Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 04/04/14


Udo von Massenbach

Guten Morgen.

· Wertverlust bei RWE-Aktien frisst Eigenkapital der Stadt Essen * Um 680 Millionen Euro ärmer *

· ZAMAN: Will Vladimir Putin bolster the eurozone? ( )

· ZAMAN: The EU’s big failure in Ukraine (l )

· STRATFOR: Russia and the United States Negotiate the Future of Ukraine ( )

Massenbach* Washington Post: CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says

By Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima, Tuesday, April 1, 1:37 AM

A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.

The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document.

“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”

Current and former U.S. officials who described the report spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue and because the document remains classified. The 6,300-page report includes what officials described as damning new disclosures about a sprawling network of secret detention facilities, or “black sites,” that was dismantled by President Obama in 2009.

Classified files reviewed by committee investigators reveal internal divisions over the interrogation program, officials said, including one case in which CIA employees left the agency’s secret prison in Thailand after becoming disturbed by the brutal measures being employed there. The report also cites cases in which officials at CIA headquarters demanded the continued use of harsh interrogation techniques even after analysts were convinced that prisoners had no more information to give.

The report describes previously undisclosed cases of abuse, including the alleged repeated dunking of a terrorism suspect in tanks of ice water at a detention site in Afghanistan — a method that bore similarities to waterboarding but never appeared on any Justice Department-
approved list of techniques.

U.S. officials said the committee refrained from assigning motives to CIA officials whose actions or statements were scrutinized. The report also does not recommend new administrative punishment or further criminal inquiry into a program that the Justice Department has investigated repeatedly. Still, the document is almost certain to reignite an unresolved public debate over a period that many regard as the most controversial in CIA history.

A spokesman for the CIA said the agency had not yet seen a final version of the report and was, therefore, unable to comment.

Current and former agency officials, however, have privately described the study as marred by factual errors and misguided conclusions. Last month, in an indication of the level of tension between the CIA and the committee, each side accused the other of possible criminal violations in accessing each other’s computer systems during the course of the probe.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to vote Thursday to send an executive summary of the report to Obama for declassification. U.S. officials said it could be months before that section, which contains roughly 20 conclusions and spans about 400 pages, is released to the public.

The report’s release also could resurrect a long-standing feud between the CIA and the FBI, where many officials were dismayed by the agency’s use of methods that Obama and others later labeled torture.

CIA veterans have expressed concern that the report reflects FBI biases. One of its principal authors is a former FBI analyst, and the panel relied in part on bureau documents as well as notes from former FBI agent Ali Soufan. Soufan was the first to interrogate Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, the suspected al-Qaeda operative better known as Abu Zubaida, after his capture in Pakistan in 2002 and has condemned the CIA for water­boarding a prisoner he considered cooperative.

The Senate report is by far the most comprehensive account to date of a highly classified program that was established within months of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a time of widespread concern that an additional wave of terrorist plots had already been set in motion.

‘Damaging’ misstatements

Several officials who have read the document said some of its most troubling sections deal not with detainee abuse but with discrepancies between the statements of senior CIA officials in Washington and the details revealed in the written communications of lower-level employees directly involved.

Officials said millions of records make clear that the CIA’s ability to obtain the most valuable intelligence against al-Qaeda — including tips that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 — had little, if anything, to do with “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

The report is divided into three volumes — one that traces the chronology of interrogation operations, another that assesses intelligence officials’ claims and a third that contains case studies on virtually every prisoner held in CIA custody since the program began in 2001. Officials said the report was stripped of certain details, including the locations of CIA prisons and the names of agency employees who did not hold ­supervisor-level positions.

One official said that almost all of the critical threat-related information from Abu Zubaida was obtained during the period when he was questioned by Soufan at a hospital in Pakistan, well before he was interrogated by the CIA and waterboarded 83 times.

Information obtained by Soufan, however, was passed up through the ranks of the U.S. intelligence community, the Justice Department and Congress as though it were part of what CIA interrogators had obtained, according to the committee report.

“The CIA conflated what was gotten when, which led them to misrepresent the effectiveness of the program,” said a second U.S. official who has reviewed the report. The official described the persistence of such misstatements as among “the most damaging” of the committee’s conclusions.

Detainees’ credentials also were exaggerated, officials said. Agency officials described Abu Zubaida as a senior al-Qaeda operative — and, therefore, someone who warranted coercive techniques — although experts later determined that he was essentially a facilitator who helped guide recruits to al-Qaeda training camps.

The CIA also oversold the role of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, which killed 17 U.S. sailors. CIA officials claimed he was the “mastermind.”

The committee described a similar sequence in the interrogation of Hassan Ghul, an al-Qaeda operative who provided a critical lead in the search for bin Laden: the fact that the al-Qaeda leader’s most trusted courier used the moniker “al-Kuwaiti.”

But Ghul disclosed that detail while being interrogated by Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq who posed questions scripted by CIA analysts. The information from that period was subsequently conflated with lesser intelligence gathered from Ghul at a secret CIA prison in Romania, officials said. Ghul was later turned over to authorities in Pakistan, where he was subsequently released. He was killed by a CIA drone strike in 2012.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has previously indicated that harsh CIA interrogation measures were of little value in the bin Laden hunt.

“The CIA detainee who provided the most significant information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques,” Feinstein said in a 2013 statement, responding in part to scenes in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” that depict a detainee’s slip under duress as a breakthrough moment.

Harsh detainee treatment

If declassified, the report could reveal new information on the treatment of a high-value detainee named Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, the nephew of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. Pakistan captured Ali, known more commonly as Ammar al-Baluchi, on April, 30, 2003, in Karachi and turned him over to the CIA about a week later. He was taken to a CIA black site called “Salt Pit” near Kabul.

At the secret prison, Baluchi endured a regime that included being dunked in a tub filled with ice water. CIA interrogators forcibly kept his head under the water while he struggled to breathe and beat him repeatedly, hitting him with a truncheon-like object and smashing his head against a wall, officials said.

As with Abu Zubaida and even Nashiri, officials said, CIA interrogators continued the harsh treatment even after it appeared that Baluchi was cooperating. On Sept. 22, 2003, he was flown from Kabul to a CIA black site in Romania. In 2006, he was taken to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His attorneys contend that he suffered head trauma while in CIA custody.

Last year, the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Baluchi’s attorneys for information about his medical condition, but military prosecutors opposed the request. A U.S. official said the request was not based solely on the committee’s investigation of the CIA program.

Two other terrorism suspects, from Libya — Mohammed al-Shoroeiya and Khalid al-Sharif — endured similar treatment at Salt Pit, according to Human Rights Watch. One of the men said CIA interrogators “would pour buckets of very cold water over his nose and mouth to the point that he felt he would suffocate. Icy cold water was also poured over his body. He said it happened over and over again,” the report says. CIA doctors monitored the prisoners’ body temperatures so they wouldn’t suffer hypothermia.

The CIA denies waterboarding them and says it used the technique on only three prisoners.

The two men were held at Salt Pit at the same time as Baluchi, according to former U.S. intelligence officials.

Officials said a former CIA interrogator named Charlie Wise was forced to retire in 2003 after being suspected of abusing Abu Zubaida using a broomstick as a ballast while he was forced to kneel in a stress position. Wise was also implicated in the abuse at Salt Pit. He died of a heart attack shortly after retiring from the CIA, former U.S. intelligence officials said.


STRATFOR: Russia and the United States Negotiate the Future of Ukraine

By George Friedman

During the Cold War, U.S. secretaries of state and Soviet foreign ministers routinely negotiated the outcome of crises and the fate of countries. It has been a long time since such talks have occurred, but last week a feeling of deja vu overcame me. Americans and Russians negotiated over everyone’s head to find a way to defuse the crisis in Ukraine and, in the course of that, shape its fate.

During the talks, U.S. President Barack Obama made it clear that Washington has no intention of expanding NATO into either Ukraine or Georgia. The Russians have stated that they have no intention of any further military operations in Ukraine. Conversations between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have been extensive and ongoing. For different reasons, neither side wants the crisis to continue, and each has a different read on the situation.

The Russian Perspective

The Russians are convinced that the uprising in Kiev was fomented by Western intelligence services supporting nongovernmental organizations and that without this, the demonstrations would have died out and the government would have survived. This is not a new narrative on the Russians‘ part. They also claimed that the Orange Revolution had the same roots. The West denies this. What is important is that the Russians believe this. That means that they believe that Western intelligence has the ability to destabilize Ukraine and potentially other countries in the Russian sphere of influence, or even Russia itself. This makes the Russians wary of U.S. power.

The Russians also are not convinced that they have to do anything. Apart from their theory on Western intelligence, they know that the Ukrainians are fractious and that mounting an uprising is very different than governing. The Russians have raised the price of natural gas by 80 percent for Ukraine, and the International Monetary Fund’s bailout of Ukrainian sovereign debt carries with it substantial social and economic pain. As this pain sets in this summer, and the romantic recollection of the uprising fades, the Russians expect a backlash against the West and also will use their own influence, overt and covert, to shape the Ukrainian government. Seizing eastern Ukraine would cut against this strategy. The Russians want the pro-Russian regions voting in Ukrainian elections, sending a strong opposition to Kiev. Slicing off all or part of eastern Ukraine would be irrational.

Other options for the Russians are not inviting. There has been talk of action in Moldova from Transdniestria. But while it is possible for Russian forces there to act in Moldova, supplies for the region run through Ukraine. In the event of a conflict, the Russians must assume that the Ukrainians would deny access. The Russians could possibly force their way in, but then a measured action in Moldova would result in an invasion of Ukraine — and put the Russians back where they started.

Action in the Baltics is possible; the Kremlin could encourage Russian minorities to go into the streets. But the Baltics are in NATO, and the response would be unpredictable. The Russians want to hold their sphere of influence in Ukraine without breaking commercial and political ties with Europe, particularly with Germany. Russian troops moving into the Baltics would challenge Russia’s relationship with Europe.

Negotiations to relieve the crisis make sense for the Russians because of the risks involved in potential actions and because they think they can recover their influence in Ukraine after the economic crunch hits and they begin doling out cash to ease the pain.

The U.S. Perspective

The United States sees the Russians as having two levers. Militarily, the Russians are stronger than the Americans in their region. The United States had no practical military options in Crimea, just as they had none in Georgia in 2008. The United States would take months to build up forces in the event of a major conflict in Eurasia. Preparation for Desert Storm took six months, and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 took similar preparation. With such a time frame the Russians would have achieved their aims and the only option the Americans would have would be an impossible one: mounting an invasion of Russian-held territory. The Americans do not want the Russians to exercise military options, because it would reveal the U.S. inability to mount a timely response. It would also reveal weaknesses in NATO.

The Americans also do not want to test the Germans since they don’t know which way Berlin will move. In a sense, the Germans began the crisis by confronting the Ukrainians‘ refusal to proceed with an EU process and by supporting one of the leaders of the uprising both before and after the protests. But since then, the Germans have fallen increasingly quiet and the person they supported, Vitali Klitschko, has dropped out of the race for the Ukrainian presidency. The Germans have pulled back.

The Germans do not want a little Cold War to break out. Constant conflict to their east would exacerbate the European Union’s instability and could force Germany into more assertive actions that it really does not want to undertake. Berlin is very busy trying to stabilize the European Union and hold together Southern and Central Europe in the face of massive economic dislocation and the emergence of an increasingly visible radical right. It does not need a duel with Russia. The Germans also receive a third of their energy from Russia. This is of mutual benefit, but the Germans are not certain that Russia will see the mutual benefits during a crisis. It is a risk the Germans cannot afford to take.

If Germany is cautious, however the passions in the region flow, the Central Europeans must be cautious as well. Poland cannot simply disregard Germany, for example. The United States might create bilateral relations in the region, as I suggested would happen in due course, but for the moment, the Americans are not ready to act at all, let alone in a region where two powers — Russia and Germany — might oppose American action.

Washington, like Moscow, has limited options. Even assuming the Russian claim about U.S. influence via nongovernmental organizations is true, they have played that card and it will be difficult to play again as austerity takes hold. Therefore, the latest events are logical. The Russians have turned to the Americans to discuss easing the crisis, asking for the creation of a federation in Ukraine, and there have been suggestions of monitors being deployed as well.

The Significance of the Negotiations

What is most interesting in this is that with the next act being played out, the Russians and Americans have reached out to each other. The Russians have talked to the Europeans, of course, but as discussions reach the stage of defining the future and options, Lavrov calls Kerry and Kerry answers the phone.

This tells us something important on how the world works. I have laid out the weakness of both countries, but even in the face of this weakness, the Russians know that they cannot extract themselves from the crisis without American cooperation, and the United States understands that it will need to deal with the Russians and cannot simply impose an outcome as it sometimes did in the region in the 1990s.

Part of this might be habits learned in the Cold War. But it is more than that. If the Russians want to reach a solution to the Ukrainian problem that protects their national interests without forcing them beyond a level of risk they consider acceptable, the only country they can talk to is the United States. There is no single figure in Europe who speaks for the European states on a matter of this importance. The British speak for the British, the French for the French, the Germans for the Germans and the Poles for the Poles. In negotiating with the Europeans, you must first allow the Europeans to negotiate among themselves. After negotiations, individual countries — or perhaps the European Union — might, for example, send monitors. But Europe is an abstraction when it comes to power politics.

The Russians called the Americans because they understood that whatever the weakness of the United States at this moment and in this place, the potential power of the United States is substantially greater than theirs. On a matter of such significance to the Russians, failing to deal with the United States would be dangerous, and dealing with them first would be the best path to solving the problem.

A U.S.-Russian agreement on defusing the crisis likely would bring the Germans and the rest into the deal. Germany wants a solution that does not disrupt relations with Russia and does not strain relations with Central Europe. The Germans need good relations with the Central Europeans in the context of the European Union. The Americans want good relations, but have little dependence on Central Europe at the moment. Thus, the Americans potentially can give more than the Europeans, even if the Europeans could have organized themselves to negotiate.

Finally, the United States has global interests that the Russians can affect. Iran is the most obvious one. Thus, the Russians can link issues in Ukraine to issues in Iran to extract a better deal with the United States. A negotiation with the United States has a minimal economic component and maximum political and military components. There are places where the United States wants Russian help on these sorts of issues. They can deal.

Divergent U.S. Concerns

Most important, the United States is not clear on what it wants from the Russians. In part it wants to create a constitutional democracy in Ukraine. The Russians actually do not object to that so long as Ukraine does not join NATO or the European Union, but the Russians are also aware that building a constitutional democracy in Ukraine is a vast and possibly futile undertaking. They know that the government is built on dangerously shifting economic and social sands. There are parts of the U.S. government that are concerned with Russia emerging as a regional hegemon, and there are parts of the U.S. government still obsessed with the Middle East that see the Russians as challengers in the region, while others see them as potential partners.

As sometimes happens in the United States, there is complex ideological and institutional diversity. The State Department and Defense Department rarely see anything the same way, and different offices of each have competing views, and then there is Congress. That makes the United States in some ways as difficult to deal with as the Europeans. But it also opens opportunities for manipulation in the course of the negotiation.

Still, in cases of the highest national significance, whatever the diversity in views, in the end the president or some other dominant figure can speak authoritatively. In this case it appears to be Kerry who, buffeted by the divergent views on human rights and power politics, can still speak for the only power that can enter into an agreement and create the coalition in Europe and in Kiev to accept the agreement.

Russia suffered a massive reversal after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich fell. It acted not so much to reverse the defeat as to shape perceptions of its power. Moscow’s power is real but insufficient to directly reverse events by occupying Kiev. It will need to use Ukraine’s economic weakness, political fragmentation and time to try to reassert its position. In order to do this, it needs a negotiated solution that it hopes will be superseded by events. To have that solution, Moscow needs a significant negotiating partner. The United States is the only one available. And for all its complexity and oddities, if it can be persuaded to act, it alone can provide the stable platform that Russia now needs.

The United States is not ready to concede that it has entered a period during which competition with Russia will be a defining element in its foreign policy. Its internal logic is not focused on Russia, nor are internal bureaucratic interests aligned. There is an argument to be made that it is not in the U.S. interest to end the Ukrainian crisis, that allowing Russia to go deeper into the Ukrainian morass will sap its strength and abort the emerging competition before it really starts. But the United States operates by its own process, and it is not yet ready to think in terms of weakening Russia, and given the United States‘ relative isolation, postponement is not a bad idea.

Therefore, the negotiations show promise. But more important, the Russians have shown us the way the world still works. When something must get done, the number to call is still in the United States.



Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Democrats call for study of declining federal-worker morale

Three Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have asked the Government Accountability Office to examine recent declines in federal-worker morale and how to reverse the trend.

Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who is the panel’s ranking member, along with Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), said in a letter to the GAO last week that pay freezes and furloughs caused by across-the-board budget cuts and last year’s government shutdown have taken a toll on the federal workforce.

“Stakeholders, including federal employee organizations, have noted that federal workers have become increasingly dissatisfied with their employment, and that this may be compromising the federal government’s ability to serve the American people,” the letter said.

Results from the annual federal-employee viewpoint survey and the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government report, which ranks federal agencies based on their survey scores, show that government-wide job satisfaction has declined for the past three consecutive years.

The letter calls on the GAO to report on root causes of worker discontent and how dissatisfaction affects retention, performance and productivity. It also asks the watchdog to identify the best practices that have helped certain agencies buck the trend and improve morale in recent years.

The lawmakers emphasized engagement as a key to improving work conditions, echoing recommendations from good-government groups such as the Partnership for Public Service, which publishes the annual Best Places reports.

The letter calls on the GAO to determine ways of improving engagement between managers and rank-and-file, in addition to asking the agency to show how the Office of Personnel Management is addressing the matter.



Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* Washington Post: For recent vets, a legacy of pain and pride

Rajiv Chandrasekaran

A nationwide poll of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans provides an unprecedented glimpse into the enduring effects on the 2.6 million Americans who have served.

More than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.



Suter* More schooling makes women less likely to vote for Islamic parties

Posted on March 26, 2014 by IZA Press

Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa are characterized by low levels of per capita income, democracy and education, but a high level of religiosity. Excluding Cyprus and Israel, the predominant religion in these countries is Islam.

In a new IZA discussion paper, Resul Cesur and Naci Mocan show that religious beliefs and political views of Muslim women change when they attain a higher education. In 1997 the compulsory attendance of secular schooling was extended from five to eight years in Turkey. Consequently, the share of women who obtained at least a middle school diploma increased from 54 to 83 percent.

Among the better educated females the proportion of those identifying themselves as religious decreased by 30 percent. The share of those who stated to have a modern lifestyle increased by the same magnitude. These additional three years of education made Muslim women 40 percent less likely to wear a head scarf or even a burqa. They also voted only half as often for Islamic parties in general elections.

Surprisingly, there are no such effects for men, neither concerning their religious views nor their voting behavior. A possible explanation given by the authors is that women are now necessarily more often away from home. In the extra years of secular schooling they can make more friends and experiences that might alter their beliefs and preferences.

Read abstract or download discussion paper.



* Wertverlust bei RWE-Aktien frisst Eigenkapital der Stadt Essen * Um 680 Millionen Euro ärmer *

01.04.2014 · Die Stadt Essen besitzt knapp 19 Millionen RWE-Aktien. Doch der Wert der Papiere fällt seit Jahren. Nun muss Essen diesen Wertverlust in ihren Büchern ausweisen – und ist mit einem Schlag 680 Millionen Euro ärmer.

Die Stadt Essen muss den jahrelang gefallenen Wert der RWE-Aktien in ihren Büchern nach unten anpassen und verliert dadurch fast ihr gesamtes Eigenkapital. Zum Jahresende rechne die Stadt mit einer Überschuldung. Das Minus dürfte bei 18,6 Millionen Euro liegen, Ende 2015 und 2016 dann bei mehr als 50 Millionen Euro, sagten Oberbürgermeister Reinhard Paß (SPD) und Stadtkämmerer Lars-Martin Klieve am Dienstag.

Die Stadt hatte 2007 ihre knapp 19 Millionen RWE-Aktien mit je knapp 76 Euro bewertet. Zum Jahresende 2013 waren sie auf 26,6 Euro gefallen. Bei einer dauerhaften Verschlechterung ihrer Vermögensanlagen müssen Städte neuerdings den Wert in den Büchern korrigieren. Die Neubewertung lässt die klamme Ruhrgebietskommune mit einem Schlag in der Bilanz um 680 Millionen Euro ärmer da stehen als zuvor. Das Eigenkapital schrumpft damit auf nur noch 15,4 Millionen.

Auch andere Kommunen im Ruhrgebiet oder ihre Tochtergesellschaften haben ihr Vermögen in RWE-Aktien angelegt und müssen in ihren Jahresabschlüssen (Stichtag 31. März) Millionensummen auf RWE-Aktien abschreiben. Der RWE-Konzern war 2013 tief in die roten Zahlen gerutscht, der Verlust lag bei 2,8 Milliarden Euro.





Afghanistan im Jahr 2014

KOFF Newsletter Nr. 126

Die NATO hat Mitte 2013 die vollständige Verantwortung für die Sicherheit des Landes den afghanischen Sicherheitskräften übergeben. Derweil geht der Truppenabzug der International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) weiter und soll bis Ende 2014 abgeschlossen sein. Am 5. April finden zudem richtungsweisende Präsidentschaftswahlen statt: Präsident Karzai darf gemäß Verfassung nach zwei Amtszeiten nicht mehr antreten. Somit war die Zukunft Afghanistans seit dem Sturz des Taliban-Regimes 2001 nie mehr so offen. In diesem Kontext zeigt der Schwerpunktartikel auf, mit welchen Herausforderungen sich die afghanischen Sicherheitskräfte und insbesondere die Polizistinnen konfrontiert sehen. Des Weiteren erklären staatliche und nichtstaatliche Organisationen, wie sie ihre Programmarbeit in diesem fragilen Land anpassen und weiterführen wollen.


ZAMAN: Will Vladimir Putin bolster the eurozone?

Jacek Rostowski, Poland’s finance minister until last November, recently suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have dared to annex Crimea if he had not observed Europe agonizing over a solution to the euro crisis.

Is Rostowski right?

At first sight, such a connection seems far-fetched. Putin’s show of strength involved military force and the implicit threat of a gas embargo, not monetary power (which he does not have). Throughout the conflict over Crimea, the focus has been on Ukraine’s relationship with the European Union, not with the eurozone. Moreover, Ukraine’s recent monetary history has been defined by an exchange-rate peg to the US dollar, not the euro. So how could the euro be relevant to Russia’s annexation of Crimea?

Rostowski’s point is that European countries demonstrated throughout the euro crisis that they had very little appetite for solidarity, even with their partners in the monetary union. How much solidarity would they be willing to display vis-à-vis a non-European Union country? Russia, the reasoning goes, interpreted the EU’s hesitant management of the turmoil as a license to act. And it could go further for the same reason. Clearly, the series of events following the financial meltdown in 2008 can be viewed as a crisis of solidarity. When a common response to Europe’s banking debacle was needed, the answer was that each country should take care of its own financial institutions. When Greece lost access to financial markets, several months were needed to engineer a response, which took great care not to rely on EU funds and to limit each country’s financial commitment. Indeed, when a “firewall” was finally created, its size was strictly limited and no form of joint liability was permitted. And Eurobonds were quickly rejected, because they would have created open-ended mutualized-debt obligations. Similarly, though it had been envisaged that the European Stability Mechanism could be used to recapitalize banks, it was eventually decided that the ESM would lend only to governments, rather than assuming bank risk directly. And, most recently, negotiations to establish an EU banking union once again confronted the challenge of forging a common resolution mechanism while limiting each member state’s commitment.

In short, each time the question of European solidarity was raised, the answer was: “Yes, but only if absolutely necessary, and only to the minimum possible extent.” Russian reactions to the Ukrainian uprising, meanwhile, have shown how vivid the memory of World War II remains in Moscow. It is fair to assume that the Kremlin may have noticed that Europe had no wish to emulate the United States and engineer a Marshall Plan of its own. More generally, Putin may have concluded that an EU that is so reluctant to take risks for the good of its own members would certainly not take risks for a mere neighbor.

A key dimension of the current standoff over Ukraine is energy, and it raises the same question about European solidarity. As a recent study by Bruegel has shown, the EU as a whole could, with some effort, dispense with gas imports from Russia. But doing so would require EU member states to regard security of supplies as a matter of common concern, not as an issue that each country must address on its own. For example, in response to an embargo affecting a particular country, other EU members would draw on their reserves, increase their own production, pay more for imports, or cut consumption a bit. But this sense of solidarity has been consistently lacking in the EU’s energy-policy debate. The underlying question is whether it is right to assume that the euro should have created more solidarity. Those who first imagined the single currency expected it to have profound consequences. In their eyes, it would be a means to forge a community. Currency borders generally coincide with political borders, so the creation of a monetary union was expected to give rise to some sort of common polity. Sharing a currency was expected to create a sense of common destiny, and hence solidarity, among the participants.

That did not happen. Even before the crisis, it was clear that citizens and governments alike regarded (wrongly) the euro as a mere practicality. Its introduction was viewed as a technocratic affair, to be handled by central bankers and finance ministers, not as the cornerstone of a common European identity. Its creation did not cause the EU budget to increase by a single euro, nor did it lead to deeper political integration. The commitment called for by a common currency was consistently underestimated. In hindsight, it was a mistake to believe in the euro’s spontaneous community-creating power. Though there clearly is a link between currency areas and political communities (consider the dissolution of the ruble zone at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse), it is political community that creates the solidarity needed to foster currency linkages, not vice versa. Rostowski is certainly right: the euro’s weakness has emboldened Putin. In the end, however, the right question may be whether the Crimea crisis will eventually bolster European solidarity — and thus the euro.

Jean Pisani-Ferry, the French government’s Commissioner-General for Policy Planning, is a professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He is a former director of Bruegel, the Brussels-based economic think tank.


ZAMAN: The EU’s big failure in Ukraine

Western leaders hold Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin responsible for everything that went wrong in Ukraine and assault them with bellicose language.

They keep saying that Russia is, in essence, aggressive and expansionist; and that Putin is paranoid and disconnected from the reality on the ground and the values of the 21st century. However, apart from such aggressive rhetoric, the EU seems to have no realistic game plan for Ukraine. For its part, the US appears to be following in the EU’s footsteps.

The EU’s repeated mistakes created an opportunity for Putin to play his hand, and he annexed Crimea in a swift, smooth three-week operation. Western reactions to the annexation once again demonstrated a clear policy debacle. Obviously, the possibility of annexation never occurred to Western leaders, and they have no idea what steps to take next. In December, before the crisis escalated to its present level, I pointed out that the EU was managing the Ukrainian issue poorly (21. Yüzyıl Dergisi, issue 61). Now let’s take a closer look.

Back in 2008, the declaration of the NATO summit in Budapest implied that Ukraine would become a member of NATO. Western leaders kept saying that this statement was not intended to be "against Russia.” However, the perception in Moscow was different. In 2009, under a joint Swedish-Polish initiative, the EU launched the Eastern Partnership (EaP) program, including six countries: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. It was obvious that the list was made with the understanding that it would include everyone but Russia.

During negotiations on the association agreement with Ukraine, Russia raised some legitimate concerns over issues such as shifting Ukraine’s foreign trade volume away from Russia, dumping EU products through the loosely controlled Ukrainian border, etc.

These concerns weren’t received warmly in Brussels. Brussels unwisely assumed that Ukraine was just about another Poland in the EU enlargement process. It was not interested in a more or less similar integration with Russia, either. The prevailing attitude in the EU was that for Ukraine it was a choice between West and East, between Europe and Russia, or more precisely, "a choice of civilizations.”

A different vision of integration

The EU needs to have a feasible roadmap based on a different vision of integration with the Eastern Slavic peoples (Russians, Ukrainians and White Russians) — a vital issue for stability in Eurasia. Ukraine and Belarus may become members of the EU, possibly as part of a 41- or 42-member community. Russia’s precise relations with the EU are difficult to forecast in the long term, but much closer and stronger cooperation than the present level is essential. Any policy containing elements of Russian exclusion would be better avoided.

On the other hand, Ukraine and Russia are two countries that share and draw on the same deep historical and cultural roots. Ukraine includes two large groups: the people who consider their identity as closer to Russia, and those who see themselves as closer to Europe. Therefore, the path to Ukraine’s EU membership must not be confrontation, but consensus between these two groups. The EU must work hard to expedite such a compromise. An absolute precondition for accomplishing such an outcome is, however, a similar reconciliation and cooperation between the EU and Russia.

Moreover, if such a path were adopted, even the majority of Ukrainians who are now considered pro-Russian would likely support EU integration.

In short, Ukraine must be an area of cooperation, not confrontation, between Europe and Russia. Ukraine’s economy is close to collapse, and this dire situation also necessitates the same.

The idea of ​​Ukraine joining NATO being re-circulated these days should be abandoned.

Kiev, the most ancient center of Eastern Slavic cultural heritage, its crown jewel, must not be an arena of East-West contention. This beautiful city should be the very center of the EU’s cooperation with all Eastern Slavic peoples — similar to how Brussels is a symbol of Franco-German cooperation. The EU’s push to force Ukraine to choose between West and East is unlikely to yield any auspicious outcome. For the hardest existential question for the Eastern Slavic peoples has always been whether they belong to the East or the West, but no one, not even themselves, has been able to give an answer so far.


Crimea was the first Muslim-populated territory lost by the Ottoman Empire. As the peninsula slipped out of Ottoman control (1774), a period of persecution, exile and death began for the native Tatars, one that is still going on today. However, this painful loss was not the outcome of a single battle lost. When the Muscovite principality in the 1550s took over the other two Tatar principalities, Kazan and Astrakhan, it was clear that the next target would be Crimea. For more than two centuries (until 1792), seven major Russo-Turkish wars were fought, each lasting on average about three to four years. This constituted one of the longest conflicts in European history, the issue at stake being Crimea and the Russian thrust toward the Black Sea coast. The Ottomans mobilized all their energy to the last drop, but ultimately conceded defeat. The major reason was that the Ottomans lagged far behind Russia’s modernization. For example, Russians began to use the printing press in 1563 and published numerous books throughout the 1600s, while the first printed book in the Ottoman Turkish language came out over 150 years later, in 1727.

Just as it was a painful loss for us, the conquest of Crimea was a glorious victory for the Russians. It was a dream come true — a dream carried down the generations from the Muscovite princes to the Russian czars. It was such a powerful dream that Czar Peter the Great, about 80 years before the Crimean conquest, took an incognito trip to Western Europe to learn the craft of shipbuilding, and upon returning built a new fleet partly with his own axe, to sail it down the River Don to the Black Sea.

Turkey’s late awakening

The best option for the Crimean Tatars was EU accession as part of Ukraine. But now this path has been closed off. One can’t help but remember the Bosnian crisis of the 1990s. The US initially considered Bosnia a European issue and left it to the EU, which managed it dismally as well. If America had not later changed its position and intervened unilaterally, there would most probably be no independent Bosnia today. Now I am certainly not suggesting American military intervention in Ukraine, but there could have been mediation to compensate for the weaknesses of EU policy. That didn’t happen. One must now bitterly remember that after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia accepted, however grudgingly, Crimea’s status as part of Ukraine.

Ankara could also try to make a contribution toward resolving the Ukraine crisis, say within the framework outlined here, as Turkey ought to be among the countries that have a good instinctive grasp of the risks involved in Crimea. Moreover, Ukraine’s potential EU accession and the EaP program’s inclusion of the three South Caucasus countries are issues that concern us as well. During the days when the crisis was simmering, Turkey’s prime minister went to Poland, a country closely involved in the Ukrainian issue, and official talks were held with the leaders of France and Germany. However, Ukraine was not taken up as a topic at these deliberations.

Only after the Crimean crisis blew up in recent weeks were our foreign policymakers roused. At that late date, Ankara didn’t do much else besides repeat the standard EU line of stressing sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law. However, such an approach is hardly effective because the core of the problem is not a lack of articulation of correct principles, but the lack of a feasible policy. When emphasizing the sovereignty of Ukraine, European leaders imply that the country’s government should make a choice between Europe and Russia, and everyone else should abide by this. Yes, the majority has the right to decide in a democracy. However, another fundamental principle of democracy, especially when two large groups of the population differ on a major issue, is seeking consensus. And that is precisely what is missing in the present Ukrainian mess. Yes, territorial integrity is important, but so is the right to self-determination. So, for instance, if Kosovo’s independence is in line with international law, it is problematic to try to prove the contrary for Crimea. Resolving the Ukrainian crisis is hardly possible through a debate over principles.

Finally, for those who don’t accept my criticism of the West’s policy, I recommend a recent piece by Henry Kissinger, a living master of strategy, in the Washington Post on March 5, 2014. His sharp remarks are as follows: "For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one."

After the Wars_ A legacy of pain and pride _ The Washington Post.pdf