U.S. Force Posture in Europe
- Hank Allen, Vice President, MPRI
- Andrzej Karkoszka, Former Polish Secretary of State for National
- General Klaus Naumann, Former Chairman, NATO’s Military Committee
- Boyko Noev, Former Bulgarian Defense Minister, Atlantic Council SAG Member
- Risto Volanen, State Secretary to the Prime Minister of Finland
IAN BRZEZINSKI: I appreciate you all getting back in your seats so quickly, in such a timely way. It’s a great start, these last two panels, and I think we have a very interesting panel here on European perspectives on U.S. force posture in Europe. Our moderator’s going to be Hank Allen, L-3 MPRI. He comes from a background of serving as defense attaché in France and the U.K., and also as the former director of operations at the Marshall Center. Hank?
HANK ALLEN: Thank you very much. Thank you for inflating my CV – although I did have the wonderful opportunity to spend 30 years in Europe, and so guten tag, bonjour and hello. And after 30 years of living in Europe, I was sometimes accused of having gone native, and so that’s probably why I was selected to moderate this very distinguished panel.
In trying to keep with our schedule I’m going to forego any elaborate description of our distinguished guests. They’re well known to the Atlantic Council and so, first, I’d like to thank the Atlantic Council for presenting this opportunity for the European perspective. We’re going to make sure that we give them equal time to present that perspective. For me, this is really like coming home. I haven’t dealt with Europe all that much very recently, but I felt like I jumped right back in the swim of things yesterday, very much thanks to the Romanian ambassador and his lovely spouse, who hosted a dinner last night. And so I’d like to thank them and the Atlantic Council.
So without any further ado, I’d like to remind the panelists that they’re going to have about 12 minutes each, and then we’ll have questions and answers after that. So I’ll try to keep them on schedule. I’ve been warned by all four panelists that I needed to make sure to watch the other three. And so we’ll go ahead and keep that going.
So the distinguished panel will consist of: Dr. Andrzej Karkoszka, the former Polish secretary of state for national defense; Gen. (Ret.) Klaus Naumann, German Army, former chairman of the NATO Military Committee; Mr. Boyko Noev, former Bulgarian defense minister and member of the SAG here at the Atlantic Council; and Mr. Risto Volanen, state secretary to the prime minister of Finland. And so as I said, we will make sure that we get equal time, and I’m sure that we’re going to get a very unified view of the European position here based on this panel. Actually, let’s hope not. Sir, if you would start, Mr. Minister?
ANDRZEJ KARKOSZKA: Thank you very much. I start with a recollection of the meeting with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He asked me directly: Have you met our people from QDR? It was 2004. And I said, yes, several times. How useful was it? Zero. I was just doing my strategic defense review in the country. And that tells you immediately of the different views, the different kind of attitude and outlook.
I think, regrettably, I feel the same feelings today – that while you provide very profound, compelling arguments for several changes, and they actually will carry the day – they will prevail over whatever we cry around here in Eastern Europe about things – those arguments about budget, about financial restrictions, about security interests, a different outlook on Europe versus Pacific, or Asia, and so on – these arguments will prevail. And you will have your own kind of action whether we cry this tune or that tune on our issues. And I must say, in quite a big sense I feel parochial with raising things which you know, and are aware what I’m going to say, but I have to say them.
Now, coming to the point. If we take these symptoms which we observed, we could say that United States security is not going to suffer if you take more lightly the East Central European interests and connections, and so on. After all, we are now having – let’s see, in Poland, 170 billion euros investment. We are now – our security is intertwined with Germany’s security. We are within the family of friendly nations. Russia is not going to wage war in the next five or 10 years against us, and perhaps never. So it’s not so important for you, from your point of view, to be there.
And also for us, I mean, actually. We are in the EU, and we can live peacefully in there. But what about uncertainties? What about situations where these things will not go as they seem today? After all, even with the Greek financial crisis there are some points that, maybe, somebody would opt out from euro area. Maybe the integration of Europe will not go as planned. Maybe there will be a Europe of two speeds, or maybe some other elements will come to the fore.
Second, there is a growing incoherent attitude towards Russia in many aspects – not necessarily in the defense area, but others. And therefore, people in the region ask themselves what is in store. Do they have the confidence in the big allies to the west? You know, I must say that going into much of history, you know, were the security guarantees of 1939 fulfilled for Poland? Yes, yes. We are very grateful to Britain and France to fulfill their guarantees. They came to war on our behalf.
The only problem is that we have really taken advantage of this 60 years later, after losing 6 million people, and that’s a problem. For a big country to issue a guarantee and say, okay, sooner or later we will prevail – fine. But the costs, the brunt of the situation is taken by the smaller ones. And therefore it’s a completely different outlook on world affairs, on NATO and on all these debates we are having here.
I found the present approach – as I said, it’s a compelling approach. And I really think there are many good arguments provided here, which is taken by the United States through all these reviews. It’s very technical. It’s financial; it’s budgetary. And of course, obviously narrowly national, which is correct – that’s how it should be. However, it all adds to the bad feelings of those who observe these developments in Central and Eastern Europe. After all, if we have the reset policy towards Russia, zero options in the nuclear weapons area, without much of an explanation, without preparation, without all of these consultations prior to these very important and very positive developments, people start to ask what’s in store.
And of course, I’m not going to say that the West is showing the symptoms of appeasement or opportunism. After all, the opportunism is very important here because we have Iran, we have Afghanistan – interests in having the cooperation of Russia. Appeasement, of course, it’s just simply – today I got a quotation: Relations became strained – we’re talking about the United States – over the U.S. Bush administration’s support for democracy movements in former Soviet republics and plans for an ambitious missile-defense system. So because the United States supported democracy, the relations with Russia are strained, and therefore we have to do something else – meaning, forget the whole thing. Let’s go on realpolitik and play the big game, of course, with the costs to others.
I want to spend one minute more on something which is prevailing now in many publications, and in the thinking of many strategists, which is the states that worst reneged on a big promise to a big promise to the Soviet Union in 1990, 1989, after the Cold War was finished. After all, the Soviets agreed to withdraw from Central Europe, to permit the unification of Germany, for what? For not doing anything wrong to their interests. That was fine – arms control was then still played, and everybody expected that it would be a tranquil and nice period.
But let’s observe. It was an agreement between the Soviet Union and the West, and no one asked around 20 other nations, which came out for the first time, or regained their sovereignty, or were built from scratch. And they have the right to say that was an agreement which was not on our behalf. And the Soviet Union is not existing anymore. The conditions around changed very much. So now to say that the West reneged by permitting the sovereign nations to enter the alliance is just nonsense for us.
Of course, it’s not nonsense for some others. Actually, in ’92, when we for the first time raised this possibility of entering NATO, big Russian politicians at that time – Kaczynski was talking to me – I was an advisor; it doesn’t matter. They say, if you ever support any of our republics to go west, it is directly against Soviet interests. Yes, and it’s still anti- today, now that it’s Russia.
So I think that we have to think about this, the U.S. in Europe. And I’m not going to take words from my friend Minister Noev, but the U.S. presence in Europe is a linchpin of the alliance. It’s a linchpin. Today, solidarity and cohesion of the Alliance is under stress. I’m not saying it’s bad, but it’s under stress, let’s say – diplomatic words. Therefore, all the discussions which are now taking place have to be seen in this light. I mean discussions on U.S. posture in Europe.
Within this linchpin character of the presence, the substrategic nuclear weapons play a very important role. The sharing of responsibility, the keeping of dual-capable aircraft and placing of these weapons is very important, while on the other hand, big nuclear powers have the obligation under Article VI of NPT to do something, now, to save the world from this bad thing. And I’m telling you, of course, a world without nuclear weapons is the best world. But that’s theory. It’s a concept which is not real. We have then, and we will have more of them in terms of geography, even if we reduce your own, or British or French.
Now, what to do in these two situations – NPT demand and reasons for cutting down, and then this importance for NATO cohesion in this regard? Of course, we can reduce them. As we heard here, numbers do not matter, whether conventional numbers or nuclear – but they matter. So it’s simply – what we talk about is the method of announcement, the purpose of the thing, consultation, give-and-take on all accounts, so to say. The biggest problem here is that, sooner or later, technical decay of these substrategic weapons, if the United States will not improve its capacity to test – to maintain these things without testing. It’s not going to happen. And then, of course, these weapons will be taken away anyhow.
Then, of course, we have the problem of aircraft, which also have a certain longevity. I mean DCA aircraft. And we have now a situation where you expect the Russians to come and agree on something. They can wait easily with their few hundred or few thousand weapons, and they will see. Of course, they also have – I’m finishing – are also ending with the weapons, but not as soon. Now what would be the thing to make them come to the negotiation table? Either forego the antiballistic missile sites or enlargement of NATO. On neither, the Americans should go easy, on neither of these two.
I don’t know what, then, could be done to make the Russians come to the negotiation table. It’s another issue for us. But I think this – I’m finishing – all that matters is perceptions. We agree that we have to do something, decrease something. We have to take away from forces, change the character of the forces. But the perception of how it is being down – unilaterally, imposing the views, or in a proper way, assuming that other nations have also the right to express their opinion, being taken into account. Thank you.
MR. ALLEN: Thank you, sir.
MR. KARKOSZKA: I didn’t finish, but okay.
MR. ALLEN: Sir, there will be time for questions and answers at the end.
MR. KARKOSZKA: Yes, sure.
GEN. (RET.) KLAUS NAUMANN: Oh, thank you, Chairman. First of all, let me say it’s a pleasure to be back in town, and it is always a particular pleasure to be with the American Council on – the Atlantic Council of the United States. I’m no longer entitled to speak for the government, and so I’ve tried to be as much European as possible. But allow me to say that despite the one or the other difference governments may have, as a German I’m saying American citizens and American soldiers are always and will always be welcome in Germany.
Having been asked to address the issue of the European perspective on the U.S. force posture in Europe in a conference titled “Assuring Allies in an Uncertain World,” I have to say right at the outset that the aspect of reassuring or assuring allies is, at this time, probably the most important, if not the crucial one, since most NATO allies see a clear American commitment to the NATO core mission of collective defense as key in all efforts – and you have sensed this from Andrzej’s words, in the efforts to contain a more assertive Russia.
The Russian use of force in occupying parts of the territory of a foreign country, in the Georgian crisis, and the new Russian security strategy, are seen in many European countries as warning signals – although Russia is by no means capable of intimidating, let alone defeating NATO. Very much on the contrary, Russia is clearly inferior to NATO as a whole, and has therefore chosen a nuclear strategy which aims at compensating for the lack of conventional capabilities by the early resort to nuclear escalation.
But the perception in many NATO countries is different, and thus the recent speech of Secretary Clinton on the eve of the first seminar on the new Strategic Concept was a clear and highly welcomed assurance of the U.S. commitment to Article 5 and the collective-defense mission, as is, by the way, the QDR. The onus is now on the Europeans to prove that they are still prepared to follow their Article 5 commitments following the proven principle that an attack on one would be seen as an attack on all, that they are capable of underpinning such a commitment by adequate forces and through visible defense preparations, including contingency-operation plans and adequate exercises.
The new Strategic Concept will, as I hope, provide appropriate guidance. The political will and the firm resolve of all NATO members to honor the Article 5 commitments are as necessary, in my view, as they were during the days of the Cold War. The other element which remains indispensable is extended nuclear deterrence, which means that until the day of an agreement between Russia and the Americans on the substrategic nuclear weapons that there should be American nuclear weapons on European soil. Many Europeans hope that the NPR will be unambiguous in this respect, and they understand that American substrategic nuclear weapons in Europe do not contradict President Obama’s vision of a nuclear-free world.
Today’s attacks can range from missile attacks to terrorist attacks, including the use of weapons of mass destruction, to attacks against the sea lines of communications of all NATO nations, all across the globe, to cyber-attacks and finally to the rather unlikely option of conventional attack against an individual NATO country. This means that today’s defenses must no longer be the one-directional, largely territory-oriented defense of the past. Today’s defenses have to be multidirectional, multidimensional, since the threats we are facing are multifaceted, and they can come from everywhere.
Accordingly, today’s defenses should begin at an early stage of a conflict, and should include preventative military action, although the use of force must remain the ultimate resort of politics – which does not necessarily mean the last resort of politics. It is an expeditionary form of defense, which requires that most if not all NATO forces should be capable of being employed throughout the entire NATO treaty area, which in my definition ranges from Tallinn to Vancouver and beyond.
Should all NATO countries be able to do this, then they are easily capable of undertaking and conducting expeditionary operations and out-of-area operations. Thus, any future NATO force posture should be characterized by multifunctionality, deployability and flexibility. The name of the game is, from now on, to counter the threats there where they emerge.
There are no forces in NATO which are better prepared for such a wide range of options than the American armed forces. Their presence in Europe thus serves, as well, as a catalyst for the further transformation of NATO’s armed forces. Their modern equipment is an incentive for modernization, and it provides a basis for interpretability among the armed forces of all NATO countries. Thus, NATO forces might one day be able to prepare for tomorrow’s conflicts instead of what they’re doing today, preparing for yesterday’s wars.
Moreover, American presence in Europe is a truly instrumental asset in standardizing formats and procedures, and I would like to remind our American friends that it was by no means the last effect of this particular issue that, in 1991, the Americans were able to block in allied forces in the Iraq operation. Without the standardization, it would have been a little bit more cumbersome.
By the same token, the presence of American forces in Europe enhances the strategic flexibility of the American armed forces, since, should there be an army corps with four brigades deployed in Europe, as first seen in the QDR, this means that there is a substantial power-projection capability close to the strategic focal point of the years to come, common for Europeans and Americans, and this is the area which we call the Greater Middle East.
This is, at the same time, the area where European and American security interests are almost identical. Thus, the presence of Americans in Europe could also help to arrive at a strategic American-European consensus on how to handle one of the most complicated areas in the world. Thus, it might be easier to reach agreement on the use of such forces in crisis, which will not always be a crisis to which NATO will respond as an alliance.
Finally, a substantial American presence in Europe will pave the way towards a transatlantic agreement on an integrated, multilayered missile defense which covers the entire NATO treaty area – that is, North America and Europe, as well as deployed NATO forces. And this is crucial if we take seriously what our politicians promise every day, that their primary objective is to protect our citizens’ well-being.
For all these reasons, I see the presence of substantial American forces, including nuclear elements, as crucial for the credibility of NATO’s core mission of collective defense. Should the new Strategic Concept arrive at the commonly agreed conclusion that defense in today’s environment means to meet the threats there where they emerge, then the American presence would enable NATO to act accordingly, since at this time the Americans are the only who dispose of the capability to act wherever it is necessary. They thus enable the Europeans to be on the side of the Americans in operations beyond the NATO treaty area should the European nations decide to do so.
This is of advantage for both sides. The Europeans will be enabled to act on the side of their indispensable allies, and the Americans will no longer be seen as the lone actor in unavoidable interventions. This is a political benefit which, I think, you Americans can value as well. Thus the American presence in Europe could really become the catalyst, as I would say, for NATO’s transformation of its military capabilities, mark two, still to come. Thank you very much.
MR. ALLEN: Thank you, General. I think you actually have about 45 seconds left. (Laughter.) You’re timing was just a little –
GEN. NAUMANN: I’m used to obeying orders. (Laughter.)
MR. ALLEN: Outstanding time management there. Mr. Noev?
BOYKO NOEV: Thank you. We were asked at the beginning to present a colorful European perspective on the topic, and I remember two years ago when the Atlantic Council Strategic Advisors Group visited Brussels. I see here, Fred Kempe was there; Hal was there; Frank was there. And we met, among other people, a very high-level, very high-placed EU official. And it was a lively debate. We tried to ask him about European Union views on security, and he spoke about everything else. And I couldn’t help myself; I said, look, we are not talking to an agricultural organization. And he said, well, this is the voice of American puppets for sending their forces after the first call of the Americans to Iraq and Afghanistan.
So I’m glad that you will not hear the only American puppet voice today. You already heard Andrzej Karkoszka, and their forces were the first to enter Iraq together with the first wave of American forces, taking Basra – Polish special forces – and they should not be forgotten. It was already said that the debate about U.S. force posture in Europe comes at a time when NATO is engaged in defining the new Strategic Concept, and among the key issues are the trans-Atlantic relationship, reassurance, Article 5, which is the very purpose of the alliance, Russia, transformation, comprehensive approach.
The U.S. force posture in Europe matters to all of these issues, and when we say U.S. force posture in Europe, we’re hoping that we understand USEUCOM. When we say USEUCOM, we also mean SHAPE, and no one could imagine NATO without the integrated military structure and without relevant U.S. participation. So basically, there is no NATO without the relevant U.S. force posture in Europe. And I think, as I said last night, I argued that an adequate or relevant force posture in Europe is the simple most important cohesion factor of the alliance at this moment.
Here I agree with Hal in that the debate today’s about principles first and numbers second. Well, in terms of principle, does Europe figure within U.S. global security interests, even if one disregards, for a second, the security interests of Europe? Well, the answer is certainly in Washington, but I think it is yes, Europe matters. Is U.S. engagement welcomed by European allies? And the answer is certainly yes. No one today speaks about a total pullout of U.S. forces from Europe, and the question is, what is the most efficient posture through which both the United States and Europe could best defend their mutual common security and defense interests?
Janine said this morning about force posture – posture for what? – quoting Michèle Flournoy. Before we quantify the efficiency, and what are the goals which we want to achieve – and I think that number one is we want to achieve better capabilities. This means that we need to train together, to be interoperable, to experiment, to learn lessons and to share the burden, without in any way ignoring the achievements of some of the major players in NATO, in the alliance.
I would argue that the U.S. military, as Gen. Naumann already said, is by far the most advanced, due to the practically unbridgeable technological gap and fighting experience. So sharing this experience with allies is a major factor for improving their expeditionary capabilities, and thus, allowing them to contribute more effectively to joint operations, like in Iraq, now in Afghanistan. More capable European allies means less U.S. forces on the battlefield.
Now look at the exercise pattern across the NATO area, which was described in Adm. Stavridis’s testimony before Congress last week. The vast majority of them have been conducted either with direct, clear U.S. leadership or with active EUCOM participation. Here comes another question: geography versus function. I don’t think there is a conflict between the two.
As most of the joint activities are taking place, for good reasons, in the east, southeast, because of continued instability in the Balkans, the wider Black Sea area and the Caucasus, and the wider Middle East and the Mediterranean, this instability and potential risks and threats go far beyond the security interests of the allies for whom this is the immediate security environment, like Bulgaria and Romania.
Therefore the issue of the right mix of permanently stationed and rotational forces should be more subject to efficiency analysis rather than considerations of tradition only. I would argue that the forward operational sites in Bulgaria and Romania, for instance, being the rotational home for the Task Force-East. They offer a very good multiplication effect, first. They are close to the regions of instability, second. They offer practically unlimited opportunities for training, for air force training, airspace, live-ammunition targeting, et cetera. They offer opportunities for land forces at the battalion and higher level. They offer opportunities for Marines – last year we hosted 2,000 in exercise – special ops, et cetera.
These sites offer, potentially, pre-position storage. They are open to NATO exercises. Yes, they can become flexible platforms for whole-of-government effects or comprehensive-approach activities. I also think that we can train Afghan forces, and I think it’s important to take the Afghans out of their gloomy environment and to bring them into a more normal training environment. And last but not last, the sites offer increased combat-quality and expeditionary capabilities of the host and neighboring allies, which, again, potentially relieves the burden from the U.S. in allied operations. The bottom line is, stronger allies are in the U.S. national interest.
And here I will bring up the issue of reassurance. Clearly, with the present risk and threat assessment, Central and Eastern allies obviously need to be assured that Article 5, and even broader commitments to their security are not declaratory. We must not shy away from the fact that the reluctance to discuss contingency planning in NATO reveals the serious, if not fundamental rifts in the alliance. That’s why an adequate U.S. force posture in Europe would greatly relieve these anxieties and help de-dramatize this problem within the alliance. I do not mean that U.S. posture in Europe alone could replace Article 5, but a credible U.S. commitment through an adequate posture would enormously help in keeping allied solidarity today.
But it would be wrong to look at reassurance one-sidedly. I think that the U.S. public also needs to be reassured, and to be convinced that their sons and daughters – their efforts, and their lives and the taxpayer money – are not spent to defend uncaring welfare societies in Europe. Therefore, reassurance should be mutual, and an adequate U.S. posture could help to generate allied capabilities to that effect.
A few words on burden-sharing. Secretary Gates, and our American friends in general, are right to insist on increased spending in Europe. I think, however, that it is much more important how we spend the limited resources, which became even more limited due to the financial crisis. Because you measure allied commitment and solidarity not by the size of your legacy static forces, but fundamentally by your contribution to the common security interest.
I’ll give an example. Today, Bulgaria spends roughly, or more than 10 percent of its total defense budget for expeditionary capabilities and operations – mainly in Afghanistan, but also in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. This does not allow us to undertake other vital projects, like, for instance, air defense. And now we are not in the center of Europe, but on the easternmost part, when the potential threat is much higher.
Back again to force posture. The more active air force training in frequent rotation of the air force component of Task Force-East could significantly relieve this burden of ours and at the same time, be useful for the EUCOM as well.
I do not need to talk about the importance of ballistic missile defense. Both Klaus and Andrzej and other colleagues before spoke on this issue. I’d only say that we look at it also in conjunction with the air defense requirements of the country and the region.
At the beginning, I agreed with Harlan that principles should be first and figures second, but figures and structures matter in practical life. And I think that EUCOM and the Department of Defense, when defending their views before Congress and elsewhere and the public, should have conducted a series of consultations with allies.
And I think here that you don’t need to make these consultations necessarily within the framework of NATO because we have bilateral agreements. We have bilateral agreements on bases, you have bilateral agreements with Poland – these agreements do not contradict allied relationships. On the contrary, they complement them and make life easier. I’m not advocating for coalitions of the willing, but to use the mechanisms that you have and the unique relationship of EUCOM and SHAPE to come to such solutions which ultimately will make the alliance stronger.
And I think that in defining the figures and structures and the whole picture, EUCOM could take into account the different intensities of relationship, which individual allies and groups of regional allies could engage in. As I said, this would not undermine the solidarity of the alliance. On the contrary, it would squeeze the best of what money could buy.
And finally, again, to Harlan asking a question about if the previous panelists were congressmen or senators addressing their publics, I think that it’s a universal matter of leadership because in our countries, we also had big problems explaining to our public why we go and fight wars in Iraq, which was generally considered to be an American war.
And I do not – I was not actively involved in that process myself as a government official, but I was involved in public debates. And it was hard. So it takes effort and it takes leadership, both in the United States and in Europe to explain to our publics why we are doing these things. Thank you.
MR. ALLEN: Perfect. Thank you, sir. We’ve had a view from Central Europe and the eastern extremity of Europe, of NATO. Now, we’re going to have as I believe he characterized it, a nonaligned view –
RISTO VOLANEN: Exactly. (Laughter.)
MR. ALLEN: – from Finland. And I think that that’s also obviously an important component. Sir.
MR. VOLANEN: Sure. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for this unique opportunity. I was called yesterday in certain discussion a neutral – representing a neutral country. We normally call us nonaligned country because we are a member of European Union, but we are not member of NATO. I start my viewpoints from the closest environment, so it’s nonaligned, but also the Northern European or High North perspective, I first try to describe.
Dwight Eisenhower was mentioned here, that he would be in trouble if he knew that still American forces are in Europe. Well, the postwar configuration or the setup for Northern Europe was very intelligent. So it guaranteed very stable environment and next to Soviet Union, one of the superpowers, one of its major cities and its major strategic asset of – (inaudible), we were able to develop five modern welfare states, governments, in very peaceful environments. So thank you – Dwight Eisenhower must be thanked very much. (Laughter.)
But we are not now discussing about Eisenhower now. We are discussing about Clinton because after the Cold War, it was President Clinton who redesigned the Northern European new system which also is very stable as it stands now. It was in Helsinki in 1997 that President Clinton and President Yeltsin met each other and the agreement obviously was found that the Baltic countries could join NATO and it was President Clinton who was the advocate of all the countries becoming NATO members, according to Asmus and some other sources.
So we have now relatively stable situation and a good configuration: Baltic countries members of European Union and NATO, Sweden and Finland are nonaligned countries, members of European Union, Finland still having very well-organized and relatively – we never dismantled our work. We never got our peace dividends. We still invest in general conscription army and it’s one part – constructive part of this whole setup.
So to discuss now seriously that NATO should leave Europe in the sense that also forgetting all the countries would be very alarming message from any discussion. So from the closest environment point of view, we highly respect the constructive role of NATO, U.S. commitment to Northern Europe. And from our point of view, this is also for Russia, a very stable solution.
So we should be all happy about that and not speculate about changing something or the fundamentals. One part of the finished policy is that we have excellent relations to Russia also. So we have had 200 years of relation of some kind of reset, self-assurance combination, which has worked well. (Laughter.)
The other point about High North is the Arctic. We haven’t mentioned it yet. Twenty years ago, I was with my friends in New York and we went to taxi. And we talked Finnish and taxi driver asked, where do you come from? We said, from Finland. And then he was silent. We asked, do you know where Finland is? He said, oh yes, of course, I know. You go to Soviet Union and you turn left. (Laughter.)
But now with the ice melting on the – in the north, the whole just logistic system will change in 20, 30 years and the whole natural resource situation will change, so in a way, next you must say, you go to Finland, so you go north and you then turn then right. (Laughter.) We must combine now these new elements and so Northern Europe is, in a way, not backyard but front yard to the United States or Russia. So the whole setup is changing in this sense.
Next point. Normally answers depend on what you ask. And if you ask, what is the most rational way to position your forces in the present world – having Afghanistan, having this and that and that – so the answer may be rational: Leave it; let’s forget it. But this is not the question.
The question is, how do we together manage this century – century of obviously just in the beginning of major turmoils? We are less than 1 billion Americans, Europeans. There are 6 billion together in the world – quite soon, 8 billion. We are 10 percent of the world population. We have had 200 years of this – some form of revolutions with several world wars, revolutions, many turmoils. How can we think that the other 8 billion people would just make smoothly the development towards modernity? And then we have the whole climate change.
So the question is, how do we manage, how do we work together for this century? And here there are many instruments ready over there – in a sense, telling that, you Europeans, you take care of your own business – would be a divorce in the face of something – in the place where we need fundamental cooperation in the future.
And here I agree with Mr. Naumann; we Europeans – we are good to manage about structures and organizations, councils, commissions, secretariats. We should go to business of content quite quickly with the best plans we ever have developed in this world.
Second point, Russia. If we are 10 percent of world population in 20 years, Russia is now 140 million people. Sooner or later Russians will recognize that they need friends. And sooner or later, reset policy will work. So this is the Finnish experience that you can manage, you can be firm and cooperative in the same time.
So sooner or later, there will be a partnership between Russia, Europe and the United States given the fundamentals of the challenges of this century. So this is the other aspect: We must integrate the reset policies and assurance policies. If they are dealt separately, then it wouldn’t work.
And here we come to the fifth point and it is the situation why we need now or why do you now talk about assurance of some of the partners in Europe? Obviously, about because on what happened after the Munich conference of 2007. I was there. I saw the shock of everybody when President Putin made the speech.
And after that, they simply – Russians have felt that they have went – they have gone backwards and now it’s time to push back. And now there is a kind of push and push on the both sides. And we must manage this that this push wouldn’t develop this kind of virtual new dynamics of copying each other.
And here we come to the situation that the experience of Georgia and also the Estonia means that local situation matters. So you can’t just say that over there, we will go there if need be. Local situation matters and also numbers matter. How do we tailor such a policy that we assure in the same time and then we also reset in the same time and have the balance process towards their needs that we need to develop our common answers to this century.
And I remind also what Mr. Kissinger said once that whatever the color of the century, the ideology, the best interest of the United States is that you take care that if some alliances take place on the Eurasian continent, United States will be there. If you just say that, you’ll take care of your own business, you’ll never know where you find – we find ourselves in 50 years.
So conclusion, the Eurasian tectonic plates, they are now calm. But storms may come or, like they say, weather may change. But the other plates – tectonic plates in the world will be trembling and we must work together, all of us, to manage this tremblance (ph), which may come and unfortunately obviously will come. Thank you very much.
MR. ALLEN: Thank you very much. I was wondering if – just to start off – if – you know, we’ve kind of somewhat danced around Russia a little bit. And I was just wondering if the other gentlemen wanted to give their perspective on this idea of cooperation versus confrontation. And in particular in light of the Mistral – the potential Mistral sale to Russia and the impacts that that might have. Sir.
GEN. NAUMANN: Well, I think I did not answer on Russia – (laughter) – in my remarks. And I believe we have to find ways to cooperate with Russia. The alternative to cooperation is confrontation. And that is something we have tried. The Russians lost. We should not try it again. And should the Russians try it again, they will lose again. Their system is simply weaker than ours.
And our Finnish colleague just reminded us of demography. One hundred forty million Russians now. By 2050, presumably less than 100 million. If you look at the incredibly rich area of Siberia, 6 million Russians are living there. Four million illegal Chinese immigrants are living there as well and free of the one-child policy, they do what many human beings do in such a situation. (Laughter.)
So we have simply to look around. Do we have common interests with the Russians? And we have. We have them right now. Afghanistan is a common interest. The Russians don’t like NATO too much, but they would like to see a success of NATO in Afghanistan, since NATO’s failure would mean an unquiet southern border of Russia.
Secondly, we have the common interest in Iran and in coping with the danger of nuclear proliferation. We have to work with the Russians to get it done in whatever the solution will be. We cannot do it against the Russians. And if we want to persuade the Chinese at least to abstain, we will need the Russians as well.
And if you look at the situation in Europe, well, the Russians do not have a capability to attack anyone in Europe. The Russian army – or the Russian armed forces are no match for NATO. But they have an energy instrument in their hands by which they could blackmail Europe, particularly in days of economic recovery.
On the other hand, Russia would do damage to itself if they use this instrument too extensively, since they need our money, they need our technology, since if their oil and gas production facilities are not soon being modernized, they will run out of steam in 2011 to 2013. And they cannot do it on their own.
So we are in a situation of mutual dependency and we need to cooperate. And the issue now is to convince the Russians that their ideas, which are primarily generated in the Russian general staff that NATO is an enemy against which they have to prepare themselves is simply flawed.
But they don’t believe us. I have tried this for – I don’t know for how many years. (Laughter.) They simply don’t believe us. And when I visited Russia as chairman of the military committee, they produced a map exercise in which the brigade which I had once commanded was on attack in Minsk. (Laughter.) A ridiculous but provocative thing.
They fear NATO for one simple reason – that’s my conviction: They are a land power, a continental power. And they are confronted with a maritime alliance. NATO is, after all, a maritime alliance. And if a continental power is confronted with a maritime power, the continental power always has the impression of being encircled. That is the general notion of maritime strategy versus continental strategy.
That is what we see with Russia right now. They feel they are encircled by NATO. And since they always mirror image – at least in the general staff – their thinking on our thinking, they believe that we are telling them is simply not true, since they never told us the truth. And then because of this mirror image, we are in a situation of a cat versus a dog. Both are wagging the tail, but for the cat it means some very different than for the dog. (Laughter.)
And this I think is the – this is the situation we really have to overcome. I still believe the best way would be to do something which is really cooperative in nature. And for that reason, I repeat what I tried to get through in – as chairman of the military committee in 1998. We should start to think about a common missile defense system. That is something where you can put your hands on.
It could help the Russians. It would help us. We need the space – the airspace anyway for the battle management system. And we could find the solution by which they could plug in their S-400 or whatever the name of the animal maybe into our architecture. The truth – this would create confidence. So let’s think creatively about something like this, so that the notion that we are the enemy is really eliminated at the core.
MR. KARKOSZKA: We’ve mentioned that subject, of course. My national ego jumps up. Trouble with Russia which we tried to gauge and decipher, what are the main directions and where it leads all together to the stability and friendship or something worse – is that the trouble is that the Russians on cooperating with different countries in different way.
With Americans, they, of course, have big interests and they play – try to play equals. With Europeans, they play differently. When they have trouble with Ukraine and Poland on pipelines, they build pipelines around. (Laughter.) If they have – if they want to punish some smaller guys, they stop buying meat or dairy products from neighbors and so on and so on.
They simply divide it: the Western partners divided between themselves and between the bigger and smaller. There is a regrettably cultural thing in it. Smaller do not count. When I hear Klaus speaking about certain – (inaudible) – I remember over 250 years Russia every day expanded by several tens of thousands of kilometers every day because it’s encirclable. So it’s encircled all the time. (Laughter.) And that’s in psychology. You know, this acceptance they have derived to impose the fate on the smaller nations is there.
MR. : No. And we should not accept this.
MR. KARKOSZKA: That’s the point. But regrettably, who is not accepting this? It’s those nations. The big ones have bigger issues. You know, after all, my country fought six years in the war. In every single front – western, southern, in Italy, in Belgium, Russia, everywhere – even in on Pacific. And what is the outcome of this? The big nations say, forget it, we have big issues with Russia. Much more important. And that’s the reality.
So when we say that we have a hope. I think there are symptoms of a positive development. When President – sorry, Prime Minister Putin invites our prime minister to Katyn graves next few days to come, we think it’s a development. We pick up the chance. But on the other hand, the same man says, that Stalin is a big hero of that country. The same person who created the system which caused millions – tens of millions of Russians to perish and tens of million of other nationals.
Now, it’s always the dichotomy of giving some chance into positive development and we have to do it – West, Poles, of everybody else. On the other hand, we remember Lenin’s saying: Let’s cooperate with the West and sell them the string so it gets hanged on it. And that’s also visible.
When we see this internal development in all education system, in media, in the social workings where West is still now depicted as enemy – and that, of course, comes out in the documents on doctrine – then we ask them ourselves, should we sell them weapons system which has top of the ranks navigation system, fire control, echolocation and so on and so on – and four of them.
Now, of course, the answer we heard – three years ago I heard on Kings Castle in Warsaw, the question was to the French representative. He says, Russia is diminishing the armed forces, but it wants to influence things in the world. Now, I wanted to ask, if we do the quick sound – (inaudible) – here, where it’s most probably these four landing ships will be used – in Black Sea, Baltics or in Panama or – I don’t know – Philippines or somewhere. I mean, the answer is difficult. Of course, we have to give them the chance, but is it best? I have big doubts. So that’s what I want to say.
GEN. NAUMANN: I think Andrzej referred to some extent to some positions which my country has taken in the past – (inaudible, cross talk).
MR. KARKOSZKA: I didn’t name you. (Laughter.)
GEN. NAUMANN: No. But we both are not bad in reading in between the lines. I think one of the points we have to make crystal clear is that NATO is an alliance which takes care of the interest of all nations. So if the interest of Poland is attacked, it matters for the Germans, since cohesion is the key in this issue. Then we have to improve without any doubt – you occasionally and we as well.
And I would not be – I would not be worried about the landing ships. We had countless ships in the Baltic Sea including Polish ones during the days of the Cold War. We were sitting with our submarines every day on the bottom of the Baltic Sea waiting for them to come. The torpedoes were in the tube. They never dared to come. (Laughter.) So they have four landing ships – four nice targets. We’ll kill them. (Laughter.)
MR. : That’s the reassurance.
MR. ALLEN: I’m sorry I opened up this can of worms.
MR. NOEV: Yeah, and briefly – briefly, I agree with what was said by colleagues here and I think the old approach: Be firm and cooperative. And that’s it. And I have no problems with Russia. I have problems when, say, a German chancellor becomes the chairman of the board of Gazprom.
GEN. NAUMANN: I have too. I have too. (Laughter.)
MR. NOEV: And I have a problem when we say in NATO that we have a security interest and we are told, no, that’s not a legitimate interest. That’s why you don’t need contingency planning. This is where I have the problem.
MR. VOLANEN: What I want to say is that – the problem seems to be from, let us say, from the Nordic European perspective, that you tend to discussing that’s a way that let’s be a little bit more kind. Then it doesn’t work – let’s be a little bit more tough. Then it doesn’t work. Our experience for 200 years is that you must be firm and if only possible cooperative in the same time. You must pull and push in the same time.
It’s difficult, but now we don’t see any frontal First World War, Second World War tectonic plates movements in Europe. Now we have chance to do something new. And I fully share that you must respect the interest of Poland, of Estonia and that’s what I encourage and let’s not because all the internal debate reasons forget that there are still valid interests to be defended. And in the same time, let’s push and pull in the same time. It’s difficult, but it works. We have some experience and then you must be conscious at all periods of time.
MR. ALLEN: Okay. Two quick questions, Ambassador Beecroft(sp).
Q: I’d like to shift this focus from Moscow to Brussels. As you pointed out earlier, you are all members of the European Union, although you’re not all members of NATO. And Klaus Naumann’s reference to puppets sort of caught my attention. It actually caused a flashback because I was the political economic counselor at the U.S. Mission to NATO from 1991 to ’94 when the same kind of language was being used.
And the result was that some of our European friends created a no-man’s land, at that time, between the North Atlantic council and the Western European Union. And what I’m hearing, basically, is an updated version of that same firewall that was attempted to be built, and to a large extent was built.
So I’d be interested to hear from you what you see as the European Union’s official policy and attitudes today vis-à-vis NATO – and what the balance should be between the nation-states that are members of the EU and NATO, and the role of the European Union itself in its relationship to NATO, if any?
GEN. NAUMANN: Shall I start? Okay, not a major problem. First of all, you Americans need to understand: We talk about the European Union, and you believe this is a union which has a harmonized foreign and security policy. That’s not the case. Not yet, unfortunately. We have a framework; we have a roof; but underneath, a lot of national positions are still there. To harmonize them will take us many, many more years to come. We should never forget that at the end of the day it is national identity which matters most. And to find an agreement between the national interests of France, Germany, Britain, Poland, Finland in this case –
MR. VOLANEN: Even Finland. (Laughter.)
GEN. NAUMANN: – is a very difficult and time-consuming process. Second point: The European Union has one advantage as compared to NATO, which one should not forget. In principle, the European Union disposes of all instruments of politics. NATO, by constitution, disposes of military means exclusively. For that reason, and if you look at the future of crises and conflicts, we need to find a way in which NATO and the European Union have to work together. We have tried this since 1991, more or less since the end of the Cold War.
We did not make too much progress for – (inaudible) – critics, I should say. We Europeans, you may forgive me, we made the mistake to accept one country which is divided without insisting that before they could become members, the problem of the division has to be solved politically. We made this mistake. The result is a permanent blockade by one country, which provokes another NATO country, which is not always living at the most friendly terms with this other NATO country, to block on their side everything. It has been impossible to overcome this impasse for the last 15 years.
We have to work on it, but we cannot force it. We have to wait for solutions, and perhaps one or the other more recent crisis will help us to come closer together. But don’t forget: We have in Europe a saying; Rome was not built in one day. Europe, the European Union, cannot be built within a couple of years. It takes a long, long time, but it is an historical achievement. You Americans should not forget one thing: You’re talking about an entity the nations of which were keen to fight each other for 300 years. Now, it is over forever. We will never again raise our arms against each other. This is an historical achievement which is not a small point, ladies and gentlemen.
And for that reason, you shouldn’t be too impatient. It took you a couple of years as well to forge an entity on this part of the American continent. So give us a little bit more time and debate. I think we are moving in the right direction. Don’t push us on these issues. American pushes in this respect are often counterproductive. As you do not want to be told what you should do, some Europeans, particularly the representatives of “une nation”, do not like to be told. (Laughter.)
MR. ALLEN: Well, on that note, I’m afraid I’m getting the signal that it’s time for lunch. And so I think that our panelists should be commended on giving us a real tour d’horizon of the situation in Europe, or their perspective on it. I’m sure they’ll be available during lunch. And on the high note of what NATO was really all about, and that was to stop fighting in Europe, I think that that’s a good way to end. And I want to thank the panelists and the Atlantic Council. (Applause.)