Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 04.08.17

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • DOD’s classified mobility program pilots use of tablets
  • State Magazine for U.S. Department of State
  • South America: Divided, not Conquered.
  • GPF: The Axis of the Sanctioned – Sanctions can achieve little on their own and might actually make a situation worse.
  • Businessman, Jon Meade Huntsman, Jr. was to be the new Ambassador of the U.S. to Russia.
  • What Does the Future Hold? Reflections Regarding the Hamburg Meeting

· The U.S. in Central Asia: between «С5+1» and «Make America Great Again»

·

· Heise.de: Erstmals Gen-Editierungen an menschlichen Embryos in den USA.

Massenbach* South America: Divided, not Conquered.

Geography prevents any one nation from dominating the continent.

Nations are products of their environments, and not the other way around. They simply have to behave in certain ways if they want to remain nations, and more often than not their behavior is expressed not by what they can do but what they can’t do. Nations can’t move mountains or rivers. They can’t create farmland from scratch. They can’t produce more resources than what the ground allows.

Particularly bound by these kinds of constraints is South America. The geography of this often overlooked continent is oddly egalitarian: Some nations are stronger and richer than others, of course, but the preponderance is less pronounced than it is in other regions of the world. For this reason, South America may seem inconsequential, so uninvolved is it in the wars of the Middle East, U.S.-Russia sanctions, Islamic terrorism and the South China Sea. But its apparent complacency elides more pressing geopolitical imperatives. The following report explains why.

Confinement

The defining characteristic of South America is that its geography will not allow any nation to project power across the continent. Those that have come to power have been confined to either the Pacific Coast or the Atlantic Coast. Some were even able to hold power on both coasts, but none were able to form a seamless political entity.

(click to enlarge)

Their separation is largely due to the Andes Mountains, which span the entire length of South America near the continent’s western edge. Other geographic features, however, accentuate the east-west divide. In the north, the vast Amazon rainforest prevents the movement of people from one population center to another and stunts urban development. The Amazon River and its tributaries, which flow from the west to the east, enable ventures farther inland, but upstream waters quickly become unnavigable to large ships.

Reinforcing the division of South America are the Gran Chaco, a semi-arid, sparsely populated lowland region roughly at the center of the continent; the wetlands of the Pantanal; and the Atacama Desert. They are as difficult to traverse as they are inhospitable to human settlement.

South America’s largest and most important cities are therefore found primarily on the coasts. Their situation is particularly pronounced on the Pacific Coast, where there is little room between the ocean and the Andes. Cities along the Atlantic Coast have a little more breathing room – people were able to settle in the Rio de la Plata Basin, which boasts fertile soil, useful river systems and hospitable climate and terrain – but they are nonetheless densest near the ocean.

(click to enlarge)

Complexions Change

The inability to project power over the entire region has plagued South American empires and countries throughout history. Before Europe colonized the region, the Incan Empire was the predominant power in the Pacific region. At its height, it comprised Peru, Ecuador, large parts of Bolivia and Chile and smaller sections of Argentina and Colombia. The Incas were resourceful and formidable, but they could never really expand past the Andes. There was no single pre-colonial empire in the Atlantic region. Broadly speaking, the Tupi dominated Brazil, the Guarani controlled Paraguay and parts of the Plata Basin that extended into southern Brazil, and groups related to the Mapuche inhabited much of the southernmost portion of the continent.

European colonization, especially Spanish and Portuguese colonization, changed the complexion of South American power but could not escape its geographic constraints. Spain, for example, could govern the Viceroyalty of Peru easily enough but found it more difficult to govern the territory as a single unit as it added territory to the east. So it divided the area into three viceroyalties – Peru, New Granada and Rio de la Plata – that correspond with the continent’s natural geographic barriers.

The emergence of capitanias – autonomous territories controlled by high-ranking generals but still technically under the viceroyalty banner – likewise illustrate the limits of power projection. Chile had been lumped into the Peru Viceroyalty because it was on the same side of the Andes Mountains. But distance and desert obviated the need for a middle man in Lima, so Chile instead interacted directly with the crown.

(click to enlarge)

In the Atlantic region, geography pitted Spain and Portugal against each other. Portugal arrived in 1500 and began to colonize Brazil, focusing largely on coastal areas with good ports. It could not expand west because of the Amazon, Chaco and Pantanal, so it went south, to the Rio de la Plata Basin, a desirable tract of real estate in central South America east of the Andes. It is large, hospitable and arable, with natural irrigation systems. Spain, meanwhile, had arrived in southern South America and, having taken control of territory west and just east of the Andes, likewise turned its attention to the Rio de la Plata Basin.

Spanish and Portuguese interests thus collided in central South America. As it happens, the basin in which they fought was flat, unobstructed terrain, ideally suited for combat. Years after they fought there, subsequent wars waged in the same vicinity would eventually produce the modern states of Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay, which served as buffer states between Argentina and Brazil.

A final example of obstacles to power projection comes from the Spanish colonies’ wars for independence in the early 19th century. Simon Bolivar led an independence movement in the north that included Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and eventually Peru, while Jose de San Martin led the independence movements in the south that included Argentina, Chile and initially Peru. Bolivar ambitiously tried to create a united Pan-American entity from the wars of independence but, when faced with the difficulty of unity in South American terrain, ceased to do so. Instead he ruled Venezuela, Colombia and Peru as separate entities, giving each of these countries the individual identities that exist today.

Contemporary Candidates

Modern South America is thus shaped not by what leaders of the past could do but by what they could not do. The geography is just as divisive today as it has ever been. Currently, neither the Pacific nor Atlantic region has a natural leader – but not for a lack of candidates.

The Atlantic Coast

In the Atlantic region, Brazil could be such a leader. It borders all South American countries, save Chile and Ecuador. It is the fifth-largest and fifth-most populous country in the world. It boasts the ninth-largest gross domestic product in the world at $1.8 trillion, according to the World Bank. With its low population density and ample mineral, hydrocarbon and agricultural resources, it has all the makings of an even stronger economy.

But Brazil faces two initial obstacles to realizing its potential. First, the government has yet to consolidate the country. The country’s core consists of the triangle formed by Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte. The remaining periphery can be divided into three regions – the South, Center-West and North-North East. To build national strength, Brazil’s core must have strong social, economic and infrastructural ties to these three regions. Presently, the South, which sits largely on uncomplicated, flat terrain, is the only one of the three firmly connected to the core. Inadequate infrastructure and economic development between the Center-West and North-North East and the core fuel economic and social disparities, making it all the more difficult to bring them into the fold.

(click to enlarge)

Argentina is nearly as potent as Brazil but would struggle to subordinate its neighbor to the north. Though it is South America’s second-largest economy, it is just a third the size of Brazil’s (21st globally). It has the size and resources to help keep Brazil in check but not enough to overpower it.

The remaining Atlantic region nations are even less equipped to challenge Brazil. Paraguay and Uruguay are buffer states, fated to play their larger neighbors off one another as the situation warrants. Paraguay is particularly resigned since it is a landlocked nation wholly dependent on others for maritime trade. Venezuela’s position on the southern rim of the Caribbean means that the United States will make sure Caracas is never powerful enough to challenge U.S. influence in the region, in turn limiting its influence in South America. (Venezuela admittedly isn’t doing itself any favors right now.)

The Pacific Coast

In the Pacific region, Peru is best positioned to assume a leadership role. Peru was the seat of power in the pre-Columbian era. It still boasts mineral, metallurgical, hydrocarbon and agricultural resources that allow it to support a large portion of its domestic needs. It also has a burgeoning manufacturing sector. Eight of its 10 largest cities are along the coast, which facilitates trade and communication.

On the surface, Colombia appears to also be a potential candidate for Pacific power. The country’s economy is on the rise (it was especially so before oil prices dropped), and now that the country’s longest insurgency has come to an end, security has improved. But what helped shelter the insurgents for so long is precisely what hinders the construction of a viable regional power: mountains and jungles. Even before it was colonized, Colombia never had a great empire based there like Inca in Peru. This is because the terrain lends itself to poorly connected and uncoordinated population centers. And, like Venezuela, Colombia borders the Caribbean Sea, and though it is a strong U.S. ally, Washington would never allow it to challenge its power.

Other countries don’t qualify. Chile is one of the most developed countries in South America, but it is so narrow, so dependent on energy imports and so far removed from the rest of the continent that it could never overtake it neighbors. Bolivia, another landlocked nation, is at the mercy of others for trade. Ecuador is even smaller in area than Bolivia, and only slightly less alienated.

(click to enlarge)

The countries of South America have been too preoccupied with their own issues for the past half century to worry about projecting power abroad. In that time they have experienced dictatorships, rebuilt their governments after toppling the dictatorships, clashed with domestic militant groups and suffered economic crises. Competing for regional power or expansion was secondary to survival. But even if they dedicated themselves to regional hegemony, and even if they de facto led their respective region, they could never subsume the other.

Circumstance

As important to South America is its location. The continent sits in the Southern and Western hemispheres between two oceans, making it remote from major trade routes and seats of power. In short, it is a peripheral region and, as such, was a latecomer to the global economy. Consequently, economic development has come slow to South America, and its domestic issues are magnified.

Geographic barriers, an abundance of natural resources and a legacy of colonialism created an economic dependency on raw materials. From the European perspective, the purpose of the colonies was to provide wealth for the monarchies and ready-made markets for the consumption of manufactured goods. To this day, the production and export of commodities links South American countries to the rest of the world. They all but define trade ties to virtually every region, most notably China, India and other Asian nations. Growing demand for their resources only aggravates the problem.

In some areas of production – sugar cane, soy, corn, copper, iron ore – South American production can drastically affect commodity prices and supply. With other commodities – wheat, coal, beef, oil – these countries significantly factor into global supply but do not single-handedly affect the global market. In these cases, the commodities have a much larger importance and impact on the individual economies than on the global supply or price.

Production and control of these commodities has been a major source of social conflict in South America as government desires for economic performance ran counter to some local demands. In the area of agriculture, the government must balance the domestic consumption with the desire for export revenue – something that pits producers against government regulators, as is sometimes the case in Argentina. In mineral extraction, the profits of mining companies come into conflict with the health and livelihoods of underpaid workers and regional governments. It is little wonder, then, that Chile and Colombia, two major mineral-producing countries, have seen major mining protests throughout the years. Extractive industries and supporting infrastructure projects, moreover, create environmental concerns among indigenous communities and activists, as can be observed in Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.

Other sources of friction are inevitable so long as South American countries adopt economic policies meant to reduce their vulnerability to commodity prices, develop domestic industry and shift away from an emphasis on raw materials. So far, they have experimented with various schemes of import substitution (a policy that replaces foreign imports with domestic production, which is often costlier), industrial subsidies, import tariffs and general protectionist measures. But most have not worked. Brazil and Argentina are now moving ahead with economic reforms while Ecuador and Venezuela still cling to failing policies. Peru, Colombia and Chile are trying to compensate by turning to free trade and finding areas of competitive advantage.

South America shows that while the laws of geopolitics may be immutable, the way nations obey them are circumstantial. The things that divide the region are the same things that have prevented the kind of conflict that exists in other places – it’s hard for groups to clash if they are not forced to confront one another. But South America has a role to play on the global stage, even if it’s only recently trying to figure out how to play it.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/south-america-divided-not-conquered/

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From our Russian News Desk.(The views expressed are the author‘s own.)

– The U.S. in Central Asia: between «С5+1» and «Make America Great Again»

  • Why are Doctors targeted in Arab Conflict Zones?

– Out of 54 most interesting comments of this autumn, readers of the "Caucasian Knot" have chosen 12 best ones

  • For four years in a row, the "Caucasian Knot" has been marking the most meaningful, informative and topical comments made by its users. A year ago, we paid special attention to readers‘ comments about the freedom of religion and the problem of corruption in the Caucasus. This autumn we decided to award prizes to best commentators every week. Traditionally, the final choice and definition of the winner are with our readers.

Starting September 1, during three months, the "Caucasian Knot" marked the most interesting comments, while our readers were free to choose the best comment of the elapsed week. We considered all the comments posted on interactive platforms of the "Caucasian Knot", namely, on the news tape, on the pages of our bloggers, in the forumand online discussions, in twitt broadcasts, and in the messages, received by the SMS-service of the "Caucasian Knot".

In the course of the contest, from September 1 to November 30, in total, 529 users sent over 13,000 messages, having commented 635 articles, news items, and posts in blogs. The "Caucasian Knot" has identified 54 comments to the most actual topics of the autumn, which gathered a total of 31,073 votes, and defined 12 winners.

Earlier, the "Caucasian Knot" held the following contests of readers‘ comments:

1. The best comment on the "Caucasian Knot" – in 2010;

2. Best comments of the readers of the "Caucasian Knot" – in January 2011;

3. The most active and critical commentator in blogs of the "Caucasian Knot" – in 2011;

4. The most active and informative news commentator of the "Caucasian Knot" – in 2011;

5. The best message on the Twitter of the Internet-medium "Caucasian Knot" – in 2011;

6. The best comment of the readers of the "Caucasian Knot" on the Facebook – in 2011;

7. Best comments on the materials of the "Caucasian Knot" from LiveJournal users – in 2012;

8. "Choice of the Caucasus": contest for the best post about the election of the President of the Russian Federation on the page of the "Caucasian Knot" on the Facebook – in 2012;

9. "Choice of the Caucasus": contest of comments about the election of Russian President to the materials of the "Caucasian Knot" – in 2012;

10. The most active and critical commentator of news items of the "Caucasian Knot" – in 2012;

11. Best comments to materials of the "Caucasian Knot" about corruption in Northern Caucasus – in 2013; and

12. Best comments to materials of the "Caucasian Knot" about the freedom of religion in Northern Caucasus – in 2013.

"Islamic State" threatens the Caucasus

Our readers used to demonstrate great interest in and activeness to the topics and events, caused by the current international political situation: the Ukrainian crisis, Russia’s reaction to the Western sanctions; and appearance of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) in the Middle East. The threats of the IS to transfer military actions to the Caucasus and Russia were differently perceived by our readers.

(for more see att.)

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Heise.de:Erstmals Gen-Editierungen an menschlichen Embryos in den USA.

Laut Insidern wurden jetzt erstmals auch in den USA mit der Technik CRISPR die Gene von menschlichen Embryos verändert. Bei ihren Experimenten sollen die Forscher zwei wichtige Probleme in den Griff bekommen haben.

Ein Forscherteam an der Oregon Health and Science University hat in einer Studie die DNA von "zig" per künstlicher Befruchtung entstandenen menschlichen Embryos verändert und soll dabei gezeigt haben, dass es sicher und effizient möglich ist, defekte Gene zu korrigieren. Der Studienleiter Shoukhrat Mitalipov wollte dazu nicht Stellung nehmen, weil die Ergebnisse noch nicht offiziell publiziert seien, doch Insider bestätigten die Informationen, berichtet Technology Review online in "Gene editieren ohne Fehler".

Zum Thema

Bei den Experimenten wurden Embryos im Einzeller-Stadium verwendet, die für das menschliche Auge noch nicht zu erkennen sind. Keinem von ihnen wurde die Möglichkeit gegeben, sich mehr als ein paar Tage lang zu entwickeln, und es war nie vorgesehen, sie in eine Gebärmutter zu implantieren. Doch die Experimente sind ein Meilenstein auf dem Weg zur Geburt der ersten genetisch veränderten Menschen. Der Fachbegriff dafür lautet "Keimbahn-Engineering", weil jedes genetisch veränderte Kind die Änderungen mit seinen eigenen Keimzellen auf nachfolgende Generationen weitergeben würde.

Bislang hatten nur chinesische Forschergruppen über Tests mit dem Gen-Editierverfahren CRISPR an menschlichen Embryos berichtet. Dabei hatte sich gezeigt, dass bei CRISPR Fehler entstehen können und dass die gewünschte DNA-Veränderungen nicht bei allen Zellen eines Embryos eintreten. Mitalipov und seine Kollegen sollen jetzt überzeugend belegt haben, dass sich diese beiden Probleme vermeiden lassen. Dies dürfte ein großer Schritt auf dem Weg zur Bekämpfung von Erbkrankheiten sein, wobei Kritiker fürchten, dass er auch zu "Designer-Babys" führen könnte.

Mehr dazu bei Technology Review online:

https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Erstmals-Gen-Editierungen-an-menschlichen-Embryos-in-den-USA-3788228.html

****************************************************************************************************************** Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*DOD’s classified mobility program pilots use of tablets

The Defense Information Systems Agency is expanding its offerings under the Department of Defense Mobility Classified Capability-Secret (DMCC-S) Program through a new pilot program, which puts 8-inch tablet computers into the hands of designated senior leaders across the department.

The pilot expands upon the DMCC-S’s support for smartphones and acknowledges the need to enable leaders to work with classified data in a mobile environment just as they would in an office.

“We’re bringing the mobile device from something you use mostly to consume information from to being able to actually do work on the device,” said Jake Marcellus, DOD Mobility Portfolio manager.

The first tablet was issued to Dr. John Zangardi, acting DOD Chief Information Officer, May 19; and 23 others have been issued since.

Though it seems small, the change from a 5-inch phone screen to an 8-inch tablet screen offers greater flexibility and an improved user experience.

"DISA understands global senior leaders require highly secure mobile solutions/devices to be always on and always connected,” said Leticia Parra, DMCC-S tablet pilot program manager. “The program is focused on listening to customer needs and providing them with larger viewing screens for real-time missions.”

Parra said the program has incorporated capability enhancements, such as support for the Unified Video Dissemination System (UVDS), which enables viewing of live full-motion video feeds collected for the purpose of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

The pilot management team has already received positive feedback from combatant commanders, praising the enhanced capability to view UVDS.

“While the yearlong pilot is in its initial stages, it will be a game changer across the department,” said Parra. “As we continue to enhance capabilities, modern information technology will continue to join forces with cybersecurity to provide situational awareness and create a manageable battlefield communications infrastructure.”

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Middle East

State Magazine for U.S. Department of State

State Magazine July/August 2017 Issue Is Now Available!

State Magazine’s July/August cover story highlights this issue’s featured office. The article explores the work undertaken by the Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs (OPA) within the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), particularly it’s focus on the formulation and implementation U.S, policy on international issues concerning the ocean, Arctic and Antarctic. This issue of State Magazine also focuses on innovation and improving lives at events during this year’s World IP day. Be sure to check out additional features about a department IT employee who’s also an accomplished jazz musician, and how a merit compensation program is helping LE safe earn more in EUR Bureaus.

Read this issue online .

https://www.state.gov/statemag

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

The Axis of the Sanctioned

Sanctions can achieve little on their own and might actually make a situation worse.

By Jacob L. Shapiro

Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity was doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. In January 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush famously declared Iraq, Iran and North Korea the axis of evil in his State of the Union speech. This week, with the passage of a bill to impose expanded sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, the U.S. has effectively replaced the axis of evil with the axis of the sanctioned – the only difference being that Russia has replaced Iraq on the list of sinners. But if Washington is expecting to see different results this time around, it’ll soon learn how misguided this expectation is.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the sanctions bill on July 25 with an overwhelming majority (419-3). It was passed by the Senate on July 27 by an equally decisive margin (98-2). Because of the strong majority with which it passed both the House and the Senate, it’s unlikely President Donald Trump can veto the bill.

All three countries targeted by the legislation have been the subject of sanctions before. Many have debated whether this tool is an effective way to influence a country’s actions. A study updated in 2009 and published by the Peterson Institute for International Economics examined 174 case studies and determined that sanctions were partially successful 34 percent of the time. According to the study, the success rate varied based on the goal. If the goal was modest and specific, such as the release of a political prisoner, the success rate approached 50 percent. But if the goal was regime change or significant policy reforms, the success rate was only 30 percent.

The bottom line is that sanctions are an ineffective way of achieving foreign policy objectives in two-thirds of cases, according to this study. They can be a powerful tool, alongside other measures, to encourage a country to halt a certain action, but on their own they can achieve little and might actually make a situation worse.

Sanctions Won’t Change Reality

It is with that in mind that the geopolitical implications of the sanctions bill should be evaluated. Of the three countries included in the bill, Russia has drawn the most attention because of the Russian cloud that has cast a shadow over Trump’s administration since he came to office. But the bill was originally designed to levy new sanctions against Iran; North Korea was also subsequently added. These three countries arguably represent the United States’ most significant geopolitical challenges today. They also happen to be intractable issues that the U.S. does not currently have the will or power to change in any meaningful way – and sanctions won’t alter that reality.

Consider North Korea. The U.S. has been hoping that partnering with China and expanding international sanctions against North Korea, which has already been subject to sanctions for decades, could convince the regime to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The existing sanctions were ineffective, in part because the regime is willing to endure some discomfort to ensure its survival, and giving up its weapons program could put that in jeopardy. China, meanwhile, is either unwilling or unable to bring Kim Jong Un to heel. In the first half of this year, it even increased its exports to Pyongyang by 20 percent year on year, according to a report by the Korean International Trade Association on July 26. (The same report also indicated that Chinese imports from North Korea have decrease by 24.3 percent in the same period.)

The Chinese government itself has also reported increased exports to North Korea in the first and second quarters of 2017. Trump even accused China on Twitter last month of not living up to its sanction pledges against North Korea.

The U.S. is beginning to get the impression that Beijing isn’t willing to apply financial pressure on Pyongyang, and some say the next step should be to impose sanctions against China. But sanctions won’t force China to handle the problem the way the U.S. wants. The dirty little secret is that China’s prestige as the chief negotiator with Pyongyang far outweighs its actual power. That becomes abundantly apparent in situations such as these.

Shared Enemy

Or consider Iran, which has been a foreign policy disaster for the United States since the 1953 military coup that the U.S. helped organize. Many believe the “unprecedented” sanctions (as they were described by U.S. officials at the time) imposed in 2010 have been effective. After all, just five years after they were implemented, Iran signed the much-maligned nuclear deal. Proximity, however, is not causality. Iran did not capitulate because of sanctions.


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) arrives at parliament ahead of presenting the proposed annual

budget in the capital, Tehran, on Jan. 17, 2016, after sanctions were lifted under Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

This is not to say sanctions were irrelevant. They were no doubt painful for the Iranian economy, and they became a major political issue in Tehran. But what compelled Iran to sign the deal was that Iran’s strategic plans were disrupted after the Syrian war broke out. In 2010, a Shiite arc of influence, led by Iranian-backed proxies, seemed poised to spread from Tehran all the way to the Mediterranean. But then Bashar Assad’s government came under attack in Syria, and it continues to fight a bloody civil war that has permanently fractured the country. More important, out of the ashes of the U.S. intervention in Iraq, a force arose that would eventually become the Islamic State.

It’s this reality – not the economic impact of sanctions, significant as it may have been – that convinced Iran to enter into the nuclear deal. Iran was wary of a potential Sunni Arab power rising on its border, one with an ideology that saw Iran as an enemy equal to if not greater than the West. The rise of IS meant that suddenly the United States and Iran had a common enemy; IS threatened the national security interests of both countries.

Now that the Islamic State is on the defensive, the subtle ties between these strange bedfellows are beginning to show signs of fraying – on both sides. The issue is that Iran wants to be the dominant power in the Middle East, while the United States doesn’t want any single country to control the region. Defeating Iran by military force is not a realistic option for the Middle East, and by toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, the U.S. eliminated the natural balance to Iranian power in the region. The U.S. is trying to reconstruct a regional balance of power to deal with Iran, but the Saudis are weak, the Turks have little desire or need to enter the fray at this point, and no one else is up to the task. Sanctions are not going to induce Iran to stop testing ballistic missiles or to stop funding its proxy groups throughout the region; in fact, they may have the opposite effect.

Easier Said Than Done

And then there’s Russia, which has become something of a U.S. media obsession. Like George W. Bush and Barack Obama before him, Trump came to office hoping to build a better relationship with Russia, only to realize it’s much easier said than done. Trump may have thought that a positive personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin was going to be enough to accomplish what his predecessors couldn’t. But niceties don’t change the fact that Ukraine is a national security interest to Russia, and that the United States – even under Trump – has shown no signs of bending on the Ukraine issue. In fact, Trump has met with Ukraine’s president and has declared his support for Ukraine multiple times. The State Department’s new special representative to Ukraine even said July 25 that the U.S. might consider providing Kiev with defensive arms.

The sanctions bill won’t convince Russia that it can abandon Kiev to the West’s orbit, and it may even embolden Ukraine. It may be coincidence, but Ukraine’s recent decision to cut off electricity to Donetsk, amid other markers of tension, suggests that these sanctions could encourage Kiev to push back against Russia with an expectation of U.S. support. Russia will have to retaliate in some way. In light of this possible escalation, we at GPF may even have to re-examine our forecast for 2017, which saw Ukraine as a frozen conflict.

This is not to say that sanctions are ineffective or that they don’t have any geopolitical import. They do, and we’ll be publishing more on their impact in the near term. But by relying on sanctions that have had only a marginal effect in the past, the U.S. is insisting on forcing square pegs into round holes. That will have ramifications, but the underlying problems – North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, Iran’s pursuit of regional hegemony and Russia’s need to maintain Ukraine as a buffer – will remain long after these sanctions are lifted.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/the-axis-of-the-sanctioned/

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At last:

Wegen Ausschluss von Frauen

Freimaurerloge nicht gemeinnützig

Wer nur Männer aufnimmt, ist nicht gemeinnützig, entscheiden die Bundesfinanzrichter. Deshalb haben traditionelle Freimaurerlogen keinen Anspruch auf Steuervorteile. Das Urteil könnte weitreichende Folgen haben.

Anerkennung der Gemeinnützigkeit steht für viele Vereine infrage

Ohne Erfolg verwiesen die Freimaurer auf als gemeinnützig anerkannte katholische Ordensgemeinschaften, die ebenfalls Männer oder Frauen von der Mitgliedschaft ausschließen. Dies sei nach dem Gesetz zulässig, da diese wegen mildtätiger oder kirchlicher Zwecke Gemeinnützigkeit beanspruchten und nicht wegen der Förderung der Allgemeinheit, so der Bundesfinanzhof.

Das Urteil kann auch Auswirkungen auf zahlreiche Vereine wie Schützenbruderschaften, Männergesangsvereine oder Frauenchöre haben, die ein Geschlecht ohne sachlichen Grund von der Mitgliedschaft ausschließen. Auch hier steht die Anerkennung der Gemeinnützigkeit infrage.

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/finanzen/meine-finanzen/steuern-sparen/freimaurerloge-wegen-ausschluss-von-frauen-nicht-gemeinnuetzig-15133421.html?xtor=EREC-7-[Finanzen-Analysen]-20170802&utm_source=FAZnewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter_FAZ_Finanzen-Analysen

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see our letter on: http://www.massenbach-world.de/41259.html

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

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UdovonMassenbachMailJoergBarandat

08-01-17 Huntsman_after Hamburg G20.docx

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