US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

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14.06.2018

"On Trade, Merkel Joins Trump on the Low Road"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-06-14/trade-war-merkel-borrows-trump-s-method-of-cherry-pick
ing-data

Im Handelsstreit mit den USA folgt Bundeskanzlerin Merkel nach Ansicht von Leonid Bershidsky dem Vorbild von Präsident Trump. Beide scheuen demnach nicht davor zurück, Fakten zu "manipulieren", um die eigene Position zu stützen. "Merkel the conscientious academic, known for her studiousness and careful preparation, is showing Trump that two can play the cherry-picking game with numbers whose greatest value is as rhetorical devices to please the domestic political base. She’s treating the trade war between Europe and the U.S. as a contest of wills rather than an academic dispute. That’s a bad sign. This sort of contest is sure to escalate before the parties are tempted to look for a compromise, and escalation means the trade war will hurt more industries, and ultimately more workers, than it has already affected both in Europe and the U.S. It would be a far better idea to let statisticians work out their differences first, so that everyone can at least operate with the same set of numbers -- but it may be too late.​​​"

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05.06.2018

"Germany Isn’t Ready to Lead. That’s a Good Thing."

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-06-05/germany-s-past-reins-in-its-global-role-that-s-a-good-
thing

Leonid Bershidsky schreibt in seinem Kommentar zu den jüngsten Äußerungen von AfD-Parteichef Gauland zur NS-Zeit, dass die historische Erfahrung des Nationalsozialismus eventuelle globale Ambitionen Deutschlands in den vergangenen Jahrzehnten immer gezügelt habe. Diese Zurückhaltung sei immer noch positiv zu bewerten und sollte nicht leichtfertig aufgegeben werden. "The reluctance to assume the mantle of 'leader of the free world' and defender of the liberal order reflects Germany’s sincere realization that leadership is to be treated with extreme care. If Germany adopted the Gauland line or even a milder variation of it, the country would probably jump at more chances to take the reins. But the world is likely a better place because it refuses to do so. Attaching more importance to horrible failures than to glorious victories is a powerful discipline to be imitated rather than condemned."

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31.05.2018

"What Do Steel Tariffs Have to Do With Iran? Plenty"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-05-31/what-do-steel-tariffs-have-to-do-with-iran-plenty

Melvyn Krauss macht darauf aufmerksam, dass die US-Regierung mit ihren Strafzöllen gegen Europa vor allem sicherheitspolitische Zugeständnisse erreichen will. "That’s a novel — and potentially fraught — way for an American president to do business with his closest allies. But in the short term, it might deliver some results that Trump can use to declare victory. Trump’s hope seems to be that the threat of tariffs gives him leverage to get the cooperation he wants on European defense spending and sanctions on Iran. (...) In another sign of Trump’s new approach, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, in an interview with the New York Times, suggested the president might be willing to grant the EU bloc permanent exemption from the trade tariffs in exchange for strong cooperation with the U.S. on Iran. The linkage tactic may seem outrageous to politicians in Berlin and Brussels. It may be dismissed as mere Trumpian impulse by others. But it’s not so easily ignored or countered."

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30.05.2018

"The U.S. Should Move Troops From Germany to Poland"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-05-29/ethiopia-already-is-the-china-of-africa

Leonid Bershidsky empfiehlt der US-Regierung, auf das polnische Angebot von zwei Milliarden US-Dollar einzugehen und US-Militärstützpunkte aus Deutschland in den Osten zu verlagern. "Placing U.S. bases in Germany after World War II was a response to the need to deter a Soviet attack and prevent Germany from becoming a military threat again. The second goal appears to be irrelevant today. (...) In addition, the theoretical front line in a conflict between Russia and NATO no longer runs through Germany, which today is buffered from Russia by a number of countries, including the Baltic states and Poland. Germans feel safe, and they’re among the least inclined to defend a NATO ally against a Russian attack. (...) There’s nothing (...) that Russia could do in response. It has already accepted temporary NATO deployments to the Baltics and Poland. So the U.S. doesn’t stand to lose anything by accepting Poland’s generous proposal and gradually relocating troops there from Germany."

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06.05.2018

"China Is Quietly Setting Global Standards"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-05-06/china-is-quietly-setting-global-standards

China sei fast unbemerkt dabei, im Zuge seiner globalen Investitions- und Wirtschaftsaktivitäten wichtige industrielle und technologische Standards zu setzen, schreibt Andrew Polk. In den vergangenen Jahrzehnten sei diese Rolle den USA zugefallen. "The process has so far mostly unfolded domestically, and in Chinese, as China's government has sought to develop its own set of industrial standards for companies operating within its borders. That has made the effort mostly opaque to outsiders. Yet regulators are now starting to translate those standards into English — a clear sign that they're meant to be exported overseas. And that should worry China's competitors. For decades, America's ability to set domestic standards that would then spread globally benefited its economy greatly. (...) To the extent that China's standards supplant Western ones, it will represent a direct threat to the profitability of non-Chinese companies. This push won't directly challenge the ability of American or European companies to innovate. But it will undoubtedly challenge their ability to commercialize technology in other markets."

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06.05.2018

"This North Korea Show Might Be Over Before It Starts"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-05-06/north-korea-show-might-be-over-before-it-starts

Michael Schuman ist der Ansicht, dass das geplante Gipfeltreffen zwischen Donald Trump und Kim Jong Un letztlich wegen der fehlenden Vertrauensbasis zwischen den USA und Nordkorea scheitern wird. "(...) here we find the one factor that may kill off any nuclear deal with North Korea: verification. The U.S. and South Korea will need to be assured the North Koreans are doing what they say they’re doing. Any agreement will have to include some sort of process to inspect Pyongyang’s nuclear facilities and verify that every aspect of Kim’s weapons-making program has been eliminated. (...) The verification problem was one key reason why the first major attempt at denuclearization failed, too. In 1994, the Clinton Administration struck a deal with Pyongyang under which the U.S. would build two nuclear reactors for North Korea (which couldn’t easily produce the material necessary to make bombs) in return for the closure of its existing facilities (which could) and an end to its weapons development. The deal broke apart in the early 2000s amid mutual recriminations. The causes of the collapse were complex, but at its core was uncertainty over whether North Korea was abiding by its agreement."

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01.05.2018

"Trump May Go Too Far in Alienating Europe"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-05-01/trump-risks-going-too-far-in-alienating-u-s-s-european
-allies

US-Präsident Trump habe sich bisher kaum bemüht, den europäischen Regierungen in Streitfragen entgegenzukommen, stellt Leonid Bershidsky fest. Diese Haltung könnte in Europa eine antiamerikanische Stimmung verstärken und in den kommenden Jahren auch Wahlergebnisse prägen. "Merkel and Macron have been disciplined about not playing this card, including in their recent election campaigns. But for an example of how easy it would be, one needn’t go any further than the interview Monday of Guenther Oettinger, the EU budget commissioner and Merkel’s political ally, with Germany’s ZDF news channel. 'We import jeans from the U.S.,' Oettinger said, 'but there are more European products that are attractive to Americans.' He went on: 'In one sector they have an advantage — the digital sector, social media, big data. But as far as real industry goes, there are few American products that are attractive to Europeans.' This economic pride (...) could easily be combined with criticism of the U.S. security policy, especially if Trump wrecks the Iran deal. (...) Macron and Merkel appear to be hoping to wait out Trump. But if he wins reelection in 2020 or if his successor adopts a similar attitude, the next electoral cycle in major EU nations may turn out to be far more anti-American than the last one was, simply because public and expert opinion indicates there are political gains to be picked up on this path."

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17.04.2018

"Two Koreas Discuss Official End to 68-Year War, Report Says"

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-17/two-koreas-discuss-announcing-end-to-military-conflict
-munhwa-jg35w9vf

Steht ein offizieller Friedensschluss zwischen Nord- und Südkorea bevor? Eine südkoreanische Zeitung hat einen Regierungsmitarbeiter zitiert, dem zufolge die Staatschefs beider Länder bei ihrem Treffen in der nächsten Woche ein formelles Ende der militärischen Konfrontation verkünden könnten. "A direct phone line between Moon and Kim may be connected around Friday, Moon’s chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, told a briefing Tuesday, adding that it hadn’t been decided when they would hold their first conversation. No peace treaty has been signed to replace the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, and the U.S. and North Korea have been at loggerheads since formal hostilities ended. A successful summit between Moon and Kim could pave the way for a meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump -- the first between a sitting American president and a North Korean leader."

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16.04.2018

"As Castro Exits, U.S. and Cuba Still Good Frenemies"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-04-16/as-castro-exits-u-s-and-cuba-are-still-good-frenemies

Trotz seiner kritischen Äußerungen zur Kuba-Politik seines Amtsvorgängers habe US-Präsident Trump die von Obama angestoßene Kooperation beider Länder auf den Gebieten der Sicherheit, Verbrechensbekämpfung und Migration nicht eingestellt, schreibt Mac Margolis anlässlich des Abtritts von Präsident Raul Castro. "No one expects Cuba to radically change course. Although Raul Castro is officially stepping aside, he’ll go no further than the top slot at the Cuban Communist Party, where eminence grise is the new khaki. And don’t expect a truce in the sexagenarian feud between Havana and Washington, which has only escalated under Trump. Yet Cuba and the U.S. also are bound by strategic interests that have remained remarkably solid despite the continuing vitriol over the Florida Strait. Even as public diplomacy festers, in recent months shared policy initiatives, technical cooperation pacts and binational task forces have survived and, in some cases, even strengthened."

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10.04.2018

"Trump's Trade War Pushes Europe Toward China"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-04-10/trump-s-trade-war-pushes-europe-toward-china

Mit ihrer neuen aggressiven Handelspolitik sei die US-Regierung dabei, die Reserven ihrer "soft power" in Europa zu erschöpfen, warnt Ferdinando Giugliano. Die EU könnte bald gezwungen sein, sich zwischen den beiden großen Handelsmächten USA und China zu entscheiden und das Ergebnis sei keineswegs sicher. "The president has repeatedly criticized the EU for its trade policy which, he argued, is 'very unfair' to the U.S.. Trump only granted a last-minute exemption to the EU on his tariffs on steel and aluminum. Moreover, this exclusion is temporary, as Trump is seeking to put pressure on European countries to make concessions in other areas of trade; not exactly the kind of treatment the EU expects from a friend. Most importantly, the U.S. administration is showing disdain for the multilateral trading system which it contributed to building. (...) Conversely, China is seeking to stick to the rules of the multilateral trade game. (...) There are many areas where an EU-China alignment is possible: Beijing is seeking strategic partners for its Belt and Road Initiative, a development strategy aimed at building better infrastructure between Asia, Europe and Africa. Several countries, including France and Germany, have expressed an initial interest in the project, and this could be stepped up. Similarly, European countries could take a more active role in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China's development bank which aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region."

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13.02.2018

"China Isn't America's Enemy, at Least Not Yet"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-13/china-isn-t-america-s-enemy-at-least-not-yet

James Stavridis warnt davor, China vorschnell zum großen Feind der USA zu deklarieren. Die Rivalität zwischen den Großmächten sei ohne Zweifel vorhanden, eine vernünftige Strategie müsse aber auch die vielen gemeinsamen Interessen berücksichtigen. "The goal, then, is to craft a sensible strategic approach that confronts China where we must, but cooperates where we can. (...) It should feature six key elements: (...) Use True Long-Term Thinking. (...) Conduct International Coalition-Building. (...) Retain a Values-Based Approach. (...) Enhance our Geo-Economic Posture. (...) Integrate the Interagency. (...) Maintain a Qualitative Military Edge. (...) Above all, we need to move from a reactive China 'policy' to a real strategy that connects ends, ways and means. We could easily take a page from Sun Tzu, the legendary Chinese strategist, who was known for his sophisticated blend of hard and soft power to win complex battles. Yet even he ultimately said, 'In death ground, fight.' We are not yet on a death ground with China, but we will need a new approach to ensure we don’t stumble onto one."

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09.02.2018

"There's a Crack Between the U.S. and Europe Over China"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-09/there-s-a-crack-between-the-u-s-and-europe-over-china

Die seit einem Jahr verstärkt in den Fokus geratenen transatlantischen Differenzen sind auch beim Umgang mit China kaum zu übersehen, schreibt Hal Brands. Während China von den USA unter Präsident Trump (nach Ansicht Brands aus guten Gründen) verstärkt als geopolitischer Rivale wahrgenommen werde, richteten europäische Regierungen ihren Blick vor allem auf die wirtschaftlichen Aussichten einer Kooperation mit Peking. Brands betrachtet diese strategische Dissonanz als Gefahr für die liberale Weltordnung. "(...) the transatlantic divergence regarding China will exacerbate the difficulty of dealing with the broader, overarching challenge Chinese behavior represents. China does not simply pose a military and geopolitical threat to U.S. power and alliances in the Asia-Pacific. It is the leading edge of a larger challenge by illiberal, revisionist powers to the liberal international order that the United States -- in cooperation with its European partners -- constructed after World War II. The best response to that threat is for the world’s leading liberal powers to meet it squarely and in unison. And that means getting Europe, which still constitutes the largest concentration of democracies in the world, on board. Sadly, given its own ambivalence about the liberal order, it is not yet clear whether the Trump administration is up to the task."

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31.01.2018

"Don't Fear China's Arctic Takeover"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-01-30/don-t-fear-china-s-arctic-takeover

China hat in der vergangenen Woche eine eigene Arktis-Politik angekündigt, die u.a. zur Errichtung chinesischer Schiffsrouten und einer "Polar Silk Road" führen soll. Adam Minter hält die chinesischen Ansprüche auf die Mitgestaltung der Zukunft der Region für "natürlich" und betrachtet die Einwände von arktischen Anrainerstaaten wie Kanada als unbegründet. "So far, at least, China has been willing to work within international rules. In 2013, it obtained permanent observer status at the Arctic Council, a group that includes the eight Arctic nations and six indigenous communities. In December, it was one of 16 countries that agreed to a 16-year ban on commercial fishing in the Arctic while scientists study the region's marine ecology and how it might be affected by climate change. That's no guarantee that China's ravenous fishing fleets won't pour into polar waters come 2034. But it is a reminder that China will be affected by the risks and opportunities created by a warming Arctic, and has a legitimate role to play there."

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22.01.2018

"Why Markets Shrug Off Political Turmoil"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-01-22/why-markets-shrug-off-political-turmoil

Die internationalen Märkte hätten in den vergangenen Jahren immer wieder erstaunlich ruhig auf politische Krisen und geopolitische Konflikte reagiert, schreibt Mohamed A. El-Erian. Dabei hätten sie regelmäßig die Warnungen politischer Experten vor einem Einbruch des globalen Wachstums o.ä. Konsequenzen ignoriert und damit recht behalten. "Some may be tempted to argue that pure luck could have played a role in the good market outcome. But there are too many incidents for this to be a compelling explanation. (...) Political scientists can rest easier in the knowledge that markets don’t necessarily know their business better, but -- rather -- benefit from a combination of a narrower focus, a favorable context and a deep belief in a strong backstop. Political scientists should take these factors more into account when seeking to translate their political/geopolitical insights into market calls. Meanwhile, rather than completely dismiss what these experts have to say, investors should realize that it’s a question of a balance, which could evolve over time."

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09.01.2018

"Europe's High Representative for Appeasement"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-01-09/federica-mogherini-europe-s-high-representative-for-ap
peasement

Eli Lake wirft der EU-Chefdiplomatin Federica Mogherini vor, gegenüber "Schurkenstaaten" wie Iran, Kuba, Nordkorea und Russland eine "Appeasement"-Politik zu betreiben. Aktuell sei dies insbesondere bei der Reaktion der EU auf die Proteste in Iran zu beobachten. "As Suzanne Maloney, an Iran expert at the Brookings Institution, told me this week: 'This is the European moment on Iran.' Europe's response to the regime's violent suppression of protests after the stolen election of 2009 was firm. The EU should send the same message today: 'We are not going to sustain political and economic engagement with a country engaged in the suppression of peaceful protests,' she said. So far Mogherini and the Europeans have delivered the opposite message. On Monday, the high representative invited Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, to Brussels next week for more discussions on the Iran nuclear deal. Alireza Nader, an Iran expert at the RAND Corporation, told me this week that Mogherini's statement on Iran was 'saying both sides are equal, when it's Iranian security forces that are shooting and killing people.' (...) In Mogherini, Europe has a chief diplomat who doesn't want to offend the envoys of tyrants. She seeks to build partnerships with them for the cause of peace. In another era, this supine credulity had a name: appeasement. Churchill had some things to say about that, too."

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04.01.2018

"Putin's Goals in Syria Went Beyond Saving Assad"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-01-04/putin-s-goals-in-syria-went-beyond-saving-assad

Ein hochrangiger russischer General hat in einem Interview mit der Komsomolskaya Pravda Strategie und Ziele des russischen Militärs beim Einsatz in Syrien erläutert. Dabei stand offenbar nicht nur das politische Ziel der Unterstützung von Präsident Assad, sondern auch der Test der eigenen operativen Fähigkeiten im Vordergrund. "According to Gerasimov, the only previous time Russia had to deploy troops so far from its borders was to Cuba in 1962, so it was important to test that capability. The general says Russia ran 48,000 service members through the Syrian war theater. 'The main thing was to test the commanders, the officers,' Gerasimov told Komsomolskaya Pravda. 'We had all the commanders of the military districts spend quite a long time there.' That explains why Russia rotated the Syrian operation's commander so often, using five generals to run the military action between September, 2015 and the end of 2017. (...) Russia also managed to test more than 200 types of weapons that the Russian military had recently adopted or was about to adopt. (...) Something Gerasimov doesn't say is that Russia also tested a private military company based in southern Russia, Wagner, which provided critical ground support to Assad's forces and, according to independent research, bore the brunt of the losses."

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02.01.2018

"Democracy in Iran? The Demographics Say Yes"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-01-02/democracy-in-iran-the-demographics-say-yes

Der amerikanische Bevölkerungswissenschaftler Richard Cincotta hat Leonid Bershidsky zufolge bereits im Jahr 2008 vorhergesagt, dass Tunesien aufgrund seiner demographischen Entwicklung bald einen Demokratisierungsprozess durchlaufen könnte. Damals sei er dafür verlacht worden, mittlerweile gelte das Land als einzige Erfolgsgeschichte des Arabischen Frühlings. Im Fall Iran treffe Cincotta heute eine ähnliche Prognose: "While a country is in a youthful phase, (...) an uprising is highly unlikely to result in sustainable democratization. Cincotta has shown that most such countries revert to authoritarianism; that may help explain why the Arab Spring didn't end up democratizing Egypt (median age 24) but established a functional democracy in Tunisia (median age 32). Today, Iranians are getting older. Thanks to successful fertility-control policies of the 1980s (now regretted by the country's religious leadership), Iran is rapidly going through the intermediate age-structural phase, just as Tunisia did. This, according to Cincotta, is a window for economic growth and political change favoring the middle class."

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11.12.2017

"When the 'Arab Street' Comes to Sweden"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-12-11/when-the-arab-street-comes-to-sweden

Angesichts der jüngsten antijüdischen Gewaltakte in Schweden schreibt Noah Feldman, dass einige muslimische Immigranten die Freiheiten der liberalen Gesellschaften in Europa nutzten, um die "Arabische Straße" neu aufleben zu lassen. "Indeed, because Western European states respect civil liberties, allow peaceful protest and punish at least some kinds of violence mildly, Arabs and Muslims living in places like Sweden may have more freedom to protest - and to go overboard into violence - than their counterparts in majority-Arab or Muslim countries. And what’s happening today in Sweden can happen tomorrow throughout the rest of Europe. (...) In autocratic or authoritarian Arab and Muslim states, anti-Israel protests are allowed when the state sees them as useful, and suppressed when it considers them counterproductive. In Sweden, however, the state has no legal authority to suppress peaceful protest, unless it turns into hate speech directed against a group. Then, Swedish law, like the law of other Western European states (but unlike U.S. law) allows after-the-fact punishment."

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05.12.2017

"The West Backed the Wrong Man in Ukraine"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-12-05/the-west-backed-the-wrong-man-in-ukraine

Leonid Bershidsky stellt enttäuscht fest, dass der ukrainische Präsident Petro Poroshenko die Konsolidierung seiner persönlichen Machtstellung wichtiger finde als den Kampf gegen Korruption und andere Reformen, die das Land dem Westen näher bringen würden. Die USA und Europa hätten offenbar auf das falsche Pferd gesetzt. "Poroshenko has clearly concluded that he won't lose Western political backing as long as he maintains an anti-Russian stance, and he no longer has a pressing need for financial backing on a firm schedule. As long as Western leaders see Ukraine as a bulwark against Russia, he can act domestically as any other old-school Ukrainian politician, for whom the borders between power, money and brutal force are blurred. (...) At this point, even the most vocal Western supporters of the post-revolutionary Ukrainian government have realized that something is wrong with Poroshenko. 'President Poroshenko appears to have abandoned the fight against corruption, any ambition for economic growth, EU or IMF funding,' economist Anders Aslund, who has long been optimistic about Ukrainian reforms, tweeted recently."

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20.11.2017

"Impeachment Is Worth the Wait for Zimbabwe"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-11-20/impeachment-is-worth-the-wait-for-zimbabwe

Dass der Rückzug von Präsident Mugabe in Simbabwe nicht einfach vom Militär deklariert worden ist, sondern auf der Grundlage des bestehenden politischen Regelwerks vollzogen wurde, wird von Noah Feldman als hoffnungsvolles Zeichen interpretiert. "Following the rules sends a message that the future regime wants to respect the law. If the Zimbabwean people, who have had 37 years of Mugabe, can wait a few more weeks to remove him lawfully, the delay will have been worth it. The events in Zimbabwe have been fascinating, not least because they haven’t followed the usual pattern of dictator removal. Ordinarily, dictators remain in power until serious cracks appear in their authority - after which they crumble fast. (...) Admittedly, following procedures in overthrowing a dictator is a form of hypocrisy. But hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, as the old maxim has it. In this case that means, by showing even a hypocritical respect for procedural forms, the coup plotters are doing something to enforce the value of procedural regularity in constitutional government."

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15.11.2017

"A Half-Hearted Coup, Extending Zimbabwe's Reign of Terror"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-11-15/a-half-hearted-coup-extending-zimbabwe-s-reign-of-terr
or

Eli Lake sieht einem vom Militär forcierten Machtwechsel in Simbabwe ohne Optimismus entgegen. "Getting rid of Mugabe is a good thing. He was a tyrant in senescence, known for falling asleep in government meetings. (North Koreans would call him a 'dotard.') But the military coup that unseated him shows no signs of ending Zimbabwe's political and economic decline. This is not a moment of hope like the 2009 power sharing agreement was. It is really a power struggle between his wife and former typist, Grace Mugabe, and his former vice president and all-around enforcer, Emmerson Mnangagwa."

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09.11.2017

"Saudi Arabia Is Putinizing, Not Modernizing"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-11-09/saudi-arabia-is-putinizing-not-modernizing

Auch Leonid Bershidsky meint, dass Kronprinz Mohammed bin Salman Saudi-Arabien nicht wirklich reformieren wolle. Er habe vielmehr einen autoritären Kurs eingeschlagen, der an Russlands Präsident Putin erinnere. "The king, his heir and the Russian president speak the same language: They are leaders who can make quick, momentous decisions without bothering about domestic checks and balances. Their 'anti-corruption campaigns' help them keep opponents in check. Their vanity projects, beneath the candy wrappers with English-language slogans about the future, are about personal ambition on a global scale rather than about fixing their countries' backward, commodity-based economies for future generations. (...) There's a strong temptation for Western commentators, especially U.S. ones, to portray MbS as a reformist trying to bring the House of Saud into the modern world and Putin as a retrograde dictator taking Russia into the past. But the only reason this temptation to differentiate exists is that Saudi Arabia is a traditional U.S. ally, and the enemy of an old enemy - Iran. In reality, there are far more similarities than differences between the world's two most important oil dictatorships."

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03.11.2017

"Colombia's Peacemakers Are Losing Their Mojo"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-11-03/colombia-s-peacemakers-are-losing-their-mojo

Die Umsetzung des international viel beachteten Friedensabkommens zwischen der Regierung und den FARC-Rebellen in Kolumbien stoße auf besorgniserregende Hindernisse, berichtet Mac Margolis. "The ultimate risk might not be plunging Colombia back into armed insurgency - the much depleted rebels forces have little stomach for that anymore - but deepening the estrangement of the countryside from the high-minded political elite in Bogota. 'In Colombia, a quarter of the population lives in 80 percent of the territory, and the perception there is that the government simply has not shown up,' said Isacson. Colombians have been here before. While the battle against the Marxist insurgency often took on ideological overtones, the conflict ultimately may have owed more to local dysfunctions. 'The FARC sprang less out of Cold War sensibilities than from the fact they championed neglected people in the countryside,' said Princeton University scholar Robert Karl, author of 'Forgotten Peace,' a history of Colombia’s politics of peace and violence. 'That split still cuts deep in Colombia today.'"

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30.10.2017

"In Catalonia, Let the Long Game Begin"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-10-30/in-catalonia-let-the-long-game-begin

Im aktuellen Streit um die politische Zukunft Kataloniens ist die Zentralregierung in Madrid nach Ansicht von Leonid Bershidsky bisher als klarer Sieger hervorgegangen. Dies ändere jedoch nichts an den grundsätzlichen Ursachen der Krise, die einigen Experten zufolge langfristig eine Übertragung zusätzlicher Autonomierechte erfordern werden. "There are quite specific things the Spanish government could do within the current constitution to make Catalans happier. Andreu Mas-Colell, a world-renowned microeconomics expert who was minister of economy and knowledge in the previous government until last year, told me there are three distinct things Catalans want: to assert a distinct cultural identity, to live in a less centralized country, and to fix economic transfers. (...) None of what Mas-Colell outlines is unreasonable or unworkable. But to start discussing what is essentially a form of federalization, if by another name, the Spanish government 'would need to be scared,' Berta Barbet Porta, a post-doctoral researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, told me."

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18.10.2017

"Why Some Nations Are Warming to Technocracy"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-10-18/why-some-nations-are-warming-to-technocracy

Leonid Bershidsky führt den in einer neuen Pew-Umfrage diagnostizierten globalen Ansehensverlust der repräsentativen Demokratie darauf zurück, dass viele Menschen die Kompetenz einer Regierung höher schätzen als deren einwandfreie demokratische Legitimität. "Most people can't think of government forms in the abstract. Winners (in every sense - those who are wealthier and more used to freedom, those with more schooling, those who voted for the winning party) are generally happier with the status quo than losers, and that affects their judgment. Societies where most people feel like losers on several counts are understandably more agnostic about the way they're governed and more open to experimentation. What's truly striking about the Pew findings, however, is what kind of experiment people would favor. The only nondemocratic form of government that attracts majorities in some countries is technocracy, in which experts, not elected politicians, determine how to run a nation."

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13.10.2017

"The U.S. Sees an Opportunity in the Palestinian Reconciliation"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-10-13/the-u-s-sees-an-opportunity-in-the-palestinian-reconci
liation

Die Unterzeichnung eines Versöhnungsabkommens durch Vertreter der Hamas und der Fatah am vergangenen Donnerstag werde hinter den Kulissen von amerikanischen und israelischen Offiziellen als möglicher Schritt zur Neuordnung der regionalen Machtstrukturen wahrgenommen, berichtet Eli Lake. "Jonathan Schanzer, the senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told me the recent reconciliation agreement 'is part of an overall attempt to shape the regional architecture.' He said this was a gambit to try to take power out of the hands of Turkey, Iran and Qatar and to reassert the role of the more moderate Sunni Arab powers like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (...) Put another way, an element of this deal is to make Hamas, which is facing its own political and economic crisis, more reliant on moderate Sunni Arab states, who in turn will try to moderate the radicals."

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09.10.2017

"Why Did the U.S. Even Get Involved in Syria?"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-10-09/why-did-the-u-s-even-get-involved-in-syria

Leonid Bershidsky hat die Memoiren des früheren US-Verteidigungsministers Ash Carter gelesen, der sich dort u.a. zu den Hintergründen der amerikanischen Intervention im syrischen Bürgerkrieg äußert. "To sum up, U.S. interests weren't clearly aligned with: Iraq, Iran, Russia, Turkey, the Assad government in Syria and the Gulf states. Did the U.S. have any enthusiastic allies at all? Well, there were some of the anti-Assad rebels (except the ones wedded to Islamist causes) and, most of all, the Kurds. U.S. support of them, of course, was the main reason Turkey turned from an ally into a 'spoiler.' (...) In fighting ISIS, the U.S. managed to step on everybody's toes in a battered, short-fused region that was already leery of U.S. interference after the Iraq and Libya adventures. Carter's account sheds light on how that happened, as much as into the mechanics of defeating ISIS."

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20.09.2017

"Wanted: Russia Experts, No Expertise Required"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-09-20/wanted-russia-experts-no-expertise-required

Leonid Bershidsky beklagt anlässlich der Gründung des neuen "Committee to Investigate Russia", dass Nuancen und Expertise in der amerikanischen Russland-Debatte derzeit kaum gefragt seien. "(...) the high-profile Committee to Investigate Russia - and all the other groups interested in Russian meddling with the U.S. democracy - could have found some qualified people to advise them, had they really been interested in the subject matter. Instead, as Samuel Greene, director of the Russia Institute and King's College London, wrote in a recent blog post: 'Too many Russian friends and colleagues living in America – immigrants and American citizens, professionals, journalists, academics, all of them ardent opponents of Putin – keep their heads down and voices hushed in public. Too many American analysts feel compelled to keep their dissenting opinions to themselves. I have spent a decade and a half explaining to Russian politicians, journalists and ordinary citizens that the knee-jerk American Russophobia of the Cold War was dead and buried, only to see it resurrected.'"

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08.09.2017

"Negotiate with North Korea? A Russian Tried"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-09-08/negotiate-with-north-korea-a-russian-tried

Leonid Bershidsky hat sich mit dem russischen Filmemacher Vitaly Mansky unterhalten, der im Jahr 2013 in Zusammenarbeit mit nordkoreanischen Behörden einen Film gedreht und dabei insgeheim eine versteckte Kamera eingesetzt hat. Die Erfahrungen Manskys mit den Nordkoreanern lassen ihn daran zweifeln, dass Verhandlungen mit dem Regime Erfolg haben werden. Das gesellschaftliche Klima im Land sei mit der früheren Sowjetunion nicht zu vergleichen. "Mansky's negotiations were with rather senior officials in the North Korean propaganda machine but perhaps things can go better if the supreme leader himself is involved in talks? Mansky doesn't think so. 'Paradoxically,' he says, 'the man at the top doesn't make decisions, either, because he's dependent on the dictatorship he has created.' As Mansky tells it, the Kim dictatorship must maintain the cult that was created to sustain it, absurd rules and all; it's a two-way street of mutual reinforcement. The Communist regime under which Mansky and I both grew up sort of worked like that, too - but North Korea has created a 'perfect, flawless' version of the game, Mansky says".

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01.09.2017

"Travel Barriers Are the Worst of the New Cold War"

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-09-01/travel-barriers-are-the-worst-of-the-new-cold-war

Das Scharmützel aus diplomatischen Feindseligkeiten zwischen den USA und Russland sei dabei, in den Beziehungen beider Länder echten Schaden anzurichten, warnt Leonid Bershidsky. Die jüngsten Einschränkungen der Reisefreiheit für russische und amerikanische Bürger seien der bislang größte Schritt zurück in die Zeiten des Kalten Krieges. "I understand the logic of diplomatic tit-for-tat, and it doesn't concern me who started this or whom to blame. One doesn't need to take sides in the old academic argument over whether tourism is an instrument of peace or a beneficiary of peace. It's just plain good sense to see that keeping casual travelers out of a country prevents people from forming an unmediated opinion of it. Stopping Russians who want to see the U.S. from doing it leaves them at the mercy of the Kremlin propaganda machine, which will be happy to tell them its own stories of life in the U.S. Creating obstacles for Americans to travel to Russia leaves them a choice between the increasingly anti-Russian mainstream press and the export version of the same Kremlin propaganda."

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