- Frederick Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council
- Admiral James G. Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO; Commander, U.S. European Command
- Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State; Chair, NATO Group of Experts
May 19, 2010
FREDERICK KEMPE: Greetings, welcome. I’m Fred Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council. Thank you for joining us to this special edition of our Commanders Series with NATO Supreme Allied Commander Jim Stavridis and with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
The Commanders Series is the council’s flagship platform for public discussions with the senior military leadership of our nation as well as with commanders from friends and allies. Two fellow supreme allied commanders Europe have been here before, Gen. Jones, Gen. Craddick, Gen. Jones as his swansong, thereafter becoming chairman of the Atlantic Council, and Gen. Craddick. We’ve had Stéphane Abrial here; we’ve had the Army chief of staff, Gen. Casey, then PACOM Commander Timothy Keating – Adm. Timothy Keating – French Chief of Defense Jean-Louis Georgelin, the EU commander in the Congo.
So this has really become a platform for really the most gifted and the most challenged commanders among our friends and for our country. I want to thank Saab North America and our board member, Ambassador Henrik Liljegren. Henrik, thank you very much and thanks also to Saab for supporting this series.
This evening is a special part of the Commanders Series for us because of all the commanders, the NATO supreme allied commander is the one that we actually consider the most central to the Atlantic Council your mission and your work is most central to what we try to support here.
Some have observed that NATO has faded into the background of the Washington debate, but here at the Council, it never fades into the background. It’s at front and center. But I think the strategic concept and Secretary Albright’s work on that gives us the chance to elevate the debate again, not just in Washington but throughout the alliance and I also think, to a certain extent, throughout the world with our partners.
That’s why we’re so pleased to host the current SACEUR and EUCOM commander who leads this great alliance, as well as former Secretary Albright, who has played such a crucial role in the alliance history. I will leave it to Secretary Albright to introduce you, Adm. Stavridis. I won’t have that pleasure but I’ll just thank you for your extraordinary service to the country and the alliance.
The Council has done our part to contribute to this debate and dialogue about NATO’s next strategic concept. Our Strategic Advisors Group, led by Sen. Chuck Hagel, who gives his regrets that he couldn’t be here tonight – he had a schedule change that was unavoidable – led by Sen. Chuck Hagel, Tom Enders of EADS – excuse me, of Airbus, Tom Enders of Airbus and Gen. Brent Scowcroft, recently published its own STRATCON 2010 report. I think there are copies outside.
It was also one of the co-organizers of the Strategic Concept Seminar on capabilities in Washington in mid-February of this year and there have been a series of issue briefs that have tracked the specific issues in the strategic concept that we believe will come out of the strategic concept. For that, I want to tip my hat to Damon Wilson, vice president of the Atlantic Council, who is doing enormously good work running the international security program with his deputies Jeff Lightfoot and Magnus Nordenman.
We’re pleased to continue to be a platform for debate and dialogue on the future of NATO with this Commanders Series event tonight.
Everyone in this room knows Secretary Albright. She’s an Atlanticist in the truest sense of the word, starting with her birth on the other side of the Atlantic and then the move across. As she has said herself, NATO is an organization with which you grew up. She is one of the alliance’s greatest assets and advocates.
As secretary of state, she took NATO to war for the first time, in the Balkans, a politically and militarily complex assignment which required extraordinary judgment and skill. My parents are German immigrants – they would have used the term – (in German) – which is “fingertip feeling.” You’ve got that in spades.
You also play a leading role in transforming the Cold War institution by helping launch the Partnership for Peace, initiating the first round of post-Cold War enlargement, bringing in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, forging a new partnership with Russia and beginning to equip the alliance to tackle new threats.
There is no better testament to the role you played as secretary in shaping NATO as a post-Cold War alliance than in the fact that you were called back to shape the future of the alliance in a world dominated by ever more diverse global challenges. I probably should have added as we were talking about enlargement is there were a long string of other countries that got put in the process during the time you were there as well that are now successfully contributors to the alliance.
You’ve ably led the group of experts in mapping out a direction for the alliance as it forges its next strategic concept and just as you were beginning this task, you presciently noted at the Council’s Bronislaw Geremek lecture in June 2009, quote, “The alliance faces serious challenges including a difficult relationship with Russia and lack of clarity about its global role. You’ve just completed a process intended to provide just that clarity and I think it did a lot of that.”
The Atlantic Council’s mission is to renew the Atlantic community for 21st century challenges. I think in many ways that’s not a bad description for your career as well. Madame Secretary, thank you so much for being with us today. The podium is yours. (Applause.)
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Fred, thank you very, very much for your kind welcome here. I’m delighted to be here and it is truly my pleasure to be able to introduce a very, very good new friend, Adm. James Stavridis, who has served as both NATO supreme allied commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command for the past 10 months, as well as being our group’s – the group of expert’s military advisor for much of the time.
Jim took the helm of the alliance – and having used that maritime metaphor, I should note that he is the first naval officer to serve as NATO’s top operational commander – at a time of great challenge with Afghanistan and five other demanding operations underway around the world and many questioning the alliance’s fundamental direction and purpose.
I believe that he is just the right officer to lead NATO in this period, not primarily because I think NATO’s future activities, while have a growing maritime dimension, but because he is a deep strategic thinker and military statesman in the tradition of some of the finest SACEURs.
He also has boundless energy and is a great communicator, able to tell NATO’s story clearly to wide-ranging audiences, from senior members of Congress and European parliaments to young people in the blogosphere and on Facebook. I’m noticing – are you tweeting while I’m doing this? (Laughter.)
It was clear early on that Jim was destined for great things. A native of South Florida and the son of a career Marine Corps officer, he won an appointment to the Naval Academy, where he was a distinguished graduate of the class of 1976 and uncharacteristically, with a major in English. He was commissioned as a surface warfare officer – that’s a ship driver, as they say – and served at sea on carriers, cruisers and destroyers.
He went on to earn a master’s and a Ph.D. in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts in 1984, where he was the top student in his class. I have to note parenthetically that there really was a Fletcher mafia that seemed to dominate my team of civilian advisors, which I had to explain to Georgetown. (Laughter.) He’s also a distinguished graduate of the National War College.
Back at sea, Adm. Stavridis commanded the destroyer the U.S.S. Barry, completing deployments to Haiti, Bosnia and the Persian Gulf. Under his command, the Barry won an award as the top ship in the Atlantic fleet. He later commanded Destroyer Squadron 21 and deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1998, winning the Navy League’s John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership.
He went on to command the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group in the Persian Gulf in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. So he really has a proven record of providing assured security and leading complex military operations.
Now, he also did an incredible amount of work ashore as a strategic and long-range planner on the staffs of the chief of naval operations and the chairman of the joint chiefs. Right after 9/11, he was selected as director of the Navy Operations Group Deep Blue, which is so secretive that he can’t even tell me what it did.
He also served as the executive assistant to Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig during the Clinton administration and later worked with Don Rumsfeld. So he does know how to deal with different political masters – (laughter) – definitely valuable experience for NATO.
In October 2006, he became the first Navy officer to lead the U.S. Southern Command and he also made great strides in reshaping counterinsurgency and counter narcotics assistance to Colombia.
Now, his energy and commitment to a new mission is exemplified by the fact that when he took over the Southern Command, his French was excellent but he spoke no Spanish. So he put himself through a crash course to learn the language and over the next three years, was able to conduct many high-level meetings with military and civilian leaders in the region without the translator.
So as Bob Gates said when he appointed him, Jim has had to learn to speak NATO over the past 10 months but I don’t have to tell this audience that he’s doing that very, very well. So I look forward to his grading my work over the next few months and his reflections on NATO’s strategic concept.
Jim, thank you very much for your friendship and your service. It’s such an honor to be anywhere with you. Thank you. (Applause.)
ADM. JAMES STAVRIDIS: Well, good evening, everybody and first of all, Madame Secretary, thank you so much for a far-too-kind introduction. I appreciate it greatly.
I was struck by our host, Fred Kempe, when he said that among the SACEURs, we have the most distinguished and the most challenged officers. (Laughter.) I must say, I’m thinking Joe Ralston is the most distinguished and I’m the most challenged. (Laughter.) I know I’m at least the most height-challenged, since by standing on this podium I’m now almost as tall as Fred Kempe.
Thank you all for coming out tonight to discuss this alliance and to discuss as well Madeleine Albright’s, I believe, superb report, which is going to serve as the foundation piece for the new strategic concept, which I believe we need. I will talk – and I’m going to use just a couple of images up here to try and communicate a sense of reaction, if you will, to this document, which again, I have found to be what the alliance needs at this moment.
So if I could, first image?
It’s a bridge. Little bit tough to see from the back there. It’s a very famous bridge in Europe and some of you may recognize it. It is the bridge over the Drina – it is in Bosnia. It is of course the subject of the novel “The Bridge on the Drina,” by Ivo Andric, the Nobel Prize laureate.
I put it there because I believe NATO is a bridge. This alliance most obviously is a geographic bridge that connects the North American partners and the European partners. Secondly, it’s a bridge in culture, much as the bridge over the Drina was, where we saw, sadly, a collision of cultures between the Ottomans and the Serbians.
But NATO of today is a bridge that connects cultures – 28 cultures to begin with, within the alliance but many more in the form of partnership, which I believe is one of the striking elements in the report that we have just received.
Thirdly, the alliance is a bridge in time. It connects a Cold War past to the present and leads us into the 21st century. I believe that Dr. Albright’s report does that extremely well. Next, please.
Let me begin, as I often do when I talk about the alliance, with the money, in the sense that we are all feeling budget pressures in our militaries, in our nations. We face economic, financial concerns. But let us not forget, this is an extraordinarily rich alliance. The GDP of the European side, if you will, European Union – not an exact match for NATO but close – almost $15 trillion; the United States, over 14 trillion. If you break out the NATO nations, the combined resources of NATO, the 28 nations: $31 trillion.
We have well over 2 million men and women under arms today, most of them volunteers. We have the resources to conduct the level of operations we are doing and I would argue we have as well capacity to move forward and to execute what we see in the report that was presented to us over the last couple of days. Next, please.
Let me address something that frequently comes up in my conversations, which goes like this: “Admiral, you know, when NATO started, it had just 12 nations and then it’s expanded and it’s gotten larger and larger – now we have 28 nations. It’s getting to be a pretty big table.” That’s normally conveyed to me in kind of a pejorative way, like, boy, isn’t it hard to get decisions through?
Well, it’s challenging. But as we look at what the alliance is executing, today we have 130,000 soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines on missions on three different continents. Those are hard decisions. They’ve all been made at that table with 28 member states and I would argue that we’ve done – we the alliance have done a good job of having the strength of 28 together.
As I look at the report, I think it strikes a nice balance in thinking about how we can use all of the cultural, linguistic, military, economic, political strengths of 28 nations. It also underlines the open door policy, which I think is important.
So it’s a big table. I sit and brief at it frequently – I always enjoy it. I learn a lot in every briefing and I believe that is one of the strengths of this alliance.
So if I can sort of conclude an opening segment, it would be merely to say, when we talk about this alliance, we should recognize the wealth of it, the reach of it, the power of it. No nation has ever attacked a NATO nation. Perhaps more importantly, when we think about the reason NATO was created, no NATO nation has ever attacked another NATO nation.
This is, by anyone’s definition, the most successful alliance in history, in my view. So that’s kind of the good news. Now let’s talk about some challenges that we face, which I think were underlined very well in the report, with some prescriptive ideas that should be debated as we go forward to conclude the strategic concept in the fall. Next, please.
Let me talk about what I think is a fundamental tension in Dr. Albright’s report and I think the report hits it just right. It’s between Article 5 – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, an attack on one shall be regarded as an attack on all – and – next, please – operations that move outside of the sphere of NATO, the immediate sphere of NATO.
I think the report gets it just about right in establishing a balance. My evidence for my belief that the report gets it about right is to read you three headlines that have come out since the report was issued. To the journalists in the audience, I think this says a lot about the profession of journalism as well.
First headline: “NATO Must Be Ready to Intervene Anywhere.” That’s the first headline on the report, “NATO Must Be Ready to Intervene Anywhere.” Second headline: “NATO Is Told to Focus on Collective Security; Alliance’s Future Depends on Reemphasizing Self-Defense.” Second headline – that fundamental tension. Third headline: “NATO Experts Recommend Balance Between Global Challenges, Local Concerns.”
I think that’s the debate we’re going to have over the next six months. I think that’s the tension in the report. But I believe if you read the report carefully, you will find, in my view, it strikes that balance correctly, which is to say, the first slide I showed you was Article 5. That’s the bedrock.
These kind of operations will be case-by-case, decided at that table of 28 nations. But we will have to undertake missions like this because threats today know no boundaries. So that fundamental tension, I think, is well addressed in the report. Next, please.
Let me talk about some other challenges that Madeleine Albright’s report addresses. One is our partnership with Russia. I think the report has a very clear-eyed view of that.
This of course is the imperial symbol of the Romanovs. It is embedded in the Russian Federation flag today. It is a two-headed eagle and I believe that, as we look at Russia today, there are two views of Russia within the alliance.
Therefore within the alliance, we must provide reassurance for those member states who have concern about security. On the other hand, we must as well continue to have a dialogue and find zones of cooperation with Russia.
I believe that zones of cooperation with Russia are many. I would say that we could look for cooperation as we have with arms control; we could look for cooperation in counter-piracy and counterterrorism. I believe in missile defense is a very rich field of potential cooperation with Russia; I believe in Afghanistan we can find zones of cooperation with Russia. So I think overall there are many places that we can move forward in a cooperative environment with Russia.
I know Sec.-Gen. Rasmussen has addressed this many times. He has visited Moscow; the chairman of the Military Committee will be going there; I hope to visit myself. We look for cooperation; we look to provide reassurance but at the same time to work with a partner and that is Russia. Next, please.
Cyber: I think that Secretary Albright’s paper hits this exactly right. We must, as an alliance, begin to think coherently about cyber. We find here the flags of four states that have been involved in cyber intrusions. I think it’s important that as an alliance, we being to come to grips with what is a cyber attack.
We need centers that can focus on it; we need procedures to provide defensive means in this world of cyber. I think the report correctly highlights this as an area of focus and challenge in the time ahead. Next, please.
A sad picture: This is from Moscow. I put it there as a symbol of terrorism. There were over 400 terrorist attacks in Europe last year. This countering terrorism is not a direct mission for the military or for NATO, but there are support functions that we can accomplish in support of law enforcement as it seeks to deal with terrorism. I believe the report nuances that properly. Next, please.
Piracy: I look at piracy as an example, if you will, a laboratory of security in this 21st century. It’s a complex issue. It knows no borders; it’s a chaotic function. Today, the leading agency addressing piracy off the coast of Africa, in my view, is the European Union and that’s fine.
NATO is there, in my view, with a complementary operation. We have less ships, we are engaged elsewhere in other missions. The European Union has the lead – I think that’s a very comfortable situation.
As the report says, NATO does not always have to be the lead agency in everything in any security dimension. And piracy is a good example of that. Alongside NATO and the European Union, we see individual state actors – Russia, China, India, the Gulf states; we see a coalition loosely led by the United States from the Persian Gulf. All of these entities working together, coordinating their efforts in a complementary way. That’s an extremely effective model for this particular problem, which I believe is an exemplar of 21st century security challenges. Next, please.
Long-range ballistic missiles: also addressed in the report. This, of course, is an Iranian Sajjil. Has a range of about 1300 miles. It can reach from Iran to several of the capitals in Europe. This is a challenge, in my view, that requires missile defense. The United States is moving forward on a missile defense system called the Phased, Adaptive Approach.
I think part of the dialogue with NATO through this fall into the summit will be the degree to which NATO wants to cooperate and be part of that. As the supreme allied commander, as a military leader, as the military operations leader in the alliance, I will be recommending that we move forward to do that. I think it’s the right thing for the alliance. I believe the report endorses that, recommends this be a central topic of discussion and it is a fundamental, in my view, challenge facing the alliance coming forward as this year unfolds. Next, please.
And lastly, we should remember we have a challenge in that not everybody supports NATO. There are plenty of folks carrying signs like that – this was taken at the NATO summit last year, the 60th anniversary of NATO: “NATO Equals Legal Terrorism.”
The reason protestors want to carry a sign like that, in my view, is because we have failed – we, NATO, have failed – to correctly communicate who we are, why we exist and what we do. And in particular, we are failing to communicate it sufficiently in younger generations. So I think we need to do a better job of that. And that is also addressed, I believe, in Dr. Albright’s report. Next, please.
So let me quickly step through some ideas. I’ve shown you an alliance that I think is strong and capable. I’ve tried to show you some challenges facing the alliance. I think I’ve tried to communicate what I felt jumped out at the report in terms of the challenges.
Let me address, if I may, just a couple of ideas. And if I could summarize them, I would say that we’re very good at launching missiles. We need get better at launching ideas. And let me try and unpackage that in the context of NATO, the report and where we’re going. Next, please.
I think we need to provide reassurance to allies. We’ve talked about that. Next, please.
I think we need to focus on a comprehensive approach. This, of course, is Afghanistan, which is a challenge for the alliance today. And I think fundamental to succeeding in Afghanistan and taking the lessons learned from Afghanistan, which the report addresses very well, is the idea connoted by this particular graphic, that of the comprehensive approach: the United Nations, the World Bank, aid organizations, private sector entities.
On the far right side, Ambassador Mark Sedwell of Great Britain. He is Stan McChrystal’s civilian partner; he’s the representative of the secretary-general. Together, Gen. McChrystal and Ambassador Sedwell represent this comprehensive approach, this connection of civil and military.
On the right, relatively newly reported United Nations representative Ambassador di Mistura. He is a remarkable diplomat. He speaks seven languages fluently. His name would imply that he’s Italian. He’s actually Swedish. This is Europe today. He is extraordinarily capable and is working very hard on the political side of the comprehensive approach with President Karzai’s government.
So I believe a big part of our future, part of our ideas set, is this comprehensive approach, and that is, again, central to the report. Next, please.
In Afghanistan, there is something that I think is fundamental to whether we will succeed or not. And it is in this graphic. What is the most important thing in this picture? And it’s not the melons back here; it’s not the fruit. And it’s not those smiling faces; it’s not the security back here. It’s what this gentleman is holding in his hand. It’s a small radio. This is communications.
This is strategic communications inside Afghanistan. This is convincing the people of Afghanistan that we are putting them at the center of gravity; that we seek to protect them. We need to communicate that; we need to tell them that.
We are handing out these radios all over Afghanistan. It is part of our strategic communications in order to tell the story of NATO within Afghanistan. Equally, we must do this function of strategic communication in the capitals of the alliance as well. Next, please.
Resources: On the right side is an insurance policy. On the left side is 2 percent. This is an area in which I think the alliance should focus more on trying to hit the goal of 2 percent because that is our insurance policy.
If we all think about the money we spend in our own lives on the insurance on our car and our house and our life, 2 percent is not so unreasonable. It is a minimum target. Very few of our NATO nations are meeting it. It is, in my view, an area in which a level of resources that needs to be devoted to fundamental security. It is mentioned in the report. I would draw a line under it. Next, please.
Again, I mentioned earlier that I think one of the real punch points in the report is the idea of partnership. And of course we have partners in the immediate vicinity of Europe. And then we have partners kind of in a ring around those partners, the Mediterranean dialogue, the Istanbul cooperative, our traditional PFP partners, of course. But we are gathering partners further afield.
This, of course, is the flag of Australia. In a kind of a supreme allied commander moment, as I was flying to Australia to discuss the fight in Afghanistan with the Australian leadership, I was awoken to the awful news of the death of my good friend, Franciszek Gągor, the CHOD of Poland.
And it really speaks to the whole partnership moment. Australia has more forces in Afghanistan today than about half of the NATO nations. Australia is a superb partner. We will find partners who come for different operations and there is real value in expanding this circle of partnership. Now, partnership is not membership. But a connection, a global connection of partners, much as we seek to expand around the periphery of Europe, I think is well worth exploring. Next, please.
And of course, one of our most important partners at NATO is the European Union. And again, I’ve mentioned this already, but I believe the goal would be to have a complementary relationship. And as an operator, as a sailor who goes to sea and is part of these operations, I can put myself – longingly, I can put myself in the shoes of those captains at sea. They are looking for the ability to operate smoothly in a coordinated way with the European Union as well as with other partners. So exploring how we can have the best complementary operations with the European Union, as is mentioned in the report, I think is a very worthy target for the alliance as we move toward 2020 over this decade. Next, please.
With Russia, Russia is a partner and we should think of them that way and we should think, how can we find these zones of cooperation? This photograph was taken last Sunday. It’s part of a contingent of 200 U.S. who broadly march with French and Brits, many others in Red Square, the victory commemoration parade; a very nice moment. We should look for zones of cooperation that are not only symbolic like this but also substantive and think about how we can further those because finding cooperation with Russia, in my view, is an important part of the mission of the alliance going forward. Next, please.
Missile defense: This photograph is deliberately a little ambiguous. It’s actually taken from a ship firing a ballistic missile-defense missile, a standard missile. That same system on ships will be deployed in 2011 around the periphery of Europe to create the beginnings of the Phased, Adaptive Approach missile defense system. The concept is the United States will then transition it ashore and it will be placed in nations in Europe and be part of an overall network of missile defense sites.
We are open to the idea of cooperation with Russia and very open to the idea of this becoming a NATO effort. So I believe that will be part of the dialogue moving forward over the next couple years. Next, please.
Technology: We are exploring all kinds of new technologies in the alliance. This idea of pooling and sharing our technological ideas I believe is very much part of the 20/20 approach for the alliance. This is a Slovakian system called Raylen (ph) that detects the human biosphere in enclosed containers and on borders. Next, please.
Let me introduce you to a couple of Greeks. I’m Greek-American; this is – on the right is Tantalus, the legendary figure from Greek mythology who was bound in Hades and told to – he was thirsty and bent over to drink and the water went away from him; he was hungry and reached for an apple and the wind would blow the apple away. On the left, of course, is Sisyphus, rolling the boulder up the hill.
This is NATO reform. (Laughter.) We will succeed at this. Our new secretary-general is seized with this; the nations want this. We must bring efficiency into NATO and there are things we can do in terms of restructuring staffs, reducing numbers of flags and general officers, moving headquarters to make the organization more efficient. NATO reform, also in Madeleine’s excellent paper. Next, please.
Communicating. Trick question: What’s the third largest nation in the world after China and India? It’s the Facebook nation – 430 million people on Facebook. I’m on Facebook – friend me! I need friends. This is the network of social networking sites around the globe, Facebook being the largest but they connect an enormous number of people through these central networks. We need to use this to communicate about NATO.
I’ll give you a quick example. I gave a speech at RUSI in London and in the course of it, I talked about the importance of social networking and at one point I said, I’m on Facebook – friend me. A reporter wrote a story – AP reporter – and the headline was, “NATO Admiral Needs Friends.” (Laughter.) It was a stringer; it got picked up in exactly two countries – not exactly a burning story, “NATO Admiral Needs Friends.”
Picked up in two countries, Finland and Indonesia. The next day, I had 150 friend requests in Finland and 80 in Indonesia. They basically said, Admiral, I heard you need friends. What is NATO? (Laughter.)
Now, we laugh. We should laugh. But we should recognize the power in that, the ability to communicate what this organization is about because we do stand for the right things. We need to do a better job of communicating. Next, please.
So let me conclude with three slides. I’ve talked a lot tonight about soft power and comprehensive approach and civil-military, Facebook, social networking. Let us not forget – and I would not want anyone to leave tonight with the misimpression that NATO is not a military alliance that is perfectly capable of conducting combat operations. We do that all the time. It’s who we are.
But – next slide – I would argue that the future of security in this 21st century is not an on-and-off switch between hard power and soft power, between combat and peace. It’s a rheostat: You’ve got to kind of dial it in.
That dial runs from pure hard power to pure soft power and in between is where we will find ourselves more often than not in this turbulent 21st century. That is smart power and I believe that that is the comprehensive approach. Properly applied, that is the output and that is where I think we need to go. Next slide – last slide.
So Wikipedia: We all know Wikipedia; we use it, love it, use it 20 times a day. It’s all about input, right? Wikipedia is not three geniuses creating an encyclopedia – it’s millions of people; it’s all of us inputting into Wikipedia and then we all get to go in and tap out and get that information. It’s a process of information in, information out. It’s powerful.
I put Article 4 on top of it. I started tonight by talking about Article 5. In the end, the real power in NATO in this 21st century may be vested in Article 4. It is that ability to consult, to bring 28 nations, to bring many partners together to create a forum to confront crisis and manage crisis so that we don’t end up with the dial thrown over to hard power, so we find a place in the middle.
We should think of ourselves a bit like a Wikipedia, applying Article 4, inputting, talking, explaining, facing crisis and hopefully solving crisis before it takes us to combat.
Thank you very much. It’s been great talking to you. I appreciate it. (Applause.)
MR. KEMPE: That was just brilliant. That was terrific.
MS. ALBRIGHT: Absolutely.
MR. KEMPE: Admiral, that was wonderful and Madame Secretary –
Let me pick up on a couple of things and then we’ll go to the audience. Let’s start with Russia. You talked about how there are two views of Russia within the alliance. I would turn that and say it’s part of the problem that there is just one view of the alliance within Russia.
If not – actually, a question for each of you – what is the status of military cooperation with Russia? Has one seen a move at all with the reset button and the START agreement?
And then, Madame Secretary, for you, the reaction to the experts’ report wasn’t as I would have wanted it to be from the Russians. Are you disappointed with that? How do you gauge your consultations in Russia? What did you measure as their attitude toward NATO?
ADM. STAVRIDIS: I would start from the operational perspective and say cooperation with the Russians today is obviously vastly better than it was two years ago in the immediate aftermath of the conflict between Russia and Georgia. We’re just starting to, I would argue, kind of crack open the door to cooperation that is pragmatic and has effects.
I think piracy would the first example I would give you. Recently we saw an excellent operation by the Russian military where they took down a tanker that had been pirated. In doing so, they were part of a network of this piracy operation. So they’re out there with us, operating alongside us in what I would call a complementary way.
Additionally, we are exploring the idea of exchanges to discuss everything from noncommissioned officer training to lessons learned in Afghanistan. I think we’ll see that come to fruition this year.
A third example I would give is, we are in a dialogue proposed by the secretary-general for cooperation in Afghanistan, particularly in maintenance and supply of helicopters. As we all know, the Mi-17 is the backbone of the Afghan military rotary-wing, so there’s opportunity there for real cooperation.
So I would say we are starting to see cooperation. I’m hopeful in all of those areas that that will grow and then I would add to it, as I’ve mentioned in the presentation, the possibility of cooperation in the zone of missile defense as well. So there’s a little bit of – (inaudible, cross talk).
MR. KEMPE: Some positive sides?
ADM. STAVRIDIS: Absolutely.
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, it’s very interesting. First of all, we did not want to have the issue of NATO relationship be the central aspect of our report. I had said I didn’t want the tail to wag the dog. We clearly wanted to have a very close look at what the relationship with Russia would be and we did put it in the section on partnerships, saying that it was an absolutely crucial partnership.
What was interesting: We did go to Russia. When you ask whether the views are monolithic, they’re not. I think that we had really good meetings with the think tankers and academicians – wide variety of views that really provided good discussion. I also spoke at Moscow State University, where the next generation – it was very interesting.
The official meetings were pretty tough; there’s no question about that. I think, from their perspective, they refuse to see a different NATO. They, for whatever their own reasons are – we can speculate on that – they basically are seeing a NATO that was set up against them. Part of the thing that was interesting was that their military doctrine came out just about the time that we got there. There were those who thought it was done on purpose. Somebody said to me, we should be so good. (Laughter.)
But the bottom line is that they, in some ways – the impression I got – need somebody to be against. Now, where we thought – and this goes to a point that you both made earlier – is they’re within the alliance and I think that we did this fairly elegantly, if I do say so myself, in terms of saying that given the different historical and geographical experiences of the members, they had a somewhat different view about Russia.
But they did not have a different view in terms of engaging with Russia. So we decided that what we needed to do was kind of say, we want to cooperate on all the points that the admiral made and I think the biggest point, frankly, is the missile defense cooperation.
So I think it’s going to take a while to figure this out. I think that there is a coterie in Russia who does want to be against NATO and then there are those who are more forward-looking, that are looking at this outstretched hand. NATO Russia Council we thought needed to really be reactivated. There are a number of different meetings already set up. So I think that this is an avenue that’s going to be really interesting.
In response to the fact that we didn’t want the tail wagging the dog, the Russians put out a statement that said that the chicken has to learn from the egg. I thought, where did that come from? And I just read it in “War and Peace.”
MR. KEMPE: It’s all there.
MS. ALBRIGHT: It’s all there. (Laughter.)
MR. KEMPE: Or “Crime and Punishment.”
A couple of your slides spoke to resources – the 2 percent slide. Underlying some of the slides was political will. Nothing happens in a vacuum. We’re in the middle of a euro crisis; we’re in the middle of a Greek financial crisis. That’s got to affect resources, perhaps make it even harder for the 2 percent.
How do you see that this crisis has shifted the atmosphere for NATO and for, potentially, the strategic concept, from your standpoint?
And then the second part of this is you were going around and – you said “peddle” – peddling the new concept. But doing what one should do in the alliance is going out and taking it to the public, which I think is one of the best parts of this – what this experts group has done. What feeling do you get of political will?
Our former chairman of the Atlantic Council, Gen. Jones, used to tell us ad nauseum in the Atlantic Council that vision without resources is hallucination, or vision without political will is as well. So a resource question, political will question.
ADM. STAVRIDIS: As I move around the alliance, Fred, certainly there is a great deal of conversation about the impact of the current financial situation in Europe and, let’s face it, as there is here in the United States, although I think macro – again, I really go back to the wealth and the resources of the alliance are extraordinary.
And let’s face it, even if your economy is shrinking, fair enough, that’s hard on everybody, but 2 percent is still 2 percent. You know, it’s not like a set figure of 85 billion and we still ask you to meet that; 2 percent remains 2 percent. If your economy contracts, I think 2 percent I still a pretty reasonable target of a contracted economy.
Having said that, the nations in the alliance are aware of and discussing it. We are seeing some of the militaries seeing contractions in everything from military pay to procurement programs to operations. And each nation obviously does that differently, makes sovereign decisions about how they should reallocate resources to meet the situation.
One thing I will say consistently is that every nation has said to me that their top operational priority will continue to be Afghanistan and that will continue to be supported operationally and we appreciate that because Afghanistan is in fact the top operational priority for the alliance.
So aware of the contraction, individual nations balancing between procurement and personnel and operations, remaining to focus on Afghanistan as a top priority and, again, I would make that pitch for that 2 percent. Regardless of how the economy is contracting or not, 2 percent is still a percentage.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you.
MS. ALBRIGHT: I think what’s interesting is that the secretary-general and I did a number of interviews together in the last couple of days over in Brussels. And he frames this very well in terms of saying, yes, there’s a financial crisis, but there are various issues in terms of security and stability and contributing to NATO is part of the kind of security and stability that countries need during a financial crisis. So he is really trying to turn it around. I’m sure you’ll talk to him about this. And I thought it was a very interesting way of framing it as part of the stability.
On the political will, let me just generally say what I think has been so interesting about this. This has been the most transparent process in putting together strategic concept ever. And it is something that the heads of state wanted and that the secretary-general wanted. And so we have – and being very much aware that we’re dealing with a new generation and the political will of – having not only these seminars but all – we had consultations in every one of the 28 countries. We all spoke to various young groups and parliamentarians and did interviews and did all kinds of things in that regard. An awful lot of discussion back and forth in all the modern technology.
Also what I find very interesting is the secretary-general actually wanted this report, which is not the strategic concept. I think we have to make that clear. This is just the building blocks for a strategic concept out publicly six – you know, four months ahead of the time that – I mean, he’s going to begin his consultations now. He’s then going to go through various drafts, not only with the NAC, but he’s going to capitals. And he then is taking it to the heads of state in November.
And meanwhile, this thing is floating around. We are having lots of conversations and kind of talking about what it is that people will get out of NATO. So I’m very proud of the number – thousands of people have been contacted in some form or another that are part of this discussion.
But the onus on this does rest on all of us. I think we have to explain why this alliance that was started 60 years ago for a totally different reason is something that’s important now. And we determined that we were living in the world’s most unpredictable time and here was this amazing tool that needed to be versatile and agile in this time of unpredictability and that there was a lot of bang for the buck. But we have to keep making that case.
MR. KEMPE: That sounds right. Questions please. Norm (sp).
ADM. STAVRIDIS: Admiral, how are you sir?
MR. KEMPE: I’m sorry to go to a Navy person first. (Laughter.)
Q: We didn’t exchange the secret handshake. (Laughter.) Is this on?
MR. KEMPE: Yeah.
Q: I wanted to ask you about common funding. Talked about the 2 percent. But common funding is sort of an inside-the-building problem. You had a big problem, it came to a big crunch, I thought you played it cleverly if I may say, but at the end of the day, when we got some more money, I’m wondering, did you get enough to do what you need to do in Afghanistan? And are we able to pace the missile defense with the phased adaptive approach with the amount of money we got?
ADM. STAVRIDIS: First of all, the secretary-general in whose remit, to use a NATO term, in whose remit these kind of resource decisions lie, is seized with the idea of doing all of the procurement, the budgeting, the approach, everything from the NSIP funds to the operational funds, just doing it much more efficiently and I think you’ll hear a great deal more as the summer unfolds, Admiral, from the secretary-general and his staff who are looking at this issue of more efficient systems for intaking and outputting funds.
So with that as a macro, to answer your questions, yes, we are sufficiently resourced in Afghanistan and on missile defense, that will be a discrete set of decisions that the alliance will have to take as we go forward into the fall. So stay tuned on missile defense; we’re okay on Afghanistan.
MS. ALBRIGHT: Can I also say, we are advocating common funding, some common procurement, streamlining, a variety of ways to try to get at this. And one of the things that we did: We couldn’t give detailed instructions on things, but I think the way that we set the report up provides kind of a platform or guidelines that the SG can take up with his authority to try to move this forward.
MR. KEMPE: Can you drill just a little bit deeper on missile defense, since it’s in some ways a litmus test and you’ve raised it in your slides? You called it by the group – (inaudible) – an essential military mission. What do you see the main obstacles standing in the way of NATO making it thus in Lisbon? And then I would also say from your standpoint, what is your biggest obstacle in turning the phase adaptive approach of the Obama administration into a broader NATO missile defense capability?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, clearly, it has been a subject of some debate as to originally whether it should have been a unilateral U.S. action, should it have been a NATO decision initially in the previous years. What I think is interesting is we – obviously, NATO is an alliance that has a deterrence. That’s what it’s about.
Secretary Clinton gave a very important speech to the assembled groups before we went into our fourth seminar in which she really focused on the deterrent aspect of missile defense. And it is really central in terms of, you know, there’s the nuclear deterrent and then the missile defense as itself. And I think that we see it as a crucial aspect of what the problems are going to be in the 21st century – nuclear proliferation.
It also is important and one of the reasons – I mean, obviously it makes sense to deal with the Russians on this, but it is also is a proof that it’s not against them. That is part of the psychological or the political aspect of it. I think the problems are probably in – the devil is in the details – (chuckles) – in that they’re going to be complex talks in terms of how the offensive, defensive issues work, the tactical, all kinds of issues.
But I think that the reason – we actually put it down as a mission now of NATO to figure it out. And that if we’re looking at not tomorrow, but this is a strategic concept for the next decade, that this is going to be the issue that needs to be worked on. It clearly will be a huge discussion for the defense ministers for everything that Adm. Stavridis does, everything. But I think that it’s a very important step forward.
ADM. STAVRIDIS: I wouldn’t try to put a finger on a single challenge. I think there will be a series of things that we’ll have to come together and work on. I’ll mention a couple: One is certainly resources. This is not an inexpensive program, although, again, I believe the resources are certainly there to meet the requirements, particularly if we share them reasonably among 28 nations.
I think C2, command and control, deciding exactly how to structure that, where will be the release point, where are the warning structures, how do we knit that together, what does that structure look like, who is in charge of it precisely – that will be a basket of challenges we’ll need to work through.
And then thirdly, I think technology will be a challenge. I mean, this is very complex stuff and we’ve got to – let’s say the backbone of it is going to be the aegis system coming ashore certainly a part of it. As an example, that would be a system that would have to understand how to take it off a ship and bring it ashore. That’s a technical challenge.
So we’ll be counting on industry, like Secretary O’Keefe here representing his firm and many others. And thank you to all of those in the industry for taking on these technical challenges. We will try and work out the command and control arrangements and up to the nations to decide whether the resources will be there or not and that will be a political calculus. So I think it will be a basket of challenges, none of which do I believe are insurmountable.
Thank you. Harlan.
Q: I’m Harlan Ullman. First, it’s a pleasure to listen to such articulate spokespersons, dare I say experts. A question for Secretary Albright and a question for Adm. Stavridis. Madeleine, as you know, I’ve been pestering you since this process began in July.
MS. ALBRIGHT: I was going to say that. (Laughter.)
Q: To answer the question whether or not NATO is relevant or it’s a relic. To what degree, though, do you think that public support is really important or are we at a stage that governments are going to do what they want and the public is perhaps less important? And Jim, your fascinating brief, you talked about ideas. I don’t think we’re going to make 2 percent. Could you share your ideas, what happens when the budget really gets tough and what we might do as the alternative?
MS. ALBRIGHT: I think that the onus is on us to prove the relevance. And I think that one of the things that we did try to do was to kind of balance the assured security with dynamic engagement and to explain that the issues that are out there that are going to hit in the 21st century will require partners and cooperation, that these are not issues that the United States or any one of the countries can do alone. And I think that the younger generation, I think people begin to see more and more of the global threats.
Now, the question is whether NATO is the right instrument for that. And one of the things that we did, when we had our first seminar, we put all the horrors of the world on the table and thought NATO could do everything. And then somebody had a terrific image. They said, it’s kind of like a Swiss army knife: If you pull out all the things you can’t even pick it up. (Laughter.)
So you have to figure out, you know, which are the ones that work and what NATO can really do. And I think we can’t over-promise. So I think we – one of the things we’re doing is at least setting it up for the secretary-general and the heads to come down with what really does make it relevant.
I happen to believe that it does need public support. One of the things about NATO is they – an alliance of democracies. And I think that having that public support is important, especially if you’re sending troops somewhere because there shouldn’t be a disconnect between doing that and the people. And then, of course, the resources. So I do think that we have to use the new communications network to try to keep explaining the relevance. It’s hard to get it into 26 characters or whatever – (laughter) – but I think that basically –
MR. : One hundred thirty-four.
MS. ALBRIGHT: – we do need to try to figure out how to get that message that we will continue to protect the territorial – the countries within NATO itself, but to understand that nuclear proliferation or pirates or drugs or cyber is something that affects everybody and that we need everybody’s help. And the big deal for me, one of the newer things here was these partnership – you talked about it Jim. And I think it’s a really important innovation.
ADM. STAVRIDIS: I do too. If I could pick up just a thread of that, I would say relic or relevant, it seems to me one could argue about whether NATO ought to do X, Y or Z, but the fact is, NATO is out there doing A, B, C, D, E, F and G. The Afghanistan, the Balkans, counterpiracy, air policing, Mediterranean, counterterrorism – you know, the list is really out there.
I think relevant or relic might be a question if NATO was still camped in Europe waiting to defend the borders. But we’re anything but that. And to me, it’s virtually self-evident that it’s relevant simply by virtue of 130,000 troops conducting operations. Again, we could argue about whether we ought to be there or not, but I would say, in the macro, NATO is a force for good in the world.
And I’d put exhibit A as the Balkans. If we look back on, for example, Srebrenica 15 years ago when 8,000 men and boys were massacred, NATO has been part of a process in the Balkans that has moved us forward and I would say, prima facie, is extremely relevant in sorting out a region of the world that has been a disaster for centuries and today is not perfect but is moving in the right direction. And I’m reducing troops there from 15,000 to 10,000 to probably 5,000 later this year. So I think the arguments for relevancy are right there in front of us by and large.
In terms of your excellent question on the 2 percent, if we don’t meet it, I think that the way we need to attack it then is we need to make hard decisions. We need to prioritize and therefore, we’re going to need to contract the command structure; we’re going to need reduce overhead structures in Brussels; we’re going to need to find savings on the administrative side; we’re going to need to pick and choose between operations we conduct.
Like any other organization, if you have less resources, you have to make intelligent, prioritized decisions. There’s no rocket scientist there; you know that, Harlan. But I think that your question seeks to illuminate the hard road ahead. And I agree there will be challenges ahead completely.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you. Question.
Q: Adam Segal. Admiral –
ADM. STAVRIDIS: Hi Adam.
Q: – and Secretary – (inaudible) – to change the gears a little bit to something that wasn’t discussed but is central to think about the – now it’s central to the discussion of your service, which appeared in the QDR for the first time. What is your vision for the future of NATO’s engagement on energy, both internally for the forces and externally as energy security, also climate change – thinking about Adm. Cullom’s and Adm. Titley’s work in the Navy itself?
MR. KEMPE: Thank you for the question. Sadly, we’re running out of time, so I’m going to pile on with a final question here as well. And that is, we haven’t talked much about Afghanistan. And some people have actually said that your report in general didn’t talk much about Afghanistan given the importance – certainly between the lines and in many parts of it it did.
But I’d like to put the question a little bit of a different way, which is, if you go back to 1999, last strategic concept, it was at the heart of, I think, the 50th anniversary summit for NATO and Kosovo informed what happened there and the mood there enormously. And so whatever you do on the strategic concept – political will, everything – could be very much influenced by where we are in Afghanistan and how things are progressing by the time of the Lisbon summit – yes or no?
In other words, how much is Afghanistan going to have an influence on the future of NATO? And why don’t I turn to you first and then you can take both of your questions – (inaudible, cross talk).
MS. ALBRIGHT: Can I do a little bit on the energy thing?
MR. KEMPE: Absolutely.
MS. ALBRIGHT: Because that definitely came up. And when we started, people said, well, energy has to be one of the really big things to do – energy security. And it’s one of the things – what was very interesting, the vice chair of this group of experts was Jeroen van der Veer, who had been the chairman of Royal Dutch Shell. So it was interesting to have a private sector person also that had to deal with some of the real problems.
The issue that we decided was that there – you have to cut the energy thing into a number of different segments. If in fact it’s an issue of countries – one country pressuring another by turning off valves and doing various things, in some ways that was an EU activity, that there were many diplomatic aspects that they were the best at handling it. If there were a specific attack on a rig or on a ship then that was potentially a military activity.
In terms of the high north, there were those who said that should be handled by the nations. And we did get into it in a way that I think subdivided it a little bit – at least that was the answer that the experts kind of saw energy security as an issue, but did see that it could be handled through a variety of partnerships. You may or may not agree with that.
ADM. STAVRIDIS: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I do.
MS. ALBRIGHT: On Afghanistan, let me just say this: We deliberately did what we did, which is: Our strategic concept is for the next decade; it is not for the next year. And there clearly are issues about Afghanistan that are very complicated. We talked about whether Afghanistan was a test or a mission or – what we decided to do was to take Afghanistan as a lesson.
And so in our second seminar where we kind of looked at what was going on in various – we looked at the Balkans – we looked at what came out of this. And the issue of comprehensive approach is one of the biggest lessons out of Afghanistan – that you can’t just do military; you have to do civilian. And so one of the things that we did – there’s a section in the report about – and also how Afghanistan happened: NATO activates Article 5; there’s kind of a lethargic response to that. And there isn’t really planning.
You talked about Australia. I happened to be in – have been there on some other business. And I spoke to the leadership there and they said, well, we’re happy to help in Afghanistan. It would have been nice if we’d known what we were going to do in the first place. (Laughter.)
So the bottom line is, is that we talked about planning, that there had to be planning, there had to be a way of thinking in terms of future, if there were going to be operations like this. So we deliberately did not let ourselves get wrapped around the axle on current Afghanistan and really focused on what the lessons were out of it. And I hope that as this is a strategic concept for a longer period that that will come out of it.
MR. KEMPE: And if things aren’t going so well at the time of the Lisbon summit?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that people have to look at it. It’s obviously a huge mission issue and they will have to assess it. And it will have an influence. I mean, everybody operates in a real world. But I happen to believe that NATO is much more than Afghanistan and that if you’re looking at a long-term concept, you have to draw what the issues are out of it and then bring that to the table.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you.
ADM. STAVRIDIS: Well, first, I want to recognize that one of my distinguished predecessors has slipped into the room. And we have former SACEUR, George Joulwan here. Sir, thank you for your kindness and your mentorship over the years.
MR. : (Off mike.)
ADM. STAVRIDIS: Sir. I think Madame Secretary really has answered both questions perfectly. I’ll simply endorse her view that NATO will be here long after the Afghan mission. And I believe that it is an enduring alliance. And I believe as well that we will succeed in Afghanistan, but I do not believe that Afghanistan is a go, no go or a litmus test for NATO.
I think the alliance has a wide range of issues which hopefully we’ve illuminated tonight – from the Balkans to relationships with Russia and other important actors around Europe to a web of partnerships around the world, a real role to play in complementary operations with the European Union, counterpiracy, support to counternarcotics. Afghanistan is our top mission priority at the moment, but we are undertaking many other missions, as I hope we have shown tonight. And I believe the alliance will continue to adapt and be an effective actor in a global world.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you for that. Madame Secretary, let me first of all thank you on behalf of the Atlantic Council and the audience. It’s an honor to have you here. The report is excellent. Thank you for your continued service. And thank you for introducing Adm. Stavridis.
This was a thought-provoking, intelligent presentation. You see the questions that it generated. People could sit here for a long time to come to ask very many more questions. Sadly, we don’t have that freedom this evening. But I want to thank you as well for an absolutely riveting evening. Thank you.
ADM. STAVRIDIS: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thanks for inviting me. (Applause.) Thank you.