Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 16.03.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • Washington Post: “Rex Tillerson’s firing was necessary to national security”
  • politico: Larry Kudlow will be the next director of the National Economic Council – succeeding Gary Cohn as President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser
  • George Friedman: The Geopolitics of Britain.

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

  • Baku protesters demand free elections
  • Armenian opposition demands to remove President Serzh Sargsyan from power

Nagorno-Karabakh accuses Azerbaijan of 220 cases of shelling per week

  • Death of a military in Syria caused questions from Ingush social network users
  • Putin’s Brave New World

March 12, 2018 – EPA-EFE/ALEXEI DRUZHININ…-Igor Ivanov – President of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (1998–2004).

  • Korea after the Olympics: Temporary Truce or Permanent Peace?

March 7, 2018 – REUTERS/Jeon Heon-kyun…Georgy TolorayaDoctor of Economics, Professor of Oriental Studies, Director of the Asian strategy center at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences

  • Russia Is Offering an Olive Branch, Not Flaunting Nuclear Weapons

March 6, 2018 – Igor Ivanov – President of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (1998–2004).

Massenbach* Washington Post: “Rex Tillerson’s firing was necessary to national security”

Opinions: .„With quick work staffing up at State, the country will have made a complete break with the disastrous policies of the Obama years. It was a sudden and somewhat rough change, but necessary to national security. Now if the Senate Democrats who have stalled so many appointees charged with protecting the nation’s defenses and interests will cooperate with Senate Republicans, the hard work of opposing an increasingly ascendant China and an increasingly reckless Russia can accelerate.”

By Hugh HewittMarch 13 at 7:52 PM

On my first show for MSNBC last June, I sat down at Langley with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, now President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. A quick read of the transcript will not only explain the sudden change at Foggy Bottom but also should reassure any fair-minded person that a much-needed infusion of talent and presidential trust is on the way.

It’s been hard to find anyone in the White House to say a bad word about the character or personality of Rex Tillerson or a good word about his leadership at State. The friction between the White House personnel shop and Tillerson’s chief of staff, Margaret Peterlin, is the worst-kept secret inside the Beltway, and the glacial pace of staffing up the political ranks has angered national security conservatives. Those foreign policy wonks tend to admire the director of policy planning, Brian Hook, but look in vain around the department for anyone else with anything resembling a theory of the world on which to operate the world’s link to the United States.

Other key jobs remain unfilled, including the undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs and the U.S. representative to the U.N. mission in Geneva; both jobs have much to do with holding Iran to account to the deal struck under the Obama administration. The undersecretary for management is another empty office, even though veterans of the bureaucracy from past Republican presidents remain available.

Tillerson has also failed to push nominees for crucial ambassador posts, such as Richard Grenell as ambassador to Germany, the most important non-nuclear power in the world. Other important embassies, such as those in South Korea, Turkey and South Africa, lack even a nominee, though numerous and very qualified candidates abound. The paperwork gridlock of an isolated and uninfluential secretary of state brought the conservative pro-Trumpers and career State Department staff together in agreement that the department was a massive shipwreck.

It is no accident that Trump used the word “energy”when he spoke approvingly of his new nominee. Pompeo will work quickly and decisively with key allies such as Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in the Senate to reinvigorate the department. First in his class at West Point and an editor of the Harvard Law Review, Pompeo got key experience in the ways of the Washington swamp at the law firm Williams & Connolly before he went as far as possible from it to Wichita to launch a successful career in business and then Congress.

Most importantly, Pompeo agrees with Trump’s priorities and understands that his job is to serve Trump’s agenda, not create one of his own. When he says to a counterpart, “The president believes . . . ,” Pompeo will himself be believed. Like George Shultz with President Ronald Reagan and Henry Kissinger with President Richard Nixon, the boss needs a trusted right arm, not a distant figure of uncertain commitment to core presidential goals.


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

  • Baku protesters demand free elections

As reported by the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), some 10,000 people took part in the rally against the presidential election in Azerbaijan. The protesters have stated that the authorities had initiated early election in order to make them non-alternative.

  • Armenian opposition demands to remove President Serzh Sargsyan from power

About 300 people gathered at a rally in Yerevan demanding to remove Serzh Sargsyan from power and release political prisoners.

Nagorno-Karabakh accuses Azerbaijan of 220 cases of shelling per week

In the period from March 4 to 10, the Azerbaijani armed forces more than 2500 times shelled the positions of the Defence Army, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for Nagorno-Karabakh reported.

  • Death of a military in Syria caused questions from Ingush social network users

The funeral of Ramzan Geroev, who perished in the crash of a Russian military aircraft in Syria, was held today in Ingushetia. Internet users are negative to the participation of Ingush servicemen in the Middle East conflict.

  • Putin’s Brave New World

March 12, 2018 – EPA-EFE/ALEXEI DRUZHININ…-Igor Ivanov – President of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (1998–2004).

(,,,Given its strategic position, Russia has the capacity to play a key role in providing a global commons. Moscow is a particularly important player in the field of international security. In the global struggle against international terrorism, for instance, Russia can claim not only high moral authority but also the necessary political and military tools. In the Middle East, Russia arguably remains the single global player which enjoys an active dialogue and cooperation with all of the parties involved in the numerous conflicts in the region. There are numerous other examples that demonstrate Russia’s active role in multilateral diplomacy, one that is becoming ever more essential for resolving regional and global security issues such as the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the fight against illicit drug trafficking, confronting cyber threats and many others.

On a more general note, it is becoming increasingly evident that the decline of global and regional governance that the world has been witnessing for at least the last 20 years contains the seeds of growing threats to all responsible actors in world politics with no exceptions. The universal understanding of this basic reality must be transformed into specific proposals, roadmaps and actions. It is in Russia’s interest to utilize its capacities and comparative advantages to play a central role in restoring and further enhancing global governance.)

  • Korea after the Olympics: Temporary Truce or Permanent Peace?

March 7, 2018 – REUTERS/Jeon Heon-kyun…Georgy TolorayaDoctor of Economics, Professor of Oriental Studies, Director of the Asian strategy center at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences

(…Washington is not looking for compromises. The United States sees negotiations with North Korea purely as a discussion of the terms of Pyongyang’s capitulation and the surrender of its nuclear trump card….)

  • Russia Is Offering an Olive Branch, Not Flaunting Nuclear Weapons

March 6, 2018 – Igor Ivanov – President of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (1998–2004).

(…And this is not mere rhetoric. Has Russia not always stressed its interest in preserving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), extending the New START Treaty, and boosting nuclear non-proliferation? Has Moscow ever questioned the compliance of all parties concerned with the multilateral agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue? Is Moscow threatening unilateral military action on the Korean Peninsula?

It is important that the world clearly hears and properly understands the signal coming from Moscow. Today, the world is undergoing a profound crisis of the entire global security system. If anyone hopes to use the instability and unpredictability of global politics in their unilateral interests, it will only exacerbate the crisis with all that it entails, including consequences for those very actors who are ready to fan this instability and unpredictability. The international community has already lost enough time since the end of the Cold War.

Moscow is proposing another path: to immediately launch talks on creating a new security system that corresponds to today’s reality. To do this, it is first necessary to abandon outdated stereotypes and simplistic ideas about one’s own infallibility and unlimited authority.

A new, single and indivisible world order may arise only as a result of joint efforts and consideration of the interests of all states, in the East and in the West, large and small, developed and developing.

Russia hopes that its partners will properly understand this signal.)


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* politico: Larry Kudlow will be the next director of the National Economic Council

  • succeeding Gary Cohn as President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser

It will be the latest high profile job for Kudlow, who served as an economist at the New York Federal Reserve and at the Office of Management and Budget under Reagan before a career on Wall Street including serving as chief economist at Bear Stearns.

About Larry Kudlow:“ In 1970, while he was still a Democrat, Kudlow joined Joseph Duffey’s "New Politics" senatorial campaign in Connecticut. Duffey was a leading anti-war politician during the Vietnam war era. Kudlow, working with Yale University student Bill Clinton as well as many other rising young Democratic students, was known as a "brilliant" district coordinator.[5] Kudlow worked on the U.S. Senate campaign of Joseph Duffey, along with Bill Clinton, John Podesta, and Michael Medved, another future conservative, and in 1976, he worked on the U.S. Senate campaign of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, along with Tim Russert, against Conservative Party incumbent James L. Buckley, brother of William F. Buckley, Jr.[6]

Kudlow began his career as a staff economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, taking a position "as a junior economist in a job where a master’s degree wasn’t required."[5] He worked in a division of that bank that handled open market operations.

During the first term of the Reagan administration (1981–1985), Kudlow was associate director for economics and planning in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a part of the Executive Office of the President. While he worked at the OMB, Kudlow was also an advisory committee member of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, more commonly known as Freddie Mac.[citation needed] In April 2005, New York Governor George Pataki included Kudlow in a six-member state tax commission……

In December 2016, President-elect Donald Trump was rumored to be considering Kudlow for the position as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.[15][16]

In March 2018, President Donald Trump appointed Kudlow to be Director of the National Economic Council, succeeding Gary Cohn.[17]


Politics: From Vision to Action

Featuring David M. Cattler

​Stein Counterterrorism Lecture
March 13, 2018

Earlier today, The Washington Institute hosted a Policy Forum with David Cattler as part of its long-running Stein Counterterrorism Lecture Series. Cattler serves as National Intelligence Manager for the Near East in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The following are his prepared remarks.


As the National Intelligence Manager for the Near East, I share this same goal. I serve as Director of National Intelligence Coats‘ principal advisor on this critical region. Every day, the "NIM-Near East" team works to ensure that our partners and consumers in the White House and across the interagency have access to the best possible intelligence.

We do this by directly supporting the development and implementation of national policies and strategies. We also integrate the intelligence community—managing and guiding all aspects of the intelligence cycle. This means (1) working with policymakers to identify and articulate their needs; (2) managing and directing collection; (3) assessing the quality of the Intelligence Community’s analysis; (4) ensuring that our products—information and assessments—reach consumers, often at "the speed of war"; and (5) helping determine and mitigate risk by providing unvarnished assessments of what intelligence we can and can’t do to illuminate a situation.

This also means setting expectations and balancing demands for increased emphasis in emerging hotspots while ensuring we have adequate coverage in areas of ongoing concern. This is particularly important in the Near East, where there is an abundance of both, representing some of the hardest choices facing U.S. policymakers. Matt and I were just talking about the fact that I could easily fill my allotted time by discussing just one of the fourteen countries my team covers, not to mention the Palestinian territories.

What I would like to do is provide an overview of key political, security, and humanitarian developments in the Near East, and then use the balance of our time to answer questions. But let me emphasize two initial points. First, given the open nature of this forum, some of my responses may be limited due to classification considerations. Second, while I previously served as a policymaker at the White House, my current position is in the IC. As such, I will probably need to defer any policy questions that are not intelligence related.

Let’s begin with the so-called "Islamic State." Due to the tremendous efforts and sacrifices of the U.S.-led coalition, ISIS has lost more than 98 percent of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria. It has lost thousands of its fighters and is a fraction of its former self. The myth of its "caliphate" has been exposed. However, as Secretary of Defense Mattis has emphasized, "the fight is not over." U.S.-assisted forces are continuing to clear the remaining pockets under ISIS control. But at least in Iraq and Syria, the group’s trajectory is headed downward.

Given this, can we expect a "peace dividend?" What are the implications of ISIS’s strategic defeat as a quasi-conventional force? (continued / see attachment)


*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

The Geopolitics of Britain

By George Friedman

The fundamental problem for Britain has always been continental Europe. The danger to Britain was that a single, powerful entity would arise that could do two things. First, it could ally with the Scottish elite to wage war against England on land. Second, it could build a naval force that could defeat the British navy and land an invading force along the English shore of the Channel. The Romans did this, as did the Normans.

Successive powers arose in Europe that saw an opportunity to defeat England and later Britain. The Spaniards attempted an invasion in the 16th century; the French in the 19th century; the Germans in the 20th century. Each was defeated by treacherous waters and the Royal Navy. Many other potential invasions were never launched because the navies didn’t exist. They didn’t exist because of the British grand strategy, the core of which was that the nearest landmass, continental Europe, would always place Britain at a demographic disadvantage in a war. The population of Europe was the base of armies vastly larger than that which Britain could field. Therefore, the central strategy was to prevent such a force from landing in Britain.

(click to enlarge)

Building a naval force able to challenge the British was enormously expensive. Only a very wealthy country could afford it, but very wealthy countries lacked the appetite. Other countries, seeking to increase their wealth, competed with other aspiring countries, diverting resources to land-based forces and making it impossible to build navies. The fact that the continent was fragmented first between kings and emperors, and later between nation-states, was Britain’s primary line of defense. The wealthiest nations were constantly fending off attacks from neighbors, while the poorer countries plotted strategies for enhancing their position through war. As a result, there were a succession of great continental powers: Spain, the Netherlands, France and Germany. None was strong enough for long enough to divert resources to taking Britain.

The Grand Strategy

British grand strategy, therefore, is to maintain a large naval force, but beyond that, to do what it can on the European continent to discourage hegemony on the mainland by preventing coalitions from forming, or by fomenting rivalries. In other words, the British grand strategy was constant involvement on the European continent, with the primary goal of diverting any nation focusing on naval development. These actions could involve trade policy, supporting various dynasties or nations, using the ability to blockade, or inserting limited ground forces to support a coalition of forces. British strategy was an endless kaleidoscope of tactics, constantly shifting relationships and actions designed to secure the homeland by maintaining insecurity on the continent. Britain didn’t create insecurity. That was built into the continental geopolitical system. Britain was successful at taking advantage of and nurturing the insecurity that was already there. Britain was always part of Europe, as for example its participation in the Napoleonic wars and the Congress of Vienna. At the same time, it stood apart from Europe because its geography gave Britain another base on which to stand.

The British Empire came into being as a byproduct of this grand strategy. The various imperial naval powers that came into existence were undermined not by naval force but by land conflicts. Spain, the Netherlands and France all developed navies able to carve out empires. But diversions on the continent limited their ability to expand those empires, and drained their ability to exploit them effectively. The British, united after the early 18th century and impervious to European manipulation, were able to sustain an imperial enterprise that constantly expanded and enriched Britain.

The reality of Europe also facilitated British leadership in the Industrial Revolution. Continental manpower, resources and inventiveness were no less than those of the British. But the British had far greater security for their enterprises, less diversion to military production, and a dynamic and growing empire to support industrialization. As a result, Britain developed another powerful tool for managing the continent: exports of manufactured goods and technologies.

What ultimately undermined the British grand strategy was the unification of Germany and the rise of the United States. German unification created an industrial force that could rival Britain commercially and dominate the continent militarily. In World War I, Britain followed a strategy that flowed from its grand strategy, intervening with ground forces to block Germany from imposing a continental hegemony. The cost to Britain far outweighed expectations. The grand strategy failed Britain by forcing it into a vast land war on the continent, taking away the option of selective involvement and manipulation. Britain had to use main force, which negated its geographic advantage.

Also weakening Britain was the emergence of the United States as a power that could field a million men in Europe and create a naval force that was second only to Britain’s. The truce that ended World War I did not end Britain’s problems; it merely delayed them. Within two decades, a re-emergent Germany once again challenged for European hegemony, and Britain’s survival become dependent on the intervention of the United States. In exchange for U.S. support in World War II, Britain all but gave up its empire when it was forced to abandon almost all of its naval bases in the Western Hemisphere in exchange for lend-lease. Having been trapped twice in the one thing she could not do — a European land war — Britain emerged hostage to the United States, now a junior member of its anti-Soviet coalition.

Crafting a New Strategy

The United States then took on the British role on a global basis. Britain was no longer the chess master, but a piece on the board — an important piece, but one that had lost its room for maneuver. Britain had to craft a new grand strategy out of the wreckage of the old. There was, however, a core that remained in place, which was the doctrine of the balance of power. Now, instead of being the major balancing power among other nations, Britain sought to balance its own power between two more powerful entities: the United States and the Soviet Union.

Because of its new position, Britain did not have the option of isolation. Its economic system required access to markets and products, and its strategic position required leverage on the European continent. So in 1973, Britain joined the European Economic Community, and in 1991 agreed to join the European Union. Britain always resisted full integration into the EU, however.

In the era after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were two poles for British strategy: Europe and the United States. Total dependence on either one could lead to disaster. Europe was led by its old nemesis Germany. The United States was a nemesis as well. Only by having relations with both could Britain hope to retain room for its own maneuver. The two wanted different things. The EU wanted a defined economic relationship with elements of a political one. The United States was open to economic relationship but particularly wanted British participation in its wars. Britain could satisfy both, cling to both poles and thereby find its own space.

The British Dilemma

The problem that Britain faces now is a European Union that doesn’t resemble what the founders imagined, or what existed 10 years ago. Where it had been seen as becoming a pillar of the international system along with the United States, it has morphed into political discord and uncertainty. The United States also has internal problems that were unexpected, but not of the consequence of Europe’s

Britain’s problem now is being drawn too deeply into dependency on the United States. Such dependency on any country is rarely in a nation’s interest. What Brexit represents is Britain’s distrust of the viability of the European system and a desire to operate independently of it. That is difficult for Britain to do, so the United States is the pole that attracts, if total independence of all coalitions is not an option — which it is not.

This is the British dilemma. The German geopolitical imperative for expansion and the American need to dominate the North Atlantic have taken the old geopolitical reality and radically shifted its grand strategy.

Europe is moving toward its historic disunity and class hostility. But Britain is not in a position to manipulate that for its own security. The North Atlantic is no longer Britain’s path to an empire. Depending on Europe is difficult. Relying on the United States is possible, but the U.S. is likely to once again exact a price. What that price is, however, is unclear. The only other alternative is for Britain to try to lead an alternative economic block out of the train wreck of Europe. As Europe’s second-largest economy, this is not an impossibility.

But in the end, Britain is an island, and Scotland is restless. The Germans are united and not altogether predictable. The U.S. is both friendly and avaricious, and its tastes are fickle. Finding a balance between Europe, however fragmented, and the United States might seem to be best option, but geopolitics tends to force unexpected choices on countries. Who in 1900 would have thought that Britain would be facing the choice it is facing today. Only those who understood what Germany was and what the United States was going to become.



see our letter on:

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


03-13-18 Caucasian news-Russia_US_China_Korea.pdf

03-13-18 a-survey-of-the-near-east-implications-for-u.s.-national-security – THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY.pdf