Архив за етикет: risk reduction

NATO Allies Rally Behind Erdogan as Turkish Coup Splits Military

Bloomberg.
by Nick WADHAMS &  Mike DORNING

The Obama administration joined other NATO allies in throwing support behind Turkey’s democratically elected government as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fought to put down a coup attempt by a faction of his country’s military early Saturday.

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel affirmed their support for the NATO ally after Turkish Army officers said they had seized power and Erdogan appeared on television urging people to take to the streets to defend his government. Gunfire and explosions echoed across the country’s capital, Ankara, and its largest city, Istanbul.

“The United States views with gravest concern events unfolding in Turkey,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement after speaking with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. He “emphasized the United States’ absolute support for Turkey’s democratically-elected, civilian government and democratic institutions,” according to the statement.

Merkel, who met with Erdogan last week in Warsaw, echoed the U.S. support while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for “calm and restraint” in what he called a “vital” coalition ally.

NATO Ally

Turkey is viewed as a critical North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally given its strategic geographic position between Europe and Asia, a bridge that has served as an entryway for refugees fleeing violence in Syria. The country hosts about 1,500 American military personnel and aircraft – as well as troops from Italy, Spain and elsewhere – at Incirlik Air Base, a staging point for the fight against Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.

“This is a NATO member whose image up to six hours ago was one of eroding democratic principles but nevertheless stable with strong hands at the wheel,” said Aaron Stein, resident senior fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council. “That’s been shattered today.”

The Obama administration’s backing comes despite concerns earlier this year about a crackdown on civil liberties by Erdogan’s government. Over the last three years, Erdogan had been tightening his grip on power, stifling debate while fighting accusations of corruption. That has polarized the nation and rattled investors. The military has engineered at least three takeovers of the country since 1960.

“There traditionally has been a high degree of tension between military leaders and political leaders,” said David L. Phillips, director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “Obviously, the military felt like they were pushed to the end of their rope, which is why this was happening today.”

With criticism of Erdogan’s ruling style increasing, Obama this spring declined to have an official meeting with the Turkish leader, who was in Washington for a nuclear security summit. At the time, Obama said Erdogan’s policies risked leading his nation down a „troubling“ path.

  • As the attempted coup unfolded, Obama called Kerry in Moscow from the Oval Office and received updates Friday evening from Lisa Monaco, his homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, and Deputy National Security adviser Avril Haines.
  • It was still unclear whether the coup attempt had succeeded or failed early Saturday. The army faction behind the rebellion said in an e-mailed statement that it took power to restore freedom and democracy. It said all international agreements would be honored.

Coup Risk

At Incirlik the coup was having “no impact” so far on the facility, according to an Air Force official.

Even so, instability provoked by the coup risks undermining NATO’s joint efforts to combat Islamic State, which is actively seeking to destabilize the country, according to Blaise Misztal, national security director at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

“The ramifications of today’s events remain uncertain, but given Turkey’s significance as a NATO ally and member – albeit an unconstructive one – of the international anti-ISIS coalition, a coup could have widespread implications,” Misztal said.

 

Source: Bloomberg,Updated on July 16, 2016 — 3:59 AM EEST

There’s No Rule Book for Eradicating Corruption


U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s anti-corruption summit coincided with the release of an International Monetary Fund staff paper that explains why corruption is bad for economies and suggests ways to eradicate it. But neither these recommendations nor those expressed at the forum will do much to fix the developing world’s problems. That would require much more than better anti-graft laws and dogged enforcement.

At the forum, much was made of international efforts to recover stolen wealth, and of transparency in general. Cameron hopes to erase London’s reputation as a haven for corrupt fortunes. He wants all foreign companies that own real estate in the U.K.  to declare their assets in a public register. I doubt that’ll be very useful: In most cases, such declarations won’t contain anything but a list of London properties, and the names of beneficiary owners either won’t mean anything to anyone or will belong to people with legitimate businesses.

Asset recovery is tricky: For starters, the owners must be sentenced by a court of law. In corrupt countries, however, courts are among the most rotten institutions. The European Union has been forced to remove associates of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from its sanctions lists after the Ukrainian justice system failed to nab them.

The IMF’s „mitigating strategies“ for corruption also center on transparency, enhancing the rule of law, building institutions and trying patiently to change social norms in corrupt societies. These are all well-known recommendations that some of the most corrupt regimes in the world have mockingly applied. Russia has a transparent, electronic government procurement system that would be the envy of many a country if the „right“ companies weren’t winning all the tenders, anyway. Ukraine has not one but three bodies charged with fighting graft – the National Anti-Corruption bureau, the National Agency for Corruption Prevention and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, but it’s still so corrupt that the IMF is withholding the latest tranche of its bailout package.

Kakha Bendukidze, whose reforms took the nation of Georgia from the 124th place in Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index in 2003 to 50th place today, recalled in an interview with Ukrainian journalist Vladimir Fedorin that he once attended a RAND Corporation-organized U.S.-Russian business forum, attended by Donald Rumsfeld and Paul O’Neil, both of whom had leading roles in George W. Bush’s administration.

„Once a Russian participant was complaining about corruption. So Rumsfeld said to that: ‘I think there’s a simple way to combat corruption – you need to pass a law to ban corruption.’ All the Russian participants were rolling around laughing, and the Americans were nodding their heads earnestly: ‘Yes, yes.'“

It may not have happened quite like that, but Bendukidze, known for his sharp wit, seized on an important issue: Western experts stress the institutional, legal and enforcement side, as if unaware that laws can be ignored, institutions subverted and enforcers can become the problem rather than the solution.

Bendukidze’s own solution was not of the kind recommended at international conferences or in IMF papers. „Liberalization and deregulation helped destroy corruption, and the destruction of corruption, in turn, helped liberalization and deregulation,“ was how he described the process.

Bendukidze, who paid out millions of dollars in bribes while building a huge fortune in Russia, knew all the common schemes and many of the players when President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia appointed him minister for economic reform in 2004. Saakashvili had the biggest grafters jailed without much due process and forced others to hand most of their fortunes to the state. The process wasn’t grounded in legality by Western standards but, coupled with Bendukidze’s reductionist approach to government, it worked remarkably well.

Bendukidze’s theory was that to remove corruption, a government had to get rid of departments that it knew it could do without and reduce contact between citizens and government to a minimum. Thus, he closed down Georgia’s antitrust committee, which, he said, was doing little except taking bribes, and disbanded the notoriously venal traffic police. No one missed either, and monopolization or traffic chaos did not ensue. Georgian culture changed quickly, and the country didn’t slip in the Transparency rankings even after Bendukidze and Saakashvili were driven out of office. Georgia is now the cleanest country in the former Soviet bloc, but no other nation – including post-revolutionary Ukraine – has had the courage to adopt this draconian approach.

The economist Hernando De Soto regarded excessive bureaucracy as the root cause of corruption in the developing world. In post-Soviet states, some of the world’s most corrupt, the bureaucracy is mostly inherited from a time when cheating the state was a national pastime. It has been strengthened and streamlined to keep out the unconnected. So in these countries, corruption is both a traditional part of the social fabric and a mainstay of the regime. The only way to beat it is to take the reins out of the bureaucrats’ hands, depriving them of any opportunity to collect a rent.

The IMF paper contains exactly three paragraphs about eliminating excessive regulation, but one of these stresses the importance of technology (electronic procurement again), and another warns that deregulation can „pose its own risks, particularly where the institutional framework is underdeveloped.“ These risks, according to the paper, are associated with the monopolies created by the fast post-Soviet privatization. The oligarchs who put together these conglomerates are pretty good at government capture. Bendukidze’s approach to them was „play by the new rules or rot in jail,“ but that can’t be part of any „institutional framework.“

Eradicating corruption in countries where it is the way of life can’t be achieved by following a rule book. Bendukidze’s method probably isn’t the only possible one, but no useful recipe can be based solely on recommendations from law-abiding, orderly Western societies: Post-Communist states, and probably many in Africa and Asia, have deep traditions of subverting and mocking the systems and institutions of power.

According to the IMF, corruption costs the world $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion a year, or 2 percent of global economic output, mainly by undermining incentives for taxpayers to share their incomes with governments, increasing costs and undermining the quality of public spending, and stifling private investment and productivity. The losses mostly occur in the countries that can least afford them. The West cannot do much to help, either in terms of enforcement or by offering advice. It’s up to each corrupt nation to rip up its bureaucracy and chase away its architects.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Why Russia Harasses U.S. Aircraft

STRATFOR

On April 14, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet performed a barrel roll maneuver over a U.S. Air Force RC-135 spy plane flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea. Just three days earlier, two Russian Su-24 bombers flew dangerously and repeatedly close to a U.S. destroyer, also in the Baltic Sea.

The most recent intercept came less than a week before the NATO-Russia Council is set to convene for the first time since 2014. Along with the fighting in Ukraine and Afghanistan, military transparency and risk reduction — timely and relevant topics given the interception incidents — will be up for discussion at the meeting.

Not all interceptions are aggressive. In fact, the tactic is standard practice among militaries, both in the air and at sea. Around the world, aircraft and ships from a multitude of countries routinely intercept, visually inspect and escort other aircraft and maritime vessels passing through sensitive airspace or waters.

Air forces, navies and coast guards worldwide regularly perform intercepts of this kind to enforce an air defense identification zone such as that in the East China Sea, to police operations such as NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission or, as necessary, to conduct ad hoc tactics. In these capacities, interceptions are almost invariably non-threatening; they are simply a means by which nations enhance their situational awareness and protect against contingencies.

But some interceptions deviate from the norm. In a deliberate ploy to deter a nation’s forces from transiting a specific space, aircraft or ships may display aggressive maneuvers, harassing and intimidating targets.

These interceptions resemble a high-stakes game of chicken, daring the foreign craft to continue on its route, despite the increased risk of collision, or back down.