Transcript of the fourth panel from the NATO Beyond Afghanistan conference held September 27, 2010.
NATO BEYOND AFGHANISTAN:
A CONFERENCE ON THE FUTURE OF THE ATLANTIC ALLIANCE
IN A POST-ISAF WORLD
PANEL 4: NATO BEYOND AFGHANISTAN – A STRATEGIC VIEW
FRANKLIN D. KRAMER,
STRATEGIC ADVISORS GROUP,
STRATEGIC ADVISORS GROUP,
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2010
Federal News Service
DAMON WILSON: Mr. Pascu has to catch a flight at some point, which will force him to have to depart us a little bit early, so he apologizes in advance. And we’ll start with you, Ioan.
But we wanted to use this last session – first of all, thank you, for those of you with us still, for your stamina, having been with us throughout the course of the day, particularly the panelists who have made it through this full day.
This is our last discussion and we really wanted to try to take a strategic view of the topic, “NATO Beyond Afghanistan,” in this session, and essentially, as this (is the) last session, take a step back; think about what we’ve heard today; build on the conversation from more of a strategic perspective, more of a comprehensive approach.
We began this morning with the political implications, a fairly pessimistic discussion, a sense of little political will. But we want to consider how Afghan-specific is this, and is this really just exacerbated perhaps by the reality of the financial crisis right now. In other words, is there a sense of ephemeral malaise over the alliance, or will this – will what’s happening in Afghanistan really prevent the alliance from deciding to take on new missions: whether they open themselves up as opportunities in the Middle East or a humanitarian operation in Africa.
We then followed on with the military implications today and there was, again, voices of concern. But if you step back and think about it, as I’d like this panel to do, to think about how the alliance has evolved. In Kosovo, we had to deal with the mantra and the complaints of a “war by committee.” Now, in some respects that was a misnomer, but that was the image of – perception of what happened. In Afghanistan, despite all the bitching and moaning we’ve heard today, we had a report of NATO launching hot pursuit into Pakistan killing 30 insurgents today in Pakistani territory. This is a pretty dramatic evolution of the way the alliance has operated.
So is it broken? Has Afghanistan – (audio break) – or has it been actually made a far more – (audio break) – fighting force in that we’ve learned how to fight together. There are few – there are more issues coming out of that that we’ll want to dig into as well. And I think Bob Kagan, then, stepped back for us over the lunch period to talk about “NATO Beyond Afghanistan” actually needs to return to the post-Cold War roots of a Europe whole and free, focusing on the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Southern Caucasus.
And then we’ve just come out of a discussion on transformation, which was interesting – I think as Marshall Billingslea, I believe, said, it was really a repetition of a debate we’ve had many times in this room, but the day we stop trying it’s a bad day for the alliance. How do Afghanistan, the sense of austerity, impact this transformation debate? So with our discussion – final discussion here, we’ll look out into the trajectory of, where does Afghanistan – what are the implications of Afghanistan for the alliance over the medium term? How does this set (the) alliance’s course in the future? What’s the future trajectory – (audio break) – as we think about the impact of the alliance?
To kick off this discussion today, we’ve got three terrific panelists. To my right, Ioan Pascu, a Romanian politician who’s currently a member of the European parliament. He’s a former minister of defense in the government of Adrian Nastase. He’s also on the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Advisor Group; has served as vice president of the Social Democratic Party, and had a – held a range of positions in Romania, including chairman of the Committee of Defense, Public Order and National Security; served as state secretary in the MOD as well as minister.
To my left, the Honorable Frank Kramer, who many of you know here as the vice chairman of the Atlantic Council, a vice chair of our board, also on our Strategic Advisors Group. He’s served as a senior political appointee in two administrations, including as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs for President Clinton during the times of Secretary Perry and Secretary Cohen; and previously as principal deputy assistant security of defense for international security affairs. He’s also most recently been an author of a book on “Cyber Power and National Security;” “Civil War (sic) in Irregular Conflict;” and a major energy security report out of the Atlantic Council.
And then we’re also delighted to welcome today Gen. Perruche, who is here with us as a member of the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Advisors Group. Lt. Gen. Jean-Paul Perruche was director general of the EU military staff from 2004 to 2007. He’s had operational deployments in Chad and Somalia, and served as the deputy commander for KFOR in Kosovo as well. He also has experience with NATO, serving as the chief of staff – chief of mission of the French military mission to SACEUR as well.
So I want to just turn to you, Ioan, recognizing your – you’ll have to depart us a bit early, to have – to kick off this discussion of really what – how has Afghanistan – what is NATO beyond Afghanistan? How has Afghanistan impacted the trajectory that you expect to see the alliance move down in the coming five years?
IOAN PASCU: Well, thank you very much. And I’m also using the opportunity to excuse myself, and especially to my colleagues here in the panel, because I will have to leave and we reversed a little bit the order.
But essentially, I think, you know, that we have to – when we judge NATO after Afghanistan or beyond Afghanistan, I think that we have to take into account the impact of Afghanistan, which is lessons learned, but also, you know, the endgame there, because, Afghanistan is not over yet. And secondly, the kind of world NATO will have to operate in, how it is interpreted by the alliance, and what is the utility of NATO – (audio break)?
So, first and foremost, Afghanistan is not over yet. It started as an operation on the basis of Article 5. It started based on the solidarity between the Allies, but then, you know, once the – (audio break) – operation in Iraq had started, then, you know, somehow it has been used as an excuse not to join the U.S. in Iraq. And somehow, you know, the motivation, the rationale of the presence of the Allies there has changed in the meantime.
Actually, the aims of the war have been achieved very quickly: destroying, dismantling al-Qaida and ousting the Taliban. That has been achieved, and then, you know, the whole thing has been pushed aside or left behind. And then, in the meantime, the vacuum has not been filled by a functioning state, and we saw that we have to build that authority to fill the vacuum there. In the meantime, Iraq has started, all the consequences of it, and all of a sudden we discovered, you know, that actually filling the vacuum proved to be more difficult than we anticipated.
And then we came back – and we came back to it, and we came, shall we say, militarily, but at the same time this task of building – institution-building there, state-building there. And there was, I would say, a certain division of labor, which exists now: The European Union is involved in state-building rather than the military – security problem; the U.S. is involved mainly in the security field.
The U.S. is said – has said, you know, that July 2011, we’ll have to pull out the forces. There is a debate, you know, whether this will happen, how, and so on and so forth. But the problem is, you know, that Europe will stay because state-building, by definition, takes longer. And then the problem would be how much Europe would able to undertake the mission of security too on top of that one of continuing to build institutions in Afghanistan. And I think this is a potential point of friction.
And we always have this sentiment of weariness by the public, and – (inaudible) – of the beginning of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan has already galvanized, you know, the same – the same feelings in some Allied countries. Of course, you know, much will depend on the endgame. The endgame I think, you know, might prove to be more important than what has happened up until now, because in the end we’ll judge Afghanistan by the way the endgame ends.
So this will – and if (you will take ?) this – I’m taking this from all sources, from all corners that the Taliban would be inescapable in any equation. Then, you know, if you report this to the initial (war aim ?), how do you define victory and how do you define defeat under the circumstances? I mean, we went there to oust the Taliban and then we end up by shaking hands with them one way or another. So I think, you know, that this is very important. The endgame probably is equally, or if not more important than what has happened up until now.
Now, I think, you know, that the kind of – if we go to the kind of world – kind of world we operate in, there are three elements which are visible already: The world is moving towards a multipolar distribution of power; secondly, the weight of the system is moving from North Atlantic to the Pacific and East Asia; and thirdly, the current crisis is accelerating this shift. All three of them are detrimental to the position of the EU and they have to be recognized as such.
As it comes to – essentially, when we speak about NATO, it is a truth which is recognized by everybody that the future of NATO depends on the U.S. future attitude. There are other – (audio break) – but fundamentally – (inaudible) – attention which the U.S. is going to pay to NATO from now on will play a major role. So even if the trans-Atlantic relationship will continue to be important for the United States, inexorably the attention of the U.S. would move towards East Asia.
I hope that that this is not called “fatal attraction,” but China will – (chuckles) – represent that sort of thing, and East Asia in general. Then, you know, if this is happening, inevitably I think, you know, that Europe will be able to distract the United States and call back the attention of the United States more negatively rather than positively, and this is something, you know, which is probably not so in our favor.
Then, of course, you know, for the United States, NATO could be used, and we discussed here a little bit, for forging some arrangements with other organizations like the Shanghai Organization, as Zbigniew Brzezinski has already suggested, and the Central Asian arrangements.
Then, you know, when we come to Europe, the interpretation of the “new world” is different. Western Europe from Eastern Europe has already been evident. There is no common European interpretation of the new world, partly due to the incomplete integration – incomplete integration of the new members, strengthened by the current crisis.
Countries in the West, the most powerful countries – which at the Second World War perceived, you know, that the only way to continue to play the game in a super, in a superpower, bipolar world was to unite – now perceive, you know, that they have a chance to act alone, together with the action within the European Union. So this is – this is something which one has to take into account.
If you come to the Lisbon treaty, Lisbon treaty has probably been delayed because it came in the middle of the crisis. And somehow, you know, it’s a good thing which is offered to us, but do we have the time and inclination to really make a complete use of it or not? And I think, you know, that it’s like a recipient, in which we have to fill it; and how much we fill it, then, you know, this will depend.
And I think, you know, that we lost – I do not know what had happened if – would have happened if we ratified the constitutional treaty in 2005. Maybe we would have entered this crisis in a different shape. I do not know. I don’t want to speculate about that. But this is the truth, that, you know, even the Lisbon treaty is there but individual action is preferred by the countries in Western Europe. And if they prefer common action, they will rather be inclined to do it through the EU rather than NATO.
There is a complete difference in the attitude towards Russia. Russia certainly considers, you know, that the deal has been bad for her because it was a weak – it was weak in the early ‘90s. And I agree with those who say that Russia wants now a new deal because they are stronger, and they would like a different position within this new architecture – European architecture.
Certainly, we cannot ignore the fact that they would like to continue to control their neighborhood, which is more or less former Soviet Union. But I think, you know, that they would like to retain a certain – (inaudible) – on some of the closer countries which are now part of both NATO and the European Union. And some things which happened, particularly to Bulgaria and Romania, seem to indicate this sort of, shall we say, a special “league” which has to be created for these two countries within these two institutions.
Now, I think you know that the Western Europe – Western Europe is seeing more opportunity than dangers in the new world, while us in the East probably have a more balanced view, if not more pessimistic view about it, more dangers rather than opportunities. And this is separating us.
In a way, what we wanted to do by joining both NATO and the EU was to get out of the sandwich position between East and West. I think, you know, that we managed to (do a bet ?) in the case of NATO, but we are losing rapidly this situation in the case of the EU, taking into account the fact that sometimes the relationship between some major European countries and outside countries, you know, are better than the ones existing between the member countries. And if you look at energy, you will have an answer to that.
Then, I think, you know, that India and Afghanistan will not be so defining for the future of NATO, as the new world in which NATO will have to operate and the utility of NATO. And I would conclude by saying that it would be both paradoxical and, sadly, ironic if NATO would be pushed into oblivion only because it proved so successful in the past, based on the fallacy that the past cannot be repeated.
MR. WILSON: Thank you, Ioan. That’s a terrific kick-off. It’s good to hear a supporting voice of the alliance.
MR. PASCU: That’s why I’m leaving. (Laughter.)
MR. WILSON: (Chuckles.) With the conclusion that actually Afghanistan is not so defining for the alliance as a near-term future.
Frank, pick up this discussion, and what’s your perspective on the impact of Afghanistan on where the alliance is headed in the next five, 10 years?
FRANKLIN D. KRAMER: Right. Thanks very much.
It’s my view that, as has always been true for the last 50 years, 60 years, NATO is at an inflection point, or – (inaudible) – an inflection point. But I do think that we really are facing the issues of, say, on one hand strategic confusion, and on the other hand strategic coherence. And I think Afghanistan is a perfect example of what I would call strategic confusion, not a way forward.
But how it ends is going to make a great deal of difference. And, in particular, the narrative is going to make a great deal of difference, which is, just listening to what (Ioan ?) said, the narrative about what’s actually going on in Afghanistan. He emphasized the EU paying a great deal of money. My own understanding of the figures is that, on a relative basis, that’s not so true. And so the American perspective is quite different as to who’s paying and who’s doing what, but the narrative that will come out will be what’s in the heads of people and will make a lot of difference.
I also think that the military part is going to make a great deal of difference. American military have now been fighting, approximately for the last 10 years, outside of Europe, heavily focused on irregular combat. And so we have a whole host of leaders who are growing up and they’re going to go into new positions – senior positions, I mean, who have not done the Europe thing.
I think it’s a high likelihood that you’ll see that the number of Americans in Europe will be reduced. If we’re reducing Joint Forces Command, we’re going to cut the brigades. So you’re going to have a less European-centric military than we’ve historically ever had.
But those are not the only factors affecting things, and I want to list five other things that seem to me to make a difference, and then propose how to bring these all together:
The first thing, which many people have said in a different – different ways, is that we’re really in what I call an era of global competition. It’s multivector competition; it’s economic, it’s information; new ideological challenges. You can’t ignore large parts of the world the way we historically have ignored them – India, China, Russia, of course, but Brazil, South Africa. You know, they’re all critical. No longer European-centric.
I don’t like the word “shift” of power. I don’t think that’s right. But no longer “globalized,” yes. I think that’s right. And then military force is just not the key factor for geopolitics the way it was for many, many years.
Second thing is I think we’re in an era of what I would call European complications. I mean, the EU obviously benefits Europe a great deal economically and socially, but in a foreign policy arena, it’s actually confusing and disabling. You have EU foreign ministers, EU presidencies, national foreign ministers, national prime ministers, national presidents, and there are multiple, multiple meetings which eats up one of the most critical resources, which is the time of senior people. The EU talks a lot, gets little done, and Europe is affected thereby.
A third factor is that Europe and ourselves disable ourselves because of our organizations. So Turkey, a great set of issues, but the Turkey problem causes us not to be able to work with ourselves – NATO and the European Union, a big issue. There’s an era – it’s an era also of what I call ineffective capabilities. I mean, I like the counterinsurgency stuff and all that. I’ve done it a long time. But how (we’re ?) actually doing is an open question. We all talk the comprehensive approach – we put a sign up, but the reality of it is much less than – in terms of results.
And on other areas, like cyber or – we haven’t even gotten started. And we’re, you know – and we haven’t focused, for example, on the issue of the fact that if the U.S. is actually going to fight in a serious way, and we have an opponent who has cyber capabilities, that is the end of NATO-U.S. interoperability because the U.S. will have to cut off the NATO communications; it’ll have to cut off other national communications, because they can’t back-door into the U.S. cyber capabilities. And we’ve seen that in the stories this week going around about the worms going into the electric power grids. Cannot allow that to happen. But Europe and NATO are not doing anything about that.
We’ve got an era of economic constraints. I won’t push that. Everyone has talked about declining budgets. The U.S. is facing limits itself.
And we have an era of, what I would call, quite uncertain purpose. We all know – is NATO a military alliance? For what? Is it a political alliance? To do what? Well, the fact that you have to ask those questions mean you got a real problem. And we’re asking them all the time. We did not have to ask those questions before.
So my view is that the prospects for coherence are limited. I do think we have a chance. And it’s not so much turning around the Lisbon summit, where I think it’s, frankly, a big joke that we’re going to ask European – senior European presidents, prime ministers and the U.S. president to come together and approve helicopters for Special Forces. I mean, that is not what I want the president to spend his time on, right. But the notion that we ought to more tightly integrate our military capabilities with our civil objectives does seem to me to be something that fits a globalized world. That’s the set of issues that we ought to talk about.
And how to use the military in support of strategic stability, I think, is the fundamental question. If NATO is going to be a bedrock factor in that regard, we have to have a common base, a common approach to think about that. Bob Kagan put one out. Let me give you four different levels of thinking about this:
One is defense of NATO territory, along with diplomacy. And what that really implies, from a military side, is a strategic pause. And that really fits the current budget. That’s where we’re headed towards. The key question to resolve in that regard, of course, is Russia, where, as any number of people have said, there’s no agreement whatsoever. And the implementing plan for that, whatever, is completely disagreed upon. Some people like the resets; some people think we’re going to reset the reset; some people don’t like the reset East-West; you know, Germany’s a mess on this. Whatever you want to say, one thing is clear, there’s no coherent view as to how to deal with Russia. So even your simplest approach to NATO, which is to say, just defend the territory, you have a fundamental, unsettled question.
There’s a level-two on the defense side, and that would be, “Well, let’s do a little bit more than we used to. Let’s think about things like national, critical infrastructure, and the like” – that would be cyber, that would be energy. And not that NATO would do it alone, but that it would integrate with all the other institutions that work on this. Again, one of the key questions is, does the current organizational structures allow that integration? It’s obviously sensible. But you can’t get there from here in a lot of countries for the politics and otherwise.
A third level is meeting the threats to stability and territory outside of NATO. And here you have a lot interesting conversations. Again, Kagan is a smart guy – (inaudible) – you know, out of business – “out of area, out of business” does not make sense. Actually, “out of area, out of business” meant, let’s go to the Balkans. It didn’t mean go – (chuckles) – you know. So just the narrative, the way people remember the narrative, is forgotten.
So if you look at the Kagan approach, which was, well, yeah, let’s go out of area, but only to some places – Caucasus, Central Asia. And then someone says to him, well, what about Kazakhstan? And he just, you know, deleted that one, right. So maybe he meant the Caucasus. Again, it’s a completely open question as to what we do.
And then should NATO have a Middle East policy, or an Iran policy, or are we just going to leave that to some other group? I don’t think the UAE is the U.S.’s strongest ally. It’s perfectly okay, but I don’t think it has the coherence of others.
So, to me, the trajectory is quite uncertain and I think we’re headed into a period of strategic confusion. NATO has worked well when it’s had some great projects. And I don’t – I tried to think of some great ones and I couldn’t come up with any great ones, so I came up with maybe some “good enoughs” to start us off, and two are on capabilities and two are on geostrategic:
The first capability is, I think it’s time to say, “We’re done with national military forces; we need to go to multinational forces, across the board,” and make that a major, major effort. It’s what will fit with the economics.
The second thing is to try and create an international cyber security effort. Globalization depends on transportation and on IT. IT vulnerable, (you’re ?) out-of-the-box.
Third thing is building a policy that supports the EU’s Eastern effort. So bring the EU and NATO together.
And the fourth is to say, okay, NATO really is going to go to things that actually make a difference. We ought to have an integrated policy in Central Asia, not just Afghanistan, because it’s not Afghanistan, it’s Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran, and the like. To say that NATO is only in Afghanistan is to miss half the problem.
So with that, let me stop.
MR. WILSON: Thanks, Frank.
Jean Perruche, our first two speakers seem to agree that the narrative matters in Afghanistan, but how it ends is going to be important. Frank laid out – thank you, thank you, Ioan – Frank laid out the era of global competition, European complications, ineffective capabilities, institutional constipation, economic constraints, uncertain purpose, an era of strategic confusion as the backdrop, but has a common agenda on the table around which the alliance could potentially come to a common purpose and common future.
What’s your answer to this question of how Afghanistan is impacting this future course of the alliance in the next five, 10 years?
LT. GEN. (RET.) JEAN-PAUL PERRUCHE: First of all, thank you for your invitation. I was very excited to be with you today in Washington. And I feel the terrible honor to be the last speaker of the day – (chuckles) – on the very complex topic.
Let me start with an observation maybe. When we examine the consequences of Afghanistan and the future of NATO, we must distinguish between the consequences that could be caused by the end-state or the outcome of the operation and what this operation reveal, in fact – that we have not maybe enough pointed out in the past, but that thanks to this operation, we see more clearly.
With regard, and a lot of things that I will come on later, like lack of cohesion, solidarity, and things like that.
And maybe a second observation linked to this. When we speak of NATO and strategy, which engage European and American, we must be clear on, do we want NATO that works as it was in the past? That means, essentially, a U.S.-led instrument to which the European cooperate because it is of their interest? Or do we expect a more balanced NATO in the future world in which the European could speak and do better? That’s the question I will put at the beginning of this short brief.
Now let me come into a little more detail on the possible consequences. My first observation is maybe simplistic, but I think that the outcome for the European of Afghanistan operation doesn’t seem to be favorable in any outcome. First, if it is considered as a success story, it will be a success story of the American, frankly, because the American are engaged with more than 100,000 soldiers; (on the terrain ?) of 140,000. So it will be considered as justified success story to which the European will have little contributed, frankly.
If it is not, if it is a failure, I think that the American will be well founded to show the European as a very weak supporter and poor military – of poor military help. That means that, in any circumstances, I’m afraid it will not be very favorable to the European as they are today. Because I’m not only pessimistic; I’m also a little optimistic on the other term.
I will add that this operation will underscore also lack of cohesion within the alliance between European, and between European and American through the contribution – different levels of contribution, acceptance of risk, rules of engagement, et cetera. And it will show the inability – or confirm the inability of most of the European Allies to tackle serious military challenges, at least out of their territory.
I would like just to point out that the main contributor, after the U.S., is the U.K., but which reach scarcely 10 percent of the troops – of the American troops. France reach the level of 4.7, again, which is quite little. So this bad consequence, in terms of solidarity – possible bad consequence on solidarity and cohesion.
The alliance may also interact with divergence – or highlight divergence in security interests. And it is something that – which has existed certainly since the end of the Cold War, but on which we have had few discussion because it was not politically correct I think.
We must see that the objectives of the various U.S. initiative in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been very clear for all European, even if they share common values and globally – global security objective with the U.S. But they can differ on the courses of action to be implemented to reach these objectives, and it’s where we can diverge.
And probably, in the wake of this operation, the European countries, under pressure of their public opinion, will show more reticence to engage again in such operation without having a clearer view on the political objectives, and stakes and cost from the outset of the operation. We can certainly predict that without risk.
I would like to underline also that NATO was not perceived by the U.S. as the right framework to operate in Afghanistan at the beginning of the operation, and that make also – that bring also some confusion in the European public opinion. And I think that – and now we can see that the call of President Obama to increase military contribution of partners is not very successful. On the contrary, many participating country announced their intent to withdrawal their contingent at short term.
And in my mind, it is the result of the gap of level of ambition, and investment in security between the U.S. and their European allies, which cannot be – (inaudible) – in belonging to the same alliance. It is only in giving a common level of responsibility to all partners that we can have a strong alliance. What is lacking currently in the alliance is a sense of responsibility of the European, clearly.
And that brings me to mention the problem of public opinion support, because let me tell you that in my country, in France, it is not obvious that there is a strong link – positive link between what is being achieved in Afghanistan and the security of France against terrorism. It’s quite the opposite. Many people think that if we were not in Afghanistan we would have that problem with terrorists.
With regard operational aspects now, because I’m (an operational ?), in Afghanistan NATO had to adopt concept doctrine to a new type of operation, (a symmetric ?), global approach, counterinsurgency, et cetera. And the question is to know now if this new approach must serve as a reference for the future of NATO operation. Bat it has been mentioned several times today, so I do not insist more.
Nevertheless, a reflection will have to happen to analyze the cost effectiveness of this type of operation, because more and more we will have – we will be confronted to this dilemma – cost-effectiveness of operation. Because, we can observe that many countries in Europe have discovered that a faraway operation, of projection operation is very costly, even if you send a symbolic contingent.
Because, the various function with regard logistic, with regard transport, with regard relief, et cetera, and training, must be taken up by every contributing nation. And it’s very, very costly. And if we stay for long time, it is even more costly and pose problem which has consequences on the defense planning of each country. And I can tell you that even in my country there will be impact of all the new assets, new equipment that we have urgently bought off the shelves – in most of circumstances to the U.S., on the future planning for equipping the French forces. And with consequences as well on the industry are a problem – defense industry problem.
One other remark, because I will not be too long, we must – when we speak of strategy, with regard the new challenges of the future in defense and security area, we must be conscious that the European countries now must envisage their security and defense at the center of three circles: The first one is a national circle because nations keep the responsibility to ensure the defense and security of their citizens, even if most of the political leaders are conscious today that they are not only – they are not capable to ensure that, to do that on their own. They must be help.
The second circle is the European Union circle, because it is a place where European countries have developed a common interest, and this interest will have more and more to be taken into account in defense and security plans.
And the third circle, not the least, is NATO, because for historical reasons we have created a solid military organization to tackle upon any possible military crisis. But what has not been done now by our countries, and political leaders probably, is to envisage in the new context of security what should be the role of the different circles; what should be dealt with in each of the circles; and what the interaction – how the interaction should be, should be led and implemented.
And we see that every day – in particular, when we see the relationship between NATO and the EU, by the way. And maybe in – with this regard, the U.S. have a part of responsibility as well. Because, since the creation of ESDP instrument in 2000, in fact, NATO appeared as an obstacle to the development of the EU capabilities. Remember, when we created this new instrument we decided that it should not tackle any problem of defense, which means that the Europeans cannot speak of defense issues out of the presence of Americans. And, believe me, it’s very difficult to explain and justify to our public opinion in that way.
And second, we were limited in level of ambition with regard forces – (inaudible). Suppose that we make available 60,000 troops – which has not been achieved, by the way, as if we were concerned to see the European(s) doing too much to create capabilities. (Chuckles.) That is a very contradiction, let me tell you.
And finally, we restricted the area of intervention which made, up to recent date, the Lisbon treaty impossible to military assets to be – from the EU to be deployed in an EU theaters where a catastrophe happened, simply because it will – to pick at NATO, I don’t know exactly the reason. So we should lift this restriction urgently, I think, because we have not to fear that the Europeans are too strong. (Chuckles.)
MR. WILSON: General, thank you very much for that thoughtful comment.
We’ve already got – I’ve already see folks from the audience. I want to offer a comment and then – (inaudible) – to ask one question.
I do think it’s fascinating that we had Robert Kagan over lunch defending the value of the European contribution in Afghanistan, and our French general this afternoon questioning the value of the European contribution to Afghanistan.
But I also wanted to underscore the point about how NATO began in Afghanistan that you raised, because I do think that has implications. As we think about NATO beyond Afghanistan, we do need to think back and remember that the United States actually didn’t push – didn’t want the alliance involved. And the way it began was very marginal. NATO’s role was marginal and the U.S. resisted a more significant role at first. Then NATO began, because of German leadership, to be able to run an operation in Kabul only; extending it to the north only because of Chancellor Schroeder’s willingness to move up to Kunduz.
You had different missions, different mandates – Enduring Freedom, ISAF, which led to a difference in how it was communicated to European and American publics. And you had the irony of NATO’s most important mission, with the United States outside it – rotational commands. Gradually we brought these together, gradually this all changed, but I think that has implications for how the alliance will think about major operations in the future as well.
But I wanted to pick up just on a couple of points. First, Frank, you made the point about how the potential of Afghanistan fueling a drive on European defense. Do you see the experience in Afghanistan as giving momentum, giving fuel to a stepped-up effort on – a more serious effort on European defense, per se?
And General, do you think that Frank’s proposal for a real serious push into multinational cooperation is a potential outcome of both the Afghanistan experience with the backdrop of the economic crisis?
MR. KRAMER: In my view, you have to separate out the nations. And I think the French, the British will stay serious about defense even as their budgets are limited. And I think a lot of the other countries suffer from what the general pointed out, which is a feeling of “since I’m not responsible, I don’t have to be serious.” And I think we get a lot of “I’m not responsible, therefore I don’t have to be serious, therefore I don’t really have to work on these forces.”
Gen. Kujat was here and he pointed out the potential value of the NATO response force. And it was an idea that was a good idea at the time, and it’s gone badly wrong, so I would never bring it back. But it’s gone badly wrong because no one supported it. And then you get this additional notion, I think, that’s really quite interesting, “I don’t really want to be in Afghanistan fighting a war because it interferes with my practice for the next war.” Well, I’m not very sympathetic to that approach.
So I think that we have a lot of forces that are not very effective, and they’re not going to change because the effort is going in the opposite direction in terms of resources, and it does require resources to build a good military. Again, as I said, there are some countries that are doing a good job – the French, for sure, and some of the ones that actually have even pulled out. I mean, the Canadians and the Dutch, by way of example, have expended a lot of effort, have a lot of capability and deserve kudos. I’ll leave the political side apart, but they’re serious militarily.
MR. WILSON: Is Afghanistan contributing – we talked about French, British intense cooperation; we’ve seen it in the example of smaller Allies. Is Frank’s proposal for serious multinational collaboration more feasible –
GEN. PERRUCHE: Let me elaborate on your two question, briefly.
First, about the effect of Afghanistan operation, we will have positive, and, I will say, maybe less positive consequences. Positive consequence is that we had to adapt, to be more creative, to find solution against a symmetric new type of enemy, et cetera, and we have developed new concept, new doctrine, which extend our competence. That is a positive case.
On the other side, unfortunately, this modernization and adaptation cost a lot of money, (with ?) consequence is a reduction of format of the armed forces in almost all of the European countries. And let me tell you that the operational capability of France today: for the army, is 250 tanks operational – (inaudible) – and 125 artillery system. If I had told my grandfather, who was a combatant of the World War I, about this, he would – he would tell me, you are completely crazy guy.
It’s to show you that that’s good, the modernization, but it is at the cost of the global capability. France was able to drive army with two army corps in the ’70s. Is now capable to combat strongly in strong condition, but with a brigade – (inaudible) – far away. Of course, we could do a little better if we were to gather all our capabilities, but we would reach the level of a division – (inaudible). And it’s question our strategy, by the way, of security and defense. Is that fit with what we expect of the future?
Second, the multinational solution response to this difficult financial situation. Of course, that is a good response, but with the condition that the objectives are shared, that the strategy is common. When I look at the recent initiative to get the British and the French closer, in term of interdependency, as explained by a former speaker, I applaud, of course, but with the restriction that I hope that simultaneously we try to get our strategy closer. Because, I remember that when I was the director general of the EU military staff the main problem was the opposition of strategy between France and the U.K. at that time. And I hope that will be not develop more interdependency with non-unified strategic objectives, if any. So the restriction for multinational forces are those.
MR. WILSON: A very important caveat.
Let me ask Trish (sp) to pick up our two questions right here in the front. We’ll take these together, and then we’ll come to you.
You, over here.
Q: Thank you. Thank you all. It’s a fascinating session.
I suppose if I could sum up today – (inaudible), we have to go on, but we can’t go on like this, although our ability to go on like this probably is that we could for some time to come. But my question to you both is, over the next 10 years, between this Strategic Concept and probably the next one, 2020, we would certainly hope to have our military forces drawn down in Afghanistan. There will be a much strong civilian effort if things go according to plan.
Frank, a question to you. What is the U.S. vision for its European allies? What do you want from your European allies? It kind of would be nice to know that.
And if what I thought was a very balanced and minimum requirement that you were laying out given the circumstances, what are the consequences if we don’t get our act together? I mean, what, in 2020, would be your sense of where this town was in its view of European allies given that your center of gravity would be in East Asia?
Jean-Paul, if I can, I mean, I think – I strongly support much of what you said, though I think the European Union had something to do our lack of performance over the last 10 years on lack of capabilities. Given the gap between Britain and France, and then Germany and many of the smaller European countries, given the tasks that Frank very clearly laid out – and, I mean, we’re not talking Petersburg tasks in a European context; we’re really talking Petersburg tasks plus in a global context, and all that means – how would you organize Europeans effectively to be a good ally of the United States?
MR. WILSON: While you’re thinking of that, let’s pick up Harlan (sp).
Q: Damon, this also applies to you too. And I think that Julian (sp) was referring Frank to President Palin and what her views might be. (Laughter.)
I wanted to draw on what came – what dawned on me after the general made his comment about his grandfather. In 2000, anybody who suggested NATO would be Article 5 and on its first major ground war in Afghanistan, I suspect their credibility would have been doubted.
I would like to expand the conversation beyond Afghanistan just to get your views on speculating how the alliance may react to or very affected by, and I’ll give you just three simple scenarios:
The first is Iran nuclear weapons with or without an Israeli-American preemptive strike.
Two, a major, major terrorist attack in Europe that kills at least hundreds, and maybe thousands, orchestrated by people of Afghan or Pakistani descent.
And thirdly, another Mumbai attack in which Pakistan is, if not attacked, blockaded by India.
MR. WILSON: The last one, the Mumbai-Pakistan attack, and?
Q: (Inaudible.) A Mumbai attack orchestrated by Pakistanis, in which the Indian response –
MR. WILSON: Was a blockade.
Q: – some kind of a blockade, sanctions in which Pakistan was meant to be isolated.
MR. WILSON: Right.
All right, we’ve got a cluster of questions there.
Do you want to pick up Jean-Paul?
GEN. PERRUCHE: A very difficult question. (Chuckles.)
Q: (Off mike.)
GEN. PERRUCHE: Yes, it is speculation, but we never know. (Chuckles.)
With regard to the Iran situation, I think that the worst-case scenario is not sure, for many reasons – because of internal problem in Iran, because it seems that the new attitude of the West to Iran will end in pressing more – putting more pressure on Ahmadinejad and the bad guys who lead the country.
I think that to present a military solution to solve the Iran case might be counterproductive for the time being. So I will not develop more, because it – it deserve more. But, with regard – and, frankly, I do not see NATO taking – tackling this kind of issue. That’s a problem for the U.S. and maybe the other nuclear power first.
Second, a terrorist big – a big-scale terrorist attack. I have always been surprised to see that a terrorist attack stayed a national issue for all the countries who were struck to date. That was true for the U.S., for the Spanish, for the British, et cetera. In any case, international support was accepted as moral support, but not more.
So I’m not sure, again – of course, if it is to deploy assets, and even including military means to support and to help to solve a terrible situation in a country, it will happen within NATO, with the EU, or other framework. It is not so (important ?). But if there was – (audio break) – a new operation to be conducted a little similar to this that we are conducting in Afghanistan, certainly NATO will be the right, the right for that I think, if there is convergence of interests between the European and the American.
And finally, with regard Mumbai – (inaudible) – I think that, again, we are in presence of two nuclear powers. And certainly it will be first responsibility for the other nuclear power(s) to tackle, to see together how to contain this possible explosion and conflict. But by chance, to now, the fact that both countries became a nuclear power – (inaudible) – calmed down their conflicts than augmented it.
MR. WILSON: Frank.
And we’ve got – Julian’s on the table as well. (Inaudible.)
MR. KRAMER: All right, well let’s start with Julian’s question.
It seems to me that what we want to have the Europeans have are effective civilian plus military capabilities that are integrated. We want that for the U.S. also, and then we want each of those to be integrated. So that means that we want the Europeans to have conventional, (irregular ?) cyber deployable capabilities. If I put a number on it, I would say that you’d want to be able to have at least a force of at least 500,000 able to deploy effectively – at least. But in any event, 500,000.
On the civilian side, I think we hear all too often about the EU being the civilian activity and can work well with NATO. Of course, that’s, in my view, an obviously ridiculous approach because that cuts the U.S. civilian part out. So we need to stop talking that way.
It’s not that – and we need to stop talking as if the EU is not NATO. I mean, one of the things that happens, and it’s happened in this conversation already, is, “Well, I don’t think NATO ought to do something.” Well, NATO’s us. You know, NATO’s us – it’s the U.S., it’s EU. It is not a sovereign organization. The EU is sovereign, but it’s a multiple sovereignty, multiple levels. So I think we disable ourselves by our own conventions of speaking.
Q: (Off mike.)
MR. KAGAN: The U.S.-EU relationship is ineffective at the moment, and that’s illustrated by all the time that the president’s going to give that meeting. And it’s not because we wouldn’t want more, but because it doesn’t seem that we’re able to get more out of it. And, again, I think a great deal of it is – well, both sides have a lot to say about this, but the EU is so engaged in organizing itself that it’s hard for it to get out and do things.
But I think the U.S. would very much like the European Union to go out and do more. What we don’t particularly expect – and I don’t see why the Europeans would want us – (audio break) – why we wouldn’t be doing together. That would be – (audio break). But taking the limits off? Absolutely. Take the limits off now. That’s fine with me. I don’t worry about that.
On the scenarios, let me just do two, because I think they show a difference:
The Iranian nuclear weapon, I think you would certainly see at least an attempt on a significant containment strategy, if not more, because I think Europe, which on a – (audio break) – if we engaged, would be engaged in that.
On the India-Mumbai – “Mumbai II,” so to speak – (inaudible) – as you pointed out, I think the inclination would be different because the thought would be, I think, that India and Pakistan have fought a lot of wars; we’ve stayed away from them, and we’re going to try to take a diplomatic approach as opposed – Now, that’s just a guess, of course. I’m speculating.
But I would go back again, I mean, I really think that we could get a lot more capabilities out of Europe if we stopped doing things in the old way. And I think everything that the general said about the difficulties of multinational forces is correct, and I think that’s a risk worth taking.
MR. WILSON: Just quickly pick up on Harlan’s point, since you invited me to.
I do think the Iran scenario is potentially one of the toughest that could divide the trans-Atlantic alliance. But it basically depends on Washington’s reaction. Washington coalescing around a strong containment strategy will keep Europe with us. Washington going a step further, either directly or indirectly, taking a military action with Israel, and we’ve got a huge trans-Atlantic divide.
A major terrorist attack: I think it’s interesting. You can imagine a major terrorist attack originating from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Europe of the scale of 9/11 cutting both – two ways: one, strengthening the resolve of those who think actually we understand why we were there and we’ve got to stick by it; and the second, increasing calls for withdrawal, “we brought this upon ourselves because we’re there.”
I think what the difference is, is political leadership. I think if you look at Spain, on the eve of the election in Spain and the attack in Madrid, if President Aznar was in power, Spain would – Spain would have played to the first: strengthen its resolve; wouldn’t have backed down. President Zapatero came to power; immediately withdrew forces. Now, obviously Iraq’s different. There was a different political dynamic at play. The premise is a little bit different. But what I say is that I think there’s a reservoir of both reactions among European public opinion, and it depends on the willingness of political leadership to steer that, I think, at the end of the day.
On the Mumbai attack scenario and an Indian blockade of Pakistan, this is where I do think NATO would be in the backdrop. I think something like this would compel the United States to do what I think it should do today, is really expand the problem in South Asia so that it’s Afghanistan-Pakistan-India, and that we use this mess that we have to actually increase a diplomatic role and help to break through the impasse we’ve in Indian and Pakistani relations. Because, at the end of the day, that would represent – that would change the narrative completely on a failed mission in Afghanistan, and we changed the narrative to: our presence and our diplomatic engagement, leading to an enduring peace in South Asia, which opens up tremendous opportunities. Right there, the history, the narrative would be different on this story.
And because you’ve offered to speculate – I was going to ask this question to the panel, but if I’m speculating, what I’m thinking about, with Rasmussen’s visit here, what I’ve heard from administration officials’ discussions is the real possibility – and you have to suspend disbelief, given the state of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations today and the settlement dispute – but President Obama has put a one-year time clock on a peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians. There’s been serious talk in the Oval Office during President – Secretary-General Rasmussen’s visit about the potential role of, and the context of, a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
This is complicated. I recognize it – (inaudible). But it is interesting, because if you think about NATO beyond Afghanistan, it could be faced with a real question in a year, maybe two years, maybe not, but you can envision a scenario where – (inaudible) – come to Europe and say, “Peace in the Middle East? We have a role to play here of competent security building, and we think it requires some type of NATO or heavy European presence within some type of military operation.” How does Afghanistan shade that decision?
Well, one, you’ve got political will in Europe that would stand behind a stronger presence in the Middle East that you don’t have in Afghanistan. I think that’s a positive. You also begin to think about the capabilities. We wouldn’t be talking about the scale of the mission that we have in Afghanistan; we’d be talking about a dramatically different type of mission which would potentially play to the strengths of some European capabilities, more focused on presence, security-sector reform.
Now, you have very challenging issues of rules of engagement and how to handle challenges, as Bob Kagan said, but a corollary, from the American perspective, is this helps create a deterrent force in Israel to potential Iranian action in the event of a nuclear-armed Iran. And so I put that out there because I think, again, this could be an issue that the alliance faces, and a difficult transition in Afghanistan in which the alliance sort of limps out of Afghanistan, if it were followed within 12 months, within 24 months with an operation that was actually quite popular in Europe, which had a NATO role and which ended up being a success story, could dramatically change the narrative of all this pessimism we hear today. That could be part of the story, part of the chapter.
Q: (Inaudible) – which part of Europe would it be popular in? (Laughter.)
MR. WILSON: I think the Europe public opinion understands and stands by sustained support for agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians in a way it doesn’t for its troops and forces in Afghanistan today. I think there’s – political leadership has more of a reservoir to tap among public opinion on that issue than it ever has a chance of doing in South Asia.
I’ve gone on too long. I want to bring in this gentleman here – (inaudible).
Q: Stanley Kober with the Cato Institute.
Where I live in Northern Virginia you can see some signs on the lawns. They started to appear a few months ago and I’m seeing more of them over time: “No War in Afghanistan.” That’s bottom up. What surprises me is I’m not seeing any counter signs. These signs have been going up for months and I don’t see, as you would see in an election campaign – one side, then the neighbor will put on the other side, I’m not seeing any signs of “Victory in Afghanistan.” The only signs I see going up on the lawns say “No War in Afghanistan.”
This is bottom up. And, you know, I keep thinking of – (inaudible) – advice, it’s a cliché, “If you’re going to win in war, you got to know yourself and know your enemy.” Got to know yourself. We’ve been talking about leadership, but I’m thinking of the followers. You know, is there more war weariness than people in this strategic community want to acknowledge? And I’ll just put that out there. I mean, leaders have got to have followers, and this is a democracy.
MR. WILSON: Good point.
Given our time, I want to quickly pick up Peter and Vago (sp) over here.
Q: Thank you. Just quickly. Not really a question, but a comment from somebody who’s been – Peter Flory, former assistant secretary-general for defense investment at NATO.
So when the general mentioned multinational solutions, that kind of hit home because I spent the last three-and-a-half years trying to implement these things. Your point about agreeing on goals is key, and I think that’s one of the biggest difficulties we have, not unlike parents who may look at a brand new baby and one parent thinks, well, this is the next, I don’t know, Lionel Messi, and the other one thinks this is the next Arnold Schwarzenegger or the next Albert Schweitzer, whoever.
We start programs and one nation sees a capability that will be delivered quickly to its forces; and maybe another one sees the opportunity for tech transfer, the building of defense independence, ministries – defense ministries; economic ministries tend to see jobs. And because of the way we do these things, which is typically under a lot of pressure to come up a deal before a summit or a defense ministerial, everybody kind of papers over what they really mean by this. And then we run out; we have a press release; and then everybody goes back to arguing what exactly it is we want.
And these are not – these are all reasonable things to seek in a capability. My view, from coming from my job, was always, the thing we should try to do is to deliver a capability quickly because we actually have soldiers at war right now and the other stuff is all second fiddle. Nevertheless, there are things we can do, in terms of investing time up front – again, time up front rather than after and coming up with a sensible management structure; not choosing to have more versions of the program than there are nations in it, for example, as we did on the NH90 program; and even considering – and, of course, this implies a certain decision with respect to industrial – (inaudible) – considering off-the-shelf capabilities. Most of the programs we were still trying to bring over the goal line began before we actually were at – in (war ?) similar situations, or whatever the current phrase is, before we are engaged in combat in Afghanistan.
But I think one of the important things that Lisbon can do, and there’s been a certain amount of justifiable skepticism about what Lisbon will do if nations don’t actually decide to implement whatever it is that they agree to do at Lisbon, but at least deciding what our level of ambition in these capabilities should be and then creating a common sense of obligation to actually field them on behalf of the soldiers, on behalf of the mission.
MR. WILSON: Thanks, Peter.
Q: I had no question embedded in there I don’t think.
MR. WILSON: Thanks, Peter. Vago, please.
Q: I actually have a question, although it’s a remarkably cynical one perhaps. (Laughter.) I just thought I would fill – a little bit more, I think, looking at it geostrategically.
And I don’t, sir, mean to make this an anti-French question. I’ll merely just ask the question.
Every nation obviously in the alliance is sovereign and has its own interests, but France’s and the U.S. interests I think, through many decades of the alliance, were somewhat counter to one another. We saw that again in 2003 with the launching of the (other pole ?), which is something that has been very, very important to France. And I would have thought that after France pressed and returned to the NATO fold, we would have sort of seen comments from the French defense minister, not say, I’m afraid of becoming an American pawn. One would have thought that those ideas would have been past, but clearly not.
So how do you respond to those people who might be cynical, and look at this and say, did France get back into NATO to help NATO and make NATO stronger? Or did France get back into NATO to serve another purpose, perhaps an EU purpose or an ulterior agenda? Thanks.
MR. WILSON: All right, gentlemen, you want to pick up on –
Q: (Off mike.)
MR. WILSON: War weariness; Peter’s exhortations; and France.
MR. KRAMER: I’ll go next.
GEN. PERRUCHE: Maybe I will – I will start with the last question. (Laughter.) It’s directly turned to me.
Well, I think that France has always – and Gen. de Gaulle the first one, has always considered the Atlantic alliance as being the natural framework to organize our defense and security, and I think that’s all very concrete. (Inaudible) – France demonstrated during the Cuba crisis in ’62, later during the Euro-missile deployment issue in the ‘80s. Later on, that when the things were to worsen regarding our security, France was on the side of the United States.
This is an exception which is 2003. But as you know, there was a difference of appreciation on the justification of this operation, in particular, with regard the weapon of mass destruction issue. And I think that it was not engaging neither the security of the United States nor the security of Europe, if we are frank.
Now, when France came back to the integrated military structure, it was to help to update NATO and to make a new NATO more effective. I think that it’s really what the French want. And to achieve that, we think that it’s better for the U.S. to have a reliable partner. The partner is somebody which – who share your interests but who is capable to have its own opinion on different things, and who is ready to discuss it.
And it’s the position of France. That means that don’t believe that because France joined the team again, within the integrated military structure, that France will always be on the same – with the same arguments as the United States. It will not happen. You will be disappointed. But I think that what the U.S. need is a reliable partner. That means a partner who is capable to make its own judgment, who is capable to develop its own capabilities, and who is capable to undertake autonomous action. That is exactly what the U.S. needs.
And if I had a strategic message to deliver to our (big Allies ?), it would be to encourage the European to behave in a more effective way, to integrate more their forces in order that the EU – which is a natural framework for developing the common interests of the European and also their defense and security capabilities – that the EU become an internal and external actor or partner of the United States. Internal in NATO and external when it happens that it is not of the direct interests of the U.S. to deploy, to have the European capable to do it on their own, with good chance of being successful.
To achieve that, it start with getting closer the foreign policies of the various country in Europe that is a European problem; to organize in a better way the basis for industrial development and industry in Europe, certainly; and then to develop a level of ambition in accordance with capabilities, real capabilities. That is the way you can find interests in your European allies, and it is certainly the only way to restore the influence of the Atlantic alliance in the future.
MR. WILSON: I want to conclude by giving Frank the last word, therefore I’m going to ask if Boyko (sp), you have a quick comment, and then we’ll come back to Frank with what’s still on the table, and Boyko’s comments.
Q: My very quick comment is that in Afghanistan it’s not only NATO, it’s much more. And how many nations do we have, 46 or more? And yesterday I understand – (inaudible) – the United States has appealed to Bangladesh to provide forces as well. So it is our problem, but it’s not only our problem. We have to think about partners as well. And it’s also a matter of leadership. We cannot just lead them in the field if we (take decision ?). That’s number one.
And number two, I think that the Middle East, although it’s not our topic today, but you mentioned it, Damon, I think that the Middle East is the best thing for a NATO-Russia operation – or EU-Russia operation. Thank you.
MR. WILSON: All right.
Frank, please, with some of these strands on the table, offer us your final words.
MR. KRAMER: I think where I would go is that the most important thing I think is to think about how to generate common interests, not for multinational forces but for our geostrategic approach, so that the real challenge in front of NATO is to say whether we do have clarity on common interests.
And, again, it seems to me that we can build up. But they’re difficult at all levels, so I come back again to the notion of having a clarity of common interests with respect to Russia, because that affects even the most limited approach to NATO – defense of territory.
I think there should be a clarity of common interests that NATO should support the EU’s capabilities. Not that the EU shouldn’t have its own capabilities, but NATO should be thought of as an instrument to support and undergird the EU’s capabilities to your strategic capabilities, and the like. We ought to work much more closely.
And then that NATO ought to have regional policies. And even Kagan thinks that, because he says Europe – someplace, you know, undefined, maybe it’s Ukraine, maybe it’s Caucasus, whatever, and a number of people have talked about the Middle East. It’s tougher than you think in these kinds of situations. It’s all very easy to say, I’ll put a force in there, and sometimes it works and there’s no problem, like the Sinai Peacekeeping Force or the police force that we did in – (inaudible) – the building up. But sometimes you start to get shot at. And are we going to put them just in the West Bank or are we going to put them in Gaza? Those kinds of questions need to be worked out.
But I do think that an international common policy is critical. And I think, again, that we need to stop talking about NATO as if it’s a sovereign entity and remember it’s just us. And that we shouldn’t disable ourselves by talking about organizations.
The last point I would make with respect to France, just on the question, I don’t think United States wants a French pawn either. I think the French are more sensitive about things they hear coming out of Washington than Washington is sensitive to how France feels about it. You know, the joke is, the French wake up every morning thinking about us; and we wake up every morning never thinking about them. (Laughter.) Now, that’s not true because we all love Paris.
But it’s a different perspective, so you get some of that feel. And it goes back, if you will, the Coca Cola wars of the late ’40s and in the early ’50s. But at the end of the day, France has been a remarkably good ally for the United States both militarily and politically. And yes, we have had one major, major disagreement, but that’s not a bad record.
So the trick is to really bring together common interests I think, and then understand that there will be differences of approach. And then, of course, in all bureaucracies it’s a Bell curve: There’s some people over here who don’t like them, still eating freedom fries; and there’s some people over there who don’t like us, don’t drink Coca Cola; and then there’s the rest of us, you know.
And with that, let me stop.
MR. WILSON: As someone who worked quite a bit on this NATO-France issue, I can’t resist to add my two cents.
From an American perspective, I hear your skepticism over there, Vago. But hearing President Sarkozy defend the relationship with the United States in an election campaign and on French television is quite jarring and it’s quite significant. He could be leaving soon, but – (laughter).
Hence, this is why I think many of us saw this as an opportunity to try to capture the concept of France defining its strength, in partnership with the United States; getting its NATO normalization done when there’s leadership like that, but defining its strength and its global presence in partnership with the United States; and stitching up some of the institutional work, so that we’re all a little bit more relaxed and we can enable European defense in a more serious way if – it’s not sufficient, but it’s, I think, a necessary base.
We’re going to wrap up today by turning to Ant Calandra, one of our senior fellows, to offer some, sort of, summing up from what we’ve done. But I want to underscore that today’s conference and discussion is not meant to be esoteric. Let me just read – today, I think, at NATO, NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen was on the hook to circulate, I believe, his first draft of NATO’s Strategic Concept for the first discussion among NATO ambassadors tomorrow. And this “NATO beyond Afghanistan” isn’t an academic exercise. I want to pull one sentence out of the Albright report to underscore how this is still relevant to policy that we have to deal with now.
In the executive summary, the third recommendation summary: “Establishing guidelines for operations outside alliance borders: For all its assets, NATO is by no means the sole answer to every problem affecting international security. NATO is a regional, not a global organization, its authority and resources are limited, and it has no desire to take on missions that other institutions in (?) countries can handle successfully. Accordingly, the new Strategic Concept should prescribe guidelines for NATO as it makes decisions about when and where to apply its resources outside alliance borders.”
There already is a lesson of “NATO beyond Afghanistan.” That’s the group of experts acknowledging how difficult this was, the potential of it being a mistake, and wanting to set out, but not being able to do so within their effort, but wanting to prescribe, set out more limits on NATO taking on an operation as ambitious in Afghanistan is my reading of that. We’ll see how this plays out in the current Strategic Concept debate.
But with that, let me thank Gen. Perruche. Thank you very much for your time, your comments. I thought that was an excellent discussion to be able to wrap up a – wrap up our conversation. Very appreciative of your remarks. (Applause.)
And Ant – and we’ll bring Ant right up to the podium to help conclude or conference for the day.
ANTHONY CALANDRA: I realize that I’m the only thing between all of you and a soggy commute home. I’ll try to make this brief and cover some of the main topics that we talked about today.
So this morning Mr. Kempe began by noting how today’s headlines make this conference very relevant, and it – there’s really no current path for NATO after ISAF is complete. He also discussed the need for a new global political policy, and Mr. Wilson carried on that same thought process by suggesting that we look beyond NATO’s current – I don’t know if you used the term “in box” or “in basket” for longer-term ideas and provide a good reality check for our leadership.
We started off, Fran Burwell moderated our first panel discussion by reiterating those current headlines, and frankly the talk turned as gloomy as the weather is outside today. It was quickly brought out that the outcome of the ISAF mission will be – in many ways, dictate the future, at least the prospects for the future of the alliance. No real surprise there, but while things appear to be going better for the ISAF mission, the press doesn’t always reflect that This brought about another line of discussion with regard to the rift between public feeling in Europe and political ideology inside of NATO, and how that would affect the future missions.
There was a unanimous agreement – near unanimous agreement that NATO is in need of a new idea. And this is a topic that resurfaced throughout the day. We need a new concept focused on global policy to combat threats that might not necessarily involve(d) military influence. Some of the examples brought up were the global economy, sustainable energy, global climate, maritime security, or, in a larger aspect, security for the global commons, and then we talked just briefly about missile defense.
There was some lively question and answers concerning some of the optimism that – of NATO’s past political successes, and the clouds actually parted for a while and there was a little bit of sunshine. Unfortunately, that sunshine revealed a growing rift between the U.S. and its NATO Allies concerning global strategy, and Mr. Janning recognized that elephant hiding in the back of the room, that is China.
From the first panel discussion, I think it’s clear that internal issues, the public opinion of how ISAF is going, and the reasons for being in ISAF – being involved with ISAF, what actually threatens Europe these days, and the final realization that there has been an end to the Cold War makes NATO’s future about as cloudy as today’s weather, and the future of out-of-area military operations is rather bleak.
A new strategy, a global strategy addressing newer, non-militaristic threats could be the key to NATO’s future. And like I said, you can hear that over and over again as I go through my comments.
That was the first panel.
The weather for our second panel changed a little, and I’ll describe it best as “foggy.” We notetakers and typists over in the corner, who thought that this panel would have a rather finite answer, began earnestly rewriting our outlines as the topic changed dramatically. But there were some very salient and insightful ideas that kept us busy for the rest of the morning.
We were reminded that ISAF has not lost this battle, this war, and that this isn’t a wake for NATO. There was a little more optimism in the room. NATO is still a primary provider of world-dominating power. And despite what is termed as a “Euro defense depression,” all is not lost, and the way out of that depression is through good leadership, and, specifically, good leadership from this side of the Atlantic. NATO leadership needs to make a decision now, we decided, a strategic decision – (inaudible) – holding off in fear of making an incorrect decision.
We also talked about economic benefits that could be realized if we reduced stovepiped defenses in Europe in lieu of a more combined shared defense force, and that’s another topic that came up over and over today. NATO nations will need a good measure of courage, however, to undertake such a – such a restructuring.
There was some actual talk of sharpening or breaking, like the panel was described, as discussions on counterinsurgency began. It was pointed out that there has been a significant sharpening in the areas of COIN and nation-building by the Allies, but that has come at a cost. And at least for the U.S. Army, that cost is a loss of capabilities to conduct normal, combined or conventional warfare.
This brought about a new discussion on strategy, that is, the misuse or misapplication of strategy. And that can derail NATO’s efforts in current military actions or in any kind of future restructuring. We need to get this strategy right, another topic that came up over and over, and we concluded Panel II with a good discussion on the art of war strategy, but strategy, both regionally and globally, was the clear focus here. But I thought this dovetailed nicely into the first panel’s discussion of global policy. So we covered policy and strategy.
During the lunch hour there was a little bit clearing in the weather, at least inside the conference room here. In a fast-paced discussion between Mr. Kagan and Mr. Kempe and the audience, a new optimist appeared, a new NATO optimist appeared on the stage. That might be pushing it a little bit, but it did lead to an intriguing discussion.
There was a lot of talk involving Russia, which can be summarized by understanding that it’s important to continue to reach out to Russia, but it’s equally important to remember that Russia has its own agenda and we need to account for that.
Concerning the greater landscape of NATO, the panel discussed the idea that maybe things haven’t changed as much as people think, and that NATO is still a viable alliance for much of the same reasons why it emerged in the first place.
There was a prediction for progress for ISAF; and that the only way out of Afghanistan was going out by going forward.
And then a little bit of pessimism: If ISAF fails in Afghanistan, it could very well mean the failure of the alliance, despite the relevance of the alliance that we discussed just before that.
During the first afternoon session the weather darkened again as we talked mostly about transformation and restructuring. Collective defense was another topic that was brought up again, and restructuring using collective defense as a savings measure in these austere times, and how that can be a positive thing.
We discussed the partial transformation which occurred prior to ISAF, and the fact that that transformation remains incomplete but needs to continue in a way to maximize efficiencies. Unfortunately, though, future transformation will most likely fail to employ good intellectual vision due to these austere times, and just a lack of positive leadership.
Okay, rounding out the day: The final panel was a lot like the weather right now, and that would be unsettled. While it may still be fresh on our minds, I’ll just recap a few of the highlighted items:
The endgame in Afghanistan is going to be key, and the rebuilding of that country to fill that vacuum left behind is going to be the true measure of success for ISAF. That was the – how we started the discussion.
But the last portion of that discussion I think really summarized almost the entire day. NATO needs a new global strategy that accounts for a multipolar world as opposed to a bipolar world. It needs to deal with the new threats which aren’t necessarily military threats. It needs to have a common interest and have a clearer path with Russia; a renewed sense of European responsibility.
We have to do it smartly, cost-effectively, reducing those stovepipes and those inefficiencies, but the operational capability has to support the strategy. And bottom line is: The way to get here is through good leadership.
MR. WILSON: Thank you. Thank you very much, Ant.
I just want to take a second to thank all of you for joining us today – particularly you. You’ve had the stamina to be with us all day long. We’re very grateful for that.
I particularly want to thank our Strategic Advisers Group members who have been with us today, particularly those from across the Atlantic. Thank you very much.
To (Magnus ?), who had the heaviest hand in running the entire event today, thank you, (Magnus ?). (Applause.)
To the other Atlantic Council staff, Simona (sp), Trish (sp), Jason hiding back there – (applause) – Ant, as well as to – (inaudible) – who is serving as a rapporteur on a report that we’ll be preparing.
MR. : (Off mike.)
MR. WILSON: Well, thank you.
And for all of those that are interested, we will have an events page up on our website where we’ll a transcript available; we’ll also be posting much of the audio throughout the course of the day. And we’ll be following up here in the coming weeks and months with a series of programming: one, a new stage of a (SAG ?) report on “NATO beyond Afghanistan,” as well as some individual issue briefs that will play out some of the issues you heard today.
So please be on the lookout for some of our publications flowing from today’s event, and thank you very much for joining us. Thank you for your interest. (Applause.) Bye-bye.