Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 16.02.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • Friends of EuropeIt’s time for a united Europe to stand up to China
  • China’s Arctic Policy
  • The European Union doesn’t really have a foreign policy, and it needs somebody who will create one
  • The Marshall Plan, Central to Europe’s Recovery and the Emergence of the Cold War, Holds Lessons for Present Tensions Wi

· Die Welt: Es reicht nicht, nur den Status quo zu verteidigen – Eliten erscheinen nur wie Besitzstandswahrer

  • Who Controls Syria? The Al-Assad family, the Inner Circle, and the Tycoons
  • Non-Governmental and Irregular Armed Groups in the Syria/Iraq Conflict Zone
  • The US Deep State And The Democrats Are The Problem, Not The Solution – Mr. Kortunov’s Case For Russia’s “Deep State”-Democrat Partnership
  • The Caucasian Knot- NEWS:
  • Military police battalion back in Chechnya from Syria
  • Dagestani leader declares new priorities of republic ( Fight against corruption)
  • US Department of State warns tourists about danger of visiting Northern Caucasus

Massenbach*Friends of EuropeIt’s time for a united Europe to stand up to China

26 Jan 2018 … We have been naive in failing to counter the Chinese expansion strategy with our own long-term plan. And we have been reactive, putting out the fires of individual crises rather than pro-actively pursuing one linked-up agenda

Over the past year there has been a 76% rise in Chinese investment into the EU … In Greece, China has capitalised on a deep mistrust of the EU’s austerity policies by turning Piraeus into a hub of the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative, with state-owned Cosco investing more than €500m to gain a controlling stake of the port.

Early signs of a tougher, united response to China’s strategic takeover of key EU industries are welcome, but we need to move beyond the traditional ideal of simply reducing tariffs if we are to adequately stand up to China. The cocktail of Chinese anti-competitive policies includes state-owned businesses, protectionist domestic policies and currency manipulation. In the future, reciprocity – a key tenet of the multilateral trading system – must replace imbalance. While the EU is generally open to all Chinese investments, except in the sensitive defence industry, China assesses each foreign investment on a case-by-case basis … it is no surprise that Chinese businesses invested four times more on acquiring EU companies than European investors in China in 2016 …

The Asian hegemon uses a divide-and-rule strategy to split the EU, dealing bilaterally with nation states and avoiding the leadership of the Commission. The result is growing Chinese influence in the EU’s less wealthy countries, particularly in Greece … In our neighbouring countries – some of which are in the process of accession – China provides a no-strings-attached alternative to slow and conditional EU investment …

Macron may be the loudest voice in favour of a more equal relationship with China but he does not stand alone … The most populous country in the world wants to gain soft power on every continent. And with Brexit leaving the UK in desperate need of new partners, China has another way to gain influence in Europe … To win these countries’ support, and therefore ensure a united strategic voice for the EU, we must stress the added value that accompanies European rather than Chinese investment.

  • One key advantage is that EU investment is more sustainable: it encourages the training of local workers to build infrastructure, leaving in place a skilled workforce, long after the money has been spent.

For too long, we have been allowing China to avoid reciprocity. If EU High Representative Federica Mogherini does not stand up to China soon with a united voiced and a modern strategy, we will mourn the loss of jobs, businesses and strategic influence for many years to come.

Neena Gill … British Member of the European Parliament … Foreign Affairs Committee


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

  • Who Controls Syria? The Al-Assad family, the Inner Circle, and the Tycoons
  • Non-Governmental and Irregular Armed Groups in the Syria/Iraq Conflict Zone

( …Russia is more inclined to view the Middle East as a field for cooperation with the United States in the delineation of areas of responsibility….Tactically, Moscow maintains contacts with non-governmental and irregular armed groups. Strategically, however, it advocates for the restoration and strengthening of governmental security institutions (the armed forces and special services). This approach could increase the effectiveness of the fight against so-called Islamic State and other groups. Iran’s experience of operations in Iraq and particularly in Syria demonstrates that exploiting non-governmental and irregular armed groups does not work as planned. The existing groups may be expected to be disbanded as part of the post-conflict settlement process, and their soldiers may subsequently be incorporated into the armed forces in Syria, or into security agencies in Iraq.)

  • The US Deep State And The Democrats Are The Problem, Not The Solution – Mr. Kortunov’s Case For Russia’s “Deep State”-Democrat Partnership

(…Mr. Kortunov is evidently unaware that the same “deep state” that he finds attractive in contrast to Trump had a controlling influence in determining the Obama Administration’s anti-Russian policies that the 44th President’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ended up implementing with ruinous consequences for Moscow’s grand strategic interests, and that she would have given the “deep state” free rein to do whatever it wanted had she won unlike Trump’s willingness to challenge its most extreme tendencies (though with mixed results).

Having said that, pragmatic working relations between Russia and the US’ “deep states” are inevitable because there isn’t any alternative to interacting with any national counterpart’s collection of military, intelligence, and diplomatic figures no matter how much one may disagree with their policies unless ties between the two sides are formally suspended, which isn’t foreseeable but would in any case still allow for the existence of communication backchannels.

What Mr. Kortunov is lobbying for is something altogether different because he wants Russian decision makers to reconceptualize the American “deep state” as a ‘positive’, ‘moderating’, and ‘responsible’ force against what he characterizes as Trump’s ”romantic”, “amateurish”, “most exotic and potentially most dangerous foreign policy oddities”, which is ironically a very “romantic” and “exotic” view to have of the US’ most dangerous anti-Russian institutional forces.

In all actuality, however, the “deep state” and its Democrat allies are the real reason why Trump hasn’t been able to succeed in his pledge to improve Russian-American relations, and these two problems shouldn’t ever be confused as part of the solution that’s needed to reverse this downward spiral, nor should a tactical partnership with these two actors ever be considered if Moscow hopes to maintain the upper hand in the New Cold War.

First published in Oriental Review.)

  • The Caucasian Knot- NEWS:

Military police battalion back in Chechnya from Syria

Dagestani leader declares new priorities of republic ( Fight against corruption)

US Department of State warns tourists about danger of visiting Northern Caucasus


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Die Welt: Es reicht nicht, nur den Status quo zu verteidigen

Von Clemens Wergin

Ähnlich wie die USA hat Deutschland gerade die größte Protestwahl der Nachkriegsgeschichte erlebt.

Doch die Eliten erscheinen nur wie Besitzstandswahrer, die gelähmt sind vom Ansturm des Populismus.

ie Demokratie ist keine statische Veranstaltung. Sie ist ein ständiger Aushandelprozess zwischen Regierenden und Regierten über den Kurs und die Verfasstheit einer Gesellschaft. Ihre Fähigkeit zu Veränderung und Anpassung ist denn auch das eigentliche Erfolgsrezept der Demokratie. Deshalb ist es umso beunruhigender, dass den Eliten sowohl in den USA als auch in Deutschland derzeit nicht viel mehr einfällt, als den Status quo gegen den Ansturm der Trump-Bewegung und der AfD-Wutbürger zu verteidigen.

Die andauernden Regelverletzungen Trumps und die nicht abbrechenden Provokationen der AfD halten die Öffentlichkeit in einem Zustand permanenter Aufgeregtheit, und selbst kritische Geister werden da schnell zum Verteidiger der bestehenden Verhältnisse, und sei es nur, um Schlimmeres zu verhindern. Die Eliten erscheinen wie Besitzstandswahrer, die gelähmt sind vom Ansturm des Populismus.

Nun wäre der Populismus nicht so populär, wenn er nicht Themen aufwerfen würde, die die Bürger umtreiben. Und dass die Hassprediger des Westens kaum Lösungen anzubieten haben, heißt nicht, dass sie nicht berechtigte Fragen stellen. Nur um einige Beispiele zu nennen: Ja, es ist ein rechtsstaatlicher Skandal, dass Amerika jahrzehntelang illegale Einwanderung geduldet hat und eine überparteiliche Koalition das wissentlich hingenommen und befördert hat, weil es für alle irgendwie bequem schien und der US-Kongress sich so drücken konnte, ein modernes Einwanderungsrecht zu schaffen.

Analog dazu ist es weiter ein Skandal auch in Deutschland, dass der Rechtsstaat bei der Grenzsicherung seit zwei Jahren versagt und sich weiter wissentlich an der Nase herumführen lässt von Flüchtlingen, die planmäßig ihre Papiere vernichten und falsche Altersangaben machen, um in den Genuss von Privilegien für Minderjährige zu kommen. Man muss kein Sympathisant von Trump oder der AfD sein, um das für partielles Staatsversagen zu halten.

Das Beispiel Trump zeigt, dass wir es uns zu bequem eingerichtet haben in den bestehenden Verhältnissen. Beim Freihandel haben wir etwa gerne den Wirtschaftswissenschaftlern geglaubt, dass Gesellschaften davon als Ganzes profitieren. Dabei haben wir ausgeblendet, dass die Eliten mit ihrem kulturellen Kapital mit den Verwerfungen der Globalisierung sehr viel besser umgehen können als Industriearbeiter in strukturschwachen Regionen, die nun zu Trump übergelaufen sind.

Wir verschließen auch gerne die Augen davor, dass die Überregulierung der Umwelt- und Klimapolitik ebenfalls Verlierer schafft und Wachstum behindert. Und es ist auch nicht per se falsch, den Einfluss von finanzstarken Lobbygruppen auf den politischen Prozess Amerikas zu kritisieren, der oft dazu führt, dass die Politik Gesetze zum Nutzen wichtiger Wirtschaftsinteressen macht und weniger zum Nutzen der Bürger – auch wenn Trump nur einen Sumpf gegen den anderen getauscht hat.

Internationale Politik wartet mit Merkwürdigkeiten auf

Ähnliches gilt für die Außenpolitik. Es ist schwer zu rechtfertigen, warum Amerika weiterhin den größten Teil des Schutzes für Europa stemmen soll und die meisten europäischen Länder offenbar so zukunftsmüde geworden sind, dass sie nicht einmal ausreichend Geld für ihre eigene Verteidigung aufbringen. Die internationale Politik wartet mit noch sehr viel mehr Merkwürdigkeiten auf, an die wir uns allzu bereitwillig gewöhnt haben.

Warum etwa sollten sich die wichtigsten Geldgeber der UN weiter damit abfinden, dort von antiwestlichen Mehrheiten ständig überstimmt und vorgeführt zu werden? Warum sollte man akzeptieren, dass viele Untergliederungen der UN, namentlich der Menschenrechtsrat, von Diktaturen und Autokratien beherrscht werden? Warum sollte der Westen die UNWRA weiter ohne Auflagen finanzieren, obwohl das die einzige UN-Organisation ist, die Flüchtlinge nicht integrieren will, sondern die aus politischen Gründen den palästinensischen Flüchtlingsstatus von Generation zu Generation perpetuiert?

Es gibt kaum einen Bereich der internationalen Politik, der so kräftig durchgepustet gehört wie der Nahost-Konflikt, bei dem etwa die EU seit mehr als drei Jahrzehnten keinen einzigen neuen Gedanken mehr gefasst hat. Schon allein deswegen muss man Trump für seine Jerusalementscheidung dankbar sein. Das Problem ist nicht, dass er den Status quo infrage stellt, sondern dass er keine Vorstellung davon hat, was er an dessen Stelle setzen will.

Trump und die AfD sind nur die Symptome für die Krise westlicher Demokratien. Wir diskutieren Führung gerne in Churchill’schen Kategorien und verlangen, dass in höchste Ämter gewählte Politiker vorangehen und die Menschen von Dingen überzeugen, die im Moment noch nicht mehrheitsfähig sind. Das ist ein heroisches Verständnis demokratischer Führung, das im schlimmsten Fall zur Überforderung der Bürger führt. Es gibt aber auch eine andere Tugend, die Demokratien funktionieren lässt, nämlich wenn Politiker sensibel auf die Bedürfnisse der Bürger eingehen – ohne sich deshalb gleich dem Populismus Trump’scher oder AfDscher Prägung zu ergeben.

Die Politikwissenschaftlerin Sheri Berman argumentiert in einem Essay in „Foreign Policy“, dass der gegenwärtige Populismus in der westlichen Welt auch mit einem Rückgang dieser „Empfänglichkeit“ der Politik erklärbar ist. „Die echte Ursache für die gegenwärtige Krise westlicher Demokratien ist, dass viele zentrale politische Institutionen in den vergangenen Jahren dramatisch heruntergekommen sind – oder ihre Verantwortung an ungewählte internationale Institutionen abgegeben haben“, schreibt sie. „Das behindert ihre Fähigkeit, die Forderungen eines breiten Teils ihrer Bürger in konkrete Aktionen im eigenen Land umzusetzen. Westliche Demokratien sind so auf dramatische Art undemokratischer geworden.“

Die Wahl Donald Trumps – Symptom einer Krise

Beispiele für den von Berman konstatierten Niedergang finden sich auch in Europa und Deutschland zuhauf. So will die große Koalition nun weitere Schritte in Richtung Transferunion gehen, obwohl die demokratischen Überwachungsinstanzen auf supranationaler (Europaparlament) und nationaler Ebene (Bundestag) es versäumt haben, die Ursachen der Eurokrise erst einmal aufzuarbeiten. Und der neue Koalitionsvertrag macht deutlich, dass SPD und Union nicht willens sind, auf das wachsende Unbehagen in der Bevölkerung in Sachen Flüchtlingspolitik angemessen zu reagieren.

Deutschland hat, ähnlich wie die USA, gerade die größte Protestwahl der Nachkriegsgeschichte erlebt. Der großen Koalition fällt aber nicht mehr ein als nur die bräsige Verwaltung des Status quo. Das wird aber nicht reichen. Wer die Errungenschaften der liberalen Demokratie gegen die populistischen Vereinfacherer verteidigen möchte, muss die Unzufriedenheit der Bürger mit den bestehenden Verhältnissen ernster nehmen.


Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat*Fact Sheets Building a Stronger America: Addressing America’s Infrastructure Needs

Our infrastructure is broken
Years of inaction have allowed American infrastructure to degrade into a state of disrepair. With yesterday’s release of President Donald J. Trump’s Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America, the Administration is committed to reversing this sad course.

Here are the facts:

· One out of every five miles of highway pavement in the United States is in poor condition.

· More than 50,000 American bridges are rated as “structurally deficient.”

· Commute times have increased every year since 2009—and more than 40 percent of urban interstate miles are congested.

· Nearly 40 percent of Americans living in rural areas lack sufficient broadband access.

· Lengthy reviews hold up infrastructure projects for years.

· The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that failing to meet our infrastructure needs will cost us $4 trillion in GDP and 2.5 million jobs by 2025.

Read why now is the moment we must fix America’s failing infrastructure.


Middle East

Let’s end our pygmy politics so we can have a proper EU foreign policy

30 Jan 2018 … The European Union doesn’t really have a foreign policy, and it needs somebody who will create one. Correction; it has many foreign policies, but they are un-connected and ill-defined. Europe’s inability to "speak with one voice" is ancient history. It’s why the EU created its own diplomatic arm – the European External Action Service – almost a decade ago …

The EEAS has now firmly established itself on the international scene, yet still the EU lacks a recognisable foreign policy. Federica Mogherini, the present High Representative for foreign and security policy, could more accurately be described as the ‚Co-ordinator‘ of EU member states‘ competing foreign policies. Europe’s pygmy politics are a high barrier to progress

  • Foreign policy should be taken to mean defining clear-cut positions on the conflicts within the Arab world and the Middle East; on Africa and rising migration from Africa; and on Russia and its unsettling assertiveness. Then there’s the geopolitical future of China and more immediately how to respond to Trump’s "America First". All of these are vitally important questions that European countries often disagree on, but on which they refuse to allow the EU to broker a common position. This is why the identity of the next EU "foreign minister" is so vital

Federica Mogherini’s successor must be … willing and able to knock heads together in EU capitals … Premiers and presidents across the EU are wary of heavyweights going to Brussels. The larger member states have never wanted to see a high-profile figure from a country of similar size take the helm at the commission, or latterly the EEAS …

  • But now the moment has come for a political heavyweight. The next High Representative must have the authority and the courage to challenge EU governments‘ jealous independence on the main international policy issues of our time, especially those touching on security and defence

EU governments must agree on a much more intelligent and transparent method of finding and selecting candidates. Does a candidate necessarily need the endorsement of his or her government? …


*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

China’s Arctic Policy

2018-01-26 … The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China published a white paper titled "China’s Arctic Policy" …

“ … The Arctic situation now goes beyond its original inter-Arctic States or regional nature, having a vital bearing on the interests of States outside the region and the interests of the international community as a whole, as well as on the survival, the development, and the shared future for mankind. It is an issue with global implications and international impacts. A champion for the development of a community with a shared future for mankind, China is an active participant, builder and contributor in Arctic affairs who has spared no efforts to contribute its wisdom to the development of the Arctic region. The Chinese government hereby issues this white paper, to expound its basic positions on Arctic affairs, to elaborate on its policy goals, basic principles and major policies and positions regarding its engagement in Arctic affairs, to guide relevant Chinese government departments and institutions in Arctic-related activities and cooperation, to encourage relevant parties to get better involved in Arctic governance, and to work with the international community to safeguard and promote peace and stability in, and the sustainable development of, the Arctic … China is an important stakeholder in Arctic affairs. Geographically, China is a "Near-Arctic State", one of the continental States that are closest to the Arctic Circle. The natural conditions of the Arctic and their changes have a direct impact on China’s climate system and ecological environment, and, in turn, on its economic interests in agriculture, forestry, fishery, marine industry and other sectors … The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative), an important cooperation initiative of China, will bring opportunities for parties concerned to jointly build a "Polar Silk Road", and facilitate connectivity and sustainable economic and social development of the Arctic … China’s policy goals on the Arctic are: to understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic, so as to safeguard the common interests of all countries and the international community in the Arctic, and promote sustainable development of the Arctic … The Arctic shipping routes comprise the Northeast Passage, Northwest Passage, and the Central Passage. As a result of global warming, the Arctic shipping routes are likely to become important transport routes for international trade. China respects the legislative, enforcement and adjudicatory powers of the Arctic States in the waters subject to their jurisdiction. China maintains that the management of the Arctic shipping routes should be conducted in accordance with treaties including the UNCLOS and general international law and that the freedom of navigation enjoyed by all countries in accordance with the law and their rights to use the Arctic shipping routes should be ensured. China maintains that disputes over the Arctic shipping routes should be properly settled in accordance with international law … China hopes to work with all parties to build a "Polar Silk Road" through developing the Arctic shipping routes. It encourages its enterprises to participate in the infrastructure construction for these routes and conduct commercial trial voyages in accordance with the law to pave the way for their commercial and regularized operation … China, as a responsible major country, is ready to cooperate with all relevant parties to seize the historic opportunity in the development of the Arctic, to address the challenges brought by the changes in the region, jointly understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic, and advance Arctic-related cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to build a community with a shared future for mankind and contribute to peace, stability and sustainable development in the Arctic.


The Marshall Plan, Central to Europe’s Recovery and the Emergence of the Cold War, Holds Lessons for Present Tensions Wi

February 13, 2018—The Marshall Plan—the costly and ambitious initiative to revive western Europe after World War II—marked the true beginning of the Cold War, argues Benn Steil. Bringing to bear new Russian and American archival material, Steil shows that it was only after the launch of the plan in 1947 “that both sides, the United States and the Soviet Union, became irrevocably committed to securing their respective spheres of influence.”

In his new book, The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War, Steil describes how President Harry S. Truman’s State Department, under George C. Marshall’s leadership, formulated the recovery program to provide Europe with a new economic and political architecture appropriate for a continent divided into two worlds: a capitalist and a communist one.

The Marshall Plan “promised a continuing energetic U.S. presence, underwritten by a reindustrialized capitalist western Germany at the heart of an integrated, capitalist western Europe,” Steil explains. His narrative, which Paul Kennedy’s Wall Street Journal review calls “brilliant,” brings to life the most dramatic episodes of the early Cold War—such as the Prague coup, the Berlin blockade, and the division of Germany—and shows how they unfurled from Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s determination to undermine the U.S. intervention.

Steil, senior fellow and director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, and author of the award-winning book The Battle of Bretton Woods, asserts that whereas “the Marshall Plan is remembered as one of the great achievements of American foreign policy,” it fell short in one of its principal goals. The Plan “aimed at aiding American military disengagement from Europe, yet ended up, through NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization], making it both deeper and enduring.”

Given current echoes of the Cold War, the tenuous balance of power and uncertain order of the late 1940s is as relevant as ever. The Marshall Plan provides critical context into understanding today’s international landscape. “Many of the institutions we now take for granted as natural elements of the liberal postwar order—in particular, the European Union, NATO, and the World Trade Organization—were forged under U.S. leadership during the early Marshall years,” writes Steil. This order is now under threat, Steil argues, partly from failures in American diplomacy.

“In the wake of the devastation of WWII, the Marshall Plan and NATO provided western Europe with [economic and physical] security and kept it firmly on the democratic, capitalist path,” Steil writes. “Yet in the quarter century since the passing of the Soviet Union,” he contends, “Grand Strategy has been set aside in favor of improvisation to pacify competing interests.” As a result, Steil asserts, the NATO expansion policy is failing to extend reliable security guarantees.

The Marshall Plan worked, Steil reasons, “because the United States aligned its actions with its interests and capacities in Europe, accepting the reality of a Russian sphere of influence into which it could not penetrate without sacrificing credibility and public support.” Washington is today, he believes, losing both.

“Great acts of statesmanship are grounded in realism no less than idealism,” Steil concludes. “It is a lesson we need to relearn.”



see our letter on:

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



02-13-18 Who controls Syria -.pdf