THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL OF THE UNITED STATES
THE LISBON SUMMIT AND NATO:
REVITALIZATION OR RETRENCHMENT
WELCOME AND MODERATOR:
VICE PRESIDENT, DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY,
EISENHOWER PROFESSOR OF DEFENCE STRATEGY,
NETHERLANDS DEFENCE ACADEMY
FORMER MINISTER OF DEFENSE,
REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA
FORMER U.S. AMBASSDOR,
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2010
Federal News Service
DAMON WILSON: Good morning, everyone. My name is Damon Wilson. I’m vice president and director of the International Security Program here at the Atlantic Council. Thanks for joining us today for our discussion on the Lisbon Summit. We’re only a few weeks out from the Lisbon Summit.
So we thought we would try to take advantage of the fact that we have so many members of our Strategic Advisors Group with us today to have a real discussion and debate about where we’re headed and the prospects for the upcoming Lisbon Summit. We’ve called today’s discussion “Revitalization or Retrenchment in the Alliance”.
And so I hope we can have a healthy, vibrant discussion and debate. And knowing my colleagues on the stage today I think we will. This event is part of our, actually, draw down and concluding – a series of concluding events related to the Strategic Advisors Group STRATCON 2010 project, which we kicked off last September when the SAG co-founder, Gen. Brent Scowcroft, challenged this body to use the next year to answer the seminal question: What is NATO for today?
The Atlantic Council has been hard at work trying to answer this question with the Strategic Advisors Group using the NATO forum, NATO source and the Strategic Advisors Group itself to elevate the debate – the trans-Atlantic debate about the future of our trans-Atlantic alliance.
With the NATO forum, we’ve used that as a platform to feature important remarks from speakers across the trans-Atlantic area including Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Senator Richard Lugar and others to offer leaders in the region an attempt to make important statements about the future of NATO. The council also launched the blog NATOSource, partnering with Jorge Benitez. Our senior fellow is here today to provide on our website daily analysis and news alerts about what’s happening in the alliance and the broader alliance community.
And finally, the Strategic Advisors Group itself took on the STRATCON 2010 project, ably led by Julian Lindley-French and his colleague Yves Boyer who couldn’t be with us today, who is in Paris. And it produced a series of publications and briefings to help influence the NATO discussion at critical times in the Strategic Concept process, including by having SAG members attend all of the various Group of Experts seminars that led to the creation of the Albright Report.
SAG members have produced a series of issue briefs – which many of you have seen, many of them are still out in the lobby – on topics such as NATO nuclear policy, the meaning of Article 5 in today’s world, NATO initiatives to accompany the Strategic Concept, and how the concept should or should not deal with Afghanistan. The SAG also produced a concept paper in April to outline the broad outlines – issues, missions and tasks the alliance should take on, culminating in a public discussion here at the council with SAG co-chairs Chuck Hagel, Tom Enders, Gen. Scowcroft and lead author here, Julian, himself.
Julian and Yves today have also written with the SAG Strawman Strategic Concept that’s intended to provide a different perspective on what the alliance should actually say in the Strategic Concept that was just circulated at NATO headquarters today, launching the first round of the official debate within the alliance.
So while the Lisbon Summit will be a noteworthy occasion for producing and adopting the Strategic Concept, much more is really on the agenda for the summit. Those of you that have worked NATO or followed NATO over the time understand that that is just a conceptual document, and one that’s quite important, yet the initiatives that are there to back it or not are what help translate the ideas into reality.
We have a bit of a concern that I think we want to try to get out on the table today that there’s a risk that the summit could be remembered more for NATO’s retrenchment, rather than its rejuvenation, particularly if concerns over the ISAF mission in Afghanistan continue to mount, with stories of allies headed for the exits rather than sticking through a training mission; with cuts in European defense budgets looming large against the backdrop of difficult fiscal austerity in the trans-Atlantic area; potential NATO-Russia differences; difficulties emerging whether we have START stuck here on the U.S. domestic side or where the Russians come back to the alliance on issues of missile defense; and when one of the big success stories of Lisbon could actually be the story of downsizing the NATO command structure.
Well, that may be good for some reform purposes. It doesn’t convey the message to the public of a sense of renewed solidarity and rejuvenation within the alliance. So to tackle these issues we’ve got a strong bipartisan and transatlantic panel today to discuss what needs to happen in the following weeks to ensure a quality summit at Lisbon.
This is a terrific team we have with us. On my far right, Julian Lindley-French is the Eisenhower Professor of Defense Strategy at the Netherlands Defense Academy. He’s been a core member of our Strategic Advisors Group here at the Atlantic Council and is one of the most respected thinkers on political-military issues affecting the alliance.
Ambassador Bob Hunter, just next to Julian, who is on the executive board at the Atlantic Council, part of the Strategic Advisors Group as well, most pertinently served as ambassador to NATO – (audio break) – but also had important stints within the U.S. government serving at the National Security Council and has continued to be an outspoken – (audio break) – European issues in Washington, particularly in the NATO cooperation.
Then we have Ambassador Boyko Noev, another member of our Strategic Advisors Group. He’s currently a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy and had an extensive diplomatic career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, culminating in service as ambassador to NATO, but he also served as defense minister within the Bulgarian government.
And finally, Ian Brzezinski, who has joined the Atlantic Council as a senior fellow in the security program, also a member of our Strategic Advisors Group, with tremendous experience on the set of issues, as well, having served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for NATO and European policy during the Bush administration; served for seven years on Capitol Hill with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senator Bill Roth, as well as spent time in Ukraine working on many of these comparable issues.
So with this I want to get our conversation started and I’ll stop talking and get this group of gentlemen arguing amongst yourselves. But Julian, I want to start with you. You’ve been the SAG’s leading force in helping to articulate ideas and thinking about what the alliance should say at Lisbon, both conceptually and in a practical sense in the context of the draft of the Strategic Concept that you’ve written and we’re releasing today.
You’ve placed a significant emphasis within the SAG on the fact that NATO needs to be conscious of its future in an era of austerity, that we need to remember that this is an alliance that needs to be prepared to fight. And you’ve made specific recommendations for reforms for efficiencies and capabilities and procurement and a whole series of military-focus reforms in order to ensure the alliance continues to have its fighting capability.
So how does the alliance balance strategy, capability, affordability? Give us your baseline assessment, having just produced this Strategic Concept Strawman yourself.
JULIAN LINDLEY-FRENCH: Yeah, thank you, David. I thank you for organizing this important event at this important moment. I mean, let’s be blunt. Lisbon takes place at a moment when the world is getting big and Europe is getting ever smaller in strategic terms. That’s effectively the challenge that we’re faced right now.
And yet, you know, I’m old-fashioned, but I happen to believe the world is a much safer place when the West is strong. And the critical challenge will not be so much Lisbon itself, which I think we’re in danger of being disappointed about. It’s what comes out of Lisbon, what happens across several areas of critical development to make sure that the alliance is the credible in what’s going to be a friction-full world in the next 10, 20, 30 years.
Make no mistake: This is going to be a big world, and unless Lisbon helps us all to conceptually get to grips with that reality and start preparing for that reality, we have a recognition that western military power is credible the world over as a defensive, stabilizing force in a very instable world, then I think we’re facing a very, very dangerous set of uncertainties.
Now, let me give you a figure, if I can, Damon, just to put this in context. The combined GDPs of NATO Europe compared with the U.S. is 124 percent, yet our combined expenditure is 37 percent of U.S. defense expenditure in 2009. Of that, the big three, Britain, France and Germany, are over 60 percent and 88 percent of all research and technology.
There are some 19 NATO Europe members who spend less than $4 billion a year on defense – and extremely badly. I mean some of these countries, with due respect, are little more than armed pensions. And you suggest that effectively they should be putting money into other aspects of security if they can’t reform.
So the ultimate challenge of Lisbon is to start the process of, one, modernizing our forces so that we have deployable forces across the alliance that are for territorial defense as well as projection; that we get the balance between protection of our societies and projection of power much more credibly based.
That will include things like cyber protection, critical national-infrastructure protection, consequence management in the event of major attacks, and of course, the modernization of Article 5. Article 5 is the cornerstone, it must remain the cornerstone of alliance, but it’s got to be a credible cornerstone.
And that will include, I have to say, the recognition that technology is moving on. This is going to be a century of big events. It’s going to be a century of big technology. And we have a comparative advantage there. And what I would like to see from this Strategic Concept is a very clear statement – a leadership statement – to all NATO publics that not only have our leaders gripped the nature of the world in which we are and into which we are moving, but they understand how to exploit the comparative advantages that we still have.
Forget all the tosh about, it’s going to be an automatic Asian century. Asian powers are going to emerge. But let’s be clear: Economists love drawing extrapolation lines about growth in the economy and all this sort of stuff. Go to India. Go to China. You see their constraints – huge internal constraints.
For much of this century the west will still be the dominating or predominant grouping on the planet – the stabilizing group. And unless there is a recognition of that and a willingness to move forward together, then I feel that we will not achieve the level of critical responsibility that the concept should do.
And if I can, Damon, very quickly just finish on a practical note, I don’t think the way we’ve organized the alliance over the last 10 years has worked atall, partly because of bad American leadership. You guys have been pretty inept the last 10 years. We’ve been just more inept in following you. Afghanistan hasn’t helped, because what you’ve done is renationalized the multinational effort implicit in strategic credibility and at the heart of NATO because it’s created stovepipes.
The civil-military effort in Afghanistan has accentuated very much a national rather than an alliance-based approach. We are going to have to go back to aggregate power, and that can only be done through efficient multi-nationality, and the alliance must be a part of that. If the alliance fails that test in the next five years, we’ve got another anodyne summit in which we have a nice declaration and everybody says, it’s okay, isn’t it? Let’s move on. Then we are in serious trouble because –
MR. WILSON: But do you think we’re on track? Do you think we’re on track to be able to do that at Lisbon? Or are you worried about that?
MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH: I am very worried. In fact, I’m amazed that there are so many people in this room because there’s a similar meeting in Europe right now.
You mentioned the Strategic Concept. There’s no interest. It’s almost as though it’s losing momentum. I think it’s supposed to be people like ourselves to try and reinject some momentum back into this process.
MR. WILSON: Well, let me move to Ambassador Hunter because listening to Julian – you talk about projecting power, fighting power, Article 5. You almost sound like a Cold-War American here in some respect.
MR. WILSON: I want to turn to your American colleague to see if we can play role reversal here. It seems to me that in a lot of these debates we’ve talking about, not power-projection fighting power, but really the importance of competence of approach. How does the alliance work in partnership with other organizations recognizing that power is not the solution to many of these problems, dealing with the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan where the military has to be one component among many?
Ambassador Hunter, what’s your perspective on – building off what Julian said, the perspective of where we’re headed? How does the comprehensive approach, the sense of needing to work – an alliance that needs to work, perhaps, with a little bit more humility and partnership with other countries, other institutions around the world – how does that fit in to the puzzle as we head towards Lisbon?
ROBERT HUNTER: Well, Julian’s a Yorkshireman and I still haven’t gotten over the fight with the Lancasterians. (Laughter.) He should be wearing his red rose this morning – (laughter). Did I get it right? Okay.
MR. HUNTER: You’re a white-rose man? Okay, I’m sorry, I got it wrong. You see, it just shows that some of these old battles don’t matter to us Americans. (Laughter.) Strategic Concept, it ought to be this; this document that Julian and Yves wrote, it won’t be. The document that was tabled on Monday by the secretary-general was 2,000 words, 12 pages.
I predict by the time they get finished it’s going to be a lot longer because it’s a Christmas tree, particularly because there’s so little time between now – what is today – the 28th of September to the 19th of November. You can’t acculturate a document or a process in that period of time.
The secretary-general did it to a great extent through the nations, very little through working with the ambassadors, and I suspect a lot of the ambassadors are going to use this as an occasion to make clear what their national perspectives are. Nothing wrong with that. After all this is an alliance of 28 – should be 29, if we could work out a name problem as between the Greeks and the Macedonians – sovereign countries. And each has its own interests. The idea that you can have a central perspective on the whole world where everything has to be done – that didn’t even really work that well – worked well enough – but that well within the Cold War. And certainly not now because each of these countries has its own perspectives.
The remarkable thing is that NATO still exists, that there has not been – I know you’ve said a little something about Afghanistan – there has not been a renationalization of defense. The integrated-command system still works. The French joined it, not just because this was to be tidy, but because they could see some virtue in being able to have folks work together.
If you go to Kabul and you wonder around and watch what folks are doing. If you didn’t listen to the accents – some talk like him, some like me, some like some others – or look at the national patch on the shoulders, you wouldn’t know what country they were from, because they are all doing the same kind of thing.
You go to NATO, as I was last week – NATO is not depressed. People over there are not full of doom and gloom. They’re doing stuff. They’re looking to the future. They understand, there, at least, the kind of Julian is saying about the mobilization of power, of which a part of it is military power, is going to be critical.
Now, my concern, first: expectations about the Strategic Concept. I will guarantee that after the summit is over, nobody is going to read it. People don’t read Strategic Concepts. I’ll say something which I hope doesn’t get me in trouble. When I was at NATO I never read the existing one – (laughter) – and I don’t know anybody else who did, because that’s not what you do on a day-to-day.
The most important thing coming out of this summit is going to be a work program. It’s going to be the tasking to Gen. Abrial, the top French person in their military who is now the head of Allied Command Transformation. He was in this room yesterday, and Damon, I can’t remember if you were in that meeting, and one thing we said at the end is please, could he take what he said, boil it down and put it out, because it is a stunning record of work that is being in the future. I see Jim Soligan sitting here, and he had a lot to do with that, and a lot of very talented people who put this together. It’s working. Who had ever even heard of ACT?
My biggest concern going into this is that we still have not, in the western world, understood what Julian is saying about the need to mobilize all power and all influence in some kind of coordinated fashion within the framework of what countries really do say they need to do in common; not to try to shoehorn into something artificial and look at the alliance as somehow subtractive – here’s what you’re supposed to be doing but you’re not doing it.
It’s rather, here is what we can do together, let’s add it up and see where we can come out. Now, a lot of that comprehensive approach, they used to call it at NATO – I love this in military – EBAO: the Effects-Based Approach to Operations – which means: What are we trying to do and how do we do it?
A comprehensive approach is slightly better, but it still doesn’t get it, which is we now understand – you listen to every military commander – Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan – and they will say success, however you define it, is a combination of the military and the non-military. It’s the military holding the ring, and then it is things like provincial-reconstruction teams, it is governance, it’s reconstruction, it’s development, and they all have to work, and – to borrow a phrase from another very much benighted conflict – it’s really about hearts and minds, a lot of this.
It’s, how do we bring to bear what we have a capacity to do to help with – if I can use a phrase – the shaping function. In the military we call it phase zero or phase four or phase five. I don’t know, but it’s the one that doesn’t have the kinetic thing.
Now, where is the repository of capacity to do this? It’s in the United States, Canada, the European Union countries plus some others that happen to be giants in this, of course Norway, which is a NATO country, Sweden, Finland, et cetera. That is not being mobilized, not being mobilized at all, in part because the European Union is still arranging the furniture.
Something I learned a long time ago: Never, never, never bet against the European Union. I remember people said the euro was not going to go anywhere. Well, it’s had its troubles but right now the Americans are worrying that it’s going to replace us someday as reserve currency. Don’t bet against it.
But the European Union hasn’t yet figured out what it is prepared to do. And in particular NATO and the European Union haven’t figured out a way to bring their various talents and capacities and perspectives together.
Right now, cooperation in Afghanistan on a simple thing like exchanging intelligence information – which is about saving lives – it can’t be passed from NATO to the EU or vice versa. That’s even respected within some of the NATO countries where you have the same people, and the same people are involved, because the Turks veto that at NATO. And at the EU it’s the Greeks and the Cypriotes, which may or may not – should or should not have become an EU member – veto it there. I mean this is ludicrous.
And it’s not even that. The fights in the background about promising between NATO and the EU, they are still in the background. Whenever you see a fight that is pinned to a single country – it used to be France – you can figure there is always somebody in the background pushing them out there and egging them on.
Now, what do I think needs to happen at November in Lisbon? And here’s where I think it’s going to fail – sorry. The president of the United States has agreed to have a summit with the European Union leadership: Mr. Barroso, Baroness Ashton and President Van Rompuy – do I pronounce it reasonably correctly? Not incidentally, the person who is in the rotating presidency – which still exists – who happens to be the prime minister of Belgium. They didn’t see – well okay they didn’t see fit to have him there.
Well, this meeting is going to be for two hours. What can you do in two hours except say hello and how are you and that sort of thing and a few agenda items which you probably won’t even read about? My view, which I’ve been pushing for 10 years, is there ought to be a summit of the president of the United States, the prime minister of Canada and all the European Union leaders for at least a day.
That means you only got to get six more tourist-class tickets to get people to come to the meeting because people are already there because of NATO. And what they need to do is say, we need – let’s call it the new Atlantic compact, new Atlantic charter, which is: We are the repository of capacity – the GNP, the education, the health, the military. The 1.8 million are under arms but you can only deploy about 60,000 – ludicrous.
And everybody focuses on the military. The allies help in the military. What we ought to be doing is working together on the overall question of the deployment of power and influence by the West to do the common things on which we agreed and then decide, EU does this, the United States does that, NATO does that, here’s how they work together, and get on with it.
So what I fear is that NATO – the meeting in Lisbon is going to fail to take the step even to get it started to do the things we’re going to have to do if the West is going to be able to deploy the power that is our responsibility and our interest if we had the – (audio break) – and the vision that we simply do not now have.
MR. WILSON: You’ve given me so much grist. A lot of these kernels I want to pick up on. But let me try to keep the conversation moving and come to Minister Noev, Boyko. Ambassador Hunter has just talked about NATO, EU, the frustration that that produces. The NATO-EU relationships should be at the heart of success on conference of approach, and yet it’s not.
Tomorrow at the Atlantic Council we will be running a strategy session for the EU’s special rep to Afghanistan, Vygaudas Ušackas, working through some of the difficulties of how NATO and the EU haven’t been able to get the track record right in Afghanistan.
This leads to – as I think we heard from Ambassador Hunter – just a sense of pessimism on this front because of an enduring problem. Some of you may be aware, we ran a conference earlier this week on “NATO Beyond Afghanistan” in which we tried to step back and tried to raise the sights above the current operation in Afghanistan, look beyond the Lisbon Summit and begin to project out, how is Afghanistan going to impact, influence what we see in the alliance over the long term?
And there was a striking amount of pessimism in that discussion, such that Robert Kagan, who thought he came to this conference and would be the pessimist, ended up being the optimist. But I wanted to turn to Boyko because he tends to often help provide a little bit of optimism in this debate.
One of the areas, when we think about whether Lisbon is going to represent revitalization or retrenchment – one of the areas that folks in the administration and the secretary-general like to point is real progress with Russia. The Obama administration points to Russia reset as one of its big successes in its administration to be able to set a new tone in the relationship with Russia.
Secretary-General Rasmussen has been particularly forward-leaning on the NATO Russia relationship and the prospects for Syria’s collaboration, cooperation on missile defense. In fact, there’s quite a significant proposal on the table, I believe in Moscow, and it remains to be seen what will happen.
Ambassador Hunter complained about who will not be in Lisbon, but one of the issues is: Should President Medvedev be in Lisbon in the context of a NATO-Russia council? What are you views on this, Boyko, in terms of the potential, the opportunities, what’s taking place in the NATO-Russia relationship, against a lot of this positive backdrop, which we hear out of the White House, out of Rasmussen?
We had, in the past week, Foreign Minister Lavrov rebuffing the alliance publicly. We have the legacy of Russian national-security strategies still pointing to the alliance as a top threat, depending on the translation of danger for Russia. So what’s your view on NATO Russia cooperation in general, and specifically the merits of a NATO Russia council meeting at Lisbon?
MR. NOEV: Well thank you, Damon. I think that on NATO-Russia, a German would have answered better the questions because, you know, it may have been more relevant as there are other dynamics within the alliance, especially vis–à–vis the relations with this great country. And I’ll say what I think about our relations with Russia.
But before that I want to join Julian and Bob in saying that, well, I am not so pessimistic as to the Strategic Concept itself. We are dramatizing the Strategic Concept as an outcome of a meeting. The strategic concepts have never, ever defined the action of the alliance in critical moments. We’ve had nothing on the strategic concept on Yugoslavia and Kosovo as far as I remember.
You never had anything about Afghanistan. But when threats appear the – (audio break) – wrong enough, and there was political will to defend our securities. So even if we don’t see what we all would like to see as an ambitious document reinstating that the commitment of the alliance, I think there is no drama in that.
Ultimately, the Strategic Concept will be a document, a common denominator of the particular, political views of the political elites today – maybe not tomorrow. So again – but the strategic gossip is important because it has to set the fundamental priorities of the alliance at present, and among these priorities I think should be the relations with Russia.
And what I read in the press about the U.S. – (inaudible) – to NATO – (inaudible) – saying – (audio break) – asking the press. Maybe the context was different – think like, well, Russia could join if they want, but they don’t want. And here I think is a fundamental issue. I don’t think that Russia joining the alliance being a criterion of class.
I don’t think it’s a problem of Russia, whether they want it or not. It is also a problem for the alliance. And it’s a problem that – if we accept that Russia is such with its own way of life with their own political and social development without however sharing the other values and way of life that we have in NATO and in EU area, it’s simply a hurdle – it’s a factor that is the most important thing.
It’s not about Russia being good or bad. It’s about the way of life, the way they develop, their social and political structure, which again is what they have. And I think this is a limit which at this point over-arcs our relationship. I don’t see for the foreseeable future a change in the way Russia develops in a social and political sense.
So we have to act – we have to be realists and act within this political framework. Are there threats from Russia, military threats? I do not believe that the present Russian leadership has any political objective in Europe which they believe can be achieved by military means. Of course, they want to have that influence, and they do it otherwise. Energy is one of the issues. So it is not about traditional threats from Russia which we have usually – which we usually have in mind when we discuss our relationship with Russia.
MR. WILSON: Boyko, if I can just interrupt real quick, part of the alliance strategy with Russia since the end of the Cold War has been premised on a dual-track approach where we would move forward in deepening the partnership, deepening the relationship with Moscow, the Permanent Joint Council, the NATO-Russia Council, as a counterbalance, in some respects, to, then, the alliance outreach, which was enlargement. And we saw this iteration take place frequently throughout post-Cold War alliance evolution.
We’re talking about a dual track today in terms of Russia, but it’s – enlargement is off the table, it’s actually not enlargement, and we’ll come back to that separately. We’re talking about deepening a partnership and a relationship with Russia to see if we can take it to a new quality – the secretary-general has referred to a strategic partnership – with the signature initiative being dramatic cooperation on missile defense, the dual-track part of this being what Julian referenced at the beginning – strategic reassurance, Article 5, and doing some credible actions in Europe to back up the Article 5 commitment to defend the allies.
Is this dual-track approach the right approach, and does this merit a NATO-Russia Council summit meeting in Lisbon with President Medvedev in the absence of summit meetings with other partners?
MR. NOEV: Yes, I was going to come to that, I was going to come to the dual-track approach, and I do think that the dual-track approach is relevant, not only for today but for the foreseeable future. We have to speak our NATO business, we have to speak about defending our common values and interests and way of life, and we have to open, to extend our hand to Russia, because there are many, many areas where we can cooperate with Russia, and one of the areas is Afghanistan. And the pre-2001 Afghanistan is a bigger threat for Russia than for NATO, because we are much far away from that region, and instability, again, al-Qaidas, Talibans and whoever, name it, is just on the Russian border.
So I think that Afghanistan is an area where we have to cooperate with Russians but not put ourselves in the them-and-their position. You have to tell – and the Russians, I think that they know it, that if by – if it happens that NATO says we are pulling out tomorrow, the Russians will have a fundamental problem. That’s why we have a common interest in Afghanistan. It’s not only about over-flights, it’s much more. So Afghanistan is one.
Missile defense, I think it’s a common issue. It’s a common issue. There is an aspect of, you know, we don’t know if there would be – again, with the social-economic development – if we – if a situation appears like in the mid-’90s where there was a risk of renegade regions or forces coming out of central control in Moscow, we don’t 100 percent know. So missile defense is also about that.
But that’s a much further opportunity or possibility than what we have today is Iran and other 30 countries which are developing missile-nuclear capability. So missile defense is certainly an area where we can cooperate with Russia. Policies against Iran in general, Iran becoming a nuclear power is a problem for us as much as for Russia, and I think that this develops as we see it.
And the Middle East. The Middle East is a structural, fundamental problem for the world. This is one of the sources of extremism and terrorism. This is where extremism is linked to, so I think that Russia should be involved in the Middle Eastern solution, and if NATO is invited – and I believe that NATO should not be invited – NATO should offer a peacekeeping mission to the Middle East, and NATO should invite Russia to join, because NATO to the Middle East will solve – or help solve – many of the existing problems, also regional problems, so wide spectrum of problems.
And, well, CFE, CSBMs, I don’t think that CFE is issue. I don’t – CFE is obsolete. Nobody cares about conventional threats in Europe. I don’t – if I were the minister of defense, I wouldn’t care about Russian conventional violence, no, not at all. And I don’t think that Russia is threatened by NATO conventional force. So we shouldn’t waste too much effort – it is a possible area to discuss and cooperate, yes.
One more point. We are talking about Russia, but we are forgetting about Ukraine. Today is – nobody mentioned because those who are in power today in Ukraine have said that they are NATO. At the same time, however, these guys are very much interested in South Stream, the gas pipeline, not happening, because this isolates Ukraine. And no matter how pro-Russian they may seem to the general public, Ukraine still has different interests and their own interests, strategic interests, which don’t necessarily coincide with Russia. We should not allow that our dialogue with Russia – with Ukraine – goes through Russia.
So the NATO-Ukraine cooperation council, or whatever we call it, should be kept – and even if the Ukrainian government at this point is reluctantly to actively involve NATO, NATO should actively involve the Ukraine in that. Thank you.
MR. WILSON: Thanks, Boyko. Thanks a lot. You’ve put a lot of grist on the table, the NATO in the Middle East issue. I want to pick some of those up. I know – (audio break) – chomping at the bit, given all these issues on the table. I come to Ian with, sort of, two trajectories of questions. Let me come back to the enlargement-partnership bundle of issues, because I want to get into that, but first, let me ask you to put your hat back on as if you were sitting in your old desk at the Pentagon, responsible for NATO policy, working these issues in the advance of a summit, bringing back all these potential nightmares of all the work –
MR. WILSON: – in the run-up to a summit. But if you think about this, Boyko started off by saying, we’re overdramatizing this, we’re overdramatizing the Strategic Concept. This is a sheet of paper, after all. It’s conceptual, it’s important, but we’re overdramatizing it. Fair enough.
I think Ambassador Hunter made the point, what you really need here is a work plan to translate these ideas into concrete things. I worked at NATO headquarters. I kind of appreciate the importance of having a series of initiatives that actually put the bureaucracy to work in a tangible way to help deliver an impact. We’ve published with the SAG and Frank Kramer an issue brief on initiatives for Lisbon.
So if you were sitting in the Pentagon trying to manage all this, what would you be doing now in terms of, how do you head towards Lisbon, where you’ve got a Strategic Concept you’re working on, yet at the same time there are these issues about initiatives to try to make it a reality, and you’re doing this against the backdrop of your allies being broke? Not just static growth, but 20 percent cuts in defense budgets, significant cuts in defense budgets. How is this viable when you’re having to do all this with less?
Julian made the pitch at the beginning about the importance of multinational collaboration. Is this really feasible when countries are struggling with their defense budgets? Missile defense is a big initiative, this is a big initiative for the Americans to have the alliance adopt missile defense as a formal alliance mission, much less make it a centerpiece of NATO-Russia Council cooperation. Is this even viable, given the defense budgets that our European allies are dealing with? So what would you do, sitting in the Pentagon, headed towards this summit, all these interesting ideas – cyber, missile defense, these various initiatives, yet we’re broke?
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Well, if I were sitting in the Pentagon today, I would go, okay, we’re entering an age of defense austerity and we have a summit coming up in which there is palpable disillusionment with the relevance of the alliance on both sides of the Atlantic. So I would think, what would be the note that I would send to my secretary of defense, he could go to the NSC and say, what are the key challenges and then how does defense fit into this – key challenges that need to be worked in order to ensure a successful summit?
The first one is Afghanistan, and I would say the alliance – and that means the United States – state a clear commitment in Lisbon to Afghanistan. Without U.S. commitment – and clear U.S. commitment, unambiguous commitment, there won’t be European commitment, and commitment to win is not captured in the phrase ‘transition’. Transition, unfortunately, is – you know, transitioning to Afghan forces – is the catch phrase that the secretary-general is using and the administration is using, and unfortunately, it has an inescapable whiff of the phrase “withdrawal”, if not “retreat”.
And so one key challenge is to win in Afghanistan and say we will be there through Afghan’s success. We will defeat the enemy; we will help Afghanistan in the long run be successful. That hasn’t occurred.
Second challenge is a broad one – is to reaffirm – to use Lisbon to reaffirm the centrality of Europe in America’s foreign policy. There is palpable angst in Europe that the United States no longer sees Europe as an important player. Statements are being made from the NSC that Asia is where the action is. That might be true, but the fact of the matter is, Europe and the United States working together are going to be more influential in shaping developments elsewhere in the world, including Asia, and I think Julian was making that point. Of course, it’s easier for me to say that because if the Europeans don’t reciprocate, that’s hard to do.
Third, enlargement. I would put that back on the table. It’s disappeared off of this administration’s – in this administration’s agenda. It’s been pushed off by a number of Europeans. It’s critical to the core of the vision that underscored NATO as a community of democracies that covers the entire European landscape, and I would argue it’s a critical element of your effective policy towards Russia.
And the fact that we have allowed possible membership, eventual membership – eventual membership, not even tomorrow, but eventual membership for Georgia or Ukraine to fall off I think has actually encouraged the worst tendencies in Kremlin policy, so I would make it a priority, put that back on the table.
The Strategic Concept. I second everyone’s point that this is a document that’s important but whose roll-out has been extraordinarily exaggerated. People – the administration, the secretary-general – have overhyped this document, and it’s going to be a consensus document. It’s 12 pages, according to Bob –
MR. BRZEZINSKI: – so far. It’s a Christmas tree that’s going to grow. Few people read it. The fact of the matter is, NATO isn’t measured by publics – it isn’t assessed by European and American publics by the Strategic Concept. It’s assessed by actions, what NATO does, and that’s where Afghanistan loops back into that.
And now back to your – where you want me to go, which is, what does the alliance do now that it’s entering an age of austerity? And we’re all aware of the tremendous budget cuts that are being developed or being rolled out in Europe, some of up to 25 (percent) to 30 percent. Lisbon needs to roll out a roadmap on how – that will guide the alliance through this – what portends to be a prolonged period of austerity.
Unfortunately, right now there is little evidence that that kind of coordination is occurring. The French are announcing their cuts, the U.K. are announcing their cuts, the Bulgarians are announcing their cuts. We heard yesterday, Poland’s going to roll out some cuts. The United States is even doing its own trimming. It’s not coordinated. That doesn’t bode well for the alliance.
And I would argue there are even unhelpful dynamics consequent to austerity, such as unconstructive, vice-constructive competition to support the national-defense industry, to support jobs. Classic case: Sarkozy’s personal championing of the Mistral sale to Russia, and then a couple weeks ago, efforts by a few EU members to see if they could eliminate the embargo – the arms embargo – the EU arms embargo on China. These are potentially divisive dynamics being generated by austerity.
So on Lisbon, there needs to be issued a roadmap that will help enable NATO to leverage austerity to do something that I’m not sure we can do – try for strategic prioritization, drive collaboration, drive innovation. And I’ll argue that it doesn’t happen – strategic – new Strategic Concept, as good as it might be, would be meaningless if financial strains undercut cooperation, cripple capabilities, cripple interoperability and undermine solidarity through unhelpful arm sales to potential adversaries.
And I think the long-term effect of the summit is going to be determined by how NATO leaders harness budgetary austerity to reinforce unity, to drive prioritization, to drive collaboration to deliver military effectiveness, because in the end, if that isn’t there, new Strategic Concept will have no strategic substance.
MR. WILSON: Thank you, Ian. I feel compelled to call on administration – an official to be able to take you on or rebut some of this, but we will be doing this follow-up with an administration official before the Lisbon Summit to be able to lay out that case – (audio break) – I think very clearly, sort of your view of how Lisbon should – (audio break) – it’s not very clear that’s where we’re headed on some of the issues.
On Afghanistan, the headline does seem to be emerging for transition, yet I think we’re also now beginning to hear much more, in together, out together, the mantra that was used in the Balkans now perhaps being applied to – the mantra used in the Balkans to keep the Americans in now being used in Afghanistan as a way to keep the Europeans in. I’m not sure that will scratch the itch that you identified about underscoring the commitment, but it seems as if the messaging is moving in that direction.
There are so many issues on the table. I want to take the privilege of the chair to sort of lay out a set of issues for the panel to respond to, but looking in the audience, I see just as many NATO experts in the audience as up here, so I want to make sure we’ve got time to bring you in and to ask some challenging questions for our panelists, as well as your comments, and we’ll do that shortly.
But first, let me pick up the bundle of enlargement as it moves to the partnerships issue. You talked pretty powerfully about enlargement, an issue that isn’t really front-and-center at Lisbon. We’ve got Montenegro and Bosnia with membership-action plans, the looming issue of Macedonia and potential resolution of its name issue, sort of the Bucharest commitment is a little bit on the back burner, if you will, for Ukraine and Georgia. It’s not something that’s going to be highlighted at Lisbon in particular, so I want to get the panel’s reaction to the value and importance of enlargement of Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty to Euro-Atlantic security, and whether this is sort of yesterday’s story and we’re not moving into an era where we need to think about a different paradigm of how to deal with countries that are not members.
And then I also want to broaden that to the partnership issue. One thing we didn’t get into very deeply in this discussion was the issue of partnerships, and if you read the Group of Experts Report, I think the Group of Experts Report did a good job in saying, wow, we know NATO working in partnership globally is really important. We’re not quite sure what that means and what to do about it as a particular institution or initiative, but in an era where the West is a smaller actor and NATO by definition has to think about security in global terms, the Group of Experts says, NATO is clearly not a global institution. It is a regional-security organization, but the security challenges it faces are global, and therefore it needs to modernize the way it thinks about partnerships.
So how does this fit into the storyline, how does this fit into the equation? Both institutional partnerships – we’ve expressed frustration already about the European Union – what about the OSCE? What about CSTO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization? That’s a big – Brzezinski has written about the importance of the alliance participating in a network, a web of interlocking institutions. We have on the horizon a NATO summit, a U.S.-EU summit, an OSCE summit following. The Clinton administration took that opportunity in 1999 to weave together one coherent strategy on Euro-Atlantic security that was then advanced through each of those summit steps. Not clear we’re headed in that direction, but what’s the importance of partnership here?
And then more broadly, when Secretary-General Rasmussen was here, he basically said that the alliance needed a lot more flexibility, and if it needed to work an issue with China, with India, with the African Union, and that the structures the alliance has needs to be made more flexible, more adaptable, recognizing that NATO’s not going global. NATO’s not a global alliance, but NATO has to interact globally.
So I’ve outlined some of these issues. I just wanted to put them on the table, because I don’t think we did justice in the first round of discussion, get a couple of reactions to that and then I am going to turn to the audience for questions. So Julian, kick us off on the partnership bundle of issues.
MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH: Yeah, I would have to say that I think the great age of enlargement is over, by definition. We’re now moving into an age of engagement, and that will disappoint certain countries. And therefore, the big issue will then become, what is the value of partnership? The value of partnership will be that there will be very different levels of partnership. There will be stabilizing partnerships for those countries on Europe’s periphery, which will (insist ?). There will be technical partnerships for countries the world over – Australia, Japan, wherever – that wish to work with the alliance on operations. I think there’s much work to be done there by taking NATO standards and a certain amount to partners, although we don’t want to reinvent the wheel every time we deploy.
But I think it’s fundamentally important that the Strategic Concept maintain the principle of Article 10 and the open door. We’re not – there’s no appetite, particularly in Europe, for further enlargement of either the Union or NATO, and it’s partly because of a certain kind of exhaustion, yes. It’s partly because the relationship between NATO and the EU and those two partnerships have not been resolved as well.
And I go back to what I would see as consolidating the technical quality of NATO’s core business, which is military. Having credible fight – that will tend to lead to a process whereby you have more consolidation of European military efforts because the age of austerity, the great depression which we’re now in, will force that. And then you will see how those European forces can serve either NATO or the EU because at different times we will need it.
Now, I think the real underlying reason why there is no conceptual clarity over engagement, enlargement or partnership is because we’re all of us now in the process of building new architectures, and much of the Strategic Concept implicitly will be about, what future role will European security architectures play in America’s attempt to build global architectures through institutions, through partnerships in Asia-Pacific?
And what you’re likely to get once that all washes out in the next decade or so is a Europe, through NATO and the Union, which is focused very much on North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, because we are a regional group of powers, with a contract whereby that releases the United States as much as possible to be effective as a global actor.
I think one of the great differences between 1999 and 2010 is that in 1999, America was Britain in 1840 – unrivaled superpower, no one questioned it, dominant power in the world. Today, America is Britain in 1890 – emerging new powers on the block, still the dominant power but challenged in terms of its leadership – and therefore, there needs to be much more strategic (autonomy ?) in the arrangement of both alliances and partnerships.
And to some extent, one of the reasons Strategic Concept is finding it so hard to deal with this issue is because we’ve actually had no clarity from Washington. When I’ve posed the question recently to senior Americans, what do you want the alliance for, what do you want the alliance for, how do you want it structured, what is the difference between membership and partnership for the United States? And I’m struck by how little clarity there is in this capital about those fundamental questions.
And until, frankly, the U.S. gives a lead on that, I don’t think there is any political consensus whatsoever in Europe to take the enlargement-partnership question further at this stage – again, because we’re broke and politically exhausted.
MR. WILSON: So does the burden of taking care of Europe’s business enlargement rest in Washington? Is the era of enlargement over? Is Europe pulling free, dependent totally on American leadership? Where is the European Union here, where is Europe here?
MR. HUNTER: Let me add a thing about enlargement. We, I think, got into a kind of an easy way of looking at things, which is, if you want to help folks get on with the business of reconstruction domestically, democratization, building economies, bring them into NATO, bring them into the European Union, and that itself will be something that pushes that forward.
Now, when you started out with those countries that had experienced the Cold War – (inaudible) – and following the Nazi period, to give them a sense of confidence that they were going to be taken off the chess board was very important, and that involved the initial several countries, including Bulgaria, Romania, certainly the Visegrád Four and the countries in the Baltics. That had to do with the effort to transform the sense of geopolitics away from the possibility of a repetition of what we had in the 20th century.
But when you go beyond that, it becomes an easy way of bringing folks into the family without saying, what does it do to the thing that we have at NATO itself or the EU itself? NATO, I think, is probably already overextended in terms of membership, particularly if you have the veto power, number one, and number two, it is being burdened – simply by the visits of ministers and the number of people sitting around the table – it’s become bureaucratically an extremely difficult thing.
And it doesn’t really help countries to be brought in if, one, they don’t face the kind of external threat that NATO has been designed for and where people coming to your rescue would be applicable; or where countries have a solid understanding of where they lie. Ukraine is a long way of a situation in which you can say, it should be in NATO, it should be CSDO, it should be someplace else. That’s why the arrangements, I believe, that we already have bilaterally and through the EU and through the NATO-Ukraine – what do we call it now?
MR. WILSON: NATO-Ukraine Commission.
MR. HUNTER: – Commission, right – a term we chose because the Russians had rejected it, so the Ukrainians grabbed it, it was great. But these are the things that work, but to say that NATO – that Ukraine should be part of NATO? That’s ludicrous at this point. Georgia, look what happened with Georgia. At Bucharest, we made this incredible statement, Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO. That was the moment of commitment, the moment in which countries were saying, Article 5, we will defend them. Three months later, we had the war between Georgia and Russia and not a single ally was prepared to treat that as an Article 5 situation. All that did was weaken the concept of Article 5.
I don’t think Georgia should be a member of NATO. It should be a member of a security engagement with the United States and with others so that the Russians, or whoever it is, will understand that this is true. But to put it in NATO I think is – would be a real mistake. I know I’ll get a lot of trouble with my Georgian friends for saying it, but it doesn’t help them any to have NATO become another OSCE, doesn’t help at all.
Now, in terms of partnerships, clearly, NATO’s going to want to reach out. We’ve got a number of countries that are involved in Afghanistan and the like, but if you sit back and you say, what are the security requirements in the future, in addition to having capabilities for the deployment of military power in various places where we agree on it, where NATO is still the central organizing principle when you do things collectively.
A lot of these things are not about military. A lot of them are variable geometry, to summarize what you said very eloquently in a broader thing. I wouldn’t want NATO to be involved in the Taiwan Straits as a former secretary of Defense. That’s not nonsense. European countries are going to say, where is the Taiwan Straits? A lot of that, the relationship in East Asia, is going to be economic. It’s going to be organizing the locals.
There’s a lot of stuff – I mean, we could run the list – cyber, energy, et cetera, et cetera. We need a capacity for the United States still as the leading nation, plus a lot of the Europeans with this great bulk of capacity, to have not a reaching for, what is the right institution to do it, but, what is the degree of common interest we have in getting things done? Now, let’s look at the various institutions that can do them.
The virtue of doing NATO is that it exists, it works, it’s got a lot of experience, but for god’s sakes, don’t shoehorn into it everything like new members and all these other issues which don’t belong there and won’t be effective there, because then you’ll end up not doing anything very well, and you won’t even have a NATO that can act in the future.
MR. WILSON: Thanks, Ambassador Hunter. I want to get one quick word from Boyko from the perspective of southeast Europe, where the –
MR. WILSON: – the unfinished business of Europe is a little bit more obvious when you’re looking around from Sofia, whether west, east, northeast, so get your take on that, and also, just respond to the point on the Article 5 issue. Many would argue that the Georgia experience actually underscored the clarity of Article 5, and that Georgia wasn’t a member, and that’s what the alliance has been going through in terms of strategic reassurance to underscore the credibility of Article 5. So rather than muddy it by no reaction, there’s a case to be made, an argument to be had there, but how does this look when you’re sitting in Sofia, Boyko?
MR. NOEV: I’ll try to give – not exactly Sofia, but rather, a broader perspective of new members, and I think that what was typical and what was the most important, the core idea about enlargement and what we have now is that, what you have now in NATO as new members, these are all the former non-Soviet Warsaw Pact members, plus the three (votes ?) which are – who are a special case. That’s it. These are exactly the countries who fell on the wrong side of the napkin when Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin decided the fate of Europe in NATO. That’s the political philosophy of the enlargement as far as we see.
Georgia, Ukraine, I believe they’re a different case. The Balkans, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia – they’re a different case. I don’t say they are bad or they don’t have an interest to join, but there are different historical and political drivers behind such a decision, and I agree with Bob that there are many, many security and political structures which can take care of interests. And maybe in the future, maybe in the future there will be situations when others will want to join, and we have to leave the door open. We cannot say we close the door, but I don’t think that politically or realistically NATO is – this is NATO’s first and most important task.
MR. WILSON: A fairly negative assessment there, so I feel compelled to give Ian just a minute to reply, and then please catch my eye if you want to ask a question. I want to bring in the audience now.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: I guess, you know, with Ukraine, I would point out that it is part of Europe, and if you’re going to have a vision of a NATO that encompasses all of Europe, it’s got to be part of that vision. I don’t think anyone is articulating that NATO should extend membership to Ukraine tomorrow. My point is that NATO ought to be clear in its extension of a vision that includes Ukraine, and that the fact is, it hasn’t happened. The last administration – and I hate saying this – took a very ambitious approach towards Ukraine. It was the Clinton administration, commission, and all.
But the last 10 years has been basically a consistent message from the United States that we don’t really mean it, and it’s been reinforced and amplified even more aggressively by the Germans, by the French and other Europeans. So the message to Ukraine has been, you’re not really part of our post-Soviet sphere, and that has been extraordinarily detrimental to the shaping and development of a consensus in Ukraine that would want to bring that country – bring their country into Europe, particularly into the NATO structure.
I was in Ukraine in the 1990s, and, no, there wasn’t high demand for public – of public demand to get into NATO. It was about 15, 20 percent, but it grew up to about 30 to 40 percent by the end of the decade, and then it’s dropped. Why? Because it’s very hard for Ukrainian leaders to go over to the public and say, they want us, because every time we stick our head up and say, we want membership, it gets slotted down – Kuchma, several Ukrainian presidents have stated they want to be in – their country to be in NATO, and they got hammered down. I think that’s a real mistake, it’s a geopolitical setback not only for the vision of a Europe whole and free but towards a really effective policy towards Russia, which trips up its post-imperial ambitions, sense of hegemony over a particular region.
And then in Georgia, yes, Georgia would be hard to defend, but remember what stopped Georgia – Russian forces from going into Georgia’s capital. It wasn’t an EU declaration, it certainly wasn’t NATO’s silence. It was an American C-5 that flew in and dropped off Georgian troops with the chairman of – Adm. Mullen basically telling his counterpart, you better not knock it down. I mean, the United States demonstrated that kind of seriousness; a country was defended.
MR. WILSON: We just spent 10 or 15 minutes talking about an issue that probably actually won’t merit that much discussion in Lisbon, and I think that already points out an interesting contrast between policy and some of the intellectual debate. I want to turn to the audience and bring you into this discussion. We’ve got – we’ll start with the two questions in the back, the gentleman on the right and then here, and then we’ll come up to the front.
Q: Thank you, Tom Collina, Arms Control Association. Thank you all very much for your comments today.
Q: Wanted to ask – can you hear me? Wanted to ask a question that will be on the table in Lisbon and hasn’t been talked about much today, which is nuclear policy questions. There is a statement being released today in Europe by over 30 former European leaders – prime ministers, defense ministers, foreign ministers – led by former UK defense minister Des Browne and others – taking a pretty forward-leaning position on the future of nuclear policy in NATO, calling for the Strategic Concept to look hard at NATO nuclear policy and at reductions and consolidations of nuclear weapons in NATO, leading to their eventual elimination, among other things.
So I’m wondering what the views of the panel might be on what the Strategic Concept should say about nuclear policy in NATO, about this new statement from the European leaders, and where – probably the more important issue is what happens after the Strategic Concept in Lisbon on nuclear policy, given low expectations for what happens in Lisbon – and where in the next few years nuclear policy should go. Thank you.
MR. WILSON: Thanks for bringing that up. I think it’s a key question that was on my list we didn’t get to. I’m going to add just to it for the panel: Some are specifically translating what that should be. If you can’t get that far at Lisbon itself on it, can you at least call for a NATO nuclear posture review that sets in train a trajectory that potentially leads to these reductions?
The debate plays out within the alliance, with some allies wanting to play hostage to the missile-defense decision until they can get a more forward-leaning movement from – on the nuclear question. So, Bob?
MR. HUNTER: Well, my view is very simple. I think it’s an issue, the less you say about it the better. To the extent the Germans have an internal debate and you’ve got to somehow massage that, well, we will address that. I regret that these people came out with that statement. The last thing you want to do right now is to start something going which looks like open-ended. Why? Frankly, the nuclear weapons are of zero value in Europe. They were there at a time during the Cold War as the United States was trying to prove to the allies that we would commit suicide for them in the context of the East-West balance. Today, that is nugatory.
Yes, the Russians have tactical nuclear weapons because there has been a reversal. It used to be, we had nuclear weapons because we were conventionally inferior. Today, they have nuclear weapons because they are conventionally inferior. Now, having said that, if you rock that boat now by raising it, all you do is create panic in some of the Central European countries who are not yet confident of their independence, and particular, they are not yet confident that they United States will continue to be there.
I think we can deal with the nuclear issues in terms of reduction if and when this country does get to the point, as some of my colleagues are saying, of showing that Europe remains very important to us. The fact that there has been a depreciation of that, in part because a lot of the militaries here say, well, they’re not doing such a good job in Afghanistan, which is important to us; why do we need NATO, et cetera, et cetera? You hear a lot of that.
That gets picked up in Central Europe. More important than the statement that you had today in terms of really paying attention, I think, was the letter from the East-Central European leaders last year saying, does America love us anymore? Get that right, the kinds of things we’re talking about today, then the nuclear issue, frankly, is something i think we can just finesse later on, and maybe nobody at time would even notice it.
MR. WILSON: Let me briefly bring in Julian, and I want to go back to the audience, but a quick add-on, Julian?
MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH: Just a – I find this a surprising initiative, given that there are only two nuclear powers and neither Britain or France are going to give them up at this present, so the NATO contextual debate is fairly meaningless. I think what is important is what was alluded to. The U.S. will likely further reduce its already meager conventional military presence in the next couple of years. What we see around Europe is proliferation. We have Iran, next big crisis waiting to happen. If there are significant progress with the START process, with the Global Zero, by the administration in Washington, then London and Paris might at conceivable point start to discuss this, but it’s not on the table right now.
MR. HUNTER: One more thing. One of the critical things, and I wish we would do it at Lisbon, is to say, the United States will not, for the foreseeable future, take one more soldier, or airman out of Europe. The fact that we are probably going to do that is sending a terrible signal.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: I was just going to say, I second everything that Bob said and that I think that the coming election, there is actually going to be more pressure on the administration to reduce force presence in Europe, and it’s going to be a big follow-on issue to Lisbon because the administration’s policy is that they are going to announce their plans for U.S. future-force posture after the rollout of the Strategic Concept. So this will be an issue popping up probably in the March timeframe, and to have it muddled further by bringing in nuclear weapons could send a terrible message to Europe.
MR. WILSON: It is the trick of balancing the administration’s measures on strategic reassurance with withdrawal of U.S. forces and nuclear weapons. The issue is on the table. It’s on the table in Europe, and it’s going to come back. Let me ask you to hold real quick just so that I can bring in two more questions, then pick it up, please. I think right – was it Marios? In the back. No, in the back, sorry.
Q: Good morning. My name is Marios Efthymiopoulos. I’m with the Woodrow Wilson Center, and I’m a southeast Europe policy scholar. Now, before I ask my question, allow me to make a few mistakes when I ask, because I’m young, as you can understand, so I’m trying to learn out of what everybody is saying until now. So my question is pretty clear –
MR. WILSON: He’s being disingenuous. I’ve read his work; he’s a NATO expert – (laughter).
MR. HUNTER: I grabbed my wallet as soon as he opened his mouth.
Q: I’m a new breed, sort of; new generation of people that we don’t have any borders. We don’t go around with our passports, we just say that we are citizens of the world because we live everywhere in the world and we work everywhere in the world. Now, if we take this ideology and we apply it to the NATO case, the question is how to have NATO going global while retaining its peripheral role. My answer is the U.N., and I’ll tell you why. The U.N. is –
Q: – yes. The U.N. could actually recognize all the operational fields of NATO around the world while having more partners being engaged to it without becoming, as you said, Mr. Ambassador, members of NATO. So my question is, could this be a valid case? Because the OSCE, as Mr. Wilson said, it’s going to change. The U.N. operational planning of the blue helmets is going to change, and I’m wondering whether NATO can do actually the job for the U.N. with, sort of, the U.N. blue helmets. Thank you.
MR. WILSON: And let’s go ahead and pick the question up right in the front row.
Q: Gen. Abrial, who was here yesterday, said they were headed up to New York for more meetings with the U.N. to build that NATO-U.N. relationship. Please.
Q: Thank you. Elaine Grossman from the National Journal Group. I just wanted to follow up on the nuclear question –
Q: – sorry. Elaine Grossman from the National Journal Group. Is this on?
Q: Just wanted to see if the panel might address, apart from what you believe should happen with the nuclear – tactical-nuclear weapons of the United States and the position in Europe, what do you think will happen at the summit and what communication do you think might happen quietly to begin withdrawing some of the U.S. tactical – (inaudible).
MR. WILSON: All right, so first, the U.N., and then Boyko, this gives you a chance on the nuclear question. Want to start?
MR. NOEV: Let me – I’ll just – I think that Bob answered this question about nukes, and I completely agree with what he said. This is not an issue of the day. It’s simply – I don’t think it’s even an issue for negotiation. It’s a propaganda thing, it – a public, PR thing, but not a real security issue at this moment. And on just the point about U.S. not moving the soldier out and the nuke out of Europe.
We hear voices in Washington about the Mansfield Amendment, about the U.S. being unhappy with defense budgets decrease in Europe and about force commitments, and it sounds to many Europeans like, we don’t like you anymore, so you’re not committed with us so we don’t need you anymore.
Defense budget levels and true commitments to Afghanistan should not be the driving force of our relationship, because Japan has – I don’t think – I don’t know how many soldiers they have in Afghanistan and I don’t know what about their budget, South Korea as well. Is the United States going to withdraw from Japan, South Korea, Guam and elsewhere in the world simply because these partners are not contributing to specific situation? I don’t think so, and I think that the U.S. strategic interest, as far as I see, and other people probably, it goes far beyond defense spending and force commitments at the specific operation. Thank you.
MR. WILSON: I want to just take that – build on that a little bit for the panel. First, my assessment of what’s happening in the place in the alliance, I think this panel is being too conservative on the nuclear issue. This issue is coming, it’s going to be forced, and while many in the United States and in France in particular are resisting it, there is some strong momentum there, and it’ll be one of the tricky issues to navigate at Lisbon. On force posture –
MR. WILSON: – let me just – on the nuclear issue?
MR. HUNTER: Yeah. The question of what will happen is that there already seems to be an agreement not to allow this to disturb and upset Lisbon, but the price of that is going to be serious review at NATO of the nuclear issue. The question, in my judgment, is, how do you do that in a way so you don’t get a lot of rabbits started that leave you at the end with weapons staying for some countries and wanting to be withdrawn for other countries, and all we do is look like we haven’t been able to do this effectively. But yes, it’s on the docket, it’s going to have to be dealt with, but there seems already to be an agreement that – not to allow this to upset what’s happening at Lisbon.
MR. WILSON: I’m going to turn Boyko’s comment around into a challenge for the panel, and as I ask this, remember there’s a U.N. issue out there too, if one of you will pick that up. We’ve been talking about strategic reassurance, and yet the likelihood that in the wake of the summit the United States will probably withdraw two brigade-combat teams from Europe. There has been a big debate, significant issue on this, divisions within the U.S. military, the U.S. government on this.
But if I’m sitting in – if I’m having to go up to Congress and testify on this, why, if the Brits are going to be withdrawing – and I look at my British colleague in the corner – why, if the Brits are going to be withdrawing their forces from Germany as part of their strategic review; why, if Bulgaria is cutting its defense budget 30 percent; why, if my European allies are not willing to invest in their own defense – how can I go up to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson or Representative Barney Frank and say, our Europeans are cutting their budgets, they’re cheap, so we actually have to spend more to sustain our forces within Europe at levels that may not reflect the – our concerns vis-à-vis Russia, but there is a tremendous value to them for solidarity. How do you make this case given what’s happening with our European defense budgets – with European defense budgets? Join in, Ian.
MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH: The simple British response is that we have 10,000 troops in Afghanistan supporting the U.S. and we’re broke because of it. And also, the impact on continental Europe of the Brits reducing their rowing boat by a few blokes back to Britain – they’re still in Europe – (laughter) – compared with the United States is disproportionate.
There clearly is the need for some demonstration of an American tripwire, an American strategic reassurance, because at the end of the day, particularly for all countries east of Germany, it’s the American guarantee through the alliance which is the committal issue. Countries like Britain clearly don’t give that.
On the United Nations, it’s a nice idea, sir. I had the privilege many years ago of working with the United Nations. There are some interesting statistics on this. Four percent of all U.N. peacekeepers come from NATO nations, but when you look at the quality, with due respect, to many blue helmets, there is an awful lot more work to be done in terms of NATO supporting the reforms going on inside the U.N.
One day, maybe, the U.N. can play this overarching role, but my bet is, given the structure of the U.N. and given its political complexities, that you will always have to have a situation where organizations like NATO can sub-contract to the U.N. as per agreement and will maintain that military expertise. I certainly wouldn’t foresee in my lifetime – which is probably, hopefully, a few years yet – that the U.N. will be playing the kind of role that you lay out, very visionary role.
MR. HUNTER: One of the – let me add something. One of the problems we have here is not understanding the role of influence and how you buy influence and how you get the United States to be able to achieve what we want to in the world.
One of the things about forces in Europe is, many of them, if not most of them, are not there for constabulary purposes or even to fight a European war; they are there for other reasons. They’re there for Partnership for Peace. During the heyday of the Partnership, 50 percent of the time, members of the United States Air Force in Europe were off doing stuff, working with individual Central Europeans. And look, they weren’t there flying airplanes in order to run a way.
It is still cheaper to keep certain American forces in Europe than to bring them back here in the United States and maybe have to deploy them somewhere else. Ian and I were at a meeting about two weeks ago with a very senior American military officer who is going to remain nameless, and the question was, have you done the math? No, we haven’t done the math, he said. Ludicrous.
Well, I went to his boss, an even more senior American officer, and he said, you bet we’ve done the math. Well, they haven’t gotten it out there. The United States gains an incredible amount of influence in Europe, whether it’s with the European Union, whether it’s in the financial system, whether it’s in dealing with SWIFT codes, whether it’s doing all this stuff, whether it’s getting Europeans to do things in Afghanistan, et cetera, because we keep forces in Europe. It enables us to do a training function, it enables us to keep interoperability working. It enables us to continue to have an integrated command system.
All of these things – if we start pulling – if we pull out these two brigade-combat teams, it’s going to look to a lot of people as if the United States is withdrawing from Europe far beyond what is – it’s a damn fault economy.
One of the reasons we’re having so damn much trouble right now with Pakistan is we had a thing called the Pressler Amendment, which said because of what India and Pakistan were doing on nuclears, you can’t deal with their military. Today, we have no ties to the senior Pakistani military and all the way down because we weren’t allowed to run the kinds of things we do with so many other countries, so it’s military education and all these other things. The U.S. military plays a role as ambassadors in buying us influence, and we got to stop having false economies.
MR. WILSON: You clearly have ambivalent views about this issue, but Ian, you’re back on the Hill. How do you answer this, and then last question.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Bob is absolutely right, but I would collapse his argument and tweak it a little bit if I was going on Capitol Hill or to the general public. When you have forces deployed abroad who are training regularly with their host nations and neighbors, they are force multipliers.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: Influence multipliers, too, but for people who aren’t looking at the transatlantic relationship as closely as we may be, that is a phrase that captures one, power and value in one phrase. And that’s what you have to demonstrate to the skeptics because, you know, you have the report by Larry Korb and Miss Conley, you have the Barney Frank commission – Sustainable Task Force on Defense. They’re calling for, basically, a reduction of 33,000 people in Europe.
Their arguments are all pure metrics. It costs less. Well, as Bob points out, it’s highly questionable how much they cost less. In some cases, it might actually be cheaper because of the operating costs of maintaining a base in a Central European country vice in New York State.
It’s certainly a lot less to train with these folks and to double your force capability by being there than trying to fly your forces over every six months to do exercises. That’s costly, that’s time-consuming and it totally undercuts the point that Bob was getting at, which is it undercuts your ability to translate that force-multiplier effect into a political influence, and so force multiplier is the catchphrase.
MR. WILSON: Thanks, Ian. Clear views here. We’ve run some workshops here at the Atlantic Council, and one of the things I just want to point out, the QDR’s theme – the QDR’s big mission is building partnership capacity. Our group, as we’ve talked about this issue, have seen these forces in Europe as essential and instrumental to actually advancing that mission within the QDR, something that I think needs to be played out. Last question, right here in the front.
Q: Great job with the panel. I’m going to just change gears really quick. I know we’re running out of time. The ambassador brought up the comment about partnerships, and given all the problems in the Middle East, we have the Mediterranean Dialogue. The incoming, now-current secretary-general, first day in office, said, I’m going to enhance the Mediterranean Dialogue, I’m going to – he met with – the first week in office, he met with all the representatives of the Mediterranean Dialogue, including the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.
Jaap de Scheffer said it’s the – prior to that, in 2005, in hearing, most important region of the world. Where are we today? I mean, we talk about Iran, we talk about the strategic threats. However, it seems to me – not to reinvent the wheel – all they need to do, which is something we’ve been arguing about for years, multi-lateralize the Mediterranean Dialogue.
How hard would it be to bring in the sec.-gen. to call in Israel, Jordan and Egypt, three principle actors, or the most advanced actors in the Med. Dialogue, and I think that might help the process along with, as the ambassador said, bringing a NATO-Russia-whatever force to the region. You know, I think they should strongly relook at the Mediterranean Dialogue and rework that, and I think, in some levels, we wouldn’t be where we are today with the Middle East and this looming problem with Iran, et cetera.
MR. NOEV: As a practitioner, if I look at where my focus should be as a practical politician, of course, the Mediterranean Dialogue is very important, engaging the Middle Eastern countries in that. I would see the Middle Eastern problem more like the Israeli-Palestinian issue for NATO, EU and Russia. That’s what instrument I would use.
And I think that in vis-à-vis Afghanistan, for me, probably, this moment it will be much more important to engage India in a partnership dialogue because the Afghanis still have this pressure. They still pressure each other, India pressures them in Afghanistan, and there have been many reports on that. So I think that I would engage at this point in the – in my mind, as priorities, not be lessening the importance of the dialogue with other Mediterranean countries.
MR. BRZEZINSKI: I’ll just add that there’s – it’s great to engage everybody, but the problem is, we’re entering the phase when NATO resources are becoming increasingly constrained and demands in time are growing and growing. So therefore, when you’re talking about partnerships, we have to prioritize. Speaking of the U.N., I get a little bit worried about the U.N. because there are quite – it’s a wide spectrum of actors, so getting a consensus on decisions that do involve NATO are going to be difficult.
And then, two, I get a little bit worried that that’s going be a huge sucking sound for NATO capabilities, because I think there’s going to be more that NATO brings to the U.N. than the U.N. brings to NATO. And then, too, in terms of regional partnerships or global partnerships, I think NATO really ought to focus – the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was nice, but it didn’t develop anything because it wasn’t focused. I would focus on partnerships that bring real capabilities. So first and foremost, of course, at the EU, which my colleagues here at emphasized. That brings capability, that brings complementary capability, particularly in law enforcement, democracy building and such.
You also want to go with the countries that have capabilities, like, military capabilities – India, South Africa, Japan, maybe Taiwan, Australia. Those are the partnerships that NATO, as it becomes more engaged and more interested in global affairs, needs to develop to maintain intelligence insight, but bottom – above all, military capability and interoperability.
MR. HUNTER: Thanks, Matt (sp), for raising us and bringing us back to reality.
MR. HUNTER: A lot of the things that are a concern to a lot of countries that have to belong to NATO are in North Africa and in the Middle East in general. Mediterranean Dialogues, absolutely multilateralism. ICI, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative – we’re going to need, over time, a new structure of security for the region of the Persian Gulf if we’re not going to be stuck with this forever.
A lot of things can be done through NATO in that and maybe through other institutions. The European Union has a huge role to play in that. I thought one of the remarkable things – I got pilloried with this at the European Union last week in Brussels, even though I’m not in the administration – they said, look, we put a billion Euros a year into the Palestinians and we didn’t get invited to the clambake that the president had here to launch the thing. Our guys didn’t come. Tony Blair, give us a break, he’s not Europe.
This is the kind of thing we need to pay attention, and as has already been implied, de Hoop Schaeffer said, if there is an agreement on peace between Israel and the Palestinians, NATO should have put a force in the West Bank. Absolutely, and that’s going to be cheap at the price, everybody sign up to it. So we need to start thinking in these terms. Rather than just the functionalist approach, we need to think in genuine security terms, as you just did.
MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH: (Laughter.) Fine, then I’ll ignore that issue and leave you with a brief statement on what I would like to see from the Strategic Concept – at least start with the Strategic Concept. I’ll just say to that, then, Matt, that it’s really a U.S.-EU thing, and that’s why the Mediterranean Dialogue hasn’t moved on – (inaudible, cross talk) –
MR. LINDLEY-FRENCH: I would like to see a major project on affordable modernization. We have to modernize NATO forces without spending any more money. I would like to see a human-transformation project where we look at modernizing defense education, because that’s where it’s a human capital that we’ll need to focus on in Europe. I’d like to see the revitalization of the European pillar – a European pillar to reorganize European forces. In conjunction with the EU, I would like to see clearance on contingency planning and exercising and training across all alliance territory, and very be seen to have that.
I would like to see a new continent-active partnership for areas like Transnistria, Moldova, working through Ukraine – a new political initiative to reenergize the partnership process. And I would like a very clear statement that NATO is, indeed, a critical pillar of the West influence in the 21st century world, and the world had better understand that.
MR. WILSON: Thank you, Julian. That was terrific. In fact, I had prepared my own summing up. I’m going to scrap it because I think you did a great job. I do want to say just a couple of things. A year-and-a-half ago, the leaders of our Strategic Advisors Group – Senator Chuck Hagel, Tom Enders, Brent Skowcroft – challenged this group to begin raising the debate on the alliance, concerned about the lack of attention to some of these issues and the trajectory that we’re on. I think these gentlemen have been among the core of our Strategic Advisors Group to help elevate this debate.
Today, we brought together a group of folks that are outside of government so that they could be a little bit more provocative. We’ve got Western Europe and Eastern Europe – or perhaps it’s now Northern Europe and Southern Europe. We’ve got the left and the right.
I think you all did a terrific job of working through these issues of the Strategic Concept itself, the importance of how that conveys the conceptual vision for the alliance, the sense of solidarity backed up by initiatives in a very difficult environment with Afghanistan looming hard in the background, the reality of having to deal with partnerships in a world where NATO’s roles is questioned in a global security environment, without losing sight that this issue of Europe whole and free is still on the agenda in some respects.
I’d ask everybody here, we’ve got the Strawman Strategic Concept in the lobby. If you haven’t picked up a copy, please do that. It’s a fun addition to the broader debate we have here, as well as the issue briefs that we have in the lobby and online. I particularly want to thank the Skowcroft Group, EADS and AirBus for their ongoing support of the Strategic Advisors Group and give a nod to Sam Zaiga (ph) and Ralph Crosby for their support of this initiative.
And most of all, thank you, gentlemen. Thank you for – particularly the two of you coming across the Atlantic. Thank you. (Applause.)