Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 06.04.18

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • United States publishes tariff target list on China (att.)
  • griephan: Großbritannien beabsichtigt Beschaffung des Boxer…sichert Arbeitsplätze in UK
  • The National Interest: It’s Time to Accept That Assad Is Not Going Anywhere
  • Mark Farha: The Arab Revolts: Local, Regional, and Global Catalysts and Consequences.
  • Washington Post: Trump instructs military to begin planning for withdrawal from Syria.
  • Way Forward For NATO Allies: Cope With Trump While Preparing for a Post-Trump Future by Stanley R. Sloan.
  • German Marshall Fund of the United States: Estonian Regulators and European Central Bank Move Forcefully Against Russian Money Laundering –
  • Four Simple Questions About Expulsions of Russian Diplomats

April 2, 2018 – REUTERS/Lindsey..- Andrey Kortunov – Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member.

Massenbach* The National Interest: It’s Time to Accept That Assad Is Not Going Anywhere

By Daniel R. DePetris – April 1, 2018

It was always a matter of when, not if, Syria’s rebel factions in the Eastern Ghouta suburbs laid down their arms and surrendered to Bashar al-Assad’s forces. What is commonly depicted in the West as the mainstream Syrian armed opposition has been squeezed of hope, bloodied, worn out, and beaten after seven years of all-out military assault by the Assad, Russia and Iran.

While rebel factions are still in control of Idlib province in the northwest, some of Daraa province in the south, and a significant stretch of the Syrian countryside, their goal of forcefully overthrowing the regime in Damascus is no longer a plausible scenario.

The five-week Syrian government campaign in Eastern Ghouta is a metaphor for the how the war has been going for the opposition ever since Moscow decided to deploy its air force in September 2015 to save Assad’s skin.

The last week has been an emotionally distressing time for the three main rebel factions (Jaish al-Islam, Faylaq al-Rahman and Ahrar al-Sham) and the 400,000 Syrian civilians in Ghouta who have been surrounded, starved, besieged and bombarded for the last five years. Much like in Homs, Daraya and Eastern Aleppo, Syrian government forces have used time and brutality to their advantage. The regime’s tactical playbook is the same; seal off a rebel district; prevent food, water, medicine and humanitarian relief from entering; block the sick and injured from leaving; pummel all of the civilian infrastructure in the area; and finally, dangle a widespread evacuation offer in return for accepting regime control. The rebels, cut off from supplies and bereft of support from external sponsors who have tired of the conflict, are faced with two alternatives: surrender unconditionally in return for relocating to the north, or die from starvation and bombing. The end result—a regime victory—is the same.

As morally repugnant and ethically incomprehensible as this is to admit, the United States needs to base its Syria policy on the premise of Bashar al-Assad staying in Damascus for years into the future. This is not the scenario Washington wanted, but it’s the scenario the Trump administration will be presented with. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s outline of a Syria policy earlier this year, which partly consisted of using U.S. military presence as leverage to move a political process in the country forward, has been overtaken by events on the ground. There is no serious, constructive diplomatic process to leverage because it’s not in the Assad regime’s interest to participate in one. For Assad to negotiate political concessions on Syria’s future at a time when his regime is clawing back territory would be the definition of geopolitical insanity.

Where does this leave the United States? Is there any way Washington could work with Bashar al-Assad ever again given the massive war crimes and crimes against humanity he has committed against his people?

Fortunately, Syria’s political dispensation is not a core U.S. national security interest. As hard as this may be for the bipartisan foreign policy consensus to believe, Assad is a minor figure in the Middle East who is now wholly dependent on foreign military support for his survival. While the Assad regime cannot be ignored, neither can it significantly foreclose America’s freedom of movement in the region. U.S. Middle East policy will go on with or without Assad sitting in the presidential palace.

Indeed, as counterintuitive as it may appear, an Assad victory may actually provide the United States with an opportunity to throw Russia down a peg. It is Moscow that is responsible for Assad’s resurgence, and it will be Moscow that will be called upon to backstop its weak client whenever it runs into trouble. Syria’s economy is destroyed, its health sector is in tatters, and its status as an independent sovereign state is compromised—not exactly an optimal ally for the Russians.

Damascus will need at least $200 billion to rebuild the homes, hospitals, plants, factories and farms that were razed to the ground. Vladimir Putin, a president lording over a decrepit and oligarchic economy, will be on the hook for much of that money if the United States and Western Europe refuse to assist in Syria’s reconstruction.

Russia helped break Syria in order to keep its ally in power. Now it’s responsible for fixing it. Through seven years of war on his own people, Bashar al-Assad is now on the same wavelength as some of the world’s most despicable dictators. There is no question that his preservation as Syria’s leader is unjust.

But the world in general can often be an unfair and unjust place. Handling the Syria mess off to the Russians—all the while retaining the flexibility to target Syrian-based terror groups when they threaten to attack American.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/its-time-accept-assad-not-going-anywhere-25166

About DePetris: Daniel R. DePetris is an analyst at Wikistrat, Inc., a geostrategic consulting firm, and a freelance researcher. He has also written for CNN.com, Small Wars Journal and The Diplomat.

Comment UvM: compare -> The Arab Revolts: Local, Regional, and Global Catalysts and Consequences

By Mark Farha.

2008-2015 Assistant Professor of Government, Georgetown University, SFS, Qatar.

2015- Ass. Professor for International Politics, Doha Institute for Graduate Studies

The unfolding uprisings across the Arab world have been viewed through a regional prism.

Political scientists particularly were predisposed to view the Arab Uprisings as a long-overdue culmination of pent-up popular frustrations with

corrupt and autocratic regimes. Such an exclusive focus on the democracy deficit long besetting political systems in the Arab world, however, begs the question

of the particular historical moment of the outburst of 2011 and as such may not capture the full scope of the underlying dynamic. While political repression by

praetorian states served as a crucial catalyst for massive street demonstrations, it is increasingly apparent that the parabolic rise of commodity prices may have

kindled a politically and demographically charged situation. In its first segment, this chapter thus attempts to draw the links between monetary and fiscal policies

in the United States and Europe, the ensuing contagion of global inflation,

and its role in destabilizing certain Arab states, while leaving others largely insulated from the wave of revolt. I argue that the likelihood of a revolution in

any given Arab state must be weighed against a multiplicity of local and global factors, chief of which is the exposure of a critical mass of a vulnerable segment

in a given society to price increases in essential commodities.

While Gulf rentier states—with the exception of a particularly bifurcated Bahrain—thus far have been fairly successful in staving off major street protests using direct and indirect

subsidies, even seasoned autocrats such as Mubarak in Egypt or Ben Ali in Tunisia, bereft of rentier revenue, were unable to withstand the popular pressures.

Finally, the chapter examines to what degree the socioeconomic imbalances that fomented the revolutions have aggravated religious sectarianism in pluralistic

Arab states such as Lebanon and Syria, thereby undermining the uprisings’ declared drive for civil rights, political accountability, and social justice.

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

  • Four Simple Questions About Expulsions of Russian Diplomats

April 2, 2018 – REUTERS/Lindsey..- Andrey Kortunov – Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member

The atrocious crime committed in Salisbury led to a massive avalanche of diplomatic expulsions unprecedented in the contemporary history of international relations. The UK leadership can now claim a major foreign policy victory — the display of solidarity with London was more than impressive. Short of becoming truly global, it mobilized most of NATO and EU members with the United States alone, expelling 48 Russians from their embassy in Washington and the consulate in New York. Another 12 working for the Russian Mission at the United Nations were expelled as well. Russia was not slow to reciprocate, expelling more than a hundred diplomats representing the United Kingdom, the United States, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, France, the Netherlands and many other predominantly Western countries.

Many questions remain about whether the British side has produced enough proof that the Russians have been officially or unofficially responsible for this outrageous act. Supporters of the coordinated Western demarche claim that finally, Vladimir Putin got what he really deserved, as he pursued his outrageous and highly destructive course. In their view, this unified action should deter the Kremlin from committing similar crimes in the future. Critics argue that in demonstrating its solidarity with London, the Western world acted on the shaky assumption that Russia has to be the villain by definition, and therefore there was no need to wait until the end of the Salisbury attack investigation. In other words, the Western decision was based on a biased political judgment, not on verifiable facts.

  • The Caucasian Knot.

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of March 26-April 1

Actions in Southern Russia in memory of victims in Kemerovo; arrest of Dagestani businessman Ziyavudin Magomedov; blowing up in Nagorno-Karabakh of combat engineers from The HALO Trust; Geneva Discussions on Transcaucasia; attack in Makhachkala on a staff member of the HRC "Memorial" Dagestani office; guilty verdict for defendants involved in beating of a Rostov journalist, – see the review of these and other events in the Caucasus during the week of March 26-April 1, 2018, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

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Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* German Marshall Fund of the United States:

  • Estonian Regulators and European Central Bank Move Forcefully Against Russian Money Laundering –

Estonia’s financial regulator, Finantsinspektsioon, announced on March 26 that the European Central Bank (ECB), acting at Estonia’s request, had revoked the license of Versobank AS, a small Estonian bank catering to clients based in Russia and Ukraine. According to Finantsinspektsioon, the license was withdrawn for “serious and long-lasting breaches of legal requirements, particularly concerning the prevention of money laundering.” With this action, Estonia continues to demonstrate that it has no desire to serve as a hub for illicit Russian financial activity, which is part of the asymmetric toolkit the Russian government uses to undermine democratic institutions across the transatlantic space. And, for the first time, the ECB has now taken explicit, unequivocal action to shut down a bank for money laundering violations. This precedent gives the ECB and European national regulatory authorities a new and powerful tool to combat Russian illicit financial activity in Europe. The more aggressive stance also augurs well for enhanced U.S.–EU cooperation.

Estonia Tightens the Reins

Following a series of Russian and other money laundering scandals at the Estonian branch of Denmark’s Danske Bank that came to a head in 2014, Estonia moved quickly to reduce the amount of non-resident accounts in the banking system, thereby lowering the risk of money laundering through opaque foreign shell companies. Finantsinspektsioon oversaw a reduction in foreign deposits from a 2014 peak of 20 percent to 14 percent in late 2016, down to 10 percent by late 2017.

Versobank has been involved in a variety of money laundering schemes, including the infamous “Russian Laundromat” in Moldova that has been brilliantly covered by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. The Laundromat moved approximately $20 billion out of Russia, primarily through the following route: companies banking at Moldinconbank in Moldova held fake “debts,” which were “paid” by Russian companies moving money out of Russia on behalf of a variety of Russian clients, including wealthy, politically connected businesspeople. The money would be wired from Moldinconbank to Trasta Komercbanka in Latvia and, from there, across the globe. Versobank accounts reportedly received $200 million related to the scheme. After a series of four onsite inspections and proposed remediation, Finantsinspektsioon grew disillusioned with Versobank’s prospects for reform. It submitted its recommendation to the ECB in February. With its post-Danske reduction in the non-resident banking sector and its successful proposal to the ECB to revoke Versobank’s license, Estonia has delivered a clear message to those facilitating illicit Russian financial activity — Estonia is closed for business.

The ECB Begins to Focus on Money Laundering

Under the ECB’s Single Supervisory Mechanism, established in 2014 in response to the eurozone crisis, the ECB possesses the sole authority to grant or withdraw a banking license, not the financial regulators of participating European Union member states. The ECB is also responsible for direct “prudential” supervision of banks that have been determined to be “significant entities” on the basis of their size and systemic importance (“prudential” supervision refers to monitoring of things like capital adequacy and lending practices). Prudential supervision of “less significant institutions” is delegated to national competent authorities. At the same time, supervision of compliance with anti-money laundering requirements at banks of all sizes is the responsibility of national regulators. Thus, the ECB has had limited insight into any illicit financial activity occurring at European banks or the risks of such incidences occurring owing to inadequate controls. And, until Versobank, the ECB had never pulled a license on the explicit grounds of money laundering violations.

The new, aggressive tone on money laundering from the ECB is a positive shift from past practice. For example, in March 2016, Latvia’s financial regulator, the Financial and Capital Market Commission, announced that the ECB had withdrawn the license of the aforementioned Trasta Komercbanka. Like Versobank, Trasta had been involved in a number of Russian and other money laundering scandals. But when the ECB pulled Trasta’s license, the stated basis was primarily “prudential” concerns. This time around, in a first for ECB, Versobank was called out for repeated, egregious anti-money laundering violations, which were the centerpiece of the ECB’s action. The ECB also allowed Finansinspekstioon to publish the ECB’s decision, which details Versobank’s money laundering failings and specifically notes the nexus with Russia.

ABLV in the Background

The ECB’s decisive action against Versobank comes just weeks after the targeting in February of Latvia’s ABLV Bank by the U.S. Treasury Department under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act. ABLV, which is currently undergoing ECB-ordered liquidation following the Treasury action, was the leading bank in Latvia catering to non-resident customers. The Treasury Department found that ABLV had “institutionalized money laundering as a pillar of the bank’s business practices” and facilitated “large-scale illicit activity connected to Azerbaijan, Russia, and Ukraine.” Latvia has developed a far more extensive non-resident banking sector that Estonia, with about a dozen banks catering to non-resident money, most of it emanating from Russia and other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Non-resident deposits in Latvia’s banking system reached a peak of over 50 percent and are currently below 40 percent, although the government has recently vowed to bring the number down to a manageable 5 percent.

Transatlantic Cooperation on Illicit Finance

Recent developments in Latvia and Malta – as well as longstanding issues in Cyprus – have started a much-needed discussion about whether money laundering supervision in Europe should be entrusted to a central authority with greater resources and capacity than the national authorities of smaller European states. Such a central authority could also proactively revoke or restrict licenses without needing to wait for national authorities to submit a recommendation. This policy discussion presents an opportunity to evaluate which national regulators need to be further strengthened, how to deepen European information-sharing to combat illicit financial activity, and whether there needs to be a more assertive role for European law enforcement in combating Russian money laundering. This week’s coordinated action by Estonia and the ECB is a welcome step in the right direction and may presage greater intra-European cooperation and, potentially, the emergence of a coordinated transatlantic response to Russian illicit finance.

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.

http://securingdemocracy.gmfus.org/blog/2018/03/30/estonian-regulators-and-european-central-bank-move-forcefully-against-russian-money

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Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* griephan: Großbritannien beabsichtigt Beschaffung des Boxer

Das britische Verteidigungsministerium hat am 31. März bekanntgegeben, dem Boxer-Programm wieder beitreten zu wollen. Damit hat Großbritannien, das von 1999 bis 2004 an der Konzeption, der Entwicklung und der Erprobung des gepanzerten Radfahrzeugs Boxer entscheidend beteiligt war, den ersten Schritt unternommen, zu einem der größten Boxer-Nutzer werden zu können. Die Verhandlungen werden von der Organisation für gemeinsame Rüstungskooperation (OCCAR) und ARTEC geführt.
Die Rahmenbedingungen für die gemeinsame Beschaffung eines solchen Fahrzeugs mit anderen Nationen haben sich seit der Anfangsphase des Boxer-Programms nicht geändert. Mit nun drei bereits aktiven Nutzernationen – Deutschland, Niederlande und Litauen – ergeben sich viele Vorteile nicht nur in der Beschaffung, sondern auch der Nutzungsphase.

Gemeinsam mit den Partnern BAE Systems, Pearson Engineering und Thales UK schafft oder sichert das ARTEC-Konsortium damit über 1.000 Arbeitsplätze in Großbritannien.

https://www.griephan.de/news/produkte-technik/single-view/news/grossbritannien-beabsichtigt-beschaffung-des-boxer.html

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Middle East

Washington Post: Trump instructs military to begin planning for withdrawal from Syria.

By Karen DeYoung, Josh Dawsey and Paul Sonne April 4 at 10:09 AM

President Trump has instructed military leaders to prepare to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but has not set a date for them to do so, according to a senior administration official.

In a meeting with top national security officials Tuesday, Trump stressed that U.S. troops can be involved in current training tasks for local forces to ensure security in areas liberated from the Islamic State, the official said.

But the president said that the U.S. mission would not extend beyond the destruction of the Islamic State, and that he expects other countries, particularly wealthy Arab states in the region, to pick up the task of paying for reconstruction of stabilized areas, including sending their own troops, if necessary.

Trump on Tuesday had repeated his desire to quickly “get out” of Syria, even as his top commander for the Middle East outlined the need for an ongoing military presence there.

Trump said at a White House news conference that “I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home.”

See:

The United States, he said, had gotten “nothing out of $7 trillion [spent] in the Middle East over the last 17 years,” a calculation that apparently included the Afghanistan war against the Taliban in South Asia, where he last year approved a U.S. troop increase.

“So, it’s time. It’s time. We were very successful against ISIS,” Trump said, using an acronym for the Islamic State. “But sometimes it’s time to come back home, and we’re thinking about that very seriously, okay?”

Trump has used the $7 trillion figure many times, including during his campaign, although numerous experts put the figure at about half that, beginning in Afghanistan in 2001 and continuing through U.S. military operations in Pakistan, Iraq and Syria. The figure also would include substantial costs tied to veterans’ care and disability benefits, and war-related domestic and diplomatic security measures.

Many military officials were taken aback by Trump’s stated intent, first mentioned last week, to withdraw from Syria. In a speech ostensibly devoted to his domestic infrastructure plans, Trump told a rally in Ohio on Thursday that U.S. forces would “be coming out of Syria, like, very soon.”

On Tuesday, speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Gen. Joseph L. Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, said, “A lot of very good military progress has been made over the last couple of years, but the hard part, I think, is in front of us.” Upcoming efforts, he said, include the military’s role in “stabilizing [Syria], consolidating gains” and “addressing long-term issues of reconstruction” after the defeat of the Islamic State.

Votel, along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, also has repeatedly said in recent months that U.S. troops would be staying in Syria for the foreseeable future to guarantee stability and a political resolution to the civil war, which initially created space for the Islamic State to advance.

There are about 2,000 U.S. troops there, advising and assisting local proxy forces and directing U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State forces. Trump described that mission as “close to 100 percent” accomplished, while Votel said that “well over 90 percent” of Syria had been “liberated” from the militants, even as “the situation continues to become more and more complex” and “other underlying challenges” become more apparent.

Among those challenges are the need to stabilize areas cleared of militants to prevent their reappearance, to forge a political solution that will end Syria’s civil war without ceding power to Russia and Iran, and resolving U.S. difficulties with neighboring Turkey.

According to State Department coalition envoy Brett McGurk, fighting against the Islamic State in Syria is ongoing in two areas close to the Iraqi border, one east of Shaddadi and the other in the far southeast at Bukamal. The latter has been the site of most recent U.S. airstrikes in Syria.

The effort against the remaining militants has been slowed on the ground, Votel acknowledged, by the departure of members of the principal U.S. proxy, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces. Many of the Syrian Kurdish fighters have left their U.S.-backed units in the southeast to head to Afrin in northwest Syria, where their compatriots are fighting against Turkey and its proxy, the rebel Free Syrian Army.

“What this means for us,” Votel said, “is that we’re going to have to look at the ways that we keep pressure on ISIS and continue to develop mechanisms on the ground that help us de-escalate the situation” in Afrin, “so that [it] can be addressed by discussion and diplomacy as opposed to fighting.”

As Trump talks of leaving Syria, his top commander in the Middle East emphasizes the need to stay

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/as-trump-talks-of-leaving-syria-his-top-commander-in-the-middle-east-emphasizes-the-need-to-stay/2018/04/03/2ccdcff8-3753-11e8-8fd2-49fe3c675a89_story.html?utm_term=.cad24bdd22dc

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*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Editorial:

Dr. Martina Timmerman

( VP International Affairs, TIMA International GmbH Strategy Development * Clausewitz Gesellschaft e.V. )

  • A Way Forward For NATO Allies: Cope With Trump While Preparing for a Post-Trump Future –

by Stanley R. Sloan – March 27, 2018

Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency on an “America First” platform raised the prospect of the new president qualifying decades of U.S. support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), America’s most important alliance. While far-right politicians across Europe celebrated, British Prime Minister Theresa May, hoping to convince Trump to take a more positive attitude toward NATO, advised, “With the threats we face, it’s not the time for less cooperation.”

As I wrote in a 2017 essay for the International Security Studies Forum, candidate Trump disparaged the transatlantic alliance throughout his campaign by suggesting that the United States might not remain committed to collective defense under Article 5, by calling NATO “obsolete” (though he later walked that back), and by taking a generally transactional view of the alliance that appeared to undermine the idea of collective defense. Since taking office, Trump has not gone to those extremes, though his campaign assertions, his insistence to Angela Merkel that Germany still owed “vast sums of money” to the United States and the alliance for its defense, and his seeming reluctance to condemn Russia’s Vladimir Putin have contributed to a persistent sense of unease about the future of the transatlantic relationship.

Now, the allies need to develop a coherent strategy for coping with the demands and unpredictability of the Trump administration and preparing for the future revitalization of the transatlantic relationship. Fortunately, both can be accomplished together. Moreover, Europe has already started taking some of these actions.

Europeans should realize that America’s commitment to transatlantic relations is not based solely on the president’s view. Despite Trump’s dramatic criticisms of the transatlantic relationship, both congressional and public attitudes have remained highly supportive of NATO. While there is certainly room for improving the systems underlying the transatlantic relationship, the alliance remains a practical vehicle for shared defense of interests as well as a key symbol of the Western values of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. Illiberal tendencies on both sides of the Atlantic have made it clear that those values are being challenged. Europe should therefore seek to mitigate the short-term impact of Trump’s disruptive views while responding to legitimate American concerns and build a foundation for the alliance’s future. That future will also depend on whether the European allies are successful in dealing with the challenges posed by domestic illiberal political movements, like those that recently scored a big electoral victory in Italy.

What might such a European “coping-plus” strategy look like? First, European governments ought to use “Trollope ploy” tactics, named for a plot device by novelist Anthony Trollope “in which a woman willfully misinterprets a romantic squeeze of her hand as a marriage proposal.” The Trollope ploy was said to have influenced the Kennedy administration’s handling of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. President John F. Kennedy chose to ignore negative signals from Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev while acting on ones that might lead to resolution of the crisis. In the current circumstances, this would mean ignoring troublesome Trump tweets — which, to some extent, European officials are already learning to do — while picking up on encouraging words from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and other U.S. officials. In spite of Trump’s disruptive statements and distorted understanding of the transatlantic alliance, the United States has continued to re-build its military presence in Europe — actions that may speak louder than words in the long run.

European leaders have discovered that warm praise for the American president and restraint in responding to his more outrageous statements can help keep relationships on track. They should keep up their compliment campaign.

Along more traditional lines, the NATO allies should demonstrate that they are actively supporting the pledge to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense by 2024, with 20 percent of defense spending going to new equipment, research and development. but the goal remains challenging for many allies, and only three allies currently hit the 2 percent target. Progress in this area is important both for coping with Trump and for sustaining American support for the alliance in the long term.

European NATO and E.U. nations should also look for opportunities to make no- and low-cost defense improvements, and to improve intra-European and transatlantic cooperative efforts, for example by enhancing terror-related intelligence sharing operations through Europol, internally and with partner nations. Dealing with terrorist and cyber threats is a growth industry, and the technological competence of some European allies can play a major role in NATO’s response.

When improvements can be demonstrated, they should be publicized. Back in the waning years of the Cold War, the so-called “Euro-group” served as a publicist in the United States for European defense efforts. Perhaps the European allies should revitalize the concept. The Europeans speaking in this way directly to American politicians, opinion leaders and, importantly, taxpayers, could provide a helping hand to American centrists who believe in reaffirming a strong U.S. role in NATO.

European countries should also take advantage of opportunities to express appreciation for U.S. contributions to their security. The United States has not always made the best decisions when it has come to the use of force, but Europeans should recognize that their freedom and democracy have benefited greatly from the American role in European security. European expressions of this sentiment to American members of Congress and the American public reinforces U.S. support for continued transatlantic cooperation. Over many decades of working on the burden-sharing issue for Congress, it has become clear to me that European appreciation of American sacrifices helps to create a better political environment for dealing with alliance issues.

One key European hedging strategy has been to breathe new life into European defense cooperation. The 2017 agreement on Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) seeks to provide the foundation for more European defense cohesion down the road, though it remains to be seen whether it will succeed. The U.S. response to this initiative has been familiar: It fits the “yes, but” model that I originally described in 2000. “Yes,” the United States wants the Europeans to take more responsibility for defense, “but” it should not in any way undermine transatlantic cooperation. It is not unreasonable for U.S. officials to warn that PESCO should not undermine NATO. But that line should not be carried too far, at the risk of alienating the Europeans and dissuading them from being proactive in improving their defense capabilities.

At the same time, European politicians should be careful not to promise more than can be delivered. In the past, European exuberance over their defense cooperation plans has misled some in the United States to believe that a united Europe is on the near-horizon. It is all too clear that national instincts and motivations remain strong drivers inside the European Union.

Next, as a means both of maintaining Western unity and keeping the door open for cooperation with Russia when it is in the West’s interest, the European allies should continue to endorse a policy of “defense, deterrence and dialogue.” This approach, built on NATO’s Cold War diplomatic strategy outlined in the 1967 Harmel Report, remains a sensible and balanced way to deal with Russia. While the door is kept open to cooperation, it needs to be slammed shut on Russian attempts to undermine Western political systems using cyber weapons as well as old-fashioned covert operations — including attacks on Russian expatriates in Western countries. There are opportunities for Europeans to lead in this area, particularly in taking a firm line towards Moscow as they have done in response to the attacks in the UK. However, a fully effective response to Russian aggression can only be realized with U.S. leadership, going beyond expelling Russian intelligence operatives.

Many of these issues will be on the agenda of the NATO summit scheduled for July 2018. It is, in many respects, time to replace NATO’s 2010 strategic concept, as threats to the alliance have grown and evolved since it was agreed. But the Europeans should avoid doing so just yet. Just as they delayed agreement on the last concept until George W. Bush left office, the allies should be wary of what would come out of the process under a Trump administration. The allies should therefore avoid preparing a new concept until after Trump, while making necessary adaptations in alliance policies and programs.

Finally, as I have recently recommended in my forthcoming book, Transatlantic traumas: Has illiberalism brought the West to the brink of collapse?, Europeans who believe in the value of a healthy transatlantic relationship need also to work on mitigating the circumstances that have created the radical right-wing surge on their side of the Atlantic. Voters have started to see center and center-left parties as ineffective in responding to the problems of the average citizen. This political failure, paralleling a similar one in the United States, grew out of a combination of factors. The Great Recession and the refugee crisis over the past decade created particularly fertile ground in Western Europe for radical populists to turn popular dissatisfaction into fear and political action. In the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, the failure of democratic forces to resolve all the issues that remained in the wake of the Cold War allowed illiberal parties to increase their popularity.

Many of these radical right populist parties and politicians are enemies of both NATO and the E.U., do not accept the system of values represented by “the West,” and express sympathy for Vladimir Putin’s “strong” approach to governance. These characteristics are discussed in detail in my forthcoming book on the threats that illiberalism poses to the West. ?

European centrists need to reestablish themselves as defenders of the average citizen. They need to demonstrate that the key institutions of the West — the E.U. and NATO — remain critically important to the well-being and security of European individuals, communities and nations. Only by reaffirming the importance of liberal democracy and its institutions while containing the rise of radical right-wing populism will Europe be prepared to reestablish a strong transatlantic relationship in the post-Trump era.

Stanley R. Sloan is a visiting scholar in political science at Middlebury College and Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United States. He is author most recently of Transatlantic traumas: Has illiberalism brought the West to the brink of collapse?

https://warontherocks.com/2018/03/what-should-nato-allies-do-coping-with-trump-while-preparing-for-a-post-trump-future/

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  • United States publishes tariff target list on China (att.)
  • China announces retaliatory tariffs on US imports

“U.S. President Donald Trump, who has long charged that his predecessors served the United States badly in trade matters, rejected the notion that the tit-for-tat moves amounted to a trade war between the world’s two economic superpowers.

“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter early on Wednesday.

Because the actions will not be carried out immediately, there may be room for maneuver. Publication of Washington’s list starts a period of public comment and consultation expected to last around two months. The effective date of China’s moves depends on when the U.S. action takes effect…U.S.-made goods that appear to face added tariffs in China based, on an analysis of Beijing’s list, include Tesla Inc electric cars, Ford Motor Co’s Lincoln auto models, Gulfstream jets made by General Dynamics Corp and Brown-Forman Corp’s Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

Unlike Washington’s list, which was filled with many obscure industrial items, China’s list strikes at signature U.S. exports, including soybeans, frozen beef, cotton and other key agricultural commodities produced in states from Iowa to Texas that voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

“China is also trying to weaken our will by targeting certain segments of our economy,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said in an interview with National Public Radio.

“But let’s remember: we buy five times more goods than they buy from us. They have a lot more to lose in any escalation in this matter.” ”

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china/china-retaliates-slaps-duties-on-u-s-soybeans-planes-markets-skid-idUSKCN1HB0G6

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

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

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