Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 05.01.18

Massenbach-Letter. News – IRAN –

  • Syria – Russia – Iran
  • India-China
  • Brookings: The changing role of America’s military: A debate
  • National Security Strategy (NSS) – A New National Security Strategy for a New Era

My rec. for more about Iran:

Massenbach*WSJ:Trump and Syria After Islamic State

Will the U.S. concede a strategic victory to Russia and Iran?

ByThe Editorial Board

The upper house of the Russian Parliament this week approved a 49-year extension on its naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus, another sign of Vladimir Putin’s strategic gains from his intervention in Syria’s civil war. As the last Islamic State strongholds are defeated in Syria, the big question is whether the U.S. will cede the advantage to Russia and Iran and their client Bashar Assad.

The State Department confirmed recently that Islamic State has lost 95% of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, and the flow of foreign fighters into Syria is slowing. ….

The Trump Administration hasn’t challenged Assad or Russian and Iranian-backed forces directly in offensive operations. Instead, the U.S. has tried to re-establish limited deterrence to prevent those forces from pushing into areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that oppose Assad. President Trump blew up a Syrian airfield after a chemical weapons attack in April, and the U.S. military has downed a Syrian aircraft that made incursions into SDF areas. That’s fine as far as it goes but it won’t change the balance of power in Syria.

Mr. Trump committed in October to roll back Iran’s influence in the Middle East, calling Tehran a “fanatical regime.” What he does in Syria will show if those words were meaningful, or rhetoric to mask a continuing U.S. retreat from the Middle East as tensions rise between Iran and the Sunni Gulf states.

One early sign will be what the White House decides to do with the SDF-controlled regions, which are now protected by U.S. and allied air power, similar to how the George H.W. Bush and Clinton Administration protected the Kurds of northern Iraq in the 1990s. Our sources say these safe zones could be maintained long enough to rebuild civil institutions and to train a force strong enough to challenge Assad-held areas. That may take years, but it’s worth the effort to prevent Tehran from achieving its goal of a land bridge from Tehran through Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. The upper house of the Russian Parliament this week approved a 49-year extension on its naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus, another sign of Vladimir Putin’s strategic gains from his intervention in Syria’s civil war. As the last Islamic State strongholds are defeated in Syria, the big question is whether the U.S. will cede the advantage to Russia and Iran and their client Bashar Assad.

Another marker will be how the Trump team handles the issue of the Syrian Kurds, known as the YPG. The group has links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is a U.S.-designated terror group. The White House armed YPG fighters in May to help with the siege of Raqqa and announced in November that this aid would soon cease. If the White House doesn’t handle diplomacy with the Syrian Kurds carefully, they could cut a deal with Assad for some form of regional autonomy, which might provoke the Turks, who want to prevent a Kurdish state, into an intervention in northern Syria…..

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a Washington audience last month that the Administration is “working together with Russia on how to prevent the civil war from re-erupting.”

A key U.S. goal in Syria should be to deny Assad, Russia and Iran the strategic victory of controlling all of Syria. Only when Russia and Iran conclude that they can’t win militarily, or that the price of winning is too high, will they negotiate a genuine peace deal that allows for self-governing ethnic enclaves in Syria. The means to that end is supporting Syrian and Kurdish forces that oppose Assad and Islamic radicals. The alternative is a U.S. retreat that would allow an Islamic State comeback and perhaps a larger war in the Middle East.


by Anna Borshchevskaya

The Hill
January 3, 2018

The muted response to the protests may stem from Russia’s reliance on Iranian assistance in Syria and its dearth of other regional partners.


Moscow’s response to the massive anti-regime protests gripping Iran since Dec. 28 should have been predictable—a condemnation of another perceived „U.S.-led regime change.“ President Vladimir Putin’s position with this topic after all is well known. This is how Moscow characterized anti-authoritarian protests from the color revolutions in the post-Soviet space to the Arab Spring and protests against Putin himself. Yet on Dec. 31, the chairman of the Federation Council’s foreign affairs committee said that the protests in Iran are a „symptom of certain internal political processes in the country.“ To be sure, he did not dismiss „external influence“ entirely, but said, „I would not ascribe too much influence on the Iranian processes to Washington…“

Anna Borshchevskaya is the Ira Weiner Fellow at The Washington Institute.


                                                                                                            Policy = res publica



  Freudenberg-Pilster  Iranians Are Mad as Hell About Their Foreign Policy

Dennis Ross

Foreign Policy

January 2, 2018

The more the regime believes that its foreign adventures threaten its internal foundations, the more likely it will be to temper its behavior.

Iran’s leaders are seemingly riding high in the Middle East. They have helped secure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Hezbollah has a stranglehold on Lebanon. The leading Shiite militias in Iraq march to their tune and have leverage over the Baghdad government. Iranian-supplied weapons, including missiles, are serving as a cheap way for the Houthis in Yemen to bleed the Saudis. Qassem Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, an expeditionary unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), appears on the front lines across the Arab world, conveying the impression that Iran and its allies cannot be defeated.

The image of Iran on the march is one the Islamic republic has sought to market and exploit. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has spoken of Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq as being part of Iran’s forward defense. His close advisor Ali Akbar Velayati, while in Lebanon in November, declared the country—along with Palestine, Syria, and Iraq—as part of the Iran-led zone of resistance.

But there is a cost to Iranian expansionism, and we are now seeing it. ( for more see att.) 


Politics: From Vision to Action



 Barandat*    idsa: Post Doklam, India needs to watch China’s bullish economics led cultural embrace of South Asia 

January 01, 2018 … brought into perspective the fractured relationship between the two Asian giants on the global stage and increased fears of China’s growing unilateralism as it inexorably broadens its interests and sphere of influence, especially in South Asia … The trajectory of India-China relations in 2018 is still weighed down by news of 1,800 Chinese troops camping at Doklam, sporadic reports about the diversion of the Yarlung Tsang-po, the upper stream of the Brahmaputra river and the polluting of its waters as it enters Arunachal Pradesh, and the ‘wars’ being fought in newsrooms of both countries, with the latest salvo coming from the Chinese defence spokesperson stating “India should control its border troops” to avoid a repeat of Doklam. This warning ties in with the assessment in New Delhi of the threat of a future military confrontation with China, especially since President Xi’s message to the People’s Liberation Army at the all-important, 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was “to become a modern fighting force by 2035, the world’s best military force by 2050; and, intensify its combat readiness by focusing on how to win wars.” New Delhi has indeed read between the lines …

The impact of shrewd Chinese investments in the neighbourhood, re-energised by the grand “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) project, is steadily changing the geopolitics of the region. “Creditor imperialism” and “sharp power” are some of the many terms being used to de-scribe how China is spreading its influence.

On the ground it is increasingly evident that China, through its economic bullishness, is trying to impose itself culturally in South Asia, and this should worry India more than the military brinksmanship. Because shared culture and history have always been the links that legitimized India’s status as a natural leader of South Asia

China’s push to insert it-self culturally into South Asia and give roots to its influence beyond the economic arena can be understood through its efforts to make inroads into the“ Buddhist project in South Asia”. The Belt and Road, it has been argued, needs to be seen in this context … “OBOR – China’s spiritual project in Asia”

China is “rapidly developing a plan for a ‘Buddhist globalisation’ with its financial, political and marketing clout” … Buddhist globalisation helps Beijing push its economic projects – religious diplomacy makes it easier for China to win economic and infrastructural projects in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal and elsewhere … China Pakistan Economic Corridor has seen a an influx of Chinese companies and expats into the country, making sceptics fear that apart from issues of economic viability, Pakistan will soon become a Chinese colonyIt is clear that the Chinese military is not the only threat India needs to watch out for in South Asia. China’s meticulous and bullish economic and cultural embrace will have long term implications for the region. 





*Massenbach’s   Recommendation*

Brookings: The changing role of America’s military: A debate

2017 Dec 11

… debate addressed what kind of military the United States needs to confront current and future threats, how the U.S. military should be postured at home and around the globe, and the scope for greater burden-sharing between the United States and its allies …


ALLEN, S.19 … The EU is a real threat to Russia, in the sense that as long as they remain a constant Bloc they are the counter-influence to Russia. And it’s much easier for Putin to deal with the European states in a series of bilateral relationships than ultimately as a bloc. ….But very importantly NATO is working to project stability into the Middle East and in North Africa. And this is long overdue. A couple more ways of several million migrants into Europe, and we are going to say Europe fundamentally changed forever, and NATO’s intent to try to work with countries in the Middle East and in North Africa to try to stabilize those countries so that the populations will remain home, that’s an important contribution of NATO in the future …

GHOLZ, S.25: … Modernization is an important issue for the United States, but I think the most important kind of modernization is to change the trajectory of the kind of defense spending that we have. So, we are actually spending quite a lot on defense despite the kinds of challenges and the planning problems that Mara talks about … we are still spending more on defense today than in essentially all the — in real dollars, essentially all the years of the Cold War … I would say the reason we are spending so much is because we are buying very high-end technologies, and very difficult technologies to enable us to play the away game, to constantly project power. Projecting power is super expensive, whereas being on defense, if we shifted the kinds of investment we were making to stress a defensive posture as opposed to an offensive posture, we would be able to achieve our strategic goals of defending our way of life, and even help many of our friends without spending as much as we do

DESCH, S.27: … one reservation about drones and about high technology, in general, in the American Military, is it could lead us to think that we can solve really complex international problems by shooting our way out of them. There’s a place for the use of kinetic military force, and I think there’s a big place for the use of drones in the war on terror, but we also need to understand that there are limits to what this technology will do to solve the larger underlying problems that we are facing … the road to hell is often paved with good intentions, and exhibit A, if you need an exhibit A is Iraq. If you need an exhibit B, asked if you think things are better in Libya today than they were before NATO’s intervention there. And I think well the list goes on and on. Restraint, which is not isolationism, it’s a different form of internationalism, is prudent and humble … prudence and humility were cardinal virtues, and I think I commend these cardinal virtues to the post-Cold War United States …

DESCH, S 44: … The world has changed a lot since 1991, but our policy hasn’t. In fact, you know, if you listen to my two distinguished colleagues up here you would think that there’s a no difference between the world of the Cold War, and the post-Cold War world. But I’d ask you, today after 25 years of a bipartisan policy of deep engagement in primacy, do you feel more secure, more prosperous and more free in your domestic liberty? If not, you ought to try something different …

About:  National Security Strategy (NSS) – A New National Security Strategy for a New Era (see att.)   *********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

*see our letter on:

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



01-02-18 Dennis_Ross_TWI-iranians-are-mad-as-hell-about-their-foreign-policy.pdf
01-03-18 Moscow’s message on Iran has been cautious and almost neutral _ TheHill.pdf
12-18-17 National Security Strategy (NSS).pdf