China-peaceful rise or Sino-American clash?

Is there a peaceful rise of China or will there be a clash or a Sino-American war ? There are two academic representatives of both schools as Kishore Mahbubani and John Mearsheimer who were discussing this issue. These are the two perspectives on the coming escalation of the Sino-American conflict.

Mahbubani says that a confrontation between the USA and China would be inevitable, but avoidable. In his opinion, the USA has to define who is its competitor and if it wants to contain it, the USA needs a comprehensive long-term strategy that incorporates the difference to its former competitor, the Sovjetunion as China and the USA itself would be different actors on both sides. China is in his opinion is not the new Sovjetunion and if you define China as this you will lose. It is not a struggle between democracy and communism, but between a US plutocracy and a Chinese meritocracy. China would like Sun Tze try to avoid a direct conflict, fight not by military means, but mostly with technology and economy, Made in China 2025 and New Silkroad. While the USA was totally missing a comprehensive longterm strategy, China has it. The USA would make the mistake to invest in expensive military platforms or aircraft carriers which were sitting ducks and could be destroyed by 1 cheap anti-ship missile. However, Mahbubani doesn´t explain why China itself is now investing in those sitting ducks and aircraft carriers. To contain China the USA should reduce its defense budget and military and invest in technology and research and development (R&D). In this point of view, Mahbubani is very similar to the libertarian CATO Institute which just published a similar study „Building Military force meets geopolitical realities“.

The US liberal ideology which claims that China could be democratized fails, as most Chinese see the CPC as guardian of an economic development which lifted the 50% bottom Chinese to a historical height, while the middle class and the working class in the west was facing deindustrialization and a decline in living standards which made a Trump possible. The Chinese experienced a period of 30-year prosperity and stability which has never been before in the 4000 year´s history. Therefore the CPC has all support of its people and as guardian of success. Mahbubani is also stressing that China will expand, that it will challenge the USA in the Pacific, but it wouldn`t copy the US history. There would be maybe a difference about Hongkong and Taiwan, but never be a clash with the USA in the Indo-Pacific. There would be no Chinese Theodore Roosevelt who speaks gently and carries a big stick. China would just grow in small steps, didn´t want to antagonize anybody with military means, use Sun Tze as the fighting without military means. China has already intensive economic relations that nobody wanted to choose one side, be it the USA or China. Mearsheimer just says: Security trumps economy. Till now nobody in Asia wants to make the choice but to coexist. But the question will e how Asians and the world will behave if they meet the choice between the USA or China.

John Mearsheimer has a totally different view. First; There will be no peaceful rise of China, but a clash. China isn`t thinking in esoteric Sun Tze stuff, but as a great power, it wants to transfer economic and technological power to military power. It won´t be saturated with Hongkong and Taiwan, but challenge the USA in the Indopacific. Mearsheimer is a proponent of offensive neorealism. There was realism by Morgenthau: The Hobbesian way of thinking that the world is anarchy and that each state tries to save ist existence by power projection and power alliances, power maximization and power balancing. Then was the school of defensive neorealism by Walt and Kinderman, which said that its mostly not a question of pure power games, but also about the perception what power means. However John Mearsheimer ist the offensive neorealist school.

Offensive realism is a prominent theory of international relations belonging to the realist school of thought, which includes various sub-trends characterised by the different perspectives of representative scholars such as Robert Gilpin, Randall Schweller, Eric J. Labs and Fareed Zakaria. Yet, to date, the most important variant of offensive neorealism is that of John J. Mearsheimer as fully developed in his book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.[5] While Mearsheimer’s offensive neorealism theory does reiterate and build on certain assumptions elaborated by classical realists, it departs completely from this branch by using positivism as a philosophy of science and by adding a system-centric approach to the study of state behaviour in international politics based on the structure of the international system. Accordingly, his offensive neorealism pertains to the sub-branch of neorealism alongside other structural theories such as defensive realism.[9

The theory is grounded on five central assumptions similar to the ones that lie at the core of Kenneth Waltz’s defensive neorealism. These are:

  1. Great powers are the main actors in world politics and the international system is anarchical
  2. All states possess some offensive military capability
  3. States can never be certain of the intentions of other states
  4. States have survival as their primary goal
  5. States are rational actors, capable of coming up with sound strategies that maximize their prospects for survival

Like defensive neorealism, offensive realism posits an anrchic international system in which rational great powers uncertain of other states‘ intentions and capable of military offensive strive to survive.[12][13] Although initially developed from similar propositions to those of defensive neorealism, Mearsheimer’s offensive neorealism advances drastically different predictions regarding great power behaviour in international politics. Mainly, it diverges from defensive neorealism in regards to the accumulation of power a state needs to possess to ensure its security and the issuing of strategy states pursue to meet this satisfactory level of security. Ultimately, Mearsheimer’s offensive neorealism draws a much more pessimistic picture of international politics characterised by dangerous inter-state security competition likely leading to conflict and war

What does it mean in reality? The first Gulf war was okay with Mearsheimer, the second Gulf under Bush jr. not and he also criticized the Israel lobby for the US Middle East politics and on the other side he criticized antisemitism. He saw NATO and EU expansion as the cause for legitimate Russian intervention in Ukraine. However, Mearsheimer says that there can´t be a peaceful rise of China, but there will be a clash between these two countries. While Mahbubani is referring to his Chinese and Asian counterparts that they have learned their lesson of history as Pharag Kkann is doing in his Panasian book „The Future is Asian“, John Mearsheimer is talking about that China will maximize ist military power just to get control of its own region-the Indopacific which drives it in a clash with the USA. However, we don´t know if the USA is engaging in a warlike TX Hames Offshore Control or if this will be a long war. However, it will be a long confrontation independent who thinks that he will win. However, there is no strategic longterm perspective for the USA at the moment, but just impulsive, uncoordinated outbreaks of spontaneous actions. And Mearsheimer offensive neorealism could lead to selffulfilling prophecy and an US Crowe memorandum which defensive neorealist Kissinger warned of in his book „On China“.

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Techwar between China and the USA: 6 G, D 10 and leapfrogging

The Trump-USA tries everything from trade war to pressure on allies or other countries to prevent China from becoming a high tech power as China plans it with its China Made 2025 plan. As China is leading in 5 G technology which will define digitalization like quantum computers, AI or blockchain technology, the US boycott for Trump has a high symbolic and strategic value. However Parag Khanna in his book „The future is Asian“ claims that the USA won´t be able to boycott the rise of China as a high-tech power as CHina already imports most of its semiconductors and high-tech elements from the rest of Asia and not the USA. Beyond that China is also pushing its national high-tech champions and is very self-confident that it is able to challenge the innovations of Silicon Valley. While most Europeans still speak of 5 G technology, in China and the USA there is already talk about 6 G technology. As China seems to have passed the USA in 5 G technology, scientists in the USA hope now to leapfrog to 6 G technology and thereby bypass the Chinese. However the Global Times claims that even these US plans are doomed to fail as China itself is already to start 6 G research:

US ‘unlikely’ to leapfrog in 6G race

By Chu Daye and Ma Jingjing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/31 19:43:40 4

Huawei confirms early-stage investment in futuristic technology

A US leapfrog from 5G to 6G, the futuristic telecommunication technologies, to deny China’s lead in 5G is probably just wishful thinking, Chinese industry experts said on Sunday, after a top executive from Huawei Technologies confirmed the company’s early-stage investment in 6G by pointing to the use of millimeter waves.

Discussions of 6G, and American companies‘ role in it, have been on the rise in the US, after US President Donald Trump’s tweet on 6G in February 2019. There is an implicit wish that the US, though slow in the 5G race, could take a lead in 6G development. 

However, Chinese experts said reality may unfold differently. Also, 6G is believed to yield a stronger performance than 5G in terms of bandwidth, latency and connections.

Huawei said it has started research on 6G, and relevant applications are expected to emerge around 2030.

„With the judgment that 6G will use millimeter waves, Huawei is now at the stage of exploring use scenarios and technologies,“ Yang Tao, vice president of Huawei’s China carrier business unit, said in a recent interview with domestic news site

Yang’s comments come as a number of other Chinese telecommunication companies have revealed their 6G research and development, while US industry circles have called for boosting competition in the field.

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun recently said that his company is making 6G research plans and would conduct research on 6G devices, though Xiaomi is not likely to expand into making commercial 6G equipment.

On May 17, domestic telecom equipment manufacturer ZTE agreed with major carrier China Unicom to jointly review 6G prospects and technology trends, and carry out research on key technology and cooperation on standards.

Ma Jihua, a veteran industry analyst, told the Global Times on Sunday that the repeated attacks by the US on Huawei are clear signs that China could not afford to lose its race in 6G.

„The generational progress of telecommunication technologies is based on advancement of technologies, application of technologies and scales of application,“ Ma said. „Given the concept that 6G will morph out of 5G, it would be practically impossible for the US to leapfrog China in 6G.“

„The only scenario under which China is superseded by another country is that the technology roadmap advocated by its manufacturers, operators, service providers and researchers is marginalized and has no market,“ Ma said. „This is not likely to happen with the existing Chinese lead in the field.“

China’s 5G subscribers stood at 50 million as of March, with 198,000 5G base stations rolled out, making the country the world’s largest 5G market, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

The US‘ repeated crackdowns on Huawei also hold important lessons — that China cannot afford to lose the 6G race, which is why companies are simultaneously researching 6G while rolling out 5G, experts said.  

Xiang Ligang, a veteran industry analyst, gave a roadmap of 6G development in China. There will be visions of 6G by 2023, technological standards will be set by 2026, the launch of relevant technology will take place by 2028 and preliminary commercial use of the network will begin by 2030.

Huawei said that 6G will be mainly used in sectors including the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles and smart factories.

Xiang told the Global Times on Sunday that the US crackdown on Huawei will not delay the company’s research and development into the futuristic 6G technology.

„Huawei’s researchers are collecting peers‘ information, such as what are the shortcomings of 5G networks, what consumers can do with 6G, and what 5G technologies can be adopted in the R&D process of 6G technology,“ Xiang said.

China launched a concept study of potential 6G technologies in 2018, with R&D planned to start in 2020, according to the MIIT“

Western efforts to build a D-10-anti-Huawei pool for 5 G technology are also critizised by China:

D10′ 5G club an outdated idea with Cold War mind-set

By Yu Ning Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/31 22:05:08

It was less than six months ago that the Boris Johnson government granted Chinese tech company Huawei a limited role in the country’s 5G networks, but recently it’s widely believed that the UK is signaling an about-face.

Shortly after news broke that the UK government was drawing up plans to force a full phase-out of Huawei from Britain’s 5G networks by 2023, it was reported Friday that London was proposing a „D10“ club of democratic partners that includes the G7 nations, Australia, South Korea and India to reduce dependence on Huawei 5G technology.

The UK’s seemingly untenable position on Huawei is not completely unexpected. For one thing, the US has been pressuring Britain to reconsider its decision of including Huawei as one of the country’s 5G network suppliers. For another, there has been a loud group of China-skeptic MPs urging the UK government to scrap the decision on Huawei citing the excuse that it could compromise national security.

The D10 proposal hopes to form an alliance of 10 democracies to create an alternative pool of 5G equipment and technologies to Huawei. It is another sign that UK decision-making still bows to US pressure. By rallying 10 like-minded countries against China, the plan is largely a Cold War-style design. But today’s world can’t be dominated by ideology as it was during the Cold War era.

For many of the D10 countries including South Korea, Germany and the UK itself, their telecom operators have deep cooperation with Huawei. If the company is excluded from their 5G rollout, their 5G development will be delayed, crippling their national competitiveness on the international stage. Therefore, it’s hard to say whether the D10 club will be easily formed. Even if it comes into being, there will be many uncertainties about whether it can function effectively.“

China also doesn´t like the idea of a new EU „robust China strategy“ and issues some sort of warning:

What to be wary of in robust EU strategy toward China?

By Zhang Bei Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/31 21:48:41

In the recent Annual German Ambassadors‘ Conference, EU High Representative Josep Borrell made a speech addressed to his German host that mainly conveyed high expectations for Germany after it taking the positions of both presidencies of the UN Security Council and the Council of the EU later this year. Borrell offered European observations for China-Europe relations in the post-pandemic era. In particular, he called for a „robust new strategy“ toward China. 

In fact, Borrell’s remark is just one among a litany of reflections in Europe on China during the process of a pandemic. Some comments are far more sensational. Cases in point include the prediction that there will be a „paradigm shift“ or a „complete rethink“ of Europe’s policy toward China after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, when we look into what Borrell really implies in this „new robust strategy,“ we see elements that have been emphasized repeatedly in the last couple of years by the European side. 

First, Europe makes decisions based on its own values and interests. Second, Europe should not be turned into an instrument of the China-US rivalry. Third, Europe speaks and acts as one on the global stage. 

Actually, this thinking is a more or less a consensus on how Europe should cope in a perceived, strange world. In Europe’s eyes, the old world is disappearing rapidly and the new world is not friendly either. The global leader, Europe’s long-time friend and ally, is not only unhelpful, but sometimes even destructive, while the bloc is taking its stable economic partner, which has lucrative market, as a competitor. These two are engaged in a rivalry where the pressure, mainly from the US, for Europe to take sides is mounting. 

Informed by this perception, Europe on a whole has made quite a lot of adjustments. During the past couple of years, it has steadily built on the concept of a „sovereign“ Europe for security, economics and industrial terms. 

In relation to Europe’s policy toward China, it is clear the bloc has become much more „robust“ already and pushing for more „reciprocity.“ The creation of EU’s new instruments to screen investments and enforce antitrust measures is also example of that. Just also remember that both the European Industrial strategy and digital strategy have competition with China in mind. 

Europe’s changing perception and policy adaptation toward China is not unnatural as the global order shifts – and as great changes unseen for more than a hundred years compel state actors to cope and manage like never before. 

China, seeing Europe as a partner, is working to solve problems and address Europe’s concerns in economic cooperation. We aim for more coordination with Europe on global issues which so the two sides are increasingly on the same page. This year is supposed to be a big year for China-Europe relations, with three summits and an on-going bilateral investment treaty negotiation. China will make use of these opportunities to work with Europe and strive for a stable and promising future. 

However, there are still alarming signs in the aforementioned litany of predictions in Europe on China-Europe relations in the post-pandemic era. People who are committed to defending China-Europe partnership should stay wary.

First, a perceived „over dependence“ on China during the pandemic, such as important medicines and personal protective equipment, has made popular talk of „diversification of some value chains.“ In a world where the threat of decoupling of the biggest two economies is real, is Europe confident that this „diversification“ is not a form of „disengagement“ or „managed disengagement?“

Second, Europe is clearly seeking more self-protection with new policy innovations, such as investment screening. But how can Europe make sure protection does not lead to protectionism? This sort of tactic avowedly rejects the sort of economic recovery that is needed now. 

Third, Europe seems to stress more „value“ dimensions of its policy toward China. Despite the fact that China respects Europe’s commitments to its own value system, a so-called value-based policy is turning into interference into China’s own affairs. This posture will greatly damage the trust China and Europe have built up together for years. 

The author is assistant research fellow at the Department for European Studies, China Institute of International Studies.

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Russia’s Constitution: Empire and Orthodoxy

Author: Former ambassador Dr.Dr.h.c.mult. Hans-Ulrich Seidt, born 1952, is  fellow of the Berlin Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University. From 2014 to 2017 he was chief inspector of the Federal Foreign Office and from 2012 to 2014 headed the Department for Foreign Cultural Policy and Communication at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. He was German ambassador to the Republic of Korea and Afghanistan. Before that, he worked at the German embassies in Moscow and Washington and at the German NATO mission in Brussels

At the beginning of 2020, the Russian Federation changed its constitution. The political leadership pursued clearly defined goals: strengthening the center of power under President Putin, defending against Western liberalism in its Anglo-Saxon form and further stabilizing Moscow’s international position. The aim is to maintain and increase strategic efficiency in the global competition of the powers.

It was a coincidence of events: a constitutional revision took place almost simultaneously with the outbreak of the corona pandemic in the largest country on earth. While more than 50 countries worldwide were in a state of emergency, the lex fundamentalis, the basic law of Russia, was changed.

The critical moment and the importance of Russia suggest that the constitutional change should not only be viewed from a legal but also from a historical-political point of view. In addition to the content and procedures, the aim and purpose of the constitutional change, the prior understanding of the Moscow leadership and possible consequences for international politics must be included in an overall assessment. The extent to which the constitutional revision is linked to moral and cultural debates on values ​​and geopolitical concepts of great power not least show the work and impact of pioneers such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Snesarew.

Guardian of the Constitution, Lord of the Procedure

According to Article 80, Section 2, Sentence 1 of the Russian Constitution of 1993, President Putin should be her “guarantor”. This provision is based on the first sentence of Article 5 (1) of the Presidential Constitution of the 5th French Republic. On this basis, General Charles de Gaulle managed to overcome the internal and external crisis of the parliamentary IV Republic. As an occupation officer in Trier from 1927 to 1929, he had learned about the presidential constitution and the political reality of the Weimar Republic. Carl Schmitt’s study „The Guardian of the Constitution“ from 1929 influenced leading French lawyers. Their considerations and suggestions were incorporated into the constitution of the Fifth Republic.

Vladimir Putin, who experienced the end of the Soviet empire as a young KGB officer in Dresden in 1989/90, studied law at the University of Leningrad before joining the Soviet foreign intelligence service. It is not known whether he dealt more intensively with constitutional judicial  or constitutional historical issues during his studies. But one of his professors was Anatoli Sobchak, who after the dissolution of the Soviet Union as Mayor of Leningrad caused the city to be renamed Saint Petersburg and in 1993 helped to draw up the Russian constitution.

Mayor Sobchak appointed Vladimir Putin as his deputy mayor for international relations. In his current position as guardian of the Russian constitution, his former student focuses not least on the interest-oriented and purposeful application of procedural rules. This was already evident in 2008 when Vladimir Putin retired for four years as prime minister under interim president Dmitry Medvedev, who had also studied with Anatoly Sobchak. In this way, Vladimir Putin was able to circumvent the constitutional ban on a third presidency in an uninterrupted sequence in order to become the new president in 2012. An amendment to the constitution that had been made in the meantime then allowed him two terms of six years each.

In his second six-year term, which will last until 2024, President Putin operated the current constitutional change as the unrestricted master of the process. Between mid-January and mid-March 2020, he succeeded in having the law „perfecting the regulation of certain questions of the organization of public power“ adopted and signed. This opens up the opportunity for him to run for president again in 2024. In 2030 he can then be elected again for a term of office until 2036.

The actions of the president met with fierce criticism not only in Russia. The allegation that the guarantor of the constitution had broken the constitution related to the content and procedure of the constitutional change, which had been discretely prepared by the presidential administration since mid-December 2019 at the latest. President Putin then surprised the Russian public in his annual message to the nation on January 15, 2020 with the plan of a constitutional revision.

The 1993 constitution is clearly structured. Chapter 9 regulates constitutional changes and the revision of the constitution. A constitutional amendment is possible in principle according to Art. 134. The President also has the right to initiate a constitutional procedure with a bill. However, Articles 135 and 136 describe and limit the content and formal requirements in an almost classic manner.

According to this, changes can only be made in two ways: Article 135 makes changes to chapters 1 and 2, which protect the foundations of the constitution and the rights and freedoms of people and citizens as the material core of the constitution, dependent on particularly strict requirements. Changes to these chapters and Chapter 9, which regulates the procedures for constitutional change, can only be decided by a constitutional assembly, i.e. a new constituent. They must then be submitted to the people for voting in a constitutional referendum.

The short way to maintaining power

Article 136 of the constitution opens a shorter and simpler route. It only applies to amendments to Chapters 3 to 8. They only require the adoption of a federal constitutional law, which must then be approved by two thirds of the regional parliaments of the Federation members.

President Putin has taken this short route. According to his critics, he has broken the constitution because his proposals to amend the constitution should not be included in the constitution in accordance with the procedure of Article 136. Putin’s proposed constitutional law directly affects the foundations of the constitutional order. There, for example, in Chapter 1, Article 3, Paragraph 4, it expressly states: „Nobody may seize power“. However, the constitutional amendment pursued by the president would haves the goal of extending his term of office contrary to the applicable provisions of the constitution. That is possible , if at all, only through a constitutional amendment according to. Art. 135 .

President Putin nevertheless signed the constitutional amendment on March 18, 2020, the sixth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea. Although it explicitly limits the term of office of the Russian president to two times six years in the future, it precludes the repetition of the 2008 resignation maneuver with subsequent re-election. But for future elections under the amended constitution, and that is the crucial point, Putin’s previous terms should not be taken into account. This is due to the intervention of MP Valentina Tereshkova during the 2nd reading of the constitutional law in the Duma on March 10, 2020. The prominence of the former cosmonaut, the first woman in space, indicated that she represented the interests of the government as a political mouthpiece.

The official interpretation for disregarding Putin’s previous terms is that excluding the president from future presidential elections is legally to be regarded as a retroactive effect of the constitutional law and is therefore inadmissible. The constitutional amendment law is not a Lex Putin and should therefore not be treated as one. The subject of the constitutional amendment is not the extension of the current president’s term of office, but the necessary reorganization of a large number of constitutional provisions and the laws subordinate to them.

In fact, the law contains an abundance of individual provisions, which Otto Luchterhandt, an excellent expert on the Russian constitution, calls a „smorgasbord“. This strengthens the president’s individual competencies, weakens the position of the prime minister somewhat, and extends the rights of the Duma and the Federation Council to participate. In addition, popular social policy measures such as the introduction of a living wage or the coupling of the pension increase to the inflation rate are included in the constitution. This multitude of individual provisions blurs the lines between Articles 135 and 136, which are relevant to a constitutional amendment, and ultimately distracts from the crucial fact that the law allows President Putin to remain President of Russia until 2036.

Belief in God and a millennial history

Special attention was paid to the revised Art. 67 in Chapter 3 of the Constitution, which regulates the federal structure of the country. According to its programmatic formulations, this new version of this article forms part of the foundations of the constitution in Chapter 1. It would therefore fall under the strict procedural provisions of article 135 and would therefore have to be decided by a constitutional assembly. Article 67 (2) reads: “The Russian Federation, united by a thousand-year history and which preserves the memory of the ancestors who have given us the ideals and belief in God and the continuity in the development of the Russian state , is committed to its historically founded unity ”. This albeit unspecific reference to God is at least in a tension-worthy relationship to Art. 14, which is one of the constitutional foundations specially protected by Art. 135. There, in secular tradition, Russia is explicitly described as a secular state and the separation of religious associations from the state is required.

The reference to God in Art. 67 Para. 2 is not alone, but is linked to the explicit commitment to the historically founded unity of the Russian state and its thousand-year history. The concrete event that marks the beginning of Russia’s millennial history is obviously the baptism of Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev in Crimea in 988. Vladimir, the patron saint of President Putin, is revered by both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as a saint on a par with the Apostles. The commitment of the Russian constitution to the historical-political continuity of the state from the Kievan Rus through the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Tsarist Empire and the Soviet Union to the Russian Federation not only maintains the claim of imperial tradition. It connects him, albeit indirectly, with a sacred founding myth that has political explosive power given the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

On March 16, 2020, the Russian Constitutional Court in Saint Petersburg declared the constitutional law to be constitutional in a detailed report. Although such an opinion is not constitutionally required, the court was expressly requested to do so. His reasoning turned out to be legal in the sense of the President. Thereafter, constitutional amendments, which must be adopted by a constitutional assembly according to Art. 135, become constitutional, even if they are not passed by a constituent body, if they are approved in a referendum.

In the referendum, which was scheduled for April 22, 2020, the people should also vote on constitutional changesconcerning the regulatory areas according. Art. 136. However, a referendum is not required for such constitutional changes. Nonetheless, the areas of the Russian Constitution that are protected differently in Articles 135 and 136 are treated in the same way in the referendum. Against the background of the entire process, it ultimately appears as an acclamation of an extensive constitutional law that was passed in a very short time and already signed by the President. Ten days after the Russian Constitutional Court’s opinion, the referendum on President Putin’s corona pandemic was postponed indefinitely.

Constitutional guarantee as a historical and geopolitical mandate

There is no doubt: President Putin uses the Russian constitution as a tool to maintain power. But keeping power for what purpose? He obviously does not see his primary task in protecting the rights and freedoms of people and citizens. He interprets his position as a guarantor of the constitution differently, namely as a historical-geopolitical mandate.

Vladimir Putin makes no secret of this understanding. In April 2005, in his State of the Union message, he described the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” Two years later, on February 14, 2007, he described at the Munich Security Conference Russia as a country with more as a thousand-year history that almost always had the privilege of an independent foreign policy. Nothing will change in this tradition during his presidency.

In the year of his Munich speech, President Putin visited the Nobel Prize for Literature Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his Moscow apartment. He awarded the former dissident the Russian State Prize. When Solzhenitsyn died a year later, the president publicly paid his last respects. Finally, on the occasion of Solzhenitsyn’s 100th birthday, Putin unveiled his monument on Taganka Square in Moscow.

During the Soviet Union, Alexander Solzhenitsyn had given expression to the memories of the Russian Orthodox intelligentsia, culturally and historically conscious, who, despite or perhaps because of the painful caesura of the 20th century, adhered to traditions and ideas of the 19th century. A policy that follows Solzhenitsyn’s ideas can count on greater approval in Russia than the school of thought of the other great dissident Andrei Sakharov.

For Sakharov, freedom, human rights and the rule of law were the basis of every constitution. But the principles he represented with authority, which were included in chapters 1 and 2 of the 1993 constitution, only inspire parts of the urban population in Russian reality, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Beyond that, however, the tricolor of Peter the Great, the coat of arms with the double-headed eagle or the late-romantic national anthem with their memory of the Great Patriotic War in the sense of Solzhenitsyn create identity. Russia’s thousand-year history, now also constitutionally transfigured, displaces the defeat in World War I, the revolutionary year of 1917, the bloody civil war, Stalin’s concentration camps and the collapse of the Soviet empire.

In a difficult present, hope for the future is strengthened by symbols and models of an imperial past. In a country without a pronounced constitutional tradition, the constitution of Russia is not perceived as a fixed normative framework, but rather as an opportunity to build on a supposedly better past based on history and tradition. In Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s work, this idealizing retrospective gained literary form before President Putin publicly declared it a geopolitical mandate in 2007. Finally, with his commitment to the thousand-year history and ancestors who conveyed faith in God and the continuity of the Russian state, he gained constitutional status. It was probably no coincidence that this was to be voted on on April 22, 2020, Lenin’s 150th birthday. The history of Russia leads over him.

The center of power and his thinking

The question of the purpose of maintaining power draws attention to that constitutional area that was formerly viewed under the old-fashioned concept of the military constitution (Wehrverfassung) . This meant constitutionally regulated institutions and procedures for foreign and security policy, such as have been part of the presidential domaine réservé of the 5th French Republic since General de Gaulle and can be found today in Chapter 4 of the Russian Constitution.

It places foreign and security policy in the hands of its guarantor, the President. Its tasks include protecting Russia’s sovereignty, independence and state integrity. He directs foreign policy and ensures coordinated cooperation between the organs of state authority. Even in peacetime, he is commander-in-chief of the Russian armed forces, appoints and dismisses their high command and confirms the military doctrine, the country’s strategic guiding document. The President forms and heads the Security Council, the Russian state’s center of foreign and security policy.

Its leading personalities form a largely homogeneous group from their CVs and are referred to as silowiki, as representatives of power. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov were born in the first half of the 1950s, just like President Putin. They began their careers in the Soviet Union, experienced their disintegration and the turmoil under President Boris Yeltsin with their laissez-fair capitalism, the rule of the oligarchs, the unfortunate first Chechen war, the financial crisis in 1998 and the decline in average male life expectancy by almost ten Years.

The representatives of the center of power owe their responsible position today to no party membership, a group or regional proportion. It is probably going too far to speak of a meritocratic elite, but the persons mentioned, who must also acknowledge the critical view, are characterized by competence and professionalism. A Security Council decision is not the result of a broad social or parliamentary discourse, but a political decision based on expert advice.

Compared to the Soviet Union, the chief of staff of the Russian Armed Forces is of greater importance in crisis and conflict situations. He was not a member of the Politburo during the Soviet era, but is now a member of the Security Council headed by the President. Valeri Gerasimov has been chief of staff and first deputy defense minister in Russia since November 2012. He was responsible for the operational planning of the occupation of the Crimea in 2014 as well as for the preparation and implementation of the Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war in September 2015. His keynote speech before the General Assembly of the Academy of Military Sciences has the same importance for the armed forces‘ leadership staff as the political President’s Message on the State of the Union. It shows the strategic state in which Russia is located.

Gerassimov’s first keynote speech in January 2013, which he gave shortly after President Putin took office, was of programmatic importance. It outlined the threat that Russia faces from the perspective of its political leadership. It corresponds to the doctrine of hybrid  war developed under President George W. Bush in the USA. Thereafter, conventional and unconventional means are mixed in the international competition of the 21st century. Economic wars, sanctions, calls for boycotts, disinformation and propaganda, cyber war and covert military force are used in accordance with the situation and interests, effectively connected and blurring the line between the prohibition of perfidy under international law and permitted cunning.

Against this background, the operational actions of the Russian armed forces during the occupation of Crimea a year after Gerassimov’s keynote speech were a revealing example of hybrid warfare. Although the associations used were at first glance recognizable as Russian special forces, as Speznas, they did not wear any sovereign badges. This at least gave the Russian leadership the opportunity to deny direct military intervention.

Empire and orthodoxy

According to Art. 83 of the Russian Constitution in the Security Council under President Putin, strategic and operational thinking of the 21st are combined with orthodox-imperial ideas of the 19th century. The conceptual basis for this is developed in institutions such as the „Scientific-Methodical Center for Patriotic Military Strategy called A.E. Snesarev“. This think tank of the General Staff is named after Andrei Snesarew (1865-1937), a general of the Tsar and the Red Army, whose writings have been published systematically since the beginning of Putin’s presidency. On March 15, 2017, Chief of Staff Gerassimow praised the annual general assembly of the Academy of Russian General Staff Snezarev as one of the thinkers who are instrumental in Russia’s strategy in the 21st century. It is therefore worth taking a closer look at this extraordinary personality, because, like Alexander Solzhenitsyn, it helps to grasp the intellectual foundations of today’s Russian constitution.

Snesarev combined military skill with geopolitical analysis and constitutional considerations. Born in 1865 in the Donkosaken area, the gifted son of an orthodox rural clergyman studied mathematics at the University of Moscow. He spoke 14 languages ​​and was an excellent singer, who even took on representations at the Moscow Bolshoi Theater. As a mathematician or orientalist, he could have had a successful academic career. But he chose the military career. A business trip to British India and a stay in London shaped his worldview. He returned to the Russian General Staff as a keen critic of British colonial and world politics.

During the First World War Snesarew was deployed on the Russian western front, most recently he commanded an army corps. After some hesitation and careful consideration, he entered the service of the Bolshevik government in early 1918. He had come to the conclusion that it was supported by the majority of the Russian people and that it defended Russia’s interests against outside intervention. Snesarew took over the military leadership of the Red Army in the North Caucasus military district. During the defense of the city of Zaryzin, later Stalingrad and now Volgograd, there was an argument with Stalin, who had Snesarew arrested. He narrowly avoided the execution.

From 1919 Snesarew headed the General Staff Academy of the Red Army for two years. Awarded the highest Soviet order “Hero of Work” in 1929, he was sentenced to death a year later in the course of the first wave of repression under Stalin. In a handwritten order, Stalin „pardoned“ him for 10 years of forced labor. After being seriously ill, Snesarew died in 1937 with his family as a Russian Orthodox Christian.

A philosophy of war

In 2003 Snesarews published a previously unknown work „Philosophy of War“ in Moscow. He had designed it as a lecture manuscript for the general staff academy. The 2003 commentary explicitly emphasized that the author served the state interests of Russia and not the Bolshevik party: “This means that for him when studying war geopolitics is the most important method, since the state is the product and the most important subject of geopolitical processes.

The chairman of the editorial board was Colonel General Professor Sergei Stepashin. He too belongs to the Moscow center of power and was predecessor of Prime Minister of Putin for a short time in 1999 as. Stepashin has been President of the „Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society“ since 2007. Founded by Tsar Alexander III. in 1882, it owned valuable land in the Holy Land and played a remarkably active role in Moscow’s Middle East and especially Syria policy. The society supports President Assad as the patron of Syria’s Orthodox Christians. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov belongs to the committee of her honorary members, and the committee is headed by Patriarch Kirill I.

However, it would be completely wrong to consider the Russian intervention in Syria as a post-secular, religiously motivated crusade because of these personal ties. Rather, it is a cleverly calculated great power policy that combines the traditions of realistic diplomacy of the 19th century with operational possibilities of the 21st century in a results-oriented manner. The prerequisite for this is a differentiated picture of the situation, which, unlike the diplomacy of some Western countries, takes the strength and possible coalition formation of the various religious groups into account as a strategic factor. Without Russia’s participation, a political settlement of the Syrian civil war is no longer possible today.

Russian state and civil society

Snesarew’s „Philosophy of War“ was created during the Russian Civil War. In his view, the weak Tsar Nicholas II and his government were jointly responsible for the collapse of the state order. But, like Alexander Solzhenitsyn later, he saw the February Revolution of 1917 as the decisive, fateful turn. He experienced it as a regime change operated by irresponsible politicians and supported by the Western powers, which made Lenin’s seizure of power in October 1917, funded by the German Reich by the way, only possible. For Snesarev, revolution and civil war were the consequences of political failure, not a moral judgment in world history or the result of an anti-Russian world conspiracy.

The “philosophy of war” drew conclusions for the future from the break in 1917. They were not based on the universal idea of ​​an ideology, but on the concrete tasks of the state, which has to ensure peace internally, but protection and, if possible, the development of power. This thinking is no stranger to today’s Russian leadership. It is reflected in the distrust of social self-organization and the political participation of Russian civil society. Their appeal to Chapter 2 of the applicable constitution and the human rights and civil rights guaranteed there were confirmed by the constitutional change of 2020, which was not heard in the Moscow center of power.

The ubiquitous concept of Zivilgesellschaft, according to the German translation of civil society, owes its popularity not least to the demand for the state to withdraw from society. Its subordination to civil society is even seen as a prerequisite for the rule of law and political participation, because an opinion-forming discourse, such as Jürgen Habermas, presupposes an area free of domination. Kant had already demanded the submission of the state to the Court of Reason.

Snesarew is also concerned with this power struggle in the „Philosophy of War“. For him, the term civil society, which inspired the liberal Russian intelligentsia, was a product of the British Enlightenment of the 18th century. He valued their early pioneers, because in the first century after the Bill of Rights was passed in 1689, he believed that the ideas of sensible, enlightened citizens could develop. This applies both to Adam Smith, „the great Scotsman“, and to Adam Fergusson, who in his „Essay on the History of Civil Society“ emphasized for the first time the difference between commercial and warlike societies, the tension between Mars and Mercury.

On the other hand, Snesarew sees the civil society propagated by British liberalism of the 19th century only as a popular ideology and as a political instrument of an Anglo-Saxon-Protestant cultural hegemony that is sought worldwide. He cites Henry Thomas Buckle’s five-volume „History of Civilization in England“ as an example, which was widely received in liberal circles in Russia. The first volume appeared shortly after the end of the Crimean War in 1857 and was understood as a morally justified justification for the war against the autocracy of the Tsar.

Ideology and state authority

For Snesarew, this criticism was nothing more than moral hypocrisy and propaganda. The Tsarist Empire had exercised its protective rights for the Orthodox Christians against the Ottoman Empire, while the liberal British Empire had become an allied with the Sultan in Constantinople and Napoleon III., the French usurper who came to power in a coup. London and its civil society were not about civil liberties, but about blocking the Russian fleet’s access from the Crimea through the straits to the eastern Mediterranean.

Liberal civil society was not a social role model for Snesarew, but an essential social element of the British colonial and financial empire, which governed a well-educated elite driven by material interests. Thinkers like Henry Thomas Buckle were just as much a part of their circle as John Stuart Mill and his family, who owed their wealth and social position to close ties to the British East India Company, which had systematically plundered India since the 18th century.

Snesarew saw the alternative to the constitutional and social understanding of the Anglo-Saxon civil society in the German constitutional theory of the 19th century, which he received in the sixth chapter of his „Philosophy of War“. Following Georg Jellinek’s three-element doctrine of state people, state territory and state authority, he contrasted the universalist ideas of an ideology with the territorial attachment of every constitution and the need for effective state authority. Only she was able to connect the state and society through laws and pacify them as a neutral power. According to Georg Jellinek’s formulation, only she can develop „the normative power of the factual“.

Snesarew probably did not even read the manuscript of the „Philosophy of War“ to his audience in the Academy of the General Staff. In revolutionary Russia, the „philosophy of war“ was out of date. It was only published under President Putin ten years after the adoption of the Russian constitution in 1993. This determines in response to the spiritual hegemony of Marxism-Leninism in its Art. 13: „In Russia, the ideological diversity is recognized“ and continues: „No ideology may be recognized as state or binding“. If Snesarew were still alive, he would subsume the liberalism of civil society under the concept of ideology.

An authoritarian state of our time

With the latest constitutional change, a development in Russia was continued and committed in the first quarter of 2020 that has been observed for a long time. Although the constitution of 1993 postulated civil and human rights as the core of the constitution and wanted to protect it from change in Art. 135 with high demands, the constitutional reality of an authoritarian state unfolded. Its leadership interprets the guarantee of the constitution as a historical-geopolitical mandate, which it intends to enforce, if necessary, against the parliament, the judiciary, the executive organs of all federal levels and Russian civil society by means of state power.

Civil society’s criticism of the authoritarian state is exposed to be suspected as destructive ideological propaganda. This also applies to the discussion about the new reference to God in the constitution. Here, however, the prevailing secular perspective prevailing in European civil society overlooks the fact that the number of people worldwide who are looking for salvation and spiritual attachment is increasing, as is religious fanaticism. The Moscow leadership takes this post-secular development seriously and takes it into account from a strategic perspective. In spite of the constitutional prohibition of privileges and the required separation of religion and state, it is wise from their point of view to give the Orthodox Church a prominent role as the traditional support of the Russian state in social and political life, although the collective, conservative consciousness of the population is less based on it hierarchical institutions as found in still alive popular belief.

In the future, Russia will in any case be considered as god believing. The non-specific reference to God in the constitution can be used as a soft power in the Islamic world, in the evangelical movements that are strengthening worldwide, or in relation to the traditional Christian denominations. The positive reactions from representatives of the Catholic Church, the Islamic clergy, Jewish associations and other religious communities speak for themselves.

Constitutional order and great power competition

Russian politics today is not determined by the secular, constitutional concept of the late 20th century, based on universal values. It is guided by the model of a territorially defined, politically organized, post-secular superpower of the 21st century. From a strengthened defensive position, Moscow’s leadership wants to preserve and expand international influence in competition with other Russian powers.

Clausewitz already knew that the war was a chameleon. The Moscow center of power is preparing for conflicts that correspond to this metaphor. It uses hybrid means in the big power competition and consolidates the central position of the president. In February 2020, against the background of the Russian constitutional discussion, Wolfgang Ischinger, the chairman of the Munich Security Conference, rightly pointed out the efficiency of Russian foreign and security policy. He described it as the result of state authority that knows how to use its limited diplomatic, economic and military resources in a well-informed and cleverly coordinated manner.

A prerequisite for this is a concentration of power, as provided for in Chapter 4 of the Russian constitution. The defense budget of Russia is exceeded many times over by the combined expenditure of the countries of the European Union. But it’s not just about numbers on paper, it’s about the impact-oriented use of available resources. Although the new EU Commission President announced that she would lead a “geostrategic commission”, it seems doubtful whether the European Union in its current constitution is able to develop a common foreign and security policy that is even close to being effective corresponds to the Russian one under President Putin.

However, it remains an open question whether the recent constitutional change can permanently secure or even improve Russia’s position in competition with China, the United States and the European Union. In the longer term, the decline in the Russian population, the dependence on raw material exports and the stagnant scientific innovation outside the armaments sector pose extraordinary challenges for the Russian leadership. However, the countries of the European Union and North America see each other, problems of comparable dimensions, as the Corona pandemi shows. In this situation, the competition between the powers in the next decade will intensify the competition between their constitutional orders and societies.

An abridged version first appeared in Herder’s correspondence: www.

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Russlands Verfassung: Imperium und Orthodoxie

Imperium und Orthodoxie

Autor: Botschafter a.D. Dr.Dr.h.c.mult. Hans-Ulrich Seidt, geb. 1952, ist Berlin Fellow des Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University. Er war von 2014 bis 2017 Chefinspekteur des Auswärtigen Amts und leitete von 2012 bis 2014 die Abteilung für Auswärtige Kulturpolitik und Kommunikation des Auswärtigen Amts in Berlin. Er war deutscher Botschafter in der Republik Korea und in Afghanistan. Davor arbeitete er an den deutschen Botschaften in Moskau und Washington sowie bei der deutschen NATO-Vertretung in Brüssel

Zu Beginn des Jahres 2020 änderte die Russische Föderation ihre Verfassung. Dabei verfolgte die politische Führung klar umrissene Ziele: Stärkung des Machtzentrums unter Präsident Putin, Abwehr des westlichen Liberalismus in seiner angelsächsischen Ausprägung und weitere Stabilisierung der internationalen Position Moskaus. Bezweckt werden der Erhalt und die Steigerung strategischer Effizienz im weltweiten Wettbewerb der Mächte.

Es war eine Koinzidenz der Ereignisse: Nahezu zeitgleich zum Ausbruch der Corona-Pandemie erfolgte im flächenmäßig größten Staat der Erde eine Verfassungsrevision. Während sich weltweit mehr als 50 Staaten im Ausnahmezustand befanden, wurde die lex fundamentalis, das Grundgesetz Russlands geändert.

Der kritische Zeitpunkt und die Bedeutung Russlands legen es nahe, die Verfassungsänderung nicht nur unter rechtlichen, sondern auch unter historisch-politischen Gesichtspunkten zu betrachten. Neben Inhalt und Verfahren müssen Ziel und Zweck der Verfassungsänderung, das Vorverständnis der Moskauer Führung und mögliche Konsequenzen für die internationale Politik in eine Gesamtbewertung einbezogen werden. In welchem Umfang die Verfassungsrevision mit moralisch-kulturellen Wertedebatten und geopolitischen Großmachtkonzepten verbunden ist, lassen nicht zuletzt Werk und Wirkung von Vordenkern wie Alexander Solschenizyn oder Andrei Snesarew erkennen,

Hüter der Verfassung, Herr des Verfahrens

Nach Art. 80 Abs. 2 Satz 1 der russischen Verfassung von 1993 soll Präsident Putin ihr „Garant“ sein. Diese Bestimmung orientiert sich an Art. 5 Abs.1 Satz 1 der Präsidialverfassung der V. französischen Republik. Auf ihrer Grundlage gelang es General Charles de Gaulle, die innere und äußere Krise der parlamentarisch verfassten IV. Republik zu überwinden. Er hatte als Besatzungsoffizier in Trier 1927 bis 1929 die Präsidialverfassung und politische Wirklichkeit der Weimarer Republik kennengelernt. Carl Schmitts Studie „Der Hüter der Verfassung“ von 1929 beeinflusste führende französische Juristen. Ihre Überlegungen und Vorschläge flossen in die Verfassung der V. Republik ein.

Wladimir Putin, der als junger KGB-Offizier 1989/90 in Dresden das Ende des Sowjetimperiums erlebte, studierte vor seinem Eintritt in den sowjetischen Auslandsnachrichtendienst Rechtswissenschaft an der Universität Leningrad. Es ist nicht bekannt ist, ob er sich während seines Studiums intensiver mit verfassungsrechtlichen oder verfassungshistorischen Fragen befasste. Aber einer seiner Professoren war Anatoli Sobtschak, der nach der Auflösung der Sowjetunion als Oberbürgermeister Leningrads die Rückbenennung der Stadt in Sankt Petersburg veranlasste und 1993 bei der Ausarbeitung der russischen Verfassung mitwirkte.

Oberbürgermeister Sobtschak ernannte Wladimir Putin zu seinem Vizebürgermeister für internationale Beziehungen. In seiner heutigen Stellung als Hüter der russischen Verfassung konzentriert sich sein ehemaliger Student nicht zuletzt auf die interessenorientierte und zweckgerichtete Anwendung von Verfahrensvorschriften. Das zeigte sich schon 2008, als Wladimir Putin sich für vier Jahre auf die Position des Premierministers unter dem Interimspräsidenten Dmitri Medwedew zurückzog, der ebenfalls bei Anatoli Sobtschak studiert hatte. So konnte Wladimir Putin das verfassungsrechtliche Verbot einer dritten Präsidentschaft in ununterbrochener Folge umgehen, um 2012 formal korrekt erneut Präsident zu werden. Eine zwischenzeitlich durchgeführte Verfassungsänderung ermöglichte ihm dann zwei Amtszeiten von jeweils sechs Jahren.

In seiner zweiten sechsjährigen Amtszeit, sie dauert bis 2024, betrieb Präsident Putin die aktuelle Verfassungsänderung als uneingeschränkter Herr des Verfahrens. Es gelang ihm, zwischen Mitte Januar und Mitte März 2020 das Gesetz zur „Vervollkommnung der Regelung bestimmter Fragen der Organisation öffentlicher Macht“ verabschieden zu lassen und zu unterschreiben. Damit eröffnet sich ihm die Möglichkeit, 2024 erneut für das Amt des Präsidenten zu kandidieren. 2030 kann er sich dann nochmals für eine Amtszeit bis 2036 wählen lassen.

Das Vorgehen des Präsidenten stieß nicht nur in Russland auf heftige Kritik. Der Vorwurf, der Garant der Verfassung habe die Verfassung gebrochen, bezog sich auf Inhalt und Verfahren der Verfassungsänderung, die spätestens seit Mitte Dezember 2019 von der Präsidialverwaltung diskret vorbereitet worden war. Präsident Putin überraschte dann am 15. Januar 2020 in seiner jährlichen Botschaft an die Nation die russische Öffentlichkeit mit dem Plan einer Verfassungsrevision.

Die Verfassung von 1993 ist klar strukturiert und übersichtlich gegliedert. Ihr Kapitel 9 regelt Verfassungsänderungen und die Überarbeitung der Verfassung. Eine Verfassungsänderung gemäß Art. 134 grundsätzlich möglich. Der Präsident hat auch das Recht, ein verfassungsänderndes Verfahren mit einer Vorlage einzuleiten. Doch werden in den Artikeln 135 und 136 die inhaltlichen und formalen Voraussetzungen in geradezu klassischer Weise beschrieben und begrenzt.

Danach kann eine Änderung nur auf zwei Wegen erfolgen: Art. 135 macht Änderungen der Kapitel 1 und 2, die die Grundlagen der Verfassung sowie die Rechte und Freiheiten der Menschen und Bürger als materiellen Kern der Verfassung schützen, von besonders strengen Anforderungen abhängig. Änderungen dieser Kapitel und des Kapitels 9, das die Verfahren der Verfassungsänderung regelt, können nur durch eine Verfassungsversammlung, also eine neue Konstituante, beschlossen werden. Anschließend müssen sie dem Volk in einem Verfassungsreferendum zur Abstimmung vorgelegt werden.

Der kurze Weg zum Machterhalt

Art. 136 der Verfassung öffnet einen kürzeren und einfacheren Weg. Er gilt nur für Änderungen der Kapitel 3 bis 8. Für sie ist lediglich die Verabschiedung eines Bundesverfassungsgesetzes erforderlich, das anschließend von zwei Dritteln der regionalen Parlamente der Föderationsmitglieder gebilligt werden muss.

Diesen kurzen Weg hat Präsident Putin eingeschlagen. Nach Auffassung seiner Kritiker hat er damit die Verfassung gebrochen, denn seine verfassungsändernden Vorschläge dürften nicht nach dem Verfahren des Art. 136 in die Verfassung aufgenommen werden. Das von Putin vorgesehene verfassungsändernde Gesetz betreffe unmittelbar die Grundlagen der Verfassungsordnung. Dort heißt es etwa in Kapitel 1 Art. 3 Abs. 4 ausdrücklich: „Niemand darf die Macht an sich reißen“. Die vom Präsidenten betriebene Verfassungsänderung verfolge jedoch das Ziel, seine Amtszeit entgegen den geltenden Bestimmungen der Verfassung zu verlängern. Das sei, wenn überhaupt, nur durch eine Verfassungsänderung gem. Art. 135 möglich.

Präsident Putin hat dennoch das verfassungsändernde Gesetz am 18. März 2020, dem sechsten Jahrestag der Annexion der Krim, unterschrieben. Zwar beschränkt es die Amtszeit des russischen Präsidenten für die Zukunft ausdrücklich auf zweimal sechs Jahre und schließt damit eine Wiederholung des Rücktrittsmanövers von 2008 mit anschließender Wiederwahl aus. Aber für künftige Wahlen nach der geänderten Verfassung sollen, und das ist der entscheidende Punkt, die bisherigen Amtszeiten Putins nicht berücksichtigt werden. Dies geht auf eine Intervention der Abgeordneten Walentina Tereschkowa während der 2. Lesung des verfassungsändernden Gesetzes in der Duma am 10. März 2020 zurück. Die Prominenz der ehemaligen Kosmonautin, der ersten Frau im All, ließ erkennen, dass sie als politisches Sprachrohr die Interessen der Staatsführung vertrat.

Die offizielle Interpretation für die Nichtberücksichtigung der bisherigen Amtszeiten Putins lautet, dass ein Ausschluss des Präsidenten von künftigen Präsidentschaftswahlen rechtlich als Rückwirkung des verfassungsändernden Gesetzes zu werten und daher unzulässig sei. Das Verfassungsänderungsgesetz sei keine Lex Putin und dürfe daher auch nicht als eine solche behandelt werden. Gegenstand der Verfassungsänderung sei nicht die Verlängerung der Amtszeit des aktuellen Präsidenten, sondern die notwendige Neuordnung einer Vielzahl von Verfassungsbestimmungen und der ihnen nachgeordneten Gesetze.

Tatsächlich enthält das Gesetz eine Fülle von Einzelvorschriften, die Otto Luchterhandt, ein hervorragender Kenner der russischen Verfassung, als „Sammelsurium“ bezeichnet. So werden einzelne Kompetenzen des Präsidenten gestärkt, die Stellung des Premierministers etwas geschwächt, die Mitwirkungsrechte der Duma und des Föderationsrats etwas erweitert. Außerdem werden populäre sozialpolitische Maßnahmen wie die Einführung eines existenzsichernden Mindestlohns oder die Koppelung der Rentenerhöhung an die Inflationsrate in die Verfassung aufgenommen. Diese Vielzahl der Einzelbestimmungen verwischt die Grenzen zwischen den für eine Verfassungsänderung maßgeblichen Artikeln 135 und 136 und lenkt letztlich von der entscheidenden Tatsache ab, dass das Gesetz Präsident Putin die Möglichkeit gibt, bis zum Jahre 2036 Präsident Russlands zu bleiben.

Der Glaube an Gott und eine tausendjährige Geschichte

Besondere Aufmerksamkeit fand der neu gefasste Art. 67 im 3. Kapitel der Verfassung, das den föderativen Aufbau des Landes regelt. Seinen programmatischen Formulierungen nach gehört dieser Artikel in seiner neuen Fassung zu den Grundlagen der Verfassung in Kapitel 1. Damit würde er unter die strengen Verfahrensvorschriften des Artikels 135 fallen und wäre daher von einer Verfassungsversammlung zu beschließen. Der Art. 67 Abs. 2 lautet: „Die Russische Föderation, die geeint ist durch eine tausendjährige Geschichte und die die Erinnerung an die  Vorfahren bewahrt, die uns die Ideale und den Glauben an Gott übermittelt haben sowie die Kontinuität in der Entwicklung des russischen Staates, bekennt sich zu dessen historisch begründeter Einheit“. Dieser wenn auch unspezifische Gottesbezug steht zumindest in einem diskussionswürdigen Spannungsverhältnis zu Art. 14, der zu den von Art. 135 besonders geschützten Verfassungsgrundlagen zählt. Dort wird Russland in laizistischer Tradition ausdrücklich als weltlicher Staat beschrieben und die Trennung religiöser Vereinigungen vom Staat verlangt.

Der Gottesbezug in Art. 67 Abs. 2 steht nicht allein, sondern wird mit dem ausdrücklichen Bekenntnis zur historisch begründeten Einheit des russischen Staates und seiner tausendjährigen Geschichte verbunden. Das konkrete Ereignis, das den Beginn der tausendjährigen Geschichte Russlands markiert, ist offensichtlich die Taufe des Großfürsten Wladimir von Kiew im Jahre 988 auf der Krim. Wladimir, der Namenspatron Präsident Putins, wird sowohl von der Russisch-Orthodoxen Kirche als auch von der Ukrainisch-Orthodoxen Kirche als ein den Aposteln gleichzustellender Heiliger verehrt. Das Bekenntnis der russischen Verfassung zur historisch-politischen Kontinuität des Staates von der Kiewer Rus über das Großfürstentum Moskau, das Zarenreich und die Sowjetunion bis hin zur Russischen Föderation hält nicht nur den Anspruch imperialer Tradition aufrecht. Es verbindet ihn, wenn auch indirekt, mit einem sakralen Gründungsmythos, der angesichts des aktuellen russisch-ukrainischen Konflikts politische Sprengkraft besitzt.

Am 16. März 2020 erklärte das russische Verfassungsgericht in Sankt Petersburg das verfassungsändernde Gesetz in einem ausführlichen Gutachten für verfassungsgemäß. Obwohl ein solches Gutachten verfassungsrechtlich nicht erforderlich ist, war das Gericht ausdrücklich darum ersucht worden. Seine Argumentation erwies sich als rechtsschöpferisch im Sinne des Präsidenten. Danach erlangen verfassungsändernde Bestimmungen, die nach Art. 135 von einer Verfassungsversammlung beschlossen werden müssen, auch ohne die Verabschiedung durch eine Konstituante verfassungsrechtliche Geltung, wenn ihnen in einer Volksabstimmung zugestimmt wird.

In der Volksabstimmung, die für den 22. April 2020 geplant war, sollte zudem über Verfassungsänderungen abgestimmt werden, die Regelungsbereiche gem. Art. 136 betreffen. Für solche Verfassungsänderungen ist ein Referendum jedoch nicht erforderlich. Trotzdem werden die in Art. 135 und Art. 136 unterschiedlich geschützten Bereiche der russischen Verfassung im Referendum in gleicher Weise behandelt. Es erscheint damit vor dem Hintergrund des gesamten Verfahrens letztlich als Akklamation eines umfangreichen, in kürzester Zeit verabschiedeten und bereits vom Präsidenten unterzeichneten verfassungsändernden Gesetzes. Zehn Tage nach dem Gutachten des russischen Verfassungsgerichts wurde die Volksabstimmung wegen der Corona-Pandemie von Präsident Putin auf unbestimmte Zeit verschoben.

Verfassungsgarantie als historischer und geopolitischer Auftrag

Es besteht kein Zweifel: Präsident Putin nutzt die russische Verfassung als Instrument des Machterhalts. Doch Machterhalt zu welchem Zweck? Offensichtlich sieht er seine vordringliche Aufgabe nicht im Schutz der Rechte und Freiheiten der Menschen und Bürger. Er interpretiert seine Stellung als Garant der Verfassung anders, nämlich als historisch-geopolitischen Auftrag.

Aus diesem Vorverständnis macht Wladimir Putin kein Hehl. Im April 2005 bezeichnete er in seiner Botschaft zur Lage der Nation den Zerfall der Sowjetunion als „die größte geopolitische Katastrophe des 20. Jahrhunderts“.Zwei Jahre später, am 14. Februar 2007, beschrieb er vor der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz Russland als einen Staat mit mehr als tausendjähriger Geschichte, der fast immer über das Privileg einer unabhängigen Außenpolitik verfügt habe. Während seiner Präsidentschaft werde sich an dieser Tradition nichts ändern.

Im Jahr seiner Münchner Rede besuchte Präsident Putin den Literaturnobelpreisträger Alexander Solschenizyn in dessen Moskauer Wohnung. Er zeichnete den ehemaligen Dissidenten mit dem russischen Staatspreis aus. Als Solschenizyn ein Jahr später starb, erwies ihm der Präsident öffentlich die letzte Ehre. Schließlich enthüllte Putin anlässlich des 100. Geburtstags Solschenizyns dessen Denkmal auf dem Moskauer Taganka-Platz.

Alexander Solschenizyn hatte während der Sowjetunion den Erinnerungen jener kultur- und geschichtsbewussten russisch-orthodoxen Intelligenzija Ausdruck verliehen, die trotz oder gerade wegen der schmerzhaften Zäsuren des 20. Jahrhunderts an Traditionen und Ideen des 19. Jahrhunderts festhielt. Eine Politik, die den Vorstellungen Solschenizyns folgt, kann in Russland mit größerer Zustimmung rechnen als die Denkschule des anderen großen Dissidenten Andrei Sacharow.

Für Sacharow waren Freiheit, Menschenrechte und Rechtsstaatlichkeit Grundlagen einer jeden Verfassung. Aber die von ihm mit Autorität vertretenen, in die Kapitel 1 und 2 der Verfassung des Jahres 1993 aufgenommenen Prinzipien inspirieren in der russischen Wirklichkeit nur Teile der urbanen Bevölkerung vor allem in Moskau und Sankt Petersburg. Darüber hinaus jedoch wirken die Trikolore Peters des Großen, das Staatswappen mit dem Doppeladler oder die spätromantische Nationalhymne mit ihrer Erinnerung an den Großen Vaterländischen Krieg im Sinne Solschenizyns identitätsstiftend. Die nun auch verfassungsrechtlich verklärte tausendjährige Geschichte Russlands verdrängt die Niederlage im 1. Weltkrieg, das Revolutionsjahr 1917, den blutigen Bürgerkrieg, die Konzentrationslager Stalins und den Zerfall des Sowjetimperiums.

In einer schwierigen Gegenwart wird die Hoffnung auf die Zukunft durch Symbole und Leitbilder einer imperialen Vergangenheit gestärkt. Die Verfassung Russlands wird in einem Land ohne ausgeprägte konstitutionelle Tradition nicht als fester normativer Rahmen wahrgenommen, sondern als Möglichkeit, auf der Grundlage von Geschichte und Tradition an eine vermeintlich bessere Vergangenheit anzuknüpfen. Im Werk Alexander Solschenizyns gewann dieser idealisierende Rückblick literarische Form, bevor er von Präsident Putin 2007 öffentlich zum geopolitischen Auftrag erklärt wurde. Schließlich gewann er mit dem Bekenntnis zur tausendjährigen Geschichte und den Vorfahren, die den Glauben an Gott und die Kontinuität des russischen Staates vermittelten, Verfassungsrang. Es war wohl kein Zufall, dass darüber ausgerechnet am 22. April 2020, dem 150. Geburtstag Lenins, abgestimmt werden sollte. Die Geschichte Russlands führt über ihn hinweg.

Das Machtzentrum und sein Denken

Die Frage nach dem Zweck des Machterhalts lenkt den Blick auf jenen konstitutionellen Bereich, der früher unter dem altertümlich wirkenden Begriff der Wehrverfassung betrachtet wurde. Damit waren verfassungsrechtlich geregelte Einrichtungen und Verfahren der Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik gemeint, wie sie etwa seit General de Gaulle zur präsidentiellen domaine réservé der V. französischen Republik gehören und heute in Kapitel 4 der russischen Verfassung zu finden sind.

Sie legt die Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik in die Hände ihres Garanten, des Präsidenten. Zu seinen Aufgaben gehören der Schutz der Souveränität, der Unabhängigkeit und der staatlichen Integrität Russlands. Er leitet die Außenpolitik und gewährleistet das aufeinander abgestimmte Zusammenwirken der Organe der Staatsgewalt. Auch in Friedenszeiten ist er Oberbefehlshaber der russischen Streitkräfte, ernennt und entlässt ihr Oberkommando und bestätigt die Militärdoktrin, das strategische Leitdokument des Landes. Der Präsident bildet und leitet den Sicherheitsrat, das außen- und sicherheitspolitische Machtzentrum des russischen Staates.

Dessen maßgebliche Persönlichkeiten bilden heute, das ergibt sich aus ihren Lebensläufen, eine weitgehend homogene Gruppe und werden als silowiki, als Repräsentanten der Macht, bezeichnet. Ebenso wie Präsident Putin wurden Außenminister Sergei Lawrow, Verteidigungsminister Sergei Schoigu und Generalstabschef Waleri Gerassimow in der ersten Hälfte der 1950er Jahre geboren. Sie begannen ihre Laufbahn in der Sowjetunion, erlebten deren Zerfall und die Zeit der Wirren unter Präsident Boris Jelzin mit ihrem laissez faire Kapitalismus, der Oligarchenherrschaft, dem unglücklich verlaufenen ersten Tschetschenien-Krieg, der Finanzkrise 1998 und dem Absinken der durchschnittlichen männlichen Lebenserwartung um fast zehn Jahre.

Ihre heutige verantwortungsvolle Stellung verdanken die Repräsentanten des Machtzentrums keiner Parteimitgliedschaft, einem Gruppen- oder Regionalproporz. Es geht wohl zu weit, von einer meritokratischen Elite zu sprechen, doch zeichnen sich die genannten Personen, das muss auch die kritische Betrachtung anerkennen, durch Kompetenz und Professionalität aus. Eine Entscheidung des Sicherheitsrats ist nicht das Ergebnis eines breiten gesellschaftlichen oder parlamentarischen Diskurses, sondern eine politische Dezision auf Grundlage sachkundiger Beratung.

Im Vergleich zur Sowjetunion kommt heute in Krisen- und Konfliktsituationen dem Generalstabschef der russischen Streitkräfte eine größere Bedeutung zu. Während der sowjetischen Zeit war er kein Mitglied des Politbüros, heute gehört er zum vom Präsidenten geleiteten Sicherheitsrat. Seit November 2012 ist Waleri Gerassimow Generalstabschef und 1. Stellvertretender Verteidigungsminister Russlands. Für die operative Planung der Besetzung der Krim 2014 war er ebenso zuständig wie für die Vorbereitung und Durchführung der russischen Intervention im syrischen Bürgerkrieg im September 2015. Seine jährliche Grundsatzrede vor der Vollversammlung der Akademie der Militärwissenschaften besitzt für das Führungspersonal der Streitkräfte dieselbe Bedeutung wie die politische Botschaft des Präsidenten zur Lage der Nation. Aus ihr lässt sich ablesen, in welcher strategischen Verfassung sich Russland befindet.

Von programmatischer Bedeutung war Gerassimows erste Grundsatzrede im Januar 2013, die er kurz nach seiner Amtseinführung durch Präsident Putin hielt. Er umriss darin die Bedrohungslage, der sich Russland aus Sicht seiner politischen Führung gegenübersieht. Sie entspricht der unter Präsident George W. Bush in den USA entwickelten Doktrin des hybrid war. Danach werden im internationalen Wettbewerb des 21. Jahrhunderts konventionelle und unkonventionelle Mittel gemischt.  Wirtschaftskriege, Sanktionen, Boykottaufrufe, Desinformation und Propaganda, cyber war und verdeckte militärische Gewalt werden lage- und interessengerecht genutzt, wirkungsvoll verbunden und verwischen die Grenze zwischen völkerrechtlichem Perfidieverbot und erlaubter List.

Vor diesem Hintergrund war das operative Vorgehen der russischen Streitkräfte während der Okkupation der Krim ein Jahr nach Gerassimows Grundsatzrede ein aufschlussreiches Beispiel hybrider Kriegsführung. Obwohl die eingesetzten Verbände auf den ersten Blick als russische Sonderkräfte, als Speznas, zu erkennen waren, trugen sie keine Hoheitsabzeichen. Dies gab der russischen Führung zumindest die Möglichkeit, ein direktes militärisches Eingreifen abzustreiten.

Imperium und Orthodoxie

So verbinden sich nach Art. 83 der russischen Verfassung im Sicherheitsrat unter Präsident Putin strategisches und operatives Denken des 21. mit orthodox-imperialen Ideen des 19. Jahrhunderts. Die konzeptionellen Grundlagen dafür werden in Einrichtungen wie dem “Wissenschaftlich-methodischen Zentrum für vaterländische Militärstrategie namens A.E.Snesarew“ erarbeitet. Benannt ist dieser think tank des Generalstabs nach Andrei Snesarew (1865-1937), einem General des Zaren und der Roten Armee, dessen Schriften seit dem Beginn der Präsidentschaft Putins systematisch veröffentlicht werden. Am 15. März 2017 würdigte Generalstabschef Gerassimow vor der jährlichen Vollversammlung der Akademie des russischen Generalstabs Snesarew als einen der Denker, die für Russlands Strategie im 21. Jahrhundert maßgeblich sind. Es lohnt sich daher, diese außergewöhnliche Persönlichkeit näher zu betrachten, denn sie trägt ebenso wie Alexander Solschenizyn dazu bei, die geistigen Grundlagen der heutige Verfassung Russlands zu erfassen.

Snesarew verband militärisches Können mit geopolitischer Analyse und konstitutionellen Überlegungen. 1865 im Gebiet der Donkosaken geboren, studierte der hochbegabte Sohn eines orthodoxen Landgeistlichen Mathematik an der Universität Moskau. Er beherrschte 14 Sprachen und war ein ausgezeichneter Sänger, der sogar Vertretungen am Moskauer Bolschoi Theater übernahm. Als Mathematiker oder Orientalist hätte er eine erfolgreiche akademische Laufbahn einschlagen können. Aber er entschied sich für die militärische Karriere. Eine Dienstreise nach Britisch-Indien und ein Aufenthalt in London prägten seine Weltsicht. Als scharfer Kritiker der britischen Kolonial- und Weltpolitik kehrte er in den russischen Generalstab zurück.

Während des 1. Weltkriegs war Snesarew an der russischen Westfront eingesetzt, zuletzt kommandierte er ein Armeekorps. Nach einigem Zögern und reiflicher Überlegung stellte er sich Anfang 1918 in den Dienst der bolschewistischen Regierung. Er war zur Überzeugung gelangt, dass sie von der Mehrheit des russischen Volkes unterstützt wurde und die Interessen Russlands gegen Interventionen von außen verteidigte. Snesarew übernahm die militärische Leitung der Roten Armee im Wehrbezirk Nordkaukasus. Während der Verteidigung der Stadt Zaryzin, später Stalingrad und heute Wolgograd, kam es zur Auseinandersetzung mit Stalin, der Snesarew verhaften ließ. Nur knapp entging er der Hinrichtung.

Ab 1919 leitete Snesarew zwei Jahre lang die Generalstabsakademie der Roten Armee. 1929 mit dem höchsten sowjetischen Orden „Held der Arbeit“ ausgezeichnet, wurde er ein Jahr später im Zuge der ersten Repressionswelle unter Stalin zum Tode verurteilt. In einer handschriftlichen Verfügung „begnadigte“ ihn Stalin zu 10 Jahren Zwangsarbeit. Schwer erkrankt aus dem Lager entlassen, starb Snesarew 1937 im Kreis seiner Familie als russisch-orthodoxer Christ.

Eine Philosophie des Krieges

Im Jahre 2003 erschien in Moskau Snesarews bis dahin unbekanntes Werk „Philosophie des Krieges“. Er hatte es als Vorlesungsmanuskript für die Hörer der Generalstabsakademie konzipiert. Die Kommentierung des Jahres 2003 betonte ausdrücklich, der Autor habe damit den staatlichen Interessen Russlands und nicht der bolschewistischen Partei gedient: „Das bedeutet, dass für ihn beim Studium des Krieges die Geopolitik die wichtigste Methode darstellt, da der Staat das Produkt und das wichtigste Subjekt geopolitischer Prozesse ist“.

Der Vorsitzende des Herausgeberkollegiums war Generaloberst Professor Sergei Stepaschin. Auch er gehört zum Moskauer Machtzentrum und war 1999 als Ministerpräsident für kurze Zeit unmittelbarer Amtsvorgänger Präsident Putins. Seit 2007 ist Stepaschin Präsident der „Kaiserlich Orthodoxen Palästina-Gesellschaft“. Gegründet von Zar Alexander III. im Jahre 1882, verfügt sie über wertvollen Grundbesitz im Heiligen Land und spielt in der Nahost- und vor allem Syrien-Politik Moskaus eine bemerkenswert aktive Rolle. Die Gesellschaft unterstützt Präsident Assad als Schutzherrn der orthodoxen Christen Syriens. Zum Komitee ihrer Ehrenmitglieder gehört Außenminister Sergei Lawrow, geleitet wird das Komitee von Patriarch Kyrill I.

Allerdings wäre es völlig verfehlt, aufgrund dieser personellen Verbindungen die russische Intervention in Syrien als postsäkularen, religiös motivierten Kreuzzug zu betrachten. Vielmehr handelt es sich um eine klug kalkulierte Großmachtpolitik, die Traditionen realistischer Diplomatie des 19. Jahrhunderts mit operativen Möglichkeiten des 21. Jahrhunderts ergebnisorientiert verbindet. Voraussetzung dafür ist ein differenziertes Lagebild, das, anders als die Diplomatie mancher westlichen Staaten, die Stärke und mögliche Koalitionsbildungen der verschiedenen Religionsgruppen als strategischen Faktor berücksichtigt. Ohne Mitwirkung Russlands ist eine politische Regelung des syrischen Bürgerkriegs heute nicht mehr möglich.

Russischer Staat und civil society

Snesarews „Philosophie des Krieges“ entstand während des russischen Bürgerkriegs. Für den Zusammenbruch der staatlichen Ordnung waren aus seiner Sicht der schwache Zar Nikolaus II. und seine Regierung mitverantwortlich. Aber ebenso wie später Alexander Solschenizyn betrachtete er die Februarrevolution des Jahres 1917 als die entscheidende, verhängnisvolle Wende. Er erlebte sie als einen von verantwortungslosen Politikern betriebenen und von den Westmächten unterstützten Regimewechsel, der die Machtergreifung Lenins im Oktober 1917, übrigens vom Deutschen Reich verdeckt finanziert, erst ermöglichte. Revolution und Bürgerkrieg waren für Snesarew die Folgen politischen Versagens, kein moralisches Gericht der Weltgeschichte oder das Ergebnis einer antirussischen Weltverschwörung.

Die „Philosophie des Krieges“ zog aus der Zäsur des Jahres 1917 Folgerungen für die Zukunft. Sie orientierten sich nicht an den universalen Gedanken einer Ideologie, sondern an den konkreten Aufgaben des Staates, der im Innern für Frieden, nach Außen aber für Schutz und wenn möglich für Machtentfaltung zu sorgen hat. Dieses Denken ist der heutigen russischen Führung nicht fremd. Es spiegelt sich im Misstrauen gegenüber gesellschaftlicher Selbstorganisation und politischer Mitwirkung der russischen Zivilgesellschaft. Deren Berufung auf Kapitel 2 der geltenden Verfassung und die dort garantieren Menschen- und Bürgerrechte findet, das bestätigte die Verfassungsänderung des Jahres 2020, im Moskauer Machtzentrum kein Gehör.

Der heute allgegenwärtige Begriff der Zivilgesellschaft, so die deutsche Übersetzung von civil society, verdankt seine Popularität nicht zuletzt der Forderung nach einem Rückzug des Staates aus der Gesellschaft. Dessen Unterordnung unter die civil society wird sogar als Voraussetzung für Rechtsstaatlichkeit und politische Partizipation angesehen, denn ein meinungsbildender Diskurs setze, so etwa Jürgen Habermas, herrschaftsfreien Raum voraus. Schon Kant hatte die Unterwerfung des Staates unter den Gerichtshof der Vernunft gefordert.

Auch um diesen Machtkampf geht es Snesarew in der „Philosophie des Krieges“. Für ihn war der Begriffes civil society, der die liberale russische Intelligenzija beflügelte, ein Produkt der britischen Aufklärung des 18. Jahrhunderts. Ihre frühen Vordenker schätzte er, denn im ersten Jahrhundert nach der Verabschiedung der Bill of Rights im Jahre 1689 konnten sich nach seiner Auffassung die Ideen vernünftiger, aufgeklärter Staatsbürger entfalten. Das gilt sowohl für Adam Smith, „den großen Schotten“, als auch für Adam Fergusson, der in seinem „Essay on the History of Civil Society“ erstmals den Unterschied zwischen kommerziell und kriegerisch ausgerichteten Gesellschaften, das Spannungsverhältnis zwischen Mars und Merkur, betonte.

Dagegen sieht Snesarew die vom britischen Liberalismus des 19. Jahrhunderts propagierte civil society nur noch als populäre Ideologie und als politisches Instrument einer weltweit angestrebten angelsächsisch-protestantischen Kulturhegemonie. Als Beispiel nennt er Henry Thomas Buckles fünfbändige „History of Civilization in England“, die in liberalen Kreisen Russlands ein großes Echo fand. Der erste Band erschien 1857 kurz nach dem Ende des Krimkrieges und wurde als moralisch begründete Rechtfertigung des Krieges gegen die Autokratie des Zaren verstanden.

Ideologie und Staatsgewalt

Für Snesarew war diese Kritik nichts anderes als moralische Heuchelei und Propaganda. Das Zarenreich hatte seine Schutzrechte für die orthodoxen Christen des Osmanischen Reiches geltend gemacht, während sich das liberale britische Empire mit dem Sultan in Konstantinopel und Napoleon III. verbündete, dem französischen Usurpator, der durch einen Staatsstreich an die Macht gelangt war. London und seiner civil society ging es nicht um bürgerliche Freiheiten, sondern darum, den Zugang der russischen Flotte von der Krim durch die Meerengen zum östlichen Mittelmeer zu sperren.

Die liberale civil society war für Snesarew kein gesellschaftliches Vorbild, sondern ein wesentliches gesellschaftliches Element des britischen Kolonial- und Finanzimperiums, das eine gut ausgebildete, von materiellen Interessen getriebene Elite regierte. Denker wie Henry Thomas Buckle gehörten ebenso zu ihrem Kreis wie John Stuart Mill und seine Familie, die ihr Vermögen und ihre gesellschaftliche Stellung engen Verbindungen zur britischen East India Company verdankte,die seit dem 18. Jahrhundert Indien systematisch ausplünderte.

Die Alternative zum Verfassungs- und Gesellschaftsverständnis der angelsächsischen civil society sah Snesarew in der deutschen Staatsrechtslehre des 19. Jahrhunderts, die er im sechsten Kapitel seiner „Philosophie des Krieges“ rezipierte. Hier stellte er im Anschluss an Georg Jellineks Drei-Elemente-Lehre von Staatsvolk, Staatsgebiet und Staatsgewalt den universalistischen Leitideen einer Ideologie die territoriale Gebundenheit einer jeden Verfassung und die Notwendigkeit einer wirksamen Staatsgewalt gegenüber. Nur sie sei in der Lage, den Staat und die Gesellschaft durch Gesetze zu verbinden und als neutrale Macht zu befrieden. Nur sie könne nach der Formulierung Georg Jellineks „die normative Kraft des Faktischen“ entfalten.

Vermutlich trug Snesarew das Manuskript der „Philosophie des Krieges“ nicht einmal seinen Hörern in der Akademie des Generalstabs vor. Im revolutionären Russland war die „Philosophie des Krieges“ unzeitgemäß. Erst unter Präsident Putin wurde sie zehn Jahre nach Verabschiedung der russischen Verfassung von 1993 veröffentlicht. Diese bestimmt als Reaktion auf die geistige Hegemonie des Marxismus-Leninismus in ihrem Art. 13: „In Russland ist die ideologische Vielfalt anerkannt“ und fährt fort: „Keine Ideologie darf als staatliche oder verbindliche anerkannt werden“. Wäre Snesarew noch am Leben, würde er den Liberalismus der civil society unter den Begriff der Ideologie subsumieren.

Ein autoritärer Staat unserer Zeit

Mit der jüngsten Verfassungsänderung wurde im ersten Quartal 2020 in Russland eine Entwicklung fortgesetzt und festgeschrieben, die sich bereits seit längerer Zeit beobachten ließ. Obwohl die Verfassung des Jahres 1993 die Bürger- und Menschenrechte als Verfassungskern postulierte und in Art. 135 durch hohe Anforderungen vor einer Veränderung schützen wollte, entfaltete sich die Verfassungswirklichkeit eines autoritären Staates. Seine Führung interpretiert die Garantie der Verfassung als historisch-geopolitischen Auftrag, den sie, falls erforderlich, mit Mitteln der Staatsgewalt auch gegenüber Parlament, Justiz, den Exekutivorganen aller föderalen Ebenen und der russischen Zivilgesellschaft durchzusetzen gedenkt.

Die Kritik der Zivilgesellschaft am autoritären Staat sieht sich dem Verdacht zersetzender ideologischer Propaganda ausgesetzt. Das gilt auch für die Diskussion um den neu in die Verfassung aufgenommenen Gottesbezug. Hier allerdings übersieht die in der europäischen civil society vorherrschende, laizistische Binnenperspektive, dass weltweit die Zahl der Menschen, die Heilserwartung und spirituelle Bindung suchen, ebenso zunimmt wie religiöser Fanatismus. Die Moskauer Führung nimmt diese postsäkulare Entwicklung ernst und berücksichtigt sie aus strategischer Perspektive.  Trotz des verfassungsrechtlichen Privilegierungsverbots und der geforderten Trennung von Religion und Staat ist es aus ihrer Sicht klug, der orthodoxen Kirche als traditioneller Stütze des russischen Staates im gesellschaftlichen und politischen Leben eine prominente Rolle zuzugestehen, obwohl das kollektive, wertkonservative Bewusstsein der Bevölkerung seine Grundlagen weniger in hierarchischen Institutionen als im noch lebendigen Volksglauben findet.

Künftig gilt Russland jedenfalls als gottgläubig. Der unspezifische Gottesbezug der Verfassung kann als soft power in der islamischen Welt, in den weltweit erstarkenden evangelikalen Bewegungen oder auch gegenüber den traditionellen christlichen Konfessionen öffentlichkeitswirksam eingesetzt werden. Die positiven Reaktionen von Vertretern der katholischen Kirche, des islamischen Klerus, jüdischer Verbände und anderer Glaubensgemeinschaften sprechen für sich selbst.

Verfassungsordnung und Großmachtwettbewerb

Nicht die säkulare, an universalen Werten orientierte westliche Verfassungsvorstellung des späten 20. Jahrhunderts bestimmt heute die russische Politik. Sie wird geleitet vom Leitbild einer territorial definierten, politisch durchorganisierten, postsäkularen Großmacht des 21. Jahrhunderts. Aus einer gestärkten Defensivposition heraus will Moskaus Führung im Wettbewerb mit anderen Mächten Russlands internationalen Einfluss bewahren und erweitern.

Schon Clausewitz wusste, dass der Krieg ein Chamäleon ist. Das Moskauer Machtzentrum stellt sich auf Konflikte ein, die dieser Metapher entsprechen. Sie nutzt im Großmachtwettbewerb hybride Mittel und konsolidiert dazu die zentrale Stellung des Präsidenten. Zurecht hat Wolfgang Ischinger, der Vorsitzende der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz, im Februar 2020 vor dem Hintergrund der russischen Verfassungsdiskussion mahnend auf die Effizienz der russischen Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik hingewiesen. Er beschrieb sie als Ergebnis einer Staatsgewalt, die ihre begrenzten diplomatischen, ökonomischen und militärischen Mittel gut informiert und klug koordiniert einzusetzen versteht.

Voraussetzung dafür ist eine Konzentration der Macht, wie sie Kapitel 4 der russischen Verfassung vorsieht. Der Verteidigungshaushalt Russlands wird zwar von den zusammengefassten Aufwendungen der Staaten der Europäischen Union um ein Mehrfaches übertroffen. Doch geht es nicht allein um Zahlen auf dem Papier, sondern um die wirkungsorientierte Nutzung der vorhandenen Mittel. Zwar kündigte die neue EU-Kommissionspräsidentin an, sie werde eine „geostrategische Kommission“ leiten, aber es erscheint zweifelhaft, ob es die Europäische Union in ihrer jetzigen Verfassung vermag, eine gemeinsame Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik zu entwickeln, die in ihrer Wirksamkeit auch nur annähernd der russischen unter Präsident Putin entspricht.

Dennoch bleibt es eine offene Frage, ob die jüngste Änderung der Verfassung die Position Russlands im Wettbewerb mit China, den USA und der Europäischen Union dauerhaft sichern oder gar verbessern kann. Längerfristig stellen der Rückgang der russischen Bevölkerung, die Abhängigkeit von Rohstoffexporten und die außerhalb des Rüstungssektors stagnierende wissenschaftliche Innovationskraft die russische Führung vor außerordentliche Herausforderungen. Doch die Staaten der Europäischen Union und Nordamerikas sehen sich, das führt die Corona-Pandemie eindringlich vor Augen, Problemen vergleichbarer Dimension gegenüber. In dieser Lage führt der Wettbewerb der Mächte im nächsten Jahrzehnt zur verschärften Konkurrenz ihrer Verfassungsordnungen und Gesellschaften.

In gekürzter Fassung zuerst erschienen in Herder Korrespondenz: www.

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Short notice: World in turmoil

It is getting more and more chaotic, the US is sinking in a state of emergency, China is laughing, and the Sino-American conflict is escalating.
Trump wants to expand the G7 to the G11 to include India, Australia, South Korea and Russia, which is then intended as an anti-China front. Merkel doesn´t want to have Putin-Russia on board, neither does she want have an anti-China front and, like the EU also no sanctions against China for Hong Kong. In addition, Merkel does not want to take part in the summit to give Trump campaign help, especially since he also wanted to present it as a symbol of the aaleged success of his corona easing. Putin makes it clear that Trump is right when he describes the G 7 as obsolete, but not only wants to be a fence guest, and certainly not to belong to a G11 anti-China front. He sees the actual format in the G 20 and wants China to be included. Therefore Trump’s firm idea to position Russia and NATO against China is illusonary. At best, the Russians are neutral in a Sino-American conflict. But as I said, at best.

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Kurznotiz: Welt im Aufruhr

Es wird immer chaotischer.Die USA versinken im Ausnahmezustand,China lacht sich ins Fäustchen.Der sinomaerkianische Konflikt eskaliert weiter.
Trump will die G7 zur G 11 erweitern um Indien, Australien und Südkorea einschliesslich Russlands-gedacht ist das dann als Anti-Chinafront.Merkel will Putin nicht dabei, auch keine Anti-Chinafront und wie die EU noch Sanktionen gegen China wegen Hongkong. Zudem will Merkel nicht an dem Gipfel teilnehmen, um Trump Wahlkampfhilfe zu geben, zumal er diesen auch als Symbol für die Coronalockerungen darstellen wollte. Putin macht klar,dass Trump recht habe,wenn er die G 7 als veraltet bezeichnet,will aber nicht nur Zaungast sein,schon gar nicht einer G11-Anti-Chinafront angehören.Er sieht in der G 20 das eigentliche Format und will China auch dabei haben.Trumps fixe Idee Russland und die NATO gegen China in Stellung zu bringen,ist illusorischen.Bestenfalls verhalten sich die Russen in einem sinoamerikanischenKonflikt neutral.Aber wie gesagt:Bestenfalls.

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Powerstruggle in the Assad family- the last hope of the West? For what?

„It seems that Western governments and liberals have not learned their lesson. They still want Assad been toppled and then a democratic, peaceful Syria would emerge. The new hope is an internal power struggle within the Assad family, especially by his cousin:

„Leading the cast is the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, and Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad, but star billing has so far been taken by the president’s first cousin, Rami Makhlouf, who last week took to Facebook to do the unthinkable: air the normally inscrutable family’s dirty laundry.

Makhlouf, Syria’s most powerful tycoon and its richest man throughout Assad’s 20-year reign, complained that his cousin was sending secret police to seize his assets and shutter his businesses. In doing so, he laid bare a power struggle that now threatens the very existence of the Syrian regime, sparking a fissure in the ruling Alawite sect, and leaving regular Syrians aghast.

Without a hint of irony, Makhlouf boasted of bankrolling Syria’s infamous security forces, who have tortured and disappeared thousands of people in nine years of war, then complained that his employees had been treated in “an inhumane way”

Only some questions: Does the West and its supporters really think that the ousting of Assad would bring a more pluralistic and secular-democratic Syria? Would his cousin be for democracy? Could he have control over the Baath party and their warlords? Would he built a democratic Syria by elections and integrate all the Islamist parties and militias? Who would be the winner in this election ? The secular-democratic forces are marginalized, the Free Syrian Army and the Southern Front a shadow of their own. The main opposition is the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists who would run the show and be strengthened, even seize power. Would a power struggle within the Assad family not restart the Syrian civil war as the Islamist militias and the Muslim Brotherhood would now see a chance to seize power? Would Russia support the cousin if he guarantees them their military bases in Tartus and Lakthkia? Could he do this? Would Assad´s cousin not just oppress the opposition as much as Assad did? Is he a democrat or just wants to replace his cousin as a leader? Couldn´t the result be that a weakened Baath party and the weak Assad cousin would become an easy victim for Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood? Wouldn´t Erdogan-Turkey use this opportunity to get rid of the cousin with the Islamist murder militias and the Muslim brotherhood and expand his own neo-Ottomanian empire as he is already doing in Libya? In Libya Erdogan is sending troops who openly engage in the war, while the Russians retreat as General Haftar failed with his offensive on Tripolis and the Erdogan-backed forces are going in the offensive. General Haftar threatened to attack Turkish troops, but at that time Putin decided to withdraw his inofficial Wagner mercenary troop in order not to get in a direct confrontation with Erdogan-Turkey and be drawn in an imperial overstretch quagmire. The West is so stupid that he just wants to see Assad toppled and the Russians out of Syria. They ignore that the Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood and Erdogan-Turkey will be the winners and not a secular- democratic government. Or is it the new policy of the West to promote Islamists and NATO partner Erdogan´s neo-Ottoman empire ? However, if a power struggle emerges in the Assad family, Russia could also face big problems in Syria. Russian strategist Karaganov´s idea of Russia of a global supplier of international security would after Libya have ist next limits. The Werst has toppled mow all pan Arabian, secular despots from Mubarak, Ben Ali, Saddam Hussein to Ghaddafi instead of fighting he Muslim brothers and Islamists. The anti-IS front was the only exception. But it looks like the West wants to repeat its pattern to topple a secular despot like Assad in order to get the Muslimbrotehrhodod or other Ilsmaists in power and to support the expansion of Erdogan´s neo-Ottoman empire. That would be the likely result.

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Russian empire concepts at their limits?

My impression is that Putin has slowly run into a dead end. Alexander Rahr, Gazprom advisor for the EU and Germany attests that the concept of a Russian resource empire is in question at the latest with the oil price war. Karaganov’s idea of ​​Russia as a global supplier for international security seems to reach its limits in Libya if Russia does not want to engage in an imperial overstretch. Only the ICBMs are left, but also in question if New Start should be canceled and China modernizes its nuclear force. With the Space X start Russia has now a superior competitor in space technology and the USA isn´t dependent on more costly Sojus rockets.Without modernizing and diversifying its economy, Russia threatens to mutate into Beijing’s worm-like raw material and resource appendix. The article The Price of Disintegration of the Eurasian Union by Yuri Kofner (see link below) is also pointing in this direction. It is significant that the Russian author no longer has a positive outlook with benefits fo all members of the EEU, but that the legitimacy for Putin’s project is primarily based on the fact that a dissolution of the EEU would be even worse, especially since the voices of the Russian partners in this direction are getting louder. What remains is actually Karaganow’s idea of ​​a new non-aligned movement, but its success is also questionable.

The question is which other options Russia has for development. Some people say that it is systemic , but don´t say what other system they would like and if they are speaking in a holistic way about a political-economic-ecological new system or just only about one of these aspects and factors. Global Review doesn´t want to interfer in Russian politics, just give some constructive brainstorming ideas which could lead Russia out of its foreseeable dead end. We also question if regime change is needed as we don´t see any real economic or technological plan B or program by the Russian opposition. Navalny is mostly speaking about corruption and morale, about free market economy and democracy, but also remains in vague phrases and it is unclear if he won´t try a nationalist Russia first or repeat the Jelzin era in a new form.He like the other Russian opposition never outlined a concrete economic or technological program.

Khodorkovsky in his book has in the chapter „The future of Russia“ the idea of leapfroging the Russian economy. As he started his career in the IT business and then became an oil oligarch who offended Putin and his idea of strategic control of strategic industries, he knows that Russia has a talented pool of engineers, mechanics, IT specialists, scientists which are limited in their activities due to the focus of military development and the idea of strategic control of the resource empire and the strong authoritarian spirit in Russia which prevents entrepreneurial spirit and freedom. As most Russian economists he claims that Russia´s future cannot be that of China from the 80s to the 2000s as cheap labor work bank for the global economy, but he also sees that Russia should build a future fund and liberalize its economic and political system that its talented scientists can build new IT and other new industries which could leapfrog the present Russian economy. Kagame in Africa tries to leapfrog its economy and become an IT hub like Singapur, but this involves also a lot of risks. However, Khodorkovsky in his book is also only using vague phrases of leapfrogging and liberalization without having a concrete plan or program. However, an idea would be if Russia expands the cooperation with a Green Europe and the Indian Silicon Valley, Bangalore to get access to IT-technologies and digitalization and promotes its own Silicon Valley and shifts more resources in a Made Russia 2030 hi-tech plan like China 2025. If Russian scientists, engineers and IT specialist would more focus on civilian instead of military development and hacking Western parliaments and offend the West, there would be a big potential for such an economic reform and development. But first Putin and the Russian decision-makers and strategists had to rethink their traditional empire concepts which are already reaching their limits. Otherwise the Jamestown Foundation will have more material for its section „Russia in Decline“ and Russia will become an appendix of China.

The price of Eurasian disintegration

May 27, 2020

Yuri Kofner, non-residential research fellow, Skolkovo Institute for Emerging Market Studies, editor-in-chief analytical media “Eurasian Studies”. Munich, 27 May 2020.

Tensions over gas prices and other problemsThe incomplete results of the latest heads of state summit the Eurasian Economic Union, which took place on May 19, 2020, became another occasion for many to recall their criticism of the Eurasian integration project.This time, the parties did not agree on the pricing mechanism for the transportation of natural gas. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and Prime Minister of Armenia Nicole Pashinyan consider it too high and suggest moving to a single intra-union tariff, which would be closer to the domestic Russian price.To this, Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear that this would be possible only in return for deeper integration up to a fiscal union, which hasn’t been reached even in the European Union.From his part, Kazakh President Kassym-Zhomart Tokaev asked to discontinue this debate and reminded everyone not getting ahead of themselves, since the creation of unified energy markets was laid down in the union agreement only for 2025. In his opinion, before moving on, it is now important to first remove all remaining obstacles that impede free trade within the common markets of the Union, especially the free movement of goods.And indeed, there are enough unsolved problems. Among them:

  • Disputes over the application by national customs services of sanitary, phytosanitary and veterinary measures, for example between Minsk and Moscow on dairy products or between Nursultan and Moscow on watermelons and chicken meat.
  • Pretensions on certain exemptions from the common customs tariff of the EAEU for third countries, for example, for supported foreign cars and sugar imports.
  • Complaints about unlawful restrictions on cargo transit, or, conversely, on the re-export of products, which are under the Russian import ban. Examples include Kazakh coal deliveries for Ukraine or “Belarusian” shrimp.

And the list is far from exhaustive.According to calculations by the Eurasian Development Bank, non-tariff barriers increase the cost of intra-union goods trade by an average of 32 percent. And despite the tireless efforts of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), the total number of obstacles registered in the EEC’s “White Book” does not decrease, but, on the contrary, increases from year to year.Dealing with “Eurasia-scepticism”Naturally, on this basis, the number of “Eurasian skeptics” is growing. And as in the Europe, some hotheads in the EAEU member states are calling for an exit from the union.Of course, we can and should talk about the ailments of Eurasian integration and non-pre-integration. Moreover, openly and frankly. However, two distortions interfere with having a sensible dispute.Firstly, the overwhelming majority of commentators on a given issue of Eurasian integration are political scientists, journalists, and national politicians. Moreover, in both camps – supporters and opponents of the EAEU.But the Eurasian Economic Union is officially and first of all a purely economic project. And therefore, to evaluate its effectiveness, we should use the conceptual approach of political economics: “spillover effects”, “economies of scale”, “heterogeneity of preferences”, etc.The public discourse on the effectiveness and feasibility of the Eurasian Union needs a more balanced approach, based on the results of empirical research.Secondly, against the background of ever new media reports about various deficiencies in Eurasian integration, it is easy not to notice the achievements of the Eurasian project, which are taken for granted.All too often, representatives of the member states recall the losses that they incurred from integration, forgetting about the benefits they received from participation in the common markets of the union.Properly evaluating Eurasian integrationThe economic results of regional integration can be assessed in different ways. For example, using various computer simulations.So, the recognized Vienna Institute for International Economic Research (wiiw) in 2018 using a “gravity model” found that, thanks to the creation of the Eurasian customs union, factual mutual trade between member states was on average one third higher in 2010-2015 than it could have been without its establishment. The greatest “trade creation effect” was noticeable for the Republic of Belarus.The costs of dissolving the EAEUThe benefits of the EAEU and the work done by the EEC can be made clear, if we hypothetically reintroduce the barriers to mutual trade between member states that have been removed in the last decade.Since the competencies of the Eurasian Commission are most expressed in the common goods market and in the field of labor migration, I evaluated the consequences of three hypothetical scenarios using a “partial equilibrium model”:

  1. What will happen, if tariff duties are introduced between the member states of the “former” EAEU, i.e. if the customs union dissolved would be dissolved and free trade in goods abandoned?
  2. What will happen if the common economic space is dissolved, i.e. if each “former” member state introduces its own and different from each other technical regulations and standards, sanitary, phytosanitary and veterinary measures, competition and subsidization rules, anti-dumping measures, requirements for licensing suppliers, etc.?
  3. What are the consequences of abandoning the common labor market and the free of movement of labor?

MethodologyFor simulation scenarios (1) and (2), I used the following input data:

  1. Bilateral trade data from 2018 for the four parties (EAEU, EU, China and the “rest of the world”) aggregated for 24 MTN product sectors from the WITS (UN COMTRADE) For the bilateral trade flows CIF recorded imports were preferred. Country effects were estimated by applying the share of each member state in intra-Union trade.
  2. Aggregated simple most favored nation (MFN) ad-valorem import tariffs from 2018 were taken from (WTO 2019) and the WITS (UNCTAD TRAINS)
  3. The AVEs of NTMs for intra- and extra-EAEU trade were taken from (Knobel et al. 2019), for China from (Niu 2018), for the EU were taken from (Berden et al. 2015), for the rest of the world from (Niu et al. 2018).
  4. Import elasticities were taken from (Ghodsi et al. 2016). The export supply (1.5) and substitution (5) elasticities were taken as constants across all sectors and regions.

For modeling scenario (3), I used the following input data:

  1. A matrix of bilateral data on labor migration for 2017 for four parties (EAEU, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the rest of the world) taken from the (World Bank) database.
  2. A matrix of bilateral data on personal remittances for 2017 for the EAEU member states taken from the EEC Statistics Department.
  3. As the “ad valorem equivalents of barriers to labor migration”, the author interpreted the reverse value of the integration index on the EAEU labor market for 2011 and 2017, developed by the EEC Macroeconomic Policy Department. The ad valorem equivalent of barriers to labor migration within the EAEU is 41%, for the CIS countries outside the EAEU – 70%, for the rest of the countries – 95%.
  4. The elasticity of imports, taken from (Ghodsi et al. 2016) and (Tokarick 2010). The elasticity of export supply and substitution were taken as constant values ​​in all regions.

ResultsThe analysis shows the significant costs of potential Eurasian disintegration. Primarily for Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, which means that by comparison, they are in fact the largest beneficiaries of the Eurasian integration project.No Eurasian customs union (1)Without the Eurasian customs union, mutual intra-union trade in goods would have fallen by USD 13 billion, i.e. by 22 percent. As a result, the total GDP of the union countries would be 0.3 percent lower each year.The greatest losses from the hypothetical return of customs posts and duties at internal borders would be experienced by Belarus (-3.7 percent of GDP), Kyrgyzstan (-2.7 percent) and Armenia (-1.1 percent). The effect would be less noticeable for Kazakhstan and Russia. Annually, their gross domestic product would be 0.8 and 0.1 percent lower. This difference in effects is logical due to differences in their economic size and in the relative importance that trade with the other EAEU partners plays for each country.No single economic space (1+2)Even more significant would be the losses from the hypothetical dissolution of the single economic space and the return of already eliminated “non-tariff barriers.” In this case, mutual trade in goods would drop as much as 114 percent. This would mean an annual loss of USD 70 billion. As a result, the aggregate GDP of the EAEU countries would be 1.8 percent lower each year.This may not seem like such a big figure. But it is worth considering that the average annual GDP growth of the EAEU in 2014-2018 amounted to 0.8 percent and that the pre-COVID forecast for its average annual economic growth for 2020-2024 amounted to 2.1 percent.The estimated country effects are even more depressing: Kyrgyzstan’s GDP would be 14.2 percent lower, Armenia’s – by 6.2 percent, Kazakhstan’s – by 4.2 percent. Exiting the EAEU common economic space would be a huge blow to the Belarusian economy, which would drop by one fifth (-20.3 percent). Compared to this, the gross domestic product of the Russian Federation would be reduced “only” by 0.6 percent, which is explained by the large size of its economy, the relative importance of foreign markets and fuel exports for Russia.No common labor market (3)The potential abandonment of the common labor market and of the free movement of labor would lead to negative consequences commensurate with the dissolution of the union’s single economic space. Intra-union migration of workers would fall by more than half, due to which the aggregate GDP of the region would be another 0.3 percent lower annually.The largest losses would be incurred by the net labor migrant donors – Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. In the case of the supposed abolition of preferences within the framework of the EAEU common labor market, personal remittance to these countries would fall by USD 1.1 billion and USD 1.7 billion dollars, respectively.For Armenia, this would mean a decrease in national income by another 8.8 percent, for the Kyrgyz Republic – by as much as 20.8 percent additionally. But the GDP of the countries of the union’s “core” would also be reduced: of Belarus – by 0.8 percent, of Kazakhstan – by 0.3 percent, of Russia – by 0.1 percent.No Eurasian Economic Union (2+3)All the scenarios taken together, the hypothetical complete dissolvement of the EAEU would reduce the region’s GDP by 2.2 percent as a whole and would mean an economic knockout for each of the member states individually, except for Russia: Armenia’s GDP would fall by 15 percent, that of Belarus – by 21.1 percent, Kazakhstan’s – 4.6 percent, Kyrgyzstan’s – by 35 percent.The gross domestic product of the Russian Federation would fall “only” by 0.7 percent. But this does not take into account the likely social, political and security threat posed by the neighboring countries around the Russian borders being pushed into a deep economic recession.Table 1. Trade and welfare effects of Eurasian disintegration

Scenario 1. No Eurasian customs unionScenario 1+2. No single economic spaceScenario 3. No common labor marketEffects of scenarios 2 + 3 together
Intra-union trade changeWelfare changeIntra-union trade changeWelfare changeIntra-union labor migration changeIntra-union personal remittances changeWelfare changeWelfare change
EAEU-22 percent -USD 13 bln-0.3 percent-114 percent -70 bln USD-1.8 percent-50.3 percent-USD 5.8 bln-0.3 percent-2.2 percent – USD 76 bln
Welfare changeWelfare changePersonal remittances changeWelfare changeWelfare change
ARM-1.1 percent-6.2 percent-USD 1.1 bln-8.8 percent-15.0 percent
BLR-3.7 percent-20.3 percent-USD 0.5 bln-0.8 percent-21.1 percent
KAZ-0.8 percent-4.2 percent-USD 0.6 bln-0.3 percent-4.6 percent
KGZ-2.6 percent-14.2 percent-USD 1.7 bln-20.8 percent-35.0 percent
RUS-0.1 percent-0.6 percent-USD 1.9 bln-0.1 percent-0.7 percent

Source: Author’s estimates.Despite all the problems of the Eurasian Economic Union, the study makes one thing obvious – without it, things would be much worse.

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Potsdam Encounters (Potsdamer Begegnungen): War and Peace in Corona Times

Author: Alexander Rahr

It is not true that after Corona the world will be different – perhaps more peaceful. Even after the 9/11 terrorist attack and the global financial crisis, people believed that humanity would change mentally, address more pressing issues, and make the planet more cooperative, safe, and peaceful. None of this has happened and will not happen now.

That is the quintessence of the last German-Russian expert conference in the course of the Potsdam meetings. Even if their content was completely ignored by leading German media for unfathomable reasons, they play an increasingly strategic role in the political and civil society exchange between the two countries. This is supported by the fact that the foreign ministers of both countries appear as patrons of the Potsdam meetings (Potsdamer Begegnungen) and the governments can be consulted here.

Let’s start with the Americans. Just as they behaved internally and externally in the Corona crisis, they are rid of their leadership authority in the world. But out of anger and despair, and to distract from the internal problems, the United States will force others to keep the American world order. The rising China is put in its place with trade wars. The other competitor, Russia, is subject to painful sanctions.

The crises in the world will tend to increase. The USA / EU and China / Russia could approach the edge of a military conflict in the conflict areas of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Crimea, Eastern Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, and space.

The EU hopes for a „better“ America after Trump. Berlin is hoping for Biden’s election victory. Defense of the EU cannot be guaranteed without the United States. Without the USA – no EU. But Europeans don’t like the fact that they are being pushed by the United States into a vassal role. Instead of China, Europeans should increasingly buy American goods: armaments, liquid gas, technologies. The US will force the EU to focus more on America to drop China.

What is happening to Russia? Russia has relatively little corona deaths, but the economic damage it has suffered is colossal. Resentment to the government is growing in society, which has been battered by numerous breakdowns in recent decades. As a result of the Corona crisis, Russia has lost its right to energy superpower status. As a result of the corona crisis, the global world economy will be less dependent on fossil fuels. Russia’s raw material exports will shift from Europe to Asia.

Russia will have to use its reserve funds to finally carry out the necessary modernization of its own economy – away from the pure raw material export economy. That could be Russia’s last chance. Moscow will lack the means and allies for a more expansionary global foreign policy. In order to avoid the increasing pressure from the West, Russia will inevitably seek ever closer cooperation with China. The fear of the Chinese colonizing Siberia will always accompany this rapprochement. Closer cooperation between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union, which has been vehemently demanded by participants in the Potsdam meetings, is a long way off.

But things can turn out very differently if Germany – the economically strongest country in EU-Europe – uses its EU presidency in the second half of 2020 to initiate a normalization of relations with Russia and to reconsider sanctions. The Potsdam meetings made constructive suggestions in this regard. Berlin must discuss the migration problems that threaten Europe more seriously, not only with Ankara, but also with Moscow.

The EU could, for example, extend its concept of the green deal to Russia (see: Ralf Ostner / Frithjof Finkbeiner in RIAC, Dr. Kulikov´s International Institute for Social and Economic Studies (IISES) and Global Review). A „green alliance“ between the EU and Russia would correspond to the modern zeitgeist, would be beneficial for all sides and could be the inspiration for a common technological economic area between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Such a perspective is far better than the new block division between the transatlantic community and Eurasia.

But whenever the perspective of an improvement in relations between the West and Russia unfolds, the ghosts come back from the past. Chancellor Merkel took the secret service revelations on the alleged Russian hacker attacks on the Bundestag five years ago as an opportunity to pillory Russia. She has forgotten being taped into her cell phone through US intelligence agencies. After this speech, there will probably be no new EU policy towards Russia under the German Presidency.

Could it be that someone is trying to put pressure on Merkel so that she no longer stands up for a German-Russian energy partnership? Could it be that the United States wants to use all means to prevent the concept of a common area from Lisbon to Vladivostok from being implemented in order to cement its concept of a transatlantic Europe from Vancouver to Donetsk? Or is Russia itself so unwise to lose the chance of a rapprochement with the West via Germany through permanent conflicts such as the Skripal case, Berlin zoogarden murder, hacker attacks, human rights violations in Syria, etc.?

What is actually going on behind the scenes? Who can answer this question?

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Potsdamer Begegnungen: Krieg und Frieden in Corona-Zeiten

Autor:Alexander Rahr

Es stimmt nicht, dass die Welt nach Corona eine andere – vielleicht friedlichere – wird. Auch nach der Terrorattacke von 9/11 und der Weltfinanzkrise hat man geglaubt, die Menschheit würde sich mental verändern, sich dringlicheren Problemen zuwenden und den Planeten kooperativer, sicherer und friedlicher machen. Nichts davon ist eingetreten und wird auch jetzt nicht passieren.

Das ist die Quintessenz der letzten deutsch-russischen Expertentagung im Rahmen der Potsdamer Begegnungen. Auch wenn ihre Inhalte von deutschen Leitmedien aus unergründlichen Motiven völlig übergangen wurden, spielen sie für den politischen und zivilgesellschaftlichen Austausch zwischen beiden Ländern immer mehr eine strategische Rolle. Dafür spricht die Tatsache, dass die Außenminister beider Länder als Schirmherren der Potsdamer Begegnungen in Erscheinung treten und sich die Regierungen hier konsultieren lassen.

Fangen wir mit den Amerikanern an. So, wie sie sich in der Corona-Krise nach innen und nach außen verhalten haben, sind sie ihre Führungsautorität in der Welt los. Die USA werden aber, aus Wut und Verzweiflung, und um von den inneren Problemen abzulenken, andere dazu zwingen, die amerikanische Weltordnung einzuhalten. Das aufsteigende China wird mit Handelskriegen in die Schranken gewiesen. Der andere Konkurrent, Russland, wird mit schmerzhaften Sanktionen belegt.

Die Krisen in der Welt werden eher zunehmen. USA/EU und China/Russland könnten sich in den Konfliktbrandfeldern Hongkong, Taiwan, Krim, Ostukraine, Syrien, Libyen, Venezuela, Weltraum an den Rand eines militärischen Konfliktes nähern.

Die EU hofft auf ein „besseres“ Amerika nach Trump. In Berlin hofft man auf einen Wahlsieg Bidens. Ohne die USA kann die Verteidigung der EU nicht gewährleistet werden. Ohne USA – keine EU. Doch den Europäern gefällt es nicht, dass sie von den USA in eine Vasallenrolle gedrängt werden. Statt in China, sollen die Europäer verstärkt amerikanische Waren kaufen: Rüstungsgüter, Flüssigkeitsgas, Technologien. Die USA werden die EU zwingen, sich stärker an Amerika zu orientieren um China fallenzulassen.

Was passiert mit Russland? Russland hat verhältnismäßig wenig Corona-Tote zu beklagen, aber die entstandenen Wirtschaftsschäden sind kolossal. In der von etlichen Zusammenbrüchen der letzten Jahrzehnte gebeutelten Gesellschaft wächst der Unmut gegenüber der Regierung. Durch die Corona-Krise hat Russland seinen Anspruch auf Energiesupermachtstatus eingebüßt. Die globale Weltwirtschaft wird – und das ist die Folge der Corona-Krise – weniger auf fossile Brennstoffe angewiesen sein. Russlands Rohstoffexporte werden sich von Europa nach Asien verlagern.

Russland wird seine Reservefonds dafür verwenden müssen, endlich die notwendige Modernisierung der eigenen Wirtschaft – weg von der reinen Rohstoffexportwirtschaft – durchzuführen. Das könnte Russlands letzte Chance sein. Für eine expansivere globale Außenpolitik werden Moskau die Mittel und Verbündete fehlen. Um dem steigenden Druck des Westens auszuweichen, wird Russland notgedrungen einen immer stärkeren Schulterschluss mit China suchen. Die Angst vor einer Kolonisierung Sibiriens durch die Chinesen wird diese Annäherung aber stets begleiten. Eine engere Kooperation zwischen der Europäischen Union und der Eurasischen Wirtschaftsunion, die von Teilnehmern der Potsdamer Begegnungen vehement gefordert wurde, ist in weite Ferne gerückt.

Aber es kann trotzdem alles ganz anders kommen, sollte Deutschland – das wirtschaftlich stärkste Land in EU-Europa – seine EU-Präsidentschaft in der zweiten Jahreshälfte 2020 dafür nutzen, um eine Normalisierung der Beziehungen zu Russland einzuleiten, Sanktionen zu überdenken. Die Potsdamer Begegnungen machten dahingehend konstruktive Vorschläge. Die Migrationsprobleme, die Europa bedrohen, muss Berlin nicht nur mit Ankara, sondern auch mit Moskau ernsthafter besprechen.

Auch könnte die EU, beispielsweise, ihr Konzept des Green Deals auf Russland ausweiten (siehe: Ralf Ostner/Frithjof Finkbeiner in RIAC, Dr. Kulikov´s International Institute for Social and Economic Studies (IISES) und Global Review). Eine „grüne Allianz“ zwischen EU und Russland entspräche dem modernen Zeitgeist, wäre für alle Seiten vorteilhaft und könnte Pate stehen für einen gemeinsamen technologischen Wirtschaftsraum zwischen Atlantik und Pazifik.

Eine solche Perspektive ist weitaus besser, als die neue Blockteilung zwischen Transatlantischer Gemeinschaft und Eurasien.

Doch immer dann, wenn sich die Perspektive einer Verbesserung der Beziehungen zwischen dem Westen und Russland neu entfaltet, kommen die Gespenster aus der Vergangenheit wieder zurück. Bundeskanzlerin Merkel hat die Geheimdienstenthüllungen zu den vermeintlichen russischen Hacker-Attacken auf den Bundestag vor fünf Jahren sofort zum Anlass genommen, um Russland an den Pranger zu stellen. Das Anzapfen ihres Mobiltelefons durch US-Geheimdienste hat sie dabei vergessen. Nach dieser Rede wird es wohl nichts mit einer neuen Ostpolitik der EU gegenüber Russland unter der deutschen Ratspräsidentschaft.

Kann es sein, dass jemand versucht, Druck auf Merkel auszuüben, damit sie sich nicht mehr für eine deutsch-russische Energiepartnerschaft starkmacht? Kann es ein, dass die USA mit allen Mitteln eine Realisierung des Konzepts eines gemeinsamen Raumes von Lissabon bis Wladiwostok verhindern wollen, um ihr Konzept eines transatlantischen Europas von Vancouver bis Donezk zu zementieren? Oder ist Russland selbst so unklug, durch permanente Konflikte wie den Fall Skripal, Tiergartenmord, Hackerangriffen, Menschenrechtsverletzungen in Syrien usw. die Chance auf eine Annäherung an den Westen über Deutschland zu verspielen?

Was spielt sich hinter den Kulissen tatsächlich ab? Wer kann diese Frage beantworten?

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Nach Hongkong die nächste Taiwankrise?

Mit dem neuen nationalen Sicherheitsgesetz stellt die KP China klar, dass sie für Hongkong nun das vertraglich vereinbarte Prinzip 1 Land, 2 Systeme abschaffen will und sich die Kronkolonie noch vor den zugesagten 47 Jahren gänzlich einverleiben will.Der letzte britische Gouverneur Hongkongs Chris Patten ruft nun dazu auf, Hongkong auf die Tagesordnung des kommenden G7-Treffens zu setzen.

Gleichzeitig verschärft sich der Ton zwischen China und Taiwan. Die wiedergewählte Präsidentin Tsai Yingwen erklärte, dass 1 Land, 2 Systeme für Taiwan nicht infrage käme und man in friedlicher Koexistenz mit China fortbestehen will. Peking wiederum erklärt, dass die Wiedervereinigung mit Taiwan unumgänglich sei und man alle Unabhängigkeitsbestrebungen auch mit militärischen Mitteln bekämpfen werde. Dei USA haben nun beschlossen, Taiwan Unterseetorpedos zu liefern, was zu erwartende Proteste in Peking auslöste.

Als die Covidtotenzahlen in den USA explodierten, schickte China eine Flugzeugträgergruppe durch die Taiwanstraße ins Südchinesische Meer, worauf die USA ebenfalls Kriegsschiffe entsandten.Nun hat die Volksbefreiungsarmee ein Video ins Netz gestellt, in der ein Krieg gegen Taiwan durchgespielt wird. Dies wohl als deutliche Warnung. Gut möglich, dass nach Hongkong nun eine neue Taiwankrise wie schon in den 90er Jahren unter Clinton stattfindet, diesmal aber mit einem wesentlich stärkeren chinesischen Militär und erhöhten Spannungen, die auch in einen sinoamerikanischen Krieg münden könnten.Unklar auch, ob Trump Taiwan fallen lassen würde oder aber verteidigen.

Der chinesische Präsident Xi Jinping wies die chinesischen Streitkräfte am Dienstag an, die Ausbildung der Truppen zu verstärken und für den Krieg angesichts der sichtbaren Auswirkungen der Pandonavirus-Pandemie (Covid-19) auf die nationale Sicherheit des bevölkerungsreichsten Landes der Welt bereit zu sein.

In staatlichen Medienberichten wurde der chinesische Ministerpräsident mit den Worten zitiert, es sei wichtig, „die Ausbildung der Truppen umfassend zu stärken und sich auf den Krieg vorzubereiten“, „die nationale Souveränität entschlossen zu wahren“ und „die strategische Gesamtstabilität des Landes zu gewährleisten“.

Xis Rede findet inmitten wachsender Spannungen mit den USA statt, häufiger Hinweise lokaler Politiker und Diplomaten auf die Wiedervereinigung Taiwans, wenn nötig mit Gewalt, und der wahrscheinlichen Umsetzung eines neuen – und kontroversen – Sicherheitsgesetzes, das gegen demokratiefreundliche Dissidenten in den USA vorgehen soll spezielle Verwaltungsregion von Hong Kong.

Vor zwei Tagen kritisierte Chinas Top-Diplomat Wang Yi heftig die Bemühungen einiger US-Politiker, Gerüchte zu erfinden und China zu stigmatisieren, um es für die Pandemie verantwortlich zu machen.

Die USA, sagte Wang, drängen die Beziehungen zu China an den Rand eines neuen Kalten Krieges. Der chinesische Staatsrat und Außenminister lehnte auch US-amerikanische „Lügen“ über das Coronavirus ab.

Die Spannungen mit Indien eskalieren ebenfalls, da Truppen aus beiden Ländern im Mai in verschiedenen Gebieten entlang der 3.488 Kilometer langen umstrittenen Grenze zusammenstoßen, insbesondere in Ladakh.

Beide Armeen sollen zusätzliche Truppen in sensiblen Gebieten entlang der Grenze eingesetzt haben, wobei Experten eine lange Pattsituation vorhersagen.

Es gibt jedoch auch andere chinesische Strategen, die davor warnen, Taiwan zum Schlachtfeld zu machen. Qiao Liang, Autor der Studie „Unlimited Warfare“, schlägt vor, dass China sich nicht auf Taiwan, sondern auf die USA selbst konzentrieren sollte, um es in einer Art „Armdrücken“ zu Fall zu bringen und Hongkong zum Schlachtfeld dafür zu machen. Sobald Washington vor einer Niederlage steht, werden auch seine Verbündeten schweigen:

„China muss seine Schlachten mit Bedacht wählen und sich auf seinen Hauptgegner, die Vereinigten Staaten, konzentrieren, so ein prominenter chinesischer Militärstratege, dem weithin zugeschrieben wird, dass er die hawkischen Ansichten der Trump-Regierung gegen Peking geprägt hat.

Der pensionierte Generalmajor der Luftwaffe, Qiao Liang, sagte, der offene Wettbewerb Washingtons mit Peking zur Eindämmung des Aufstiegs Chinas habe andere Parteien – einschließlich Befürworter der Unabhängigkeit in Taiwan – dazu gebracht, sich dem Angriff anzuschließen. Er riet der chinesischen Führung jedoch, nicht abgelenkt zu werden und sich auf den Hauptgegner zu konzentrieren .

„Wenn Sie sich in einem Kampf einer Bande stellen, müssen Sie zuerst den größten Kerl stürzen, und andere Gegner werden eingeschüchtert“, schrieb Qiao in einem von zwei Artikeln, die innerhalb weniger Tage auf der chinesischen Social-Media-Plattform WeChat veröffentlicht wurden.

Qiao sagte, solange Taipeh keine wirklichen Schritte unternehme, um die Unabhängigkeit zu erklären, gebe es dringendere Probleme für Peking. „Wir müssen angesichts dieses gewaltigen Gegners Prioritäten setzen. Wir sollten uns nicht ablenken, indem wir schwächere Gegner zum Selbsttrösten angreifen.“

Qiao führte auch die Unterstützung der USA für Separatisten in Taiwan, Hongkong, Xinjiang und Tibet als Teil der Grundlagen auf, die Washington in Vorbereitung auf die vorhergesagte Konfrontation legte.

Peking sollte das begrenzte Zeitfenster nutzen, um sich darauf vorzubereiten, indem es sich darauf konzentriert, die Abhängigkeit von Rohstoffimporten zu verringern und den Inlandsmarkt für in China hergestellte Waren anzukurbeln, um die US-Bemühungen zu neutralisieren, sagte er.

Während die unterschiedlichen Gruppen, die sich für die Unabhängigkeit Taiwans einsetzen, für Peking eine niedrigere Priorität haben sollten, sagte Qiao, sei Hongkong zu einem wichtigen Schlachtfeld zwischen den USA und China geworden, nachdem die Trump-Regierung beschlossen hatte, den Kongress am Mittwoch darüber zu informieren, dass die Stadt nicht mehr unabhängig sei vom Festland.

Der Schritt des Weißen Hauses wurde durch Pekings Entscheidung veranlasst, die Gesetzgebung der Stadt zu umgehen und ein nationales Sicherheitsgesetz zu verhängen, das Qiao in einem Telefoninterview mit der South China Morning Post als „unvermeidlich und notwendig“ bezeichnete.

„Es ist nicht nur eine lokale Angelegenheit von Hongkong, sondern auch mit dem Wettbewerb zwischen China und den USA verbunden. Hongkong ist jetzt die Grenze des Wettbewerbs… und ein wichtiges Schlachtfeld für China, um die Unterdrückung der USA abzuwehren “, sagte er.

„[Washingtons Entscheidung] wird für eine beträchtliche Zeit ernsthafte Auswirkungen auf Hongkong haben. Die Zukunft der Stadt wird aber auch von Chinas Macht, Haltung und Fähigkeit beeinflusst, Hongkong-Probleme zu lösen. Wenn China den umfassenden Unterdrückungen der USA standhalten kann, wird auch Hongkong ihnen standhalten. Immerhin dreht sich alles um den China-US-Wettbewerb. “

In ihrem Beitrag „China hat zwei Wege zur globalen Vorherrschaft“ in „Außenpolitik“ von Hal Brands und Jake Sullivan vom 22. Mai 2020 skizzieren die Autoren Chinas strategische Optionen:

„Wenn der wahre Supermachtstatus Chinas gewünschtes Ziel ist, gibt es zwei Wege, um dorthin zu gelangen. Das erste ist das, was amerikanische Strategen bisher betont haben (in dem Maße, in dem sie Chinas globale Ambitionen anerkannt haben). Diese Straße führt durch Chinas Heimatregion, insbesondere den westlichen Pazifik. Es konzentriert sich auf den Aufbau des regionalen Vorrangs als Sprungbrett für die Weltmacht und ist der Straße, die die Vereinigten Staaten selbst einst befahren haben, recht vertraut. Der zweite Weg ist ganz anders, weil er den historischen Gesetzen der Strategie und der Geopolitik zu trotzen scheint. Dieser Ansatz konzentriert sich weniger auf den Aufbau einer Position von unangreifbarer Stärke im westlichen Pazifik als darauf, das US-Bündnissystem zu überflügeln und die Präsenz in dieser Region zu erzwingen, indem Chinas wirtschaftlicher, diplomatischer und politischer Einfluss auf globaler Ebene entwickelt wird.

Die Frage, welchen dieser Wege China einschlagen sollte, ist eine dringende für Pekings Strategen, die in den kommenden Jahren vor schwierigen Entscheidungen stehen werden, in was sie investieren und welche Kämpfe sie vermeiden sollten. Und die Frage, welchen Weg China einschlagen wird, hat tiefgreifende Auswirkungen auf amerikanische Strategen – und letztendlich auf den Rest der Welt.

Die aufkommende konventionelle Weisheit besagt, dass China versuchen wird, globalen Einfluss zu etablieren, indem es zuerst eine regionale Hegemonie errichtet. Dies bedeutet nicht, die Nachbarländer physisch zu besetzen (mit der möglichen Ausnahme von Taiwan), wie es die Sowjetunion während des Kalten Krieges getan hat. Dies bedeutet jedoch, dass sich Peking zum dominierenden Akteur im westlichen Pazifik machen muss, bis hin zur ersten Inselkette (die von Japan über Taiwan bis zu den Philippinen reicht) und darüber hinaus. es muss ein wirksames Veto gegen die Sicherheit und die wirtschaftlichen Entscheidungen seiner Nachbarn erlangen; es muss Amerikas Bündnisse in der Region brechen und die US-Streitkräfte immer weiter von Chinas Küsten entfernen. Wenn China dies nicht kann, wird es niemals eine sichere regionale Basis haben, von der aus es weltweit Macht projizieren kann. Es wird mit anhaltenden Sicherheitsherausforderungen entlang seiner gefährdeten maritimen Peripherie konfrontiert sein. Sie muss ihre Energien und militärischen Vermögenswerte eher auf die Verteidigung als auf die Offensive konzentrieren. Und solange Washington eine starke militärische Position entlang der ersten Inselkette behält, werden regionale Mächte – von Vietnam über Taiwan bis Japan – versuchen, Chinas Aufstieg zu widerstehen, anstatt ihn aufzunehmen. Einfach ausgedrückt, China kann keine echte Weltmacht sein, wenn es von US-Verbündeten und Sicherheitspartnern, Militärbasen und anderen Außenposten einer feindlichen Supermacht umgeben bleibt. (…)

Diese zweite Straße würde China mehr nach Westen als nach Osten führen, um eine neue von China geführte Sicherheits- und Wirtschaftsordnung über die eurasische Landmasse und den Indischen Ozean hinweg aufzubauen und gleichzeitig die chinesische Zentralität in globalen Institutionen zu etablieren. Bei diesem Ansatz würde China widerwillig akzeptieren, dass es die Vereinigten Staaten zumindest auf absehbare Zeit nicht aus Asien verdrängen oder die US-Marine über die erste Inselkette des Westpazifiks hinausschieben könnte. Sie würde stattdessen zunehmend Wert darauf legen, die wirtschaftlichen Regeln, Technologiestandards und politischen Institutionen der Welt zu ihrem Vorteil und in ihrem Image zu gestalten.

Die zentralen Prämissen dieses alternativen Ansatzes wären, dass wirtschaftliche und technologische Macht für den Aufbau einer globalen Führung von grundlegender Bedeutung ist als traditionelle militärische Macht, und dass ein physischer Einflussbereich in Ostasien keine notwendige Voraussetzung für die Aufrechterhaltung einer solchen Führung ist. Durch diese Logik könnte China einfach weiterhin ein militärisches Gleichgewicht im westlichen Pazifik verwalten – indem es seine unmittelbare Peripherie und insbesondere seine territorialen Ansprüche durch seine anti-access/area -denial-Doktrin berücksichtigt und die Korrelation der Kräfte langsam zu seinen Gunsten verschiebt -, während Verfolgung der globalen Dominanz durch diese anderen Machtformen.

Hier würde Peking eine andere Variante der US-Analogie betrachten. Die US-Führung der internationalen Ordnung, die nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg entstand und nach dem Ende des Kalten Krieges konsolidiert wurde, beruhte auf mindestens drei kritischen Faktoren. Erstens die Fähigkeit, wirtschaftliche Macht in politischen Einfluss umzuwandeln. Zweitens die Aufrechterhaltung eines Innovationsvorteils gegenüber dem Rest der Welt. Und drittens die Fähigkeit, die wichtigsten internationalen Institutionen zu gestalten und die wichtigsten Regeln für globales Verhalten festzulegen. Auf diesem zweiten Weg würde China versuchen, diese Faktoren zu wiederholen.

Dies würde mit dem wachsenden Ehrgeiz der Belt Road Initiative in Eurasien und Afrika beginnen. Durch den Aufbau und die Finanzierung der physischen Infrastruktur steht China im Zentrum eines Netzes von Handels- und Wirtschaftsbeziehungen auf mehreren Kontinenten. Und die digitale Komponente der Bemühungen, die Digitale Seidenstraße, treibt Chinas erklärtes Ziel des Parteitags 2017 voran, eine „Cyber-Supermacht“ zu werden, indem chinesische Basistechnologien eingesetzt, Standards in internationalen Gremien gesetzt und langfristig gesichert werden wirtschaftliche Vorteile für chinesische Firmen. (Es gibt Anzeichen dafür, dass China sogar seinen Vorsprung bei der Erholung vom Coronavirus nutzt, um diese Agenda voranzutreiben, indem es zusätzliche Marktanteile in Schlüsselindustrien beansprucht, in denen die Wettbewerber vorübergehend niedrig sind.) Kombination einer aggressiven Außenwirtschaftspolitik mit einem massiven staatlich gelenkten Inland China könnte als führender Anbieter von Innovationstechnologien von künstlicher Intelligenz über Quantencomputer bis hin zur Biotechnologie hervorgehen.
Wenn China durch diese Bemühungen wirtschaftliche Macht aufbaut, wird es seine Fähigkeit schärfen, diese Macht in geopolitischen Einfluss umzuwandeln. Jede „Zwei-Straßen“ -Analyse muss sich der offensichtlichen Frage stellen: Was ist, wenn es beides ist – oder beides nicht? In der Praxis scheint Chinas Strategie derzeit Elemente beider Ansätze zu kombinieren. Bisher hat Peking die Mittel angehäuft und den geopolitischen Einfluss gesucht, um die Vereinigten Staaten im westlichen Pazifik zu konfrontieren und sich für eine breitere globale Herausforderung zu positionieren. Es ist auch durchaus möglich, dass Peking letztendlich keinen der beiden Wege erfolgreich beschreitet, wenn seine Wirtschaft oder sein politisches System ins Stocken geraten oder seine Konkurrenten effektiv reagieren. “

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The next Taiwan crisis after Hong Kong?

With the new national security law, the CPC made it clear that it now wants to abolish the contractually agreed principle of 1 country, 2 systems for Hong Kong and that the crown colony will be incorporated entirely before the promised 47 years. The last British governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten is now calling to put Hong Kong on the agenda of the upcoming G7 meeting.

At the same time, the tone between China and Taiwan is getting worse. Re-elected President Tsai Yingwen said that 1 country, 2 systems are out of the question for Taiwan and that they want to continue to exist in peaceful coexistence with China. Beijing, on the other hand, said that reunification with Taiwan was essential and that all efforts to achieve independence would also be combated by military means. The United States has now decided to deliver Taiwanese submarine torpedoes, triggering anticipated protests in Beijing.

When the Covid death toll skyrocketed in the United States, China sent an aircraft carrier group through the Taiwan Strait to the South China Sea, whereupon the United States also dispatched warships. This is probably a clear warning. It is quite possible that after Hong Kong there will be a new Taiwan crisis like that of Clinton in the 1990s, but this time with a much stronger Chinese military and increased tensions, which could also lead to a Sino-American war. It remains unclear whether Trump would drop Taiwan or defend it.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday directed China’s armed forces to strengthen training of troops and to be ready for war amid coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic’s visible impact on the world’s most populous country’s national security.

State media reports quoted the Chinese premier as saying that it was important to „comprehensively strengthen the training of troops and prepare for war“, „resolutely safeguard national sovereignty“ and „safeguard the overall strategic stability of the country“.

Xi’s speech comes amid rising tension with the US, frequent references by local politicians and diplomats of reunifying Taiwan, if necessary by force, and the likely implementation of a new – and controversial – security law meant to crack down on pro-democracy dissidents in the special administrative region of Hong Kong.

Two days back, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, heavily criticised the efforts of some US politicians to fabricate rumours and stigmatise China to blame it for the pandemic.

The US, Wang said, is pushing relations with China to „the brink of a new Cold War“. Chinese state councillor and foreign minister also rejected US „lies“ over the coronavirus.

Tension is also escalating with India with troops from the two countries clashing along different areas along the 3,488 kilometre-long disputed border especially, in Ladakh, in May.

Both armies are said to have deployed additional troops in sensitive areas along the boundary with experts predicting a lengthy standoff.

However, there are also other Chinese strategists warning to make Taiwan the battleground. Qiao Liang, author of the study „Unlimited Warfare“ suggests that China should not concentrate on Taiwan, but on the USA itself, to bring it down in some sort of „arm wrestling“ and to make Hongkong the battlefield for it. Once Washington faces a defeat its allies will be silent too:

China needs to pick its battles wisely and concentrate on its main opponent the United States, according to a prominent Chinese military strategist, widely credited with shaping the Trump administration’s hawkish views against Beijing.

Retired air force major general Qiao Liang said Washington’s open contest with Beijing to contain China’s rise had attracted other parties – including advocates for independence in Taiwan– to join the attack, but he advised the Chinese leadership to avoid being distracted and focus on the main adversary.

“When you are facing off a gang in a fight, you must first bring down the biggest guy and other opponents will be intimidated,” Qiao wrote, in one of two articles published within days of each other on Chinese social media platform WeChat.

Qiao said that, as long as Taipei made no real move to declare independence, there were more pressing issues facing Beijing. “We need to prioritise in the face of this formidable opponent … we should not distract ourselves by tackling weaker opponents for self-consolation.”

Qiao also listed US support for separatists in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet as part of the groundwork being laid by Washington in readiness for the predicted confrontation.

Beijing should seize the limited time window available to prepare itself by focusing on reducing reliance on raw material imports and boosting the domestic market for Chinese-made goods, in a bid to neutralise the US effort, he said.

While the disparate groups advocating for Taiwan independence should be a lower priority for Beijing, Qiao said Hong Kong had become a key battlefield between the US and China, following the Trump administration’s decision to inform Congress on Wednesday that it no longer considered the city autonomous from the mainland.

The White House move was prompted by Beijing’s decision to bypass the city’s legislature and impose a national security law – described as “inevitable and necessary” by Qiao in a phone interview with the South China Morning Post.

“It’s not just a local issue of Hong Kong but is also tied to the contest between China and the US. Hong Kong is now the frontier of the contest … and a key battlefield for China to fend off US suppression,” he said.

“[Washington’s decision] will have a serious impact on Hong Kong for a considerable time. But the city’s future is also affected by China’s power, attitude and ability to handle Hong Kong issues. If China can withstand the US’ comprehensive suppressions, Hong Kong will withstand them too. After all, it is all about the China-US contest.”

In their contribution“China has two paths to global domination“ in „Foreign Policy“ by Hal Brands and Jake Sullivan May 22, 2020 the authors outline China´s strategic options:

„If true superpower status is China’s desired destination, there are two roads it might take to try to get there. The first is the one American strategists have until now emphasized (to the extent they acknowledged China’s global ambitions). This road runs through China’s home region, specifically the Western Pacific. It focuses on building regional primacy as a springboard to global power, and it looks quite familiar to the road the United States itself once traveled. The second road is very different because it seems to defy the historical laws of strategy and geopolitics. This approach focuses less on building a position of unassailable strength in the Western Pacific than on outflanking the U.S. alliance system and force presence in that region by developing China’s economic, diplomatic, and political influence on a global scale.

The question of which of these roads China should take is a pressing one for Beijing’s strategists, who will face tough decisions about what to invest in—and what fights to avoid—in the coming years. And the question of what road China will take has profound implications for American strategists—and, ultimately, the rest of the world.

The emerging conventional wisdom holds that China will try to establish global influence by first establishing regional hegemony. This does not mean physically occupying neighboring countries (with the potential exception of Taiwan), as the Soviet Union did during the Cold War. But it does mean that Beijing must make itself the dominant player in the Western Pacific, out to the first island chain (which runs from Japan to Taiwan to the Philippines) and beyond; it must gain an effective veto over the security and economic choices of its neighbors; it must rupture America’s alliances in the region and push U.S. military forces farther and farther away from China’s shores. If China cannot do this, it will never have a secure regional base from which to project power globally. It will be confronted by persistent security challenges along its vulnerable maritime periphery; it will have to focus its energies and military assets on defense rather than offense. And so long as Washington retains a strong military position along the first island chain, regional powers—from Vietnam to Taiwan to Japan—will try to resist China’s rise rather than accommodate it. Put simply, China cannot be a true global power if it remains surrounded by U.S. allies and security partners, military bases, and other outposts of a hostile superpower. (…)

This second road would lead China more to its west than to its east, in service of building a new Chinese-led security and economic order across the Eurasian land mass and Indian Ocean, while establishing Chinese centrality in global institutions. In this approach, China would grudgingly accept that it could not displace the United States from Asia or push the U.S. Navy beyond the Western Pacific’s first island chain, at least for the foreseeable future. It would instead put increasing emphasis on shaping the world’s economic rules, technology standards, and political institutions to its advantage and in its image.

The central premises of this alternative approach would be that economic and technological power is fundamentally more important than traditional military power in establishing global leadership, and that a physical sphere of influence in East Asia is not a necessary precondition for sustaining such leadership. By this logic, China could simply keep managing a military balance in the Western Pacific—attending to its immediate periphery and especially its territorial claims through its anti-access/area -denial doctrine, and slowly shifting the correlation of forces in its favor—while pursuing global dominance through these other forms of power.

Here, Beijing would consider a different variation of the U.S. analogy. U.S. leadership of the international order that emerged after World War II and was consolidated after the end of the Cold War rested on at least three critical factors. First, the ability to convert economic might into political influence. Second, the maintenance of an innovation advantage over the rest of the world. And third, the capacity to shape the key international institutions and set the key rules of global conduct. In traveling this second road, China would seek to replicate these factors.

This would start with the widening ambition of the Belt Road Initiative across Eurasia and Africa. Building and financing physical infrastructure puts China at the center of a web of trade and economic links spanning multiple continents. And the digital component of the effort, the Digital Silk Road, advances China’s stated goal from the 2017 Party Congress of becoming a “cyber-superpower,” by deploying Chinese foundational technologies, driving standard-setting in international bodies, and securing long-term commercial advantages for Chinese firms. (There are indications that China is even using its head-start in recovering from the coronavirus to advance this agenda by claiming additional market share in key industries where competitors are temporarily laid low.) Combining an aggressive foreign economic policy with massive state-directed domestic investments in innovation, China could emerge as the leading player in foundational technologies from artificial intelligence to quantum computing to biotechnology.

As China builds economic power through these efforts, it will sharpen its capacity to convert that power into geopolitical influence. Any “two roads” analysis has to confront the obvious question: What if it’s both—or neither? In practice, China’s strategy currently appears to combine elements of both approaches. So far, Beijing has been amassing the means and seeking the geopolitical influence to confront the United States in the Western Pacific as well as positioning itself for a broader global challenge. It is also entirely possible that Beijing won’t ultimately travel either path successfully, if its economy or political system falters or its competitors respond effectively.“

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COVID-19: Shaping a Sicker, Poorer, More Violent, and Unstable Western Hemisphere

Author: Dr. Evan Ellis

Global Review had the honour again to get a contribution about the Covid Crisis in Latinamerica from Dr. Evan Ellis, Latinamerica expert of the US Army War College and former member of the Policy Planning Staff of the US State Department.

The COVID-19 pandemic will have profound, and enduring negative effects on Latin America and the Caribbean, significantly impacting the security, interests, and strategic position of the United States. Department of Defense and other US senior leaders should begin planning now to mitigate or manage the consequences.

The effects of COVID-19 on Latin America and the Caribbean, as in many other parts of the developing world, will be far more significant than is commonly anticipated for two reasons. First, the virus will likely play out across the region over an extended length of time owing to a variety of factors discussed later. Second, the pandemic’s mutually reinforcing health, economic, social, and political effects will combine to wreak far more havoc than anticipated in analyses that only consider disease propagation or effects on commerce. Together, these two dynamics of COVID-19 will leave a Latin America that is far sicker, poorer, beset by crime, violence, social unrest, and political instability than today. It will also leave a region with expanded People’s Republic of China (PRC) commercial presence and political influence, even while being more resentful of it.


The public health crisis wrought by COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean will not disappear with the reopening of the region’s economies. It will likely extend for a year or more and be even more debilitating than now anticipated. The great density of commerce-related human interactions between the PRC, Europe, and the United States caused the pandemic to take off there far more rapidly than in Latin America and other parts of the less-developed world. The curfews, quarantines, border closures, and other measures adopted by some Latin American countries, as they witnessed the virus ravage Europe and the United States, delayed its spread and created the illusion that it would not affect the region as badly. Such hopes were mistaken.

COVID-19 is just now beginning to explode in Latin America and the Caribbean. By May 7, the region had over three hundred thousand confirmed cases, and seventeen thousand deaths. Countries such as Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, and even Bolivia, Chile, and Colombia, are suffering significant numbers of cases and accelerating rates of lethality. On May 13, Mexico and Brazil recorded record numbers of deaths, while Peru, with 76,306 cases, recorded a massive jump of 4,247 cases in a single day.  The onset of winter in the Southern Hemisphere may further exacerbate the spread in more temperate climates there, including Uruguay and the south of Chile and Argentina.

The disease may ultimately spread further, and last longer, in Latin America than elsewhere for a number of reasons. The relative normalcy of physical contact in business and social interactions, combined with many economically vulnerable “informal” workers who must leave their homes to make a living, and small businesses that will go bankrupt if they stay closed, makes social distancing measures and business shutdowns less effective and less sustainable than in the West. Indeed, some countries in the region are already relaxing COVID-19 related restrictions and reopening businesses even as the rate of infections continues to climb. In Brazil, as six states reported demand for intensive care unit beds and services had exceeded supply, Minister of the Economy Paulo Guedes warned of an economic collapse in Brazil within thirty days if commercial activity was not resumed.

Limited testing and contact tracing capabilities, and the sparse implementation of such measures by some governments, impedes knowledge of who is infected and where social distancing measures can safely be lifted. Because it will also be some time before effective vaccines are tested and distributed throughout the region, and because the virus may continue to mutate during this time, COVID-19 will likely continue to break out, and then die down again, in different parts of the region for some time.

The takeoff of the virus in Venezuela provides an apt example. Venezuela has almost no government capacity to test for COVID-19 and lacks any semblance of transparency. The country also suffers from a collapsed healthcare system that lacks even the most basic medical and hygiene supplies (including regular access to running water and electricity).  Even if current numbers of infected in Venezuela are as low as reported, tens of thousands of Venezuelans are currently returning home from neighboring countries where infection rates are higher, and some will bring Covid-19 with them into Venezuela.

The weakened state of millions of Venezuelans, without adequate access to food and necessities, and their movement in often crowded, unsanitary conditions across the country and to neighboring countries, will serve as a transmittal mechanism for accelerating the spread of the virus throughout the region. This migration will sew sociopolitical conflicts along the way as local populations see Venezuelans as a dual threat—potentially carrying the disease and competing with local populations for scarce healthcare and other services.

Amidst a backdrop of the widespread persistence of the virus across the region, its lethality will likely be far greater than in the United States and Europe due to the relative shortage of intensive care unit and other hospital beds and equipment (e.g., ventilators) for treating seriously ill patients. As the crisis stretches out in time, it will increasingly expose the shortcomings of the public health sector in the region. The limited number of medical personnel, and the limited resources of governments in the region to correct such deficiencies, will increase the entire population’s vulnerability to infection over a year or more. The relative youth of the region, however, means that COVID-19 will kill not just the elderly, but also an important portion of the current and future workforce.


The International Monetary Fund predicts that Latin America’s gross domestic product will contract by 5.2 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic, devastating the region’s already weak economies. Even more important than the anticipated contraction, COVID-19 may produce devastating long-term economic effects in the region, including enduring changes to the structure of economies as well as a loss of resources available to states for effective governance. Governments already facing high debt levels will be unable to continue borrowing enormous sums to fund programs protecting small businesses and workers, particularly if disease outbreaks and associated restrictions on human and commercial interaction extend into 2021. The harm to businesses and the informal sector, as well as the loss of tax revenue to governments, could worsen by continuing low demand for their exports and decreased tourism revenues from the United States and the European Union.

Amidst protracted malaise and fiscal limits in the ability of governments to help, a significant portion of temporarily closed small businesses is likely to disappear permanently through bankruptcy. Similarly, vulnerable Latin America-based financial institutions may also consolidate, compounding the liquidity crisis faced by Latin American businesses.

Manufacturing in the region, such as the automotive sector in Mexico and Brazil, is likely to be particularly hard hit by continuing weak demand for goods both domestically and in export markets. While some sectors such as agricultural exports, mining, and petroleum may rebound with resumed PRC and global demand, the permanent contraction of other sectors—including small and medium businesses, manufacturing, and tourism—will eliminate an important part of the economic base sustaining the region’s middle class and impose severe pressures on the region’s social fabric.

Beyond the economic effect, the combination of reduced government revenue streams and greatly increased debt service will oblige governments to cut spending, even more than during debt crises of the twentieth century, on everything from social and infrastructure programs to the military and national security. In some cases, such as Argentina, governments may default on their debts, locking them out of Western credit markets. Some countries may then turn to the PRC for new lending, agreeing to conditions which dramatically expand PRC influence. Such agreements effectively redirect a sizeable portion of economic activities to benefit Chinese rather than host-nation companies in exchange for short-term relief.


The enduring disappearance of tens of millions of jobs across the region, and the evaporation of opportunities in the informal sector, is likely to push a portion of the greatly expanded mass of desperate persons into criminal acts and make them vulnerable to recruitment by criminal groups. At the same time, gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (commonly known as MS-13), Barrio 18, and other territorially focused criminal groups may seek new revenue streams and become more aggressive as traditional sources of illicit income—such as extorting nightclubs and small shops—are limited by social distancing measures and depressed economic activity.

Other criminal groups such as drug cartels, human traffickers, smugglers, money launderers, and illegal miners will also be adversely affected as the enduring shutdown of borders makes revenue-generating smuggling activities more complicated and disrupts supply chains. Indeed, the supply chain for fentanyl and precursor chemicals for synthetic drugs from the PRC to Latin America has already been affected. Illegal mining will be affected by everything from possible difficulties in obtaining mercury, to the devastation of their workforce with disease transmission through unregulated prostitution and unsanitary, crowded living conditions.

In other ways, COVID-19 may expand criminal opportunities, including for contraband medicine and equipment, cybercrime, and the robbery, extortion or embezzling of COVID-19 related aid. The pandemic will similarly give criminal groups new opportunities to enhance their control over local populations by handing out food, medicine, and other needed goods or enforcing curfews in areas they dominate, as has occurred in Mexico and Brazil. Increased common crime, recruitment opportunities for criminal groups, and pressures on those groups to adapt their behavior and expand into new territories and revenue streams, will likely increase insecurity and violence.

Police and other security services will be ill equipped to respond. On one hand, with the continuing threat of contagion, they will be hard pressed to engage in the close-contact community policing necessary to combat the expanded crime and violence. At the same time, their limited resources will probably continue to be diverted to respond to the pandemic itself: enforcing curfews and maintaining checkpoints, helping to deliver or providing security for deliveries of medical equipment, food, and eventually, vaccinations. As noted previously, debt-hobbled governments will have few additional resources for security forces to aid them in performing their expanded responsibilities.


As restrictions on human interaction are lifted in Latin America, the social unrest that began to sweep the region in the fall of 2019 is likely to reappear on a far greater scale. Mass protests that shook Ecuador, Chile, and to a lesser degree Colombia, reflected the hardships of the region and the widespread discontent with government performance in addressing them. Although COVID-19 temporarily suppressed such protests, it also greatly expanded those hardships and causes for discontent with governments. The new grievances include the ongoing public health crisis, mass unemployment, evaporation of businesses, and likely expansion of crime and violence in the coming months. Dissatisfaction with governments for their response to the crisis includes several cross-cutting issues. Anger over the economic damage inflicted by shutdowns is amplified by perceived violations of rights and liberties and excesses in restricting the movement of persons. Alternatively, others seethe over lives lost due to the government’s perceived slowness in imposing shutdowns, the perceived inadequacies in the public health system in confronting the crisis, inefficiencies in the government’s response, and corruption associated with emergency spending on both medical goods, and social protection programs.  

The previous round of mass social protests that shook Latin America were enabled in part by social media. Given the expansion of virtual connectivity that COVID-19-related social distancing has obliged, these social media tools will probably play an even greater role in the spread of the new round of mass mobilizations.


The biggest winner as the crisis in Latin America deepens is likely to be the PRC. As occurred during the global economic crisis in 2008, the PRC will likely expand its commercial presence and political influence in Latin America and the Caribbean. The PRC is emerging from the pandemic crisis more rapidly than the United States and the West. Chinese companies will be well positioned, with the help of PRC government and financial partners, to expand their role in global supply chains, acquiring the strategic assets that bankrupted or distressed local and Western companies will seek to sell.

The PRC’s expanding commercial presence in the region, and associated assertiveness in protecting its interests there, will generate frictions with local workers, businesses, and politicians, just as it did after 2008. Such frictions will feed off and reinforce existing distrust and resentment toward the PRC, including the perception that its secrecy and mismanagement of the response to COVID-19 substantially contributed to the pandemic.

At the same time, expanded PRC economic and political leverage will help it to suppress open discussion of such grievances among politicians, businessmen, and scholars in the region. Additionally, the PRC will benefit to some degree from its donations of testing kits, medical equipment, personal protective gear, and other needed goods. Governments in the region will also perceive, as in 2008, that PRC loans, investments, and resumption of demand for primary products and foodstuffs is a desperately needed economic lifeline as demand from Western purchasers, investors, and lenders remains limited. Some in Latin America will see the PRC’s emergence from the pandemic relatively sooner than Western governments as evidence that China’s state-led authoritarian approach to governance is superior. Despite this model running roughshod on numerous rights and freedoms, it may appear better able to protect citizen health and welfare, and avoid other risks of the global interdependent economy, than the more chaotic Western model of democracy and free markets.


The reinforcing effect of the health, economic, and public security crises in the region, the reemergence of mass protests, and the new economic and political dynamics afforded by China’s expanded presence will transform politics in the region. Not only may many governments change, but parties, movements and ideological cleavages may shift dramatically, too. COVID-19 will drive a reexamination of the fundamental responsibilities of government and the standards on which regimes should be judged. It will also cause reconsideration of the appropriate balance between rights, liberties, and opportunities versus citizen health, economic, and physical security. Even more than in prior eras, beleaguered Latin American and Caribbean citizens may consider more favorably authoritarian models, such as the PRC’s, which seem to offer some level of social order and economic stability, for the price of rights and liberties traditionally seen as inviolable in the West.


The deterioration of conditions likely to occur in Latin America and the Caribbean in the coming year will present significant challenges to US interests and strategic positions in multiple areas and in many ways (via US physical, commercial, and human connectivity to the region). The protracted health crisis in the region will threaten new outbreaks of the pandemic in the United States through the many people who regularly cross the US border for commerce, work, tourism, and family ties. The economic crisis in the region will impact US businesses operating there, including those that rely on production facilities in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and elsewhere. Bankruptcies, supply chain interruptions, and defaults in the region will also affect US investors and bondholders.

Beyond such business and supply chain effects, the crisis, and the associated expansion of criminality and violence in the region, will create pressures for expanded migration to the United States on an unprecedented scale. Expanded illicit activities such as narcotics, goods, human trafficking, and weapons smuggling will involve criminal groups in the United States as well as those in the region. The weakening of governance in Latin America and the Caribbean will create expanded sanctuary for terrorists and provide them opportunity to plan and conduct operations against the United States from the region. As these worrisome dynamics play out, the political upheaval in the region, combined with the expanded PRC presence and influence, will decrease US latitude to work with beleaguered partners there to combat such threats.

Insofar as the crisis is likely to continue through the coming year, whoever is in the Oval Office on January 20, 2021, will be obliged to make fundamental policy decisions about protecting the United States from the threats from the region (and elsewhere). Such protection could come via significantly expanding controls over the flows of people, goods, and money with the region to achieve for the United States greater commercial self-sufficiency and diversity of supply. But, sound policy must also consider working with the region on an unprecedented scale to strengthen its governance, security, human and commercial health, in order to reestablish together a hemisphere that is more secure and prosperous for all.

„Originally published by the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.  Republished with permission of the author.“

Comment by Global Review:

An excellent analysis of the impact of the Covid crisis in Latinamerica.

However, a very traditional one. In our poinion some important factors and effects are missing.

1) Interaction between climate change, organized crime and Covid

As Covid reduces state and private revenues it is very likely that deforestation and illegal mining activities will explode. We can already see this in Brasil where Bolsonaro is speeding up the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Legal and illegal activities are mixed. To get cash the natural resources are exploited on a much greater scale by organized crime and businessmen related to Bolsanaro. The PRC will make use of it, maybe also Chinese triads beyond the Chinese state and companies become involved.

And one should keep in mind that climate change and geopolitical struggles still exist and continue independent of the existing Covid crisis. Climate and climate change don´t care about Covid. They will catalyze the Covid effects and even on their own be more harmful and disastrous to world society than Covid itself. Brasil is just an outstanding example of what can happen in the whole Amazon basin and Latinamerica.

2) Political instability 

A question is if there will be new political movements, if they will be more anti American and pro-Chinese or if the resentments again China will grow.The Latinamerican military coulöd also play a future role in Latinamerica as we already experience that the military worldwide is playing an increasing role in the fight against pandemics and the effects of climate change. It could also play a much more important role in the mantainance of political stability if the political parties can´t fullfill this role. Another development one has to watch are therole of religion and the Evangelical free churches. On the one side the religious charities might play an increasing role due to exploding poverty and even hunger.On the other side we might experience a religious revival at larger scale which could also influence political movements or parties as we already see this in the case of Bolsonaro´s electoral base which are Evangelical organizations.

In the future, the financially declassed and existentially affected people could, out of sheer necessity, tend to desperate acts and short-time solutions that hope for simple solutions and possibly a leader, savior and redeemer – similar to the 1930s of the Weimar Republic.

Many will then not be able to access rational arguments, since they are de facto losers and propagate radical solutions, and also might accept a higher number of deaths in order to hope through broad easing that everything will be good again economically. Many will probably prefer the sparrow in their hands than the pigeon on the roof and the shirt is closer than the suit. And the desperate people will certainly search for those responsible and guilty and look for scapegoats for their misery in a feeling of revenge, which in turn can give rise to conspiracy theories.

A new financial crisis

As many US American banks are engaged in Latinamerica, the Covid crisis might also produce some sort of Latinafrica and a financial crisis which could have influence on the US financial markets.

As the analysis diplomatically doesn´t mention the potential outcome of the next US presidential elections, we want to give 2 scenarios:

1) Trump reelected   Migration to the USA will be stopped at a large scale due to xenophobia and the rationale of pandemic measures. Trump will mostly rely on Bolsonaro- Brasil and Columbia and try to topple Maduro after the failed „Bay of Pigs“in Venezuela again. The Sino-American conflict will escalate, including the trade war which also will become a tech war and maybe even the next black swan a military conflict and a Sino-American war in form of TX Hammes Offshore Controll.US aid for Latinamerica/Latinafrican „shitholes“ will be reduced like the withdrawal of the USA in the WHO and China will fill the gap and create its own image of a benign hegemon.

2) Joe Biden elected  The USA will reenter the WHO and play a more constructive international role in the fight against the pandemic. Migration to the USA will also be limited due to the xenophobic mood in the USA and the pandemic. Biden might try to restart free trade areas like TTIP and TPP, but probably not for Latinamerica, even if the EU has now a free trade agreement with the Mercosur states and he has also to take the anti-free trade mood in the US population in account.There won´t be any easy reset of the Washington consensus. Bush jr.´s idea of a Panamerican free trade zone from Canada to Southamerica also never materialized. Trump´s New NAFTA won´t be renegotiated, US aid for Latinamerica will be revived, while Biden will support Columbia and efforts for democracy promotion in Latinameric while the new instable situation will create more authotarian leades or even military dictatorships and continue to try to topple Maduro in Venezuela, but he won´t support Bolsonaro anymore. Climate protection and the Amazon basin as the green lung of the planet mightl also play a more important role. Biden will also support human rights and try to restore the image and soft power of the USA as a benign hegemon, but a lot of trust is already lost and the Sino-American conflict will continue to exist and be the main feature in the competition for spheres of influence in Latinamerica. While Trump wanted to win over Putin-Russia, North Korea and Assad-Syria to focus the whole US power on its struggle against China and Iran, the Democrats and Biden (as the Republicans) want to engage in a fight against Russia, North Korea, Iran and China at the same time. .

Trump won´t be the solution for the decline of the US worldpower, but Biden won´t be much better if he tries just to play the old game of the Washington Consensus.

Veröffentlicht unter Allgemein | Kommentare deaktiviert für COVID-19: Shaping a Sicker, Poorer, More Violent, and Unstable Western Hemisphere

EU-Russian ecological cooperation needed despite and because of the Covid crisis

Authors: Ralf Ostner (Global Review) / Frithjof Finkbeiner (Member Club of Rome , Desertec, Plant-for-the-Planet)

Many thought that due to the Covid crisis ecology and the ecological movement was dead and the idea of an EU-Russian ecological cooperation. Greta is back and still alive despite Covid. However Fridays for Future and the ecological movement is much more than Greta. The Youth had a symbolic poster demonstration in front of the German parliament and Merkel declared that she wanted to raise the EU climate benchmarks and use the billions of EU and European rescue and stimulus packages for a European Green Deal. This also offers Russia the potential to get EU support and money despite the sanction regime if it is willing to modernize its economy and to get in a green cooperation with Germany and the EU. And one should keep in mind that climate crisis  and geopolitical struggles still exist and continue independent of the existing Covid crisis. The climate does not care about Covid.. They will catalyze the Covid effects and even on their own be more harmful and disastrous to world society than Covid.

Moreover, more and more people understand that climate and biodiversity are two sides of the same coin. The climate crisis puts many species under massive stress. Species extinction, population growth, urbanization, destruction of nature and climate crisis promote zoonosis.

The corona crisis has shaken up many people around the world with some changes in behavior as digital meetings became mainstream instead of physical meetings,  we must not delude ourselves: After the corona crisis, we will all very quickly return to the global plundering system in order to secure our prosperity, also in Germany and Europe.

Russian strategists including Putin have a very ambivalent relation to climate crisis. On the one side Putin signed the Paris Climate Accord—different to Trump and Bolsonaro -, thinks about the consequences of the frost melt of the Russian East and the airing of methane, on the other side Putin as most Russian strategists have the vision of a Russian resource empire for the world economy. Ecological ideas are also very much underdeveloped in Russian think tanks, strategy forums and elites and the economic ton ideology of the former Soviet Union and the Western capitalist countries before the Club of Rome are still mainstream in Russia. Russia shall flood the world with gas, oil, wheat, timber and other mineral resources to get cash. Energy diplomacy is still a central part of the material base of the Russian economy and some strategists hope that in the case of global warming Russia could also become an agroempire due to expanding agricultural land and production as the other parts of the world will suffer from hunger.

The question is if this sort of traditional resource empire thinking can be replaced by a more modern ecological resource empire thinking which guarantees Russia an important place in the world and a material base. How can the traditional resource empire which is based on oil and gas exports overcome the contradiction with ecology, the Paris Climate Accord and the idea of decarbonisation?

The main interesting areas for an ecological cooperation should be:

Stop the deforestation of the Siberian woods—keep the green lung of the planet and Eurasia alive!

 The Russian government has allowed China to chop off its woods as China itself stopped deforestation of its own forests. The Siberian woods are equally important for the world climate as the Amazonian rain forest – they are equally important the green lung for the planet and Eurasia. Therefore the EU could initiate a rescue program for the conservation of the Siberian forests and sign with Russia an agreement for the regulated, sustainable and ecological export of the Russian timber industry which allows Russia to get an income and to save its forests.

Forest Preservation and Reforestation

The most dangerous thing about global warming are the tipping points. If the tipping points of the climate crisis are exceeded, i.e. if the earth heats up by more than 2°C, the climate crisis becomes independent. It can no longer be stopped and becomes a catastrophe.

And this is where the trees come into play: they absorb CO2 and thus slow down global warming. We will not reach the tipping points so quickly and we can do everything we can to prevent it.

An additional 1,000 billion trees annually bind 10 billion tons of CO2, or a quarter of our current CO2 emissions. So if we plant these additional trees and protect our existing trees, we gain time. Without these trees, in 26 years we will have used up the CO2 budget of 1,100 billion tonnes that we have left to maintain the 2°C limit.

We need the extra time so that we can convert the world to methanol economy, i.e. climate-neutral fuels, and desert power. And we’ve wasted way too much time doing nothing already. Trees give us back some of this time by binding CO2 from the atmosphere and thus keeping the earth below the critical 2°C limit.

Timber use

If we harvest the trees in time before they rot and thus before CO2 is released, the “C”, the carbon, remains stored in the wood. At the same place we can plant new trees and thus new storehouses. Go for Climate visits wooden houses as they are built in Vienna and Oslo with more than 80 m height. The carbon remains bound in them for decades. In addition – and this is even more important for the climate – every wooden house avoids reinforced concrete, which is responsible for 11% of global CO2 emissions.

Wood fibre can also replace plastic soon. Today there are already plastic toys made of wood fibre, hopefully soon PET bottles as well.

Bio charcoal

In addition to forestry and the use of wood, “proper” agriculture is also of great importance. Here, too, the “C”, the carbon, can be stored in the soil.

Wood and wood elements from building construction that are no longer used, as well as wood waste from forestry, should no longer be burned to CO2, but used to produce biochar. The “C” remains stored in the biochar and can thus be stored in the agricultural soil. This also enriches the soil with nutrients and the new trees and fruits grow faster, which will also contribute to sustainable agriculture – such as the fertile Terra Preta in the Amazon basin.

Agriculture will therefore become an ally in the fight against climate change if it is designed in such a way that soils become carbon stores.

Like forestry, agriculture also offers the potential to create many millions of jobs.

Solutions such as afforestation and “real” agriculture are part of initiatives such as the Bonn Challenge and AFR100 in the context of landscape restoration. These two initiatives alone set the goal of rebuilding 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

Develop soft tourism in Russia

Most Europeans if they visit Russia, mostly got to urban centers like St. Petersberg and Moscow. EU-Russian ecological cooperation could develop soft tourism in the Russian East and by railway to enjoy the beauty of the Russian landscape, including the Siberian forests. Another idea would be to built new datchas for tourists or to rent them part-time to European tourists, There are about 40 million Russians and their families who have a datcha and they could part-time rent them to European tourists to have a Russian nature experience or you built new tourist datchas and romantic log houses for ecological sustainable soft tourism. It would also be a great chance to meet Russians and to deepen the intercultural understanding of European and Russian people.


Russia is very dependent on oil and gas exports. Some strategists hope that if they boycott renewable energies and support Trump or anti-ecological parties or organisations, they could stop this trend. This is unrealistic. The renewable energies have already a cost advantage and if Trump, Russia, Saudi Arabia want to stop this trend then they have to sell their oil and gas at such a low price, that there will not be any state or private revenues left. Russia just experiences this in the oil price war between Trump- USA, OPEC and Russia. On the other side there is not the absolute decision between carbon- and non-carbon economies. Oil and gas will be reduced, but for a foreseeable future still be part of the energy mix. As Prof. Rahr, EU adviser to Gazprom proposed, Russian carbons could be used for the production of hydrogen technology. However it would be a bad idea if Russia for the production of hydrogen would burn gas and raise the CO2 emissions. Hydrogen technology only makes sense if its energy base are renewable energies.

Methanol economy

With the clean and unlimited solar power from the desert we can produce hydrogen from water and combine it with CO2 from the air to methanol. Methanol stores solar electricity with an energy density that is 50 times higher than that of a battery. And it has another decisive advantage: it does not need any routes and can be transported just as easily today as its fossil predecessors, e.g. in tankers. Methanol is the basis for clean kerosene, petrol and diesel, or “e-fuel” for short. We can immediately add the clean kerosene to the fossil aviation fuel in order to gradually replace it completely. E-Fuels can operate existing combustion engines in a climate-neutral way – methanol economy. The oil companies have other plans: over 7% of the world’s oil and gas reserves are in Africa and the oil companies plan to increase their investments in oil and gas production there tenfold by 2030 in order to increase production accordingly.

The dependence on insecure regimes that supply us with fossil fuels today will be reduced, because any country with a desert can become an energy-exporting country in the future. Clean energy production in the deserts of the earth is therefore probably the largest peace-building measure.

Therefore it would be better if the EU invests in Clean gas technology, tries to find out if in Russia there could be built enough solar and wind parks for the hydrogen technology.

Support EU-Russian start ups and technology leaders

The EU should support Russian start ups and technology leaders in sectors which are important for the green foot print. Modern traffic systems, energy saving houses, infrastructure, city planning and architecture.,development of railways and green mobility, etc.

Agricultural cooperation

Many strategist do not only think of Russia as a carbon resource empire, but also of an agro empire. They do not care about ecology, have a very narrow understanding of its meaning and limit ecological cooperation to agricultural cooperation. They have the shortsighted, optimistic point of view that the global warming will boost agricultural land and production in Russia, while the rest of the world needs more food from Russia. Thereby Russia as an agricultural resource empire could also raise its role in the coming new multipolar world order and be the wheat and food chamber of the world. However, this might be the case for a decade, but if global warming reaches a certain (tipping) point, Russia will also suffer enormous droughts and the vision of the agro empire is finished in the midterm. President Putin also referred to the dramatic consequences of global warming for perma frozen areas for Russia and the rest of the world in his State of the Union address. He seems to have a clearer idea than some of his think tanks and strategists.

However, Russia can be a big agricultural supplier and the EU should support ecological, sustainable agricultural cooperation.

Among these projects one would be also be very important:Russia also is not yet prepared for the next agricultural revolution from the Silicon Valley:Before trying to compensate for the global protein supply of humanity by insect food, there is now an innovation: artificial meat. Invitro meat. No science fiction: Meat that is already bred from meat cells today and in the future in mass production in silos, by means of 3d printers or what still exists .No genetic engineering, but in the broadest sense reproduction technology. It does not breed a whole chicken, but only the chicken wing, does not fatten a whole goose but only breeds the goose liver, etc. No science fiction, but is already done and the prices fall rapidly. No more factory farming, no more destruction of the rainforests and deforestation, no more waste that pollutes the groundwater, no more cruelty to animals and no more animal transports, no chick shredding, no more vegetarianism and veganism as the only way out, no more ecological disaster and the organic farmers, the bio farmers are no longer the good guys. While vegetarians and vegans criticize this because the change is happening technologically and from the outside and not from the inside by a change in consciousness and thinking, David Precht sees here rather the problem that the companies have the patents on the manufacturing processes and monopolize the production chain as Montesano monopolizes seed.

Besides other agricultural cooperation, the EU and Russia should find out if the disruptive agricultural technology for the production of artificial meat is feasible and in the interest of both sides.

Waste and sewage management The Russian waste management including the recycling idea is still very underdeveloped in Russia. This could be the next field for a cooperation.

Save the Arctic

The geopolitical struggle about the Arctic has just started. Climate change leads to the new situation that shipping routes become ice-free, oil, gas and mineral resources, fishing and maritime resources could be exploited on a greater scale. The USA, the EU, Russia and China want more influence in the development of the Arctic, China has even an official development plan for the Artic, while the USA wants to give Greenland money for its resources and military bases, sends the first military ships in the Barents Sea, informs Russia bout this as signal that it demands its sphere of influence in the Arctic and does not want to come in a conflict with Russia. However, the EU should also develop its development plan for the Arctic and to evaluate the potentials for a EU-Russian cooperation in the Arctic. The EU should support all Russian initiatives which focus that the Arctic doesn´t become a polluted, overfished and ecological disastrous region.

The EU and Russia planned a climate change conference in Moscow before the Covid crisis which has been postponed and might be organized virtually in the future. Time to make up the mind for new ideas as this article which could start an interesting discussion for both sides.

Veröffentlicht unter Allgemein | Kommentare deaktiviert für EU-Russian ecological cooperation needed despite and because of the Covid crisis

Covid Demonstrations: The Republic Before the Storm?

As a result of the easing of the lockdown, there were nationwide Coronademonstrations. There are four motive groups: business people and restaurant owners who fear a lockdown for their financial existence. Groups who see their civil rights endangered including the new Corona party Resistance 2020 ( Widerstand 2020). Right-wing radicals and conspiracy theorists who want to overthrow the „Merkel dictatorship“, the „financial elites“, „the NWO“ in order to build up a dictatorship themselves. Esoteric and anti-vaccine groups. Some groups and apologists overlap and also mix on demonstrations. The real storm can come, however, if 10 million short-time workers are to become unemployed and social aid recipients and if small and medium-sized enterprises are to go bankrupt a million times.

Although this is likely to be even more serious in the United States, since there is no welfare state, the question is whether the German welfare state can still maintain the level it has so far with so many aid recipients and remain financially viable in the event of falling tax revenues. Many business associations fear that tax increases would deepen the crisis. Some economists given the simultaneous supply and demand shocks consider an investment program without tax increases by means of new debt and economic stimulus programs to be the better option. But that also could cause inflation.

However, depending on the course of the Covid and economic crisis, which could also expand into a financial crisis, perhaps even a renewed euro crisis, the AfD, FDP, the new Corona party Resistance 2020 (Widerstand 2020) and Boris Palmer hope to get new voters and party members. The AfD has meanwhile changed its wait-and-see approach. Gauland now criticizes Merkel for reacting too late and then too exaggerated, appeals more to the workers and business people, while other representatives of the AfD spread conspiracy theories and are now also present in some Covid demonstrations. In the future, the financially declassed and existentially affected people could, out of sheer necessity, tend to desperate acts and short-time solutions that hope for simple solutions and possibly a leader, savior and redeemer – similar to the 1930s of the Weimar Republic.

Many will then not be able to access rational arguments, since they are de facto losers and propagate radical solutions, and also might accept a higher number of deaths in order to hope through broad easing that everything will be good again economically. Many will probably prefer the sparrow in their hands than the pigeon on the roof and the shirt is closer than the suit. And the desperate people will certainly search for those responsible and guilty and look for scapegoats for their misery in a feeling of revenge, which in turn can give rise to conspiracy theories. The storm on the previous prosperity democracy is apparently still to come. It remains to be seen if she can overcome it.

Veröffentlicht unter Allgemein | Kommentare deaktiviert für Covid Demonstrations: The Republic Before the Storm?

Coviddemonstrationen: Die Republik vor dem Sturm?

Infolge der Lockerungen kam es nun zu bundesweiten Demonstrationen. Dabei kann man vier Motivgruppen ausmachen: Geschäftsleute und Gaststättenbesitzer, die durch einen lockdown um ihre finanzielle Existenz fürchten. Gruppen, die ihre Bürgerrechte beeinträchtigt sehen. Zum dritten Rechtsradikale, und Verschwörungstheoretiker, die die „Merkeldiktatur“, die „Finanzeliten“, „die NWO“ stürzen wollen, um selbst eine Diktatur aufzubauen. Esoteriker und Impfgegner. Dabei überschneiden sich einige Gruppen und Apologeten und vermischen sich auch auf Demos. Der eigentliche Sturm aber kann kommen, wenn 10 Millionen Kurzarbeiter arbeitslos und Hartz4empfänger werden sollten und Klein- und Mittelbetriebe millionenfach pleite und insolvent gehen sollten.

Zwar dürfte dies in den USA noch gravierender sein, da es keinen Sozialstaat gibt, aber die Frage ist, ob der deutsche Sozialstaat bei derart vielen Hilfeempfängern noch in seinem bisherigen Ausmaß halten kann und finanzierbar bleibt bei einbrechenden Steuereinnahmen. Steuererhöhungen befürchten etliche Wirtschaftsverbände würden die Krise noch vertiefen. Einige Ökonomen halten denn auch angesichts des gleichzeitigen Angebots- und Nachfrageschocks ein Investitionsprogramm ohne Steuererhöhungen mittels Neuverschuldung und Konjunkturprogramm für die bessere Variante. Dies könnte aber wiederum inflationäre Wirkungen haben.

Aber je nach Verlauf der Covid- und Wirtschaftskrise, die sich auch zu einer Finanzkrise, ja vielleicht einer erneuten Eurokrise ausweiten könnte, erhoffen sich AfD, FDP, die neue Coronapartei Widerstand 2020 und Boris Palmer Zulauf. Die AfD hat inzwischen ihre abwartende Linie geändert, Gauland kritisiert nun Merkel dafür, dass sie anfangs zu spät und dann zu überzogen reagiert hätte, spricht mehr die Arbeiter und Geschäftsleute an, während andere AfDler Verschwörungstheorien anfeuern und verbreiten und nun auch bei einigen Demos präsent sind. Künftig könnten die finanziell Deklassierten und existentiell Betroffenen aus der schieren Not heraus zu Verzweiflungstaten und Kurzschlussreaktionen neigen, die einfache Lösungen und womöglich einen Führer und Erlöser erhoffen—ähnlich wie in den 30er Jahren der Weimarer Republik.

Viele werden dann rationalen Argumenten nicht zugängig sein, da sie eben faktische Verlierer sind und radikale Lösungen propagieren, eben auch eine höhere Totenzahl in Kauf nehmen, um durch breite Lockerungen sich zu erhoffen, dass wirtschaftlich wieder alles gut werde. Da ist vielen dann wahrscheinlich der Spatz in der Hand lieber als die Taube auf dem Dach und das Hemd näher als der Anzug. Und Verantwortliche, Schuldige und Sündenböcke für die Misere werden dann auch sicherlich im Rachegefühl gesucht, was Verschwörungstheorien dann wiederum Aufwind geben kann. Der Sturm auf die bisherige Wohlstandsdemokratie steht scheinbar erst noch bevor. Bleibt abzuwarten, ob sie es aushält.

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Was Nationalsocialism the product of distorted Hindu ideas by Germans?

An Indian professor aired the thesis that Nationalsocialism was a product of the distortion of Hindu ideas by the Germans. The video is available here:

As far as I know, the first traditional German grand narrative was taken from the mythological pagan writings of the pre-Christian Edda, the Nibelungen, the historical person of Arminius/“Hermann“ who defeated the Romans and the Kyffhäuser. At that time it had nothing to do with the Veddas or Hindu mythology or whatever. It was a later development when racism came up and German racists spoke of the Aryans. Some saw the roots of the Aryans in the Indo-Iranians or Indo-Aryans. Some also liked the caste system. The idea that there was a blond-haired, blue-eyed superior Aryan race which were the Germans` ancestors and which was coming from Nothern Europe via Persia to India while the „real Aryans“ in India were vanishing because of race and blood mixing. Drawing on misinterpreted references in the Rig Veda by Western scholars in the 19th century, the term „Aryan“ was adopted as a racial category through the works of Arthur de Gobineau whose ideology of race was based on an idea of blond northern European „Aryans“ who had migrated across the world and founded all major civilizations, before being diluted through racial mixing with local populations.

Through the works of Houston Stewart Chamberlain who was also member of the Richard Wagner circle which was admired by Hitler, Gobineau’s ideas later influenced the Nazi racial ideology which saw „Aryan peoples“ as innately superior to other putative racial groups. The atrocities committed in the name of this racial ideology have led academics to avoid the term „Aryan“, which has been replaced in some cases by „Indo-Iranian“. However, I don’t know the exact discussion at that time and what Hegel had to do with it.

In Hitler’s s programmatic book Mein Kampf/My Struggle , there is constant talk of Aryans and Jews, but nothing about Hindu origins, Hindu mythology, Hindu ideas, etc. The Nazi ideology was also very eclectic and syncretic. The grand narrative was also work-in-progress. Himmler’s SS Ancestors Heritage (SS Ahnenerbe) made many expeditions in search of the real origins of the Aryans-from Latin America to Tibet to the North Pole. Therefore I think this professor’s thesis is an overinterpretation of the real facts. The Indo-Aryans were a language group, but not a race. This was the most important distortion which lead to Nazism.

Our post-war generation never got in contact with these crude ideologies. As part of US reeducation, the question of Aryans, Hindu ideas/mythology, race and that sort of stuff never was important. The German grand narrative became Rock’n Roll, Coca Cola and US lifestyle.If Today someone speaks of Aryans, he would be perceived as the class clown, old-style German racist and national socialist. At „best“ some esoteric circles are mentioning these ideas, some even referring to esoteric queen Blavatsky and her theory of root races. Or some self-proclaimed hobby historians like this outdated concept. Even AfD-frontman and history teacher Björn Höcke in his book refers to old German mythology of the Rhine as eternal German river and history, Nibelungen, Arminius, but never to Aryans or Hindu ideas or mythology. „The Wing“faction of the AfD, Höcke and others like Gauland regularly having their meeting at the old German mythological site of the Kyffhäuser, waiting for the return of the mythological „German“Emperor with the blue beard Friedrich Barbarosa to save Germany—similar to the Shiites who wait for the return of the 14th Imam Ali whom they celebrate in their Ashurafestival. If Höcke and his followers have a hidden mythological agenda with racist theories about Aryans, with distorted Hindu ideas remains to be seen. Or better not. However, Höcke already aired crude reproduction theories about German and African races, demands a 180-degree-U-Turn in German history and education and he calls the Holocaust memorial a shame for Germany. It would be interesting to know how far this U-Turn will go – or better not.

However, it would be nice to ask the Indian professor if the Hindu nationalists are nowadays referring to the concept of Hindu Indians as the real Aryans and superior race or culture and if the BJP, the RSS or other Hindu nationalist and racist parties and groups think of Indians as the new superior Aryan race. In India, there is now a fierce debate about Hinduism and Hindutva between political forces who have a more moderate, inclusive concept of Hinduism and apologetics who have a more exclusive model. One has to watch how far this exclusiveness will develop and if it is becoming racist.

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EU-Russian ecological cooperation needed despite and because of Covid crisis

Many thought that due to the Covid crisis ecology and the ecological movement were dead and the idea of EU-Russian ecological cooperation was. However, Greta is back, Friday for Future had a symbolic poster demonstration in front of the German parliament and Merkel declared that she wanted to raise the EU climate benchmarks and use the billions of EU and European rescue and stimulus packages for a new Green Deal. This also offers Russia the potential to get EU support and money despite the sanction regime i f it is willing to modernize its economy and to get in a green cooperation with Germany and the EU. And one should keep in mind that climate change and geopolitical struggles still exist and continue independent of the existing Covid crisis. Climate and climate change don´t care about Covid. They will catalyze the Covid effects and even on their own be more harmful and disastrous to world society than Covid.

Russian strategists including Putin have a very ambivalent relation to climate change. On the one side, Putin signed the Paris Climate Accord—different to Trump and Bolsonaro-, thinks about the consequences of the deforestation of the Russian East and the airing of methane, on the other side Putin as most Russian strategists have the vision of a Russian resource empire for the world economy. Ecological ideas are also very much underdeveloped in Russian think tanks, strategy forums and elites and the economic ton ideology of the former Soviet Union and the Western capitalist countries before the Club of Rome are still mainstream in Russia. Russia shall flood the world with gas. oil, wheat and other mineral resources to get cash. Energy diplomacy is still a central part of the material base oft he Russian economy and some strategists hope that in the case of global warming Russia could also become an agroempire due to expanding agricultural land and production as the other parts of the world will suffer from hunger.

The question is if this sort of traditional resource empire thinking can be replaced by a more modern ecological resource empire thinking which guarantees Russia an important place in the world and a material base. How can the traditional resource empire which is based on oil and gas exports overcome the contradiction with ecology, the Paris climate Acord and the idea of decarbonization?

The main interesting areas for ecological cooperation should be:

Stop the deforestation of the Siberian woods—keep the green lung of the planet and Eurasia alive!.

 The Russian government has allowed China to chop off its woods as China itself stopped deforestation of its own forests. The Siberian woods are equally important for the world climate as the Amazonian rain forest- they are equally important the green lung for the planet and Eurasia. Therefore the EU could initiate a rescue program for the conservation oft he Siberian forests and sign with Russia an agreement for the regulated, sustainable and ecological export of the Russian timber industry which allows Russia to get an income and to save its forests.

Develop soft tourism in Russia

Most Europeans if they visit Russia, mostly go to urban centers like St. Petersberg and Moscow. EU-Russian ecological cooperation could develop soft tourism in the Russian East and by railway to enjoy the beauty of the Russian landscape, including the Siberian forests. Another idea would be to built new datchas for tourists or to rent them part-time to European tourists, There are about 40 million Russians and their families who have a datcha and they could part-time rent them to European tourists to have a Russian nature experience or you built new tourist datchas and romantic log houses for ecological sustainable soft tourism. It would also be a great chance to meet Russians and to deepen the intercultural understanding between European and Russian people.

Decarbonization  Russia is very dependent on oil and gas exports. But renewable energies will become more important. Some strategists hope that if they boycott renewable energies and support Trump or anti-ecological parties or organizations, they could stop this trend. This is unrealistic. Renewable energies have already a cost advantage and if Trump, Russia, Saudi Arabia want to stop this trend then they have to sell their oil and gas at such a low price, that there won´t be any state or private revenues left. Russia just experiences this in the oil price war between Trump- USA, OPEC and Russia. On the other side, there is not the absolute decision between carbon- and non-carbon economies. Oil and gas will be reduced, but for a foreseeable future still be part of the energy mix. As Prof. Rahr, EU adviser to Gazprom proposed, Russian carbons could be used for the production of hydrogen technology. However, it would be a bad idea if Russia for the production of hydrogen would burn gas and raise CO2 emissions. Hydrogen technology only makes sense if its energy base are renewable energies.

Therefore it would be better if the EU invests in clean gas technology, tries to find out if in Russia there could be built enough solar and wind parks for the hydrogen technology.

Support EU-Russian start ups and technology leaders

The EU should support Russian startups and technology leaders in sectors that are important for the green footprint. Modern traffic systems, energy-saving houses, infrastructure,  city planning, and architecture, development of railways and green mobility, etc.

Agricultural cooperation  Many strategists do not only think of Russia as a carbon resource empire, but also of an agroempire. They don´t care about ecology, have a very narrow understanding of its meaning, and limit ecological cooperation to agricultural cooperation. They have the shortsighted, optimistic point of view that global warming will boost agricultural land and production in Russia, while the rest of the world needs more food from Russia. Thereby Russia as an agricultural resource empire could also raise its role in the coming new multipolar world order and be the wheat and food chamber of the world. However, this might be the case for a decade, but if global warming reaches a certain (tipping) point, Russia will also suffer enormous droughts and the vision of the agroempire is finished in the midterm. President Putin also referred to the dramatic consequences of global warming for permafrozen areas for Russia and the rest of the world in his State oft the Union address. He seems to have a clearer idea than some of his think tanks and strategists.

However, Russia can be a big agricultural supplier and the EU should support ecological sustainable agricultural cooperation.

Among these projects one would also be very important:

Russia also is not yet prepared for the next agricultural revolution from Silicon Valley: Artificial meat. In this area now flow more investments than in artificial intelligence and it could be the solution to the world food crisis and the eco-crisis, which is why such investment has such a priority in Silicon Valley. Although if you think of Silicon Valley you are thinking of digitization, quantum computers, microchips, the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and computer algorithms, but nanotechnology, and biotechnology are leading the way, as evidenced in the writings of Ray Kurzweil and his book „Singularity“ that envisions a posthuman fusion of man with machine and biotechnology and genetic engineering. A lot of science fiction, and a lot of spinning, a lot is being tested, but the main investments of the Silicon Valley are going into the technology of the artificial meat, and that is already feasible and is already produced, albeit not yet in mass production.

Before trying to compensate for the global protein supply of humanity by insect food, there is now an innovation: artificial meat. Invitro meat. No science fiction: Meat that is already bred from meat cells today and in the future in mass production in silos, by means of 3d printers or what will exist in the future.No genetic engineering, but in the broadest sense reproduction technology. It does not breed a whole chicken, but only the chicken wing, does not fatten a whole goose but only breeds the goose liver, etc. No science fiction, but is already done and the prices fall rapidly. No more factory farming, no more destruction of the rainforests and deforestation, no more waste that pollutes the groundwater, no more cruelty to animals and no more animal transports, no chick shredding, no more vegetarianism and veganism as the only way out, no more ecological disaster and the organic farmers, the bio farmers are no longer the good guys. While vegetarians and vegans criticize this because the change is happening technologically and from the outside and not from the inside by a change in consciousness and thinking, David Precht sees here rather the problem that the companies have the patents on the manufacturing processes and monopolize the production chain as Montesano monopolizes seed.

Besides other agricultural cooperation, the EU and Russia should find out if the disruptive agricultural technology for the production of artificial meat is feasible and in the interest of both sides.

Waste and sewage management The Russian waste management including the recycling idea is still very underdeveloped in Russia. This could be the next field for cooperation.

Save the Arctic

The geopolitical struggle about the Arctic has just started. Climate change leads to the new situation that shipping routes become ice-free, oil, gas and mineral resources, fishing and maritime resources could be exploited on a greater scale. The USA, the EU, Russia and China want more influence in the development of the Arctic, China has even an official development plan for the Arctic, while the USA wants to give Greenland money for its resources and military bases, sends the first military ships in the Barent Sea, informs Russia about this as a signal that it demands its sphere of influence in the Arctic and doesn’t want to come in a conflict with Russia. However, the EU should also develop its development plan for the Arctic and to evaluate the potentials for EU-Russian cooperation in the Arctic. The EU should support all Russian initiatives which guarantee that the Arctic doesn´t become a polluted, overfished and ecological disastrous region.

The EU and Russia planned a climate change conference in Moscow before the Covid crisis which has been postponed and might be organized virtually in the future. Time to make up the mind for new ideas which could start an interesting discussion for both sides.

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COVID-19: a new Dimension in an ‘Undeclared Third World War’!!

Author: Maj Gen SB Asthana, SM, VSM (Retd)

Period: Apr – Jun 2020

Key Points

  • The outbreak of COVID-19 has demonstrated the destructive potential of virus as a weapon of mass destruction.
  • The strategic competition amongst major powers has already pushed the world into undeclared third world war with changed dimensions and instruments.
  • COVID-19 has changed the intensity, dimension and trajectory of Ongoing undeclared Third World War, with a possibility of change in global order after the pandemic.


In a global tug of war, COVID-19 has added a new dimension to alter the global strategic balance and triggered another chain of event for global strategic dominance, besides unprecedented human sufferings. During First and Second World War eras, use of military forces and declaration of war was considered as a basic essentiality to call it a War. War was defined to be a state in which a nation prosecutes its right by force. Similarly, as per Collins English Dictionary, a World War is a war that involves countries all over the world. The meaning of ‘Force’ in the modern era has grown way beyond hard power alone, along with various dimensions of application. During earlier world wars, the strategic aims were capture of key territories or surrender of political leadership/will of adversaries. In the current era the strategic aim revolves around economic collapse of adversary, with economy and people becoming the centre of gravity of the enemy, which needs to be targeted. In light of the above realities, the paper argues that the world was already in the grips of a Third World War (beyond cold war) having different dimensions and instruments, except that it was not declared, and the COVID-19 has further changed its trajectory and dimension.

Were We already in Undeclared Third World War prior to COVID-19?

A reality check of destructive capability of major world power reveals that due to mutually assured destruction (MAD) a full scale, declared World War like First or Second World Wars between combat forces may not occur, as it will be economically devastating for all major powers. The military hardware of all types (including nuclear) will continue to grow as an instrument for deterrence, as well as trade. The Force for application in a world war has a new measurement in terms of Comprehensive National Power (CNP) of the nations. It includes economy (including energy security), military strength (including nuclear capability), strategic positioning/posturing, foreign policy/diplomacy, governance, Human Development Index (HDI), technological capability, knowledge and information, geography, natural resources, national will and leadership. Out of all the components of CNP mentioned above, economic power is the over-riding component dictating the rest.

The application of economic power had resulted in intense Trade/Tariff War between the two largest economies (US and China) spiralling upwards[i] at a rapid rate last year. US had slapped economic sanctions on Russia, Iran, North Korea and some other countries. It affects the entire world and puts global economy in turbulence defining the global nature of economic war. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative to increase its infrastructure reach and strategic footprints almost in all continents and the counter initiatives by US, Japan and others are also part of this economic and strategic war. The ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, since last two decades, are also linked with economy, sale of military hardware to either side including sale of weapons to terrorists.

In the Indo-Pacific the conventional and nuclear armed combat forces of US and China are continuing strategic posturing, deterrence and messaging to all stakeholders. China used combat forces to occupy and develop artificial islands in the South China Sea, which was also claimed by others, in an attempt to convert international watersa  into Chinese lake along shipping lanes that carry USD 5 trillion worth of global trade per year[ii]. The combat exercises being conducted in Indo-Pacific are a show of force and alliances, besides the optics. The expansion of military bases adds the logistics content of the war. The North Korean missile and nuclear tests to demonstrate its capability to strike US mainland, and US military exercises with South Korea to moderate it, also display the posturing of combat forces. To name a couple, the military force has been physically used in Crimea and Syria, where the US and Russia stood on opposite sides, although they have been cautious enough not to attack each other to up the ante to ‘Declared War’. The military intervention of Saudi Arabia and multinational force in Yemen also qualify to be called as war, which was responded by Houthis bringing non state actors in the conflict. The recent US-Iran confrontation after killing of Sulemani, brought both countries close to war. If all these cases of use of conventional forces are linked, then two opposing alliances covering worldwide conflicts  appear on the scene, the first one being US-Israel-Saudi Arabia-South Korea-Japan and the other one being China-Russia-North Korea-Iran-Syria, with other countries seem to be doing strategic balancing.

While nuclear war may have low probability, but the concept seems to be replaced by nuclear blackmailing by North Korea and Pakistan to avoid conventional war and few countries attempting increase nuclear and missile capability for using safety as an excuse. Abrogation of CTBT, increase in tactical nukes and possibility of dirty bomb falling in hands of terrorists are new dimensions. The allegations of use of nerve agents in Syria indicates that despite a ban by UN, this arsenal continues to be prepared and selectively used. The technological competition is an added dimension to warfare. The space warfare has also taken a dangerous turn with each side taking preparatory actions to destroy each other’s satellites and other space infrastructure. Terrorism and Cyber Warfare is an omnipresent threat for all countries. Proxy wars by nations using irregulars using terrorism as a tool of statecraft is common. The theory of ‘Good and bad terrorists’, individual interests of countries and global powerplay has overtaken the unified global war on terrorism, with major powers fighting some terrorist groups and closing eyes towards others. MENA and Af-Pak region are live example of that. The use of all elements of information war, to include misinformation campaign, election meddling, cyber war, hacking of economic and crucial military network are already in progress.

Some strategists term the situation described above as ‘Cold War’, which as per Cambridge Dictionary, is a ‘state of extreme unfriendliness existing between countries with opposing political systems that expresses itself not through fighting but through political pressure and threats’, used to describe the relationship between the US and the Soviet Union after the Second World War. The number of casualties suffered in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other areas, and the number of refugees displaced due to these conflicts surpasses the total casualties as well as refugees of both the earlier World Wars put together. In Syrian War alone 3.5 million people have been killed, so far. The global strategic situation described above is way beyond that definition/bounds/realms of cold war. It has graduated to conflicts, capture of territory like South China Sea, innumerable deaths and economic destruction; hence calling it cold war will be understatement. This reality check brings out that the global situation even before COVID-19 had every element of a World War, except that the dimension, instruments and modalities had changed, and the war has not been ‘Formally Declared’; hence it may not be wrong to call it an ‘Undeclared Third World War’[iii].

COVID-19 gives New Dimension and Trajectory to Ongoing Third World War

The outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), has put humanity to one of the biggest risks of this century. It exposed the vulnerability of strongest nations to unprecedented human tragedy triggered by a possible biological weapon (accidently or otherwise), while the global powers were busy strengthening other elements of CNP. It exposed the dangers of any possible biological weapon to the world, adding a new dimension in ongoing Third World War. It has also exposed the suspicion that despite Biological Warfare Convention, the research on such arsenal are still being pursued. Wuhan being the initial epicentre in December 2019, the trends in early 2020 suggested a sheer drop in CNP of China with combined effect of US-China trade war, failing BRI and COVID-19. The last week of March 2020 onwards saw the epicenters of COVID-19 shifting westwards with US, Europe and UK emerging to be worst affected, and China showing signs of recovery. Paralyzed by the shock of infection the remaining world continues to be engaged in protecting its citizens as the first priority, in their critical phase of pandemic cycle with every possible means. The global anger against China for delaying possibility of global response to pandemic is far from over, but on low key not to disrupt the medical supply. Chinese narrative kept changing from accidental originator to victim then good fighter and later posing itself to be the good Samaritan volunteering to help the world in combating the pandemic. The delay by WHO in declaring it a pandemic exposed the vulnerability of global organizations like United Nations to possible manipulation by P5 members like China.

China on the other hand having declaring victory over the pandemic, was quick to put its manufacturing back in place, trying to boost a ‘COVID-19 Economy’ by creating a ‘Health Silk Road’ and activating most needed supply chain of medical equipment and medicines, as an attempt to earn maximum profit out of the pandemic, besides attempting to repair its global image. In context of economic war, it brought out the global vulnerability of putting in maximum manufacturing of essential goods in Chinese basket; hence many countries like Japan have decided to incentivize pulling out some of their manufacturing bases out from China, and many have learnt a lesson to be self-reliant on critical supplies. The economic competition has also pushed US and western countries to prematurely lift certain social precautions against the pandemic, so that they do not take unacceptable economic hit while competing with China, creating an additional risk to human lives.

Strategically China followed the teachings of its old military strategist Sun Tzu, who had advocated ‘strike when the enemy is weak and preserve when it is strong’. With US and other countries deeply involved in combating Novel Coronavirus, China and North Korea made some offensive gestures. North Korea tested missiles in quick succession and China launched aggressive offensive posturing by sending aircraft carrier near Taiwan, knocking off fishing boat of Vietnam and Malaysia to strengthen its claim in South China Sea up to Nine Dash Line. The reports of a nuclear test by Chinese in Lop Nor by the US was responded to as holding Elephant Walk in show of strength to caution the potential adversaries. China also decided to use this opportunity to unilaterally set up administration in Paracel and Spratly Islands and features claimed by other countries as well, to tighten its grip on South China Sea. It’s unilateral move to approve the establishment of the Xisha and Nansha districts under Sansha city in southern island of Hainan did not go well with global community, but as per Chinese strategic calculations, this seemed to be the best time for them to do so, even if it amounted to blatant violation of UNCLOS and diverting attention of others in combating COVID-19. It also exposed sham Code of Conduct drama which China was doing to keep ASEAN countries amused. This political offensive was immediately responded through strong military posturing by US and Australian Navies, sailing mighty aircraft carrier and combat ships of Seventh Fleet, as a show of force to counter the move of Chinese aggressive stance in freedom of navigation operations in South China Sea. They also flew fighter aircrafts near Taiwan Strait responding to offensive posturing of China towards Taiwan, by sailing their new aircraft carrier near it.

Impact on New Paradigm, Dimensions and Instruments of Third World War 

The economic offensive and military posturing of China in Indo-Pacific, especially in South China Sea and US response has increased the pace of ongoing Third World War. COVID-19 has exposed some vulnerabilities of US and created huge trust deficit for China globally; hence the idea of everyone accepting one/two countries as superpower or global leader may soon be outdated, in the future world. It may appear that China has an upper edge because of controlling COVID-19 earlier, but it is too early to predict because the global anger and trust deficit is against China; hence the strategic situation is fluid. A new global order will emerge, which may not be US/China centric. All countries, big or small will protect their national interests, look for self-reliance and will protect their strategic choices. It can also be argued that unlike earlier world wars, this phase of the Third World War could last for decades, and what we are witnessing is its preparatory phase. The world is yet to mentally accept the transition of World War into a new dimension to encompass economic warfare, trade, technological, space, and information war including cyber warfare. Diplomatic wars to include formulation of alliances like QUAD, Russia – China upcoming relations fitting in their idea of Eurasia.[iv]4 , expelling diplomats and counter diplomatic offensive by other side, joint military exercises are new instruments of expression of collective power.

The conventional war has now taken a back seat, but the space exists for such wars at regional level within the overall ambit of Third World War. The new paradigm will be that unlike earlier World Wars, all countries will not be at war, because all of them may not agree to common narratives of key players, hence some countries would be at hot war like Saudi Arabia and Yemen, some countries in military posturing stage, and some will be using other dimensions and instruments of war like economic warfare, trade, diplomatic, technological and information war including cyber warfare. The space dimension is not yet fully explored; hence with recent advancements in this field, the world may see former President Ronald Reagan’s fancy dream of ‘Star Wars’ to new potential. COVID-19 has been a wild card entry in ongoing world war.  The eastern hemisphere seems to be fighting the Corona war a little better so far. The next few decades will see the pivot shifting towards East, as it has fastest growing economies as well as population centres. It can, therefore be argued that the battleground for ‘Undeclared Third World War’ is the Indo-Pacific, and the world has already entered in preparatory phase of it, without recognising/declaring it to be so.

End Notes

[i]  Jiangtao Shi and Owen Churchill (2018), More than tariffs: China sees trade war as a new US containment tactic, South China Morning Post, 19 Aug 2018. URL

[ii]  China Arms Its Great Wall of Sand, Wall Street Journal, 15 Dec 2016. URL

[iii]  Asthana S B (2018), Aren’t We Already in ‘Undeclared Third World War’ with Changed Dimensions and Instruments?  Journal of the United Service Institution of India,Vol.CXLVIII,No.613,July-September 2018.   URL

[iv]  Nadège Rolland (2019), A China–Russia Condominium over Eurasia, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, Vol 61, Edition1, pages7-22, IISS, February–March 2019. URL

Major General S B Asthana, SM, VSM (Retd), is the Chief Instructor at the USI of India. The General officer is a strategic and security analyst, a veteran Infantry General with 40 years’ experience in national & international fields and UN. He is a globally acknowledged strategic & military writer/analyst and has authored over 350 publications.

Article uploaded on 02-05-2020
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation that he belongs to or of the USI of India.

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How would Germany and Russia position themselves in the event of a Sino-American war?

One can agree with Carl Schmidt, namely to rethink things for the state of emergency and also to prepare mentally for worst case scenarios. An important question that comes to my mind again and again is how Germany will position itself in the event of a Sino-American war – itself and within the EU, especially since it is quite possible that Rumsfeld polarization will re-establish itself in old and new Europe. So far, this question has only been asked once, namely in an 8-page publication by the German Stiftung für Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP)/ Science and Politics Foundation, but more than a short question and without any answers and only in the event of a limited conflict in the South China Sea, which would not escalate in a Sino-American war.

At the beginning of the Corona crisis, Trump-USA and China are as global exceptions kickstarting their economies despite losses of human deaths in order to get in a pole and winning position for the geopolitical struggle for a new world order. Trump already blames China for Covid and wants to hold it responsible for economic and human losses as the propaganda for his America First policy. While many observers think that the geopolitical struggle will be softened and dampened by the Covid crisis, the opposite is also possible. That Trump after he would be reelected will escalate the Sino-American power struggle for the No.1 world power position., even to war, be it the Airsea Battle scenario or TX Hammes Offshore Control. While the death tolls are exploding in the USA, China is sending a aircraft carrier group through the Taiwan Straits to the South Chinese Sea, while the US sends its nays with some allies. At the same time, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards warn US ships to cross their area and The USA warns Iran and also criticizes the start of an Iranian military satellite. The EU is now starting its more symbolic navy mission Irini for Libya while the proxy war there between France, Italy, Russia, Turkey, the Gulf States, Saudiarabia and Qatar is escalating at the moment. The Islamists are starting attacks and offensives in Libya and Africa despite or because of Covid. There are now enough powers who want to make use of the Covid crisis and weak governments. Means: The geopolitical struggle for world dominance hasn´t ended with Covid.

On the one hand, one should see that Trump tried a lot to win Putin over to him. The fact that Trump was negotiating directly with Maduro, that the democratic opposition and Guaido were left outside, shows that he also wanted to use a deal in Venezuela as an opener for a deal with Putin. Hence, logically, his insistence that Putin should be included in the G7 again. Although US-Russian relations are currently facing a new arms race following the termination of the INF treaty, it should be seen that the termination of the treaty should also give the United States the opportunity to arm medium-range weapons against China in the Pacific. Despite current moods between the United States and Russia, Trump still seems to hope to get Russia on his side or neutral in the upcoming conflicts with Iran and China. There are actually only two possible options for Russia: Go to war against the USA together with China, maybe even using the US focus on the Pacific for changes in Europe or staying neutral and being the laughing third party. But very unlikely that Putin will go with the USA to war against China.

An interesting detail is that Trump canceled the NATO drill Defender 2020 against Russia, while he keeps up the combativeness of the US military against China and Iran. NATO canceled the drill, Spain was calling for NATO´s support in the Corona crisis management, NATO declared that it would engage in the fight against pandemics, but nothing happened. The European governments were relying on their national states, resources and their own national military. Is NATO paralyzed? However, if it is to Corona or the political decision of Trump not to continue the Defender 2020 drills against Russia, this could also be seen as a signal to Russia that we don´t want to offend you, but are self employed and that the backbone of the US military won´t engage against Putin-Russia, but against China and Iran.

As Professor Rahr correctly described, Trump essentially only wants bilateral alliances with some core countries that he considers important, and the EU and Germany as well as China and Iran are equally opponents. Especially since you also have to see that Germany and the EU have very close economic and political contacts with China, which he considers harmful to the USA.

Germany only would have three theoretical options in an emergency:

1) Go to war against China with the United States, which would not happen militarily, but more politically, diplomatically and economically, or perhaps more than more burdensharing in the area of ​​the Greater Middle East and Europe, as Trump has already done Syria and in arms spending and NATO.

2) Neutrality. maybe in the sense of a strategic balancing – the question is to what extent this would be accepted or not sanctioned by the United States, Russia and China

3) Going to war against the United States – totally unthinkable at the moment.

Therefore, only the first two options remain, especially since Germany also has to try to assert its position in the EU and coordinate with the allies, which could also trigger a number of differences within the EU. It is unlikely that the EU will speak with one voice in this case.

Whatever is astonishing, how ignorant some academics are about the question of a Sino-American war: on the one hand, they categorically exclude the possibility, on the other hand, they are of the opinion that this remains a local war, and they still have the traditional Cold War image of war in their brains when there were only conventional and nuclear weapons, the new theaters of space and cyberspace are not yet in their heads, nor the US studies of the CSBA Rethinking Armaggeddon and The Second Nuclear Age, in which the difference to the first nuclear age of the Cold War is described as unstable in view of the new multipolarity, economic interdependencies and new weapon technologies.

The fact that Beijing can blind or destroy European communication and navigation satellites, such as the Gallileo system or by means of cyberattacks, can blackout entire European cities or paralyze critical infrastructures. They think Asia is far away and that does not concern us, especially since some fools think that Germany in the event of such a conflict, could even be the laughing third party, not to mention the economic and human losses.

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