Was NATO’s eastward expansion a broken promise?

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[The West] have lied to us many times, made decisions behind our backs, placed us before an accomplished fact. This happened with NATO’s expansion to the East, as well as the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders. — Vladimir Putin.

It is not just Russian President Vladimir Putin who has accused the western NATO members of having deceived Russia about their plans for NATO’s eastward expansion. In discussions of the strained relationship between Russia and NATO often turns to how NATO’s eastward expansion in 1999 and 2004 broke a promise made to the Soviet Union in the negotiations that led to of German reunification (for example: Nick Ottens, “Russia’s Crimea invasion Follows Decades of Perceived Humiliation“, Offiziere.ch, May 03, 2014). Judging whether NATO’s extension beyond its 1991 borders represents a broken promise or agreement is a fundamental moral assessment of the defense alliance. This is all the more important because, in 1999, NATO defied international law with Operation “Allied Force” and began bombing Serbian territory (still a part of the rump Federal Republic of Yugoslavia at the time) without the consent of the UN Security Council. Critics of NATO readily saw this operation and that year’s initial eastward expansion of NATO as a power grab on the offense, sufficient grounds for Russia to perceive a threat from the Western defense alliance.

Offiziere.ch already addressed this issue with a 2015 post that was completely rewritten taking into account newly declassified documents at the end of 2017. The question remains, however: Could Russia assume on the basis of Western assurances that NATO would not extend its sphere of influence further east? To what extent was NATO’s eastward expansion a broken promise or even a breach of an agreement?

In answering these questions, a distinction must be made between two different sets of negotiations which ultimately affected one another: the negotiations on German reunification and those on a new European security structure, addressed in Chapters 1 and 2, respectively. Chapter 3 takes up the events in 1999 when the actual breach of trust between Russia and the NATO members occurred which would be so decisive for the subsequent relationship between NATO and Russia.

1 – The negotiations on German reunification

With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening of the inner-German border in autumn 1989, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was asking itself whether its continued existence was justified. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl took advantage of the opportunity and sought the fastest possible path to reunification. He had already indicated such plans to U.S. President George H. W. Bush on November 17, 1989.

At the political level, German reunification was first discussed in Kohl’s Ten-Point Plan on November 28, 1989. Since only a handful of politicians were informed about the project, he surprised both international and German politicians with the proposed gradual approach to unifying Germany and Europe. Although the ten points include a further evolution of the important process for European security that took place in the 1970s during the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), far-reaching and rapid steps towards disarmament and arms control, the ten points did not address whether a reunited Germany would participate in alliances (Markus Lingen, “Kalender: 28.11.1989, Geschichte der CDU, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung“).

WAIDHAUS, GERMANY - DECEMBER 23: Federal Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier symbolic cut the barb wire fence at the border of Germany and Czech Republic on December 23, 1989, in Waidhaus, Germany. The year 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Photo by Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images)***Local Caption*** Hans-Dietrich Genscher; Jiri Dienstbier

Federal Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier symbolic cut the barb wire fence at the border of Germany and the Czech Republic on December 23, 1989, in Waidhaus, Germany.

This question was first addressed by German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher at the end of January 1990 in a speech at the Evangelische Akademie Tutzing. Genscher proposed a reunited Germany within NATO, however, without extending its military infrastructure to the territory of the GDR. He argued that the reunification of Germany would not lead to any impairment of Soviet security interests. For this reason, NATO should refrain from expanding eastwards towards the Soviet border. Genscher saw the basis for the future European security architecture in a cooperative partnership between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, which would concentrate more on a political role (U.S. Departement of State, “U.S. Embassy Bonn Confidential Cable to Secretary of State on the Speech of the German Foreign Minister: Genscher Outlines His Vision of a New European Architecture“, The National Security Archive, February 01, 1990).

Click on the text excerpt to read the whole document.

Click on the text excerpt to read the whole document.

The “Tutzing formula” formed the basis for the initial round of negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the beginning of February 1990. Baker made assurances three times that NATO would “not move an inch towards the east” and that NATO expansion would also be unacceptable for the United States (“Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker in Moscow. (Excerpts)“, The National Security Archive, February 09, 1990). Afterward, Baker jotted down the following note: “End result: Unified Ger. anchored in a changed (polit.) NATO — whose juris. would not move eastward!” (Mary Elise Sarotte, “A Broken Promise?“, Foreign Affairs, August 11, 2014).

• • •

Baker: I want to ask you a question, and you need not answer it right now. Supposing unification takes place, what would you prefer: a united Germany outside of NATO, absolutely independent and without American troops; or a united Germany keeping its connections with NATO, but with the guarantee that NATO’s jurisprudence or troops will not spread east of the present boundary?
Gorbachev: We will think everything over. We intend to discuss all these questions in depth at the leadership level. It goes without saying that a broadening of the NATO zone is not acceptable.
Baker: We agree with that.

Quelle: “Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker in Moscow. (Excerpts)“, The National Security Archive, February 09, 1990).

• • •

It was only after the “London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance” issued at the end of the NATO summit in early July 1990 that the Soviet Union came back to the table for continued negotiations on German reunification. This declaration provided for an increased emphasis on the political aspects of NATO and a strengthening of the CSCE. Following a bilateral meeting between Kohl and Gorbachev in July 1990 and an emotional telephone conversation in September, Kohl convinced Gorbachev (or “bought him off”, as some would claim, for 15 billion marks) to let a reunited Germany belong to NATO. At the end of the negotiations, the agreed terms were formally laid down in the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany“, which was signed in Moscow on September 12, 1990. Article 5 of the treaty sets out the following points:

  • until the complete withdrawal of Soviet troops from the former GDR, only personnel in the Bundeswehr that were not part of NATO could be deployed to the territory of the former GDR;
  • the force strength and quantity of equipment belonging to US, British, and French troops stationed in Berlin could not be increased;
  • after the Soviet withdrawal, German forces assigned to NATO could be station on the territory of the former GDR, but no foreign forces or nuclear weapons.

Future membership in the NATO alliance was a key negotiating point in the reunification of Germany. Verbal assurances that NATO would not expand eastwards and the “London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance” were decisive factors in overturning Gorbachev’s initial reservations about allowing a reunified Germany to join NATO. The Western assurances must, however, be judged in the context of that time, when the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact was not yet foreseeable and reunited Germany’s border with Poland bordered directly with a member state of the Warsaw Pact (Mark Kramer, “The Myth of a No-NATO-Enlargement Pledge to Russia“, The Washington Quarterly, vol. 32, no. 2, April 2009, p. 39–61). Baker’s promise of “not one inch eastward” referred to the territory of the former GDR, no more and no less, was subsequently also formally stipulated in the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany”.

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in November 1990 in Bonn. (Photo: Schambeck).

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in November 1990 in Bonn. (Photo: Schambeck).

2 – Negotiations on a new European security structure

The Western side repeatedly stressed to Gorbachev that the US and NATO would take the interests of the Soviet Union into account. For example, at the Malta Summit at the beginning of December 1989, US President Bush verbally assured Gorbachev that the US would not take advantage of the upheavals in Eastern Europe to the detriment of the Soviet Union (Svetlana Savranskaya and Tom Blanton, “NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard“, National Security Archive, December 12, 2017). In February 1990, Genscher discussed with British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd the possibility of an eastward expansion of NATO into the territory of the Central and Eastern European states as part of the negotiations on German reunification. He argued that the Soviet Union would need guarantees that the Polish government, for example, would not one day leave the Warsaw Pact and join NATO the next day (“Mr. Hurd to Sir C. Mallaby (Bonn). Telegraphic N. 85: Secretary of State’s Call on Herr Genscher: German Unification“, The National Security Archive, February 06, 1990). Genscher also told Baker that NATO should not be extended to the territory of the former GDR or anywhere else in Central and Eastern Europe. Baker agreed with this view (Joshua R. Itzkowitz Shifrinson, “Deal or No Deal?: The End of the Cold War and the U.S. Offer to Limit NATO Expansion”, International Security, vol. 40, no. 4, May 10, 2016, p. 22). Later, in April 1990, Hurd also assured Gorbachev that Britain would take no action that would undermine Soviet interests and dignity. At this meeting, Gorbachev expressed his idea of a European security structure covering the territory from the Atlantic to the Urals (“Sir R. Braithwaite (Moscow). Telegraphic N. 667: ‘Secretary of State’s Meeting with President Gorbachev'”, The National Security Archive, April 11, 1990). A report by Baker to Bush after a meeting with the Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on May 4, 1990, describes the wording of the Western heads of state towards Gorbachev as follows:

I used your speech and our recognition of the need to adapt NATO, politically and militarily, and to develop CSCE to reassure Shevardnadze that the process would not yield winners and losers. Instead, it would produce a new legitimate European structure – one that would be inclusive, not exclusive. — Stellungnahme des U.S.-Aussenminister James A. Baker an den U.S. Präsident George H. W. Bush.

In a later meeting in May 1990, Gorbachev expressed initial concerns to Baker that the US wanted to separate the Eastern European states from the Soviet Union. At the same time, he suggested that a new overarching security structure should replace both NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Baker confirmed his view that the US goal was not to separate Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union. The US would be interested in creating a stable Europe in cooperation with the Soviet Union. In nine points, he promised the transformation of NATO into a political organization, the strengthening of security structures within Europe by the further development of the CSCE, the securing of a Germany not equipped with weapons of mass destruction, and the inclusion of Soviet security interests (“Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker in Moscow“, p. 3f, 19, 21ff). These assurances finally led to the “London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance” at the NATO summit in July 1990, which made the negotiations for German reunification possible and was regarded by the Soviet side as a significant milestone for the future of the European security structure. With this declaration, Gorbachev was able to confront the hardliners in his government and argue that the US was serious about transforming the European security structure to include the Soviet Union. However, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact on July 1, 1991, and the subsequent break-up of the Soviet Union at the end of that year fundamentally changed the European security structure and created a power vacuum in Central and Eastern Europe that should not be underestimated.

US President George Bush (L) shares a joke with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (R) on December 03, 1989 on board the Soviet cruise "Maxim Gorki", ship docked at Marsaxlokk harbor, during their joint press conference at the end of their two-day first summit meeting. This summit is viewed as the official end of the Cold War. (Photo credit should read JONATHAN UTZ/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President George Bush shares a joke with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on December 03, 1989 on board the Soviet cruise "Maxim Gorki", ship docked at Marsaxlokk harbor, during their joint press conference at the end of their two-day first summit meeting (Photo: Jonathan Utz).

There is evident movement in NATO towards a transformation, with an emphasis on the political range of action. In London, a big step was taken to throw off the shackles of the past. The fact that the Soviet Union is no longer regarded as an enemy by the West is very important for the development of plans for the future. — Michail S. Gorbatschow in einem Vier-Augen-Gespräch mit Helmut Kohl am 15. Juli 1990 in Moskau.

Before the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, the U.S. State and Defense departments were against NATO expansion because others could have perceived it as an anti-Soviet coalition (“U.S. Department of State, European Bureau: Revised NATO Strategy Paper for Discussion at Sub-Ungroup Meeting“, The National Security Archive, October 22, 1990). The Bush administration followed this recommendation, which was also supported by the other NATO member states. In March 1991, British Prime Minister John Major, for example, made the assurance that NATO membership would not be an option for the Eastern European states (“Ambassador Rodric Braithwaite Diary“, The National Security Archive, March 03, 1991, p. 3). On July 1, 1991, NATO Secretary General Manfred Wörner confirmed to a delegation from the Supreme Soviet in Russia that 13 of the 16 member states in the North Atlantic Council were against NATO expansion (“Memorandum to Boris Yeltsin from Russian Supreme Soviet Delegation to NATO HQs“, The National Security Archive, July 03, 1991). This position remained in place until the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. In his so-called “Chicken Kiev” speech of August 1, 1991, Bush even spoke out against Ukraine’s independence, which later led to severe criticism from Ukrainian nationalists and conservative politicians in the US (“After the Summit; Excerpts From Bush’s Ukraine Speech: Working ‘for the Good of Both of us’“, The New York Times, 02.08.1991). After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, the tone in the US changed abruptly, especially since Bush was running for reelection in 1992 (which he did not manage). In his “State of the Union” speech in January 1992, Bush said: “By the grace of God, America won the cold war. […] A world once divided into two armed camps now recognizes one sole and pre-eminent power, the United States of America.”

Now the West has no argument to say no to Poland. Until now the West has been using the argument, ‘We don’t want to upset the Russians.’ Now we will see the true intentions of the West toward Poland. — Andrzej Drzycimski, Sprecher des polnischen Präsidenten Lech Walesa nach der Rede von Boris Jelzin im August 1993 in Warschau zitiert in Jane Perlez, “Yeltsin ‘Understands’ Polish Bid for a Role in NATO“, The New York Times, 26.08.1993).

Ironically, it was Russian President Boris Yeltsin who put the possibility of an eastward expansion of NATO up for discussion. In a speech in Warsaw in August 1993 and later in Prague, he assured the public, based on the Helsinki Final Act of the CSCE, that each state could decide whether to join an alliance. Yeltsin’s speech was the green light for Poland to request NATO membership (“Your October 6 Lunch Meeting with Secretary Aspin and Mr. Lake“, The National Security Archive, October 05, 1993, p. 4). Yeltsin soon retreated from this position under domestic pressure (Strobe Talbott, “The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy“, Random House, 2003, p. 95ff). In a letter to new U.S. President Bill Clinton in mid-September 1993, he recalled that, based on the talks leading to the reunification of Germany, eastward expansion of NATO was out of the question. He clarified that what he intended to say was a new European security structure in which Russia would be integrated for the collective prevention and resolution of crises. This goal could also be achieved on the basis of a transformed NATO, with NATO’s relationship with Russia being given a more privileged status than that of the Eastern European states (“Retranslation of Yeltsin Letter on NATO Expansion“, The National Security Archive, 09.10.1993).

On the U.S. side, Yeltsin’s letter led to the idea of the “Partnership for Peace” (PfP), which was first presented to Yeltsin on October 22, 1993, by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Yeltsin was assured that the PfP would cover all European states, including Russia. However, Christopher also mentioned in his conversation that the PfP would serve as a basis for long-term NATO membership – “PFP [sic!] today, enlargement tomorrow”. However, Yeltsin and his advisers failed to hear this part of the message (“Secretary Christopher’s Meeting with President Yeltsin, 10/22/93, Moscow“, The National Security Archive, October 25, 1993). Rather, they saw the PfP as a successor to NATO (Svetlana Savranskaya and Tom Blanton, “NATO Expansion: What Yeltsin Heard“, National Security Archive, March 16, 2018). In a direct conversation in January 1994, Clinton informed Yeltsin that the US did not want to speed up NATO’s eastward expansion, but that Russia had no veto rights on this issue.

In response to a NATO study initiated by U.S. Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke on the “how and why” of new member states, Yeltsin reiterated in a letter to Clinton his hope that the CSCE would be expanded into a fully-fledged European security organization (“Official Informal No. 248 ‘Boris-Bill Letter’“, The National Security Archive, 06.12.1994). Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev refused to sign the PfP in December 1994, when he was annoyed by Holbrooke’s insistence. Yeltsin also surprised Clinton at the CSCE summit in Budapest with the question of why NATO member states viewed Russia with suspicion. Clinton then clarified once again that no country outside NATO would have a veto right in any membership applications (Elaine Sciolino, “Yeltsin Says Nato Is Trying to Split Continent Again“, The New York Times, December 06, 1994). At a meeting with Yeltsin in May 1995, Clinton stressed that Yeltsin could not prevent the Central and Eastern European countries from joining NATO, although the timing of their accession could be influenced. Yeltsin then seemed increasingly willing to accept NATO’s eastward expansion if it took place after Russian parliamentary and presidential elections in 1996 to avoid any negative domestic influence on his political future (“Summary Report on One-on-One Meeting between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin, May 10, 1995, Kremlin“, The National Security Archive, May 10, 1995).

Domestically, however, the situation in Russia was different. Not surprisingly, the Russian military saw NATO’s eastward expansion as a threat (thus stated the Russian military doctrine of November 1993). There was also increasing opposition in the Duma: in a closed hearing in April 1995, concerns were expressed that the US wanted to exploit the power gap with Russia to such an extent that Russia would retain the status of a junior partner on a permanent basis. NATO’s eastward enlargement was seen as a threat to Russia’s national security interests and the security of Europe. Ignoring Russian interests were perceived as isolating Russia from the rest of Europe (Vladimir Lukin, “Information Memorandum on the Results of the Parliamentary Hearing on the Subject: ‘Russian-American Relations’“, Committee of Foreign Affairs, April 25, 1995).

It is true that the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany” referred only to the reunification of Germany, and that otherwise there was no written assurance that NATO would not expand to Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, the informal and formal talks and the negotiations on a new European security structure which continued after the reunification of Germany could not simply be ignored. At the end of his term as Soviet President, Gorbachev was credibly assured that NATO would not expand into the territory of the Central and Eastern European states. At the same time, however, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union did fundamentally change the European security structure. Neither Russia nor any other European security organization could fill the resulting power vacuum alongside NATO. To the contrary: with all the political and economic turbulence in Russia, there was no guarantee of a stable future in Eastern Europe. Indeed, it was not primarily NATO, but the Central and Eastern European states that wanted to join NATO at all costs for the sake of their security. Unlike with Gorbachev, it was made clear to Yeltsin from the beginning that NATO membership for the Central and Eastern European states was unavoidable. After all, it was Yeltsin himself who had set the ball rolling with his speeches in Warsaw and Prague and his support for the Helsinki Final Act of the CSCE.

3 – The breach of trust in 1999

NATO's operation "Allied Force" in 1999 was not authorized by the UN Security Council.

NATO’s operation “Allied Force” in 1999 was not authorized by the UN Security Council.

As agreed between Clinton and Yeltsin, the announcement of an eastward expansion of NATO was postponed until after the end of the Russian parliamentary and presidential elections. Since it was not possible for Russia to prevent NATO’s eastward enlargement due to its economic and military weakness, Russia tried to demand a voice in NATO’s decision-making processes. For that reason, the “Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security” was signed with Russia before the 1997 NATO summit and a “NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council” was created. However, this did not increase Russia’s voice in NATO, as became apparent in 1999 with NATO’s operation “Allied Force”.

At the NATO summit in early June 1997, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary were invited to enter negotiations with the prospect of joining NATO by 1999. This invitation did not come as a surprise to Russia, but it was still a defeat. Not only did Russia oppose NATO’s eastward enlargement, but this decision was tantamount to a rejection of the “second generation” pan-European security structure proposed by Moscow that would have included Russia and pointed to an increasing shift in the balance of power on the European continent to Russia’s disadvantage (Mike Bowker And Cameron Ross, “Russia After the Cold War“, Routledge, 2000, p. 344).

Madeleine, don’t you understand we have many Kosovos in Russia? — Russischer Aussenminister Igor Ivanov zur U.S.-amerikanischen Aussenministerin Madeleine Albright im Winter 1998 zitiert in Talbott, p. 301.

However, this was not the only US and NATO decision directed against Russia’s interests. As early as October 1998, Yeltsin made it clear to Clinton that Russia would vehemently reject the same kind of NATO intervention in the Kosovo War that had been seen in the Bosnian War. From the Russian point of view, this would be the third time after Bosnia and Iraq that the US would assert its will by force, acting as the world’s police force without involving Russian interests. In addition, the Russians saw parallels to the conflict in Chechnya, with Russia occupying a comparable position to Serbia. With veto power in the UN Security Council, Russia had the opportunity to prevent a UN resolution that would have authorized a NATO military intervention in Kosovo (Talbott, p. 300f).

On March 24, 1999, just twelve days after Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary were admitted as new member states, NATO bombed targets in the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was military, culturally and religiously linked to Russia, without authorization from the UN Security Council. In addition, at its April 1999 Summit, NATO released its revised strategic concept defining that conventional NATO forces must have the capability to conduct military operations outside NATO territory (the basis of the so-called “out-of-area” operations). From the Russian perspective, NATO thus transformed itself into an offensive military security instrument of the West — a clear breach of trust after the Russians had been forced to accept NATO’s eastward expansion. It is therefore not surprising that Russia later did not believe the US/NATO missile defense shield promoted by U.S. President George W. Bush was not intended to neutralize Russia’s second strike capability.

In reaction to the bombing of targets in Serbia, violent riots took place outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Russia also withdrew its military representation from NATO headquarters, reduced its liaison staff at NATO, suspended all PfP activities and all working sessions of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council. However, relations with the US also deteriorated considerably, as was evident in Clinton’s and Yeltsin’s confrontation at the OSCE Summit of Heads of State and Government in Istanbul in November 1999. In particular, the U.S. criticism of Russian military action during the Second Chechen War was perceived not only as unacceptable interference in Russia’s domestic affairs but also as a double standard. From a Russian perspective, the US justified its bombing of Serbia as part of NATO’s operation “Allied Force”, while denouncing the Russian use of bombers in Chechnya as disproportionate. With Yeltsin’s resignation at the end of 1999 and the election of Vladimir Putin on March 26, 2000, it also became clear that the reign of pro-Western reformers in Russia had come to an end and a stronger, independent, self-confident, and nationalist course would be adopted (Talbott, p. 306, 361ff, 367).

View from downtown Belgrade to the building of the headquarters of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party, which was hit during the early morning NATO air attack on Belgrade, 21 April 1999.

View from downtown Belgrade to the building of the headquarters of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s Socialist Party, which was hit during the early morning NATO air attack on Belgrade, 21 April 1999.


Neither the Soviet Union nor Russia ever reached a binding agreement under international law to preclude the admission of new NATO member states to Central and Eastern Europe. To the contrary, as Yeltsin rightly pointed out in 1993, based on the Helsinki Final Act of the CSCE, each state is free to determine its membership in an alliance. While this document is not an international treaty, it nevertheless committed the signatories to respect the sovereignty, the inviolability of frontiers, the peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and a respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. As an internationally recognized successor state to the Soviet Union, Russia is bound by the Helsinki Final Act signed by the Soviet Union in August 1975.

However, declassified documents clearly show that Gorbachev was repeatedly verbally assured that NATO would not expand eastwards. Both in national jurisdiction and international politics, verbal promises and agreements can also acquire legal validity. Even legally non-binding agreements are regarded as essential instruments in international politics (Michael R. Gordon, “Kerry Criticizes Republican Letter to Iranian Leaders on Nuclear Talks“, The New York Times, 21.12.2017). It must also be borne in mind that such informal arrangements were of great importance during the Cold War (Shifrinson, 17f). The promises made to Gorbachev during the negotiations on German reunification must, however, also be seen in the context of that time: with the Warsaw Pact just to the east of reunited Germany’s new border along the Oder-Neisse line, the promise referred to the territory of the GDR, not to Central and Eastern Europe. This is precisely what was formally stipulated in the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany”, no more and no less.

The situation is somewhat different in the negotiations on a new European security structure. Gorbachev was verbally assured to the end that the Western states would not act against the interests of the Soviet Union. Moreover, the “London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance” so decisive for the Soviet Union’s choices at the time was intended to launch a new European security structure. The idea was a cooperative security structure between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, which would concentrate more on a political role in the future. However, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union deprived such a cooperative security structure of its foundation, and consequently, the promises to Gorbachev were never renewed to Yeltsin. To the contrary, Yeltsin was told from the beginning that NATO membership of the Central and Eastern European states would be unavoidable in the long term. Although the CSCE was upgraded to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 1995 despite the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, decision-making based on the general principle of consensus (every member state has a de facto veto, but unanimity is not a prerequisite for decisions) severely limits the capacity of the OSCE to act, given that it has 57 member states. Its limited decision-making capacity was visible in 2010 when, at the last OSCE summit (after an 11-year break), it was not possible to adopt a plan to renew the OSCE in the long term and increase its capacity to act.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin walks after inspecting a new Russian fighter jet after its test flight in Zhukovksy, outside Moscow, Thursday, June 17, 2010. The new jet, Sukhoi T-50, is Russia's response to the latest U.S. F-22 Raptor fighters. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin walks after inspecting a new Russian fighter jet after its test flight in Zhukovksy, outside Moscow, Thursday, June 17, 2010.

It would be naive to ignore the fact that with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact at the beginning of July 1991 the European security structure had changed entirely and a security vacuum was created in Central and Eastern Europe. The former European member states of the Warsaw Pact wanted to join NATO out of their security concerns. The push to join came from the former Communist countries, not NATO itself. Moreover, it was Russian President Boris Yeltsin who had set the ball rolling with his speeches in Warsaw and Prague and his support for the Helsinki Final Act of the CSCE. In retrospect, Yeltsin was critical of NATO’s eastward expansion, but this was for domestic political reasons. Interestingly enough, Putin later also made few objections to the second NATO enlargement to the east (Talbott, p. 415). The politically motivated accusation that NATO broke a promise with its eastward enlargement was only voiced later, and put forward for the first time by Putin in his speech at the Munich Security Conference in 2007 (Vladimir Putin, “Speech and the Following Discussion at the Munich Conference on Security Policy“, 10.02.2007, Wikisource).

However, even the US and NATO have not behaved impeccably here. Following NATO’s eastward expansion, Russian confidence in the intentions of Western states was damaged by its operation “Allied Force” and the new strategic concept. This did not change even after 1999: further rounds of enlargement (e.g., plans to accept Ukraine and Georgia as NATO member states) and the advanced US missile defense shield further undermined relations with Russia. Russia had no real voice in the negotiations with either the US or NATO. Only one thing has changed: with the election of Putin in 2000, Russia set off once again on its nationalist path, full of self-confidence.

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How the South Sudanese Civil War Is Fueling Climate Change

by Austin Michael Bodetti. He researches”the intersection of Islam, culture, and politics in Africa and Asia and visited South Sudan in January 2016.

Great powers such as China and the United States may have the most sway over the direction of the environmental movement, but climate change remains no less dire a problem for the developing countries of the Global South. South Sudan knows this unfortunate fact all too well.

A Mundari man at dusk in Terekeka State, South Sudan. The country is in the midst of a civil war, and climate change is further disrupting livelihoods and fueling the conflict. (Photo:  Bruno Feder).

A Mundari man at dusk in Terekeka State, South Sudan. The country is in the midst of a civil war, and climate change is further disrupting livelihoods and fueling the conflict. (Photo: Bruno Feder).

South Sudan sits at the intersection of ecological and humanitarian crises. The South Sudanese Civil War has raged under the international community’s radar for five years, obscured by better-known conflicts — among them the Libyan and Yemeni Civil Wars. Attempts at peace talks have failed to bring an end to a conflict characterized by brutality and sectarianism. Most South Sudanese politicians and foreign diplomats, meanwhile, have struggled to find time to deal with environmental issues in a developing country that has faced a variety of more violent challenges since it became independent in 2011.

While the news media has spent little time dwelling on the effects of global warming on South Sudan, intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have begun sounding the alarm in a bid to mobilize the international community to action there. “The man-made crisis in South Sudan has pushed the country back on multiple fronts, hampering agricultural production, disrupting livelihoods and the coping abilities of communities”, wrote Biplove Choudhary, UNDP Team Leader of Human Development and Inclusive Growth in South Sudan, and Jean-Luc Stalon, UNDP Deputy Country Director for South Sudan. “These are but few of several compelling reasons as to why climate change risks in South Sudan should be a pressing worry at this point in time for the policy makers and international partners”.

Choudhary and Stalon noted that the South Sudanese Civil War had exacerbated environmental issues already present in the world’s youngest nation-state, including deforestation and drought. The pair also observed a discouraging example of irony: the East African country has barely contributed to global warming, yet South Sudan remains among the countries with the most to lose from climate change.

The conflict in the South Sudanese countryside has precluded South Sudanese from pursuing many forms of employment, forcing them to look to ad-hoc industries that take a heavy toll on the natural environment, such as illegal logging. This development in turn leads to deforestation, accelerating global warming in South Sudan to what the UNDP has recorded as 2.5 times the rate in the rest of the world. The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) found that South Sudan will lose all its forest cover in sixty years if this trend continues, pointing to a future where the country remains at climate change’s mercy (“War-Torn South Sudan at Grave Risk on Climate Change“, VOA, 18.07.2017).

A fire burns at Mundari cattle camp in Terekeka State, South Sudan. (Photo:  Bruno Feder).

A fire burns at Mundari cattle camp in Terekeka State, South Sudan. (Photo: Bruno Feder).

The UNEP has estimated that “droughts, floods, pollution, and conflicts” tied to global warming could come to affect as many as 90 percent of South Sudanese, a startling statistic. The UNEP has grown so concerned that it has even started addressing South Sudan’s environmental issues on Twitter (see below). “The state of ongoing strife in South Sudan is the major impediment to good governance that would ensure the productive use of its natural resources and the protection of its environmental assets,” the UNEP concluded in a 2018 “state of the environment and outlook report“. “Indeed, the lack of strong, effective institutions for peacefully managing competing claims to local power and control, and ownership of livestock and natural resources is an important factor in the ongoing conflict”.

The World Food Programme (WFP), another UN agency involved in South Sudan, has gone as far as labeling the War in Darfur, which neighbors South Sudan, “the first climate change conflict”. The WFP warned that the South Sudanese Civil War had much in common with its Darfuri counterpart.

Foreign news agencies have reported that the South Sudanese Civil War has even prevented South Sudanese meteorologists from documenting weather in the region, limiting the ability of South Sudanese farmers to plan around climate change, which has caused damaging droughts in South Sudan. However daunting these warning signs, the UN has shown that timely action by South Sudanese and their allies in the international community can mitigate the worst effects of climate change. In the 2014 report “Climate Risk and Food Security in South Sudan: Analysis of Climate Impacts on Food Security and Livelihoods“, the WFP assessed that “adaptation to drought through water management strategies, supported by introduction of drought-tolerant crops and crop varieties can play a critical role in reducing the vulnerability of at-risk populations”, adding that “adaptation options should also consider a range of uncertainties associated with climate variability and the timescales of climate impacts”.

For its part, the UNEP oversees a well-developed environmental organization in South Sudan, having first established a footprint there in 2009 and organizing a campaign dubbed “Keep Juba Clean, Keep Juba Green” in 2010, a year before South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan. The UNEP launched a follow-up campaign in celebration of the country’s nationhood in 2015.

The UNDP has remained active in South Sudan for even longer, offering it assistance since the bloodiest phase of the Second Sudanese Civil War thirty years ago. The UNDP’s, UNEP’s, and WFP’s history and infrastructure will prove crucial in helping South Sudan overcome global warming. Though these UN agencies appear well equipped to tackle South Sudan’s environmental issues, only the leaders of the international community wield the diplomatic resources to bring an end to the East African country’s persistent civil war, an outgrowth of South Sudan’s war of independence from Sudan. China, India, the U.S., and other countries with ties to the government in Juba can use their influence to compel the South Sudanese factions to come to the negotiating table, a critical prerequisite for nationwide action on climate change in South Sudan. Ignoring the conflict will only ensure that it worsens.

If the UN and the great powers succeed in ending the South Sudanese Civil War and organizing a response to global warming in South Sudan, environmentalists in Libya, Syria, and Yemen can reapply that model to their own countries’ civil wars in coordination with the international community. Otherwise, conflict and climate change will continue to work hand in hand in the Global South.

Posted in Austin Michael Bodetti, Climate Change, English, Security Policy, South Sudan | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Die Schweiz, die NATO und Geschlechtergleichstellung – wo bitte ist hier der Link?

von Anna-Lena Schluchter. Frau Schluchter arbeitet als Projektbeauftragte in der Abteilung “Gender and Security” beim Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) in Genf. Sie hat Politikwissenschaften, Geschichte und Internationale Beziehungen an der Universität Zürich und am Hochschulinstitut für internationale Studien und Entwicklung (IHEID) in Genf studiert. Ich danke der Autorin für die Erlaubnis einer Zweitveröffentlichung des ursprünglich bei “foraus” publizierten Artikels.

Das Schweizer Volk will nichts von einem NATO-Beitritt wissen, trotzdem kooperiert die Schweiz eng mit der NATO – nicht nur mit Kontingenten im Kosovo, sondern auch in ganz unerwarteten Bereichen.

Die Mehrheit der Schweizer Bevölkerung ist sich einig: Als neutrales Land gehört die Schweiz nicht in das nordatlantische Militärbündnis NATO. Laut der aktuellsten Sicherheitsstudie der ETH Zürich sind nur 19% der Schweizerinnen und Schweizer für einen Beitritt zum Sicherheitsbündnis (siehe Statistik oben). Trotzdem profitiert die Schweiz von der NATO, nicht zuletzt da sie durch ihre geografische Lage komfortabel in den NATO-Schutzschirm eingebettet ist, und sie kooperiert als Partnerstaat seit 1996 mit der Militärallianz. Dabei setzt die Neutralität zwar Grenzen – eine Verpflichtung zum militärischen Beistand im Kriegsfall ist ausgeschlossen – aber sie erlaubt trotzdem eine vielseitige Form der Mitwirkung. Die wohl bekannteste Zusammenarbeit mit der NATO ist sicherlich der Swisscoy-Einsatz in Kosovo, mit dem die Schweiz unter UNO-Mandat seit 1999 mithilft, die Sicherheit im Westbalkan zu gewährleisten.

Bilaterales Treffen zwischen NATO-Generalsekretär Jens Stoltenberg und Bundesrat Guy Parmelin, Vorsteher des Eidgenössischen Departements für Verteidigung, Bevölkerungsschutz und Sport sowie Bundesrat Didier Burkhalter, Vorsteher des Eidgenössischen Departements für auswärtige Angelegenheiten anfangs März 2017.

Bilaterales Treffen zwischen NATO-Generalsekretär Jens Stoltenberg und Bundesrat Guy Parmelin, Vorsteher des Eidgenössischen Departements für Verteidigung, Bevölkerungsschutz und Sport sowie Bundesrat Didier Burkhalter, Vorsteher des Eidgenössischen Departements für auswärtige Angelegenheiten anfangs März 2017.

Dialog – aber nicht zu viel
Weitaus weniger bekannt, sind die stilleren Engagements bei der NATO, die dafür sehr den traditionellen Arbeitsmethoden der schweizerischen Aussenpolitik entsprechen. So hat die Schweiz beispielsweise den Event “NATO Engages: The Brussels Summit Dialogue” als Partnerstaat finanziell unterstützt. Diese Veranstaltung fand parallel zum Gipfeltreffen der NATO Staats- und Regierungsschefs im Juli statt und wollte den Austausch mit der Zivilgesellschaft stimulieren. Zusammen mit einem Schweizer Regierungsvertreter durfte ich daran als sogenannte “Next Generation Delegate” teilnehmen und war zugegebenermassen etwas “starstruck” angesichts des hochkarätigen Aufgebots an Präsidenten, PremierministerInnen, AussenministerInnen und VerteidigungsministerInnen, die sich neben dem NATO-Generalsekretär Jens Stoltenberg und einer Vielzahl an ExpertInnen über zwei Tage mit einem jungen, diversen jedoch amerikanisch dominierten und etwas elitären Publikum austauschten. Die Gespräche waren intim, die Fragen und Antworten teils provokant. Wie das Gipfeltreffen selber war auch diese Veranstaltung von US-Präsident Donald Trumps hervorragend inszeniertem Geplänkel und einer starken Anti-Russland-Rhetorik geprägt. Austausch ja, Dialog unter Gleichgesinnten ja – aber alles hat seine Grenzen. Ein echter Dialog im Rahmen einer solchen Veranstaltung würde meiner Meinung nach eben auch den Austausch mit Russland erfordern. Was jedoch positiv auffiel, war nicht nur die fast ausgeglichene Teilnahme von Männern und Frauen im Publikum, sondern auch, dass wir keinen ausschliesslichen Männer-Experten-Runden ausgeliefert waren: Denn ja – es gibt sie tatsächlich, die Expertinnen in den Bereichen Sicherheit, Militär und Abrüstung. Dies entsprach ganz dem langjährigen Engagement der Schweiz für die Teilhabe von Frauen in der Sicherheitspolitik und Friedensförderung.

Nicht neutral gegenüber der Partizipation von Frauen in der Sicherheitspolitik
Dieses Engagement basiert auf der im Jahre 2000 verabschiedeten Resolution 1325 des UN-Sicherheitsrates und den Folgeresolutionen zu “Women, Peace and Security” (WPS), welche zum ersten Mal die Erfahrungen und Rolle der Frauen in Konflikt und Friedensförderung thematisierten. Die Resolutionen zu WPS verfplichten Staaten und andere Akteure folgende Punkte umzusetzen:

  • stärkere Partizipation von Frauen in der Prävention, Friedensförderung und Sicherheitspolitik;
  • Schutz der Rechte von Frauen und Mädchen während und nach Konflikten sowie Prävention von genderspezifischer Gewalt;
  • stärkere Gender-Perspektive in der Nothilfe, im Wiederaufbau, in der Vergangenheitsarbeit sowie in der Konfliktprävention.

Clare Hutchinson ist seit anfangs 2018 die Sonderbeauftragte zu WPS bei der NATO.

Clare Hutchinson ist seit anfangs 2018 die Sonderbeauftragte zu WPS bei der NATO.

Die NATO ist bemüht, diese Resolutionen organisationsweit umzusetzen und hat mehrere Mechanismen und Strategien dazu geschaffen (siehe auch den entsprechenden Twitter-Feed). 2012 wurde die Position der Sonderbeauftragten zu WPS kreiert, die alle Prozesse und Aktivitäten zur Umsetzung der Resolution beaufsichtigt. Die Schweiz arbeitet eng mit der Sonderbeauftragten zusammen und unterstützt die NATO in verschiedenen Bereichen, beispielsweise in Jordanien, wo sie sich im Rahmen eines NATO Projekts zur der Förderung der Frauen in der Armee beteiligt (kleiner Einschub: 0.7% aller Dienstleistenden der Schweizer Armee sind Frauen, bei Swisscoy jedoch 15%). Zentral ist auch die Schweizer Unterstützung des zivilgesellschaftlichen Beratungsausschusses, der die NATO in der Umsetzung der Agenda zu WPS berät. Der Dialog mit diesem Ausschuss wird vom DCAF ermöglicht. Die Schweiz, obwohl innenpolitisch weit entfernt von der Rolle als Vorreiterin in Sachen Geschlechtergleichheit, hat sich eine interessante Nische als Förderin dieser Thematik bei der NATO geschaffen. Der Einsatz für eine Sicherheitsperspektive, die mehr auf das Individuum und weniger auf militärische Manöver fokussiert (= Menschliche Sicherheit), ist Teil der Schweizer Aussenpolitik und eine Botschaft, die speziell von nationalen und internationalen Sicherheitsakteuren gehört werden muss – auch wenn diese oftmals schwer zu überzeugen sind. Die Schweiz verpflichtet sich dem Engagement für Frieden, Sicherheit und Geschlechtergleichheit auch im vierten nationalen Aktionsplan zu WPS. Die Zusammenarbeit mit der NATO in diesem Bereich wird dabei weiterhin Bestand haben.

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A Rumble in the Jungle: Kinshasa Goes to the Polls

by Paul Pryce. With degrees in political science from both sides of the pond, Paul Pryce has previously worked as Senior Research Fellow for the Atlantic Council of Canada’s Canadian Armed Forces program, as a Research Fellow for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and as an Associate Fellow at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs. He has also served as an infantryman in the Canadian Forces.

A man walks past a wall filled with campaign posters in the district of Lingwala in Kinshasa.

A man walks past a wall filled with campaign posters in the district of Lingwala in Kinshasa.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is approaching a crucial turning point. Among the world’s most conflict-prone countries and with the lowest rate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, the DRC will (perhabs) hold general elections on December 30, 2018 (instead of December 23). This will only be the sixth time Congolese citizens will go to the polls to elect their President since the DRC gained independence from Belgian rule in 1960, and it will be the first time since 2001 that current President Joseph Kabila Kabange will not be on the ballot. In August 2018, Kabila confirmed that he would not seek re-election, honouring the term limits set out in the constitution he worked to adopt in 2006.

Instead, resorting to what his critics call “Plan Putin”, Mr Kabila appointed a malleable acolyte to succeed him, and hinted that he will run again in 2023, as the constitution seems to permit. “I’m not saying goodbye, just see you later,” he told regional leaders at a recent summit.— Adrian Blomfield, “Congo Delays Election as Kabila Plots to Keep Power Whatever the Result“, The Telegraph, December 20th, 2018.

Originally scheduled to take place in November 2016, these elections have been repeatedly delayed due to security concerns, prompting several violent clashes between police and protesters in the DRC capital of Kinshasa over the past two years. As such, these elections could present an opportunity for the country to move forward from a series of civil wars that have left more than five million people dead and undermined governance in many regions of the country. That opportunity may have already been squandered, however, as the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Development (PPRD), Kabila’s party and support base, has been working to drastically limit the options available when Congolese citizens go to the polls.

In September, the Constitutional Court disqualified six candidates, including Jean-Pierre Bemba Gongo, who was Kabila’s main rival in the 2006 election and leads the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), a rebel group which disarmed and has become one of the main opposition parties in the DRC. While Bemba’s disqualification can be attributed to corruption charges he has faced in Congolese courts, more worrying is a separate decision disqualifying a seventh presidential candidate, Moïse Katumbi Chapwe, due to charges of real estate fraud, which are widely regarded as politically motivated. Independent polling throughout the summer has shown that Katumbi, who governed the DRC’s prosperous Katanga Province between 2007 and 2015, consistently leads among potential candidates, and that almost two-thirds of the electorate do not trust the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to hold free and fair elections.

Supporters of Democratic Republic of Congo's Union for Democracy and Social Progress shout slogans in the streets of Kinshasa, on December 21, 2018 (Photo: Luis Tato).

Supporters of Democratic Republic of Congo’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress shout slogans in the streets of Kinshasa, on December 21, 2018 (Photo: Luis Tato).

If the protests in 2016 and 2017 over the delayed elections are any indication, the security situation in Kinshasa and other communities could rapidly deteriorate if the electorate feels they have been denied an authentic choice in the head of state. Of the 21 candidates in the presidential race, there are only three main contenders including Emmanuel Ramzani Shadary. He has served as Minister of the Interior and Security under Kabila, was endorsed by Kabila as well as the PPRD and its coalition partners, which currently hold 332 out of the 500 seats in the National Assembly (the lower house of the DRC’s bicameral legislature) and 44 of the 108 seats in the Senate (the upper house). In the aforementioned opinion polls, Ramzani trails Katumbi and another opposition candidate, Félix Tshisekedi, but there is a sentiment among many Congolese that Ramzani has effectively been anointed as Kabila’s successor.

The European Union seems to share these apprehensions about the vote. In May 2017, Ramzani was added to an EU sanctions list – banning his entry to the Schengen Area and freezing his financial assets – amid allegations he had ordered the violent repression of several opposition parties, as well as atrocities against the ethnic Luba population in Kasai Province. Whether the EU will also deploy election observers to the DRC remains to be seen; although observers were deployed to monitor the 2005 constitutional referendum and the general elections in 2006 and 2011, the security situation could prevent the deployment of another such mission. Similarly, it is not yet clear whether the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), or the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will deploy election observation missions to the DRC. But the presence of independent election observers could help in defusing tensions, as has been emphasized by some of the religious leaders whose mediation was integral to even setting a date for the elections.

While the peaceful exit of Kabila is preferable to the kind of coup that ousted Robert Mugabe from power in Zimbabwe in November 2017, neighbouring countries will need to prepare for the potential for renewed conflict in the DRC and the arrival of new waves of refugees. Angola has gradually withdrawn its military assistance since June 2017, while Rwandan and Congolese forces have occasionally clashed near the eastern DRC city of Goma. Though the nature of their reactions differ, all those that share borders with the DRC seem to be preparing for an upheaval. A coordinated regional response would help to ensure that any conflicts resulting from the vote do not spill across borders but also that the DRC’s territorial integrity and sovereignty are upheld at this time. At the very least, the SADC is on alert, convening in August 2018 a summit in the Angolan capital of Luanda the leaders of 15 of the 16 member states – Kabila did not attend – to discuss the political instability in the DRC. But just as the Congo is at the heart of the African continent, this election should be top of mind for the leadership of the AU.

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Bahrain: a quiet conflict continues to simmer

by Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Over the past several years, Shia militants have waged a low-intensity insurgency against the Sunni rulers of the tiny Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, an important frontline in the proxy war between Iran and its rivals in the region. The Iranian-backed insurgency is rooted largely in a problem that has long plagued Bahrain’s ruling Al Khalifah dynasty: how to govern over a majority Shia population that for decades has been seething with hostility.

Hostility first turned into action in 1981, when the Tehran-backed Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain (IFLB) launched a failed coup attempt. US-American and Bahraini intelligence services maintain that Bahraini militants were being trained in Iran throughout the 1980s and 1990s, an assertion backed up by the occasional discovery of weapons caches throughout the kingdom.

However, a report on Bahrain’s security by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy notes that “Shi’a militancy in Bahrain was a largely indigenous phenomenon until 2011. Before then, young Shi’a men from slums such as Sanabis, Daih, and Bani Jamra regularly mounted riots against the security forces, barricading of their streets, burning tires, and throwing Molotov cocktails at security force vehicles and riot police of foot.”

The relatively haphazard nature of this anti-government activity, which lacked training, direction or even weapons, changed dramatically in 2011. It was then that peaceful protests inspired by the “Arab Spring” were crushed by the government, backed by Saudi and Emirati intervention forces that were bolstered by the ample deployment of armoured units. They didn’t have to travel far – a short causeway is all the separates Bahrain from its much larger, and more powerful, Saudi neighbor. By the time the protests subsided, several protesters lay dead and thousands wounded.

Bahraini police help an injured comrade after a bomb exploded during clashes between protesters and security forces on March 3, 2014 in the village of Daih, west of the capital Manama. Witnesses reported hearing a blast in Daih during a confrontation between protesters and police who fired tear gas and buckshot to disperse demonstrators.

Bahraini police help an injured comrade after a bomb exploded during clashes between protesters and security forces on March 3, 2014 in the village of Daih, west of the capital Manama. Witnesses reported hearing a blast in Daih during a confrontation between protesters and police who fired tear gas and buckshot to disperse demonstrators.

This lopsided crackdown pushed the anti-government movement in Bahrain towards militancy, and it was not long before IED attacks began taking place against a variety of government and economic targets in the country.

Although some attempts had been made prior, the insurgency hit a milestone in March 2014 when an IED attack killed two Bahraini police officers and an Emirati advisor. According to the Washington Institute report, the attackers in that incident utilised a “daisy-chain” of Claymore-type explosive devices against the officers, who were lured into the kill-zone by a staged protest.

Since then, although remaining small in numbers, the insurgents have become better armed and increasingly sophisticated, a byproduct, according to US and Bahraini officials, of encouragement and training conducted by instructors from Iran and its proxies in Iraq and Lebanon, including Hezbollah.

A captured Bahraini militant interviewed by the Washington Post earlier this year alleged that he had been trained in Iran in 2011 and again in 2017, when an Iranian contact urged him to take action after the Bahraini government reinstated capital punishment.

A protester, holding a Bahraini flag, confronts a riot police armored personnel carrier in an attempt to stop it from entering the village of Bilad Al Qadeem, south of Manama, on January 6, 2015. Bahraini police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to scatter protesters who gathered outside the home of Sheikh Ali Salman, a Shi'ite Muslim opposition leader, after he was remanded in custody for a further 15 days. Around 100 protesters angry at the decision had assembled outside his house in the Manama suburb of Bilad al-Qadeem calling for his immediate release and clashes with police ensued.

A protester, holding a Bahraini flag, confronts a riot police armored personnel carrier in an attempt to stop it from entering the village of Bilad Al Qadeem, south of Manama, on January 6, 2015. Bahraini police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to scatter protesters who gathered outside the home of Sheikh Ali Salman, a Shi’ite Muslim opposition leader, after he was remanded in custody for a further 15 days. Around 100 protesters angry at the decision had assembled outside his house in the Manama suburb of Bilad al-Qadeem calling for his immediate release and clashes with police ensued.

According to the militant, who asked to be identified as Ibrahim, he was trained in the use of small arms, RPGs and a variety of other weapons in Iran, before returning to establish a bomb-making operation at a flat in Bahrain. The bomb components – which included C-4, batteries, wires and a remote trigger – were retrieved from dead drops after communication with a handler in Iran.

A number of other militants interviewed by the newspaper had similar stories of being recruited in-country in Bahrain, before being sent for training in Iran itself or in Iraq by what the US military described as “Iranian-backed special groups” such as Kata’ib Hezbollah.

Ample evidence suggests that Iranian support for Bahraini insurgents has been going on for quite some time, particularly in the form of maritime resupply missions from Iran to Bahrain. In December 2013, for example, Bahraini authorities intercepted a speedboat carrying large quantities of advanced bomb components, including 31 Claymore-type antipersonnel fragmentation mines and 12 EFP warheads, plus the electronics to arm and fire the devices, destined for a safe house in a Bahraini village. Two years later, in July 2015, another vessel was intercepted carrying 43 kilograms of C-4 type explosive, as well as eight AK-47s and ammunition. (Michael Knights, “Iranian EFPs in the Gulf: An Emerging Strategic Risk“, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, February 23rd, 2016).

A group of Bahraini men carrying national flags and signs supporting political prisoners marches quickly to evade police patrols on the lookout for violators of a protest ban, in Manama, Bahrain, on May 1, 2015.

A group of Bahraini men carrying national flags and signs supporting political prisoners marches quickly to evade police patrols on the lookout for violators of a protest ban, in Manama, Bahrain, on May 1, 2015.

Despite the threat that Iranian-backed Bahraini militants could pose to the US military presence in Bahrain, which is the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, some analysts have speculated that Iran’s influence over the groups may be what prevents them from striking US targets. “There was a sense that the Iranians acted as a brake for these groups, saying ‘we’re not going to cross that line’,” the Washington Post quoted former US ambassador to Bahrain Thomas Krajeski as saying.

Looking to the future, however, it seems likely that the insurgency in Bahrain will continue, and may well pick up pace despite the effectiveness of Bahrain’s security forces. For one, Bahrain continues to be harsh in how it deals with opponents. Harsh government methods, in turn, create easy recruitment opportunities for Bahraini militant groups. Second, the conflict in Bahrain must be seen within the broader context of rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is currently driving other conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

“Iran might be trying to deter Bahraini crackdowns or develop leverage over the Gulf States more generally,” the Washington Institute report notes. “Indicators of a more ambitious Iranian strategy in Bahrain might include assassinations of Bahraini security leaders, stockpiling of larger stores of small arms and ammunition, further prison breaks or weapons thefts, and an expansion in the manpower pool of trained Bahraini militants available for use in a future uprising.”

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China Thinks Its Air Force Can Deter or Even Defeat the US Air Force, and the USAF is Responding

by Darien Cavanaugh. He is writing on politics, foreign policy, global conflict, and weapons platforms has been published at War is Boring, offiziere.ch, The National Interest, Real Clear Defense, Yahoo! News, The Week, Global Comment, and the Center for Securities Studies. To see more of his work, visit his website.

Chinese airmen walk in formation prior to a combat drill with H-6K bombers (Photo: Yang Ruikang).

Chinese airmen walk in formation prior to a combat drill with H-6K bombers (Photo: Yang Ruikang).

RAND Project AIR FORCE publicly released a 73-page report in November that outlines the goals and capabilities of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its air force, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). RAND Project AIR FORCE is the division of the RAND Corporation that serves as “the U.S. Air Force’s federally funded research and development center for studies and analyses.” The report was authored by Scott W. Harold, an Associate Director of the Center for Asia Pacific Policy at RAND.

Titled “Defeat, Not Merely Compete: China’s View of Its Military Aerospace Goals and Requirements in Relation to the United States,” Harold’s report examines how the PLA “strives to match or exceed the capabilities of the United States in military aerospace” as well as how the PLA “approaches the question of whether to copy from a leading foreign aerospace power or to develop a new and innovative approach to accomplishing a mission or fielding a capability.”

Harold suggests that the PLAAF attempts to “copy” the US Air Force (USAF) in some areas, as demonstrated by its penchant for “stealing” technology from the USAF or its efforts to adopt aspects of the US military’s logistics of power projection, and notes that even the PLAAF’s “bright eyes, strong fists, and long arms” motto mimics the USAF’s vision of “global vigilance, global reach, global power.”

Assessing the Degree Of PLA Imitation of U.S. Military Aerospace (Source: Scott W Harold, “Defeat, Not Merely Compete: Chinas View of Its Military Aerospace Goals and Requirements in Relation to the United States“, RAND Corporation, 2018, p. 4).

However, he also points out several areas in which the PLA and the PLAAF rely on innovation rather than copying. For instance, China uses UAVs differently than the US because it has different capabilities, political imperatives, and operational goals. The PLA also chose innovation over imitation when it realized it would likely lose a significant number of aircraft and pilots if it needed to attack US aircraft carriers in the Pacific Ocean anytime in the near future. Instead of looking at how the US might deal with such a situation, the PLA developed the first operational anti-ship ballistic missile supposedly capable of immobilizing or even destroying a supercarrier in a single strike.

In regard to how the PLA and PLAAF hope to “match or exceed” US capabilities, Harold examines fundamental ideological changes taking place within the PLA. Drawing on research conducted by Chinese military theorists, Harold argues that since roughly 2004 the PLAAF has been transforming from a defensive force concerned primarily with defending China’s territory into a “strategic air force” that can “directly support national policy objectives and achieve a wide range of strategic goals.”

This “wide range of strategic goals” alludes to, among other things, China’s efforts to extend its military influence into other theaters, such as Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, and the Indian Ocean. Harold’s report states that in order to achieve these goals, China continues to expand its military as a means of deterrence but is increasingly willing to engage the US in a military conflict. More importantly, China is starting to think it could win.

“The PLA seeks not merely to compete with, but to defeat, the U.S. military, should the two countries ever come into direct confrontation,” Harold writes. “The overwhelming majority of China’s military capabilities developments and reforms, including its military aerospace capabilities developments, have been oriented toward this goal.”

A Chengdu J-20, the PLAAF's fifth-generation stealth fighter, in flight during the opening of the Zhuhai Airshow in China (Source: Alert5, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license).

A Chengdu J-20, the PLAAF’s fifth-generation stealth fighter, in flight during the opening of the Zhuhai Airshow in China (Source: Alert5, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license).

An overt desire to expand China’s sphere of military influence and to be able to “defeat” the US military in a conflict, in the manner that Harold describes, stands in contrast to the “active defense” approach that the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the PLA adhered to for decades, and still publicly advocated as recently as 2015. That year China’s Information Office of the State Council released a summary of China’s military strategy that included a section titled “Strategic Guideline of Active Defense”:

The strategic concept of active defense is the essence of the CPC’s military strategic thought. From the long-term practice of revolutionary wars, the people’s armed forces have developed a complete set of strategic concepts of active defense, which boils down to: adherence to the unity of strategic defense and operational and tactical offense; adherence to the principles of defense, self-defense and post-emptive strike; and adherence to the stance that “We will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked.

James Holmes, who serves as the J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College, has compared China’s active defense strategy to the “rope-a-dope” technique Muhammad Ali famously used in his Rumble in the Jungle fight against George Foreman and other bouts. “To oversimplify,” Holmes wrote in an article for The National Interest, “the conceit behind active defense is that a weaker China can lure a stronger pugilist into overextending and tiring himself before delivering a punishing counterpunch.” Despite the obvious limitations of such a strategy, Holmes concluded that China could defeat the US in a war over the South China Sea, for instance, simply by “outlasting” its stronger foe, just as Ali outlasted Foreman.

Holmes has not been the only one to suggest that the US military could face more difficulty than it may like to admit in a conflict with China. In 2015, RAND released a report titled “The U.S.-China Military Scorecored: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power 1996-2017” that chronicled recent developments in the respective militaries and predicted their ongoing effects into the near future. A section of the report titled “The Receding Frontier of U.S. Dominance” noted:

Not since the Vietnam War has the United States fought a sustained air superiority campaign in which U.S. aircraft were challenged by both enemy fighters and ground-based air defenses. Not since World War II has it fought an enemy capable of putting its major surface ships or submarines at risk through anything other than surprise, one-off raids. Nor since that time has it fought a high-intensity war in which its support facilities, including regional air and naval bases, were expected to operate while under systematic conventional attack. And it has never fought an opponent armed with precision standoff weapons, operationalized counterspace capabilities, or well-developed and practiced cyberwarfare capabilities, much less one armed with nuclear weapons.

While the report made it clear that the US military still owns a “major advantage” over China’s military in many regards, it nevertheless made some rather grim conclusions about what the USAF and Navy could expect in a war with China:

Conflict with China would look even less like recent wars, in which the United States established air and naval supremacy in a matter of hours or days and then proceeded to “apply force” from secure bases. Rather, this would be a war in which the United States would be challenged in the air, on (and under) the water, in space, and across the electromagnetic spectrum. U.S. forces would be hard-pressed from the start and they would probably not enjoy sanctuary in regional bases. Also unlike recent wars, the U.S. military could well sustain significant air and naval losses.

Harold’s report for RAND Project AIR FORCE was not released to the public until last month, but it was shared with USAF leaders in September of 2017. It undoubtedly contributed to Pentagon’s decision, just a few months after acquiring the report, to conduct a major revaluation of its air and naval forces.

In January of this year, Command Sergeant Major John Wayne Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Military Times that the US military needs to expand considerably in order to stay ahead of the the militaries of Russia and China. Troxell underscored the importance of strengthening the US Navy and Air Force.

Troxell also alluded to the growing possibility of a Russia-China military alliance, saying, “We have to have a robust force where we can defeat one of those nation-state threats in one theater and potentially deny the objectives of another, along with keeping pressure on these violent extremists like ISIS, and in the end still be able to defend our homeland.”

Soon after Troxell made those statements, the US Air Force began a six-month study into how it would address the growing demands that it faces. On September 17, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson presented the findings of that research in a keynote address titled “The Air Force We Need” given at the Air Force Association’s Air Space and Cyber Conference (see Video below).

Wilson called for adding 74 more squadrons to the USAF by 2030. That would increase the number of USAF operational squadrons from 312 to 386, or by roughly 24 percent, in just over ten years. According to Wilson, that’s how big the USAF needs to be if it wants to compete with a “peer adversary” like China or Russia in prolonged combat. That is, at least if the USAF wants “to win.”

“We must see the world as it is,” Wilson said. “That was why the National Defense Strategy explicitly recognizes that we have returned to an era of great power competition.”

Despite the evidence that the PLA is shifting towards a more offensive military ideology that increasingly embraces power projection and expanding its sphere of influence, Harold ultimately concludes that deterrence remains the primary goal of all branches of the PLA, including the PLAAF.

“It is important to recognize that many of the PLA’s efforts in the military aerospace sector focus on fielding specific capabilities in sufficient quantities to deter the United States from entering a conflict,” Harold writes. “The PLA would vastly prefer this over victory through combat.”

Posted in Armed Forces, China, Darien Cavanaugh, English, International, Security Policy | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Die Transformation vom chinesischen Drachen zu einem weltgrössten Datenkrake

by Ypsilons 378
This article is also available in English.

Die chinesische Regierung plant das eigene Volk mit einem umfassenden “Sozialkreditsystem” zu überwachen. Damit will sie Ehrlichkeit und Aufrichtigkeit fördern, um den ökonomischen und sozialen Fortschritt voranzutreiben. Dabei sollen “Vertrauensbrecher” hart bestraft werden.

Im Reich der Mitte entsteht momentan ein digitaler Datenkrake, was die zügellose Datensammelwut und den zukünftigen Umgang mit “Big Data” in einem bedenklichen Licht erscheinen lässt. Das chinesische Sozialkreditsystem soll gemäss Planung 2020 offiziell in Betrieb gehen. Ab diesem Zeitpunkt soll sich niemand der annähernd 1,5 Milliarden Einwohnern dem staatlichen Bewertungssystem mehr entziehen können.

Erziehung zum “guten” Menschen
Zhang Zheng, Leiter der Forschungsstelle für Chinas Sozialkreditsystem an der Universität Peking, ist ein wichtiger Vordenker und Theoretiker des chinesischen Sozialkreditsystems. Seine Denkweisse wurzelt in seiner eignen Sozialisierung, denn der Wirtschaftsprofessor hatte ursprünglich Mathematik und Naturwissenschaften studiert, was einen rationelle und analytische Denkweise voraussetzt. Der Umgang mit Menschen und mit gesellschaftlichen Problemstellungen erfordert jedoch eine breitere, differenzierter Betrachtungsweise, was eingefleischten Naturwissenschaftlern oftmals Mühe bereitet. In den Sozialwissenschaften gibt es eben nicht nur 0 oder 1, schwarz oder weiss, richtig oder falsch, Gut oder Böse — doch genau auf diesem vereinfachten dualen Denkmuster basiert das chinesische Sozialkreditsystem.

There are two kinds of people in this world: good people and bad people. Now imagine a world where the good ones are rewarded and the bad ones are punished — Zhang Zheng zitiert in Martin Maurtvedt, “The Chinese Social Credit System: Surveillance and Social Manipulation: A Solution to ‘Moral Decay’?“, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo, 2017, p. 1.

Zheng ist überzeugt, dass das chinesische Sozialkreditsystem, also eine Sozialisierung zum “guten” Menschen mit digitaler Hilfe, ein nachhaltiger Grundpfeiler für die moralische Ordnung der chinesischen Gesellschaft werden wird. Damit soll sich die Moral in der Gesellschaft verbessern. Ob die Alltagsmoral der Einwohner oder die Geschäftsmoral der Unternehmen, das System soll dafür sorgen, dass Regeln eingehalten werden (Axel Dorloff, “Chinas Weg in die IT-Diktatur“, SWR2 Wissen, 12.02.2018). Das hat insbesondere für den Einzelnen spürbare Konsequenzen: Gute Einwohner sollen belohnt und bevorzugt, schlechte mit drastischen Einschränkungen im täglichen Leben sanktioniert werden.

Aufbau und Funktion
Das Sozialkreditsystem basiert auf zentralisierte Datenbanken, in welchen beispielsweise Kranken- und Gerichtsakten, Onlineshopping oder Beiträge in sozialen Netzwerken sowie Internet-Suchanfragen, Reisepläne oder Einkäufe mit Kreditkarte oder den Bezahl-Apps abgespeichert und ausgewertet werden (Felix Lee, “China: Die AAA-Bürger“, Die Zeit, 30.11.2017). Algorithmen analysieren und gewichten diesen Datenhaufen, welcher schliesslich zu einem einzigen Punktestand verdichtet wird. Firmen und Institutionen haben dabei keine Wahl; sie werden gezwungen ihre Daten dem System zur Verfügung zu stellen. Viel Druck auf die chinesischen unternehmen wird kaum notwendig sein, gibt es doch bereits jetzt freiwillige Vorreiter, wie beispielsweise Alibaba mit Sesame Credit (mit über 450 Millionen aktiven Kunden), Tencent (Betreiber des erfolgreichen chinesischen Kurznachrichtendienstes WeChat) oder Baidu. Chinas privaten Internetkonzerne haben erklärt, die Kommunistische Partei Chinas dürfe sich ihrer Spitzentechnologien und Datenschätze bedienen, denn im Gegenzug winkt ihnen der Zugang zu bislang verschlossenen Regierungsdatenbanken (Kai Strittmatter, “Genosse Big Brother“, Das Magazin, Nr. 21, 27.05.2017).

Das Beispiel Sesam Credit zeigt, dass nicht nur die Zahlungsmoral sondern auch “Verhaltensvorlieben” und “persönlichen Netzwerke” die Kreditwürdigkeit beeinflussen kann. Gemäss Li Yingyun, Entwicklungschef von Sesame Credit, wird jemand, der zehn Stunden am Tag Video-Spiele spielt, als träge Person eingestuft; wer jedoch häufig Windeln kauft, ist aller Wahrscheinlichkeit nach ein Elternteil und nimmt daher ein höheres Mass von Verantwortung war (Axel Dorloff, “Sozialkredit-System: China auf dem Weg in die IT-Diktatur“, Deutschlandfunk, 09.09.2017). Ambitionierte Spieler riskieren somit einen Punkteabzug; verantwortungsvolle Personen erhalten jedoch eine Punktegutschrift. Ausserdem lohnt es sich Freunde mit hohem Punktestand um sich zu scharren, weil es die eigene Kreditwürdigkeit positiv beeinflusst. Wer jedoch mit Freunden mit tiefen Punktestand verkehrt, riskiert Punktabzüge (Felix Lee). Wer auf Partnersuche ist, kann mit einem hohen Punktestand werben, denn Sesame Credit arbeitet unter anderem mit Chinas grösster Online-Partnervermittlung Baihe zusammen. Das heisst jedoch, dass Personen mit niedrigem Punktestand zwangsläufig Single bleiben werden.

Moralische Vorbilder: Ronchengs "zivilisierte Familien" sind auf solchen öffentlichen Schautafeln zu bewundern. (Foto: Simina Mistreanu)

Moralische Vorbilder: Ronchengs “zivilisierte Familien” sind auf solchen öffentlichen Schautafeln zu bewundern. (Foto: Simina Mistreanu)

Testbetrieb bereits am Laufen
Nicht nur Firmen sind bereits kräftig am Daten sammeln, verarbeiten und auswerten. Rund drei Duzend chinesische Städte experimentieren mit verschiedenen Sozialkreditsystemen. Beispielsweise betreibt die rund 670’000 Einwohner umfassende ostchinesische Küstenstadt Rongcheng seit 2014 ein Sozialkreditsystem, welches als eigentliches Vorzeigeprojekt für ein chinaweites System gilt. Ein weiteres populäres System betreibt Shanghai mit ihrer Honest Shanghai App, welches auch Gesichtserkennung implementiert hat. Für die Registrierung wird mit der Mobile-Kamera das Gesicht erfasst und mit dem elektronischen Personalausweis verglichen und verifiziert. Kurze Zeit später hat der Benutzer einen ersten Punktestand auf seinem Display. Dieser Punktestand wird jeweils Ende Monat aktualisiert. Die für eine hohe oder tiefe Bewertung herangezogenen Sensoren und Faktoren sind geheim. Das System soll jedoch pro Person um die 3’000 Datenpunkte aus nahezu 100 staatlichen Datenquellen berücksichtigen (Rob Schmitz, “What’s Your ‘Public Credit Score’? The Shanghai Government Can Tell You“, NPR.org, 03.01.2017).

Auch wenn die einzelnen bewerteten Faktoren der Pilotprojekte geheim sind, soll das chinesische Sozialkreditsystem sich allgemein auf die Auswertung von vier übergeordneten Grössen konzentrieren:

  1. Kommerzielle Aktivitäten: Die kommerziellen Aktivitäten bilden die Basis des Systems, denn eines der Ziele der chinesischen Regierung ist mit dem System das Vertrauen im kommerziellen Bereich zwischen den Bürgern, aber auch zwischen den Bürgern und der Wirtschaft zu verbessern. Wer also seine Rechnungen pünktlich bezahlt, wird klar im Vorteil sein. Solche Systeme sind übrigens auch im Westen üblich (in Deutschland beispielsweise die Schufa). Die Chinesen gehen jedoch noch einen Schritt weiter: Wer ohne Fahrticket fährt, oder wer sich im Umgang mit Geld etwas zu Schulden kommen lässt, der darf in vielen Fällen bereits heute nicht mehr mit dem Schnellzug oder mit dem Flugzeug reisen. Allein im vergangenen Jahr wurde diese Strafe rund 6,7 Millionen Mal verhängt, so die offiziellen Angaben des Obersten Gerichtshofes.
  2. Wir haben das Sozialkredit-System in unserem Dorf nun schon seit einigen Jahren. Was immer wir auch tun, wir denken dabei an unsere Kreditpunkte. Wir unterstützen das Dorf, wo es geht. Wir machen sehr oft sauber und fegen die öffentlichen Flächen. Müll oder auch nur Gras vor die eigene Tür zu legen – das ist nicht erlaubt. Wenn einer diese Regeln nicht befolgt, gilt er als unehrlich. Wenn der Dorfvorsteher nach etwas verlangt, folgen wir. Wer alles sauber und in Ordnung hält, gilt als Vorbild. — zitiert in Axel Dorloff, “Sozialkredit-System: China auf dem Weg in die IT-Diktatur“, Deutschlandfunk, 09.09.2017.

  3. Soziales Verhalten: Egal ob offline oder online, das soziale Verhalten nimmt einen wichtigen Stellenwert bei der Beurteilung ein. Mit einem Belohnungs- und Bestrafungsmechanismus soll das System die Einwohner zu einem in den Augen der Regierung positiven Verhalten erziehen. Wer in Rongcheng beispielsweise anderen hilft oder sich engagiert, bekommt 5-10 Zusatzpunkte. Ähnlich ist es in Shanghai: Wer älteren Einwohnern oder Armen hilft, kann sich auch hier Zusatzpunkte erarbeiten — ob dies ein moralischer Fortschritt darstellt, kann berechtigterweise bezweifelt werden.
  4. Administrative Tätigkeiten: Das System wird auch die administrativen Abläufe vereinfachen, denn unberechtigte Hilfsanträge an die Behörden führen zu einem Punktabzug. Dies gilt insbesondere beim Einreichen von regierungskritischen Petitionen. Wer gar die Kommunistische Partei in den sozialen Medien kritisiert, muss sich nicht wundern, wenn er auf der schwarzen Liste landet. Anträge von Personen unterhalb einem gewissen Punktestand werden auf die lange Bank geschoben, wenn sie überhaupt noch bearbeitet werden. Im Gegenzug geniessen bereits heute Personen mit überdurchschnittlich hohem Punktestand eine bevorzugte Behandlung.
  5. Strafverfolgung: In Rongcheng ist die Strafverfolgung bereits integriert: Wer ein Rotlicht überfährt, dem wird unverzüglich 5 Punkte abgezogen; wer in betrunkenen Zustand fährt oder gar in einer Schlägerei verwickelt ist, kommt sofort auf die schwarze Liste. Der Punktestand fungiert quasi als eine Art Strafregisterauszug; die Einwohner in Rongcheng müssen ihren Punktestand regelmässig vorweisen: für eine mögliche Beförderung beim Arbeitgeber, für die Mitgliedschaft in der Kommunistischen Partei, für die Beantragung eines Kredits bei der Bank — nichts geht mehr ohne gute Bewertung.

Belohnen und bestrafen
Der Umfang der Belohnungen und der Strafen bei einem hohen bzw tiefen Punktestand ist momentan noch von System zu System unterschiedlich. In Rongcheng starten alle mit 1’000 Punkten, welcher dann je nach Verhalten der betreffenden Person zu- oder abnimmt. Die höchste Bewertung ist AAA, was mindestens 1050 Punkten entspricht; am anderen Ende der Skala befindet sich die Bewertung D, was einem Punktestand von unter 600 entspricht. Personen mit mindestens einer A-Bewertung stehen auf einer roten, solche darunter auf einer schwarzen Liste. Die auf der roten Liste werden bevorzugt behandelt: bei Zulassungen für Schulen, bei sozialen Leistungen oder auch beim Abschluss von Versicherungen. Die aus der C-Gruppe werden regelmässig kontrolliert und bekommen bestimmte Einschränkungen auferlegt. Das kann z.B. die Kürzung von sozialen Hilfen sein. Wer in der untersten D-Gruppe auftaucht, qualifiziert sich nicht mehr für Führungspositionen, bekommt bestimmte Leistungen gestrichen und verliert seine Kreditwürdigkeit (Axel Dorloff, “Sozialkredit-System“). Ein weiterer wichtiger Aspekt ist das öffentliche Hervorheben von moralischen Vorbildern bzw. das Anprangern von “Vertrauensbrecher”. In der Regel werden Namen, Fotos, Identitätsnummern und in einigen Fällen sogar die Privatanschriften veröffentlicht. Die Mehrheit wird das momentan noch kaum beschäftigen, denn rund 90% der Einwohner in Rongcheng können ein A vorweisen (Simina Mistreanu, “China Is Implementing a Massive Plan to Rank Its Citizens, and Many of Them Want In“, Foreign Policy, 03.04.2018).

Bei Alibaba führt ein Punktestand über 600 zur Möglichkeit bei Einkäufen in dessen Online-Shop einen Kleinkredit von umgerechnet rund 5’000 Yuan (nicht ganz 650 Euro) aufzunehmen. Ab 650 Punkten braucht es für die Miete eines Leihwagens kein Depot mehr und bei gewissen Hotels bzw. Flughäfen können die Vorzüge einer VIP-Behandlung genossen werden. Ab 700 Punkten kann bei einer Reise nach Shanghai auf zusätzlichen Dokumente verzichtet werden und für eine Person mit mindestens 750 Punkten wird auf chinesischer Seite das Verfahren zur Beantragung eines Schengen-Visa schneller ausgeführt. Momentan scheint Sesame Credit noch auf Bestrafungen zu verzichten (Rachel Botsman, “Big Data Meets Big Brother as China Moves to Rate Its Citizens“, Wired, 21.10.2017).

Ich werde bestraft, weil ich für jemanden Dritten eine Kredit-Bürgschaft ausgestellt habe. Der Kredit wurde nicht zurückgezahlt und ich wurde bestraft. Als ich ein Flugticket kaufen wollte, habe ich keins bekommen. Daraufhin habe ich herausgefunden, dass ich grundsätzlich keine Tickets mehr kaufen kann. Das war im November 2016. Ich kann weder Flugtickets noch Fahrscheine für den Schnellzug kaufen. — zitiert in Axel Dorloff, “Sozialkredit-System: China auf dem Weg in die IT-Diktatur“, Deutschlandfunk, 09.09.2017.

Die vielseitigen Belohnungen sollten nicht vor den immensen Risiken dieses Systems täuschen. In China wird momentan ein totalitäres Überwachungssystem etabliert, welches — je nach politischen Bedürfnissen — China schnell zu einem riesigen Gefängnis umfunktionieren könnte. Personen auf schwarzen Listen und Reisebeschränkungen vermelden, dass es sehr schwierig ist von diesen Listen wieder herunterzukommen (siehe auch Simina Mistreanu, “China Is Implementing a Massive Plan to Rank Its Citizens, and Many of Them Want In“).

Doch die Auswirkung werden sich womöglich nicht nur auf China beschränken. Auch wenn in demokratischen Staaten ein politisch gefärbtes Sozialkreditsystem eher unwahrscheinlich ist, so bedeutet dies noch lange nicht, dass in demokratischen Staaten tätige Firmen auf ein solches Geschäftsmodell verzichten wollen. China ist zwar das herausstechende Beispiel eines solchen Systems, doch ähnliche Ansätze sind international erkennbar. Unternehmen, welche die Kreditwürdigkeit von einer Person beurteilen, gibt es bereits seit langem. Wer kein Uber-Taxi mehr bekommt, hat sich womöglich mal in einem solchen übergeben (jedenfalls weiss Uber schon heute, wer ihrer Kunden einen One-Night-Stand hatten —> Bradley Voytek, “Rides of Glory“, Uber Blog, 12.03.2012). Die dänische Firma Deemly zeigt exemplarisch auf, dass auch in westlichen Staaten ein Sozialkreditsystem “light” vermarktet werden kann. Sie bewertet die Vertrauenswürdigkeit von Personen aufgrund der Auswertung derer Aktivitäten auf sozialen Plattformen. In diesem Zusammenhang scheint die Episode “Nosedive” aus der technologie- und gesellschaftskritischen Serie “Black Mirror” prophezeienden Charakter zu besitzen. Ausserdem sollte nicht vergessen werden, dass international tätige chinesische Unternehmen, wie Alibaba, nicht nur von den chinesischen Staatsbürgern Daten erheben, sondern von all ihren Kunden (inklusive Geo-Daten). Mit den in Aussicht gestellten Belohnungen liefern die Kunden ihre Daten sogar freiwillig ab.

Weitere Informationen

  • Massenüberwachung und Sicherheit im Internet“, offiziere.ch, 12.01.2018.
  • TorBox ist ein relativ einfach zu bedienender, anonymisierender Router auf Basis eines Raspberry Pis. Dabei erstellt TorBox ein separates WLAN, welches die verschlüsselten Netzwerkdaten über das Tor-Netzwerk routet. Die Art des Clients (Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, Mobile usw) und des Betriebsystems spielt dabei keine Rolle.
Posted in General Knowledge | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

China Launches Additional Type 094 SSBNs

Skysat imagery of Bohai Shipyard acquired on 16NOV2018 by Planet Labs.

Skysat imagery of Bohai Shipyard acquired on 16NOV2018 by Planet Labs.

Workers at the Bohai Shipyard at Huludao have constructed two additional Type 094 JIN-class ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSBN), satellite imagery from Planet Labs suggests. One Type 094 relocated from the shipyard’s fabrication hall to the nearby fitting-out pier in November 2017, while another relocated in October 2018. The Type 094 is the People’s Liberation Army Navy second generation SSBN that form China’s credible sea-based nuclear deterrent capability.

Assessing the total number of Type 094 submarines available (or soon to be commissioned) is not a simple task. China does not include hull numbers on the sail and handheld photography of key sites has been published sparingly on the Chinese internet. Moreover, observations from satellite imagery to confirm overall numbers are complicated by China’s likely initiation in 2015 of deterrence patrols — as implied by public statements from U.S. officials.

The U.S. DoD China military report published in August 2018 stated that China operates four JIN class boats. The report said nothing of SSBNs currently fitting out or under construction. However, the previous 2016 report did note that China may produce a fifth hull before turning to the development of the next generation Type 096 SSBN in the 2020s. Previous estimates however indicated that China could build between five and eight boats in the Type 094 series. The recent downward estimate is likely due to the shipyard’s shift in constructing the Type 093 variants between 2013 and 2017.

Skysat imagery of Longpo acquired on 07JUN2017 by Planet Labs.

Skysat imagery of Longpo acquired on 07JUN2017 by Planet Labs.

Imagery Record
Imagery suggests that four Type 094 are operationally deployed to the Longpo Naval Base on Hainan Island. Imagery captured all four boats berthed at the base at various intervals between March and July 2017. From the last observation of the four in July to the November 2017 launch of the Type 094 at Bohai, between one and three JIN were visible on imagery. This follows a similar pattern of activity previously observed suggesting the JIN-class maintain a persistent patrol in the South China Sea, in what is likely becoming a bastion for SSBN operation.

Moreover, these patrols were all the more necessary during this period as India and China, both nuclear armed states, were involved in an increasingly heated standoff in the Himalayas at the tri-border area of Doklam. While neither state brought nuclear threats into the conflict, nuclear weapons are always in the background affecting the calculus of an adversary. India however, was at a disadvantage at the time as it was unable to send Arihant, its sole SSBN, out on patrol. Imagery shows that Arihant was confined to maintenance at Vizag. The SSBN relocated outside of its mobile shelters only in September after the standoff seemingly cooled. (Interestingly after this observation, a Type 094 was observed at Xiaopingdao between December 2017 and January 2018).

Meanwhile, high cadence imagery collected by Planet Labs provided a persistent look at the Bohai shipyard from July 2017 to November 2018, a period when all four JIN were unaccounted and new SSBNs were being launched. Up to 244 days of Planetscope imagery was analyzed in the process of tracking shipyard activity. While there remain some gaps due to cloud cover, a categorization of blocks of activity was possible which suggests that the JIN did not return to Bohai from Longpo. This is a significant determination as the JIN visible on imagery at the fitting-out pier relocated from the shipyard’s fabrication hall. Therefore, recent analysis suggesting that the commissioned subs returned to the shipyard for refits or long-term maintenance is likely incorrect. Moreover, observers have yet to see a SSBN return to the fabrication hall for refits; most occur in a dry dock.

What’s the more probable analysis? China has constructed two additional Type 094 submarines, bringing their total (future) number to at least six. This suggests that China’s nuclear deterrent is very much viable and there are still four operational SSBNs with one currently “on patrol”, similar to previous baselines.

Posted in China, English, Intelligence, International, Sea Powers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Little-Known Relationship between Climate Change and National Security

by Austin Michael Bodetti. He is an analyst specializing in the Muslim world.

Western diplomats, generals, and politicians have long cited China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and other rivals as the greatest threats to international security, but another, greater challenge looms on the horizon. Climate change threatens not only the natural environment but also national interests from Europe to North America. If Western policymakers want to overcome this challenge, they need to prepare for it just as they have taken precautions against their traditional nation-state adversaries.

“National security extends well beyond protecting the homeland against armed attack by other states, and indeed, beyond threats from people who purposefully seek to damage or destroy states,” Joshua Busby, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote in a research paper for the Council on Foreign Relations. “Phenomena like pandemic disease, natural disasters, and climate change, despite lacking human intentionality, can threaten national security.”

Near the town of Igo, California, on July 28, 2018 (Photo: Hector Amezcua).

Near the town of Igo, California, on July 28, 2018 (Photo: Hector Amezcua).

The effects of climate change and extreme weather can resemble the fallout of a war, resulting in the spread of chaos, death, and destruction across much of a country’s territory. “Like armed attacks, some of the effects of climate change could swiftly kill or endanger large numbers of people and cause such large-scale disruption that local public health, law enforcement, and emergency response units would not be able to contain the threat,” noted Busby.

Global warming proves a unique obstacle to international security in that it threatens all countries. Famines and natural disasters can do just as much damage to Beijing, Moscow, Pyongyang, and Tehran as they can to London, Ottawa, Paris, and Washington. Recognizing this reality will help policymakers across the world cooperate on measures that promote environmentalism and global security.

“Framing climate change as a national security threat has obvious advantages,” Issie Lapowsky, a journalist focusing on national security and politics, observed in an article for Wired. “Not only does it increase the sense of urgency, but it also creates a path for environmental solutions.”

The United States Intelligence Community appears to understand these advantages. In 2008, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Office of Naval Intelligence collaborated on a research paper assessing the risks of global warming for the superpower’s national security.

“We judge global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. national security interests over the next twenty years,” concluded the National Assessment on the National Security Implications of Global Climate Change to 2030. “Although the United States will be less affected and is better equipped than most nations to deal with climate change, and may even see a benefit owing to increases in agriculture productivity, infrastructure repair and replacement will be costly.”

The rest of the federal government is following the Intelligence Community’s lead. The Department of Defense published the 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, which acknowledged that “[r]ising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict.” Congress and U.S. President Donald Trump even signaled their agreement on the issue just last year.

The U.S.’s historical adversaries, which face their own difficulties with global warming, are taking steps to respond. China is trying to position itself as a leader in the environmental movement. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that “[c]limate change has become one of the gravest challenges humanity is facing.” Some analysts have even speculated that North Korea could cooperate with South Korea to curb climate change. Iran has developed the National Strategic Plan on Climate Change despite the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ brutal, ongoing crackdown on environmentalists.

Climate change presents an even more dire threat for island countries. In Fiji, villagers have had to relocate as the water level risers. In the Comoros, the potential for cyclones and tsunamis will likely increase. In Sri Lanka, the possibility of landslides is growing. Climate change could submerge many of these island countries. “From rising seas to the loss of fresh water, islands are among the most vulnerable nations to global warming,” Brad Plumer and Lisa Friedman wrote for The New York Times.

Villagers stand on jute plants surrounding a flooded house in the Gaibandha District of Bangladesh. The country is among the most vulnerable to increased flooding with climate change (Photo: Jonas Bendiksen / National Geogrphic image collection).

Villagers stand on jute plants surrounding a flooded house in the Gaibandha District of Bangladesh. The country is among the most vulnerable to increased flooding with climate change (Photo: Jonas Bendiksen / National Geogrphic image collection).

These persistent obstacles to the stability of the international community can unite the leaders of all the world’s countries against climate change. Because global warming threatens Western adversaries and allies alike, nation-states from China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia to Britain, Canada, France, and the U.S. have a vested interest in stopping it. International initiatives such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement represent steps in the right direction, but the world has to do much more.

The United Nations can act as a platform for the international community’s efforts in this regard, and the UN Environmental Program, or UNEP, offers diplomats the perfect opportunity to foster collaboration. The UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council can empower UNEP, grow it, and integrate it into wider initiatives such as the UN Development Program to expand UNEP capabilities when the countries behind the UN choose to collaborate on this critical challenge.

While many countries have employed individual or multilateral measures to fight climate change, the most effective initiatives will combine the efforts of great powers, middle powers, small powers, and intergovernmental organizations such as the UN. Preserving international security depends not only on preventing brinkmanship, nuclear proliferation, and terrorism but also on stopping climate change once and for all. Britain, Canada, China, France, Iran, North Korea, Russia, the U.S., their allies, and every other country in the world would benefit from a committed, concerted effort to curb global warming.

Some cultural critics and pundits have portrayed environmentalism as only a moral, political, or social cause. However, the looming threat of climate change and the natural disasters that it can cause illustrate how much the environmental movement also matters to the future of national and international security. If the international community wants to stop global warming, intelligence agencies and militaries across the world can offer logistical support and scientific expertise, but the most significant changes will have to come from the civilian leadership of countries across the world. Politicians, not soldiers, must choose to take definitive action against climate change.

More information
Will the securitization of climate change help to bring it under control? Based on the Copenhagen School, a topic is attributed to “security” in international relations if it deals with an existential threat that needs to be addressed immediately with extraordinary measures, which may also legitimize the use of force. According to an earlier article by Patrick Truffer, the securitization of specific topics may lead to an incorrect prioritization, an inefficient allocation of resources and an unnecessary implementation of extraordinary measures (Patrick Truffer, “Securitization of everything or how to lose the sense of security at all“, offiziere.ch, 13.04.2015).

Posted in Austin Michael Bodetti, Climate Change, English, Security Policy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Informelle Herrschaft versus liberale Staatlichkeit: Die Regierung Ashraf Ghanis

von Dr. Philipp Münch, Dozent für Sicherheits- und Rüstungspolitik an der Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr in Hamburg. Der Artikel wurde ursprünglich für die Zeitschrift des Katholischen Militärbischofs für die deutsche Bundeswehr “Kompass. Soldat in Welt und Kirche“, Ausgabe Juli/August-Ausgabe 2018 erstellt. Die Zweitpublikation erfolgt mit Erlaubnis von Chefredakteur Josef König.

Ashraf Ghani (links) und Abdullah Abdullah (rechts).

Ashraf Ghani (links) und Abdullah Abdullah (rechts).

Beinahe jeder Bericht über die Lage in Afghanistan kommt zu dem Schluss, dass das Land weit von liberaler Staatlichkeit entfernt ist. Letzteres bedeutet meist, dass die Vertreter des Staates Gesetze und Regeln, die rechtsstaatlichen Verfahren entspringen und internationalen Menschenrechtsstandards entsprechen, landesweit durchsetzen sollen. Tatsächlich ist die Reichweite der afghanischen Regierung jedoch begrenzt. Teile des Landes kontrollieren Aufständische oder andere Machthaber, die Regierungsweisungen widerstehen, ohne sie aktiv mit Gewalt zu bekämpfen. Aber auch viele Staatsvertreter — einschließlich im Bereich der Justiz — ignorieren die formal durchaus vorhandenen rechtsstaatlichen Verfahren. Nicht selten verkaufen die Vertreter des afghanischen Staates staatliche Güter und Posten. Das, was viele Menschen aus dem Westen als “Korruption” sehen, ist also in Afghanistan weit verbreitet.

All dies wirft die Frage auf, warum es trotz der beispiellosen internationalen und afghanischen Anstrengungen seit 2002 nicht gelungen ist, liberale Staatlichkeit in Afghanistan durchzusetzen. Dieser Beitrag vertritt die These, dass unter den im Land selbst zu findenden Ursachen der Hauptgrund für den Fehlschlag in dem Widerspruch liegt, dass liberale Staatlichkeit einerseits eine durchsetzungsstarke, umfassende Herrschaft einer Regierung voraussetzt. Denn ohne eine solche lassen sich die angestrebten Regeln und Gesetze nicht durchsetzen. Zumindest ist es in der Geschichte nirgendwo gelungen, umfassende Herrschaft mit liberalen Mitteln zu erlangen. Andererseits lässt sich eine solche aber offenbar kaum mit liberalen Mitteln erreichen, worauf jedoch die westlichen Hauptunterstützer der afghanischen Regierungen seit 2001 drängen. Der Beitrag wird dieses Dilemma anhand der Präsidentschaft von Ashraf Ghani darlegen.

Die Amtszeit Ashraf Ghanis
Ashraf Ghani wurde im Jahr 2014 Präsident Afghanistans. Er entsprach noch deutlich besser als sein Vorgänger Hamid Karzai dem westlichen Idealbild eines modernen Staatsoberhaupts. Ghani hatte an der Amerikanischen Universität in Beirut, Libanon, sowie in den USA studiert und promoviert. Nach dem afghanischen kommunistischen Putsch von 1978 sowie dem folgenden Konflikt blieb er in den USA und arbeitete unter anderem für die Weltbank. Insgesamt verbrachte er den Großteil seines Erwachsenenlebens außerhalb Afghanistans und verinnerlichte offenbar die westlichen Idealvorstellungen von formaler Staatlichkeit und liberaler Marktwirtschaft.

Afghanische Streitkräfte bei einer Operation gegen die Terrormiliz Islamischer Staat.

Afghanische Streitkräfte bei einer Operation gegen die Terrormiliz Islamischer Staat.

Bereits 2009 trat Ghani in der Präsidentschaftswahl gegen Karzai an, unterlag jedoch aufgrund seiner fehlenden lokalen Unterstützung deutlich mit bloß 3 Prozent Stimmenanteil. Hieraus lernte er offenbar. Im Vorfeld der folgenden Wahl von 2014 sicherte er sich — wie auch sein Hauptkonkurrent Abdullah Abdullah — die Unterstützung lokaler Machthaber im ganzen Land. Im Gegenzug versprach er ihnen Posten. In der zweiten Wahlrunde konnte Ghani die meisten Stimmen auf sich vereinen. Allerdings offenbarte die Auszählung der Stimmen früh, dass viele der Wahlzettel auf beiden Seiten gefälscht waren. Abdullah erkannte daher das Ergebnis nicht an. Erst nach intensiven Verhandlungen und Druck vor allem von US-Seite willigten beide in einen Kompromiss ein. Dieser sah so aus, dass beide überwiegend gleichberechtigt eine “Regierung der Nationalen Einheit” bildeten. In dieser erhielt Ghani den Posten des Präsidenten und Abdullah den eines dafür geschaffenen Regierungsvorstehers.

Ghani stand vor der großen Herausforderung, dass zunächst die Anzahl internationaler Truppen und die Höhe der Hilfszahlungen reduziert wurden. Hierdurch verloren mit einem Schlag zahllose Afghanen, die direkt beim internationalen Militär oder bei Hilfsorganisationen angestellt waren oder indirekt von deren Zahlungen profitierten, ihre Einkommensgrundlage. Zugleich fiel ein Großteil der militärischen Unterstützung für die afghanischen Sicherheitskräfte weg, so dass diese mehr Tote und Verwundete zu verzeichnen hatten. In der Regierungspraxis blockierten sich zudem Ghani und Abdullah, deren Kompetenzen nicht genau voneinander abgegrenzt waren.

Ashraf Ghanis Politik
Ghani orientierte seine Politik stark an einem technokratischen Ideal, das er offensichtlich an den akademischen Einrichtungen und Denkfabriken der USA sowie während seiner Arbeit in der Weltbank verinnerlicht hatte. Demnach käme es vor allem darauf an, Konzepte mit den fachlich dafür geeigneten Personen zu implementieren. Zu diesen Konzepten zählten insbesondere liberale Wirtschaftsreformen, wie sie etwa die internationalen Finanzinstitutionen vertraten. Um seine Politik durchzusetzen, gelang es ihm schrittweise, sich trotz der ungeklärten Kompetenzen als eindeutiger Hauptentscheidungsträger gegenüber Abdullah zu etablieren. Er befasste sich persönlich mit Angelegenheiten fast aller Ressorts bis hinunter zu den ausführenden Ebenen und stellte alle Schlüsselposten im afghanischen Staatsapparat zur Disposition. In vielen Fällen besetzte er sie persönlich mit häufig vergleichsweise jungen und gebildeten Afghanen neu.

Ghani pflegte ein allgemein sehr enges Verhältnis zu den internationalen Gebern und Truppenstellern — darunter insbesondere zu den USA. Die Wirtschaftsleistung Afghanistans wollte er neben staatlichen Investitionen, besserem Regierungsmanagement und Korruptionsbekämpfung vor allem durch Übereinkünfte mit Nachbarstaaten erhöhen, die darauf hinausliefen, den afghanischen Markt weiter zu öffnen. Pakistan wollte er zudem mit einer diplomatischen Initiative dazu bewegen, die afghanischen Taliban nicht mehr zu unterstützen. Hierfür ging er eine in Afghanistan stark umstrittene Geheimdienstkooperation ein.

Der Erfolg von Ghanis Präsidentschaft lässt sich noch nicht abschließend bewerten. Deutlich ist aber, dass beide Lager der “Regierung der Nationalen Einheit” sich gegenseitig stark behinderten. Dies verhinderte eine kohärente Politik und eine rasche Kabinettbildung. Ghanis technisches Verständnis von Politik erschwerte ebenfalls seine Amtsführung. Denn hierdurch missachtete er die Bedeutung von Machtbalancen und Netzwerken, in die afghanische Amtsträger eingebunden sind. Als augenscheinlichste Folge lässt sich die kurzzeitige Einnahme der Hauptstadt der strategisch wichtigen nordöstlichen Provinz Kunduz durch die Taliban sehen.

Dort hatte Ghani Schlüsselamtsträger, die insbesondere während des Dschihads und Bürgerkriegs bewaffnete Gruppen befehligt hatten (Mudschaheddin-Kommandeure), zuvor entlassen und durch junge Gebildete ersetzt. Diese waren aber nicht in der Lage, Netzwerke von Kommandeuren gegen die andrängenden Taliban zu mobilisieren. Folgerichtig entließ Ghani den neuen Provinzgouverneur und wählte wieder einen Angehörigen einer Mudschaheddin-Fraktion. Eine ähnliche Entwicklung zeigte sich in der ebenso bedeutenden südwestlichen Provinz Helmand.

Die pakistanische Regierung blieb ungeachtet anfänglicher Lippenbekenntnisse schließlich trotz Ghanis Initiative ihrer alten Politik treu, die afghanischen Taliban zu unterstützen. Auch wenn zeitweise einige Taliban-Fraktionen Gesprächsbereitschaft signalisierten, setzte diese Bewegung insgesamt ihren Kampf gegen die internationalen Truppen und die afghanische Regierung fort. Durchschlagende Erfolge von Ghanis liberaler Wirtschaftspolitik, der das Geld für eigene Investitionen fehlte, waren nicht zu erkennen. Vielmehr zeigte sich, dass Afghanistan ohne konkurrenzfähige Produktion durch Handelsliberalisierungen eher noch weiter an wirtschaftlicher Kraft verlor. Ghani und Abdullah ließen das verfassungsmäßig vorgeschriebene Datum für eine Parlamentswahl im Jahr 2015 verstreichen. Ebenso beriefen sie keine Versammlung ein, um die Verfassung zu ändern. Dies hatten beide vor Regierungsantritt zugesagt, um Abdullahs neues Amt zu formalisieren. Aufgrund der ausbleiben- den Erfolge und da er sich selbst immer weniger als erhofft an das Ideal liberaler Staatlichkeit zu halten schien, begannen Ghanis internationale Unterstützer, ihr in ihn gesetztes Vertrauen zu verlieren.

U.S. Marine Corps with Task Force Southwest (TFSW) observe their surroundings while at a security post for an advising mission with 1st Brigade, Afghan National Army (ANA) 215th Corps as they conduct Operation Maiwand 12 at Camp Shorserack, Afghanistan, March 13, 2018. Operation Maiwand 12 is an Afghan-led, TFSW-assisted, operation with maneuver elements from the ANA, National Directorate of Security, and Afghan National Police forces to expand the security belt around Helmand Province.   (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Conner Robbins/ Released)

Soldaten des U.S. Marine Corps der Task Force Southwest (TFSW) beobachten ihre Umgebung während eines Unterstützungseinsatzes zugunsten der 1. Brigade des 215. Korps der Afghanischen Streitkräfte (ANA) während der Operation Maiwand 12 im Camp Shorserack am 13. März 2018. Die Operation Maiwand 12 ist eine von Afghanistan geführte, TFSW-unterstützte Operation mit Manöverelementen der ANA, der Nationalen Sicherheitsdirektion und der afghanischen nationalen Polizei, um den Sicherheitsgürtel um die Provinz Helmand zu erweitern.

Dilemmata liberaler Staatlichkeit
Sowohl Karzai als auch Ghani sahen sich nicht in der Lage, staatliche Herrschaft allein nach den Spielregeln formaler Staatlichkeit zu etablieren. Ghani versuchte zwar deutlich stärker, westliche Politik- und Wirtschaftskonzepte umzusetzen. Allerdings war dies bisher von geringem Erfolg gekrönt. Beide griffen daher letztlich auf informelle Netz- werke zu lokalen Machthabern zurück, um ihre Herrschaft zu festigen. Eine Hauptursache dafür, dass sich liberale Staatlichkeit nicht errichten ließ, liegt offenbar darin, dass sie auf in Afghanistan nicht vorhandenen Grundlagen beruht. Insbesondere scheint dies das Fehlen einer gefestigten landesweiten Herrschaft zu sein.

Dies legt zumindest die historische Entwicklung liberaler Staatlichkeit in Nordamerika und Europa, aber auch in Südostasien nahe. So waren alle heute liberalen Staaten zuvor autoritär. Dies gilt selbst für die Vorreiter der neuzeitlichen Demokratie USA und Schweiz. Beide wiesen mitunter noch bis in die zweite Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts Elemente auf, die heute als unvereinbar mit liberaler Staatlichkeit gelten. Betrachtet man die historische Entwicklung von gegenwärtigen liberalen Staaten als einen Prozess, in dem diese schrittweise bestimmte Voraussetzungen erreichten, so wäre Afghanistan in dieser Hinsicht derzeit etwa auf dem Stand, den die europäischen Länder in der Frühen Neuzeit erreichten. Das heißt, afghanische Staatsoberhäupter versuchen wie einst die europäischen Könige, ihre Herrschaft zu festigen, indem sie konkurrierende politische Machthaber mittels Posten (damals am Hof) an sich binden. Nach heutigen westlichen Standards gilt diese Form der Herrschaft allerdings als “Korruption”, da staatliche Mittel allein zu dem Zweck eingesetzt werden, Konkurrenten ruhig zu stellen. Der resultierende aufgeblähte Regierungsapparat ist in der Tat ineffizient, allerdings sorgt er immerhin für eine gewisse Stabilität, indem er die von ihm angestellten Akteure ruhigstellt.

Als unmittelbare Lösung erscheint internationale Treuhandschaft denkbar. Das heißt, dass internationale Akteure mittels eigener Truppen und Polizisten selbst dafür sorgen, dass die Anordnungen der afghanischen Regierung umgesetzt werden. Allerdings hat sich gezeigt, dass kaum Staaten willens sind, die hierfür erforderlichen enormen Mittel bereitzustellen und den Tod ihrer Staatsbürger für dieses Ziel in Kauf zu nehmen. Zudem besteht die reale Gefahr, dass eine derartige Treuhandschaft in eine neue Form des Kolonialismus mündet. Eine solche Tendenz lässt sich bei vielen Missionen mit ähnlichen Zielen bereits beobachten. Liberale Staatlichkeit mit liberalen Mitteln erreichen zu wollen, erscheint somit als eines der größten Dilemmata westlicher Bemühungen in Afghanistan.

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