The Atlantic Council of the United States
Event Title: NATO in a New Era
Welcome and Moderator:
Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President,
The Atlantic Council
Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Lieutenant General David W. Barno (Ret.)
Senior Fellow, The Atlantic Council
President and CEO, The Atlantic Council
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Walter B. Slocombe,
Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
Former Senator John W. Warner (R-VA)
Location: Washington, D.C.
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Federal News Service
DAMON WILSON: Good morning, everyone. I want to welcome you here. My name is Damon Wilson. I’m the executive vice president at the Atlantic Council. We’re delighted to welcome you to this conversation on “NATO in a New Era,” our congressional event on the NATO 2012 Chicago summit. I want to thank you, our audience, for being here. We’ve packed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee room, which is fantastic. I also want to welcome our audience online. We’ll be webcasting this to a broader audience, including the NATO headquarters in Brussels.
I particularly want to say thanks to our co-hosts, Senator Shaheen, Senator John McCain, two senators who have been incredibly strong voices on the alliance, on national security issues. We’re delighted that you – (inaudible) – and decided to host this event today. Many thanks to your – (inaudible) – have been terrific colleagues in setting this up.
We’ve got a great program today. We’re looking forward to hearing from a conversation that Atlantic Council President and CEO Fred Kempe will lead with Secretary Albright and Senator John Warner – two important voices on the alliance over the years.
Why are we here today? We’re 60 days out from a NATO summit on U.S. soil. The agenda is still being shaped – (inaudible) – today, and much is at stake. Some have referred to this as an implementation summit, but the reality is there is no such thing as just an implementation summit, particularly at a time when our country, when our alliance faces a score of challenges and requires vision, policy, leadership to help determine its direction, its future.
If you think back, this is the first summit the United States will play host to since 1999 when Secretary Albright was secretary, (playing ?) a leading role at that NATO summit, when I had the privilege of being a junior staffer in the State Department working on the Washington summit.
If you think about where the alliance was then and where it is now, it’s pretty profound. In 1999 we were celebrating the first round of enlargement to Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary. Now there are 12 new NATO members since the end of the Cold War. We were dealing with an alliance that had been struggling on what to do in the Balkans at the time and was gearing up for an air campaign in Kosovo. The debate set by Senator Lugar at the time (was out of area or out of business ?). And since then, NATO had led numerous operations and remains active in Afghanistan, off the Horn of Africa and had an operation in Libya just earlier this year.
In 1999 in Washington, we were talking about partners in the context of building the partnership for peace for those countries of the former Soviet bloc in particular. And now when we talk about partners for the alliance as a global network of like-minded countries that are increasingly (supporting ?) the alliance.
We were talking about capabilities in 1999 and how to move from static forces designed to defend and fill the gap to increasingly deployable forces. We were only beginning to talk about the threat of weapons of mass destruction towards the alliance. Today we have (a lot of ?) allied forces that have been deployed for over a decade now (in our ?) operations. We’re focused very much on WMD issues as the alliance moves forward on missile defense and other new capabilities like cyber.
None of this would have been possible without U.S. leadership, in particular without bipartisan support here in the U.S. Senate for the direction of the fabulous leadership within the alliance. So we’re here in part today to reflect that bipartisan tradition, to help sustain that bipartisan tradition in this conversation on NATO, and to give our congressional leaders on this a voice as we move towards the Chicago summit.
Today’s context is a serious one for the alliance. Allied leaders will be gathering in Chicago against the backdrop of the financial crisis, question of the future of the eurozone, of massive defense cuts taking place across Europe, across our alliance, a discussion about greater attention in the United States to security in Asia and in the Middle East, of increasing skepticism among an American audience of the value of our NATO allies to the United States, skepticism in a European public to whether the alliance is just a burden on their – on their budgets, against the backdrop of uncertainty as Syria plays out, uncertainty over the future of Iran, and some degree of uncertainty in terms of NATO’s relationship with Russia as Putin returns to the presidency.
So the agenda in Chicago – Afghanistan, capabilities, partnerships – they’re critical issues for the future of the alliance, for the future of the Western community. So today’s discussion is even more important about why the trans-Atlantic – trans-Atlantic alliance matters to the United State, why it matters for members of Congress to take an interest in this issue.
And to lead us off, to kick us off today, we have two terrific senators: Senator Shaheen, the only woman to be elected both governor and United States senator in U.S. history. During her time in the Senate, she’s been a strong advocate of international alliances and NATO in particular. As chair of the Subcommittee on European Affairs, she’s been a staunch supporter of integrating the Western Balkans into the mainstream institutions of Europe, including NATO, and worked with the Atlantic Council as a co-chair of our task force on Georgia, issuing a report in this room on Georgia in the West.
We’re equally thrilled to welcome, from the other side of the political spectrum, Senator John McCain, a remarkably experienced politician and leader. He’s been one of the most outspoken advocates of democracy and human rights in the U.S. Senate. He’s a senator who fought for the idea of enlargement when it was difficult, when it was controversial, who pushed the alliance into uneven – uncertain territory at the time on Libya in the operation earlier this year. He’s been a strong supporter of NATO enlargement throughout his career, a consistent forceful voice for justice and democratic values. We’ve had the privilege at the Atlantic Council to host Senator McCain as the speaker at our Geremek Lecture in 2009 with Secretary Albright as well, who also participated in launching that series. And he also joined us in Vrotslav, Poland, to accept a freedom award on behalf of the Atlantic Council. For that, we’re grateful.
So let me turn over to Senator Shaheen to kick us off, please.
SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): Thank you very much, Damon and Fred. Thank you to the Atlantic Council for sponsoring this event. The Atlantic Council remains one of the pre-eminent organizations dedicated to deepening the trans-Atlantic relationship here in Washington. And the work you’re doing in the lead-up to the summit in Chicago this year has been very impressive.
I also want to welcome all of you here this morning. I’m sorry we don’t have more seats in these Senate rooms. You know, we should – we should be in the Armed Services Committee room and then we’d have lots of room. (Laughter.)
We’re very honored this morning to have two distinguished guests here today to offer their views on the state of the alliance and the future of NATO.
Secretary Albright, your prominent tenure as America’s top diplomat and your leadership during the NATO Strategic Concept process have done so much to enhance and deepen the trans-Atlantic relationship. Thank you very much for joining us.
And Senator Warner, we’re so pleased you are also able to be here. For those of you who don’t know, Senator Warner actually testified last week at a hearing that I chaired down in Norfolk, Virginia, on energy use and the military and the Navy. So the fact that he’s here today for an entirely different discussion shows the depth of his experience and wide-ranging leadership. Thank you very much for being here.
Thank you also to the NATO experts who are going to be joining us later on. Probably by this afternoon we would get to their panel, but we look forward to hearing what they have to say as well.
This year’s summit could not come at a more critical time. Faced with a wider and more complex range of global challenges than perhaps ever before, NATO needs to define its role in a world where the focus is turning towards the Asia-Pacific. And it must do so in the face of difficult economic times and shrinking defense budgets on both sides of the Atlantic.
NATO took a big step in the right direction two years ago in Lisbon with the adoption of its new Strategic Concept, which charted an active and ambitious commitment for NATO. However, we need to begin to put our money where our mouth is, and Chicago will be an opportunity to tell the world that NATO will continue to be a dominant and active force in global security.
In addition, we’re obviously in the midst of a presidential election year. And we want to make sure that the alliance and the summit will not become a political football. I think, as Damon says so well, that historically Democrats and Republicans alike have had an interest in a strong NATO, and a successful summit this year will be a tribute to that. I hope that both sides will work hard to maintain the bipartisan support that has backstopped this alliance throughout its history.
Now I want to just briefly touch on a few topics that I know are going to be brought up in greater detail later. First, Afghanistan of course will be at the top of NATO’s agenda. The aftermath of the recent accidental Quran burning and the tragic killing of 16 Afghans add to the complexity of our challenge. We will need to more fully define our security transition leading up to 2014 and find a consensus on a post-2014 relationship with the people and government of Afghanistan.
We’ll also need to address NATO’s smart defense initiative. In a time of declining budgets, it makes sense for the alliance to work together, pool and share limited defense dollars. However, smart defense should not be used as political cover for continued lack of defense spending by our European allies. Though ultimately successful, the operations in Libya further demonstrated an over-reliance on U.S. firepower and an underinvestment from Europe.
Finally, though this year’s event will not likely be an enlargement summit, it is important that NATO makes critical its open-door policy by advancing aspiring and deserving countries, like those in the Western Balkans and Georgia, further down that path of future NATO membership. Over the past six decades NATO has proven itself the most successful military alliance in history. However, future relevance and success are not pre-ordained; they are hard-earned.
Our agenda in Chicago is long; our responsibilities are great there. America and our trans-Atlantic partners must continue to work together and make tough decisions if we are to meet the next generation of security challenges.
Again, I want to welcome Secretary Albright and Senator Warner. Thank you both again for joining us. And before we move to their discussion, I want to turn the floor over to someone who, as we all know, needs no introduction.
Thank you, Senator McCain, for co-hosting this event today. As all of you know, Senator McCain is currently the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He is a foreign policy and national security heavyweight here in the Senate. And he has demonstrated, as Damon said so well, unparalleled support for NATO over the years. Senator McCain, thank you for your leadership in the Senate and for your remarks this morning. (Applause.)
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): Thanks very much, Jeanne, and thank you for your remarks and your generous words. And I – my second favorite state in America, New Hampshire, would – (laughter) –
SEN. SHAHEEN: Yes.
SEN. MCCAIN: I have to recall my Morris Udall joke, who said – when – which has been stolen by every presidential candidate in history about Morris Udall going to a barber shop in Manchester, New Hampshire, and said: Hi, I’m Morris Udall from Arizona, and I’m running for president of the United States. And the barber said, yeah, we were just laughing about that this morning. (Laughter.) Thank you for your – (inaudible). (Laughter.)
Let me also thank Damon Wilson, the Atlantic Council and the wonderful work they do in convening this event and for their consistent and excellent leadership on trans-Atlantic issues. My three friends – and I don’t – I’m going to be brief because I’m standing between them and their words of wisdom. But I would like to point out Fred’s outstanding work over the years.
Madeleine Albright has continued her outstanding service. Among them are as chairman of the National Democratic Institute. And we had the opportunity to work together, the latest being trying to bring home our American citizens who were under difficult times in Egypt. And I’ve grown to love and respect Secretary Albright.
And my old and dear friend and shipmate Senator Warner, who served in both the Marine Corps and the United States Navy – he was – I often have said that when I graduated from the Naval Academy, I tried to get into the Marine Corps, but my parents were married. And John would understand. (Laughter.) By the way, I have a son who is in the Marines, and he once told me – he said the response to – he said – the Marine Corps is part of the Navy Department, he said; the man’s department. (Laughter.)
(Inaudible.) We’re all familiar with what’s on the agenda in the Chicago summit. The concept of smart defense will be a focal point, as it should be. And we’ve seen in Libya and Afghanistan that it’s essential for NATO countries to make intelligent defense investments that foster interoperability and complementary capabilities. But what smart defense can’t become – and here I would echo Senator Shaheen’s comments – is an excuse for our NATO allies to cut their defense budgets even further. Frankly, it should not be an excuse for America to do the same.
Missile defense will be on the agenda. And I know many of you are still holding out hope for an agreement on missile defense cooperation with Russia. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict such an agreement is not going to happen, not when Russian President Medvedev is insisting that the Russian military develop plans and capabilities to attack U.S. and NATO missile defense systems in Europe, as he reiterated just yesterday.
The best NATO can do under these circumstances is push forward with our plans to fund and field all four phases of the phased adaptive approach because the ballistic missile threat from Iran is only growing.
But perhaps the most important item on the agenda in Chicago, as we all know, is Afghanistan. Though much of the – though much of the news over the past month has been discouraging. You all know it, and I won’t repeat it. It doesn’t change the national security interests that are at stake in Afghanistan for all NATO countries, nor does it mean that the war is lost. It is not.
And one of the most impactful achievements that could come out of the Chicago summit is the completion of a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan. This agreement could begin turning American and NATO’s talk of a long-term political, economic and military commitment to Afghanistan into a tangible reality. And I would remind you again, in the ’90s we left Afghanistan, and you know what happened after that.
It could make clear to our friends and allies, both in Afghanistan and the region, that the United States will remain in fact on the ground in Afghanistan well beyond 2014, that we will continue our assistance to the Afghan security forces, empowering them with intelligence and support from our special operations forces. It could enable us to continue taking the fight to al-Qaida and the Taliban, thereby ensuring that those groups can never again pose a military threat to Afghanistan, our allies and us.
This agreement could also serve as a framework for our NATO allies to make long-term commitments of their own to Afghanistan. By concluding a strong strategic partnership agreement in Chicago, we could change the narrative of NATO’s involvement in Afghanistan from one of looming international abandonment to one of enduring international commitment. This is an enormous opportunity, one that we cannot afford to miss.
All of this will be on the agenda in Chicago. But unfortunately, there are a couple of items that won’t be on the agenda. One of those is NATO expansion. We hear it said this will not be an expansion summit. That is regrettable. And it makes it all the more important for the alliance to ensure that we maintain our policy of keeping the door open to those countries who desire membership in NATO and who are working hard to meet the criteria for membership.
This applies first and foremost to Montenegro, which has made tremendous progress in reform. Macedonia should not have been blocked from membership in 2008, though it must maintain its momentum on reform now and in the future. If Bosnia can truly form a united –unified country and government, the door should be open for them as well.
And of course there’s Georgia, which has every right to its own secure, democratic future as any other country in Europe. We must make it clear to all of these countries and any other country in Europe that wants to be part of NATO that can meet the criteria that the path to membership is open to them.
There’s one additional item that I suspect will not be on the agenda in Chicago, and that’s Syria. All of you know what is unfolding in Syria, the more than 80,000 lives have been lost, the regime’s use of tanks and artillery to indiscriminately shell civilian populations, the detentions and torture and rapes and murders. This is some of the worst state-sponsored violence since the Balkans, and yet the secretary general of NATO continues to insist publicly that NATO should play no role whatsoever in helping to stop the killing.
The supreme allied commander testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that NATO has not done any contingency planning at all for Syria, none. It is not the policy of NATO that we will stand by as rulers kill their people by the thousands, and our alliance won’t even discuss what we might do to help stop them. That is shameful. It is shameful. It only gives Assad and his forces a green light for greater brutality.
I want to conclude by reading what President Clinton had to say about a similar slaughter in the Balkans during the 1990s. And I quote: “There are times and places where our leadership can mean the difference between peace and war and where we can defend our fundamental values as a people and serve our most basic strategic interests. There are still times when America and America alone can and should make the difference for peace.” The same is true of NATO. And shame on us, and shame on the alliance, if we neglect our responsibilities to support brave peoples who are struggling and dying in an unfair fight for the same values that are at the heart of our alliance.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. WILSON: Senator McCain, Senator Shaheen, thank you very much. Let me invite Fred Kempe, Secretary Albright, Senator Warner up to the table to begin the second round.
We’ve just heard a pretty powerful kickoff to this event from both Senator Shaheen and Senator McCain: a warning that smart defense not become an excuse for (even broader ?) – (inaudible) – to discuss; a call for coherence, for a commitment on Afghanistan; and a signal from the Senate that the issue of – (inaudible) – policy isn’t – (inaudible) – on the alliance agenda; as well, obviously, Senator McCain concluding with a pretty passionate statement on Syria.
Each NATO summit has often been (buffeted ?) by wild cards. In ’99, the Washington summit, Kosovo inserted itself on the agenda in an – in a way that wasn’t anticipated. Libya, certainly something not anticipated when Allied leaders met in Lisbon. A question mark is surrounding Syria now.
With this we’re going to turn to our first discussion that my boss Fred Kempe will lead. I’m going to turn over to Fred to introduce our speakers. But just a quick word on – I’ve had the pleasure of working for many people throughout my career, but Fred has been one of the most inspiring intellectual entrepreneurs that I’ve had a chance to work for. He’s led the Atlantic Council since 2006 and really a dramatic transformation of the council into an incredibly dynamic organization that’s helping to have an impact on policy today.
He joined the council from a long career at The Wall Street Journal, where he held many positions, but including serving as the longest-serving editor of The Wall Street Journal of Europe, where he used his pen to give voice to many of those that were behind the Iron Curtain and were aspiring for a better future – a better future ultimately within the alliance.
With that, Fred, please take it away. Thank you.
FREDERICK KEMPE: Thank you, Damon, very much for that kind introduction. Senator Shaheen and Senator McCain, who’s already had to leave, but thank you so much for your opening remarks, and thank you for hosting this important event. NATO never has been a partisan issue, and I’m very glad that we can do our part as a bipartisan organization, the Atlantic Council, to ensure that is the way it will be at NATO’s May Chicago summit and beyond. We’re delighted to be part of this effort and continue what I can safely call our frequent collaboration with Senators McCain and Shaheen.
You both did a great job of setting the context. I’m not going to repeat the things that were said; we all heard them. But really important questions raised about Afghanistan and what message Chicago sends; really important message about – question about Russia, where’s – where are we going to go with our relationship with Russia – not just at Chicago, beyond; very strong statements on NATO enlargement; Syria. So I think we’ve gathered to address how the NATO summit can address this array of challenges.
But I think we also have two people with us who know the purpose and mission of NATO in general, what it’s been in the past, and can also talk a little bit about what it ought to be in the future. They have been two of this country’s most thoughtful advocates and stewards of the trans-Atlantic alliance – decades of service both in and out of the government, representing the bipartisan commitment to NATO and trans-Atlantic security this is all about.
Madam Secretary, your own impressive track record of course includes service as secretary of state, a post you assumed in 1997 – first female secretary of state in U.S. history, which also made you if I’m not mistaken the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government at that time.
You played a decisive role in shaping the 1999 Washington summit, the last before Chicago to be hosted on U.S. soil. And that changed the character of the alliance forever by bringing in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic. And then two years ago you utilized and put this experience to work again, chairing the group of European and American experts to inform the analysis of the NATO strategic concept that was approved in Lisbon in November 2010.
And I suppose, Senator Warner, one could say to you, welcome home. It’s a pleasure for the Atlantic Council to have us with you today as one of the true giants in the history of the illustrious chamber. I think – I sort of think you ought to be sitting up there directing all of us and orchestrating all of us. But nevertheless it’s wonderful to have you in this guise.
You came to the Senate in 1979 after a distinguished record of service in this country, including combat service both in the United States Navy in World War II and as a Marine in the Korean War. The – of course, Senator McCain has already spoken about the Marines, so I won’t go on about that, though it is nice to still have politically irreverent humor in this house. (Laughter.)
In the 1970s you were appointed secretary of the Navy by President Richard Nixon. For many years you served as chairman of the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate, where you were always a strong advocate of a robust U.S. force posture in Europe, even in the midst of debates that weren’t so easy on that subject.
So Secretary Albright, Senator Warner, of course your most important position is that you’re both honorary directors of the Atlantic Council. So we couldn’t hope for a better combination of leadership, firsthand experience and knowledge to set this all up.
Secretary Albright, why don’t you kick us off? After you both make opening comments, I’ll ask one or two questions and then turn to the audience as quickly as I can.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Great. Well, Fred, thank you very much. Senator Shaheen, thank you so much, and Senator McCain. And it’s wonderful to be in this room, though I’ve never sat backwards. (Laughter.) But it is the – but I’m very glad to have an opportunity to talk about what is probably my favorite subject. I am a NATO-nick.
My own background is I was born in Czechoslovakia. And one of the reasons, I think, that NATO was created was finally, after the coup in Czechoslovakia in February 1948, a realization that something had to be done; and then obviously, as you’ve written in your Berlin book, a real need to recognize the link between the United States and Europe. I am the trans-Atlantic relationship, is the way I see it.
I also do think that, of the various things I – people ask me what I’m proudest of as secretary of state, and I very readily say the expansion of NATO; and one of the great moments, to sit at Harry Truman’s desk and be able to receive the accession materials from the three countries that we brought in on the first round; and then also to actually use NATO in Bosnia and in Kosovo. So I do consider myself as somebody who feels strongly about the alliance and knows how it can be used. And in case you haven’t noticed, I have my Article 5 pin on today.
I think that what was very interesting when we were doing the strategic concept, I think, was: Here was the need for an alliance that at the time was at its 60th anniversary to think about a new strategic concept with a new secretary-general. And I think what was interesting and germane to the discussion today is we had four seminars. And in the first one, we kind of put all the problems of the world on the table and were trying to figure out whether NATO was the right organization to deal with all the problems, from High North to cybersecurity to how – whether Article 5 applied to cyberattacks. Every conceivable problem was put on the table.
In the second seminar, we talked about the lessons that we had learned as a result of NATO action, both in the Balkans and in Afghanistan, and really began to flesh out what we called the comprehensive approach of understanding that it was not just putting boots on the ground but trying to figure out what happened before a problem and how it was dealt with after the troops left.
The third seminar, I think, in many was the most interesting, because it fits very much with the discussion today. And that is that we discovered that NATO has more partners than it has members. And that partnership relationship and how it can be used – and the only thing I could kind of use as an image was kind of Legos. That there was a way to kind of put various groupings together, which I think is very much what’s going on. I thought that that was a very important one. And then then last one was about defense capabilities.
The main issue here though was that we saw that NATO had to be flexible in an unpredictable environment. And that is exactly where we are now. I look forward to the summit in Chicago. I think that – I’m very glad that it’s going to be back on U.S. soil, especially in a city that actually is composed of many of the ethnic groups that are somehow part and represented through NATO. And I believe that NATO is the – continues to be the major alliance to deal with a variety of issues.
And so I hope we have a chance to explore those, because as somebody – as secretary of state and since – as a problem solver, I look at the problem and try to figure out what the tool is that can work with it. There are not a lot of other ways of trying to deal with the variety of issues that we face beyond working with the greatest military alliance in history. And so the question is how the alliance can be made flexible, how it can in fact react. And I think that the Libya campaign provides many lessons – along with Afghanistan and the Balkans – that I hope we examine, to see what the appropriateness is of NATO acting in Syria, for one.
Thank you very much.
MR. KEMPE: Well, let me pick that up. And before I turn to Senator Warner, let me ask Secretary Albright one question. We know what – the crucial importance of NATO in the post-World War II period and throughout the Cold War and the story of its enlargement, et cetera. But if you’re looking at the Afghanistan mission now winding down, what common project – what common vision would you give the alliance going forward?
I think you are right; it is the most capable military alliance. And – but what’s the problem and what will this – so what is the current problem and where – using your own words – how will this tool be used or should it be used in the future? And on your Syria point, do you agree with Senator McCain – shame on the alliance, shame on us – or not?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, I think the – what we’re seeing more and more – and it doesn’t matter what the issue is – the integration or the interdependence of the world. And something that happens in one place obviously affects what happens everywhere else. And there is not a matter of just deciding that it’s the U.S. and over the Atlantic dealing with the Europeans. I think that there should be, from – and again, let me say, I speak for nobody but myself – is that there really has to be a way that we understand that our national interests and the national interests of the Europeans depends on what happens somewhere else. I feel that very strongly.
And the issues differ. I mean, it could be piracy or it could be various issues to do with climate change that changes the levels of waters and allows for transit in areas where there wasn’t transit before. So I can develop a lot of common purposes. I feel that it’s absolutely essential. What it does require is a way that NATO can sharpen it’s – not – I think what’s been interesting about Libya is the way that the decision-making process worked, the fact that not everybody had to be there, that there was a practicality to trying to decide who did what and a division of labor. And I think that that’s what we need to look at more.
But as far as I’m concerned, there’s more and more common purposes. They’re different. What I think is so interesting is here is an alliance that was created for a specific reason, which was to defend against an aggressive Soviet Union. The Soviet Union disappears, and this alliance was able to restore itself and rejuvenate itself with a different mission. I did have a – many weird experiences, but one was going to talk to President Yeltsin about the fact that we were going to expand the alliance. And he said, you don’t need NATO, because there’s a new Russia. And I said, this is a new NATO and it’s not against Russia.
And so I think that the new NATO was able to figure out how to do out-of-area operations in a brilliant way, and understands that it’s a regional alliance within a globalized setting. And I think it is actually doing what we had hoped, which is to be that flexible instrument that doesn’t always have to act in exactly the same way.
MR. KEMPE: And on Syria?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, Syria, I think, is – this is another lesson, though, I think. I think we have to be careful to not always be looking at – and this is the hard part, is how do we build on the experiences that we’ve had? What do we learn from the experiences but not decide that everything is always the same? And I think that Libya is not Syria and vice versa, and that different issues are there, and what other partners are there to help.
I think that what happened in terms of the Arab League and Qatar and the Emirates and Jordan on Libya was very important. I think that we are at the beginning – they’re not at the beginning of the killing in Syria, but we’re at the beginning of trying to figure out how to deal with it. And I would hope that our government, as well as the governments of NATO and other countries, would begin to look at what the options were to stop what is going on in Syria.
I know ultimately we’re going to talk about responsibility to protect. And I am co-chair of a taskforce headed with Rich Williamson under the auspices of the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Holocaust Museum to try and look at what R2P means and whether it applies not only to Libya, as it was in the sanctions resolution, but also to Syria. But I do think that we need to think about what structures, what tools there are to get the international community in a more responsive way on Syria.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
Senator Warner, you’ve had a long career of public service. You’ve witnessed NATO’s remarkable adaptability and enduring appeal, even when people said – I – there’ve been so many “whither NATO?” debates; the end of NATO, NATO can’t continue to exist. And I think we’ll face that probably again as the ISAF mission in Afghanistan has been, to a certain extent, the unifying purpose of NATO in the – in the last – in the first decade of the 21st century.
So my first question for you is, what value does NATO bring the United States in the aftermath of the Afghanistan mission, very much the same question I asked Secretary Albright. What value does an alliance bring with Europe when so much of our security attention right now is in the Middle East and, to a certain extent, in Asia?
JOHN WARNER: First just – may I just say a “well done” to Senator Shaheen. I’ve had the opportunity to work with you several times, and you exemplify the type of new membership in this venerable institution that others should aspire to. And you show tremendous leadership. And to my old friend John McCain, I was secretary of the Navy when he was in prison camps. And our friendship and working relationship goes back to that period. So (stay close ?) to my good friend, but keep your distance on certain things. (Laughter.)
And to the Atlantic Council, I have been privileged for literally 38 years to be an observer in this nation’s capital of organizations that have come and grown and contributed for the betterment of mankind the world over. But the growth of the Atlantic Council in the last couple years has just been exponential. My classmate here in the Senate and we retired together, Chuck Hagel, is your boss. And I think you, Fred and Chuck and Damon, have just shown tremendous leadership. So well done to you, but much remains to be done. And we’re here today to talk about NATO.
I do go back a little bit. I modestly had a military career. You overstated that a bit. But I saw the – in the Korean War, where I served as a Marine, the multilateral value of forces, serving in the tail-end of World War II, again, the multi-value of forces together. That is the way we have to go.
And NATO to me is like a diamond. It was hewn with a great deal of difficulty to put it together. And it has served not only its members, but the world in an extraordinary capacity for these many, many years. And we should treasure it, consider each of us as trustees, be we here in the United States, our membership, our partners in it, and to nurture and let it grow and flourish where needed.
Yes, it was started, as you correctly stated, Madam Secretary, at the time of the Soviet Union. But today we live in a global community where harm can lurch from any region unexpectedly. And the members of NATO – when those situations develop, they turn to each other out of a sense of confidence in what we’ve done as a group in the past and, whatever this new challenge may be, what the NATO can do to alleviate human suffering in the future.
You pointed out the differences between Libya, Madam Secretary, and Syria. But the common denominator is human suffering in both, extraordinary portions of it. And can we in the free world sit and sit and not move forward? In Libya, the United States was – took a backseat for a while, led in the beginning, then turned it over. And eventually I think the results worked out for the betterment of mankind.
Syria poses a much different strategic situation. It has a long border with one of NATO’s key allies, Turkey. I would think we would look to those nations to exercise the same sort of leadership that France and England exercised in Libya. And then the United States has to determine what role – and I hope there will be a role – for the United States then to resolve that problem.
The forthcoming conference – I don’t wish to overplay the famous words of Winston Churchill, but this meeting coming up could be one of their finest hours by any measure because on it will not only be the issue we’ve just discussed here – Libya, Syria – but it also will be Afghanistan. And there, yes, we the United States have invested heavily in lives and limbs of our brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marine, but also an enormous economic burden at a time when this country has its own situation to face. And at the same time if you look at the proportions, our allies in NATO have made a tremendous contribution in Afghanistan.
So this forthcoming summit will have to resolve this back-and-forth – whether it’s ’14, whether it’s ’13, who’s going to do what. Let’s hope they do stand firm. And it’s my understanding President Karzai, as he has in the past, will be in attendance, and let’s hope that there can come out of that an announcement which will indicate a straightforward but yet firm resolve to achieve what must be done in Afghanistan before there’s substantial forces removed.
So with that, Fred, as we say in the Senate, I’ll yield the floor, and take over.
MR. KEMPE: Let me ask you a follow-up question on an area of great expertise of yours, and that’s burden-sharing and troop presence. As you know, the U.S. is going to eliminate two brigade combat teams from Europe, but the truth is they’ve been deployed in Afghanistan over the last few years. You’ve been a strong advocate of U.S. troop presence in Europe. Do you feel any differently these days?
The U.S. defense budget is going to be declining by $487 billion over the next decade. There doesn’t seem to be an armed threat to Europe’s security. Many in the Congress wonder whether – why one should continue to pay for American troop presence in Europe. So I wonder if you could address that.
MR. WARNER: Let’s say that that presence in Europe since World War II has been absolutely essential. It shows our commitment to our European allies. We are there. It also enables the United States to have a strong military tactical benefit of forward-deployed forces, co-trained with our allies, ready to deploy on a short notice to various places in the world – should it not, fortunately, be on the European continent. And we proved that in Iraq. Divisions were moved from Europe to that battle as quickly as we could.
We are there for the specific purpose of co-training, working together as brothers, officers and enlisted men. We are there to train in areas which somehow we don’t have as good a training area in the United States as some of the training areas afforded us by our European allies. So there’s, I think, even stronger reason to remain there. Remember, they’re there, forward-deployed.
Of course, we have this similar situation in Asia. While not NATO, we’ve stayed in South Korea. But there, those forces have been ready to deploy to hot spots of the world if that’s necessary, out of South Korea, out of Japan, out of Okinawa and places like that. So we’re always going to have to have – in my judgment, since we’re an island nation far removed from the spontaneous sources of problems, we’ve got to have the flexibility of forces in place to move swiftly. And that justifies, I think, a very strong continuation of that policy.
Albeit, they are bringing down their force structures in the NATO nations, and we’re bringing down our force structures – all the more reason to let what has worked in the past continue to work in the future.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Senator. I’m going to ask one last question of the two of you on my part and then turn to the audience. And this is about enlargement. And interestingly, I think you were on different sides of that debate earlier, Secretary Albright more in favor of it, and Senator Warner, during your time in the Senate you argued against enlargement, making the case that countries aspiring to join NATO would likely be more consumers of security.
So Madam Secretary, you were very much in favor of the “Europe whole and free” approach. We talked about the NATO summit here. Chicago is going to be the 10th anniversary of the big-bang enlargement of the Prague summit that brought seven countries in. Enlargement, as we heard, is not going to be on the agenda in Chicago. A, is that a mistake? So one piece of the enlargement is are we losing our momentum, and should it be on the agenda in Chicago?
The second part is is our work with partners in these – global partners making enlargement less important? In other words, is this partnership taking priority? And I hate to load the – overload the question, but because I did really want to get both of you to comment on Russia, I’ll provocatively put the question – A, what do we – how do we respond as NATO to Russia now? And ultimately, shouldn’t our aim be, if we really want Europe whole and free, to bring Russia into NATO?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, I did spend a large part of my time in office, both when I was ambassador at the U.N. and as secretary of state, thinking about the expansion of NATO. And one of the first steps that we took was to develop the Partnership for Peace, which was a way of trying to get countries to understand that NATO was not kind of a gift; it was a responsibility, and the fact that countries that were – wanted to be in NATO had to figure out a way that they in fact would add to the strength of NATO and not detract from it.
Believe me, it was not a simple issue. I went with General Shalikashvili to see Lech Walesa to tell him that he wasn’t getting into NATO; he was going to get into the Partnership for Peace. And Shali would say, it’s terrific; you will have your own file cabinet and phone and a desk at Mans. And I said, it’s just wonderful; it’s an accident of history that two of the principals of the five principal decision-makers in the NSC system were from right around the corner and we understand and all that.
So the bottom line is we did develop a flexible way, I think, for countries to see that there was a pathway to NATO. I am very proud of the expansions that have taken place. I do think that what has happened since is that there are a number of different ways that countries can begin to get themselves ready for NATO, to be participants in a whole series. It’s been quite creative, the MAP aspects and various other permutations of that. And I think that what is really important – and I hesitate to say this – but in many ways countries that want to get into NATO are actually very, very supportive and willing to do things, and once they get in, they wonder whether they’re going to spend the money. And I think that is a serious issue. Senator McCain mentioned it, in terms of living up to defense budgets, and it’s not a gift.
And so I think that we need to keep the door open. I think that is a very basic part of NATO. I think that there are gradations here, as my understanding is that a lot of attention is going to be paid to aspirants at – in Chicago – very clear that it is part of an enlarging group and that NATO, in order to exist, has to have members that are willing to contribute their share, that really are very full-standing members, and also that understand that there is a political dimension to being in NATO, which is that you are a democratic government and civilian control over the military and a number of different principles that are out there, which leads to the Russia question.
I think that the question – the idea always was that we weren’t going to – this is what we were talking about in the Clinton administration – there was no reason Russia could not be a member of NATO, if in fact it fulfilled the variety of principles that apply to it. I think that some of the statements that have been made by the Russians are difficult. I mean, when we were doing the Strategic Concept and we went to talk to the Russians, they did in fact make clear that the expansion of NATO was one of their biggest threats. There have been, I think, some advances in terms of a NATO-Russia relationship. I would expect that to continue. And I think that that construct is a very useful one. But I think what we want – we don’t want Russia kind of just sticking out there. It needs to be a part of a larger system, but it requires some shifts in their behavior.
MR. KEMPE: Now Senator Warner – and as I understand it, that the questions have to be asked by that microphone in the middle, so anyone who wants to ask the first question can begin lining up.
MR. WARNER: Could I fill in the –
MR. KEMPE: Yes, Senator Warner. I want you to answer that. And also, I mean, we had – now have Camp David. There was the danger before that you’d have Vladimir Putin, you know, marching out of Chicago between the G-8 and the NATO summit. That’s now not going to happen, because the G-8’s in Camp David and NATO’s in Chicago. But the larger question of how do we handle both enlargement and Russia.
MR. WARNER: Well, first –
MR. KEMPE: Sir.
MR. WARNER: – I think the secretary brought up the relationship between NATO and Russia of course started with the Cold War and then the evolution went through. But it was the Clinton administration and Secretary Bill Cohen – I was in the room at the defense ministers meeting when the first Russian delegation walked into that room amidst the NATO defense ministers and took their seats by invitation, and that was the commencement of that relationship. So I think there always should continue some type of relationship with Russia and NATO. And that was the foundation, and great credit (is owed ?) to the president for initiating it, President Clinton.
To the point that was raised about the future membership, history reflects I was not fully in favor of enlarging NATO, because I felt if it’s working, why try to fix it? And it was working well. It’s like a diamond. Do you really want to take a magnificent diamond and start cutting at it? But nevertheless, while I did not use all the rules of the Senate to stop it, eventually it was enlarged. And I acknowledge perhaps my judgment was somewhat flawed at that point. And it has worked out. But I do think enlargement should be viewed individually, cautiously, and to make certain that it just isn’t bigger is better, that each one have a specific reason why they will bring an added strength to NATO.
Now you wanted to fire another question, or are we ready to open to the floor?
MR. KEMPE: Let me open to the floor.
MS. ALBRIGHT: Could I just make one –
MR. KEMPE: Yeah, please.
MS. ALBRIGHT: I do think that sitting this way – backwards – I would like to actually say a bipartisan thing. Chairman Jesse Helms was very much a part of NATO enlargement. We had a lot of discussions here. And I think it is a sign that it did come as a result of bipartisanship.
MR. WARNER: I think that’s important, because I believe there’s been a maximum of bipartisanship –
MS. ALBRIGHT: Yeah.
MR. WARNER: – throughout my 30 years in the Senate on issues of NATO. That was never, I think, a partisan issue.
MR. KEMPE: I have plenty more questions myself, but I don’t want to monopolize, then, but I also don’t see anyone going up there. There’s a part of the problem – getting out of the aisles. Then I think I will ask another question, without anyone going up there. All these fine journalists at the back of the room, I’m saying, the – (laughter) – not asking questions.
Two years ago, Madam Secretary, you did chair this group of experts around the Strategic Concept. A lot’s happened since then. We’ve seen the political upheavals – North Africa, Arab world. We’ve seen the U.S. defense strategy prioritizing Asia; Secretary Gates’ tough farewell speech in Brussels, talking about the potential of a dim and dismal future for – if you were to take a look at the Strategic Concept again, with all of that in mind, was it ambitious enough, on the one hand? And on the other hand, does one have the political will to even fulfill what you had in that concept?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that as I started out – I mean, I think we started out with a very ambitious view of what NATO could and should do. But we also focused a great deal on the flexibility part. And so I think that what needs to happen now is, in fact, that various aspects of the Strategic Concept need to be enlarged upon in terms of trying to figure out how you deal – for instance, what I found very interesting is the decision-making on Libya, how it got from here to there, how was it possible. It actually happened fairly quickly. What did it mean that not everybody in the alliance really was part of it, that there’s kind of a coalition of the willing within the alliance – I think that needs to be explored.
I do think that there needs to be a way of looking at how you deal with crises that just kind of come up, I think, with how the interlocking aspect with the partners works.
So I thought it was pretty ambitious. But I what I like about – certainly I like what we did, and I like the way that Secretary-General Rasmussen picked up a lot of the ideas to create a framework that allows for flexibility. That was the whole point. Are there things that need to be done in terms of contingency planning? I think always – doesn’t matter what the area is. I think there needs to be a question of how you deal with this concept of smart power, what you do do when there are budget problems. I mean, the budget issue is the biggest problem.
And so some of the things that I think they’re thinking about are very useful in terms of – I don’t know how many times I go to Europe at a time when we were talking about a European identity for the EU, but most of it was about duplication. And I think that even within NATO, we have to look at not having duplication, to have some joint production, to try to – kind of – kind of a division of labor. And I think that’s the kind of thing that has to happen, because we all are operating under austerity. I do think Secretary Gates gave them a pretty cold shower, which has worked.
MR. KEMPE: Yeah.
MR. WARNER: But in fairness to him, he was addressing, I think, the financial outlook, yeah. Gates, I think, was a strong proponent of NATO throughout his career, but he spoke in reality, because – as Europe cranked down its financial contribution, troop contributions, as does America. We’re bringing ours down. But I do believe this new strategic partnership, which hopefully will be framed in the forthcoming conference, will set a framework for the future and put aside many of those issues.
As to the new initiatives of NATO, I’m very pleased to learn that they’re going to study the cybersecurity. That is a threat that is surely global. It could come from anywhere at any time, and we’d best be prepared to determine what, if anything, NATO can do in the instance of that tragic situation.
MR. KEMPE: Great. So let me take a couple of questions. Please identify yourself and to whom you want to pose the question.
Q: Rachel Astopolis (ph) with the News Wire. This is to the panel at large. Russia has demanded a legally binding guarantee on the use of U.S. interceptor and their deployment in Europe. And the White House repeatedly said, we cannot do this. But Moscow appears to be pretty insistent on the point.
Do you think that it’s – the time has come for the White House to begin discussing provision of some kind of binding guarantee, or would providing sensitive interceptor information be wiser? Or should NATO and the United States just accept that we’re going to have to move forward without a deal and accept that, you know, Russia will proceed with the arms deal that that was promised and – (inaudible) – (threat ?)?
MR. KEMPE: Which of you would like to deal with that?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, I think there are any number of issues in terms of how to follow up on New START or a different way of dealing with the Russians. We’ve started that a little bit. I think one thing depends on – some of the statements made by the Russians recently are not particularly helpful. And I think having – we need to continue to try to persuade the Russians that whatever we’re doing in missile defense is not against them.
But one of the things that we have talked about generally is that it would be good to have more exchanges, discussions about what we could do together. But it does require a level of trust. And at the moment I think that there is a desire to figure out what our relationship is with the renewed President Putin and to try to figure out that the American view has been – and I think you pointed out, Senator, we have tried and are continuing to try to have a Russia-NATO relationship – I signed the founding act – and a variety of ways that we are trying to figure out how to have a relationship that is good for both of us and the security of the world.
MR. WARNER: I think, in just a few words, a little cooling-off period is now in order because the – our country stands for the principle of – not that we’re trying to preach democracy the world over, but certain democratic principles as it relates to the election process. I think we took a correct stance in pointing out concern about the – both the parliamentary and the presidential election.
MR. KEMPE: I also think the next panel will deal to us – can deal, if they wish, to – with the question of the legal – legally binding guarantee.
Q: Hi. This is for the panel at large. My name is Michelle Fields (sp). The anti-war movement and the Occupy movements – denying their request yesterday to protest at NATO – do you think that this is a violation of their rights?
MS. ALBRIGHT: No idea.
MR. KEMPE: I – that is –
Q: You don’t think it’s a violation of their rights to – (inaudible)?
MS. ALBRIGHT: I am not in charge of protests.
Q: But I’m asking you – (inaudible).
MR. WARNER: Well, we try and let the people express their views. I felt that the country as a whole was quite tolerant and paid attention to the protest as it proceeded (sic). I don’t know about this specific one. Is this at the forthcoming May conference? Is that it?
MR. WARNER: Did they ask for a permit to protest?
Q: The mayor of Chicago denied it.
MR. WARNER: Well, I think there are hopefully wise minds trying to reach an equitable judgment and decision there. I just don’t have the details.
MR. KEMPE: Yeah, and I think the German saying on this one is “ueberfragt” (ph), meaning the question goes beyond our knowledge in this situation. So probably better that we get some more information before answering that. But thanks for your question.
I think – I think you do hit a very important question. And that is, I think that there is – and I’ll answer this on my own behalf here. I think in the United States, people often think of NATO as European. And in Europe, people think of it as American. And we – and there isn’t, in my view, enough public outreach of NATO leaders to explain the importance and the enduring importance of NATO to publics. So without commenting on protesters, I think we could all do better in explaining the role of NATO to our respective publics.
Q: Ebert Sena (ph) – (inaudible) – Russian service. This is a question to both speakers. In the light of a recent statement by Mr. Medvedev, the current president of Russia you both alluded to, what could the presence of the newly elect Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, change and bring to the table at the summit in Chicago?
MR. KEMPE: It’s a – it’s sort of dancing around the same question.
MS. ALBRIGHT: Is he a –
MR. KEMPE: I guess – I guess one of the questions is whether a return to – of Putin to the presidency gives an opportunity, sort of a “Nixon to China” kind of opportunity for NATO and the West reaching out to Russia or whether it will make no difference or whether it would be more of a negative thing. And I wonder whether either of you have a thought on that.
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, I think the issue here is that there is a desire to have a good NATO-Russia relationship. That is something that has been worked on in a series of places. I don’t – the presence or absence of President Putin at the summit is not the issue. The issue is a much longer discussion as to what the appropriate relationship is and being able to look over the long stream of things that have to be done. I also think it’s a bit of a peculiar time in terms of transition just generally in Russia. As to when and how and all that, it all comes at a – at a kind of difficult time.
MR. WARNER: Well, I think Russia is experiencing internally now a good deal of political strife. And there’s a strong opposition, and it could well be growing in the coming years. So I think it would be in President Putin’s interest, to the extent that he wishes to involve himself, to do so in a manner that would reflect that the West is not a threat and that Russia can best expend its dollars less so on weapons and more so on internal quality-of-life issues towards the population.
MR. KEMPE: Let’s go to the last question. Please.
Q: Hi, Imi El (ph) from Kanyosei (ph). A short question for Madam Secretary. With the Obama administration pivot to Asia, what is the implication for NATO?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, first, I’m very glad somebody asked that because I think the – you – the senator said we are an island nation. That means that we are between two oceans. And we are an Atlantic power and a Pacific power. And I think that it is very important for the American people to understand that and for the world to understand that we have responsibilities on both sides.
And I think that it is not in any way a derogation or a diminution of our interest in Europe. I think it is a realistic response to understanding that there are many issues that we want to deal with with our Asian friends. And so – and I have seen very much – there’s some Europeans who seem to be saying, you’re not paying attention to us anymore.
I don’t believe that. I believe that the United States will continue to pay attention to Europe and that Europeans and NATO are part of the solution for dealing with a whole host of global issues that we’ve discussed. And it is not one or the other. And when I – you know, every secretary of state acts a little differently, but my first trip as secretary of state was to go to Europe and Asia, which was in fact to show that we were both an Atlantic and a Pacific power.
MR. KEMPE: OK. Senator?
MR. WARNER: I think the discussion over the new strategic plan had maybe put a little too much emphasis on the concern that we’re shifting and pivoting our attention to that region of the world and away from our traditional friends. I opened the discussion by saying the longevity of the friendships that we have had with the NATO alliance – believe me, when you – when problems happen, you go to your oldest and most proven friends first to discuss an issue. But in this global world that we live in today, terrorism can arise anywhere. And we should be realistic that that could be a problem facing NATO even though NATO is halfway around the world from the incident of terrorism.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Senator Warner.
Thank you, Secretary Albright.
This was a terrific discussion of the – some of the broader and more strategic issues. I think the next panel – I’m going to be – before I thank the panelists and pass to Damon, the next panel will focus a little bit more on what actually is going to be at stake in Chicago and drill down a little bit more on the details of all of that. So if the audience would join me in thanking Secretary Albright and Senator Warner. (Applause.)
MR. WILSON: Thank you so much, Fred, Secretary Albright, Senator Warner. That was terrific.
I want to invite our second panel up to the front – (inaudible) – now. We just heard a conversation this morning from some of – (inaudible) – a conversation – (inaudible) – the alliance.
And you heard Secretary Albright talk about the importance of NATO remaining flexible in an era of uncertainty, Senator Warner talking about the imperative of working together with multinational forces and NATO as the organization to organize that. Our second panel – (inaudible) – to the 2012 Chicago summit agenda to discuss what’s at stake. I’m going to turn this over to Ian, to Ian Brzezinski, who serves as a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, and he also leads the Brzezinski Group.
Ian brings a tremendous amount of NATO experience to this conversation, having served in the Pentagon, as deputy assistant secretary of defense for NATO and European affairs, serving – having served here in the Senate as the national – (inaudible) – but also on the senior professional staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he plays a coordinator role for the Senate NATO Observer Group.
And so Ian, with that, please pick up the conversation. We’ll try to still end on time, even though we’re starting a few minutes late. I’ll hand it over to you now.
IAN BRZEZINSKI: OK, great. David, thank you for that very kind introduction.
And thank you, everyone, for joining us this morning and the beginning of this afternoon for this panel and this conference on “NATO in a New Era.”
It’s a challenge, I think, for our team up here to follow the two panels that just preceded us. Senator Shaheen, Senator McCain, Senator Warner and Secretary Albright kind of really provided what is a kind of profound bipartisan recognition of the contributions that NATO has made to trans-Atlantic security, to American – to security over the last decades.
And they also reviewed some of the challenges before it that need to be addressed at the upcoming May Chicago summit. They talked about how valuable the adaptability and flexibility of the alliance is. They talked about the power of multinational forces operating together not just operationally on the field, but politically. And they talked about the agenda items that I hope we’re going to dig into a little bit more deeply today or this hour.
Smart defense – a big warning coming from our members of Congress saying this shouldn’t be an excuse for less spending, but better spending. The need to address more directly Afghanistan, and Senator McCain gave a powerful call for Chicago to produce a strategic partnership between the alliance and Afghanistan. We talked about some items that aren’t on – formally on the agenda: enlargement, Syria and perhaps Russia. To dig deeper, more deeply into these issues, we have a great panel here.
On the end of the table we have Walt Slocombe, senior counsel and – at Caplin & Drysdale. He’s served in multiple positions in government – as undersecretary of defense for policy during the Clinton administration. After that, more recently, he served as senior adviser for national defense in the Coalition Provisional Authority for Iraq, in Iraq. He’s served on numerous commissions, including the commission on the – on the intelligence capabilities of the United States regarding weapons of mass destruction. And he’s had other positions in government – on the National Security Council staff, and he led the policy planning staff in OSD. He’s a Rhodes Scholar. But I guess his highest accomplishment – he’s a member of the Atlantic Council board. (Laughter.)
To my immediate right we have General David Barno, senior advisor and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He’s a highly decorated military officer with over 30 years of service in uniform. He served with special operations forces and seen direct combat in Panama and Grenada. And in 2003, when I first met him – actually, it was – I met him in 2004 – he was commanding U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan and had responsibility for ISAF, NATO’s role in Afghanistan.
And to my left – but certainly not ideologically – is a longtime friend, Kori Schake, who’s a research fellow from – at the Hoover Institute – Institution in Stanford University. But also she’s transcontinental in her role; she’s an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point. She served as a senior advisor to the McCain-Palin campaign, responsible for national security affairs. And apart from that, during the Bush years, she was deputy director for policy planning at the State Department, the director at the NSC for defense strategy. And she just published her most recent book – I will plug for her – “State of Disrepair: Fixing the Culture and Practices of the State Department.”
You know, one of the concerns I have about this upcoming summit is the context and how it’s sitting in the context. Damon, when he kicked off our event today, talked about the significant events that have occurred over the last two years – the Arab Spring, the challenges of fiscal austerity, the pivot that U.S. policy is making, some of the force decisions we make about U.S. posture in Europe, the Russian elections.
These all followed the Lisbon summit two years ago, when President Obama extended his invitation to his fellow NATO heads of state and invited them to Chicago. And the hope back then was that this would be a summit – that we – an implementation summit, kind of review the progress that NATO was making in executing its new strategic concept. But I wonder, in light of these dramatic events, can the alliance really just have an implementation summit? Or do alliance leaders need to use Chicago to deliver a more powerful message, and if so, what should that be?
Let me turn to Kori, if you could share your view on that.
KORI SCHAKE: Sure. I guess I’m a little bit more confident than a lot of folks who are working on trans-Atlantic issues that, actually, NATO’s done a great job at adapting to the end of the Cold War and a lot of the new challenges, and that a stock-taking summit – a chance to take a deep breath, see where we are, whether there are things we want to do that we can’t, whether there are problems we need to solve – that’s actually what NATO’s really good at.
And we set summits so that leaders have requirements to make decisions. I don’t see all that many big decisions that need to be made. And looking out at so many of the architects of NATO’s successful transition after the Cold War, it seems to me fine, actually, for NATO to be able to say, we are in a state of perpetual adaptation, and especially since the end of the Cold War.
You know, it’s a little bit hard to take ourselves back to a place where German unification was a close-run thing and quite dicey, and a German government that was prepared to trade its NATO membership for its unification, and all of the concerns that other countries had about the nature of a unified Germany. We’re 15 years away from that, and it’s nowhere on the horizon. And it’s nowhere because Germany, Europe, NATO, the United States managed that extraordinarily well.
Looking at Bruno, the general who is the French defense attaché, France reintegrated into NATO’s military command in part because they wanted better interoperability. So all of us complain about what NATO does badly – and there are a lot of things NATO does badly and should do better – but I think we should have more confidence, actually, that what NATO does well is solve problems. And the way it solves problems is because we all argue ourselves into a deep and a strong consensus on what needs to be done. We’re actually doing a lot better at that than I think we give ourselves credit for.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Great.
LT. GEN. BARNO: Yeah, might add to that a bit – and I would go back to a remark Senator Shaheen made, that – just to remind ourselves – and I agree with Kori that the accomplishments of NATO over the last, you know, 15, 20 years – throughout its whole history – have been remarkable. And this transition that the alliance has managed since the end of the Cold War was one that many predicted was going to be insurmountable for NATO, that NATO couldn’t really surf those rapids, as it were, and come out the other side. And clearly the alliance has.
But I’d also go back to Senator Shaheen’s comments that the future relevance and success of the alliance are not preordained. And I think Chicago, as we look at it, is inevitably going to be consumed – whether we want it to or not, or whether there were other objectives or not – by Afghanistan. And I think the recent events in Afghanistan drive that home.
And as several of the speakers have noted this morning, reaching some sort, type of strategic partnership agreement with President Karzai’s government and having that be a key point of the upcoming summit would be a tremendous success. We’re not at all certain that that’s going to happen as we look ahead.
So I think there’s two things looking forward that NATO has to be concerned with. One is basically coming to some final adjudication of the conflict in Afghanistan. What’s that going to look like between now and ’14? What trajectory and what speed is this drawdown going to be on? And then, most importantly for Afghanistan, what’s the alliance commitment going to be beyond 2014? And this partnership agreement’s going to be central in that. If that doesn’t come together soon, then I foresee significant problems there.
More importantly for the alliance long term, though – and again, it was mentioned several times this morning – is what now is the animating thrust of NATO absent Afghanistan? That has been such a central portion of what all the alliance members and what all the partners in combat operations in Afghanistan have been a part of, this great enterprise for the last – really since 2003, when NATO first took over the ISAF mission.
What’s NATO now going to focus on beyond that? And I think that’s over the horizon right now, but it’s something we need to keep, you know, foremost in our mind.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: David, could you just expand a little bit on experience in Afghanistan and what you observed of NATO operations – its value and perhaps also some of its shortcomings?
LT. GEN. BARNO: Well, certainly I’ve tracked this pretty carefully. I was there from ’03 to ’05. I was actually the commander of the U.S. effort at that time – about 20,000 Americans. NATO had just taken over the ISAF force about a month before I arrived in August of ’03, and there were about 7,000 NATO troops only in Kabul. So this was the very beginnings of the ISAF mission.
Since that time, and beginning in early ’07, NATO has taken on the entire military effort in Afghanistan and been really the convening body, through ISAF, of not only the NATO members that are fighting in Afghanistan, but now there’s a total of 50 countries that are partnered in that overall effort, which I got to watch again here when I was out there for a week in October across the country.
There have been some strengths. I mean, you’ve brought together the convening power and the legitimacy of all those nations involved – not just the NATO countries, who clearly, because of the alliance, have got a reason to be there, but that has driven lots of other countries to feel very comfortable being part of this effort. That’s hugely significant, and that’s a model for us, I think, to look at in the future.
On the downside, I think we’re going to have to look very carefully at issues of interoperability. I’ve talked to non-U.S. NATO commanders who served in Afghanistan a few years ago who talked about having five different command and control systems they had to manipulate on their desk to talk to all of their NATO forces, who told me that there had to be five different helicopter maintenance programs for the very same helicopter that each of five countries bought. So we’re still not there in the interoperability level that would have expected, in some ways, coming out of the Cold War. So I think that investment is going to be an important one looking ahead.
MS. SCHAKE: I have two points on Afghanistan. First, if I’d been asked to bet money in the year 2000 that NATO countries would commit for 10 years’ time to fight a war that far from Europe and with the degree of difficulty that Afghanistan has brought for all of us and with NATO’s first invocation of Article 5, I would not have taken that bet in the year 2000.
So for all of the difficulties of NATO and ISAF, working with U.S.-only forces and the interoperability challenges, which are quite real, I think we ought not to diminish the actual measure of our success here. NATO allies have hung in there on an Article 5 mission with us for 10 solid years in rough slogging. And in the year 2000 that would have looked like a very long shot indeed. We’ve actually done a lot better than I think we very often focused on it.
Second, on capability gaps, here I take General Barno’s point, and I think it’s a really important one, but at the same time I worry that we are on the threshold of persuading ourselves that European militaries can do nothing without us just because they can’t do it in the way we did it. And I would just point out that, you know, for all of the talk about capability gaps in Libya and things that Europeans were short, we would not have done the Libya operation the way we did it this time even five years ago.
The pace of innovation is extraordinarily fast, and that puts real pressure on our ability to remain interoperable, but this is a manageable problem. NATO is the way we manage it through the integrated military command. And we ought not to go so far down focusing on the capability gap between us and the Europeans that we misfocus on the capability gap between Europeans and anybody they could conceivably be fighting against. That gap is enormous and we’re winning, and Europeans deserve more credit than we’re giving them.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Please.
MR. SLOCOMBE: On Afghanistan, I agree it’s important that the United States find a way to maintain the commitment that is politically viable in the United States and also effective. But one of the tasks at the summit is going to be some tough love for President Karzai. Many of the problems in Afghanistan are intractable – will never be a perfect solution. Some of the problems in Afghanistan are the product of pretty clear blunders by the government of Afghanistan.
It’s going to be important for the NATO allies, A, to be prepared to continue the long-term strategic relationship and strategic involvement, because we do have critical interests, but it’s also going to be important to get across to President Karzai and his colleagues in the – in Afghanistan that unless there is – unless there is (fundamental ?) action on their part.
And also – (well ?), I understand at this point (that ?) President Karzai, he has a constituency too, but if the – if the continued commitment is going to be viable to the United States, much less in most of the NATO countries which see it as a much less immediate interest of theirs, there have to be changes in Afghanistan.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: We both talked – you both talked about, directly and indirectly, capabilities. And one of the central pillars of this – of this summit in Chicago is going to be the unleashing, the (unraveling ?) of the new smart defense initiative. And clearly, it’s an effort by the establishment, by the NATO establishment, to kind of manage these challenges created by the fiscal austerity all allies, including the United States, face today.
However, smart defense seems to be, in many ways, a continuation of past NATO efforts, some of which members or panelists – members of my panel have worked on directly, be it Walt and DCI, Defense Capabilities Initiative; Kori, the Prague Capabilities Initiative – Prague Capabilities Commitment, back in 2004, in which Dave and his team in the field were all beneficiaries of.
What needs to be different about this smart defense initiative to make it credible? Because one could argue that unless you have a credible smart defense initiative, it’s hard for the rest of this summit to be truly successful and credible, because we’re talking about the core function of the alliance, which is its ability to operate today and tomorrow.
MS. SCHAKE: I think that’s a great question. And I agree with you that it is – that it is a continuation of earlier defense planning initiatives, and that’s great. NATO’s really good at defense planning. It’s been really good at defense planning for a long time. What it looks to me like the smart defense initiative is trying to do is to focus in more narrowly on a handful of key capabilities where, because of the way our military operations are changing – that is, they’re growing more precise – (background noise) – carried out for longer distances, and they’re – well done, Walt. (Laughter.) And therefore, they –
MR. SLOCOMBE: I’m not trying to distract attention. (Laughter.)
MS. SCHAKE: You need to have commonality of an information picture. You need to have better ways to share intelligence.
I think Allied Command’s (sic) Transformation has actually done a terrific job of identifying some of the threshold technologies and programs that we need (to ?) communally be involved in and prioritizing so that efforts that have taken place of the course of the last decade for countries to specialize in niche areas – some, not all, NATO countries have fighter planes, but we all take turns making sure that missions that require fighter planes get done for those countries. We have encouraged niche capabilities. That’s smart because it allows countries to contribute where they can best contribute instead of trying to cover the entire waterfront. But it requires a high degree of confidence that your allies are going to be there. And smart defense initiatives bring priority to key programs we need to keep interoperability as the innovation progresses in our military operations, but also to reassure us all that we do have the commonality and we do have the commitment to do these kinds of important things together.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Walt, are there any lessons you’d apply from DCI, from PCC, that are relevant for smart defense in Chicago?
MR. SLOCOMBE: One of the reasons that I think it’s a good thing that the Chicago summit is going to focus on implementation, though obviously there will be important decisions to be made, is that unfortunately NATO is a lot better at initiatives than it is at implementation. And I think, you know, the history of the United States getting actually quite good statements about defense reform, modernization, goes back not – goes back to an earlier something – a few of the people in the room who may have ever heard of Lisbon force goals, which were, I think, 1949.
MS. SCHAKE: Never met.
MR. SLOCOMBE: And I think the trick, in some ways, is to recognize that some of the argument about capabilities is not fundamentally a financial argument. I’ve always thought it is striking that if you add up all the European budgets, they’re not all – because the American budget has gone up so much in the last 10 years, I suppose they’re now – they used to be about three-quarters of the American defense budget; they’re now, I suppose, about something under half.
But would anybody really argue that the Europeans collectively have half the military capability for half the money? I think that’s part of the problem, and to some degree it reflects different approaches to what the defense requirement is about.
I just – and in terms of capabilities, it’s also important that we focus on capabilities for the challenges of the future. Yes, the United States is going to pull two out of four brigades out of Europe. It’s also going to home port additional missile defense ships in Spain. And I think it is clear that in terms of the real challenges – the real military challenges that NATO faces, improved missile defense is probably – and that’s not the only thing we’re doing about improved missile defense, obviously, but it is something will be stationing in Europe. That improved missile defense is probably a bigger military as well as strategic and political gesture than two brigades in Europe. So to some degree, capabilities changes have to recognize that it means being willing to do things in new ways. And in a way, that’s as true for the United States as it is for the (opposite ?).
MR. BRZEZINSKI: You know what, let me throw a question at you –
LT. GEN. BARNO (?): Yeah.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: – you comment on, and Walt also. But you brought up interoperability, and Walt mentioned the administration’s recent decision to kind of reduce U.S. force posture in Europe by two brigade combat teams and also an A-10 squadron. Some of us, including myself, are a little bit concerned that in today’s modern battlefield where technologies are more complex, they evolve ever more quickly, maintaining interoperability is ever more challenging. And what are going to be the implications and challenges in terms of sustaining interoperability with our allies when we make these sorts of force reductions? Because we’re actually reducing not logistical support there, but actually the forward edge of our presence on the battlefield.
LT. GEN. BARNO: No, I think it’s a great point. And I applaud Senator Warner’s warning about bringing forces back from overseas and the loss of the experience they get from being over there, plus their accessibility for follow-on deployments elsewhere. That train has left the station, however. And I think that’s probably the direction we’re heading in.
I worry about – and my comment I was looking to make was that we have got to make sure, within the shift towards some (niche ?) – capabilities among our European allies, that we don’t erase the baseline, the price of admission to be able to get into the fight at all. And a lot of that has to do with C4I, with command and control and communications and how the intelligence infrastructure that supports that. If we don’t ensure that all of our allies can function at that level of interoperability, then we’re having to cobble together different systems for different allies in the fight ahead.
As we take American forces out of Europe, the opportunity to do that may diminish. I mean, now you’ve got a sizeable number of opportunities to work with American forces because of the stationing posture. That’s going to diminish, on the ground, at least, by about 50 percent in maneuver units. The Army has said it’s going to rotate brigades and battalions into Europe to take the place of those that are coming out so that there’s a presence that continues over there.
So that’s a good-news story, because more Army units will get exposed to working with our European allies. But it does, you know, you know, provide some cause for concern. Can we maintain what’s been a reasonably workable level of command and control integration within NATO? If we lose that, we’re going to lose the basic framework of what military capability is built on.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Walt.
MR. SLOCOMBE: Just very quickly, since – (inaudible) – tradition to say – at least say things about the United States Marine Corps, not necessarily only nice things about the United States Marine Corps. The Marines actually had an interesting – (inaudible) – in – (inaudible) – Norway in the NATO context of they don’t have any Marine units that are of any significance that are stationed in Europe, but they have a very active and a regular program with exercises. And in some ways, that’s the best way to develop interoperability.
I also think that we – one of the points about the alliance being a military alliance is it provides a basis for working on interoperability that really doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, because there isn’t the same kind of unified military command structure to sponsor.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Kori.
MS. SCHAKE: I agree with what’s been said both by Walt and by Dave on interoperability. I would just emphasize for folks who don’t spend all of their time on the subject, even though I know a lot of us do, that there’s no – you don’t get to an endpoint and you’re interoperable; it’s a process of constantly working at it. And you know, the Marine Corps jokes that the Air Force – U.S. Air Force is an allied force and they’re almost interoperable.
And so we have to work at this hard. NATO works at it hard through the integrated military command. We continuously set standards. Those standards need to be continuously worked to and also changed. The rate of innovation that the wars of the last 10 years and the acceleration of technological (perk ?) into the American military has made it extraordinarily difficult for our allies to keep pace with the changes that we are making.
And if we didn’t have the integrated military command, and if we didn’t send talented people to do these nuts and bolts, turn the wrench three to the left, we would actually not have the ability to fight alongside the countries who are most likely to fight with us and bring the most capability to the fight alongside us. So we got to keep working at this all the time. But we are never going to get to declare that it’s done.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: What I’d like to do is ask one more question and then turn it over to our other participants to ask our – ask experts questions. But the question I have concerns partnerships, because it popped up in both of our previous panels as kind of a realm of greatest opportunity. But many would say it’s probably the dimension of this summit, the agenda item on this summit that is least developed. That’s important because, you know, we’ve recently experienced the important contributions that countries like Sweden and Finland and Japan and Australia make in – we see every day, so to speak – in the backlands of Afghanistan. We saw what the UAE, what Jordan, what Morocco and also Sweden brought to the operation over Libya. These are increasingly important relationships that NATO has with nonmember states. But it’s also a set of partnerships that seem to be less institutionally developed.
Walt, since you and I traveled to Sweden last, last December, what thoughts do you have on how this dimension of NATO’s partnerships, the relationship with the most active contributors to NATO operations, how can that be further developed in Chicago?
MR. SLOCOMBE: Well, it’s certainly true that over the last 10 years and maybe the last almost 20 years now, there’s probably been a number of nonmember countries who have made more significant contributions, if not necessarily in absolute numbers and relative to the size and GDP and so on, than some of the – (inaudible). But part of this has been done through the Partnership for Peace, which particularly for the main European neutrals, is a very important structure.
I think one of the issues – and you raised it at least implicitly – is it’s much harder to do these things if every time it has to be invented on an ad hoc basis, and that it would be well for the alliance to think of ways to try to institutionalize and create a structure, including to some degree at least a de facto military structure that would work with countries like Japan, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand or countries in the Middle East, that are likely to want to work with NATO in military operations but are not ever going to be members of the alliance.
And I think there is a role for some institutionalization, although there are always political issues about trying to expand the partnership concept, because there are countries which, for legitimate and understandable reasons, are not keen to see NATO turning – I think Secretary Albright said that it’s a regional alliance in a global context. And I think there are countries that are not interested in seeing it be a global alliance in a regional context, and that we have to deal with that reality.
LT. GEN. BARNO: Yeah, I agree – (inaudible). I think one of the things that should be avoided and perhaps one of the lessons from Afghanistan that gets little attention is that ideally you don’t want to meet all your partners on the battlefield. You want to have relations with them. You want to have exercises with them. You want to have talked to them. You want to have been in school with them, military schools, before you actually have to go into combat.
And so perhaps, you know, building on Walt’s point, maybe there can be an expanded exercise program that could invite in, you know, partners that would be interested in doing something that’s either in simulations or with real forces. There’s certainly opportunities to have extra to NATO players in various NATO schools so they can become, you know, acquainted. The face-to-face relationships that get built in the school environments are very powerful. So there’s lots of room for innovation there. I think that would be very, very beneficial to the alliance.
MS. SCHAKE: I want to pile on in the same vein. It does seem to me that one of the challenges that we have is that NATO is increasingly involved in operations beyond Europe. And that’s great. It’s good for the United States. It’s good for security writ large.
But many – you know, the way the United States organizes its military operations in the world, all of us were shocked when Europeans thought after September 11th that the SACEUR should command operations in Afghanistan because we had a guy who commands operations in Afghanistan. And he spends all of his time working with the countries in the region and getting to know those war plans. And to – but to Europeans, the SACEUR’s the military commander that they are comfortable with because it’s the one that they know and that they work with. And finding a way to mesh that better – whether that is SACEUR as a force packager and trainer for commanders beyond Europe or SACEUR as the person who does the near-term integration of all European forces, NATO and non-, that are coming to a fight under any circumstances – for ACT to have a much broader role, working – I mean, they already were with Partnership for Peace countries – but the long-term force planning, to make sure that we continue to have interoperability with those countries, and even NATO planning cells in PACOM and other places, where Europeans have as much interest as the United States.
The Norwegian defense minister, a couple of weeks ago, got off a great line about how China isn’t just rising for the United States; China’s rising for Europe too. This isn’t a uniquely American problem. It’s a trans-Atlantic issue that we can and should manage in cooperation, because that’s what NATO countries do.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Let me turn it to the audience and see if anybody would like to address a question to our experts here. All I’d ask is keep your question to the point and do identify yourself.
Q: (Off mic.)
MR. BRZEZINSKI: I think you have to go up to the microphone.
Q: Hello. My name is – (inaudible). I’m the bureau chief of the French daily newspaper Le Figaro. Two questions, actually, for the floor, and the first one is – panel – and is about what would be the ideal – if you had full cooperation from the European allies, if you could get the kind of agreement from Mr. Karzai that you want, what kind of – what kind of partnership would you put in place? In other words, very concretely, how many troops would be on the ground on, you know, the American side? What role would you have for these troops?
And then my second question actually is about the mood – (inaudible) – in all of these countries concerning Afghanistan. I mean, I think Senator McCain said that the war is not lost in Afghanistan, but it doesn’t seem like it is won, either. And there is a sort of a mood, you know, with all the recent events in Afghanistan – pretty pessimistic, both in the U.S. – you have lots of people not really willing to fight anymore.
So how do you see this mood going of influence further what’s going to happen in Afghanistan? Thanks.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: All right. Kori?
MR. SCHAKE: I agree that the mood is quite sour on Afghanistan now, and understandably so after the difficult several weeks and the fact that this has been a hard fight for a really long time.
That said, I actually think NATO does have the right strategy already, and that is moving towards 2014, when three important things coming together. First, you have a presidential election that will usher forward a new generation of Afghan political leaders, will end President Karzai’s time. Second, Afghan security forces will be, in both quantity and quality, capable of doing – we hope – the work that allied and coalition forces now. And third, you will have the transition to Afghan sovereignty. Those three things come together in an important nexus in 2014.
And if we draw back from our strategy now, not only do other important things get harder, like managing problems inside Pakistan and with the government of Pakistan, but I think we also run a real risk of writing off the success – which it is difficult to see, but I genuinely believe we are making. And so the alliance has held together remarkably well, actually.
And it’s for me a demonstration of the value of going into this as an alliance, because as NATO leaders in the course – over the course of the last year have reviewed strategy on Afghanistan and have dealt with setbacks as they came there, allied leaders judged that we didn’t have a better strategy than the one that we have, that the one that we have remains likely to succeed. And having argued ourselves to this, we are holding ourselves together as an alliance through it. And I think that’s fantastic. I think David Cameron and President Obama just this week reinforced that in a really nice way for us all.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Thank you.
LT. GEN. BARNO: Yeah, in some ways – and I’ll try to be brief – I think some ways the mood is darker here than it actually is in Afghanistan. You know, I looked at the news reports here in the last 24 hours about suicide attacks in Iraq, and the number of attacks, the number of casualties in Iraq that occurred in this past, you know, two-day period is greater than what we would have seen in Afghanistan at any one time over the last 10 years. And yet we think that Afghanistan is vastly more violent than what the residual situation in Iraq was – not at all so. And if you look at even violence around the country in Afghanistan, you know, knowing that we’re coming out of the winter season there, the levels of violence are down from what they were last year.
I think these recent events clearly have had a psychological toll, and again, more so here in the U.S. and among the NATO allies than necessarily in Afghanistan, where, after 10 years of this war and 35 years of the collective previous wars, the population is inured to that.
On the question of what would this look like post-2014, I think the number of troops is to be determined. But my ideal outlook would see – in order to keep pressure on the Taliban, so that they have an incentive to come to the table, the ideal outlook would be a long-term U.S. – to include NATO – military presence there performing both counterinsurgency support tasks to help the Afghans take the counterinsurgency fight to the Taliban, which is going to be happening in the next two years, and some additional forces, typically special operations forces, continuing the counterterrorist fight. Those can be a very modest collection in toto. They don’t – we’re not talking about necessarily tens of thousands of troops doing that.
But unless that prospect is out there, unless that – the uncertainty of post-2014 gets resolved here fairly soon and the Taliban see the light at the end of their tunnel growing, I think that’s not in our best interest.
MR. SLOCOMBE: I think it’s very important that the Chicago summit signal a willingness to – security commitment to Afghanistan for after 2014. But as I said, I also think, for a whole variety of reasons, that it’s essential that there be a much more robust effort out of the Karzai government and whoever his successor is, and not just for – and important for reasons of domestic political support, but I think it’s also true that unless the regime is much more effective and much more recognizing the realities on the ground, the strategy won’t work. We’ll be able to keep the lid on it as long as we maintain a very heavy commitment, but if we want to move to this really very different model of Afghan security that Kori and General Barno explained, we have to have a greater – a greater response from the Karzai – from the Afghan government.
MS. SCHAKE: I absolutely agree with what Walter said. I mean, the vulnerability in our strategy is its reliance on President Karzai. But I think it merits mentioning that in fact there’s a lot of progress in governance in Afghanistan beyond President Karzai. There’s a reason that the Taliban have shifted their strategy to target mayors, governors, local Afghan officials. It’s because those people are perking up and doing a good job of creating the kind of governments that will make this kind of change.
And so the Taliban are focusing on that vulnerability in our strategy and also on the vulnerability of trying to poison the partnership and the trust between Afghans and us. And you see that principally coming through in attack – with the green-on-blue attacks, attacks by Afghan soldiers on coalition forces. Those two vulnerabilities in our strategy – if they succeed in making either of those things work, then our strategy becomes unexecutable.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Next question?
Q: (Inaudible.) In line with smart defense, a number of European – NATO countries have said that we’re going to cooperate more with each other on these niche capabilities. But in the years since smart – that initiative has come out, there has not been many – much news coverage of this actually happening. And we’re hearing that’s because the European NATO countries are protective of their technology, they didn’t want to share sensitive information.
How can the summit be used to address this hurdle of countries really not wanting to, I guess, integrate further on these capabilities?
LT. GEN. BARNO: Well, the NATO country that is worst on sharing technology –
MS. SCHAKE: (Chuckling.) I was going to say –
LT. GEN. BARNO: – is the one we’re sitting in.
MS. SCHAKE: – exactly what he’s saying. (Laughs.)
LT. GEN. BARNO: I think the – and it’s also true that it is perhaps even more true in some European countries that the defense budget is seen as a sort of industrial policy to sustain a domestic – a domestic defense industry.
But that said, I think the problem with niche capabilities – and some things have been achieved. I mean, if the – and cooperative support. I mean, if the British and French plan goes through, they will have, to a very considerable degree, integrated their aircraft carrier force in the tail end of this decade.
But I think one of the – one of the real problems is that you – if you – if you’re really going to have niche capabilities in the sense that the alliance, particularly the European part of the alliance, is dependent on one country for an essential element in a military force, then you’ve also got to have confidence that that capability will be there when it’s needed. And it’s an alliance of nation-states.
You know, the United States would not agree to the proposition that in an operation we genuinely opposed, as contrasted to simply believing it can be done adequately by others, that American capabilities would have be made available because of some agreement made 10 or 15 years ago. I think in many ways that’s the – that plus a very considerable degree of national pride. It’s probably true that not every NATO country has fighter planes, but too many of them do.
MR. BRZEZINSKI (?): Unfortunately, we’re approaching 1:00. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to use my prerogative as moderator to ask one last question. And that’s a question that Senator McCain raised, which is what’s not on the agenda and should be. And I’m hoping that one of you would address my favorite issue, which is enlargement, which doesn’t seem to be on the agenda, and address the – address the call for addressing this issue but to answer not that it should be addressed, but how to address an enlargement. But first and foremost, what do you think is missing on this agenda, and if you can touch a little bit on NATO enlargement and how it should addressed in Chicago.
MS. SCHAKE: One thing that I think is important and that is a real success story that NATO hesitates to tell because it’s an uncomfortable subject is nuclear force management. I mean, NATO has reduced its nuclear forces by 90 percent since the end of the Cold War. The Russians have made no commensurate reductions. We have real concerns about the transparency of Russian nonstrategic nuclear forces. And NATO has, three times since the end of the Cold War, revised its strategy, had a big tumultuous discussion – a West-West discussion about nuclear sharing, the extent to which we want to rely on nuclear deterrence for our defense, the burden-sharing responsibilities in the NATO alliance.
And Secretary Albright did a terrific job orchestrating a conversation that resulted in very good – a very solid and robust agreement in the new NATO strategy about both the extent to which NATO believes nuclear – shared nuclear forces prevent the risk – reduce the risk of war, conventional or nuclear, occurring. And that – I would like to see at the – at the NATO discussion a reaffirmation of that, and particularly an emphasis when they bring the nuclear forces review to a conclusion, of the importance of broad sharing in the nuclear – in the NATO alliance.
On expansion, this is a hard one, I think because – for two reasons: first, because so many of the obvious candidates have already come into NATO in the last 10 years, and there’s a little bit of expansion fatigue. And the Russians, having grudgingly made a lot of noise and some difficulty over the last rounds of expansion, are really trying to draw the line now and raise the cost to NATO for any further expansion. I would just note that in the Russian military doctrine that came out in, what, 2010, the top danger they see to Russia is continued NATO adaptation and expansion.
So that’s the thing that they view as the biggest threat to them, which we have failed to persuade them that a stable and democratic and friendly set of countries on its rim is actually in their interest. The main restraint on further NATO expansion is all of us coming to terms with the fact that Russia is likely to remain for a very long time quite hostile about the countries that we would be open to including.
MR. BRZEZINSKI (?): Dave?
LT. GEN. BARNO: Yeah, very quickly on the item that’s not on the agenda that I’d be interested in is the future of NATO and its vision beyond Afghanistan, particularly with a view towards the Pacific. How does NATO think about – it’s almost a NATO 3.0 – if 2.0 was following the Cold War, this period of time after Afghanistan and what the new focus is, particularly how to adapt NATO to a world that’s shifting increasingly towards interests in the Pacific Rim.
On the second point about enlargement, I think one of the issues would – that’d be worth looking at is how can the alliance provide extra credit for those partners that fought in Afghanistan within the alliance framework, if they’re interested in NATO membership. There should be some way to reward that tremendous sacrifice those countries have made. So I think that’s an area where the alliance might be able to do some innovative thinking in terms of their role in enlargement.
MR. SLOCOMBE (?): Just very briefly on enlargement, I think it’s important that the Chicago summit reaffirm that the door is open. And it would be useful if, for some country – I gather there’s no possibility that the – Macedonia or Montenegro or Bosnia – but to be some step forward, but short of a promise of admission. I don’t think this is a – it’s nice that Kori and I should disagree about something. I don’t think that the problem with NATO enlargement is just offending the Russians. That’s true for Georgia in some sense. It’s certainly true for Ukraine.
But I think that it is very important that countries be genuinely ready in their internal structures before they become members of the alliance. And I’ve always felt I was an expert on the internal politics of Macedonia. And I’ll be there’s not a hell of a lot of people in the room who do. But I think we ought to be satisfied. I was always fond of the proposition that a country shouldn’t become a member of the alliance until you are confident that a series of free elections would not call into question its commitment to the alliance, not that it has to be a hundred percent – there’s not a hundred percent support for NATO membership in the United States – but that it has to be a sufficient political consensus, and it has to be a sufficient political consensus on the nature of the state and the nature of the regime so that we are not importing – the EU made a horrible mistake admitting Cyprus before a resolution of the Cyprus question, whatever the rights and wrongs of the Cyprus question. And I think it’s important that the alliance not make that mistake. And we haven’t. We’ve held some countries back for precisely that reason.
But I don’t think you – I don’t think that all of the reasons to be caution – Senator Warner said to be cautious and careful about enlarging have to do with the Russians. And indeed, I think we can’t veto – we can’t give the Russians a veto.
MR. BRZEZINSKI (?): All right. You know, when I was approaching this conference today, I had the impression of many in Washington looking to Chicago with trepidation, kind of unease, focusing on the challenges caused by financial austerity, European defense cuts, growing disinterest in Washington in NATO, growing fear in Europe about American commitment to Europe. It was kind of – (inaudible) – many are – many are approaching Chicago in a kind of a defensive crouch.
Well, listening to this panel and then – and their two predecessors, it really – this was a morning of real optimism and recognition of what the alliance has brought, the successes that we’ve had, with all the problems in Afghanistan, the fact that we have NATO doing operations on a day-to-day basis protecting American and European interests off the coast of Africa, patrolling (sic) these WMD, securing our borders, pushing forward the frontiers of freedom and democracy.
These are things that we ought to be very proud of and ought to be kind of the emphasis of this Chicago, in addition to, as Dave pointed out, defining a very proactive, forward-looking vision for what the alliance is going to do for the trans-Atlantic community today and tomorrow. To be defensive at Chicago will only diminish the alliance. It’ll weaken U.S. interests. It’ll undercut European confidence in the American commitment.
But demonstrate – to demonstrate vision backed by determination and credible commitment, credible capabilities at Chicago is the best way to build domestic commitment to this unmatched multinational institution both here in the United States and in Europe. And that is, in my mind a, if not the, challenge at Chicago.
So let me express my thanks to Senator Shaheen and Senator McCain for hosting this. And thank my panelists Walt, Dave and Kori for sharing the time and insights with us this morning. (Applause.)
MR. WILSON (?): And I want to thank you and thank the panelists. That was just a terrific conversation. I think this discussion will set out what is the challenge for Chicago; what’s the (message ?) for Chicago? I think all of us believe when the Atlantic community is distracted or lacks confidence, when it steps back from leadership or bickers among itself, we lose the ability to shape that future, a future that’s premised on the values of acting together, democracy, free markets, human rights, rule of law. And so despite its faults, I think there’s a sense today that this is the greatest concentration of political influence, military might and economic (head ?). As Secretary Albright said, this is our key tool. We need flexibility in a world of uncertainty.
So I want to thank – reiterate my thanks to this group, to this panel, to Senator Shaheen, Senator McCain, our co-hosts for this, Senator Albright – Secretary Albright, Senator Warner. I particularly want to thank Simone Borisova (sp), who was on a – (inaudible) – Talina Nye (sp) – (inaudible) – as well, our staff members who helped make this possible. And thank all of you for joining us today.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)