Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 16/05/14

Massenbach-Letter

Udo von Massenbach

Guten Morgen.

· The respective elite perceptions of America in Europe and Asia http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2014/05/09/viewing-obama-through-the-looking-glass/

· Google vs. European Union

· BND-Akten: Weltkriegsveteranen bauten geheime Armee auf

· Die Organisation Gehlen und die Verteidigung Westdeutschlands. Alte Elitedivisionen und neue Militärstrukturen, 1949-1953

· Nachlese zum FDP-Parteitag in Dresden am 10. Mai 2014

Massenbach* US SCIENTISTS PROPOSE A NEW PARADIGM FOR THE ORIGIN OF CANCER

Two US scientists have developed a new hypothesis for the origin of cancer. Their work has just been published in the peer-reviewed journal, BMC Cancer, entitled

“Epistemology of the Origin of Cancer: A New Paradigm”.

Until recently it is thought that the percentage rates of all cancers are triggered (1) in 5 to 10% of all cancers by somatic mutations (hereditary cancers), (2) in 10-15% of cancers by infection and (3) in some 80% of all cancers “sporadic cancers”, the cause remains unknown.

Both authors point out that mutagenic changes, as triggers for cancer, were first suggested in 1928. While being thought to be valid for some 5 to 10% of cancers, the mutation theory leaves the origin of the remaining 80% of cancers still unexplained. Their new hypothesis suggests that in the majority of cancers mutagenic changes are either epiphenomena or later events that occur during carcinogenesis.

The US scientists propose a new paradigm for the origin of the majority of cancers that takes into consideration the biochemical processes, physiological processes including cell-cell communication and signaling information which can be summarized in a sequence of six steps. These are:

(1) A pathogenic stimulus that leads to inflammation in response to which the affected tissue takes defensive measures to heal and, when unsuccessful, results in (2) chronic inflammation. When chronic inflammation persists (3) fibrosis develops. The fibrosis, with its ongoing remodeling of the cellular microenvironment, creates (4) a precancerous niche. In such a situation the organism employs (5) a chronic stress escape strategy and if this attempt fails to resolve the precancerous state, (6) a normal cell becomes a cancerous cell.

Observations from research in the plant and animal kingdoms, in cell culture, and from clinical studies reveal that the transition of a cell of one type to one of another type is a routine and normal biological process, which in the case of cancer is subverted.

The authors propose that, after 85 years of searching for genetic sources it is time to shift to a new paradigm and suggest concentrating research efforts on the nearly 80% of cancer cases which are still of “unknown etiology." In so doing the authors state,

“The paradigm proposed here, if proven, spells out a sequence of steps, one or more of which could be interdicted or modulated early in carcinogenesis to prevent or, at a minimum, delay the progression of many cancers.”

The scientist’s affiliations are from the following global/individual Academic Centers /Countries/States (Cities):

1

THEODOR-BILLROTH-ACADEMY® (TBA®), Germany – USA

2

INCORE, International Consortium of Research Excellence of the TBA®, Germany – USA

3

Bon Secours Cancer Institute, Richmond, Virginia, USA

4

Risk-Based Decisions, Inc., Sacramento, California, USA

If this is of interest to you, please find attached the weblink of the manuscript as well as the PDF file of the proposed new paradigm for your convenience.

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2407/14/331

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* *Was das Google-Urteil bedeutet*

Suchmaschinen wie Google und Yahoo gelten fortan als datenverarbeitende Konzerne und sind für die Abbildung der von ihnen gesammelten Links verantwortlich. Nun werden tausende Bürger und Institutionen die Löschung von Daten aus den Suchindizes verlangen, die ihnen unangenehm sind. Ein Kommentar.

13.05.2014, von Mathias Müller von Blumencron

Nun gibt es also doch ein Recht auf Vergessen werden im Internet, ein Recht, das es Bürgern erlaubt, Suchmaschinen das Hinweisen auf sensible Daten zu untersagen. So hat es der Europäische Gerichtshof heute bestimmt und damit einen wegweisenden Entscheid gefällt. Seit Jahren gibt es in Deutschland eine anhaltende Debatte darüber, ob der Gesetzgeber ein solches Recht festschreiben soll. Geschehen ist bisher nichts. Nun sind die Brüsseler Richter den Politikern zuvor gekommen. Und sie haben richtig entschieden.

Abgeleitet haben die Juristen ihren Entscheid aus der EU-Datenschutzrichtlinie. Sie haben darin ein paar Grundsätze festgeschrieben, die dramatische Folgen für die Betreiber von Suchmaschinen haben werden. Konzerne wie Google, Microsoft oder Yahoo gelten in Zukunft im Hinblick auf ihre Suchfunktion als Datenverarbeiter. Die Folge: Sie sind für das inhaltliche Bild einer Person, das sich aus der Darstellung der gefundenen Links ergibt, verantwortlich. Diese Auslegung wollten die Konzerne mit aller Kraft verhindern, indem sie stets argumentierten, lediglich Dokumente auffindbar zu machen, aber ihren Gehalt dabei nicht berücksichtigen zu müssen. Mit dieser Argumentation ist Google gescheitert.

Die Auslegung der Richter ist nur konsequent. Längst sind Dienste wie Google und Yahoo keine reinen Suchdienste mehr, sondern globale Datenaggregatoren von nie gekannter Dimension. Sie verarbeiten nahezu alle von ihnen erfassbaren Daten über Personen, ihre Vorlieben, ihre Wegstrecken im Digitalen mit immer zunehmender Intensität, um die Auslieferung von Werbung zu optimieren. In den Servern der Suchmaschinen sind die Bürger längst gläsern geworden, selbst wenn die Konzerne immer wieder betonen, dass die Daten ja nur zu anonymen Profilen aggregiert werden.

Suchmaschinen steht ein unabsehbarer Aufwand bevor

Nun steht den Suchmaschinen ein unabsehbarer Aufwand zuvor. Tausende von Bürger und Institutionen werden die Sperrung von Suchergebnissen verlangen. Die interessante Frage ist, wie die Suchmaschinen damit umgehen: Werden sie jeden Einzelfall prüfen? Werden sie personenbezogene Links, die auf ältere Dokumente verweisen, maschinell stärker in den Hintergrund schieben – was das Internet als Rechercheinstrument der Zeitgeschichte erheblich beeinträchtigen könnte?

Die Pflicht zur Löschung gilt selbst, wenn die Suchergebnisse – etwa Zeitungsartikel – legal im Netz abgebildet werden. Die Richter haben entschieden, dass die Aggregation von Informationen zu einer Person ein viel intensiveres Datenbild ergeben, als einzelne Dokumente es enthalten. Wenn sich Bürger heute als zunehmend durchleuchtet wahrnehmen, so liegt das nicht nur an den Schnüffelaktionen der NSA, sondern ganz besonders an der Sammlung und öffentlichen Abbildung von Spuren, die Bürger im Netz hinterlassen haben.

Das Urteil wird nicht nur Folgen für Suchmaschinen haben. Im Netz hat sich ein ganzer Wust von Such- und Findediensten ausgebreitet, wie etwa die Personensuchmaschine Yasni. Sie alle müssen nun überprüfen, ob die Ausweisung von Links zu weit in die Schutzrechte der Bürger eingreifen.

Noch einen weiteren wichtigen Punkt hat der EuGH klargestellt: Internationale Konzerne wie Google können sich nicht darauf berufen, dass die eigentliche Datenverarbeitung gar nicht in dem Land stattfindet, in dem ein Bürger die Löschung verlangt. Damit haben die Konzerne versucht, sich schärferen lokalen Datenschutzrichtlinien zu entziehen. Eine viel kritisierte Argumentation. Doch das trickreiche Herauswinden aus der Verantwortung funktioniert jetzt nicht mehr.

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/unternehmen/eugh-urteil-ueber-google-recht-auf-vergessen-im-netz-12937165.html

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) Crisis rooms – Towards a global network? *

24 April 2014 In recent years, the EU’s crisis management policy has gradually broadened in range and scope, as it seeks to adapt its response mechanisms to the increasingly complex crises facing the world today. In this regard a major role is played by crisis coordination centres or ‘crisis rooms’ … This book brings together key elements from an international conference devoted to challenges and opportunities for cooperation between crisis rooms that was organised by the European External Action Service in December 2013. The conference brought together perspectives from leading regional and international organisations and represented a major stepping stone as well as a springboard for the ongoing efforts of crisis responders worldwide to establish their own ‘security community’ … Contents [Auswahl J.B.]

– The role of the European External Action Service in a global network of crisis rooms

– The European External Action Service and complex crises

– The practice of global crisis management

– Crisis rooms in the Arab world

– The ICRC’s humanitarian approach: opportunities and challenges for partnership and coordination 65

– The World Food Programme in the world of crisis rooms

– Political and technical aspects of information sharing

– Strengthening civilian-military cooperation

– Crowdsourcing: crisis response in the digital age

– Linking crises, disasters and conflicts http://www.iss.europa.eu/uploads/media/Crisis_Rooms.pdf

CSIS

The Afghan Civil Transition Crisis: Afghanistan’s Status and the Warnings from Iraq’s Failure May 6, 2014 … United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) … has never written a single report on the overall structure and progress of aid. USAID and DoD have failed to demonstrate they have reliable methods of accountability for aid spending, and neither have developed overall plans for Afghan development or any reliable measures of effectiveness. It is unclear that any other donor nations have done better, or that the Afghan government has made serious progress in their ability to handle the civil problems of Transition … data on Afghanistan and Iraq are a grim warning about the shortfalls in the US and other outside efforts to transform the civil government and economy of both Afghanistan and Iraq, and the limits to what can be accomplished in any real world counterinsurgency operation.

They warn about the need to be far less ambitious and far more honest about the limits of outside aid and intervention, and to develop far more competent and well-managed aid efforts tied to realistic plans, metrics, accountability, and measures of effectiveness … comparison between Afghanistan and Iraq is particularly striking because of the degree to which it warns that even the most successful elections are not a credible path to success, and because Afghanistan has no past base of economic development or equivalent to oil wealth to help it through Transition … Afghanistan has made far less progress in security than Iraq has made at the end of 2011 … http://csis.org/publication/afghan-civil-transition-crisis-afghanistans-status-and-warnings-iraqs-failure

siehe auch:

Report to Congress: Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan April 2014 … Despite substantial progress, the ANSF continued to face several challenges during the reporting period. ANSF logistics and sustainment capabilities remained underdeveloped, Afghan National Army

(ANA) attrition was higher than its target, and corruption continued.

Although the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) continues to develop capabilities, ANSF requires more time and effort to close four key high-end capability gaps that will remain after the ISAF mission ends on December 31, 2014: air support; intelligence enterprise; special operations; and Afghan security ministry capacity. International funding and coalition force assistance will be critical to sustaining the force after 2014 … http://www.defense.gov/pubs/April_1230_Report_Final.pdf

10.05.14 AFGHANISTAN: Overview of Flood-Affected Areas

http://reliefweb.int/map/afghanistan/afghanistan-overview-flood-affected-areas-10-may-2014

Brookings

Syrian Refugees and Turkey’s Challenges: Beyond the Limits of Hospitality

12 May 2014 .. Turkey declared in October 2011 an open door policy towards refugees fleeing Syria and extended to them a legal framework known as “temporary protection.” As of May 2014 there are roughly 220,000 Syrian refugees housed in 22 camps along the Syrian border with another 515,000 registered urban refugees. The government together with UNHCR put the total number of all the refugees in Turkey at around an estimated 900,000. There is general recognition that the government has done a commendable job in providing protection and humanitarian assistance to the refugees in the camps. However, the situation for those refugees outside the camps is more complicated. The persistence of the conflict and the ever growing number of urban refugees is creating a set of tough challenges for Turkey. It is becoming increasingly clear that refugees are not about to return home anytime soon. This brings up a range of very difficult policy issues for the government …Turkey should not have to bear the cost of this policy transformation alone. Protecting and caring for refugees is an international responsibility. The international community will have to contribute to Turkey’s efforts in real and effective terms. In addition to the norms of humanitarian assistance, there are other solid reasons why the international community should assist Turkey’s efforts to respond to the refugees … in turn, Turkey will have to shed some of its real or imagined distrust of the international community and its institutions … It will also be important to recognize and accept that those international actors that will extend financial help will rightfully seek transparency and accountability.

http://reliefweb.int/report/turkey/syrian-refugees-and-turkey-s-challenges-beyond-limits-hospitality

UN-OCHA Turkey

http://reliefweb.int/country/tur

BND-Akten: Weltkriegsveteranen bauten geheime Armee auf

11.05.2014 … Rund 2000 ehemalige Offiziere der deutschen Wehrmacht und der Waffen-SS betrieben nach Informationen des SPIEGEL ab 1949 den Aufbau einer Armee von rund 40.000 Mann. Die Aktion fand hinter dem Rücken von Bundesregierung und Öffentlichkeit statt. Hauptorganisator war der spätere Heeresinspekteur der Bundeswehr, Albert Schnez. Waffen sollten im Ernstfall aus Beständen der Bereitschaftspolizei kommen … Der damalige Bundeskanzler Konrad Adenauer erfuhr spätestens 1951 von der Schnez-Truppe und beauftragte die Organisation Gehlen – den Vorläufer des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND) – mit der "Betreuung und Überwachung" der Schattenarmee … Die Informationen stammen aus freigegebenen Unterlagen des Bundesnachrichtendienstes, die der Historiker Agilolf Keßelring beziehungsweise der SPIEGEL eingesehen haben. Keßelring ist Mitarbeiter der Unabhängigen Historikerkommission, die die Frühgeschichte des BND erforscht.

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/veteranen-von-wehrmacht-und-ss-gruendeten-laut-bnd-geheime-armee-a-968727.html

BEZUGSDOKUMENT:

Agilolf Keßelring: Die Organisation Gehlen und die Verteidigung Westdeutschlands. Alte Elitedivisionen und neue Militärstrukturen, 1949-1953, Marburg 2014

http://www.uhk-bnd.de/?page_id=340

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Suter* Do immigrants improve the health of native workers?

Posted on May 9, 2014 by IZA Press

In the public debate, immigration is often blamed for increased healthcare costs and taxpayer burden. However, empirical evidence shows that immigrants are typically young and relatively healthy and, therefore, less likely to use health care than natives. Indeed, a voluminous set of studies provides evidence of a “healthy immigrant effect”. Immigrants are healthier than their population of origin and than natives upon their arrival, but their health deteriorates with time spent in the host country. Shedding light on these health patterns is crucial to evaluate the costs and benefits of migration, and, in particular, its impact on health care costs.

Yet, the mechanisms underlying immigrant health trajectories are not fully understood. Despite the evidence that immigrants are more likely to work in occupations that involve higher physical burden and are associated with higher risk of negative health outcomes, the relationship between working conditions and the health trajectories of immigrants has been largely ignored by previous studies.

In a new IZA discussion paper, Fabrizio Mazzonna and Osea Giuntella show that one of the mechanisms underlying the immigrant health deterioration is the self-selection of immigrants in more strenuous occupations. As immigrants arrive relatively healthy but with less human and financial capital than natives, they have stronger incentives to trade off health for higher lifetime earnings, accepting worse working conditions for higher wages. Using data from Germany (1996-2010), the authors show that the health deterioration of immigrants is larger among immigrants working in more physically demanding jobs. In light of these facts, the researchers investigate whether changes in the spatial concentration of immigrants affect natives’ health, by leading natives towards jobs involving less physical burden. Their findings show that a higher immigration rate decreases natives’ likelihood of doctor-assessed disability. Effects are concentrated among low skilled men in blue-collars jobs and larger for previous cohorts of immigrants.

The researchers show that immigration reduces the degree of physical intensity, the number of hours worked, and the likelihood of working at night among natives in blue-collar occupations. They conclude that the overall improvement on the observed working conditions can account for at least 25% of the positive effect of immigration on natives’ health.

Read abstract or download discussion paper.

http://newsroom.iza.org/en/2014/05/09/do-immigrants-improve-natives-health/

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Middle East

More than Money: Post-Mubarak Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf

Abstract: Situating Egypt-Gulf interstate relations within the post-Mubarak regional dynamics, this paper highlights the regional constraints that upheld the Gulf-Egyptian informal alliance despite mounting tensions starting 2011. The paper looks at the Saudi and Egyptian states, which are the main social and political actors of this informal alliance. It depicts the politics and economics sustaining Egyptian-Saudi relations despite the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who was a personal friend of the Saudi royal family. It also assesses the role of non-state transnational actors in supporting and/or contesting their state’s policies toward each other. The paper concludes with an assessment of the major challenges facing Egypt’s relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf despite the current restoration of the Mubarak-era pattern of interaction.

http://www.grc.net/index.php?frm_module=contents&frm_action=detail_book&pub_type=16&sec=Contents&frm_title=&book_id=84063&op_lang=en

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"Saudi Liberals" website founder sentenced to 10 years in jail, 1,000 lashes

* Original sentence was for seven years, 600 lashes

* Lawyers say sentence too harsh, ruling subject to appeal

* Two other Saudis sentenced to six and five years in jail

DUBAI, May 7 (Reuters) – A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced the editor of an Internet forum he founded to discuss the role of religion in the conservative Islamic kingdom to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes, Saudi media reported on Wednesday.

Raif Badawi, who started the "Free Saudi Liberals" website, was originally sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes

in July last year, but an appeals court overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial.

Apart from imposing a stiffer sentence on Badawi in his retrial, the judge at the criminal court in the Red Sea City of Jeddah also fined him one million riyals ($266,600). Badawi’s website has been closed since his first trial.

His lawyers said Wednesday’s sentence was too harsh, although the prosecutor had demanded a harsher penalty, news website Sabq reported. The ruling is subject to appeal.

The prosecution had demanded that Badawi be tried for apostasy, a charge which carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. The judge in last year’s trial had dismissed the apostasy charges.

Badawi was arrested in June 2012 and charged with cyber crime and disobeying his father – a crime in Saudi Arabia.

His website included articles that were critical of senior religious figures such as Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, according to Human Rights Watch.

In a separate ruling on Tuesday, the court also convicted the administrator of a website on charges of supporting Internet forums hostile to the state and which promoted demonstrations, Sabq reported on Wednesday. It said he was sentenced to six years in jail and a 50,000 riyal fine.

The news website said another Saudi was sentenced to five years in jail for publishing a column by a prominent Shi’ite Muslim cleric on his website.

The world’s top oil exporter follows the strict Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam and applies Islamic law, sharia. Judges base their decisions on their own interpretation of religious law rather than on a written legal code or on precedent.

Rattled by the uprisings that destabilized the Middle East in recent years, Riyadh intensified a crackdown on domestic dissent with arrests and prosecutions.

In April, prominent Saudi rights lawyer and activist Waleed Abu al-Khair was detained incommunicado after appearing in court in Riyadh on sedition charges, according to his wife.

Also in April, a Saudi court sentenced an unidentified activist to six years in jail on charges including taking part in illegal demonstrations and organizing women’s protests.

Another was sentenced to three years in jail for spreading lies against King Abdullah and inciting the public against him.

($1 = 3.7505 Saudi Riyals)

http://www.zawya.com/story/Saudi_Liberals_website_founder_sentenced_to_10_years_in_jail_1000_lashes-TR20140507nL6N0NT67I2/?lok=171833140507&&zawyaemailmarketing

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*Massenbach’s

Recommendation*

Viewing Obama through the looking glass

The respective elite perceptions of America in Europe and Asia present a study in comparison and contrast. A study conducted by Chatham House in important 13 European and Asian countries (Germany, France, UK, Sweden, Poland, Greece, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Indonesia, Japan and China) brings out some insightful conclusions.

No doubt, across the board, US enjoys a lot of ’soft power’ among the elites in Europe and Asia. Ironically, this is more so among the public than among the elites in Asia and, simplistically put, somewhat vice versa in Europe.

This is, however, largely on account of the great respect for American business and entrepreneurial skill and an admiration for the country’s extraordinary capacity for innovation and regeneration and less for US government or foreign policies as such.

President Barack Obama had a flying start in the European and Asian elite perception as his presidency began in 2009, but the shine has worn off due to unfulfilled expectations. However, the level of confidence in the US doing the “right thing” under his watch in international affairs still remains at a “far more positive level” than during the George W. Bush presidency.

Perceptions of the US’ decline are widespread, but more so in Asia, where the consensus is that the US is on a path of relative, if not absolute, decline.

There is much disenchantment about American motives and intentions — and most, important, its reliability — which may pose problems for the US to find followers even if it were willing to lead.

Of course, there is a lot of admiration in Europe for America’s values and much nostalgia for the US’s strong trans-Atlantic leadership. The ‘pivot’ to Asia has created disquiet in the European mind that America’s priorities are shifting from the Atlantic to the Asia-Pacific.

Having said that, it is also well understood that the viability of the ‘pivot’ to Asia will depend ultimately on conditions in Europe, as Ukraine crisis underscores.

The American values do not much impress the Asian elites who regard them more as the stuff of ‘ideology’. The emphasis of the Asian elites is on America’s ‘hard power’. Boy, they want more of that.

Remarkably, though, Chinese sympathy for the US stands at a high level and there is no evidence of the pervasive ‘anti-Americanism’ as in Russia. The Chinese internet users listed the US as the country they admired most.

Again, the ‘pivot’ strategy hasn’t affected the Chinese perceptions of the US. But the fear is there; 49% of Chinese respondents see the US as a threat to world peace.

A challenge for US foreign policy in the coming period would be that “mere perception of a diminished America may prompt adversaries and negotiating partners to test its limits”, as many would argue is currently happening with Russia and China.

As for the ‘pivot’ strategy, the Chatham House report says that Obama is pursuing a “nuanced and multi-pronged strategy in Asia that includes strengthening and expanding its alliances with friends while managing a changing relationship with China. A careful balance is needed to achieve these two objectives.” (Read my article in today’s Asia Times Obama resets the ‘pivot’ to Asia.)

http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/home/chatham/public_html/sites/default/files/20140506ElitePerceptionsUSDormandyWebb.pdf

http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2014/05/09/viewing-obama-through-the-looking-glass/

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Obama resets the ‚pivot‘ to Asia
By M K Bhadrakumar

The dust has settled down sooner than one would have thought on the US President Barack Obama’s four-nation Asia tour, and the inevitable stocktaking is well under way. Obama earmarked an entire week for the trip that took him to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Without doubt, it was a major statement of the Obama administration’s strategic foreign-policy reorientation. But that statement is already lending itself to varying interpretations because of endemic geopolitical realities and priorities in the contemporary world situation. The sharpest criticism is, interestingly, appearing in the US itself.

The salience of the tour came to be that China didn’t figure in Obama’s itinerary and this is at a time when Beijing has locked horns with America’s key allies in the East and South Asia Seas. Clearly, China was the elephant in the room.

As the New York Times noted, "The balancing act has become even trickier because of the sharp deterioration of America’s relations with Russia. Perhaps no country has more to gain from a new Cold War than China, which has historically benefited from periods of conflict between the United States and Russia."

To be sure, Obama spoke to different audiences simultaneously. On the one hand, he tried to reassure US allies of its commitment to remain supportive at a juncture when there are fears that China could exploit the prevailing international climate to become even more assertive or even belligerent on the Pacific Rim.

On the other hand, while vowing to defend the allies, the US would expect them to show restraint themselves and even insisted that Washington sought solid relations with Beijing and hoped to enlist the latter to find solutions to various issues.

Furthermore, while underscoring at all available opportunities during his tour that "we’re not interested in containing China", Obama also insisted that the US is interested in China "being a responsible and powerful proponent of the rule of law" and expected that in such a role China "has to abide by certain norms."

Getting the balance right
The jury is still out whether Obama got the balance right in reaffirming America’s support for allies while carefully calibrating his statements to avoid giving an impression that the US sought to isolate or antagonize China. To quote New York Times, "So far, China’s reaction has been muted … China, some analysts said, is content not to pick a fight with the United States at a time when events, in Asia and elsewhere, seem to be going in its favor."

Broadly, there are two perspectives possible on Obama’s Asian tour, which are not necessarily contrarian. One, this was a catch-up appearance by Obama following his failure to show up last October at the string of ASEAN-related summit meetings, especially the East Asia Summit and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Obama failed to attend the summits due entirely to America’s domestic preoccupations over the budgetary crisis on Capitol Hill and the government shutdown.

But Obama’s absence from the ASEAN-related conclaves was perceived in geopolitical terms in the Asia-Pacific, especially the Southeast Asian region, as a telltale sign of the wavering commitment in Washington to the "pivot" to Asia, which in turn spawned gnawing worries in the minds of US allies. At the ASEAN-Japan summit in Tokyo early this year, the Southeast Asian countries refused to be persuaded by the Japanese entreaties to take an open stance against China.

Indeed, the contrast couldn’t have been sharper: while the government shutdown in Washington presented a picture (rightly or wrongly) of a superpower in inexorable decline and cast the US political system itself in poor light as increasingly dysfunctional, China promptly capitalized on Obama’s absence by the grand unveiling of its strategy to reopen the so-called Maritime Silk Road (that has a history of over two thousand years), devolving upon a promise of massive investments by Beijing in the economies of its ASEAN partners, which America would be hard-pressed to match in sheer financial terms.

A second perspective on Obama’s Asian tour builds on the above perception that the "pivot" already has lost its shine and a "reset" is in order. The heart of the matter is that the world has changed unrecognizably in the past couple of years since the former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton unveiled the "pivot" strategy in her famous article in the Foreign Affairs magazine. In retrospect, the pivot turned out to be Clinton’s swan song, so to speak.

Strong on rhetoric
Clinton is no more in the driving seat when it comes to American foreign policy, and in the highly personalized business of policymaking in Washington, her absence through the past one year appears to have made all the difference to the pivot strategy. Furthermore, the original architects of the pivot strategy – apart from Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell – they have all left the administration.

Having said that, there was always a question mark as to how far Obama himself genuinely felt passionate about the strategy as such or, more importantly, as regards its main thrust on "militarization", although he has been consistent in his emphasis on the crucial importance of the US tapping into the phenomenal growth of the Asian region in the world economy.

Without doubt, there is growing evidence that in his first term as president, Obama didn’t really subscribe to many of the things that Clinton or Gates espoused. Indeed, he had misgivings about the "surge" in Afghanistan. Again, he chose a path ultimately on Syria that wouldn’t have found favor with Clinton. (In fact, although she had left office, she still advocated US military intervention in Syria.)

Most certainly, Clinton’s other pet project, the "new Silk Road" in Central Asia, has already become distant memory. There is even talk that Obama may be willing to consider a presence of fewer than 5,000 troops in Afghanistan. The opening to Iran has been almost exclusively an Obama initiative.

The point is, how far has Obama been really committed to the pivot strategy? There are no clear answers here, although conceptually and geopolitically, the strategy serves the US’s long-term interests. There cannot be two opinions that Asia is a crucial arena for the US‘ global strategies, being a region which accounts for 40% of the world’s population and a third of the world’s global Gross Domestic Product (in purchasing-power parity terms).

However, as it happened, excessive attention came to be placed on the "militarization" of the pivot strategy, which instead of deterring China, held out the danger of precipitating a confrontation with China at some point. On the other hand, doubts have arisen over the long-term execution and sustainability of the strategy, given the grim reality that a fiscally-stretched US may be hard-pressed to locate the budgetary means to fund the pivot.

US allies in Asia already complain that the pivot is strong on rhetoric but lacking in substance. Indeed, the US deployments so far have been mostly symbolic. Meanwhile, the American commanders during recent Congressional hearings have been openly acknowledging that the US armed forces are being starved of resources.

For instance, in his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington last month, Commander of the US Pacific Command Admiral Samuel J Locklear said:

Budget uncertainty has hampered our readiness and complicated our ability to execute long-term plans and to efficiently use our resources … Due to continued budget uncertainty, we were forced to make difficult short-term choices and scale back or cancel valuable training exercises, negatively impacting both the multinational training needed to strengthen our alliances and build partner capacities as well as some unilateral training necessary to maintain our high end war-fighting capabilities. These budgetary uncertainties are also driving force management uncertainty. Current global force management resourcing, and the continuing demand to source deployed and ready forces from USPACOM AOR to other regions of the world, creates periods in USPACOM where we lack adequate intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities as well as key response forces, ultimately degrading our deterrence posture and our ability to respond.

While referring to the pivot strategy in Asia, General John Paxton, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps posed a key question during a recent speech, "Do we [US] have enough people and enough ships to do it?" He lamented, "We are on our way … to a less than a 300-ship navy. We are on our way to a 175,000 man Marine Corps."

According to General Paxton, the Marine Corps needs 54 amphibious ships to do its job, while current plans call for only 38, and that too is likely to shrink to 33. He asked, "With the dollars we have, and the ships we have and the aircraft we have, and the people we have, are we going to be ready to do what we need to do?"

Nuanced demeanor
In political terms, there is lingering uneasiness among US allies about the depth of Washington’s resolve, notwithstanding remarks by the US President Barack Obama’s hosts during his Asia tour that they were reassured by his words. To quote Narushige Michishita, a Japanese expert on security policy:

The wording of his [Obama’s] statements was OK, but if you look at his demeanor and tone, he was very nuanced and trying not to get entangled in disputes with China.

This "nuanced" approach suits China fine, because it always took pains to maintain that its interests in the East China Sea are unrelated to those in the South China Sea, and vice versa. While not a mere naval strategy, China’s two-fold objective is to make good its territorial claims while at the same time ensuring unimpeded strategic breakout beyond the constraints of the so-called First Island Chain that could be deemed to run from Northeast China through Japan and the Ryukyu archipelago, the Philippines and down to the Strait of Malacca.

Meanwhile, the Southeast Asian capitals are staying on the sidelines when it comes to tensions in the East China Sea, and they prefer to adopt a less direct and non-confrontational approach to China and keep tensions in check in the South China Sea.

The South Asian capitals have by and large kept a studied silence over the tensions between China and Japan. Simply put, they aren’t interested in pushing the envelope in the East China Sea and would opt for a differentiated approach that serves the interests of maritime relations in the South China Sea.

Obama offered a clue to his own thinking on the ‚pivot‘ strategy at his press conference in Manila at the fag-end of his Asia tour when he gave "the general takeaway" from his regional tour:

Our alliances in the Asia Pacific have never been stronger. Our relationship with ASEAN countries in Southeast Asia has never been stronger. I don’t think that’s subject to dispute.

But what followed was something quite extraordinary – the core tenets of what can probably be called by now the "Obama Doctrine". Obama held forth at some length to dispel the criticism in America regarding his foreign policy. Its application to the pivot strategy has stunning implications, and the important thing is that Obama articulated these thoughts during his Asia tour.

The bottom line, he said, is that he is being criticized at the failure to use military force, which is uncharitable because military force is something that needs to be deployed only as a last resort and it ought to be deployed wisely. Besides, he said that the American people have no interest in policies that "go headlong into a bunch of military adventures" that would have no bearing on the US’s core security interests.

Obama elaborated, "[T]here are disasters and difficulties and challenges around the world, and not all of those are going to be immediately solvable by us [US]." Therefore, the prudent thing to do is to "look at what is it that is going to advance our security interests over the long term, to keep out military in reserve for where we absolutely need it."

Obama went on to stress that military force is only one of "the tools we’ve got in the toolkit" and if there are occasions where "targeted, clear actions can be taken that would make a difference, then we should take them." But otherwise, it is the diplomatic track that ought to be given priority.

Obama claimed that this foreign-policy approach is paying off and "it is fair to say that our alliances are stronger, our partnerships are stronger, and in the Asia Pacific region, just to take one example, we are much better positioned to work with the peoples here on a whole range of issues of mutual interest."

He concluded that the focus, therefore, ought to be on "steadily" advancing the interests of the American people and the US’s partnerships. The stress was on an incremental approach.

Ironclad pledge
It is extraordinary that Obama spoke in this vein at the concluding lap of his Asia tour, which was being widely looked to locally for signs of a robust confirmation that America-led bilateral security relationships remained the backbone of peace and stability in the region and that was what the pivot primarily aimed at.

In a nutshell, Obama underscored that he eschewed military adventures abroad in countries engaged in messy conflicts, and wanted instead to focus more on diplomacy and trade.

This is perfectly understandable because Obama hopes to spend more time on domestic issues at a time when the economy is barely recovering and when social disparities are growing. Call it one of the vagaries of history, or the decline of a superpower, but Obama hopes to pay attention only on foreign-policy issues that affect the US’s core interests.

Indeed, Syria has been a glaring example of how the "Obama Doctrine" is at work. We know that he nixed the proposal for arming and organizing vetted moderate Syrian opposition commanders – something that was collectively proposed by the then secretaries of state and defense Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey and the then CIA Director David Petraeus. Later, he chose the path to work with Russia on eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons rather than embark on a military strike.

Of course, the detractors are galore – be it on Obama’s approach toward the Syrian conflict or on relations with Russia and the ‚pivot‘ strategy in the Asia-Pacific. As an American columnist Trudy Rubin wrote:

[S]ending the Ukrainian army MREs – yes, more of them – just makes us look foolish. People are asking whether, as was the case with those sent to the Syrian rebels, their sell-by date is about to expire … In Manila, Obama seemed not to recognize that China is watching. So are America’s Asian allies, who have to judge whether Washington will support them if Beijing makes aggressive moves… That kind of approach will convince Moscow, Beijing and Tehran that Obama can be ignored, which will create new foreign-policy headaches. It signals a president who isn’t really interested in the foreign-policy game.

Unsurprisingly, an opinion piece in the Philippine Daily Inquirer framed the big question as the US president headed home: "Is Obama pledge really ironclad?"

The fact of the matter is that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed during Obama’s visit to Manila defines a new mode of security relationship between the two countries and revises the framework of the expanded presence of US forces in Philippine military bases. It is perceived by many as a counterweight to Chinese territorial expansion in the South China Sea as well as to meet the Chinese challenge to the US hegemony in Asia-Pacific.

The EDCA emanates out of a US commitment to defend the Philippines, which, in Obama’s words, is "ironclad … because allies never stand alone." But how much ironclad is Obama’s commitment? In a symbolic speech to Filipino and American soldiers at Fort Bonifacio last Tuesday before his departure after the overnight stop in Manila, Obama quoted from the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and said the two countries had pledged to defend each other "against external attacks, so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone." He added that the "deepening of our alliance is part of our broader vision for the Asia-Pacific."

On the other hand, Obama didn’t give a categorical answer when asked after the signing of the EDCA whether the 1951 MDT would apply in case the Philippines‘ territorial dispute with China escalated into an armed confrontation. He sidestepped neatly and said China had an "interest in abiding by international law" and that "larger countries have a greater responsibility" doing so. Obama added, "Our goal is not counter China. Our goal is not to contain China."

Throttled in the cradle
The big question will be how China perceives the reset of the pivot strategy by Obama. While Beijing is intensely watching Obama’s policies on Ukraine, given its far-reaching impact on the world order, it will be wrong to rush to judgment that China views all of American policy through the prism of the most difficult crisis of the day, rather than taking the longer view.

The coming weeks and months will show whether Beijing would choose to exploit the recrudescence of old European enmities (and America’s entanglement in them, being a congenital Atlantic power), to lean hard on China’s neighbors in the region.

So far, the official Chinese reaction by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has narrowed down to a perfunctory objection to Obama’s assertion that the US-Japan alliance treaty also covers Senkaku.

As for the 10-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the US and the Philippines, a commentary by Xinhua over the weekend analyzed that "the next few days could actually derail the implementation of the agreement", given the groundswell of opposition in the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives that their country "would not be getting much in return" for "virtually allowing the whole country to be an American military base."

The paradox cannot be lost on Beijing that although Obama is as "Pacific" an American president as could be in a long while, his presidency is still tied by umbilical cords to trans-Atlantic concerns and constrained by its involvement in the never-ending exigencies in the Middle East, Latin America and elsewhere.

In a sense, therefore, it is possible to say that Obama’s tour is a valiant attempt to revert US Asia-Pacific policy to a "pre-pivot" mode – which was never going to be easy, because Obama also has to cope with the rise in regional tensions following the unveiling of the pivot two years ago. The latest standoff between China and Vietnam becomes a test case.

Without doubt, the fizz has gone out of the US‘ pivot strategy, as unveiled by the then secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Arguably, Beijing throttled the pivot in the cradle in 2012 on the Scarborough Shoal. The ‚pivot‘ never really regained its verve after the US‘ failure to militarily intervene.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe subsequently has tried his best to inject fresh life into the "pivot", but then came the Chinese move to create the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). China promulgated the ADIZ but then, curiously, it wouldn’t enforce it. Suffice to say, Beijing has been reactive. Interestingly, Obama’s Air Force One flew through the ADIZ after filing a routine fight plan.

The core issue comes down to the US‘ willingness to engage in a conflict with China, which could well happen if the US is bent on perpetuating its dominance of the region. But Obama understands the severe limitations in going to war with China. During his recent tour, he was throughout taking a position of strategic ambiguity when directly confronted with that question.

It is a moot point why Obama wouldn’t give a blanket, all-weather commitment to protect Japan or the Philippines when he is prepared to do that in the case of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies. But then, the US, including the Obama administration, has never made any bones about the fact that the NATO is of pivotal importance to America’s global strategies. US Secretary of State John Kerry made a pretty strong valedictorian speech at the 50th Munich Security Conference in February to emphasize the point.

Ironically, the US is better placed today in Asia than it has been in the recent decade or two and why should it upset the apple cart? China’s growth is integral to the recovery and rejuvenation of the American economy. China is potentially the principal source of investment in the American economy. China’s proposed reforms in the direction of opening up the financial system and domestic market are hugely attractive for the American business. China’s cooperation is vital to contain the North Korea problem; to conclude an Iran nuclear deal; to stabilize Afghanistan, and so on.

Again, India has transformed as a close friend of the US and there is huge untapped reserve in the US-Indian partnership. Malaysia has turned the corner and has left behind the openly anti-American decades in its foreign policy. Myanmar is moving out of China’s orbit and is manifestly eager to engage the US. Vietnam has buried the old enmities and looks at the US as a counterweight to rising China, which creates more space for Hanoi to negotiate with Beijing.

Most certainly, the specter of nuclearization of the Far East haunts Beijing as well as Washington. Again, the US too feels uneasy about the surge in Japanese militarism, as indeed China (and South Korea). As for Beijing, the burgeoning trade and investment relations with the US (and the West) are critical to the realization of China’s Dream. Thus, on the whole, the US-China interdependency could become a factor of regional stability in Asia-Pacific.

Therefore, if a reasonably good case can also be made that the present Chinese leadership consists of cool, rational, thinking people, and, secondly, assuming that China has set its national priorities of reform in all earnestness, Obama is doing the right thing to initiate a reset of the pivot strategy.

Era of retrenchment
Obama is not going to compel China to accept US leadership, which he knows is an unachievable goal anyway. During the remainder of the Obama presidency, a US-China confrontation can be safely ruled out.

Besides, it isn’t at all as if the US’s Asian partners do not have a mind of their own and are blithely taking shelter under the American umbrella. Expanding the flourishing trade and investment ties with China is a top priority for each of them.

Obama failed to meet the principal objective of his Asian tour, which was to secure agreements on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a US-dominated free-trade area. The TPP is facing stiff resistance from Japan and Malaysia, in particular.

By the way, not once during his Asia tour, Obama touched on China’s "assertiveness", an argument that originally provided the raison d’etre for the pivot strategy. Obama’s emphasis was on China’s adherence to international law and an overall conduct with a sense of responsibility, which is only expected of big powers.

The notion of China’s assertiveness was a flawed one in the first instance. The plain truth is that according to World Bank estimate, China is expected to replace the US this year as the world’s largest economy on a "purchasing power parity" (PPP) basis. It means that very soon, China will have a bigger economy than of the US for purposes of military spending.

In PPP terms, China’s economy can be 60% bigger than the US economy in a decade. Clearly, the talk about assertiveness has lost relevance. Containment of China, or the pivot to Asia, is no longer an affordable proposition, either. As a Guardian columnist put it recently, "Are Americans prepared to give up social security or Medicare in order to maintain US military supremacy in Asia?"

The heart of the matter is that paradigm shifts often take time to sink in. There is a shift in the US foreign policies taking place under the Obama presidency, which is away from its ‚militarization‘. David Sanger of the New York Times recently wrote, "Obama acknowledges, at least in private conversations that he is managing an era of American retrenchment."

Equally, the Asian region is rapidly transforming and while it is in need of more regional security contributions from the US, it is the resident states that are going to make the ultimate difference in the medium and long term. The economic trends are making the pivot unsustainable and the need arises for the US to negotiate more with China, promoting peace and stability by working with its allies for a regional framework that can manage tensions in the contested neighborhood.

It involves sharing power with China, which may not be easy but is becoming unavoidable and it could even have a pleasant outcome, as the end result could be more social and economic progress and reduced risk of wars.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings including India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001).

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ECB: Ukraine crisis causing capital flight from Russia

DEBKAfile May 12, 2014, 10:01 AM (IDT)

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, estimates that the capital outflow from Russia resulting from sanctions over the Ukraine controversy is fourfold the amount admitted by Moscow – as much as $222bn in recent weeks. The Russian finance ministry puts the sum at $51bn in the first quarter of the year, although it has certainly risen since then.

http://www.debka.com/newsupdate/8171/

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Nachlese zum FDP-Parteitag in Dresden am 10. Mai 2014.

Highlight: Die Funktion des Ombudsmannes für Parteitagsbeschlüsse ist in die Satzung eingefügt worden. Er soll die Realisierung der Beschlüsse verfolgen. Frage: Warum braucht es eines Vorsitzenden mit Vorstand und 50 (?) Mitgliedern?

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Und nun das wirklich letzte:

Gabor Steingart, Handelsblatt Morning Briefing: "…Der neue DGB-Chef ist offenbar ein Mann von gestern. Bei seiner Inthronisierung überreichte Reiner Hoffmann Vorgänger Michael Sommer einen Blumenstrauß mit den gönnerhaften Worten: "Die kannst Du Deiner Frau Ulrike mitbringen. " Das klang nach Küche, Kirche, Kinder, nicht nach Gleichberechtigung. "

Mein Kommentar: Steingart ist unglaublich talentiert in Allokation von erwünschten Vorbehalten. -> So: Im September 2013 spendete Sommer seiner Frau, die an Nierenversagen leidet, eine seiner Nieren…-> So: Bei der ersten Operation ..im Herbst 2011 wegen mehrerer Magengeschwüre vier Fünftel seines Magens entfernt worden. -> Ende 2012 sei ihm zudem die Galle herausoperiert worden…

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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

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