of bloody battle report M4 jams ( see att.)

http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/20/cover-up-army-historian-says-report-on-deadly-afgh/?page=all#pagebreak

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see our letter on:

Wir wünschen Ihnen ein angenehmes Wochenende. Ihr Team.

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Udo von Massenbach – Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster – Jörg Barandat – Edith Suter

UdovonMassenbachMail

Edith.SuterJoergBarandat

Army historian says report on deadly Afghan battle was altered to absolve fa.pdf

Aktive Auen- und Sicherheitspolitik (MBZ 15.2.2014).pdf

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