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USA mit Koalitionen der "Wichtigen" weiterhin die Nummer Eins in der Welt / "The US-administration is evidently seeking to build what we call 'coalitions of the relevant'"

Das der NATO nahe stehende Londoner Institut IISS legt seinen Jahresbericht vor - Mit Pakistan gegen Taliban, mit arabischen Staaten gegen Iran / IISS: Strategic Survey 2009 - Press Statement

Studie: USA behalten ihren Weltmachtstatus

IISS-Jahresbericht in London vorgestellt *

Im Kampf gegen internationale Krisen müssen die politischen Akteure aus Expertensicht neue diplomatische Wege gehen. Um die Lasten beim Ringen um Sicherheit besser zu verteilen und bessere Ergebnisse bei Verhandlungen zu erzielen, sollten auch neue Akteure eingebunden werden, rät das Internationale Institut für Strategische Studien.

Die weltweite Finanzkrise hat den USA einen heftigen Schlag versetzt - das Land bleibt jedoch die Weltmacht. Das ist das Ergebnis einer am Dienstag vorgestellten Studie des Internationalen Instituts für Strategische Studien (IISS) in London. Das Land habe gerade durch die Bewältigung der Wirtschaftskrise seine Stärke beweisen können und werde von anderen Staaten als wichtige Macht angesehen, heißt es im diesjährigen Strategiebericht der britischen Denkfabrik.

Zwar sei die ökonomische Vormachtstellung der USA durch die heftigste Wirtschaftskrise seit den 30er Jahren gedämpft worden. Das US-Bankensystem sei gelähmt gewesen und beinahe bankrott gegangen. Doch habe der Zusammenbruch auch die »enormen Ressourcen« des Landes gezeigt, sich erfolgreich gegen diese Ausnahmesituation zu stemmen, schreiben die Autoren.

Die Tatsache, dass die USA ihre Position in der Welt behalten hätten, werde auch durch die Bemühungen von US-Präsident Barack Obama um einen Dialog mit Ländern wie Iran und Russland verstärkt. Auch Obamas Versuch, eine Brücke zur muslimischen Welt zu schlagen, trage dazu bei. Nahezu alle Länder hätten gewollt, dass sich Washington »weniger halbherzig« um die internationalen Beziehungen kümmert als dies in den Jahren unter US-Präsident George W. Bush der Fall gewesen sei, heißt es in dem Bericht.

Das IISS wies zudem die Annahme zurück, dass China unaufhaltsam zum Rivalen der USA aufsteigt. Die Krise habe offenbart, wie exportabhängig die Volksrepublik und wie eng die chinesische mit der US-Wirtschaft verbunden sei. Peking hege »beträchtliche« militärische, politische und wirtschaftliche Ambitionen, im asiatisch-pazifischen Raum dominierten jedoch von den USA geführte Partnerschaften. »Für die meisten internationalen Probleme haben die USA bessere Möglichkeiten, Koalitionen zu finden als China.« Trotzdem habe Obama die Grenzen der USA erkannt, anderen Nationen den eigenen Willen aufzuzwingen, lautet die Bewertung der Wissenschaftler.

* Aus: Neues Deutschland, 16. September 2009

The International Institute for Strategic Studies-IISS: Strategic Survey 2009

The Annual Review of World Affairs - Press Statement


Welcome to the launch of the IISS Strategic Survey: The Annual Review of World Affairs for 2009. Following this statement, we look forward to your questions. Among those providing IISS answers will be Alex Nicoll, Editor of Strategic Survey, Adam Ward, Nigel Inkster, Dana Allin, Christopher Langton, Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, Mark Fitzpatrick, Tim Huxley and Toby Dodge.

This year we have special essays on countering modern terrorist threats, Europe's energy security, and progress towards a new Asian security architecture. As usual, all regions of the world are carefully and comprehensively covered, our strategic geography section includes many maps that are useful to the press and to analysts, and a chronology of the year's key events is provided.

This year, the international strategic picture was clouded by the international financial and economic crisis and confused by the uncertainty as to how a weakened US - whose competence was in doubt - might, under a new president, navigate the international challenges that it confronted.

Following President Obama's historic election and the onset of the world's gravest economic crisis for generations, the questions on many peoples' minds were of a dramatic character. Will the world move to a more egalitarian political order where the US is less apparently supreme? Will there be lasting geopolitical change as a result of shifts in the financial balance of power? Might the economic crisis further weaken fragile states and make the challenge of conflict-resolution even more daunting?

In addition to these sweeping questions of the geopolitical order, more specific questions were asked about how effective the US and its allies might be in addressing major crises of the day, including the Iranian nuclear problem, Arab-Israeli peace, North Korea's challenge, and the war in Afghanistan.

Strategic Survey argues this year that if the US is both to limit the challenges to its authority and address key security challenges, it must do so through artfully constructed bundles of co-operation with the powers that are central to resolving any particular issue of concern. There will be limits to the ability of the US to lead an ambitious foreign-policy agenda, and meeting its current challenges will involve cultivating like-minded attitudes among key regional players.

The Limits to International Strategic Charity

Moving into 2010, many of the ambitious foreign-policy agendas and practices established by Western powers in the previous decade and a half appear in retreat. What appetite will there be for the 'nation-building' projects that were thought at once strategically necessary and morally desirable? The efforts in Iraq are bound to become modest. Those in Afghanistan, especially as the economic crisis continues and the magnitude of the challenge becomes ever more evident, will naturally become minimalist, at least in comparison to the original design. New projects seem unlikely to be undertaken and would have trouble garnering public support except in the most exceptional of circumstances. What appeals for humanitarian intervention will be answered? The so-called 'responsibility to protect' has been advanced as an international imperative, though often with Western impetus, in the face of acts of genocide or equivalent natural tragedies. A sense of natural human charity persists even in times of grave economic crisis. But tragedies in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere have not resulted in the concerted international action for which so many campaigners have pleaded. The static or declining military budgets of European powers place limits on expeditionary capacities already stretched by operations thought to be of strategic vital national interest. Rising powers in Asia, and elsewhere, are still more reluctant to 'interfere in the internal affairs' of others. The survivability of doctrines like the responsibility to protect and humanitarian intervention will depend on countries outside the West adopting them more fully than has heretofore been evident.

The intellectual habit in the West has recently become to align national or alliance strategic interests with the delivery of a global public good. It may be that budgetary constraints and the disillusions of recent experience will inspire more political leaders to move from the poetic towards the more prosaic end of the strategic spectrum: defining goals more crisply in terms of clear national interest rather than acts of wider strategic charity. Emerging countries may need to move in the other direction and find some way to define the advance of a wider public good as in their national interest. Rising powers, if they are truly to rise, will only achieve genuine prominence if they are to shape the wider order in which they live. This rebalancing will take time, and may not have wholly beneficial effects. In some areas, like climate change, it may be that Western powers will continue to provide the impetus for an effective global regime, though one will not emerge without key participation from the bigger rising powers. But other causes will need champions from emerging power centres. As time passes, the limitations on Western and US foreign and security policy may become more evident. Domestically Obama may have campaigned on the theme 'yes we can'; internationally he may increasingly have to argue 'no we can't'.

Building Coalitions of the Relevant

In areas where US strategic interests are intense and challenged, the administration is evidently seeking to build what we call 'coalitions of the relevant', to advance shared interests. What some have styled 'mini-lateralism', the tactic of composing the best number of relevant states to address a particular issue, is now being pursued on various themes and in different theatres. The meetings of the G20 thus have assumed more importance, even if they have not yet achieved significant outcomes. Ad hoc meetings of countries key to solving climate change are being convened. The US has called for a nuclear summit, which would involve the relevant powers who have something direct to contribute to this dossier. Increasingly, the US is pulling together regional states central to the management of a regional problem with the hope of alleviating conflict-management burdens. Involving key local powers is essential to ensure that solutions have the necessary regional accent to allow them to be accepted. Over the course of the next year, to succeed, it will be important for the US to build those regional constituencies.

So, if the creation of effective regional contact groups and like-minded action is the best way for the US to accelerate the resolution of regional issues, how might the US create coalitions of the relevant in three of the most strategically challenging issues: Iran/Arab-Israel; North Korea; and Afghanistan?

Iran and Arab/Israel

Most Arab states share with Israel the assessment that the Iranian regime acts frequently as a potentially destabilising force. But that congruence of strategic interest cannot easily find public expression because the unsettled Israeli-Palestinian issue leaves Arab states unable to ally themselves with Israel. An argument that in private moves certain Israelis is that the main strategic purpose of arriving at a two-state solution would be to legitimise Israel in the eyes of moderate Arab public opinion. That is turn would permit Arab states, in normalising diplomatic relations with Israel, to work alongside Israel against such continuing threats from Iranian-supported regional groups or even Iran itself that might persist.

A two-state solution may not lead to immediate peace; there would still be radicalised groups wanting to punish Israel, but settlement with Palestinians would create the political legitimacy for Israel that would allow certain Arab states to support Israel against radical groups that also threatened those same Arab states. The structural flaw in the long discussions about Arab-Israeli peace has been to argue, unrealistically, that peace would be the immediate result of a two-state solution. Israeli legitimacy and wider regional acceptance would be the immediate result of a settlement, which in turn would provide Israel with allies in the region to counter residual threats until a comprehensive, true peace could be achieved.

Given that most Arab states and Israel share strategic concerns about Iran, that Israel has argued that concessions on a two-state solution are hard to make in light of the prevailing Iranian threat against the state, and that the common threat perceptions between some Arab states and Israel are in need of being proven, more active Arab involvement on the Iranian dossier should be diplomatically attractive.

In dealing with the Iranian nuclear challenge, it would therefore make sense to find some mechanism for involving key Arab states in the engagement with Iran to achieve a modus vivendi. For the time being, that diplomacy, which was long suspended and has now been revived with US acceptance to engage Iran following the five-page letter sent from Tehran, will involve principally the so-called E3 plus 3: the UK, France and Germany plus the US, China and Russia. In contrast to the Six-Party Talks with North Korea, no regional states are involved. In the very short term, it will be too diplomatically burdensome formally to add a group of regional states to any diplomatic negotiation, but some linkage would be strategically advantageous and sensible.

Firstly, regional states would have the most immediately to lose if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons. They have an incentive to prevent an Iranian 'break-out' capacity. Secondly, many regional states fear that being excluded from the negotiations, they could become 'part of the package' in some grand bargain, under which Iran would renounce its interests in nuclear matters but somehow be given a greater role in regional security. However unlikely such a result, it is a regional perception that needs to be managed. Thirdly, some regional states, like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are cited as potential proliferators if Iran were to have a confirmed nuclear military capacity. It would be best to involve them in the diplomacy to tie them into a non-proliferation outlook. Fourthly, if diplomacy were to fail, these and other states would be key elements of a regional policy to contain Iran's power. They would be more amenable to joining the West in a containment policy if their overtures to Iran had also been rebuffed. Fifthly, and to return to the earlier argument, by involving regional states more on the Iran file, it would demonstrate to Israel that Arab states were engaged in their strategic interests. This might permit outsiders to be more forceful in their encouragement of Israel to accelerate towardsa two-state solution that would allow for more full-blooded regional security co-operation.

As the Obama administration weaves its diplomatic web in the Middle East, its special envoys and others should find clever ways to connect diplomatically these complex Middle East strategic questions and find ways, in particular, to engage Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt more openly in developing a regional security architecture that reduces any Iranian incentive to go nuclear. If I may be permitted an advertisement: the IISS offers up our annual Manama Dialogue in Bahrain this year to discuss these regional arrangements among the relevant powers.

North Korea

Certainly more attention needs also to be given to the general regional environment if there is to remain any chance of a satisfactory resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue. The US is resolute that it will not acknowledge North Korea's nuclear status. It equally does not wish to resurrect the Six-Party Talks only to see the North Koreans seek further incentives to promise again to roll back their programme, a promise for which 'payment' has already been made. China has become genuinely of the view that North Korea's nuclear programme is a danger to it and to the region. In the past,China has been concerned that putting too much pressure on North Korea could lead to such regime instability that refugees would flow over the Yalu River and the regime would fail, resulting in a human and security tragedy that would fall primarily in China's lap. A North Korean collapse, the conventional wisdom said, would deprive China of a strategic buffer state. The failure of another one-party state, outsiders have presumed, might have an uncomfortable 'demonstration effect' for Beijing and potentially give rise to domestic pressures. But these historic and classic fears are perhaps now being diminished by the stark prospect of North Korea becoming a de facto nuclear state, and therefore inspiring nuclear revisionism in South Korea and possibly even Japan as well as strengthening the US arguments for regional missile defence against which China has strongly fought.

In this context, China's emerging strategic calculus may be that North Korea's value to China is questionable. What is needed to strengthen this calculation is more direct, if discreet, talks between the US, Japan, South Korea, Russia and China on regional security outlooks in the event of Korean unification. Such five-party talks would be aimed at defining measures to be taken were there to be a sudden collapse of the North Korean regime.

These might include a plan to handle refugees, and assurances to China that a unified Korea would mean a reduced US presence, but a continuation of the US alliance that could help to keep a unified Korea non-nuclear. In the past, China has feared that placing too much pressure on the regime in the North could lead to its collapse. If the consequences of a collapsed North Korea and a unified peninsula appeared less worrying to China, Beijing might be persuaded to impose the sort of sanctions or pressure on the North that could persuade it to concede its nuclear position. If a divided peninsula in the nuclear context is a recipe for continued tensions, but a unified peninsula productive of East Asian calm, China might view collapse with less alarm.

China should be invited in private to declare itself on what political and security architecture in East Asia with a unified Korea it could support. The fact that China-Taiwan relations are now stable offers a further opportunity. Progress on meeting China's concerns might inspire a policy towards the North that forces Pyongyang to make a more determined calculation of where its interests in regime survival actually lie and lead it to conclude that the nuclear option actually reduces, rather than enhances, its shelf life.


A more cunning regional strategy is also necessary to address the one conflict, Afghanistan, in which the US president has invested most effort. Public support for the Afghan mission is weakening among states contributing to the political-military effort there. Sustaining a minimum level of that support is dependent not just on progress, but on defining the mission as ensuring that Afghanistan is not a safe haven for those who would conduct external terrorist activity. While that has always been the core purpose, the understandable efforts to create the 'good governance' necessary to embed security successes has created the impression that the mission is too sweeping to succeed. It is therefore important to be reminded that NATO has no desire to garrison Afghanistan and that devolving power, responsibility and capacity to provincial and municipal leaders is the aim. In fact, eventually reducing the ground combat presence in Afghanistan is important to give the political oxygen to the government of Pakistan it needs to continue its operations against neo-Taliban and al-Qaeda elements, both indigenous and displaced from Afghanistan.

Strategic recognition of the link with Pakistan, and the growing appreciation in Pakistan that the neo-Taliban constitute a direct threat also to Pakistan, have resulted in genuine intelligence co-operation in Kabul among Afghans, Pakistanis and others on how to address this security dilemma. Further co-operation with other regional states will continue to be important to sustain regional consent for the mission. Measuring the balance between the continued application of military force and the negotiation of political compromises, the latter at some point entailing discussions with 'reconcilable Taliban', will be one of many complex tasks confronting the coalition in Afghanistan. But even that task can only be performed if Russia, Central Asia, India, Iran and China are brought into the debates and policymaking in a stronger fashion. NATO relations with the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation might invite co-ordinated discussion on Afghanistan, but the revival of a form of regional contact-group diplomacy that goes beyond the set-piece conferences thus far proposed is vital to give the internal Afghan reconciliation process an international cushion.

There is now a need to move with resolve over the next two years towards a situation where there is a wider development footprint, with aid distributed through local leaders, and a more precise military footprint, with force applied specifically towards remaining al-Qaeda and key insurgent threats.


In sum, a view running through the 2009 issue of Strategic Survey is that the creation of coalitions of the relevant is necessary both to address the political elements of key security challenges and to share the burden of security management more equitably and therefore more effectively.

IISS-Website, 15 September 2009; www.iiss.org

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