Massenbach-Letter.NEWS 01.12.2017

Massenbach-Letter. News  

Friedrich Engels 28 November 1820 – 5 August 1895) was a German philosopher, social scientist, journalist and businessman.

[„ … Jeder von uns wird mehr oder weniger beeinflußt von dem intellektuellen Medium, in dem er sich vorzugsweise bewegt …“

Friedrich Engels an Pjotr Lawrowitsch Lawrow, 12. November 1875 –

( KARL MARX – FRIEDRICH ENGELS WERKE – BAND 34, Berlin 1966 (Hrsg.: Institut für Marxismus-Leninismus beim ZK der SED), S. 170.)


  • Brigadegeneral a.D. Klaus Wittmann zu RT: NATO Präsenz im Baltikum und Polen ist absolut berechtigt
  • Deutsche Bischofskonferenz veröffentlicht Arbeitshilfe zur Situation der Christen in Nigeria
  • US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson Remarks: The U.S. and Europe: Strengthening Western Alliances
  • McKinsey: More tooth, less tail – Getting beyond NATO’s 2 percent rule
  • Barnier in Berlin: „Die Zukunft der EU ist wichtiger als der Brexit“
  • Iran Reshapes the Middle East
  • In Israel, Danger Is on the Horizon
  • The world needs to rethink the value of water



  • Asia Times: Bad terms: Pakistan’s raw deal with China over Gwadar port


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

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Massenbach* The world needs to rethink the value of water

November 24, 2017   New research highlights the accelerating pressure on measuring, monitoring and managing water locally and globally. A new four-part framework is proposed to value water for sustainable development to guide better policy and practice …The value of water for people, the environment, industry, agriculture and cultures has been long-recognised, not least because achieving safely-managed drinking water is essential for human life. The scale of the investment for universal and safely-managed drinking water and sanitation is vast …But there is an increasing need to re-think the value of water for a number of reasons: Water is not just about sustaining life, it plays a vital role in sustainable development. Water’s value is evident in all of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals …Water security is a growing global concern. The negative impacts of water shortages, flooding and pollution have placed water related risks among the top 5 global threats by the World Economic Forum for several years running …Last month the World Bank demonstrated the consequences of water scarcity and shocks: the cost of a drought in cities is four times greater than a flood, and a single drought in rural Africa can ignite a chain of deprivation and poverty across generations … Putting a monetary value on water and capturing the cultural benefits of water are only one step … Co-author Richard Damania, Global Lead Economist, World Bank Water Practice: „We show that water underpins development, and that we must manage it sustainably. Multiple policies will be needed for multiple goals.

Current water management policies are outdated and unsuited to addressing the water related challenges of the 21st century. Without policies to allocate finite supplies of water more efficiently, control the burgeoning demand for water and reduce wastage, water stress will intensify where water is already scarce and spread to regions of the world — with impacts on economic growth and the development of water-stressed nations“ …

Bezugsdokument Oxford University …

  In Israel, Danger Is on the Horizon

Nov. 28, 2017. The threats that Israel faced in the past are resurfacing. 

The fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq put a number of issues on hold in the Middle East. But the Islamic State is now all but defeated, and with the loss of a common enemy has come the loss of a common purpose for the anti-IS coalition. Concerns that dominated the region before IS are dominating the region once more. That means Israel, which mostly sat on the sidelines in Syria and Iraq, will become a more active player.

Whoever emerged as the victor in the war in Syria would have been an enemy to Israel, and all things being equal, the Israelis preferred the Assad regime to IS. But Assad is still an enemy, and the more his regime consolidates its power, the more of a threat Syria becomes.

A Nightmare Scenario

Israel’s strategic position in the Middle East changed in 2011 when the Syrian civil war broke out. At the time, there was great uncertainty on all of Israel’s borders, particularly on the Egyptian border. Egypt fell into disarray, and the Muslim Brotherhood briefly rose to power. Although Egypt’s military never seriously relinquished control, Israel had to begin considering a worst-case scenario: a hostile government in a country that was the most serious threat to Israel’s existence in the decades following 1948.

A return to hostilities with Egypt would have been a serious threat. But Israel’s biggest fear isn’t invasion by one enemy; it has the military and advantageous geography to resist any single invader in the region. The country’s nightmare scenario is a well-coordinated invasion by multiple powers. (Had the coalition of Arab states that attacked Israel in 1948 been better coordinated, it might have defeated Israel.) The civil war in Syria, therefore, was actually the silver lining in the uprising in Egypt for the Israelis. At the same time that Israel was dreading the return of past demons in Egypt, its enemies to the north were suddenly incapacitated.



A picture taken on Nov. 20, 2017, shows Israeli Merkava Mark IV tanks taking part in a military exercise near the border with Syria in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

This turned out to be a boon for Israel, especially once Egypt’s military replaced Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi with the current president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Syria was being torn apart, and the Assad regime was too busy fighting for survival to challenge Israel. Hezbollah, which viewed the Assad regime as an ally and which fought a war with Israel in 2006, was preoccupied in Syria. And, most important for Israel, Iran’s strategy to create a crescent of influence extending to the Mediterranean was temporarily thwarted.

Israel was more secure at that moment than it had ever been. As long as the fighting continued in Syria, Israel faced no immediate threats on its borders. This is not to say that Israel was uninterested in who won out in Damascus, but the best-case scenario for Israel was a long, drawn-out civil war that weakened all sides. And for a few years, this was exactly what happened. Israel intervened occasionally to prevent certain types of weapons, like anti-air or anti-ship missiles, from finding their way into Hezbollah’s hands. But for the most part, Israel, which in the past has had to act pre-emptively to ensure its survival, was largely a bystander.

This passivity made sense while the war raged on. But now the conflict is scaling down and Israel must examine its options. It is in this context that the media’s recent obsession with a budding friendship between Israel and Saudi Arabia must be understood. That Israel and Saudi Arabia should find common cause right now makes perfect sense: It’s a classic case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Iran is a threat to both countries, and the Iran nuclear deal signaled to the United States’ two oldest and most reliable allies in the region that U.S. interests – not Israeli or Saudi interests – were going to dictate future U.S. policy in the Middle East. Intelligence sharing and behind-the-scenes cooperation between the Saudis and Israelis is not so much a revelation as a fait accompli.

There are limits, however, to what Saudi Arabia can offer Israel. Much has been made of the possibility that Saudi Arabia may be willing to recognize Israel – and coax other Arab states to do the same – in exchange for an Israeli strike on Hezbollah in Lebanon. That is the kind of simplistic geopolitical thinking that gives analysis a bad name. Saudi Arabia can offer Israel very little at this point: Egypt and Jordan already recognize Israel, Syria is beyond Riyadh’s reach, Lebanon is now also out of its grasp, and the Gulf states are no longer all under Saudi control now that Riyadh has severed ties with Qatar and is reportedly having trouble with Kuwait too. Israel will not risk its security for recognition from a few Gulf states.

Concerns Closer to Home

The only area in which Saudi Arabia could help Israel is much closer to home, in the interminable Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since the collapse of the Camp David negotiations in 2000, Israel has charted its own course in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel has pulled out of Palestinian areas that were either unimportant or indefensible. It has continued building settlements in the West Bank, creating numerous new “facts on the ground,” in the past decade and a half. Israel has waged mini-wars against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as if the Gaza Strip were an overgrown garden that required occasional upkeep. Israel could afford this approach because its strategic environment was relatively steady.

But this isn’t the case any longer. The Palestinian issue by itself is not a serious threat to Israel, but it can become one if the Palestinian territories erupt at the same time that Israel faces a foreign invader. Israel has not had to think in these terms for decades, but it no longer has that luxury. Assad’s victory, Iran’s ascendance in the region, Washington’s distractions, Egypt’s instability and even Turkey’s increased assertiveness in its old Ottoman stomping grounds are all potential threats for which Israel must prepare. Israel does not want a Palestinian intifada to break out at a time when the country is facing critical threats, nor does it want a foreign power to be able to use the Palestinians to distract Israel from its regional priorities.

The question, then, is whether Saudi Arabia has enough influence with the Palestinians to strong-arm them into signing a peace deal that would allow the Israelis to put the issue to bed, at least temporarily. The timing makes sense: Israel is in a position of power, and perhaps will never be as strong as it is now. The issue will be getting the Palestinians to accept a deal that grants them a small fraction of the country they have envisioned for generations. The recent machinations in Egypt to secure a reconciliation deal between the Fatah and Hamas factions in the Palestinian territories are the first step in this process, but there is a long way to go, and it’s not clear that Saudi Arabia and Egypt have enough pull to make it happen. Iran, which in the past has financially supported Hamas and currently backs the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, would love to spoil the plan.

Right now, Israel is relatively strong and secure, but it may not stay that way. The U.S.-Israeli relationship, though still strong, is not what it once was. Russia is a bit player that can’t really help Israel. Turkey is strengthening and increasingly independent-minded. Iran, Syria and Lebanon are all enemies of Israel, and Israel can’t assume that Egypt and Jordan will be docile forever. Israel must now play a delicate game – but playing that game isn’t going to be easy if it’s facing constant strife at home. If Saudi Arabia can help, then Israel may be willing to return the favor. But there is no silver bullet. No single relationship is going to fix all of Israel’s problems. Israel is strong now, but danger is on the horizon.


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

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Asia Times: Bad terms: Pakistan’s raw deal with China over Gwadar port

As details emerge of agreements reached, it seems likely China will profit and Pakistan will pay. Critics say Pakistan’s bureaucrats have blundered.

China will bag a 91% share in gross revenues from Gwadar port, in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, and 85% from the surrounding “free zone,” under a 40-year deal finalized by Pakistani authorities with the China Overseas Port Holding Company.

The numbers were revealed by Pakistan’s federal minister for ports and shipping, Mir Hasil Bizenjo, in the Pakistan Senate last Friday. He also disclosed that Pakistan will pay back US$16 billion in loans obtained from Chinese banks for the development of Gwadar port, the free-trade zone and all communications infrastructure, at rates of over 13%, inclusive of 7% insurance charges.

The project forms part of the US$56 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Business figures say China will recoup its entire CPEC expenditure in the first four years out of earnings from Gwadar port –which was inaugurated a year ago – and the free zone.

Bizenjo added that the Chinese port holding company will operate the port over the next 40 years through a BOT (build-operate-transfer) arrangement. Pakistan will take over the port’s operation, along with responsibility for infrastructure maintenance, after the expiry date.

The minister’s disclosure comes on the heels of persistent demands from lawmakers for details of the long-term agreements inked with the Chinese authorities to be revealed, amid accusations that the federal government had attempted to sweep them under the carpet.

“Such deals need input from the private sector and the government should have involved the trade organizations before signing deals of national significance”

Most senators are of the belief that the long-term agreements are heavily tilted toward China. Raza Rabbani, who is chairman of the Pakistan parliament’s upper house, bowed to pressure from lawmakers and directed the Senate Standing Committee on CEPC to look into whether Pakistan’s national interests are undermined by financial obligations entered into via the agreement with China.

Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaaf Senator Mohsin Aziz, who could not be reached for comment by Asia Times, is of the view that the long-term contracts entered into in relation to CPEC most certainly do undermine the national interest. “Such deals need input from the private sector and the government should have involved the trade organizations before signing deals of national significance,” he told the Senate, adding that the private sector would have been able to negotiate better deals for Pakistan than its bureaucrats.

Business leaders are indeed skeptical of the agreement’s 40-year term, stressing, in particular, that the infrastructure, roads, machinery and plant is unlikely to remain in workable condition in four decades. By the time Pakistan takes over responsibility for its maintenance, they say, it will need significant upgrading.

Muhammad Ishaq, a leading importer and one-time director of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment & Trade (KPBOIT) told Asia
Times: “The hefty share in the revenue of port and free economic zone is not the only issue which will deal a severe blow to economy. The government also allowed contractors and sub-contractors associated with China Overseas Port Holding Company an exemption from income and sales taxes, and federal excise duties, for a period of 20 years,  besides a 40-year tax holiday granted for imports of equipment, material, plant, appliances and accessories for port and special economic zone.”

He added that major shares of the earnings from the port and free zone would go to Chinese companies, while Pakistan will struggle to service costly loans obtained from Chinese banks. The 2,282-acre free zone, he said, will include factories, logistics hubs, warehousing facilities and display centers that will all be exempt both from customs duties and from provincial and federal taxes.


 Brigadegeneral a.D. Klaus Wittmann zu RT: NATO Präsenz im Baltikum und Polen ist absolut berechtigt.

RT Deutsch

Am 17.07.2017 veröffentlicht

In mehreren osteuropäischen Ländern finden momentan an der Grenze zu Russland NATO-Manöver statt. Dr. Klaus Wittmann, Brigadegeneral a.D., spricht über die dortige Präsenz des transatlantischen Militärbündnisses und die europäische Sicherheit.“


                                                                                                            Policy = res publica



Freudenberg-Pilster  Barnier in Berlin: „Die Zukunft der EU ist wichtiger als der Brexit“




Der EU-Chefverhandler für den Brexit, Michel Barnier, hat heute (29 Nov 2017) vor Wirtschaftsvertretern in Berlin die Unternehmen dazu aufgerufen, sich bereits jetzt auf den Brexit vorzubereiten.

Wie auch immer die Verhandlungen ausgehen, es werde kein ,business as usual‘ geben, sagte Barnier beim Deutschen Arbeitgebertag. Dies sei eine automatische Folge der Entscheidung der britischen Regierung, die Zollunion und den Binnenmarkt zu verlassen.

„Ich weiß nicht ob jemand den Britischen Unternehmern die ganze Wahrheit über die konkreten Folgen des Brexit gesagt hat. Meine Verantwortung vor Ihnen heute und überall in Europa ist, den Europäischen Unternehmern die Wahrheit zu sagen. Handelsbeziehungen zu einem Land, das nicht der Europäischen Union angehört, werden in jedem Fall Reibungen verursachen.“

Die übrigen 27 EU-Staaten seien sich infolge des Brexit-Votums stärker bewusst geworden, welch bewahrenswerte Errungenschaft der Binnenmarkt sei. „Deutschland wickelt 6 Prozent seines Warenhandels mit dem Vereinigten Königreich ab, aber 56 Prozent mit den übrigen EU-Ländern. Das ist fast das Zehnfache“, betonte Barnier und zitierte Bundeskanzlerin Merkel: „Die Zukunft der EU ist wichtiger als der Brexit.“ Bei der Berliner Sicherheitskonferenz sprach Barnier zuvor auch über die Folgen des Brexit für die Europäische Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik.


Um sich auf die automatischen Folgen des Brexits vorzubereiten, habe die eigentliche Übergangsphase bereits begonnen. Es sei wichtig, dass alle Unternehmen ihr Engagement im Vereinigten Königreich klar analysieren und bereit seien, gegebenenfalls ihre Logistikkanäle, Lieferketten und Vertragsklauseln anzupassen, sagte Barnier, der zuvor auch bei einer Veranstaltung des Bundesverbands der Deutschen Industrie (BDI) und des Deutschen Industrie- und Handelskammertages (DIHK) gesprochen hatte.

Zuvor am Mittwochmorgen nahm Barnier, der vor seiner Rolle als EU-Chefverhandler für den Brexit auch verteidigungspolitischer Berater von Kommissionspräsident Jean-Claude Juncker war, an der Berliner Sicherheitskonferenz teil und hielt dort eine Rede über die aktuelle und künftige Verteidigungszusammenarbeit der EU mit dem Vereinigten Königreich.

Partnerschaft mit dem Vereinigten Königreich in der Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik angestrebt

„Zum ersten Mal seit 1954 und dem Scheitern der Europäischen Verteidigungsgemeinschaft erleben wir, dass mit beispiellosem Engagement auf eine Europäische Verteidigungs- und Sicherheitsunion hingearbeitet wird. Bis 2025 soll sie stehen!“, sagte Barnier. Im September 2014 hatte Kommissionspräsident Jean-Claude Juncker  in seiner ersten Rede vor dem Europäischen Parlament eine Wiederbelebung der europäischen Verteidigung gefordert. Seither sei viel passiert, unterstrich Barnier: EU und NATO haben 2016 ihre strategische Partnerschaft neu belebt. Die Kommission hat einen Europäischen Verteidigungsfonds auf den Weg gebracht, so dass Verteidigungstechnologien und -ausrüstung erstmals gemeinsam aus dem europäischen Haushalt finanziert werden können.

Zuletzt haben 23 Mitgliedstaaten am 20. November 2017 ihre Absicht bekundet, die Ständige Strukturierte Zusammenarbeit (Pesco) umzusetzen. „Diese Initiative, die unter anderem dem großen persönlichen Einsatz von Ministerin von der Leyen zu verdanken ist, wird zu einem intensiveren europäischen Engagement in der Verteidigung führen, und zwar sowohl auf operativem Gebiet als auch bei den Kapazitäten und in der Rüstungsindustrie“, sagte Barnier.

Zwar werde das Vereinigte Königreich nach dem Brexit nicht mehr an der Entscheidungsfindung und an der Planung der europäischen Verteidigungs- und Sicherheitsinstrumente beteiligt sein. Die EU werde aber für eine Sicherheitspartnerschaft offen sein. „Londons Rückzug wird die bilaterale Zusammenarbeit zwischen bestimmten Mitgliedstaaten und dem Vereinigten Königreich nicht beeinträchtigen – insbesondere nicht die operative Zusammenarbeit. Das Vereinigte Königreich wird sich auch weiterhin im Rahmen der verstärkten Vornepräsenz der NATO (Enhanced Forward Presence) in Estland und Polen engagieren können. Londons Rückzug wird die strategische Partnerschaft zwischen der Europäischen Union und der NATO nicht beeinträchtigen. Und schließlich hat Theresa May die Mitgliedstaaten wiederholt der unverbrüchlichen Bereitschaft des Vereinigten Königreichs versichert, die Sicherheit in Europa zu wahren“, sagte Barnier.

Zu gegebener Zeit werde die EU auch nach dem Brexit mit dem Vereinigten Königreich angemessene Formen der Verteidigungs- und Sicherheitszusammenarbeit finden, sagte Barnier. „Diese Partnerschaft ist für uns alle von Interesse, weil sie von den Bürgerinnen und Bürgern erwartet wird und zur Stabilität und Sicherheit unseres Kontinents und unserer Nachbarschaft beitragen wird.“




Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*    McKinsey: More tooth, less tail – Getting beyond NATO’s 2 percent rule

This excerpt from a new book published by Aspen Strategy Group offers a path to better and more meaningful metrics.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump suggested that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was “obsolete,”11. Mark Makela, “Transcript: Donald Trump Expounds on His Foreign Policy Views,” New York Times, March 26, 2016. casting doubt on America’s commitment to the collective defense of Europe. On the eve of accepting the Republican nomination for president, he went so far as to suggest that the United States would come to the defense of its NATO allies only if they had “fulfilled their [financial] obligations to us.”2 2. Maggie Haberman and David E. Sanger, “Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies Against Attack,” New York Times, July 20, 2016. This called into question America’s commitment to one of NATO’s core tenets, collective defense, enshrined in Article 5 of the founding treaty. Shortly after taking office, President Trump revised his view on NATO’s relevance, saying that NATO is no longer obsolete. And just before the July 2017 meeting of the G20, he offered a more vigorous expression of support for Article 5, saying, “The United States has demonstrated with its actions, not just words, that it stands firmly behind Article 5.”3 3. Matthew Day and James Rothwell, “Donald Trump Says West Must Show ‘the will to survive’ in Face of Threats from Russia and North Korea,” Telegraph, July 6, 2017.

The question of obsolescence seems to have been settled. But the debate on burden-sharing continues unabated. In his roundabout way, President Trump has done a notable job of raising the issue of the adequacy of European NATO’s defense spending. Criticism has focused almost entirely on the level of investment by member countries—whether they are meeting the 2 percent commitment—with far less attention paid to their actual ability to defend themselves and their allies. All things considered, the 2 percent rule is a poor way to measure burden-sharing. It came about in part as a convenience, as this was the level of NATO Europe’s spending in 2002, when the target was first agreed upon. It is one of the few things that NATO reports externally. It is useful, if a little crude, but it has a few methodological flaws and takes us only so far. Even the wider concept of burden-sharing, the desire for members to “pay their fair share,” is inherently flawed, since it focuses on inputs rather than outputs.

What is needed is a more explicit focus on the capabilities NATO can deploy in the conduct of its core tasks of collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security, and new metrics to assess these. A much more robust discussion is possible, even with the fairly limited data publicly available today. This paper is my attempt to contribute to that discussion.

Disproportionate spending? The 2 percent obsession

President Trump argues that “NATO is unfair economically to us, to the United States. Because it really helps them more so than the United States, and we pay a disproportionate share.”4 4. Mark Makela, “Transcript: Donald Trump Expounds on His Foreign Policy Views,” New York Times, March 26, 2016. His message has been echoed by senior administration officials. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in his first meeting with NATO defense ministers in February 2017, warned that the United States could “moderate its commitment” to the alliance if allies did not get serious about meeting the 2 percent goal. “No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values.”5 5. Michael Birnbaum and Dan Lamothe, “Defense Secretary Mattis Issues New Ultimatum to NATO Allies on Defense Spending,” Washington Post, February 15, 2017.

A perception of unequal burdens is not a new issue. It is as old as the alliance itself. President Trump is far from alone in calling for NATO members to meet the 2 percent target. A wide array of American officials has pressured our NATO allies to live up to their commitment, not just in this administration but in the prior ones as well.

President Obama complained of “free riders.”6 6. Jeffrey Goldberg, “The Obama Doctrine,” Atlantic, April 2016. Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates used no less colorful language in his valedictory speech in Brussels, warning of a “dim if not dismal future” for the alliance, pointing to the “very real possibility of collective military irrelevance” and issuing the prescient warning that Americans were beginning to grow tired of expending precious resources defending nations “unwilling to devote the necessary resources . . . to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”7 7. Robert M. Gates, “Remarks by Secretary Gates at the Security and Defense Agenda” (speech, Brussels, Belgium, June 10, 2011), US Department of Defense.

The historical roots of the issue run even deeper. Indeed, complaints date back almost to the foundation of the alliance in 1949. In 1953, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles threatened “an agonizing reappraisal” of the US commitment to European security if its allies did not step up.8 8. Brian R. Duchin, “The ‘Agonizing Reappraisal’: Eisenhower, Dulles, and the European Defense Community,” Diplomatic History 16, no. 2 (April 1992): 201–22.

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If nothing else, the 2 percent rule has provided a yardstick to measure the gap that has provoked all the complaints (Exhibit 1). From 1985–1989, NATO Europe spent an average of 3.1 percent of GDP on defense. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Western European countries no longer felt an imminent threat from the Warsaw Pact countries and elected to take a “peace dividend.” Spending fell to 2.5 percent in 1990–1994, 2.0 percent in 1995–1999, and 1.9 percent in 2000–2004. Five years later, the average fell yet again, to 1.7 percent. A low point of 1.43 percent (1.40 percent including Canada) was reached in 2015.

Exhibit 1



Only five member states (Estonia, Greece, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the US) hit the 2 percent benchmark in 2016, and only three of those—the United States, Britain, and Poland—also met NATO’s target of spending 20 percent of their annual defense expenditure on equipment. In 2016, the United States well exceeded the target, spending 3.6 percent of GDP on defense, contributing fully 68 percent of NATO’s combined defense expenditure despite representing only 46 percent of the alliance’s combined GDP.

Some progress, but to what end?

The 2 percent figure dates to the 2002 Prague summit, when it was established as a non-binding target; it was reiterated in Riga in 2006. At the NATO 2014 summit in Wales, all states not meeting the target pledged to do so within the next decade (and states above 2 percent agreed to maintain that level). In the three years since the Wales summit, spending has started to move in the right direction, increasing by 1.8 percent in 2015, 3.3 percent in 2016, and a projected 4.3 percent this year.

Some might argue that the president’s “very strong and frank discussions”9 9. Donald Trump, “Remarks by President Trump in Joint Address to Congress” (speech, Washington, DC, February 28, 2017), White House Office of the Press Secretary. have begun to pay dividends. It is, however, equally plausible that governments have begun to slowly increase spending not just because of US comments but also because they are reassessing their presumption that Western Europe is safe from outside threats. Several former NATO officials have commented on the rising number of geopolitical challenges.10 10. Fabrice Pothier and Alexander Vershbow, NATO and Trump: The Case for a New Transatlantic Bargain, Atlantic Council, June 2017; and Kelly Russo, Putin, Not Trump, Has Led NATO Members to Increase Defense Spending, Atlantic Council, May 25, 2017.

And in any event, the recent increases have raised the overall figure only slightly, to 1.47 percent of GDP—an indicator of how much further the European allies must go to recover lost ground. To get to 2 percent, spending will need to increase by another $107 billion annually ($28 billion in Germany, $17 billion in Italy, $15 billion in Spain, $12 billion in Canada, $5 billion in France, and smaller sums elsewhere).

Some question whether 2 percent is still the right target. It would seem so, as the present level of spending is not producing the desired results. Shortfalls in NATO’s fighting power were most graphically illustrated in Libya in 2011. After taking command of the air war there, the alliance ran short of munitions after just 11 weeks, drawing a harsh rebuke from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who pointed to shortages not just in “boots on the ground, but in crucial support assets such as helicopters, transport aircraft, maintenance, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and much more.”11 11. Robert M. Gates, “Remarks by Secretary Gates at the Security and Defense Agenda” (speech, Brussels, Belgium, June 10, 2011), US Department of Defense.

Flawed but indispensable

Many allies question the relevance of the 2 percent target on methodological grounds, citing different methodologies used to calculate national defense spending or calling for related spending to be included. There is no shared understanding of what makes up defense spending. In its definition of “military expenditure,” NATO includes defense ministry budgets, expenditure for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, and research and development costs. Significantly, it also includes pensions. For many states, military pensions represent a substantial proportion of their defense budget (in 2016, 33 percent of Belgium’s defense budget was spent on pensions, as was 24 percent of France’s and 17 percent of Germany’s). The trouble is that while pensions contribute to the 2 percent target, they do not contribute to a state’s fighting power.12 12. Lucie Béraud-Sudreau and Bastian Giegerich, “Counting to Two: Analysing the NATO Defence-Spending Target,” Military Balance Blog, February 14, 2017.

Others, notably Germany, make the case that non-military contributions to security, such as development aid, or even non-monetary contributions, such as overflight rights or basing, should be taken into account. In March 2017, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the 2 percent target was neither “reachable nor desirable” for Germany, and that “it is better to talk about better spending instead of more spending.”13 13. Robert-Jan Bartunek and Lesley Wroughton, “Germany Balks at Tillerson Call for More European NATO Spending,” Thompson Reuters, March 31, 2017. Wolfgang Ischinger, chairman of the Munich Security Conference, suggests a broader 3 percent target for crisis prevention, development assistance, and defense.14 14. Wolfgang Ischinger, “More EU Foreign and Security Policy,” Munich Security Conference, February 17, 2017.

Finally, some argue that the United States’ status as a global power means that its defense spending is not directly comparable to that of other NATO members. Of nearly 200,000 US forces deployed overseas, just over 99,000 of them are deployed in Europe, suggesting that roughly half of US deployed forces (and by extension roughly half its spending) are dedicated to non-European missions.15 15. Location country report, counts of active duty and reserve service members and APF civilians by location country, personnel category, service, and component as of December 31, 2016, Defense Manpower Data Center, February 27, 2017. By that measure, the US contribution to NATO would not seem nearly so disproportionate.

For all of those problems, the 2 percent metric retains its appeal. It is simple, straightforward, and (relatively) easy to measure. Jan Techau, director of Carnegie Europe, argues that the 2 percent target is “flawed but indispensable” as a measure of “who is and who is not politically committed to NATO’s core task: Europe’s security.”16 16. Jan Techau, The Politics of 2 Percent: NATO and the Security Vacuum in Europe, Carnegie Europe, September 2, 2015.

Current metrics inadequate

In addition to defense spending as a percent of GDP, and the percent of that spending dedicated to major equipment purchases, NATO has set a number of other targets for defense output. At the Riga summit in 2006, it introduced a target that NATO land forces be at least 40 percent deployable and 8 percent deployable on a sustained basis (raised to 50 percent and 10 percent in 2008).17 17. NATO 2020: Assured Security; Dynamic Engagement, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, May 17, 2010. In 2011, NATO went further, developing a more detailed set of output metrics—nine in all, focused on deployability, sustainability, and numbers of deployed air, land, and maritime forces.

NATO member states’ performance on these metrics remains classified, with the notable exception of Denmark.18 18. Input / output metrics – National fact sheet – Denmark, Forsvarsministeriet (Danish Ministry of Defense), 2014–15. However, some of these same figures are publicly reported by the European Defense Agency (EDA) (22 members are common to NATO and the EDA). The latest official figures from the EDA show that only 29 percent of EDA member forces are deployable, and less than 6 percent of them on a sustainable basis,19 19. Defence Data 2014, European Defence Agency, 2016. with unofficial figures suggesting that fewer than 3 percent of European troops are deployable due to a lack of interoperability and equipment shortages.20 20. Defending Europe: The Case for Greater EU Cooperation on Security and Defence, European Commission, May 24, 2017.

Yet even these numbers, while more revealing than the blunt instrument of the 2 percent rule, do not provide a full picture of NATO’s health. The current set of metrics is inadequate to determine whether alliance members are spending enough and on the right things, and generating real combat power as a result. While measuring such attributes is of course more difficult, and the data harder to obtain, the fact remains that there is enough information in the public domain for a robust discussion.

Expect what you inspect

“There is too much focus on the ‘input’ (how much the member states spend) and too little focus on the ‘output’ (how much they get out of it),” says Magnus Petersson, the head of the Centre for Transatlantic Studies at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. The Center for a New American Security argues that what matters is not just how much a nation spends on defense, but what it spends it on, and—critically—its willingness to use it.21 21. Rachel Rizzo and Jim Townsend, “NATO Allies Should Not Be Judged on Defense Spending Alone,” National Interest, May 23, 2017. Jan Techau, former director of Carnegie Europe, says it all: “Spending at 2 percent says very little about a country’s actual military capabilities; its readiness, deployability, and sustainability levels; and the quality of the force that it can field. It also is mum about a country’s willingness to deploy forces and take risks once those forces are deployed. It does not assess whether a country spends its limited resources wisely.”22 22. Jan Techau, The Politics of 2 Percent: NATO and the Security Vacuum in Europe, Carnegie Europe, September 2, 2015.

The 1949 Strategic Concept called for this level of rigor: “A successful defense of the North Atlantic Treaty nations through maximum efficiency of their armed forces, with the minimum necessary expenditures of manpower, money and materials, is the goal of defense planning.”23 23. The Strategic Concept for the Defence of the North Atlantic Area, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, DC 6/1, December 1, 1949. NATO recognized the need again in a recent paper: “Currently, each Member Nation manages its defense budgets in support of the Alliance independently, without fully leveraging successful resource management practices and lessons learned. This study highlights the need for NATO to adopt an analytical framework that provides Alliance Nations a common foundation to achieve effective and efficient defense resource management. The aim is for countries to adopt resource management practices to maintain the future credibility and effectiveness of the Alliance.”24 24. Future Defence Budget Constraints: Challenges and Opportunities, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, December 2016. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has recently suggested that member states publish plans detailing three elements: cash, capabilities, and commitments.25 25. Jens Stoltenberg, “Doorstep statement” (speech, Brussels, Belgium, March 31, 2017), North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In the following, I propose a framework to meet the needs that NATO and others have identified.

1. Spend enough

NATO must measure and report total defense spending.

It is inarguable that there can be no output without investment. Ambassador Doug Lute, former US representative to NATO, makes this case: “There’s a correlated effect, empirically, between input measures and output measures. . . . You’ve got to pay more to get more.”26 26. Malcolm Chalmers, et al., “The cost of European security” (statement by Doug Lute on the panel at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), September 17, 2015, Carnegie Europe. It is important to start with a pure measure of military spending—expenditure that directly contributes to the military output of a nation—what one might call a “real” 2 percent. The NATO definition allows for the inclusion of items such as military and civilian pensions, spending by other government agencies on defense (for example, intelligence services), and military aid. This prompted the UK, in 2015, to add some £2.2 billion to its reported NATO figure by adding civilian and military pensions, contributions to UN peacekeeping missions, and a large portion of the Ministry of Defence’s income from other countries’ defense ministries to its reported figure.27 27. Shifting the Goalposts? Defence Expenditure and the 2% Pledge: Government Response to the Committee’s Second Report of Session 2015–16, House of Commons Defence Committee, June 28, 2016. Although these inclusions were seen as legitimate, it seems likely that they do not contribute to the UK’s fighting power and should be removed from the NATO definition for all nations.

2. Spend it on the right things

NATO should measure and report what the money is spent on.

Measures of defense spending should be the beginning of a discussion on burden-sharing, not the end. Many forces do not allocate defense spending in a manner that maximizes fighting power. In its own NATO 2020 report, the alliance observes that “European defense spending has been consumed disproportionately by personnel and operational costs.”28 28. NATO 2020: Assured Security; Dynamic Engagement, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, May 17, 2010. In fact, more than 50 percent of European spending goes to salaries and pensions. Roughly speaking, an optimal mix is no more than 40 percent on personnel and a quarter on major equipment. Yet NATO Europe forces spend only 15.2 percent of their budgets on equipment, versus a much healthier 25 percent in the United States (and 24.5 percent in France and 22.6 percent in the UK).29 29. Defence expenditure of NATO countries (2009-2016), North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 13, 2017.

The net result is that the US spends fully $127,000 on each soldier’s equipment, while NATO European members spend only one-fifth that amount, $25,200 per soldier (Exhibit 2). So in addition to the question discussed above about the deployability of Europe’s forces, their actual fighting power if deployed is also in question. The discrepancy in the level of investment on research and development of future weapon systems is equally pronounced: $43,500 per soldier in the US versus less than $9,400 for NATO Europe. (These are 2014 figures; the US figure also includes expenses for testing and evaluation.)

Exhibit 2




In addition to committing to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, NATO members have committed to spending 20 percent of their annual defense expenditure on equipment and are reporting progress against this target. Although this is an admirable start, NATO should be measuring spending at a more granular level: military pay, civilian pay, major equipment acquisition, research and development, operations and maintenance, and infrastructure. And it must announce the results, even if that causes discomfort in some defense ministries.

3. Spend it well

NATO should measure efficiency and effectiveness in each of these three categories.

Personnel A big part of the problem of spending too much on personnel is the way many forces waste precious resources, maintaining Cold War bureaucracies rather than prioritizing frontline forces. The people and infrastructure supporting the fighting force (the tail) has failed to shrink as fast as the fighting force itself (the tooth), resulting in an ever-deteriorating tooth-to-tail ratio (Exhibit 3). The force is at the same time too large, with too many non-deployable forces, and too small, with too few deployable fighting forces.

Exhibit 3



Equipment Compounding the problem of too few euros going to equipment, the purchasing power of European governments is dissipated by an inefficient industry structure. Alexander Mattelaer at the Institute for European Studies argues: “The present degree of fragmentation in the European defense markets and organizational structures virtually guarantees a poor return on investment.”30 30. Alexander Mattelaer, “US Leadership and NATO: Revisiting the Principles of NATO Burden-Sharing,” Parameters 46, no. 1 (Spring 2016). McKinsey’s analysis shows 178 different weapon systems in service in Europe, versus 30 in the US.31 31. Munich Security Report 2017, Munich Security Conference, 2017.

Operations and maintenance Many forces have failed to spend enough to maintain what equipment they do have, and their overall maintenance productivity is low. In 2014, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen revealed major deficiencies in the operational capability of important German weapons systems. For example, only 42 of 109 Eurofighters, 38 of 89 Tornado fighters, and 4 of 22 Sea Lynx helicopters were ready for service, mostly due to a lack of spare parts.32 32. Spiegel Staff, “Germany’s Disarmed Forces: Ramshackle Military at Odds with Global Aspirations,” Spiegel Online, September 30, 2014. Much new spending, in Germany at least, will have to go towards repairs of existing equipment that is no longer deployable due to cuts in spending on maintenance since 2010.33 33. Hans Kundnani, “Merkel and Whose Army?,” Foreign Policy, December 13, 2016.

Experience suggests that overall maintenance productivity is low. In areas where allies operate common equipment, NATO should compile and share operational benchmarks—cost per flying hour or track mile, for example. The top dozen air platforms (fighter jets, transport aircraft, and helicopters) are on average operated by five countries in Europe. Each platform has on average four deep maintenance sites, suggesting a great degree of duplication and overlap.34 34. The Future of European Defence: Tackling the Productivity Challenge, McKinsey & Company, May 2013.

4. Measure the outputs

NATO should measure capabilities and continue to measure the readiness, deployability, and sustainability of forces (and its will to use them).

Capabilities During the Cold War, each NATO member had a commitment to a “self-defense plan” that specified a required force structure, a certain readiness level, and a deployability level for their forces. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, those self-defense plans were shelved. Two critical and necessary steps to reform the notion of burden-sharing would be for NATO to craft an integrated defense plan, and for nations to commit to making force structure contributions to that plan, which they agree to fund.

Readiness, deployability, and sustainability As noted, NATO requires members to measure the deployability of their forces and the ability to sustain them in the field, as agreed upon at the Riga summit. It should take the next step and ask nations to publish the figures. There is no reason why the EDA should provide greater transparency than NATO.

Deployed on NATO missions Finally, it would be useful to measure actual contributions to NATO missions as a measure of commitment to the alliance. Which nations are punching above their weight? Purely investment-related metrics have been a notoriously poor guide to predicting actual contributions to NATO missions. Denmark and a few other nations do not meet the 2 percent target, but when it comes to capabilities and contributions, they manage to outperform most other allies.35 35. Alexander Mattelaer, “US Leadership and NATO: Revisiting the Principles of NATO Burden-Sharing,” Parameters 46, no. 1 (Spring 2016).

The US is not immune

The challenge of productivity is equally important to the US defense industry and the Department of Defense (DoD). A recent study by the Defense Business Board found that more than 20 percent of the DoD’s nearly $600 billion annual budget was dedicated to six back-office business processes (facilities management, HR, finance, logistics, acquisitions, and health management).36 36. Transforming Department of Defense’s Core Business Processes for Revolutionary Change, Defense Business Board, 2015. This spending represents a combination of outsourced goods/services, active-duty military and civilian personnel. In total, over one million people work across these six processes, nearly equivalent to the one million or so active-duty military personnel working in mission-facing roles.

The report went on to identify over $125 billion in savings potential over a five-year period, which could be used as “warfighter currency” to fund 50 Army Brigades, 10 Navy Carrier Strike Group deployments, or 83 Air Force F-35 fighter wings. Although this may seem like an ambitious target, it represents an annual productivity gain of just 7 percent per year, which private-sector companies commonly achieve in order to renew, modernize, and strengthen their business. In summary, the DoD has significant opportunity to improve its own tooth-to-tail ratio, focusing on achieving productivity gains in the back-office core business processes and support functions, and reinvesting the savings to fund mission needs.

A path forward

NATO should seek to become the leading proponent of transparency in defense by launching a drive to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its members. It should be unacceptable to NATO members, especially the United States, that the EDA exhibits greater transparency than NATO. To keep metrics simple, the public focus should be on inputs (spending) and outputs (capabilities measured in deployable, ready, sustainable forces). Productivity metrics—the efficiency and effectiveness with which inputs are converted to outputs—should be provided for the benefit of member nations. Burden-sharing can then appropriately focus not simply on what countries spend, but on the forces they provide to ensure the security of Europe and the North Atlantic, as the treaty originally intended.

“We must be careful not to reduce the NATO alliance or the notion of burden-sharing to simply ‘2 percent.’ Our allies don’t just need to spend more. They need to spend better.”
—Senator John McCain, Chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee
37 37. John McCain, “Opening Statement by SASC Chairman John McCain at Hearing on U.S. European Command Posture,” March 23, 2017.

This article was first published in The World Turned Upside Down: Maintaining American Leadership in a Dangerous Age (Aspen Strategy Group, November 2017).

About the author(s)

John Dowdy is a senior partner in McKinsey’s London office.


                                                                                                 Middle East     




  Iran Reshapes the Middle East

By George Friedman 

Iran has always seen itself as being in competition with the Arab states for domination of the Persian Gulf. Its ambitions were put on hold in the late 1980s, at the end of an eight-year war with Iraq that cost Iran more than a million casualties. The war ended in a military draw, but strategically it blocked Iran’s hopes for expanding its power westward. The war against the Islamic State, particularly in Iraq, has opened that door again.

The Iranian Surge

The primary burden of the fighting in Iraq fell on the Iraqi army, coupled with several Shiite militias, which fought a long battle of attrition to defeat IS. Embedded in the Iraqi army, and in direct control of the militias, were Iranian advisers. The United States had advisers and troops there too, but the Iranians were far more effective at gaining influence in the predominantly Shiite army. The U.S. reluctantly accepted this state of affairs – it needed IS defeated, but it didn’t want to absorb the casualties that would result from the long, grinding battle that was required. Instead, the U.S. relied on airstrikes.

There obviously had to be some degree of coordination among the Iraqi forces and militias – enough, at least, to prevent fratricide. That means there had to be some coordination with Iranian advisers, who were effectively commanding some units of the Iraqi army. How much coordination is unclear, but IS was defeated in the end, and Iran was left in control of at least a significant portion of the military force in Iraq. Given Iran’s influence and presence around Basra in southern Iraq, the Iranians are in a powerful position inside Iraq, with no major forces in position to contain them. And they are free to send more forces into Iraq if they wish.

Iran is also in a strong position in Syria. Together, Iran and Russia have prevented the collapse of the Assad government. Lebanon’s Hezbollah has been deeply involved in the fighting in Syria, with a large number of Iranian officers deployed with it, and Iranian forces are scattered in support of Assad’s Syrian army. The Russians are already discussing an endgame in which Assad regains the parts of Syria he lost. Whether that happens or not, the pressure is off the Assad regime now. Moreover, Russia has already said it plans to reduce its presence in Syria, which leaves the Iranians as the primary influence on the Syrians, deepening a relationship that existed even before the civil war broke out.

Yemen is another area of Iranian strength. In Yemen, bordering Saudi Arabia to the south, the Iranians are supporting the Shiite Houthi rebels. As the Houthis grew stronger in recent years, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others launched airstrikes against them. The airstrikes failed to defeat the Houthis, and now they’re even more powerful. A missile was fired from Yemen toward Riyadh early this month. It was allegedly an Iranian-made missile, and a warning to the Saudis to get out of Yemen.

It is important not to overstate Iran’s strength. It is clearly influential, and the door to more power is open, but Iran is not yet positioned to exert decisive military force in the Middle East. At the same time, Iran’s achievements shouldn’t be understated either. It is the most influential power in Iraq and has a significant number of forces there. It more or less controls the most powerful military force in Lebanon and has limited capabilities in Syria. It also has at least advisers in Yemen. Finally, Iran has even made inroads in Saudi Arabia’s sphere of influence. Qatar’s relationship with Iran is part of the reason it has been boycotted by much of the Arab world.



Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during Russian-Iranian-Turkish talks at the Black Sea resort in Sochi, Russia, Nov. 22,2017.

The Potential Coalition

Saudi Arabia is currently the greatest threat to Iran’s ambitions. In the 1960s, when the Shah of Iran was still in control, Iran fought a war against the Saudis in Oman. Their relationship remained hostile after the Iranian revolution. Part of the issue is religion: Saudi Arabia is the heartland of Sunni Islam, Iran of Shiite Islam. But there are deeper issues.

The first is oil. The domination of oil resources by the Saudis and related principalities on the west coast of the Persian Gulf created a perpetual threat to Iran because of the military power it bought. In addition, U.S. guarantees to Saudi Arabia intended to assure the flow of oil supplies from the Persian Gulf gave the Saudis an invulnerability that their own military force couldn’t provide.

At the moment, Saudi Arabia is facing extreme difficulties. The decline in the price of oil has created economic and political problems for Riyadh, which has always used its oil wealth to maintain stability. The introduction of a 32-year-old crown prince, and his decision to arrest some of the key figures in the kingdom, creates a level of internal instability that is unpredictable.

Given this domestic situation, Saudi Arabia’s ability to protect itself from Iran is unclear. The Saudis have already demonstrated the limits of their air power in Yemen. The historical expectation was that first the British, then the Americans, would guarantee their national security. But that was when the Persian Gulf was an indispensable supplier of the world’s oil. The price of oil is down, but as important, the sources of oil have multiplied, along with producers’ eagerness to sell it. Saudi oil is simply not that important anymore. 

The Saudis have been reaching out to the Israelis. Israel can certainly provide military hardware. But the fact is that Israel could be facing its own threat from Iran, and its military is actually relatively small and isn’t designed for large-scale foreign deployments. Because of the size of its force, Israel can’t sustain extended, high-attrition warfare of the sort Iran endured in the 1980s. So the Iranians can threaten Israel with the one strategy that is most dangerous to it: a war of attrition. It’s a distant possibility but one that Israel must consider. Simply put, Israel can’t promise Saudi Arabia much more than materiel, no matter what the Saudis offer in return, and materiel is the one thing the Saudis have in abundance already.

The greatest long-term threat to Iran’s interests, however, is Turkey. The Turks face a fundamental geopolitical question. When the Iranians were relatively confined, Turkey was able to focus on domestic affairs, not venturing deeply into Syria or Iraq. But now, Turkey must decide whether it can live with Iran as the major regional power, or it must assert its own claims on the region. Turkey, by geography and inherent military capability, can block Iran if it chooses to make the effort and take the risk, but at the moment it is working with Iran, particularly on Kurdish issues. Eventually, Turkey will have to choose between the Kurdish issue and the broad strategic issue. Part of that will be determined by the U.S. position on various Kurdish factions and the U.S. vision for dealing with Iran. 

A Test of U.S. Disengagement

The U.S. is capable of containing Iran but only with a substantial force. The U.S. has been at war since 2001. At this point, it doesn’t have a clear strategy for the Middle East. In Iraq, the American approach has been to block both Sunnis and Shiites from dominating the country – while reducing the number of U.S. forces present. This left it in the position of having to rely on forces controlled or influenced by Iran to defeat the Islamic State. In Syria, U.S. strategy has been to create a proxy force to overthrow Assad. That has failed. American guarantees to Saudi Arabia and Israel are still in place, but what they mean at this point is unclear. Israel has no need for direct U.S. involvement except under the most extreme war-of-attrition scenario. As for the Saudis, the guarantee the U.S. gave and delivered on during Desert Storm was a very different situation. Oil prices and supply being what they are, it’s not clear what that guarantee is worth.

The U.S. is not configured to deal with the new reality – one that it helped create by invading Iraq and then leaving it, and by supporting the Arab Spring in Syria, which turned into a disaster.

These U.S. policies led to the rise of IS, and the fight against IS in turn opened the door to Iran in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Syria. Washington has been obsessed with Iranian nuclear capabilities and didn’t anticipate that Iran’s conventional capability and political influence would turn out to be more effective. At this point, it’s not clear what the American interest is in the region and what price it’s prepared to pay to pursue it.

The Middle East has a new and radically different shape. For the moment, Iran has been freed to assert itself. But it still has a long way to go to assert significant power. Apart from the United States, it faces a potential coalition of Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey. Each has its weaknesses, but Iran does too, and together they can manage the problem and probably will. Don’t forget the Sunni jihadists, either. Defeated in the guise of IS, they have merely dispersed, not surrendered. And Iran has been their enemy. Thus the Iranian surge must be placed in context. It has changed the dynamic of the Middle East, but it remains vulnerable.










US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson Remarks: The U.S. and Europe: Strengthening Western Alliances 

11/28/2017Under President Trump, the United States remains committed to our enduring relationship with Europe. Our security commitments to European allies are ironclad.

If we are to sustain the shared security commitments that ensure stability in the region, the Trump administration views it as necessary for our allies to be strong, sovereign, prosperous, and committed to the defense of shared Western ideals.

Over the past 10 months, we have embarked on a new strategic policy that bolsters European and American security: namely, a recommitment to Europe in the wake of the failed “Russia reset;” a new effort to adapt security institutions to combating emerging threats like terrorism, cyberattacks, and nuclear proliferation; and an expectation that European nations accept they are more secure when they contribute more toward their own defense.

These new policy directions will better position the United States and Europe to confront the challenges that threaten our prosperity, the actors that seek to sow chaos and instill doubt in our laws and institutions, and the enemies that threaten our security and oppose our way of life. This is a message I will repeat in my meetings with NATO and OSCE leaders, and in bilateral meetings in a trip to Europe next week

  • the United States places the highest importance on security relationships with European allies, including NATO. Alliances are meaningless if their members are unwilling or unable to honor their commitments

Russia continues aggressive behavior toward other regional neighbors by interfering in election processes and promoting non-democratic ideals. We, together with our friends in Europe, recognize the active threat of a recently resurgent Russia. That is why the United States has strengthened its deterrence and defense commitments in Europe through the European Deterrence Initiative … Russia chose to violate the sovereignty of the largest country in Europe … We are committed to the success of an independent and whole Ukraine … However, Ukraine’s future depends also on winning its internal struggle to implement a broad range of economic, justice, security, and social sector reforms. We encourage Ukraine to continue building capable, trustworthy institutions that will reduce and eventually eliminate corruption, strengthen their judicial system, and deliver economic prosperity to their citizens.

The Ukraine crisis also made clear how energy supplies can be wielded as a political weapon. 

Enhancing European energy security by ensuring access to affordable, reliable, diverse, and secure supplies of energy is fundamental to national security objectives. The United States is liberalizing rules governing the export of liquefied natural gas and U.S.-produced crude, and we’re eager to work with European allies to ensure the development of needed infrastructure like import terminals and interconnecting pipelines to promote the diversity of supply to Europe …  

  • The United States will continue to support European infrastructure projects, such as LNG-receiving facilities in Poland and the Interconnector Greece Bulgaria pipeline, to ensure that no country from outside Europe’s Energy Union can use its resources or its position in the global energy market to extort other nations.
  • We continue to view the development of pipelines like the Nord Stream 2 and the multiline TurkStream as unwise, as they only increase market dominance from a single supplier to Europe

As the last pockets of ISIS are defeated in Syria and international focus turns to resolving the Syrian civil conflict, our European partners must continue to be strong advocates for the UN-led Geneva process under UN Security Council Resolution 2254. (att. UvM)

That alone can be the basis for rebuilding the country and implementing a political solution that leaves no role for the Assad regime or his family in Syria’s government. Our European partners have also been strong supporters of our diplomatic and economic pressure campaign against North Korea … As I remarked earlier, one of these challenges is Russia … 

Russia has shown it seeks to define a new post-Soviet global balance of power, one in which Russia, by virtue of its nuclear arsenal, seeks to impose its will on others by force or by partnering with regimes who show a disregard for their own citizens, as is the case with Bashar al-Assad’s continuous use of chemical weapons against his own people.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union liberalized Russian society and created new trade opportunities that benefit Russians, Europeans, and Americans. But Russia has often employed malicious tactics against the U.S. and Europe to drive us apart, weaken our confidence, and undermine the political and economic successes that we have achieved together since the end of the Cold War. Playing politics with energy supplies, launching cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns to undermine free elections, and serially harassing and intimidating diplomats are not the behaviors of a responsible nation. Attacking a neighboring country and threatening others does nothing to improve the lives of Russians or enhance Russia’s standing in the world.  

  • We want Russia to be a constructive neighbor of Europe and of the larger transatlantic community. But that is Russia’s choice to make.

Russia can continue to isolate and impoverish itself by sowing disorder abroad and impeding liberty at home, or it can become a force that will advance the freedom of Russians and the stability of Eurasia …

…. With respect to Russia, there are areas of mutual cooperation. We’re working hard in Syria to defeat ISIS and we are on the cusp of having ISIS once and for all defeated in Syria. We got work yet to do. We are working together with Russia on how to prevent the civil war from re-erupting, and so we’ve had a lot of conversations over what does Russia see as the end state of Syria, what do we see as the end state, and there’s a lot of commonality there.

Tactically, how we get to those to peace talks, we’re working very closely with one another on. We have our ups and downs. If you saw – I think it was a very important joint statement was issued by President Trump and President Putin from Da Nang, Vietnam on the margins of the APEC meeting. That was an important alignment of how we see the Syria peace process going forward, and it was an important statement to have Russia confirm that they see it the same way we do. We’ll use that and we’ll build on it.

I think there are other areas of counterterrorism. Russia has great fear of migration out of the Central Asian regions and terrorism inside of Russia. We think there’s areas of greater cooperation on counterterrorism with Russia. There may be opportunities for cooperation in Afghanistan. We’ve not yet come to what that might be, but we’re talking about it.

In Ukraine, what I’ve said to the Russians is we’re never going to get this relationship back to normal until we solve Ukraine. It just sits there as an enduring obstacle, and we’ve got to address it. So, as you know, I appointed a special representative, former ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, to focus on nothing but working with his Russian counterpart which Putin appointed to see if we can find a way forward – not marginalizing the Normandy process, but working with it to see if we can break the logjam. We’ve had some very substantive discussions. We’re pursuing the possibility of a peacekeeping force in Ukraine to stop the ongoing – every day people are killed, civilians are killed. We want to stop that first and save the lives first, and then let’s start working toward the process.

So there are many areas of cooperation with Russia, and they have many others they’d like to work with us on. We just don’t think it’s time to do that. …

Following the President’s recent decision regarding our policy toward Iran, there is actually much more that binds the United States and Europe together than drives us apart. The JCPOA is no longer the only point of U.S. policy toward Iran; we are committed to addressing the totality of the Iranian threat. We ask our European partners to join us in standing up to all of Iran’s malign behavior. The Iranian regime is antithetical to Western principles in its totalitarian suppression of individual, political, and religious freedom. Neither the United States nor Europe wants another type of North Korea nuclear threat on its hands, nor are any of our nations at ease with Iran’s attempts at hegemony in the Middle East through support for terrorist organizations, militias on the ground in Iraq and Syria, and an active ballistic missile development program.

  • At Europe’s intersection in the region, we know Turkey cannot ignore Iran because of geographic proximity and cultural ties. But we ask Turkey, as a NATO ally, to prioritize the common defense of its treaty allies. Iran – and Russia – cannot offer Turkish people the economic and political benefits that membership in the Western community of nations can provide.
  • We recognize the important contributions of our NATO allies that have been made in Afghanistan, and we ask them to maintain their commitment to the mission … While the United States will continue to maintain our guarantees against a catastrophic failure of security in the region, and will continue to expend resources to maintain our protective umbrella, the nations of Europe must accept greater responsibility for their own security challenges. Our alliances must be made stronger in the current strategic environment; a lack of diligence and duty will only invite greater risk. President Trump said in Warsaw, and I quote, “We have to remember that our defense is not just a commitment of money, it’s a commitment of will.” Our expenditures are in some ways a reflection of how much we seek to protect peace and freedom. We once again urge European partners who have not done so already to meet the 2 percent of GDP target for defense spending.

This year, Albania, Croatia, France, Hungary, and Romania have newly committed to attaining the 2 percent benchmark. These nations know they must invest in security to preserve liberty. Every NATO member has previously agreed to the Wales Pledge on Defense Investment. It’s time for each of us to honor that agreement

  • ….Even though ISIS is on the brink of complete extinction in Iraq and Syria, the threat of ISIS and associated terror networks will persist in our own country and in others. ISIS is looking for new footholds wherever they can find them, including the Sahel region of West Africa. We must take action so that areas like the Sahel or the Maghreb do not become the next breeding ground for ISIS, al-Qaida, or other terrorist groups. When these groups are able to occupy territory without disruption, their strategists, their bomb makers, and online propagandists have an easier time encouraging, plotting, and executing attacks elsewhere in the world. This was for many months the case in Raqqa. In support of our African and European partners, particularly France, the United States recently committed up to $60 million to assist the G5 Sahel Joint Force to combat terrorism and the potential rise of ISIS in the African Sahel region.

The emergence of ISIS in the Sahel is just one indication that threats to the safety and well-being of our people will continue to have new and unexpected origins. The evolving and unpredictable nature of the threats we face is already clear to the residents of Paris, Brussels, Orlando, Nice, Berlin, Istanbul, London, Manchester, Barcelona, New York, and many other places where our people have suffered at the hands of Islamist terrorists, many of whom were radicalized in front of a computer screen inside their own homes inside their own countries. And the threats we face are clear to countries like Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Germany, who have confronted the destabilizing impact of waves of irregular migration from North Africa and the Middle East.

…We know the people and leaders of Europe are having many conversations about their future. America will not attempt to impose answers to those questions. We recognize that Europe is composed of free nations who, in the great tradition of Western democracy, must be able to choose their own paths forward. As in the past, the United States is committed to working with Europe’s institutional arms, and while we also recognize that our allies are independent and democratic nations with their own history, perspective, and right to determine their future.

This position has a particular relevance for what is transpiring in the UK over the Brexit. The United States will maintain our longstanding special relationship with the United Kingdom, and at the same time maintain a strong relationship with the EU, regardless of the outcome of Brexit. We will not attempt to influence the negotiations, but we urge the EU and UK to move this process forward swiftly and without unnecessary acrimony. We offer an impartial hand of friendship to both parties.

The next chapter of European history must be written in Europe’s own words. ….. 


Erzbischof Schick: „Der interreligiöse Dialog ist eine Notwendigkeit“



Erzbischof Dr. L. Schick (Mitte) . Bishop M. Kukah (links)

Deutsche Bischofskonferenz veröffentlicht Arbeitshilfe zur Situation der Christen in Nigeria

Die Deutsche Bischofskonferenz hat heute (29. November 2017) in Berlin eine Arbeitshilfe zur Situation der Christen in Nigeria vorgestellt. Die Veröffentlichung ist Teil der Initiative „Solidarität mit verfolgten und bedrängten Christen in unserer Zeit“.

Erzbischof Dr. Ludwig Schick (Bamberg), Vorsitzender der Kommission Weltkirche der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, erklärte: „Während meines Besuchs im April habe ich die verheerenden Auswirkungen islamistischer Gewalt gesehen. Im Norden Nigerias leiden alle Menschen darunter, ganz besonders die Christen.“ Regelmäßig kommt es in der Region zu Attentaten, Entführungen und brutaler Gewalt durch die islamistische Gruppe Boko Haram, deren Terror seit 2009 rund 20.000 Menschen zum Opfer gefallen sind. Zusätzlich konkurrieren muslimische Nomaden mit mehrheitlich christlichen Bauern um das knapper werdende fruchtbare Land. Immer wieder werden ganze Dörfer durch die Gewalt ausgelöscht.

Im Pressegespräch betonte Erzbischof Schick die Vielschichtigkeit der Konflikte im Norden Nigerias: „Natürlich spielt die religiöse Zugehörigkeit in den Auseinandersetzungen eine Rolle, da Religion ein wesentlicher Teil menschlicher Identität ist. Sie kann die Perspektive der Menschen weiten und Solidarität über die eigene Gruppe hinaus begründen. Nicht selten dient sie aber auch dazu, vorhandene Konflikte aufzuladen. Man wird sicher sagen können, dass die ungerechte Macht- und Ressourcenverteilung ein Kernproblem in Nigeria ist. Die so zustande kommenden Streitigkeiten werden von manchen – besonders von extremistischen muslimischen Kreisen – in einem religiösen Zusammenhang interpretiert. Das ist brandgefährlich.“

Erzbischof Schick wies auf die Notwendigkeit hin, die ökonomische und politische Benachteiligung einzelner Gruppen zu beenden, die grassierende Korruption zu bekämpfen und eine funktionierende Verwaltung aufzubauen. Von Bedeutung seien zudem die Bemühungen um interreligiöse Verständigung: „Das gemeinsame Engagement der Kirche und der lokalen muslimischen Würdenträger für den Frieden hat das Verhältnis zwischen Gläubigen der beiden Religionsgemeinschaften in einigen Regionen entspannt.“ Dass der „interreligiöse Dialog keine Frage des Wollens, sondern eine Notwendigkeit“ sei, zeige auch der Beitrag von Erzbischof Ignatius Kaigama (Jos), der in der Arbeitshilfe das Engagement seiner Diözese beschreibt. Jeweils ungefähr die Hälfte der Nigerianer bekennt sich zum Christentum und zum Islam. Christen stellen im Süden des Landes die Mehrheit, Muslime im Norden.

Bischof Matthew Hassan Kukah aus dem nigerianischen Bistum Sokoto erläuterte die Situation vor Ort. Die mehrheitlich muslimische Region ist durch die Stadt Sokoto bekannt, in der mit dem Sultan von Sokoto der ranghöchste muslimische Würdenträger Nigerias seinen Sitz hat. Bischof Kukah stellte den Alltag der Christen in einem mehrheitlich islamischen Umfeld dar und verwies auf die historischen Gründe der Benachteiligung von Christen in den 19 Bundesstaaten Nordnigerias: „Einige Muslime werfen bis heute Christentum und Kolonialismus in einen Topf. In der Folge werden Christen im Norden Nigerias oft als Kolonialisten und Außenseiter angesehen.“

Der Präsident des Internationalen Katholischen Missionswerks Missio in Aachen, Prälat Dr. Klaus Krämer, stellte einige von Missio geförderte Projekte vor. Dabei würdigte er die interreligiösen Friedensaktivitäten in den vom islamistischen Terror besonders betroffenen Diözesen Maiduguri und Jos. Er betonte, dass eine friedliche religiöse Koexistenz entschiedenen Einsatz verlange, auch angesichts bitterer Rückschläge. „Friedliche religiöse Koexistenz geht einher mit der Pflege interkultureller Kompetenz, der Entwicklung einer eigenen religiösen Identität sowie der Bereitschaft und Fähigkeit zum interreligiösen Dialog. Zu dieser friedlichen religiösen Koexistenz gehört schließlich auch die Freiheit des einzelnen Menschen, sich zu seinem Glauben zu bekennen, ihn zu praktizieren sowie ihn frei wählen zu können. Alle Menschen – vollkommen unabhängig von Religion, ethnischer Zugehörigkeit oder Geschlecht – haben das Recht auf Religionsfreiheit.“


Die Arbeitshilfe der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz zur Situation der Christen in Nigeria gibt einen Überblick über die Geschichte des Christentums und des Islam in dem westafrikanischen Land, erläutert aktuelle Konfliktlinien und analysiert die Hintergründe der andauernden Gewalt.

Die Initiative „Solidarität mit verfolgten und bedrängten Christen“ wurde von den deutschen Bischöfen 2003 ins Leben gerufen, um für die Lage bedrohter Glaubensgeschwister zu sensibilisieren. Mit Publikationen, liturgischen Handreichungen und öffentlichen Veranstaltungen wird auf die teilweise dramatischen Verhältnisse christlichen Lebens in verschiedenen Teilen der Welt aufmerksam gemacht. Zusätzlich pflegen die Bischöfe mit Solidaritätsreisen den Kontakt zu den unter Druck stehenden Ortskirchen. In Deutschland sucht die Deutsche Bischofskonferenz immer wieder das Gespräch mit Politikern und gesellschaftlichen Akteuren, um auf bedrohliche Entwicklungen hinzuweisen. Jährlicher Höhepunkt der Initiative ist der Gebetstag für verfolgte und bedrängte Christen am 26. Dezember (Stephanustag), der in allen deutschen Diözesen begangen wird.


Die Statements von Erzbischof Schick, Bischof Kukah sowie von Prälat Krämer sind als pdf-Dateien auch unter verfügbar.

Die Arbeitshilfe „Solidarität mit verfolgten und bedrängten Christen – Nigeria“ kann in der Rubrik „Veröffentlichungen“ bestellt oder als pdf-Datei heruntergeladen werden.

Das Plakat und der Gebetszettel zum Gebetstag für die verfolgten Christen am 26. Dezember können ebenfalls in der Rubrik „Veröffentlichungen“ bestellt oder als pdf-Dateien heruntergeladen werden.

Weitere Informationen gibt es auf der Initiativseite „Solidarität mit verfolgten und bedrängten Christen in unserer Zeit“.



see our letter on:

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


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