Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 13/02/15

Massenbach-Letter. News

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*

· Oil price war: the crash of 2014 and outlook for 2015

· Germany Emerges

· President Obama’s National Security Strategy in 2015: Strong and Sustainable American Leadership

· “The Struggle to Define a Leadership Agenda”

· Carter Strikes Forceful Tone on Russia

· TTIP-Transparenz: Kommission veröffentlicht Vorschläge zur Zusammenarbeit in Regulierungsfragen

· Die Europäische Kommission hat heute (10.02.2015) ihre Verhandlungstexte in Sachen regulatorische Zusammenarbeit mit den USA veröffentlicht.

· Thousands of police recruits train for anticipated Mosul offensive

Massenbach* Germany Emerges

By George Friedman

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, accompanied by French President Francois Hollande, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 6. Then she met with U.S. President Barack Obama on Feb. 9. The primary subject was Ukraine, but the first issue discussed at the news conference following the meeting with Obama was Greece. Greece and Ukraine are not linked in the American mind. They are linked in the German mind, because both are indicators of Germany’s new role in the world and of Germany’s discomfort with it.

It is interesting to consider how far Germany has come in a rather short time. When Merkel took office in 2005, she became chancellor of a Germany that was at peace, in a European Union that was united. Germany had put its demands behind it, embedding itself in a Europe where it could be both prosperous and free of the geopolitical burdens that had led it into such dark places. If not the memory, then the fear of Germany had subsided in Europe. The Soviet Union was gone, and Russia was in the process of trying to recover from the worst consequences of that collapse. The primary issue in the European Union was what hurdles nations, clamoring to enter the union, would have to overcome in order to become members. Germany was in a rare position, given its history. It was in a place of comfort, safety and international collegiality.

The world that Merkel faces today is startlingly different. The European Union is in a deep crisis. Many blame Germany for that crisis, arguing that its aggressive export policies and demands for austerity were self-serving and planted the seeds of the crisis. It is charged with having used the euro to serve its interests and with shaping EU policy to protect its own corporations. The vision of a benign Germany has evaporated in much of Europe, fairly or unfairly. In many places, old images of Germany have re-emerged, if not in the center of many countries then certainly on the growing margins. In a real if limited way, Germany has become the country that other Europeans fear. Few countries are clamoring for membership in the European Union, and current members have little appetite for expanding the bloc’s boundaries.

At the same time, the peace that Germany had craved is in jeopardy. Events in Ukraine have aroused Russian fears of the West, and Russia has annexed Crimea and supported an insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s actions have sparked the United States‘ fears of the re-emergence of a Russian hegemon, and the United States is discussing arming the Ukrainians and pre-positioning weapons for American troops in the Baltics, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. The Russians are predicting dire consequences, and some U.S. senators are wanting to arm the Ukrainians.

If it is too much to say that Merkel’s world is collapsing, it is not too much to say that her world and Germany’s have been reshaped in ways that would have been inconceivable in 2005. The confluence of a financial crisis in Europe that has led to dramatic increases in nationalism — both in the way nations act and in the way citizens think — with the threat of war in Ukraine has transformed Germany’s world. Germany’s goal has been to avoid taking a leading political or military role in Europe. The current situation has made this impossible. The European financial crisis, now seven years old, has long ceased being primarily an economic problem and is now a political one. The Ukrainian crisis places Germany in the extraordinarily uncomfortable position of playing a leading role in keeping a political problem from turning into a military one.

The German Conundrum

It is important to understand the twin problems confronting Germany. On the one hand, Germany is trying to hold the European Union together. On the other, it wants to make certain that Germany will not bear the burden of maintaining that unity. In Ukraine, Germany was an early supporter of the demonstrations that gave rise to the current government. I don’t think the Germans expected the Russian or U.S. responses, and they do not want to partake in any military reaction to Russia. At the same time, Germany does not want to back away from support for the government in Ukraine.

There is a common contradiction inherent in German strategy. The Germans do not want to come across as assertive or threatening, yet they are taking positions that are both. In the European crisis, it is Germany that is most rigid not only on the Greek question but also on the general question of Southern Europe and its catastrophic unemployment situation. In Ukraine, Berlin supports Kiev and thus opposes the Russians but does not want to draw any obvious conclusions. The European crisis and the Ukrainian crisis are mirror images. In Europe, Germany is playing a leading but aggressive role. In Ukraine, it is playing a leading but conciliatory role. What is most important is that in both cases, Germany has been forced — more by circumstance than by policy — to play leading roles. This is not comfortable for Germany and certainly not for the rest of Europe.

Germany’s Role in Ukraine

The Germans did play a significant part in the fall of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s government. Germany had been instrumental in trying to negotiate an agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, but Yanukovich rejected it. The Germans supported anti-Yanukovich demonstrators and had very close ties to one of the demonstration leaders, current Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who received training in a program for rising leaders sponsored by the Christian Democratic Union — Merkel’s party. The Germans condemned the Russian annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s support for the Ukrainian secessionists in the east. Germany was not, perhaps, instrumental in these events, but it was a significant player.

As the Germans came to realize that this affair would not simply be political but would take on a military flavor, they began to back away from a major role. But disengagement was difficult. The Germans adopted a complex stance. They opposed the Russians but also did not want to provide direct military support to the Ukrainians. Instead, they participated in the sanctions against Russia while trying to play a conciliatory role. It was difficult for Merkel to play this deeply contradictory role, but given Germany’s history the role was not unreasonable. Germany’s status as a liberal democracy is central to its post-war self-conception. That is what it must be. Therefore, supporting the demonstrators in Kiev was an obligation. At the same time, Germany — particularly since the end of the Cold War — has been uneasy about playing a direct military role. It did that in Afghanistan but not Iraq. And participating in or supporting a military engagement in Ukraine resurrects memories of events involving Russia that Berlin does not want to confront.

Therefore, Germany adopted a contradictory policy. Although it supported a movement that was ultimately anti-Russian and supported sanctions against the Russians, more than any other power involved it does not want the political situation to evolve into a military one. It will not get involved in any military action in Ukraine, and the last thing Germany needs now is a war to its east. Having been involved in the beginnings of the crisis, and being unable to step away from it, Germany also wants to defuse it.

The Greek Issue

Germany repeated this complex approach with Greece for different reasons. The Germans are trying to find some sort of cover for the role they are playing with the Greeks. Germany exported more than 50 percent of its gross domestic product, and more than half of that went to the European free trade zone that was the heart of the EU project. Germany had developed production that far exceeded its domestic capacity for consumption. It had to have access to markets or face a severe economic crisis of its own.

But barriers are rising in Europe. The attacks in Paris raised demands for the resurrection of border guards and inspections. Alongside threats of militant Islamist attacks, the free flow of labor from country to country threatened to take jobs from natives and give them to outsiders. If borders became barriers to labor, and capital markets were already distorted by the ongoing crisis, then how long would it be before weaker economies used protectionist measures to keep out German goods?

The economic crisis had unleashed nationalism as each country tried to follow policies that would benefit it and in which many citizens — not in power, but powerful nonetheless — saw EU regulations as threats to their well-being. And behind these regulations and the pricing of the euro, they saw Germany’s hand.

This was dangerous for Germany in many ways. Germany had struggled to shed its image as an aggressor; here it was re-emerging. Nationalism not only threatened to draw Germany back to its despised past, but it also threatened the free trade essential to Germany’s well-being. Germany didn’t want anyone to leave the free trade zone. The eurozone was less important, but once they left the currency bloc, the path to protectionism was short. Greece was of little consequence itself, but if it demonstrated that it would be better off defaulting than paying its debt, other countries could follow. And if they demonstrated that leaving the free trade zone was beneficial, then the entire structure might unravel.

Germany needed to make an example of Greece, and it tried very hard last week to be unbending, appearing to be a bit like the old Germany. The problem Germany had was that if the new Greek government wanted to survive, it couldn’t capitulate. It had been elected to resist Germany. And whatever the unknowns, it was not clear that default, in whole or part, wasn’t beneficial. And in the end, Greece could set its own rules. If the Greeks offered a fraction of repayment, would anyone refuse when the alternative was nothing?

Therefore, Germany was facing one of the other realities of its position — one that goes back to its unification in 1871. Although economically powerful, Germany was also extremely insecure. Its power rested on the ability and willingness of other countries to give Germany access to their markets. Without that access, German power could fall apart. With Greece, the Germans wanted to show the rest of Europe the consequences of default, but if Greece defaulted anyway, the only lesson might be that default works. Just as it had been in the past, Germany was simultaneously overbearing and insecure. In dealing with Greece, the Germans could not risk bringing down the European Union and could not be sure which thread, if pulled on, would unravel it.

Merkel’s Case in Washington

It was with this on her mind that Merkel came to Washington. Facing an overwhelming crisis within the European Union, Germany could not afford a war in Ukraine. U.S. threats to arm the Ukrainians were exactly what she did not need. It wasn’t just that Germany had a minimal army and couldn’t participate or, in extremis, defend itself. It was also that in being tough with Greece, Germany could not go much further before being seen as the strongman of Europe, a role it could not bear.

Thus, she came to Washington looking to soften the American position. But the American position came from deep wells as well. Part of it had to do with human rights, which should not be dismissed as one source of decision-making in this and other administrations. But the deeper well was the fact that for a hundred years, since World War I, through World War II and the Cold War, the United States had a single rigid imperative: No European hegemon could be allowed to dominate the Continent, as a united Europe was the only thing that might threaten national security. Therefore, regardless of any debate on the issue, the U.S. concern about a Russian-dominated Ukraine triggered the primordial fear of a Russian try at hegemony.

It was ironic that Germany, which the United States blocked twice as a hegemon, tried to persuade the United States that increased military action in Ukraine would not solve the problem. The Americans knew that, but they also knew that if they backed off now, the Russians would read it as an opportunity to press forward. Germany, which had helped set in motion both this crisis and the European crisis, was now asking the United States to back off. The request was understandable, but simply backing off was not possible. She needed to deliver something from Putin, such as a pledge to withdraw support to Ukrainian secessionists. But Putin needed something, too: a promise for an autonomous province. By now Merkel could live with that, but the Americans would find it undesirable. An autonomous Ukrainian province would inevitably become a base for undermining the rest of the country.

This is the classic German problem told two ways. Both derive from disproportionate strength overlying genuine weakness. The Germans are trying to reshape Europe, but their threats are of decreasing value. The Germans tried to reshape Ukraine but got trapped in the Russian reaction. In both cases, the problem was that they did not have sufficient power, instead requiring the acquiescence of others. And that is difficult to get. This is the old German problem: The Germans are too strong to be ignored and too weak to impose their will. Historically, the Germans tried to increase their strength so they could impose their will. In this case, they have no intention of doing so. It will be interesting to see whether their will can hold when their strength is insufficient.


“The Struggle to Define a Leadership Agenda”

Perhaps it was intentional for the White House to have Susan Rice present a new National Security Strategy in Washington on February 6—the first day of the world’s largest and most prominent gathering of the security community, the Munich Security Conference. If it was, the announcement went relatively unnoticed in that large gathering; Rice was not in Munich to explain it further.

The administration releases a new National Security Strategy every few years with the purpose of presenting to domestic and foreign audiences what its foreign priorities are and will be. Obama presented his last strategy in 2010. That was another time, with references to a reset button with Russia, closer relations with China, and a good deal of focus on climate issues.

This time the strategy contained several similar issues to confront. But with regard to Russia, any reference to a reset is gone.

Strategic Patience and Persistence

There was a reference to the concept “strategic patience” as a leitmotif of U.S. security policy.
The thrust was contained in the following sentences:

“The challenges we face require strategic patience and persistence […] many of the security problems we face do not lend themselves to quick and easy fixes […] we must recognize that a smart national security policy does not rely solely on military power. […] America leads from a position of strength but this does not mean that we can or should dictate the trajectory of all unfolding events around the world.” The 2015 U.S. National Security Strategy

In thinking about those admonitions, it might seem that if Chancellor Angela Merkel were presenting her case for a national security strategy, it would not sound too different. In fact, the concept of strategic patience and persistence would appear to underlie her own approach to foreign policy challenges—case in point, Ukraine.

Merkel spent a good deal of her time at the Munich Security Conference arguing that negotiating with Russian president Vladimir Putin takes exactly those two virtues: patience and persistence. She said repeatedly that she would continue to negotiate for two main reasons: she owes it to the Ukrainians to help secure a ceasefire and avoid a wider war, and she believes that the use of more military power will not achieve that goal.

When President Barack Obama and Merkel had their joint press conference in Washington, DC this week, they both underlined their commitment to the first goal of a ceasefire and a politically negotiated settlement. The unanswered question remains: how does that get done? We can see where the German focus on persistence and patience in negotiating draws a line at combining that with delivering weapons to the Ukrainians to defend themselves against the Russian-supported separatists.

Merkel drew an interesting comparison with her experience growing up on the other side of the Berlin Wall. While neither the Russians nor the United States and its allies were enthusiastic about going to war when the Berlin Wall emerged in 1961, she argued that a patient and persistent policy in the West eventually led to the peaceful end of Germany’s division almost three decades later.

Of course, that involved the continued “patience and persistence” of an allied military presence in Berlin and in the West facing Russian troops on the other side during that whole period to guarantee the security of the Federal Republic of Germany .

The comparison she draws with the situation in Ukraine is a stretch. The divisions of the Cold War were already set out fifteen years earlier, after World War II. The construction of the Wall essentially cast it in cement and barbed wire fences. The situation in Ukraine, however, involved a Russian invasion force, changing national borders while annexing territory against international law and thereby contributing to a military conflict costing thousands of lives.

Congress Out of Step with the White House and Chancellery?

Although Merkel and Obama came out on the same page with regard to trying the diplomatic negotiation route in Ukraine, other tools are not off the table—including a commitment to help Ukraine defend itself and its borders while negotiations continue. Despite the rhetoric in the White House strategy, Congress is increasingly driving the U.S. policy debate in the direction of aiding Kiev’s efforts to hold off the separatist attacks. The United States has the same military capacity it had during the Cold War; however, it is not going to do put thousands of troops in Ukraine as did in Germany. And the use of military force is something Merkel does not believe will work anyway.

Merkel and her European partners want to negotiate a peace settlement with Putin. They rule out—for now—supplying the Ukrainian forces with the military tools they need. In fact, some Europeans argue that American pressure to step up military aid to Kiev is counterproductive. It goes further in some circles, with arguments against any U.S. involvement in the negotiations with Russia. “This should be handled by Europeans,” argues President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz. With its allleged more aggressive rhetoric – along with condescending remarks about Russia being a regional power – the United States appears to some to be an obstacle to progress.

Europe can further ratchet up sanctions on Moscow, but it remains unclear whether it can move Putin’s obsession with being recognized as a great world leader.

In response to Germany’s rejection of military aid to Ukraine, one participant in the Munich Security Conference reminded the audience of a quote from Frederick the Great:
“Diplomacy without military power is like music without instruments.” One might also recall the lessons drawn from the experiences of earlier years when that mix was used during the Cold War with evident success. The question is, what should that mix look like now?

The security conference had one more moment when there might have been some perceived overlap between Germany’s strategic thinking and that in the White House. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen offered a slogan to define German leadership in dealing with challenges: Führung aus der Mitte (leadership from the center). She was presumably referring to Germany exerting leadership within the context of a European framework or among its allies in NATO. Some even might call this a strategy of leading from the second row—if not from behind.

But this message also was related to some of the points in the National Security Strategy which highlighted hard choices, competing priorities, and resisting overreach. That also suggests that the United States will lead but that it may need to rely on others to pick up slack where needed.


The Munich Security Conference was a platform for both Germany and the U.S. to present their versions of leadership again. There were many other issues and actors on that stage in Munich and not everyone was particularly interested in delving into German and American introspection. There are certainly other burning issues to confront in Africa and the Middle east to start.

Yet, given Germany’s key role in Europe today, it is important that there be transparency and honesty between Berlin and Washington on critical policy choices ahead. Ukraine is one of many. While the media seem to obsess on what they portrayed as a German-American clash, there was too much attention paid in Munich to hotheads like Senators John McCain or Lindsay Graham, whose rhetoric was more suitable for domestic campaign speeches.

The honest platform of exchange between Merkel and Obama during their press conference in Washington was more revealing. There is clearly a struggle on both sides of the Atlantic to come up with the right formula and the most effective tools to deal with today’s challenges. There will be differences on both, and that is okay. At a time when no one has a monopoly of expertise on the coming agenda we face, we need all the help we can muster to share what we know, what we don’t know, argue about it, and figure out what we then can do about it . That would be even more effective if we did it together. Right now the crisis in Ukraine is occupying the spotlight. But that is only part of the challenge where Germany and the United States are still working on being leaders in effective partnership.


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* FDP-Christian Lindners Wutrede: Schutzherr der Gründungswilligen?

Mit einem Wutausbruch verteidigt Christian Lindner den Unternehmergeist und wird zum Internet-Star – doch die Sache hat mehrere Haken.

Mit beinahe vierzehn Jahren Verspätung hat es Christian Lindner nun doch noch zu einem Internet-Erfolg gebracht. Ein Parlamentsvideo, in dem der FDP-Bundesvorsitzende im nordrhein-westfälischen Landtag einen SPD-Hinterbänkler genüsslich für Zwischenrufe abwatscht und sich als liberale Schutzmacht für alle Risikobereiten und Gründungswilligen inszeniert, ist im Netz derzeit der Renner. Schon glauben erstaunte Kommentatoren an ein virales Wiederauferstehungs-Wunder: Lindner habe die eben noch ums Überleben kämpfende FDP im Alleingang am Rednerpult des nordrhein-westfälischen Landtags gerettet. Dank des Internet-Videos werde die FDP am Sonntag in Hamburg die Fünf-Prozent-Hürde locker nehmen und damit auch als Gesamtpartei die Wende schaffen.

Eine ironische Wendung ist der späte Internet-Erfolg des FDP-Bundesvorsitzenden ohne Zweifel. Denn der eigentliche Anlass für Lindners beherzte Gegenattacke war ein unschöner Internet-Misserfolg. Im Frühjahr des Jahres 2000, als nicht nur Glücksritter ihre Hoffnungen auf die New Economy setzten, gründete der 21 Jahre alte Lindner mit zwei Freunden das Internet-Unternehmen „Moomax“. Schon im April 2001 schied Lindner aus der Geschäftsführung aus. Wenig später ging „Moomax“ pleite. Öffentliche KfW-Mittel in Höhe von mehr als einer Millionen Euro, die über einen privaten Risikokapitalgeber in des Unternehmen geflossen waren, waren dahin. Für seine Gründer war „Moomax“ dank der freundlichen Unterstützung des Steuerzahlers ein erstaunlich risikoarmes Risiko.

„Moomax“-Pleite klebt wie Pech an Lindner

Christian Lindner hat viele Erfahrungen sehr früh in seinem Leben gemacht. Noch als Schüler gründete er eine Werbeagentur, mit der er sieben Jahre lang „persönlich haftend und erfolgreich“ tätig war, wie er sagt. Seine Karriere als Parlamentarier begann er vor mittlerweile 15 Jahren: Als die FDP mit Jürgen Möllemann im Mai 2000 den Wiedereinzug in den nordrhein-westfälischen Landtag schaffte, war Lindner der jüngste Parlamentarier. Auf das nur wenige Tage später gegründete „Moomax“ war Lindner so gesehen gar nicht angewiesen, er konnte die Politik zu seinem Beruf machen. Als Lindner in der FDP aufstieg, wurde er immer mal wieder mit der „Moomax“-Pleite konfrontiert. Sie klebt wie Pech an ihm. Ende Januar konnte man im Landtag beobachten, wie sehr ihn das nervt und wurmt.

Am 29. Januar gab Ministerpräsidentin Hannelore Kraft (SPD) im Landtag eine Regierungserklärung zum Thema Digitalisierung ab. Armin Laschet (CDU), der immer mehr in seine Rolle als nordrhein-westfälischer Oppositionsführer hineinfindet, hatte keine Mühe, Krafts unstrukturierte Rede auseinanderzunehmen. Lindner, der lange als heimlicher Wortführer der Opposition galt, war dagegen an jenem Donnerstag Ende Januar nicht in Top-Form – bis ihm der sozialdemokratische Abgeordnete Volker Münchow mehrfach ins Wort fiel. Dabei hatte Lindner gerade ausdrücklich die Ministerpräsidentin gelobt. In Amerika gelte jemand, der mit einem Unternehmen scheitere, als jemand, der Erfahrungen gesammelt habe, die er zielführend für die neue Gründung einsetzen kann, hatte die Sozialdemokratin gesagt. „Bei uns gilt er als gescheitert und erhält kaum noch eine Chance. Diese Mentalität müssen wir ändern.“ Lindner fand das „sympathisch“, denn eine Gründungskultur sei die Hefe im Teig der Volkswirtschaft. Sie sichere den individuellen Aufstieg und schaffe Arbeitsplätze. „Sie kennen sich damit aus?“, rief SPD-Mann Münchow zunächst dazwischen. Noch einmal spielte Münchow auf „Moomax“ an: „Damit haben Sie ja Erfahrung!“, rief er.

Dann erst erkannte Lindner seine einmalige Chance, die SPD als Partei der Gründerfeinde zu brandmarken und nebenbei eine unschöne Scharte in seiner Berufsbiografie umzudeuten. „Haben Sie nicht gehört, was die Ministerpräsidentin gesagt hat?“ Wenn man Erfolg habe, gerate man „in das Visier der sozialdemokratischen Umverteiler, und wenn man scheitert, ist man sich Spott und Häme sicher“, schleuderte Lindner dem SPD-Mann entgegen. Das sei der Grund dafür, „warum die Menschen heute lieber in den öffentlichen Dienst gehen – da haben Sie ja auch gearbeitet“. Hunderttausendfach ist Lindners Rede mittlerweile im Netz angeklickt worden. Viele Zeitungen feierten Lindner für seine Stegreifabrechnung. Der FDP-Vorsitzende wird in Interviews noch immer auf seinen Auftritt angesprochen. Es könnte nicht besser für ihn laufen. Längst geht es nur noch um Lindners Image als Retter der Risikobereiten, nicht mehr um Fakten. Das hat auch damit zu tun, dass der mittlerweile im Netz ebenso gnadenlos verbal verprügelte Münchow lieber nichts mehr zu der Sache sagen will. Dabei hätte er durchaus Argumente zu seiner Verteidigung. Anders als von Lindner behauptet, hat Münchow nie im öffentlichen Dienst gearbeitet. Der Kaufmann und Wirtschaftswissenschaftler war vielmehr eine Zeit lang Vertriebsleiter eines norwegischen Unternehmens in Deutschland. Lindner dagegen bezieht seit seinem 21. Lebensjahr Parlamentsdiäten.

Eine sehr merkwürdige Pioniertat

Zudem lag es nahe, Lindner in einer Debatte zur Digitalisierung mit „Moomax“ zu behelligen. Schon im Mai 2012 hatte die Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung den Fall intensiv durchleuchtet und dargelegt, dass es sich bei „Moomax“ um eine sehr merkwürdige Pioniertat handelte. Geschäftszweck war laut Handelsregister „die Entwicklung und das Design komplexer Software-Lösungen, insbesondere für die mobile Kommunikation“. Avatare, virtuelle Personen, sollten Kunden helfen, sich auf Websites eines Unternehmens zurechtzufinden. Einziges Vorzeigeobjekt blieb eine Päpstin, die dem Papst die Show stehlen sollte. „Eine seltsame Idee – für die es überhaupt keine Kunden gab“, schrieb die FAS damals.

Doch auch aus der SPD ist niemand Münchow beigesprungen. Völlig ungestört konnte Lindner sein Internet-Abenteuer unter Berufung auf die Regierungserklärung der Ministerpräsidentin zur Pioniertat umdeuten. Unwidersprochen konnte Lindner Krafts Worte ganz im eigenen Sinn interpretieren: Man solle auch das Scheitern von Pionieren nicht ein Leben lang biografisch als Stigma verwenden.


„Drei Engel für Lindner“: FDP wieder Spaßpartei



Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* President Obama’s National Security Strategy in 2015: Strong and Sustainable American Leadership*

February 06, 2015 The President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) is the blueprint for America’s leadership in the world — how we address global challenges while advancing our nation’s interest, values, and vision for the future … the President’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice … said, a strong and sustainable American leadership is key to building greater peace and prosperity throughout the world …

Think for a minute where the world would be today without decisive U.S. leadership. Ebola would be spreading throughout West Africa and likely to far corners of the world. Instead, America galvanized the world to roll back this horrible disease. Without us, Russia would be suffering no cost for its actions in Ukraine. Instead, the ruble is in a free fall, and Russia is paying dearly for flaunting the rules. Without us, there would be no military campaign or sixty countries countering ISIL’s advance. There would be no prospect for a global deal on climate change; no pressure for Iran to be at the negotiating table; and, no potential for trade that meets a higher standard for our workers and businesses.

Here are the 4 key ways we will advance a strong and sustained American leadership: 1. We will advance the security of the United States, its citizens, and U.S. allies and partners … 2. We will advance a strong, innovative, and growing U.S. economy in an open international economic system … 3. We will advance respect for universal values at home and around the world … 4. We will advance an international order that promotes peace, security, and oppor­tunity through stronger cooperation …

Fact Sheet: The 2015 National Security Strategy …


*Carter Strikes Forceful Tone on Russia*

Calls for US, NATO Militaries to Combat ‚Any Opponent‘

WASHINGTON — The United States and NATO should reject Russian assertions that Moscow is entitled to a "sphere of influence" in Eastern Europe — and build militaries capable of handling "any opponent," said the nominee to be the next US defense secretary.

Ash Carter, in a 42-page document prepared for the Senate Armed Services Committee, addresses issues from Russia to Afghanistan to cyber war to the US defense budget.

In the responses, obtained by Defense News, the nominee struck a forceful tone about Russia and its recent aggression in Ukraine.

For the latest national security news from Capitol Hill, go to CongressWatch

"I reject the notion that Russia should be afforded a ’sphere of influence,‘ " Carter wrote. "If confirmed, I will continue to encourage US partners, such as Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine, to build their security capacity and military interoperability with NATO."

Carter also said the US should maintain its lead role in "collective defense planning" among NATO allies, and that he would urge allies "to invest in military capabilities that that can impose costs on any opponent" while pushing large and small NATO allies to invest more money and resources "in capabilities that are needed by the alliance."

On Feb. 5, the alliance announced the formation of a 5,000-troop international "Spearhead Force" that would be supported by air, sea and special operations forces. The lead element of the brigade-sized force will be ready to deploy within 48 hours of getting the call, and the entire unit could move out within a week, NATO leaders said at a conference in Brussels.

“I reject the notion that Russia should be afforded a ’sphere of influence.’”

Ash Carter, US defense secretary nominee

All told, the NATO Response Force will number roughly 30,000 troops once it is fully fielded.

SASC Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., told reporters last week that if members are collectively satisfied with the additional information supplied by Carter’s answers, the panel could vote as soon as Tuesday to move his nomination to the Senate floor. The full chamber could confirm Carter by week’s end before leaving on a week-long recess.

The 42 pages feature questions committee members did not have a chance to ask Carter during his hours-long confirmation hearing last Wednesday.

In response to Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with the United States, Carter said Washington should consider further sanctions against Moscow and its economic interests.

The US "should consider a comprehensive strategy of diplomatic, economic, and military responses" to Russia’s violations, since "Russia’s continued disregard for its international obligations and lack of meaningful engagement on this particular issue require the United States to take actions to protect its interests and security as well as those of its allies and partners."

And if Russia fails to bring its policy back into line with the Cold War-era treaty, he insisted that the Pentagon should bolster US defenses against Russian weapons systems.

"The range of options we should look at from the Defense Department could include active defenses to counter intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missiles; counterforce capabilities to prevent intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missile attacks; and countervailing strike capabilities to enhance US or allied forces," Carter wrote. "US responses must make clear to Russia that if it does not return to compliance our responses will make them less secure than they are today."

He also opened a window into his thinking about acts of aggression in cyberspace.

Asked by one senator "when would you consider a cyber attack to be an act of war?" Carter replied that such a determination should be made "on a case-by-case and fact-specific basis."

He does offer some idea about potential red lines in his thinking, however.


US Security Strategy Reflects Changed World

"Malicious cyber activities could result in death, injury or significant destruction, and any such activities would be regarded with the utmost concern and could well be considered ‚acts of war,‘ " he wrote, adding "an attack does not need to be deemed an ‚act of war‘ to require a response."

Carter made a plea to lawmakers to make any cuts to the department’s 2016 Pentagon budget plan via a back-and-forth with lawmakers.

"Should the Congress choose to appropriate only the amount allowed by the [2011 Budget Control Act] for FY2016, the Congress would make its own decisions on how to reduce the department’s budget," he wrote. "My hope is that we would not face this alternative but, if we do, that those actions would be taken in consultation with the department."

A healthy chunk of his confirmation hearing was devoted to questions from SASC members about being candid with the president after two former Obama-era defense secretaries have publicly griped about White House micromanagement.


McCain: White House Won’t Listen To Carter

As he did during the hearing, Carter vowed to be honest with his boss. He promised to give President Barack Obama "my best strategic advice as to how to most effectively counter the [Islamic State] threat," adding he will "not hesitate to consider all options."

The nominee also reiterated his vow to advise Obama to make changes to his Afghanistan withdrawal plan should circumstances warrant such advice.

On the homefront, Carter issued a full-throated endorsement of the Navy’s next-generation submarine program and promised to watch for deterioration of the US defense sector.

He called the Ohio-class replacement program "a vital component of our nuclear deterrence strategy."

And amid talk in some defense circles about paying for it outside the Navy’s shipbuilding budget, Carter weighed in.


Russia Overhauls Military Doctrine

"The Ohio-replacement program will present challenges to the Navy’s shipbuilding plan, particularly in the years after 2020," the nominee wrote. "The department needs adequate resources for modernization in order to insure we can make the transition to the new generation ballistic missile submarine.

"Which account it is funded in is of lesser importance. It makes the most sense to include the Ohio-replacement in the shipbuilding account but this is a decision that can be made in the future," he said. "If confirmed, I will work within the department and with the Congress to explore options to address this challenge."

On the industrial base, the former Pentagon acquisition executive said "healthy" US companies are "critically important to the department’s long-term success." He promised to keep an eye on "risks" and to "preserve critical capabilities."

On China, Carter first noted the importance of diplomacy before stating "the United States should deter assertiveness in the region with a robust force posture, sustained presence, and commitment to building the capacity of its partners and allies."

Washington should "continue to modernize and strengthen its security alliances with Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Philippines, and Thailand," he told the committee. "The United States should also deepen relationships with and among its partners in South and Southeast Asia to build capacity and reduce vulnerabilities."

With Moscow re-asserting itself in eastern Europe, Carter told the panel he would "work personally to encourage all [NATO] allies to meet" their promises.

"I would urge allies with larger economies to invest in military capabilities that that can be used to impose costs on any opponent with minimal cost and risk to alliance forces," Carter wrote to the lawmakers. "For allies with smaller economies, I would encourage them to invest in capabilities that are needed by the alliance, and in which they may have a comparative advantage."



Middle East

Oil price war: the crash of 2014 and outlook for 2015

byJohn Kemp, Senior Market Analyst, Reuters

Feb 6 (Reuters) – In 2013 and early 2014, the growing imbalance between supply and demand in the oil market was masked by a string of supply disruptions as a result of war, unrest and sanctions.

After a decade of high oil prices, supplies from North American shale plays were growing by more than 1 million barrels per day annually, while fuel demand in the United States and other advanced economies was more than 8 million barrels per day below its pre-2005 trend.

Only strong growth in demand from emerging markets and an increasing number of supply interruptions in the Middle East and North Africa kept the market balanced and benchmark prices over $100 per barrel.

When Islamist insurgents failed to stop Iraqi oil exports in June 2014, and Libyan exports resumed from Tobruk, the full extent of the imbalance was laid bare and prices started their vertiginous fall.

Ultimately, prices must remain low enough for long enough to slow the growth of shale output and spur increased demand for gasoline and diesel from motorists, truckers and airlines.

The adjustment is now well underway, with the number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States down by almost 25 percent since October.

The causes of the price plunge, and what happens now, are discussed in a new paper written by journalists from across Reuters and released on Friday.

"A Brief History of the Oil Crash" can be downloaded from this link:

The accompanying slide deck can be downloaded here:




*TTIP-Transparenz: Kommission veröffentlicht Vorschläge zur Zusammenarbeit in Regulierungsfragen*

10.02.2015 Die Europäische Kommission hat heute (Dienstag) ihre Verhandlungstexte in Sachen regulatorische Zusammenarbeit mit den USA veröffentlicht.

Diese hatte sie den US-amerikanischen Verhandlungspartnern im Rahmen der achten Verhandlungsrunde über ein transatlantisches Freihandelsabkommen (TTIP) in der vergangenen Woche in Brüssel vorgelegt. Die Texte selbst und ausführliche Erklärungen dazu stehen seit heute auf der Website der Kommission, ein weiterer Beleg für die Transparenz der Kommission in den TTIP-Verhandlungen.

In den vergangenen Wochen war spekuliert worden, dass ein angedachter Regulierungsrat ("regulatory cooperation body") der USA ein Mitspracherecht bei europäischen Gesetzesvorhaben einräumen würde. Diese Behauptung hatte die Europäische Kommission zurückgewiesen. Das Gremium soll Experten auf beiden Seiten des Atlantiks lediglich ermöglichen, sich in einer festen Struktur über den besten Regulierungsansatz austauschen. Es berührt kein bestehenden Gesetze zu Steuern, Arbeit oder Umwelt und zielt auch nicht auf eine Absenkung von hohen Standards. Selbstverständlich kann der Regulierungsrat weder im Alleingang Regeln setzen noch das normale Gesetzgebungsverfahren aushebeln. Auf europäischem Boden wird weiter europäisches Recht gelten, auf amerikanischem Boden amerikanisches Recht.

Zu den heute veröffentlichten Texten gelangen Sie über diese Website. Den Verhandlungstext finden Sie hier. Erklärungen hier und hier . Umfassende Informationen zum TTIP auch hier.


Towards Europe?!

Straddling Fault Lines and Choosing Sides in the South Caucasus

PfP Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes

ThesePolicyRecommendations reflect the findings of the 10th RSSC workshop “Towards Europe?! Straddling Fault Lines and Choosing Sides in the South Caucasus” convened by the PfP Consortium Study Group “Regional Stability in the South Caucasus” from 6-8 November 2014 in Reichenau, Austria. They have been compiled by Frederic Labarre, RSSC Co-chair with input from George Niculescu, Elkhan Nuriyev Oktay Tanrisever, Inver Alshundba, Astanda Pataraya, Gayane Novikova and Ivan A. Babin. Valuable support came from COL Ernst M. Felberbauer and Maja Grošinić from the Austrian National Defence Academy.

Summary of Recommendations

There are three levels of recommendations that the Study Group RSSC would like to submit; (1) general recommendations, expected from one meeting to the next, (2) recommendations of a strategic or structural nature, aimed at establishing new security regimes in the region, and (3) particular recommendations, aimed at exploring solutions that have been the subject of interactive discussions during the workshop.

1. Keep communication channels – especially informal ones – open.

The current tensions between Russia and the West over its actions in Ukraine are a case in point. While sanctions apply and keep mounting, opportunities for dialogue should not be missed. The same applies within the South Caucasus as a whole, and also between South Caucasus actors and Russia.

When dealing with the South Caucasus, the international community should engage in a dual approach of reconciliation at the grass roots and community level and development. In particular it was proposed that there be a dedicated platform for such “Track 2” engagement between interested parties in Armenia and Azerbaijan, including actors from both sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Such a platform could be formal or informal, but it would need to gain some permanence to enable relationships to blossom. In many ways, the PfP Consortium’s RSSC SG procures such a platform. The recommendation here would be to explore ways to adapt workshop agendas to make this platform a reality and better engage academic and officialactorsfrom the region.

Alsoin keeping with the idea of a common platform for discussion, negotiations should continue within the existing frameworks for all unresolved conflictsdespite cease-fireviolations.Furthermore, in moving ahead with negotiations, matters of history should be secondary to the need to develop a narrative away from “civilizational” understandings of the conflict,and turn towards the future. For example, regional referendums should ask respective societies where they see themselves in x years’ time, rather than keep focusing on status issues.

Finally,the need for “strategic patience” has been voiced. Although vaguely defined,it can be said that time heals all things. This is why a narrative hinging on this principle should be aimed at the younger generation (the 20-25 year-olds) who have not lived through the conflictorhavenomemoryofthe breakup of the USSR. In the context in which it was voiced during the workshop, however, “strategic patience” can give the impression that when sufficienttime has passed, what has been achieved in fact is also achieved in law. This merits debate, and the conditions under which this would be possible will be explored in future workshop meetings.

2. A not so “final” Final Act: Adapt the 1975 Helsinki Treaty

The international community, and more particularly the OSCE, should consider creating new security architecture for the South Caucasus by adapting the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. This would provide for non-contradictory “exceptions” which would bring consistency to the regional realities, and humour Russian suggestions, voiced in 2008 already, about new security architecture for Europe. The main thrust of the potential changes to the OSCE security framework should rather aim at adapting the regional security architecture (not necessarily only in the South Caucasus, but in the whole Eastern Europe- or in the EU Eastern Neighbourhood) in order to increase its consistency with regional realities. The 2009 Russian proposal for new European security architecture might be part of that discussion, although it couldn’t obviously respond all of the regional security needs.

In particular, such an adaptation should include re- defining and harmonizing the concepts of territorial integrity and self-determination in order to stimulate conflict resolution in the area of application. For example, by precisely distinguishing between internal and external self-determination (the latter leading to fully- fledged independence) and the conditions under which the former can turn into the latter.

Atthe economic/trade level, the Final Act could take on the promotion of a South Caucasus economic free zone (or free trade areas) irrespective of the “allegiance” of the respective countries (to join the EU or the Eurasian Union) and irrespective of status.

In addition, the OSCE will mark the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act in 2015. In reality, the “Helsinki at 40” anniversary is intended to revitalize the OSCE. Naturally, this would also reflectwellonthe various peace processes (Minsk, Geneva) which the OSCE stewards. The international community has a golden opportunity to reconcile conflicting security reassurances within a multilateral framework which everyone values.

3. Theinternational community should face up to realities in the South Caucasus

After20 years of stalemate, it is increasingly doubtful that reintegration can be made attractive to regions lacking universal recognition in the Western South Caucasus. In this sense, the EU’s “engagement without recognition” principle should perhaps be reconsidered so as to prepare for the gradual recognition of increasing levels of formal Abkhaz and South Ossetia authority, including sovereignty over their own affairs. The conditions that would permit this recommendation to apply to Nagorno-Karabakh are not yet present.

Georgia should explore the possibility of trading gradual or partial recognition of such responsibilities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in exchange for equally gradual and reciprocal withdrawal or Russian forces from Abkhaz and South Ossetia territory. This would be underpinned by a formal trilateral (Russia-Georgia- breakaway region) treaty on the non-use of force.

Atthe present time, nowhere is the need for a reinforced cease-fireagreementmore urgent than in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The shooting down of an Armenian Mi- 24 (NATO designation “Hind”) helicopter allegedly on a training mission close to the line of contact by an Azerbaijani missile represents a dramatic escalation. The opportunity should be seized to make the line of cease-firemore robust, not only by proscribing snipers (see earlier policy recommendations) but by proposing a heavy weapons exclusion zone, buttressed by a for- mal non-use of force agreement between the sides.

A Western strategy for the South Caucasus is needed. While it is becoming increasingly clear that, in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis, the West will seek to prevent Russian attempts at “re-Sovietising” Eastern Europe and Central Asia by an emerging strategy to contain the Eurasian integration, the focus for the SC strategy should take a constructive/power sharing approach. From this perspective, the resolution of the protracted conflictsshould become a key Western priority. Such an approach might, on the one hand, undo Russian geopolitical games in the region, and, on the other hand, may open the door to developing new European security rules and mechanisms in the OSCE area. To that end, a more pro-active and imaginative role of the West should be considered for engaging both Russia and Turkey in effective conflictresolution.Forexample,the West might start to prepare the ground for sustaining post-conflictregionaleconomic integration in the South Caucasus, as a way to circumvent the dilemma of post-Soviet states caught in between competing European and Eurasian integration processes. The West might also defend its regional economic and security interests in the South Caucasus more pragmatically by seeking new regional arrangements according to common interests, not necessarily upon acceptance of common values.

In Nagorno-Karabakh, a more promising path might lead towards post-conflicteconomic integration of Armenia, Azerbaijan and the break-away region of NK, in the wake of a political compromise on the finalstatus established in line with the OSCE Minsk Group’s updated Madrid principles. Fresh research on economic incentives as peace-building tools in the context of the NK conflicthasclearly shown that there is a will for nascent economic cooperation to emerge between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Furthermore, the same research highlighted that Armenia and Azerbaijan need not only the prospect of economic cooperation, but an entire post-conflictblueprintfor integration and regional (economic) development, inclusive of projects of ‘common economic interest’ that can be developed jointly. While military strategists in these countries keep in place their contingencies for war, there is an alternative choice: the path to eventual peace, prosperity and possibly economic integration for both Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

4. Make the Eurasian Union more attractive

Russiaandthe other members of the Eurasian Union should reform the existing model from within so that consensus could be adopted as the main decision-making principle. In this way, the smaller/weaker members of the Union could be empowered in order to sustain their autonomy. This could also be formula- ted as giving veto power to the member countries on substantial issues.

Likewise, the Eurasian Union should be decentralized into a more flexible structure which could be more attractive to the business groups, democratic civil society organizations as well as youth. Increasing the attractiveness of the Union could go hand in hand with the prioritization of persuasion over coercion as the exclusive mode of communication among the stronger and weaker members of the Union.

Last but not least, the Eurasian Union’s competencies in issues like energy and health regulations should be made more transparent not only to the domestic actors but also to the international stakeholders. The Eurasian Union’s energy policy should not infringe on the energy security of the partner countries. In this way, energy policy would reflectthe dynamics of the free market.



„Liebe Leserinnen und Leser,

in der aktuellen Ausgabe des Massenbach-Newsletters widme ich mich dem Thema der wachsenden Staatsverschuldung von Serbien. Seit dem Ausbruch der Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise in Europa im Jahr 2008, sehen sich viele Staaten mit Problemen der Finanzierung eigener Staatsausgaben konfrontiert. Die Krise hat zu einer drastischen Stagnation von Einnahmen geführt, die für die Finanzierung von Staatsausgaben vorgesehen waren. Zudem verzeichneten viele Staaten unmittelbar vor dem Ausbruch der Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise außerplanmäßig hohe Ausgaben, die sich zu einer immer stärker werdenden Schieflage öffentlicher Staatshaushalte potenzierte. Um fehlende Mittel in öffentlichen Kassen auszugleichen, hat sich Serbien mehr Geld auf den internationalen Finanzmärkten geliehen. Die Folge davon ist eine steigende Staatsverschuldung, die nicht durch proportional ansteigende Einnahmen gedeckt wird. Das derzeitige Verschuldungsniveau liegt bei knapp 65% des BIP und befindet sich damit sowohl über der staatlich festgelegten Verschuldungsobergrenze von 45% als auch über den nach Maastrichter-Verträgen festgelegten Konvergenzkriterien (max. 60% / BIP). Neben stagnierender Staatseinnahmen zeigt Serbien auch eine Reihe anderer negativer Konjunkturindikatoren wie: niedrige Investitionen, hohe Arbeitslosigkeit, hohe Inflation, hohes Haushaltsdefizit und wachsendes Defizit in der Zahlungsbilanz. Ist also Serbien in der Lage eine potentiell drohende Verschuldungskrise abzuwenden – dazu der Artikel: „Can Serbia Avoid Debt Crisis?“ als Einführung zum aktuellen Themenfeld in der dieswöchigen Newsletter-Ausgabe. Im Anschluss darauf, teile ich mit Ihnen Presseartikel über die wichtigsten politischen Ereignisse der vergangenen Tage.

Viel Spaß beim Lesen! Ihr S.V. „

Can Serbia avoid the debt crisis?

17. April 2014 by Miroslav Prokopijevic

Since the beginning of the economic crisis in Europe in 2008 many countries have been confronted with problems concerning public finances. The crisis has led to a drop or stagnation of the national income that was necessary as source of financing state expenditures, which have been higher than usual, due to the very crisis. That is why countries ended up in scissors of lower income and higher state expenditures. During a crisis there is a particular rise of two kinds of expenditures in state budgets – those pertaining to aiding needy population and economic segments. In order to compensate the funds lacking from their budgets, countries usually took on debt. That way, the debt quickly began rising much faster than the national income which, after a while, usually limits or prevents taking on additional debt, thus creating a debt problem1 in the next step. This is exactly what happened in several European countries.

Stagnant Growth and Fast-Growing Indebtedness

Similar to some other countries, during the last couple of years Serbia, too, has been the scene of increasing debates about the problem of a fast debt growth and the possibility of the country being hit by debt crisis. The possibility of a debt crisis in Serbia is evident in the available data on economic developments, shown in Table 2. Besides the stagnant income, during the last few years Serbia´s performance shows some other negative economic indicators, such as low investment, high unemployment rate, high inflation, high budget deficit and growing deficit in the balance of payment. According to most of these indicators, Serbia is either the worst in Europe (budget deficit, inflation) or among the worst-ranked countries……(contd. att.)



*Thousands of police recruits train for anticipated Mosul offensive*

DUHOK, Kurdistan Region – US and Canadian experts have finished training 4,000 policemen and are gearing to instruct as many more at a military base in Kurdistan, in readiness for an anticipated assault on Mosul.

“Four thousand policemen have finished their training and 4,000 more are enlisted and will begin training as soon as possible,” said Lt. Col. Muhammad Wakaa, a commander at the base near the Bardarash district north of Mosul.

“We have so far formed eight regiments and the commander of one of those regiments is a Kurd,” Wakaa said.

Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, was captured in June by insurgents fighting under the Islamic State (ISIS) banner. A major offensive on the city by joint coalition forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi military is expected in the next several months.

The recruits at the base come from all Iraqi backgrounds, but are dominated by Arabs.

“In addition to basic training, everyday 10 American and Canadian military experts give the policemen training on how to engage in irregular warfare,” Wakaa said.

The battle for Mosul is expected to involve airstrikes by coalition forces and fighting street-to-street on the ground by a mix of Peshmerga, Iraqi troops and some boots from the US-led allied forces, probably as advisors.

Many of the recruits are former policemen from Mosul, and anxious to liberate the city as soon as possible from the clutches of the Sunni jihadi group, known as ISIS or ISIS.

“My family is still in Mosul. They are being hurt by ISIL on a daily basis, and I would like the assault to begin as soon as possible,” said a policeman who did not wish to be identified by name.

With so many thousands living and training together, the usual ethnic and religious tensions that plague the rest of Iraq are also present at the base.

Kurdish recruits complain that most of the other volunteers are Arabs, and Yezidi Kurds say they resent Arabs being trained alongside Kurds on Kurdish territory.



see our letter on:

Wir wünschen Ihnen ein angenehmes Wochenende. Ihr Team.

Udo von Massenbach – Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster – Jörg Barandat




Can Serbia Avoid Debt Crisis.pdf

11-06-14 Policy Recommendations PfP Consortium RSSC.pdf

Carter_APQs_02-04-15-Advance Policy Questions for the Honorable Ashton Carter.pdf