FREDERICK KEMPE: This project was launched last year with a clear purpose to address the role and priorities of NATO and the broader transatlantic community in the face of emerging security challenges, global power shifts, new disruptive technologies, and a highly contested and unpredictable security environment. I was just talking to the Norwegian defense minister and we also talked about how it also illustrates how bilateral relationships within a multilateral organization can push thought leadership forward and can push ideas forward and can create communities of influence that are quite important to the future of the alliance.

When we launched this project, in June, it was a different world. We launched it with a conference called NATO in the New Security Landscape. And only a few could have predicted the turbulence in the transatlantic partnership and the challenges that we’ve witnessed over the past year.

Last fall, at the second conference on NATO’s deterrence and collective defense, we addressed this against the backdrop of the escalation of the Syrian conflict, the NSA revelations which caused an erosion of transatlantic trust, which we’ve been attending to. And as we moved on to our third conference, which took place this March in Oslo, we already knew Putin’s annexation of Crimea and his subsequent efforts to destabilize Ukraine presented an enormous challenge for the alliance and the broader Transatlantic community.

And now, even as we look at this, we have to look to Iraq and Syria and see that situations, as unstable as they were and as violent as they were, have turned even more challenging. So with this complex set of issues in mind, we’ve prepared the final report of this project, which you’ll find just outside of the lobby. But we’ll continue working bilaterally and putting together these communities of influence because we know that the alliance has to be particularly nimble and particularly flexible in these days, when the challenges are changing as quickly as they are.

As the report states, when NATO heads of state convene in Wales in September, they’ll confront one of the serious set of challenges since NATO’s birth, in 1949, about how to respond to a newly aggressive Russia and security threats proliferating across the Middle East, including, as I said, Syria, and the rise of jihadism, including foreign fighters in Iraq.

Can NATO be flexible enough? Can it be nimble enough? Can it adjust to this new world of challenges, even as troops withdraw from Afghanistan? As we believe, if NATO doesn’t adapt rapidly and effectively to meet these new serious challenges, it risks irrelevance. And it risks a loss of its credibility. And there’s – and those are the stakes and the stakes are enormous. And I think that the turnout today underscores an important challenge we’re facing and it’s a testament to what’s at play. And of course, we have a larger audience also online and digitally with us.

It’s not surprising that we’re looking at these issues with our friends and colleagues from Norway, who have repeatedly demonstrated their outsized value to the alliance. Norway has been a thought leader on the alliance’s future and this is underscored all the more by the new secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister Stoltenberg, who was here at the Atlantic Council last week for a transition seminar and a set of meetings in Congress and elsewhere.

So first of all, I want to start by thanking our partners at the Norwegian Ministry of Defense led so ably by Her Excellency Ine Eriksen Søreide, who is here with us today. I’d also like to tip my hat to Policy Director Sven Efjestad (ph), director of security policy, John Andreas Olsen, and senior advisors Kristi Fjellestads (sp) and Keith Aiken (sp). It’s been wonderful working with all of you over this period of time.

I also want to acknowledge our partners at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies, Senior Fellow Michael Mayer and his colleagues at the IFS who are also with us today.

And last, but not least, I’d like to thanks our colleagues here in Washington, Ambassador Kåre Aas and his team at the embassy. This has been a fantastic, longstanding cooperation.

We’ve got a great lineup today. We’re honored that General Brent Scowcroft has agreed to join us and open this event. After his opening remarks, we’ll hear from the Norwegian minister of defense. We’ll get a read out on U.S. administration strategy for Europe and NATO by Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Derek Chollet. And so it’s a very good turnout and lineup of speakers.

So without further ado, I’ll turn the floor over to our guest of honor, starting with General Scowcroft, who’ll outline his vision for a renewed transatlantic community. His among the staunchest supporters of the Atlantic Council. And we’re tremendously honored he serves as chairman of our international advisory board, after having served twice as chairman of our board over the years.

We quite likely wouldn’t be here at all at the Atlantic Council without his vision or commitment, where he saw at the end of the Cold War that there was a reason for the Atlantic council and the transatlantic community to stay together. History wasn’t over. And he had the foresight to see that we would be heading into a period of time where we were being far better off if we could continue to work effectively across the Atlantic.

He’s dedicated his career to public service, only person to serve twice as a national security advisor under Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. I usually only add this next sentence when Henry Kissinger is here, so I can rip him a little bit, but he was actually three times his national security advisor when he was deputy national security advisor and Kissinger was both national security advisor and secretary of state. And everybody knows it. Even Henry Kissinger can’t do both jobs. So three times national security advisor, but I hope anybody who knows Henry Kissinger will pass on that I said that today.

He serves on the President’s General Advisory Committee on Arms Control, the Commission on Strategic Forces, the Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management and the President’s Special Review Board. So remains very relevant within this administration, as he has in all others in the past years. And president of the Scowcroft Group international business advisory firm.

So ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming General Brent Scowcroft. (Applause.)

LIEUTENANT GENERAL BRENT SCOWCROFT: Thank you very much for that kind and generous introduction. It’s a great pleasure to be here with you all this morning. And I’m honored to be the one asked to get all of you started on the discussion of this excellent new report on NATO in an era of global competition. Before turning to substance, I want to acknowledge the efforts of the two organizations who have produced the paper, which is the focus of the meeting today.

As was just said, I have devoted a great deal of time to the Atlantic Council over the past several years. I’m a strong believer that this is an alliance that really actually knows how to fight together, but the question is for what. And I will talk a little bit about the eras that NATO has gone through in talking about the “and what now.”

But I’m delighted to see that it’s, once again, pioneering innovative thinking about how we should deal with the current increasingly difficult global scene. I won’t say anything more about the Council. I’ve already spoken so highly of the way it has developed that I need to preserve my credibility.

I do, however, want to congratulate the Council’s partner in this effort, the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Defense. And I’m very pleased to recognize Ine Eriksen Søreide, Norway’s minister of defense, to thank her for staff support and involvement in this effort. Madam Secretary, you’re a bright light in the councils of the alliance. I can’t tell you how much your strong voice has been helpful on the need for a reinvigorated NATO.

I would also point out that 2014 is about to come the year of Norway, since as most of you know, Norway’s former prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg will become NATO’s next secretary general later this year. I hope he gets an opportunity to read this report before he takes over.

I want to be very clear this morning as to why I believe so firmly that NATO is essential and unique in today’s troubled world. We should not forget why NATO exists. It exists as its foundational treaty states: to safeguard the freedom, common heritage, and civilization of the member states peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.

Now, that stands in sharp contrast to much of what we see in the headlines we read every morning. And I would hope that when NATO’s leaders meet in Wales in August, they use that opportunity, in part to educate and remind their fellow citizens, particularly those under 30 years of age, who have only the faintest appreciation of this, why NATO exists and what it stands for.

As an institution, NATO has been through a number of phases to which it has had to adjust. The Cold War, from its founding in 1949 to 1989, the immediate post-Cold War period, which saw new challenges in managing the evolution of the war torn Balkan states and absorbing new members. And in this century, in addition to further expansion, new dangers have emerged dangers which arose outside NATO’s own landmass, but nevertheless if unaddressed pose threats to our core beliefs.

Meeting in Chicago, in May, 2012, summit, NATO’s leaders set forth three core missions for NATO: collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security. Those missions provide the intellectual framework for what we should be doing. The harder task is applying those principles to reality. I hope that at the Wales summit the alliance heads of government take this on. The recommendations in your report, aptly titled “The Way Forward,” provide an excellent roadmap for doing just this. They make clear that what NATO needs now is a reanimated blend of strategy, force capability, and exercise.

And I want to emphasize blend. You can’t have an effective military force if you don’t have a clear political strategy for how NATO’s 28 nations will work together. And you can’t have an effective military force if you don’t exercise it rigorously to meet its potential threats.

Recent decades are strewn with examples of unpredictability and speed of geostrategic challenge and change. NATO must be an enduring force for stability and security. But to do so, its military forces must be able to work together on an interoperable basis and must be properly resourced.

Similarly, recognition of the possibility of nuclear coercion or blackmail should also underline the need for nuclear forces assigned to the alliance, and I believe, for the continued forward stationing of a small number of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe.

Finally, however, it is critical that we recognize we can’t do any of this if we don’t have the support of the alliance’s citizens, which is why the recommendation about winning the battle of the narrative is so vital. There could not be a more propitious time to be having this discussion, nor a better venue than here at the Atlantic Council. I’m so pleased that the Council and the Norway Ministry of Defense have joined together to make this possible. Thank you. (Applause.)

BARRY PAVEL: Well, thanks everyone for joining us and thank you, General, for your remarks, which I always spend days and weeks afterwards going back through to better understand –

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: (Laughs.) They’re pretty opaque.

MR. PAVEL: – the strategic analysis. No, they’re not. (Laughter.) No, they were very clear, but actually the first question they raise, I thought your sort of enumeration, going back to the core documents of NATO’s three missions was really important for us to remember because NATO, in this world, doesn’t have the choice of, you know, doing one thing and holding off on other thing. And so the first question I have and I think the key strategic question for NATO, because resources are limited, is how do you see NATO balancing among these priority missions. And in particular, there is the new challenges associated with collective defense that the Ukraine crisis raises, number one. But there’s also an enormous number of growing challenges in the Middle East to NATO southern members, and potentially ultimately in the form of terrorist attacks to any NATO member. And so it’s a really difficult balance. And we would just love to hear your views on how does NATO strike that strategic balance.

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: That is really a very good question and it’s a very difficult question because NATO has a variety of perspective in its ranks and we have had to adjust several times since its founding, as I pointed out, to very different circumstances than that fundamental thing for which NATO was created. And I think that we need to adjust to a world that is endlessly and rapidly changing, beset by forces we’ve never, never really had to deal with before and yet, do so actively. And I think for one that we should contemplate changing somewhat the structure of how NATO does its decisions. And I would suggest that there are three kinds of issues that NATO ought to address. The first one is a decision that a crisis – take Crimea or any other crisis – is a NATO mission and NATO itself should discuss it, should take it on.

But there are many issues where the differences of views across the alliance are very, very strong. And I think there ought to be a second category where it is – NATO becomes a coalition of the willing. Those who feel that an active NATO is right for the crisis can participate together and have access to NATO’s infrastructure and so on.

And the third category is no, NATO doesn’t want any part of this. And it seems to me that that is the kind of an alteration in the unanimity thing, which will allow NATO, which is likely to be faced, if the past several years are an indication, with a rapidly changing series of challenges.

MR. PAVEL: I think that’s a perfect model for the future. I know, especially for the world we’re seeing today, I know some of the NATO traditionalists would consider the second suggestion heresy.

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: Heresy. But, you know, we have to – we have to look at the world as it is and as it’s likely to continue in the future. And to have a rule of unanimity on everything, it seems to me, could prevent us from doing anything.

MR. PAVEL: I think that’s right. It reduces flexibility.

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: And we ran the risk of that in the past years.

MR. PAVEL: Yeah, I think that’s right. Let’s – if don’t mind – talk about Ukraine for a second. We had a gathering here in late April, the Europe Whole and Free conference, where the Ukraine crisis was discussed for two days by the most senior officials from most members of the alliance. We had defense ministers and Vice President Biden, Secretary Kerry, and many others. And it still grips the alliance – we’re still all even grappling with it at the strategic level. Is it a crisis that will – like a hurricane, has come, caused damage, and then will recede, we’ll go back to normal after a year, after two years, after three years? Is this representative of a shift in the system that won’t go back anytime soon? How do you see this at the strategic level? And then how do you think NATO should adjust in light of that?

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: Ukraine’s been around a long time. And it has been an issue for a long time. Putin, for example, says that the collapse or the disappearance of the Soviet Union was the most cataclysmic event of the 20th century. Well, there were three elements in the collapse of the Soviet Union. One was the president of Russia, Yeltsin. The second was the president of Ukraine, Kravchuk. And the third was the president of Belarus, and I can’t remember his name. And they wanted to get rid of Gorbachev. And so they got rid of Gorbachev by pulling the Soviet Union right off from under him. And it disappeared, so he didn’t have a job. And so Ukraine is right at the heart of some of the issues.

It has been an issue for the alliance, off and on. There’ve been discussions about inviting NATO – inviting Ukraine to join NATO. And I think a lot of them have been discussions without going to the heart of how things are developing.

Ukraine is a unique country in many ways. And in a technical way, Russia actually started as Ukraine, in the 10th century, moved up to the security of the woods around only after the Mongol invasion drove them out of the plains. So there’s been this unusual connection all along in a variety of ways. And we have seen Ukraine go from – in the United States – from the center of our intention to, oh, Ukraine, where is that sort of thing. And I think it’s time that we recognize the unique history of Ukraine and the delicacy of dealing with it. And the recognition that it is actually an important part of Western Europe, an important part of Russia, and an important independent state in its own.

It is really – in a way, it seems really three countries. And I think we have to be wise in a very special way to monitor it through. And I think you could see the way that Putin has changed back and forth. I believe this crisis surprised Putin. I don’t think it was his plan beforehand. But he has, from his perspective, the same kind of problems that we have from our perspective.

And to me, an avenue out for Ukraine, which has enormous economic problems, would be for the U.S., Europe, and Russia to set up an economic program to try to bring Ukraine a modern economy.

MR. PAVEL: So do you think we can – that the West, the EU and the U.S. in particular, can cooperate with Russia economically to help Ukraine get on its feet and return to a more normal path?

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: Well, I’m not sure we can. And I’m not sure we will. But if you look at the past over a year, there have been demonstrations in Maidan Square back and forth and up and down. And here, I was mostly yawning about them, well, isn’t that nice? Look at them demonstrating, this and that. So this crisis has been going on for a long time before we had to take it seriously. And the fact is that Ukraine is a very unusual country and the unusual fault line of that region and has been for 500 or 1,000 years. And it’s not going to go away. And we need to be, I think, try to be serious about it and see if we can’t convince Putin to be serious about it.

MR. PAVEL: I see. So in terms of NATO’s measures to deal with this challenge, how would you assess the efforts so far and I know they’re continuing and they’ll play out through the summit in Wales, but there’s a lot of NATO members now that are quite nervous, and in many cases legitimately, given their history – the Baltic nations and Poland and others. How have we handled this so far and is there anything else you’d recommend that –

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: I think so far it’s been okay. And certainly Putin plays around with some of our other members in distasteful ways. I don’t – it’s not my sense that Putin wants this really to get out of hand. He spent about $50 billion or so on the Winter Olympics. He did that for a reason. He wanted to burnish his image. It’s not likely that he had in his mind, as soon as he had spent that money and burnished his image, he would destroy it in Ukraine.

So I think it’s an emotional issue in many quarters. And that means we need to move judiciously. But I think that we can – well, I don’t know – I’m not sure how to finish that sentence. (Laughter.) I think we can make Ukraine an example of dealing with a country that is neither fish, nor fowl in many respects and dealing with it sympathetically and in a way which no one will feel great.

MR. PAVEL: I see. Thanks. Let me ask one more question and then we’ll turn to the audience for a couple of questions, if you don’t mind. Let me turn to the South, where there’s equal challenges. In some cases, they could be at least as large as the challenge from the East. And that is the spread of various non-state actors who have an ideology that makes al Qaeda blush that are in the headlines today, but you can see this continuing to get worse. In my opinion, in six months, not just half of Iraq and half of Syria under these groups control, but potentially more instability in Jordan, in Lebanon. And Turkey, a NATO member is right there already suffering from some refugee concerns, but there’re a range of other concerns that are growing. Does this group now have access to chemical weapons? I mean, I think NATO has to keep its eye on this ball, too, because we don’t want to – these challenges could be at least as great, at least as direct, at least as dangerous for the security of alliance members.

What do you think should be done about this? Are we doing the right thing? How do we get ahead of this growing and very dangerous problem and ideal?

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: Yes, the problem in the Middle East is a particularly difficult one because with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the last stages of World War I, and the growth of colonial territories. The Middle East was divided up, basically the British and the French and some – the Italians and so on, into entities that had no rationale other than the map drawers of the British and the French and the other European countries. And now, you say non-state actors. The Middle East risks to be non-state in its almost entirety. There are elements of civil war. There was – Lebanon fought a 17 years civil war, Syria is, Iraq. The dissolution of the nation state system in the Middle East is something we have to recognize that could happen. And we are totally unprepared as to how to deal with that.

I think we should not encourage it, but it’s dealing with it – well, like Iraq, right at the present time. There are several different courses of action, all of them are froth with danger and the warning is we don’t want to go there. We don’t want to do this. But I think the Middle East, when we look at what’s been happening in Syria and what could be happening in Iraq is very dangerous.

But let me just say that the Middle East is also a place where I think NATO acted wonderfully, and that is in the Libyan crisis. We went to the UN and got a UN resolution to authorizing the use of force to protect civilians. We organized NATO to apply that force and we joined with the local, regional security group, the Arab League, to prosecute that adventure. That to me is a good example of the way NATO can and probably should behave in crisis parts around the world. Evaluate what it means, not just to NATO, but to the world, evaluate how to deal with it and this is an alliance that if we’re thoughtful of that, is unique in world history. And we shouldn’t forget that.

MR. PAVEL: Thank you very much, General. I’d like to throw it open for one or two questions, if I might. And there’s a gentleman in the back.

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: Make them easier. (Laughter.)

Q: I apologize, Bill Murray with Energy Intelligence Group. I may be provocative, so perhaps you’ll force me to sit down now. But I did want you to talk a bit about Ukraine and the way it relates to, in some ways, the error, the diplomatic mistake made by the European Union when they forced an all or nothing approach to the trade agreement, back in November. It strikes me that you’re talking about the fault lines in that region. But the people in charge of the negotiations, I guess, midlevel diplomats, Polish and Swedish in particular, didn’t seem to accept that Putin wouldn’t react in a way that would be counter to what they expected. I mean, is there some kind of – some kind of diplomatic misbehavior or even just – how do you account for this – this state of affairs taking place?

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: I knew you’d pull the cover off what I was trying to deal with a little more gently. We had not always paid a great deal of attention to Ukraine. And what it was we had this period where Ukraine – we wanted Ukraine in NATO. And this time, it didn’t seem to bother us much that the Europeans were sort of giving an ultimatum to Ukraine. Putin upped the ante and until it became a crisis, we were pretty sound asleep on the issue in terms of how you handle this enormously complex country.

You know, you take the Crimean part, that’s a sort of an internal Russian part because Crimea used to belong to Russia for a time. Russia gave it up to Ukraine, which was a part of the Soviet Union, do the – we should have been familiar with it because the same thing happened in Georgia, where the borders were redrawn in the Soviet Union days and it didn’t matter because it was all inside the Soviet Union. It isn’t anymore. And we’re episodic in our attention to it. That’s what I want to say.

MR. PAVEL: Any other questions for General Scowcroft? Yes.

Q: Good morning, General.


Q: Here’s my question. Thank you. My name is Dennis Nelson. I’m from National Defense University. At the risk of being more provocative than the previous gentleman, I wonder if you could comments on the rationale for even being involved in the internal affairs of a country which is not part of the alliance and whether that would increase the security of the alliance members or deteriorate it. I’m thinking of the historical example of Armenia, which was such a state between the Roman Empire and Parthia and other similar examples throughout history, whether getting involved in the internal affairs of countries which are not part of the alliance can either help or hinder relations with other larger powers. Thank you.

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: Well, I think the answer’s yes, it certainly can. But the United States, I think rightfully so, has seen itself as a force willing to deal with some of the more difficult problems of the world, as they have emerged, and to do so in a constructive, helpful way, as I read the little pieces from NATO charter. That’s what we’re about.

And you know, you have to draw the line between rushing out to deal with every crisis around the world somewhere and lending a hand where issues are beyond the power of the local participants to resolve them. And Ukraine, one of the things you always or I always visited when I was – when I’d been to Ukraine is the horrible massacres where thousands of people are buried. Because of the kinds of differences and tensions that we have I think the United States needs to participate in those things. And I believe that NATO does. And to me, NATO is a unique organization of the people in the world who believe most strongly about democracy, the rights of individuals, and the kinds of things that make life worth living.

Now, what to me you’re calling for is judiciousness in recognizing the kind of problems that can be – where an outside force can be helpful, the kind of resources necessary to do it, the kind of problems that can be dealt with and can’t be dealt with. That’s what NATO could be doing now and in the future. And I applaud it. I think it’s exactly what NATO should be doing.

MR. PAVEL: Well, General, I wish we had more time to continue this discussion. I’m very humble and honored to be on this stage with you discussing these issues. Thank you for your insights today. And every day I’m humble to be the director of the center that bears your name. But thank you very much for coming today.

LT. GEN. SCOWCROFT: I’m proud of you, my friend. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)


DAMON WILSON: (In progress) – General Scowcroft. Thank you, Barry, for helping to kick this off.

My name is Damon Wilson. I’m the executive vice president here at the Atlantic Council. Let me join Fred and Barry in welcoming you to the council. It’s an honor for me to introduce to you our next session, which is really our keynote and our keynote speaker, Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide, the minister of defense of Norway.

In office since October, the Norwegian defense minister has already established herself as a major player within the alliance, and so we’re delighted to welcome your voice to this debate today. And in part this is because of the backing that Norway has brought to the alliance in its debates the most capable – among the most capable armed forces, its contributions within NATO, whether to Afghanistan, Libya, or maritime operations; its singular defense role in the arctic; a commitment to defense investment that’s unparalleled in Europe today, but also, as we’ve talked about already and as we’ve seen in this effort, a real contribution in thought leadership to (drive forward ?) policy and strategy within the alliance.

But the minister herself has added a particular touch, I think, to this effort and to this voice. She served for more than a decade as a member of parliament in the Norwegian parliament representing the conservative party, and there she chaired the committee on foreign affairs and defense as well, so she came prepared – very much prepared to this job.

Politically she’s brought a voice that’s been rock solid in its commitment to NATO, the transatlantic relationship, and strong defense, but really has also brought an openness and an ability to translate defense and security issues to a broader public audience. She’s had this unwavering commitment to the idea of NATO’s collective defense and its core capabilities, while also providing this fresh voice helping to explain the importance of this to often skeptical publics.

When we last met in Oslo in March, it was just in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and we had an immediate conversation about the impact on this for the Wales Summit Agenda and NATO strategy. I’ve I had a little bit more time to reflect since then on how the alliance thinks both about the short-term in the East, insecurity in the South, the importance of its collective defense commitments, but also to take into account the continuing long-term, global trends that we’ve been discussing and what that means for the alliance’s role in cooperative security.

The minister has had at the core of this strategy that any healthy NATO means a healthy transatlantic bond. I’ve been struck by how you’ve spoken to audiences in Norway and in Europe, telling European audiences that you cannot take the United States for granted, and that the key to better burden-sharing and a sustainable foundation for the future of transatlantic cooperation is for Europe to do more.

So as we were talking to our Pentagon officials about this effort and this conference and the fact that we would be hosting the minister, a senior DOD official said something about the minister which I asked if we could use in our introduction of you today. And the senior administration official said, “The Norwegian minister of defense brings to NATO a serious purpose and a Norwegian pragmatism that is wrapped in a grace that is rarely seen around the NATO – around the table at NATO headquarters.”

So with that, Madam Minister, let me invite you to the podium to offer this keynote. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

MINISTER INE ERIKSEN SØREIDE: Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends – (foreign phrase). I can say in this audience; a lot of Norwegians here. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be back here to speak to you this morning. It’s extremely nice to have good friends in the Atlantic Council, and I’ll get back to that in just a minute.

We have a longstanding relationship between the ministry and the Atlantic Council, between IFS and the Atlantic Council, and it’s been really prosperous over time. This has been of great value for Norway, for the ministry, for IFS, for me personally. And I’d like to take you back to my first trip to Washington as a minister. Then I visited the Atlantic Council.

We had a roundtable discussion that was one of my first introductions to, well, Atlantic Council first and foremost, but also a lot of people sitting in the room right now. It was, to me, a very rewarding session. I learned a lot. I had good discussions with people, and I have several times since that come back to those discussions we had.

And 18 months ago we formalized our cooperation. It felt like a very important to work with policy communities in Washington that had a real interest and also felt a real responsibility towards Europe and transatlantic security. So the value of the work that has been done has clearly shown, especially over the last months, stability and security in Europe has once again become highly relevant. And I am convinced that the experience and expertise that exists here in this room and in all the other offices in the Atlantic Council will become even more important in the future.

I am so happy that we have now decided to continue and prolong our cooperation beyond this current project. I am also looking forward to reading the report. Obviously I haven’t been able to read it yet, but the rumor has it that it is a very good report and I’m very excited to see what it entails.

So the last time I was here was in January, and I laid out my government’s view on transatlantic security and since then a lot has happened. In Ukraine we’ve had a stark reminder that peace and stability in Europe cannot be taken for granted. In my humble opinion, the Norwegian policy has been validated in many ways. And the reason why I say that Ukraine is a stark reminder is because, unfortunately, many thought that Europe had entered into a post-conflict era.

There has been a dominating notion that in Europe, concepts such as military incursions and illegal annexation of other states’ territory only exists in history books. That has been proven false. And I’d like to echo what Fred said in the very beginning. He said that history isn’t over. I think that’s a very good reminder these days. But I do sense in the international debates a discussion whether what is happening in Ukraine is a crisis or more fundamental shift.

And my view is that this is not a temporary situation or a temporary crisis. The security landscape of Europe has been fundamentally changed. Regardless of whether we are able to find political solutions in the short term, near term, on what is happening in Ukraine, the change that has occurred in Europe is enduring. And here I would also like to echo what Brent said in the panel discussion here: We have to look at the world as it is and how it is likely to develop in the future. This is where we are now.

And no matter how the current situation is resolved, one important fact remains: NATO has a neighbor that has demonstrated the capability and the will to use military force to annex territory in Europe. This does not necessarily mean that there is a direct threat towards other European states, but this fact needs to be taken into account as we establish NATO’s political and military posture for the future.

This fact has, in my opinion, profound implications for NATO. Norway has argued for many years that NATO needs to strengthen its collective defense capabilities. In fact, some of you may remember that we issued a policy paper in 2008, before the Georgia crisis, that addressed this issue.

We argued in 2008 that NATO needed to improve its ability to credibly address allied nations’ security concerns, regardless of where they stem from. We also stressed that NATO needed to refocus on security challenges closer to home, applying to all parts of NATO. And this principle, in my opinion, still holds true.

Currently, NATO is rightly focusing much of our efforts in Europe in the north and east. However, it’s important to note that there are serious security issues in other regions of Europe as well. Iraq and Syria remind us that NATO also borders the Middle East, and also the volatile situation in North Africa causes concern for a number of our allies in the Southern Europe.

These areas also required allied attention, and NATO must be able to address the full spectrum of security challenges across the entire NATO area, and we must be able to do these things concurrently. So we need to reinvigorate NATO, and that predates this current crisis.

Still, the situation in Ukraine lends more urgency to this point. Norway has pointed to a number of areas where we believe improvements should be made, and have suggested some specific proposals on how to achieve this. The fundamental principle is to strengthen our ability to conduct the full spectrum of allied missions, including collective defense. And I would like to highlight five key points.

Firstly, the alliance needs better situational awareness. We need a better insight into the surrounding security environment. It is a paradox that NATO seems to be caught off guard when crises such as Crimea and Georgia occur. Our lack of sufficient situational awareness damages our credibility. It impairs our ability to provide for collective security.

To address this deficiency, we believe there needs to be a better sharing of intelligence among allies. Furthermore, the different NATO commands should have distinct and clear regional responsibilities. National headquarters needs to be linked up with NATO’s headquarters. This would allow nations to feed operational pictures directly to NATO.

Secondly, NATO needs a more robust and effective command structure which can conduct the full spectrum of alliance tasks in an effective way. Linkages between NATO and national and NATO commands also play an important role in a collective defense scenario. In a real crisis, an Article V situation, we would expect SACEUR and also SHAPE to assume command. However, the national commands would have to play an important role as well. And in order to ensure effective command and control in a time of crisis, we need much closer links between national and NATO headquarters.

Thirdly, NATO needs to take a hard look at readiness level of our forces. During the past decade, many of our allies have structured their forces so as to generate smaller contributions to crisis management operations out of area. We’ve generally not focused on the availability of the full spectrum of forces and capabilities such as we might need at a time of crisis on NATO territory.

As a start, we should review current readiness requirements for NATO reaction force. Rapid reaction for NATO should mean days, not months. In order to conduct collective defense operations, SACEUR needs to have available the proper forces and capabilities where and when needed.

My fourth point is that NATO needs to update contingency plans. Norway has argued this point for years. I am glad to note that there is now real progress in this area. For us, this is not necessarily related to the current crisis. Our point has rather been that, as an organization tasked with providing collective defense, NATO needs credible plans to actually conduct collective defense if we need to. It is really as simple as that.

My fifth and final point is that we need to do more training and exercise within the alliance. The Connected Forces Initiative provides a very good starting point in my opinion. Exercises need to be based on realistic scenarios. We need to exercise our ability to conduct high-end, full-spectrum scenarios. Full exercises – future exercises need to provide for reassurance and also deterrence and focus on interoperability.

As some of you may know, we have now offered to host NATO’s high-visibility exercise in 2018. I think we will know the result in some weeks or maybe a couple of months. But NATO is moving from a period of high operational tempo to a period of high exercise and training tempo. It’s important that policies keep up with this development. How, where, and when we train and exercise are all important political issues. We need sound policies in place as we develop the Connected Forces Initiative further.

I believe that on these five areas it will be crucial in making NATO into a more capable, more relevant, and more robust military alliance. But in order to succeed in achieving this goal, we need to focus on the health of the transatlantic relationship. I want to address two key factors in this.

Firstly, one of the foundations of the transatlantic relationship is U.S. leadership and engagement in Europe. The U.S. response to the current crisis particularly to reassure allies has been robust. The European reassurance package sends a clear signal to allies, but also a clear signal to Russia. The events this spring has shown the value of NATO as a political alliance. Through NATO, Europe and North America have demonstrated unity and sent very powerful messages.

The issue of U.S. leadership in Europe is very much an issue of political leadership. The U.S. role in the formation of the alliance is the prime example of this. But also, the end of the Cold War, NATO’s first out-of-area operations in the Balkans, and our undertaking the ISAF mission are examples.

When fundamental security – fundamental changes to the European security environment have happened in the past, U.S. leadership has always been crucial. This is described well by James Baker in his book, “The Politics of Diplomacy,” which deals with the end of the Cold War. He explains that the administration feared after the collapse of the Soviet Union that, quote, “that the centripetal forces operating on the West were likely to be just as strong as the centrifugal ones,” unquote.

The conclusion in Washington was that the United States would have to lead in Europe and manage the postwar transformation. This is an important lesson from history. As we face a new, fundamental shift in the security landscape of Europe, this type of U.S. leadership will be as important as ever. To sum up this point and to be absolutely clear, U.S. leadership is needed, it is desired, and it is welcomed by European allies.

But European leadership cannot be taken – sorry. U.S. leadership cannot be taken for granted. And this brings me to the second point on the future of the transatlantic relationship – the question on how Europe can contribute more to the partnership.

At the NATO defense ministerial earlier in June, allies were in full agreement that the U.S. plans for reassurance in Europe are highly welcome. Norway shares this appreciation. At the same time, there is a real risk that we Europeans interpret the new package that was launched as a signal that the U.S. will do more and that we are off the hook. On the contrary, I see this as even a further challenge to Europe, accentuating the need for us to respond by increasing Europe’s contributions to collective security.

I’ve used the term earlier, Europe needs to do our part. Europe needs to do more. And we do need to invest in our own security. I mentioned earlier that the U.S. has demonstrated its commitment to collective defense in Europe. A related question is whether European allies can say the same.

Looking back at the past five years where Europe has made deep cuts in its defense budgets for reasons related to the financial crisis, it could be argued that Europe needs to recommit to collective defense. There are different ways to achieve a better burden-sharing and strengthening of the European pillar of the alliance. Multinational cooperation is always challenging, but it can be a very effective tool. The key is to maintain focus on the actual capability development. NATO’s framework nations concept and the U.K.’s joint expeditionary force concept are both interesting to Norway because they actually do address capability shortfalls and they do aim to provide real increases in capability.

Another example of how we can improve burden-sharing is for Europe to engage more in those areas where the U.S. has security interests, such as in the Asia Pacific. Norway has not criticized the U.S. for its strategy to rebalance towards the Asia Pacific. On the contrary, we believe that U.S. engagement in this part of the world is natural and, indeed, that it is also crucial for global stability.

What happens in the Asia Pacific will have global impact and could have consequences also for Norway. Therefore, we need to be engaged. That is the reason why we, for the first time, will participate in the RIMPAC exercise. Our frigate is a small contribution to the larger scheme of the exercise and will probably not change its course, but the skills and the experience that we gain by exercising with allies and partners are important both for Norwegian and for our mutual security.

But I would like to underline that our participation also sends a broader message. Norway cares about U.S. security interests, even half way across the globe. This is what being allies is all about. And for us, it’s the very core of collective security. I look forward to learning more about the situation in the Pacific theater and how Norway can be supportive when I visit our frigate in Hawaii next week.

As I say, duty calls. There’s not much I can do aside from going to Hawaii. (Laughter.) It’s hardship, I can tell you.

But in order to fully address the issue of better burden-sharing, there is no escaping that the European allies need to spend more money on defense. Many have said the same earlier, and I’m very sure I’m not the last one to address this issue, but when sitting – not only outgoing – U.S. defense secretaries has this as a vital part of their speaking points, we need to pay attention.

As a start, we need to stop the decline in defense spending. Cuts will need to be reversed. We need to agree on a way in which we, over time, can achieve the goal of spending two percent of our GDP on defense and 20 percent of our defense budgets on investments. I realize that this is a huge challenge for all countries, and it will demand tough choices everywhere. But we can no longer dodge the issue. It will take time, but until we get there we need to make sure that the money we do spend is spent on the right capabilities. The spending targets that we set make little sense if we’re spending money on the wrong things.

Norway has chosen to transform our armed forces and invest in high-end capabilities such as transport aircraft, new Aegis frigates, F-35 combat aircraft, a full modernization of the army, and we’re also developing a new family of highly capable precision guided missiles – the NSM and the JSM. We believe that this constitutes an important contribution not only to our national security, but also to the capabilities of the alliance.

To conclude, there is reason to believe that the change to the security landscape in Europe will be enduring. NATO faces a new situation wherein we will have to reassess our assumption about Russia and its intentions. This has significant consequences for NATO. We need to reinvigorate NATO. We need an alliance that is robust, capable, and credible, and that has the ability – on short notice – to perform the full range of NATO’s tasks, including collective defense.

The effectiveness of the alliance depends on the health of the transatlantic relationship. This in turn is dependent on strong U.S. leadership and commitment to European security and on a demonstrated willingness on the part of Europe to invest more in our own security.

Norway will continue to invest in relevant capabilities and support a better transatlantic burden-sharing. As I have said before, collective defense is about much more than what the U.S. can do for Europe.

I’ve spent time now describing challenges that NATO faces, but I also offered some solutions, and I realize that I may come across as a bit gloomy and pessimistic, but as a Norwegian Lutheran, that is perhaps as it should be. (Laughter.) But I believe that we need to be frank in our assessment of what needs improvements and where the deficiencies lie.

I am a strong believer in NATO. I am a strong believer in the transatlantic relationship. As the primary global military and political alliance, NATO has been a source of stability for more than 60 years. The need for a strong NATO will only increase in the time ahead. I believe that the alliance will continue to ensure the stability and collective security in the North Atlantic area. There is no institution like NATO which can form a common transatlantic approach to current and future challenges. That is what makes NATO unique and that is why we – both the Europe and the U.S.A. – need to invest in the future of the alliance.

I thank you for your attention and I look forward to continuing the conversation. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. WILSON: Madam Minister, thank you very much. We have until about 10:00 a.m., so I just want to continue the conversation. First of all, you’re only gloomy if you actually don’t offer solutions or demonstrate political will, and I think in your remarks you just, frankly, demonstrated the Norwegian trait of pragmatism and put five practical, pragmatic solutions on the table, as well as, I think, articulating with some clarity the political will that backs up your positions here.

So I wanted to pick up on, I think, the fundamental point that you were getting at towards the end – this health of the transatlantic bond not taking U.S. leadership for granted, but that requiring European commitment in kind. We were – the Atlantic Council was in Poland hosting the Wroclaw Global Forum when President Obama visited Warsaw and announced the European Reassurance Initiative and announced, to the surprise of some in Europe and some on Capitol Hill, that the United States was willing to make a commitment to European security – a billion-dollar investment, the European Reassurance Initiative, to support U.S. exercises, training.

And just this past week as we were talking about before, we had some time up on the Hill with a series of senators, Democrats and Republicans, whose political instinct was, yes, given what’s happening in Europe’s east, this is exactly the kind of thing we need to do. But there was a big “but” there, which you were hitting on. Their “but” was, if we’re expected to put more in – a billion dollars in sustained exercises and deployments – this is only sustainable, and frankly politically viable, if we see a commensurate reaction on the part of Europeans.

So you just led with a strong message about the need, warning European colleagues not to see this as translating into “we are off the hook,” being off the hook. How do you see the prospects of helping to stop the decline, reversing this, and at least if not – I don’t think anyone expects the alliance to come out and all of a sudden we’re at 2 percent across the board of defense spending by the time of Wales, but at least by the time of the summit in September of getting the sense of momentum that the U.S. recommitment to European defense is leveraging a European recommitment to its own defense. What do you think are the prospects of that?

MINISTER SØREIDE: So, that’s a tough question, actually, but I’ll try to come near some of the problems at least. I think that for a very long time now there has been a discussion within the alliance on the 2-percent target, which I think is important. And I have not seen any ally backing away from that goal.

At the same time, I think it has to a certain extent been an excuse for not discussing how we spend the money we actually do allocate today. And that has maybe led to the fact that we’ve lost some years in trying to invest in the most both strategic and necessary capabilities. So we have all been so focused on the 2 percent or not 2 percent that we’ve not actually discussed what we should be discussing for some time now.

I think there is momentum now, as you say. I think there is likelihood that there will be some sort of declaration on the summit linking this up to either a percentage goal or at least to try to stop the decline in the defense budgets. And of course different countries approach this differently. There are some countries who have now increased their defense spending quite a lot, but they come from a very low level. And we have countries who spend quite a lot of money on defense, but not necessarily on the right things. And we also need to see this as in the framework of the whole alliance, what are we able to do as an alliance if something happens – if we need to push the big button.

So I think that we have a momentum and I am going to – of course, every ministerial – I started now in the in the beginning of June, but I will continue both in ministerials and in meetings with my European colleagues to actually remind them that even though we see a very welcome American initiative now, we cannot take it for granted and it is still I think highly likely that the comments on the Hill will continue to be along the lines of why should we invest money, not only political will but money in European security if they’re not able or willing to do it themselves? So I think it’s a very good reminder that you pick up. I’ll bring it – I bring it on back to you as well.

MR. WILSON: Well, thank you for doing that. I want to pick up – you said in your remarks that what we’re seeing unfold in Europe right now when you come closer to home, as we think about what’s going on in Europe’s east that this isn’t a temporary crisis I think it’s how you put it, that this change in Europe is potentially enduring. And so, in some respects, you also pointed out that even before Georgia, Norway had been pushing the idea of more core capabilities, the collective defense mission. And you emphasized the issue of deterrence, sort of traditional NATO strategy here.

And so, as you think about what’s unfolding in Europe’s east right now, in Ukraine, are we on track? Do you think the alliance is taking the appropriate measures to not just manage a crisis for the coming weeks but to actually deter, deter Vladimir Putin from further aggression using force of arms in Europe’s east.

And I want to link that to what you said, rather than just reassure allies, you kept using the verb “reinvigorate,” which I think is a key point of how you think about alliance strategy, not just to reassure those that are insecure within the alliance but if you are thinking about deterrence, our audience isn’t just reassuring the Balts. Our audience is actually more in Moscow. So are we headed in a – are we going – we failed in 2008 to deter. Are we on a better track right now, do you think?

MIN. SØREIDE: I think that what has been done so far, the fact that we now have 28 countries doing things for the alliance and reassuring our eastern allies is an important step. And I’ve also said that I welcome the American initiatives, especially on the Baltic countries and Poland. But I do think that they, over time, need to be put under the umbrella of NATO because it makes it easier for smaller allies to contribute to this. And I hope that we can see that leading up to the summit.

At the same time, I think it’s extremely important that in the situation we are facing and that will change the landscape quite fundamentally, we cannot shy away from being a military alliance. We cannot shy away from doing what we are supposed to do. We are supposed to reassure allies. We’re supposed to protect allied territory. And although there is no threat against allied territory as we speak, we need to make sure that a potential aggressor, be it Russia or anyone else – this is not only about Russia – understands where the borders and boundaries of NATO lie. That’s a red line. And we need to be able to actually conduct what we are supposed to do if that was to happen.

And I think that it lies an important message in what we’re doing in the Balkans right now. I think it’s an important message that we have been able to be unified on this. Of course there are some differences when discussing with different countries and allies. I don’t think that’s a strange thing. I mean, we’re 28 allies spanning over quite a large geographic area. So that’s not a strange. And we have different security concerns in different parts of the alliance. But, nevertheless, I think that we’ve come across with quite a clear message this time. And I think it’s important that we actually do not shy away from the fact that if there is a crisis, if something was to happen, we are a military alliance.

MR. WILSON: Great. Let me ask one more question and I want to bring in the audience so catch my eye if you have a question for the minister before we wrap up this session.

It is pretty remarkable that in the midst of a crisis in the east, Norway is participating in the reassurance missions. You’ve been building quite a bit almost singularly the defense presence for the alliance in the Arctic. And you’re off to Hawaii. You’re off to the Pacific, which I think is a pretty strong political signal when there’s been much debate in Europe about what the U.S. rebalancing posture means, that you’re making a point of embracing that. And you addressed that in your remarks, but can you play that out a little bit more of how do you see Norway – and I guess, more importantly, allied interests in Asia and in the U.S. role in Asia? Why is it worth both the commitment of resources to send a frigate to participate in the exercise in the Pacific but even carve out a fair chunk of your time to politically fly the Norwegian flag as part of this exercise as well? Can you make that case to a Norwegian public? Do they understand – do they understand this?

MIN. SØREIDE: Well, I haven’t asked them directly. (Laughter.)

MR. WILSON: But I saw you speaking about this in Norway. You were –

MIN. SØREIDE: Yeah. Absolutely. I’ve been giving speeches on this.

MR. WILSON: Yes. Yes.

MIN. SØREIDE: And my impression is that – I mean, a broad audience in Norway really understands that for a small country like us, situated where we are, we need to pay attention to security interests, other places in the world, not only in our own neighborhood. And as you say, there is in addition to the benefits that we have from exercising and training with our allies, it is for us also a very clear political signal, a message we would like to send by participating. We had a very good session at the ambassadors last night focusing on Asia. And one of the participants came over to me afterwards and said he was so happy that we contributed a frigate to RIMPAC is that the political signal is the important. You could send a canoe and still be well up with the Americans and Norway. So next time maybe we’ll try to send a canoe or – and anything else.

No, but I think it’s important also because we have overtime tried, and I will say in a certain degree succeeded in drawing an American attention to the High North, to our areas of concern. We see that we need a stability in the High North that affects the whole of Europe. It affects the transatlantic relationship and so forth.

At the same time, we have to pay attention to security interests other places in the world. And what is more natural than for us as a predictable and a good ally to then pay attention to the Asia Pacific? As I said, we’ve not criticized the pivot or the rebalancing or call it whatever you want because we find it natural. We said that someone has to pay attention to the security challenges that could have global effects. Look at what is happening in the Asia Pacific. We have territorial disputes. We have nationalism, increased defense spending. If no one pays attention to what is happening, it could potentially be damaging. That, again, does not mean that we see now a potential threat from any country in the region but things happening in the region could possibly affect also other places of the world. So that’s why we contribute.

MR. WILSON: Thank you very much. It makes me want to –

MIN. SØREIDE: With a big canoe.

MR. WILSON: It makes me very much want to take you up to Capitol Hill with us the next time we go so our members of Congress can hear you. I’ve got a lot of questions. We’ve got a great expertise in the audience. Let me collect a couple for you and we’ll –


MR. WILSON: Let me turn first to Jill Dougherty from CNN right here in the front, please, one of our upcoming moderators. Yes. Introduce yourself for our audiences and brief questions so I get a few and I’ll come back to you.

Q: Jill Dougherty, most recently at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University and soon to be at the Wilson Center. I have a question about Russia. Where do we go with the Russia – the NATO-Russia agreement of 1997? Do they have a role anymore? So many things have been put on hold. And when General Scowcroft was talking about values, you know, the first thing he said was this is an alliance based on values. Where does Russia stand? Should they – do they deserve to be part of this at all?

MR. WILSON: That’s perfect. Thanks, Jill. Let me pick up on our Norwegian colleague here as well in the back please.

Q: Thank you. Anders Romarheim from the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies. So far, we’ve talked about canoeing to Hawaii than about Germany and while that’s great, I’m curious if you would just talk a little bit about Germany. What is their future role in NATO? Is it evolving with the economic situation in Europe? And what does that mean for the alliance in general? And also, if you could related to the Norwegian-American bilateral relationship. Thank you.

MR. WILSON: Terrific. And let me just pick up Hans Binnendijk as well and bring these three questions back to you Madame Minister. Right there in the back please.

Q: Hans Binnendijk from SAIS and RAND. And let me start by just echoing Damon’s comment that I found your presentation really very refreshing, not at all gloomy, and I wish we could get 27 other defense ministers lined up with everything you said. My question really is closer to your home and it’s about Sweden and Finland. If I were living in Helsinki and Stockholm and looking at what has happened in Ukraine, I would be very concerned about the nature of my insurance policy. I mean, they’re relying on partnership as an insurance policy. And it really hasn’t worked in Ukraine. So my question to you – and this is being reconsidered now in both of these countries. I know the public opinion situation there. But what is your advice to your neighbors about membership as opposed to enhanced partnership, which is where they are trying to go now?

MR. WILSON: Terrific. So we’ll go from Russia to Germany, to Finland and Sweden. You’ve got the European terrain, Madame Minister.

MIN. SØREIDE: Well, I’ll try to. To start out with Jill’s question about Russia, it’s a very good question, where do we go. As you know, we have alongside most other allies now – suspended – the word just missed me – suspended our military cooperation with Russia to the end of the year. And I don’t see right now what could pick up some sort of normality, although we have still a cooperation when it comes to Coast Guard, border patrol and so forth because it’s in our mutual interest.

But I think that when we had some discussions both within the alliance but also among countries in the alliance on the Founding Act, I found it a bit disturbing because it seemed like all measures NATO took within one way or the other bounce against the Founding Act. I don’t think they do. I think that what we are doing now, and we can even do more well within the borders of the Founding Act of ’97.

And one seems to forget some things when discussion goes on among certain allies, that the Founding Act has one very important principle. It lays out what we can and cannot do within the current and foreseeable situation. What we see now is not something we anticipated in ’97. This is a different situation than in ’97. And I think that what we can do and should do is to say that the Founding Act is there and we act accordingly and we need to do what we need to do within the framework of the alliance to reassure our eastern allies and also send messages to Russia on where our boundaries and limits lie. So I think we can do that.

If Russia is still a strategic partner, I think that Anders Fogh Rasmussen may be the first one at the Munich Conference to actually lay out in more detail that NATO does no longer consider Russia as a strategic partner. And I think there is one other bit to that. I had a meeting with Sigurd (ph) in Norway just a week ago or less than a week ago. And his point there as in NATO is very clear. He says that over the past 15 years, all allies have been putting together their defenses and defense budgets as if Russia was a strategic partner. That is about to change. And we need to change and adapt to that fact. So it could be tough but I think we need to do that.

Then to Anders, Germany, also a very good question. And I just want to correct you. I’m not canoeing to Hawaii, just to make sure that that fact is laid out. But I think that when it comes to Germany, we’ve had very good talks. I’ve visited my German colleague in Berlin not long ago. And we had very good talks about the situation, what we see developing. I think it is extremely important to engage Germany in a very good dialogue on both the future of NATO and also what the European allies should do. And there is still quite much a debate within Germany on how much and where they should engage both militarily and how much emphasis they should put on the alliance.

Once again, in Munich, there were three speeches, both from the president, the foreign minister and the defense minister saying that Germany is too big a country to watch events from the sidelines. But yet, we have still to see what that entails in practice. And I’m quite – I would say – although I said I was gloomy and pessimistic style person, I’m not actually, but I’m quite optimistic that what is now happening will bring new dynamics into the discussing leading up to the summit and also Germany taking on an important part in the European part of the transatlantic relationship. And I know that the Atlantic Council also wants to engage bilaterally and trilaterally with Germany and also Poland, which I think is a very good. It’s a good contribution, in my opinion.

Then to Sweden and Finland and give them advice, I think that would be extremely wise now with the elections coming up in Sweden. But I know that my colleagues from Sweden and Finland, if they could apply for individual membership in NATO, they would do. The public though, as you say, have not the same opinion at the moment.

I think that from a – well, I should be careful not to overanalyze but I think, once again, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, I’m coming back to him a couple of times, he participated in a seminar, the big defense seminar that Sweden hosts every year in Salen, in January, and he was there a year and a half ago. And the discussion was once again that Sweden probably felt that they had NATO at their backs if something was to happen. Then he was very frank and he said, no. Article Five, collective security, is only for members.

And at that point, it started to cause a bit of a debate in Sweden. And then the debate went on. But I think that what is happening right now is something that makes his word from a year and a half back become even more valid. And they realize that it is a difference situation and they have to adapt to it. Sweden are now doing, in my opinion, looking like good things with their defense spending and investments.

In Finland, we also have a situation where – and this is new – where the Finnish defense minister says that what is happening in Ukraine is pushing us closer to NATO. That is unheard of from a Finnish defense minister. At the same time, he has been – he was cancelling his meeting with Shoigu in April or in March. And not only did he cancel – he didn’t want to go to St. Petersburg to be part of some sort of a propaganda stunt – but he told the press exactly why he didn’t go. That is also new.

And, at the same time, Sweden and Finland are so closely linked that I don’t think you’ll see the one entering without the other. And I think that this is still some years ahead until we can see eventually maybe a membership. But they’re very good partners and NATO depend heavily on them, on many areas. And their contributions to ISAF and to also – I mean, many other parts of NATO’s forces are extremely important. But collective security will also remain only for members.

MR. WILSON: Thank you very much. These issues are at the top of the agenda here. We’ve just hosted the German defense minister. We’ve been doing a lot of work with the Swedes and Finns on their security and defense as well. There are more questions in the audience but, unfortunately, I know we have to wrap this up so I’m going to ask those who I didn’t get to, hopefully, we can use your questions in the next panel.

Madame Minister, thank you so much for your thoughts. Thank you so much for laying out your views for the alliance. I think that we all feel that with what’s happening right now, there is a bit of renewed attention to the NATO summit as we go to Wales and it’s imperative to take advantage of that opportunity to get it right. If we don’t have the underling recognition of the same urgency and what’s at stake, it’s hard to get to the right strategy, and I think your voice has really added to that debate. So please join me in thanking the minister for her time and her comments. Thank you very much. (Applause.)


BARRY PAVEL: Well, let’s get started with this very exciting panel on NATO and global power shifts. There is indeed a couple of very big power shifts going on right now and we’re in the middle of both of them. One is a massive shift of power back to Asia, economic power, increasing military power. There’s an arms race going on there, in case people haven’t been following defense budget trends. China’s rising rapidly but still faces significant problems. India, Indonesia, all of the Southeast Asian nations are re-posturing and are very worried about China’s recent assertiveness.

At the same time, we have a growing range of non-state actors. We have ISIS in the headlines, but that’s just the current headlines. There’s a longer term shift of power to individuals and groups. At the Atlantic Council and indeed in the NATO report that you see out there in the lobby, we’re calling this a Westphalian plus world, where nation states aren’t going away, although a couple might be in the Middle East, as General Scowcroft said, but they’re joined on the global stage by individuals and groups.

This is a very different era than many of us are used to. And what I wanted to address in this panel is what’s going on here and what does this mean for NATO’s near and longer term agenda, because there’s a lot of new things coming up that are not part of certainly the traditional NATO agenda but the traditional security and strategy agenda too.

And I have a fantastic panel here that I’m really looking forward to pushing very hard on answering all of these important questions. Let me briefly introduce them. You have their biographies in the materials. And I’d much rather hear them about the issues than have you listen to me talk about them, but I’ll briefly introduce them.

First, to my immediate left, is Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger. We are so thrilled to have him here. He is the chairman of the Munich Security Conference. He’s also been – had a couple of other duties this year. He was the negotiator on Ukraine issues for the OSCE, a number of other very impressive and important titles in his previous career. Thank you so much, Mr. Ambassador, for coming and we’re looking forward to speaking with you.

We also have Fabrice Pothier – I think I pronounced that correctly – from the –

FABRICE POTHIER: It’s just right.

MR. PAVEL: Great. I get points for that. He is the head of policy planning in the Office of the Secretary General at NATO headquarters. He’s a frequent contributor to our gatherings here, always sharp, always giving us very thoughtful suggestions; again, a number of other impressive and important positions which you can see in the program.

We also have my colleague, Julie Smith. Thanks again, Julie, for coming. Julie is the director and senior fellow in the Strategy and Statecraft Program at the Center for New American Security. She is also a senior vice president at Beacon Global Strategies. She was most recently the deputy national security adviser for Vice President Biden; before that, a range of positions in the Pentagon including as the principal director for NATO and European affairs earlier in the Obama administration. Thanks again, Julie.

And we also have Professor Rolf Tamnes, whom I’ve met during the course of this 18-month effort and have been very impressed with. I’m really thrilled, Rolf, that you could make it here to Washington. He is a very deep expert on Norwegian security defense and foreign policy, the High North, U.S.-European relations. Also has had an illustrious career in a number of affiliations and positions, again, which you can see in here. But thanks again, Rolf, for coming.

I think I might ask Ambassador Ischinger just to begin, to give us his thoughts on the issues that I’ve raised.

WOLFGANG ISCHINGER: Well, thank you very much, Barry. It’s a pleasure to be here. I mean, the Atlantic Council is making me work. I was here next-door yesterday discussing Ukraine, and here we go again, discussing NATO.

I don’t want to repeat anything the minister said. And I certainly agree with practically everything you said regard – and I’m glad you mentioned the Munich Security Conference, where an increasing number of female NATO defense ministers have recently, you know, participated. I was also delighted to see that – and that’s new to me – that the Munich Security Conference is now in the business of arranging marriages. I saw a little item in the newspaper the other day that Jake Sullivan, a colleague of yours, met his now wife while they were in the same hotel in Munich at the Munich Security Conference. And so I’m glad that we have this additional function now also.

I want to start very briefly with the following thought. When I first served as a junior diplomat here in Washington, we were talking about the 3 percent goal, not the 2 percent goal. And the United States in those days regarded ideas in Europe that were cropping up here and there about an EU effort in security or defense as not a good idea, really not a good idea because it was thought that that would distract from the fundamental task of, you know, supporting the joint NATO effort.

And the point I want to make is I think it’s very important to note that that has changed dramatically. It is a total sea change. I think it is very important to recognize and to appreciate that the United States today – and several presidents have said it most recently, President Obama of course – that the EU effort in this field is good, is being supported, and is being appreciated. That leads me – and that’s great.

That leads me to the following thought. And that is something that the minister for Norway, of course, couldn’t say. I believe that instead of continuing what I believe is a rather fruitless debate about, you know, which one of us is going to reach the 2 percent, or 35 years ago, the 3 percent goal, I believe the right response for those of us who are members of the EU is to make a dramatic step forward in the direction of a European Army. That’s the kind of thing we ought to be doing. That’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen next year. But it needs careful preparation. It needs the involvement of our parliaments. It needs time. It is probably a generational project but that is the kind of signal which, I believe, if we started to undertake it would be understood even in the Kremlin and it would be understood as a signal of strength and not of weakness.

Last point I want to make is – or two more quick points. One role of NATO in my view – and it’s mentioned in your really very good report, which I had only a brief moment to look at, one important role of NATO that’s often not mentioned enough is that NATO is the single most successful proliferation, you know, preventer, non-proliferation agent in history. Let me ask the question the other way around. If we did not have NATO, if we had not had NATO for the last, you know, half century, does anyone think that Germany would not have gone for nuclear weapons, certainly during the Cold War? Does anyone believe that Turkey would not have gone for nuclear weapons? In other words, the only reason why you have not had in the entire European theater a quest for nuclear weapons is the existence of NATO, and that’s something that I believe is important to keep saying to our publics, who do not often appreciate that there is more to NATO than just Afghanistan. And I’m sick and tired of listening to people in my own country say, now that the boys are coming home from Afghanistan, why do we need NATO? I think there are many reasons, and I’m only mentioning this, one, non-proliferation.

The last point, I do believe that we need to get Russia right. That is an important – continues to be an important job. And even if things look so much harder than most of us thought they would look five or six or eight years ago, it’s still very important to get it right.

And I believe that our original approach in the early and mid-90s was not the wrong approach. I remember how Chancellor Kohl said to some of us as we were, you know, discussing (folklore ?). In his first speech on NATO enlargement, Chancellor Kohl said, let me talk to Boris Yeltsin first. I need to find out whether we can work out something that they can live with, even if they will not love it. And the idea that then came out of these discussions, and which I believe we successfully implemented in ’96, ’97 at the first enlargement summit and with the NATO-Russia Founding Act was the kind of a two-pillar approach, the NATO enlargement approach, and the, you know, building up an ever-more intense and ever-more substantive NATO-Russia relationship. And I believe that was in principle not a wrong idea. It hasn’t worked as well as it was supposed to work and that’s certainly not only our fault; certainly, mostly, the Russians’ fault. But that doesn’t mean that the original approach was wrong. And we should try again and again and leave the door open. Russia is going to be, whether we like it or not, the direct neighbor of Ukraine and the direct neighbor of a number of EU member countries and certainly a very important, I hope we can say not adversary, but an important neighbor, unfortunately, as you said it and I agree, now, not somebody we can actually credibly call a partner, and that’s too bad. I’ll stop here.

MR. PAVEL: Thanks very much, Wolfgang. You raised some very important issues which I’ll want to come back to you on across the key points that you just made.

Let me turn to Fabrice now for his thoughts on the shift that’s going on in the world. There’s the immediate agenda, the NATO summit in about 60 days roughly, maybe a little more, but also I think there will be some coming headlines that, as the head of policy planning in the NATO Secretary General’s Office, we would love to get your thoughts on where things are headed.

MR. POTHIER: With pleasure. And I enjoyed so much the first meeting I attended in Oslo, then, when I got your invitation to come here today, and it was clashes with the foreign ministerial in Brussels, obviously, I did not hesitate, so just for the record.

Thank you very much for the invitation. And let me make three broad points to try to address your question.

First, about the global changing security environment – I think we can draw three points from there. One is the arc of crises that was already there has broadened and intensified so the arc of crisis that stretches from Western Africa via the Sahel, the Middle East, to Central Asia is there and is becoming – it’s becoming more worrying every day.

Overlapping this arc of crisis, we see an arc of unstable deterrence – for a lack of better name – which you can say stretches from the Middle East to East Asia, where you do see states holding weapons of mass destruction, missile technology, and yet, there are no rules of the game. There are no rules to try to manage the risk associated with holding weapons of mass destruction.

And to bring these two arcs together, what you see six years after the global recession is that multipolarity is full blown. We knew about multipolarity before but now it’s there. And I don’t think in this sense it’s a problem. The real question behind is whether you have a multiple world with one set of rules, hopefully the rules that we were spelled out at the end of the Second World War and at the end of the Cold War, or whether you have a multiple worlds with different rules. And I think this is what you see happening not only in Asia Pacific between especially the U.S. and China, but also now in the Euro Atlantic area. So it’s about not a race to make the world unipolar or bipolar but it’s a race to make the multipolar world sticking to one framework, some kind of kind of open rule-based system. That’s my first point.

What does it mean for the immediate strategy or the immediate response of the alliance? Because, obviously, Ukraine is a significant crisis; my boss has called it a wakeup call for us all and I think we cannot disagree with that.

I think the one important point to make is that the strategy concept, which is a kind of strategic operating software, stands tested and valid. What is interesting in the conversation that often criticizes NATO is you have not had a debate about whether the strategy concept is still valid or not. I think the notion of having three core tasks and being able to do all three at the same time still makes sense. The notion that we have to deal with conventional as well as non-conventional threats also makes sense. So we have the right software.

Now, also, when you look at the crisis, I think despite the usual debate and maybe disagreement, in the end, NATO has shown – I’m sorry. Not NATO – the nations through NATO have shown a real capacity to rebalance their focus from what has been 12 years of large stabilization effort to a greater focus on collective defense. So the immediate reassurance measures that both the United States and all the Europe and allies and also Canada have taken show that we can change our focus and we can adapt to the real world.

And what you will hopefully see at the Wales Summit will be the heads of states agreeing with an alliance readiness action plan, which has been discussed as we speak today in Brussels, and this action plan will cover some of the points that were raised by the ministers in a forceful way. And it will send an important message, which is to say we are not going to be a one-dimensional alliance. We’re going to be an alliance that will be ready for any strategic surprise, coming from the east, the north, or the south. And readiness is the best answer to strategic surprise. And this is why we’re going to reinforce that. So this is for making the point that I think we are on target so far.

Now there’s a bigger question, and this is my third point is, what is the kind of longer term role of the alliance in this competitive world? And I will make two points.

One is I think it starts with what the nations want the alliance to do. We often forget that NATO is not a kind of floating institution detached from nations’ preoccupations, nations’ resources and priorities. It starts with the nations and it ends with the nations. So where the nations will put their money, whether they will agree on NATO playing a role or not will be a thing – the key factor so that’s why we have to take first a political take on that.

The second, I would like to put forward for the debate a proposition about the future posture of the alliance, something we could call strategic flexibility. And I think this is obviously borrowed from the Nixon doctrine in his famous Guam speech which was to respond to a difficult juncture moment for the U.S. power with Vietnam and with trying to exert pressure on Russia without necessarily continuing investing to the same extent in defense.

And I think the same concept could be nicely transposed to what NATO should try to become in the future. Let me just finish on that.

First, strategic flexibility is about not being just a one-flank alliance. It’s about being able to do different flanks, both north, south, east, and also being able to deal with, I will say, new domains like cyber.

Second, it’s not about being an on or off switch. Too long I think NATO has often been regarded as either we do something, and often it’s kind of in a high-intensity, large scale, or we don’t do anything, and we don’t even speak about it. And I think we need to go into a more kind of graded approach, where we should be able to speak about things. We should be able to gain situational awareness but not necessarily act. That decision will obviously always rest with the North-Atlantic Council, but we should be able to have the political discussion before.

And in all response, we should also not – and this is the third point of the strategic flexibility – it should not be all about kind of large-scale or high-intensity military response. We should be able to be more graded.

First, deterrence – I think we need to rediscovery the virtue of deterrence. We’re doing that but we need to replace deterrence in a modern kind of forward looking thinking. Second, crisis management can be done in very different ways. It can be done from the air, like we saw with Libya, but it can also be done by helping the others help themselves by doing training, by doing advising. So I think NATO needs to kind of broaden its toolbox but not just be a toolbox. It needs to be political before. And this is how I look at strategic flexibility.

Just to finish on how I think we can do strategic flexibility, I think, first, obviously 2 percent is important because it’s political. It’s about saying we are all committed and we are putting the treasure behind our political commitment. But what’s equally important to make sense of 2 percent it’s priorities, especially European nations who obviously have more limited resources than the United States to be able to focus in those areas that really produce the highest yield, those capabilities that can really help in most scenarios, and we have seen from Afghanistan that the things we have invested in Afghanistan can be also transposed to collective defense scenario. So I will say that the future of strategic flexibility lies in focusing on those core priorities.

Second, focusing the collective investment in the force multipliers, and I mean by that joint ISR –intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance – the NATO common structure and training and exercise so putting the collective money where it can really multiple, I will say, not only allow everybody to punch above their weight but to deliver several punches at the same time.

And, finally, I think we need to become more political. And this is not just a general point but the strategic flexibility doctrine was about doing politically what maybe we could not just by military means. Therefore, what I’m saying is that we should be able to allow the alliance, especially the future NATO secretary general, to engage in real political diplomatic work, and that’s, obviously, with Russia, where we need to reach a kind of new predictability in the relationship but also with regional organizations like the African Union, who are more interested in taking the lead on operations but don’t necessarily have the capabilities yet to do so. And I think to have a more diplomatic political alliance will allow us to help the other help themselves and project stability without necessarily projecting forces. Thank you.

MR. PAVEL: Wow, Fabrice, that was the best rendering I’ve heard of NATO’s strategy for this new world I think ever. So I really appreciate that. I have 1,000 questions and I’m sure we’ll be able to get to all of them, but really, really fantastic.

Julie, we now want to turn to you in particular for your views on the impact of this changing world on U.S. strategic thinking. I know you’ve done a lot of work recently on that as well so we would love to hear from you.

JULIANNE SMITH: Sure. Thanks. Well, first, thanks to the minister for the fantastic speech. It was music, I think, to all of our ears, and I think we could sit and listen all day to many of the proposals that you laid out. And I think we’re all hopeful that under your leadership and others inside the alliance that we’re finally going to make some progress on a lot of these challenges that we’ve been dealing with for quite some time.

And I think that’s one of the things I wanted to highlight and that’s one of the things that worries me in terms of what the alliance is doing right now. The alliance is very much focused in the face of the Ukraine crisis on tackling the challenges we’ve been outlining for 20 or 30 years. And so I’m hoping that we’re going to eventually get at the heart of some solutions, again, through your leadership and the many good ideas that you and your colleagues are laying out.

But I feel like NATO has been trapped in addressing yesterday’s problems for quite some time. And if you had kind of a split screen version of the world, you’d have NATO on one half of the screen, kind of operating in slow motion, and another NAC, and another ministerial, and another summit, talking about 2 percent, and modernizing our forces, and figuring out what our strategic aims are, and the balance between collective defense and expeditionary operations. These are all debates. We’ve all been sitting in for decades.

And then, on the other side of the screen, you’d have the world on fast forward, you know, rapidly evolving. And we don’t even know what to call this world. Some people call it the post-post-9/11 environment. We know where we’re not in the post-Cold War. We’re not in post-9/11. It’s something else. We have a hard time even capturing what it is. And this is a challenge for the U.S. administration right now as well. I’ve, in a recent report, called it the era of compounding complexity. It’s a bit wonky and nerdy, but I think it captures kind of this environment we find ourselves in, where there’s so much coming at us in terms of the challenges that the West faces – the fraying of the liberal order, the evolving nature of alliances, rapidly changing public opinion on the use of military forces, the nexus between domestic and foreign policy. So many different things are evolving right before our eyes and so it’s hard for an organization like NATO to keep up and that’s what I worry about.

I think Wales will put forward some very helpful, useful proposals on readiness, on resilience, on collective defense, certainly on partnerships, I hope. But it’s not necessarily going to reflect where NATO sits in the broader world. And by that, I mean, that the alliance really is facing a number of strategic challenges and a number of statecraft challenges.

And I think, Fabrice, just to echo what he said, is absolutely spot on. NATO’s been trapped in this mindset for quite some time that, heaven forbid, if it actually starts talking about a region or a crisis or a conflict where it doesn’t necessarily want to be engaged, then that’s a bad thing and that we should prevent that conversation from happening. And we’ve seen that instinct on Syria and other cases, where the alliance has pulled back a little bit from sharing this collective wealth of knowledge, insight, intelligence, just situational awareness because it worries that it’s a slippery slope and it takes us right into some proper NATO mission or intervention.

And I think we have to lift our heads up and allow ministers to sit around the table, and, occasionally have an unscripted conversation, and not come with our, you know, five minutes of talking points and everyone reads them but really let people share the tremendous wealth of knowledge that it’s often present around almost every NATO meeting.

So, strategically, I think we have to loosen things up a little bit, and be a little bit risk adverse, and take on some of these broader strategic challenges, have conversations about the Asia-Pacific, have conversations about Syria and now Iraq, knowing that probably there’s not a NATO role and not worrying that by talking about the Asia-Pacific, suddenly the U.S. is going to be requesting ships to be sent into the South China Sea. It doesn’t have to play out that way.

And if we reach some agreement, the dialogue isn’t necessarily strategic dialogue dangerous, then I think we’ll all be in a better place to deal with what you talked about and the minister talked about in terms of preparing for strategic surprise. I mean, maybe we would have perhaps talked forever about Ukraine or Syria or what have you or Iraq and still had strategic surprise. So there’s no telling what you can actually prevent by having at least some sort of dialogue, but I’d really like to see NATO catch up with kind of world developments and everything that’s coming at us in this era of compounding complexity and deal with some of these strategic questions.

On the statecraft side, I do think that the tools of statecraft are rapidly evolving. And we could go down a number of rabbit holes inside NATO, but to have a conversation among the NATO allies, for example, about disruptive technology and the fact that so much of this technology, first of all, the control resides in the private sector, not in the private sector – our old mindset was that innovation, when it came to technology always resided in the public sector. That’s changed dramatically. We should be having a conversation as allies about that, about disruptive technology also getting in the hands of very dicey actors and groups all around the world and what that means for a potential NATO response or how we grapple with that collectively, as an organization.

I think we also have to think about all of the new tools that have surfaced in recent years, things like cyber technology or UAVs, where we haven’t adequately addressed the global norms piece, and have a conversation inside NATO but in other forums as well about how we kind of provide some sort of international frame for all this that will help us deal with the proliferation of these technologies and then developing our own sets of tools and rules of the road for the use of those tools down the road.

And then, lastly, I would say on the toolkit, I mean, where NATO is really going to struggle in the coming years is on this unconventional piece. I mean, I don’t stay awake at night worrying so much right now about Russian tanks rolling across the Estonian border. I worry a lot about what Russia is going to do inside Estonia just short of that. So let’s say we suddenly see a situation where a TV stations is seized in Estonia, or, again, passing out Russian passports. So we all know the Russian tactics. And Putin is extremely clever and he knows just how far he can go short of a proper Article Five NATO response, where there would be huge NATO debates about, well, is this Article Five or not; it doesn’t quite feel like it. This is what NATO should be talking about right now.

We do have to talk about Article Five and deterrence and collective defense, but we also have to be talking right now about unconventional warfare and how NATO is going to grapple with the fact that countries are perhaps more clever than we give them credit for, not just the Russians but others, about how to play just below that red line. And that’s what I think NATO isn’t prepared for right now, for both NATO member states, and, more importantly, for those that fall in the grey zone between NATO territory and Russia.

In terms of the U.S. administration – I mean, Barry and I have had a number of conversations about this just quickly. I mean, a lot of what I’ve just outlined in terms of the strategic challenges and the statecraft challenges are perfectly in line with what the administration is struggling with. And I don’t think I want to give anyone the illusion that the U.S. administration has all the answers on this front. I think the next U.S. president, whoever it is in 2016, is going to face many of these same questions but will better equipped to do it within a NATO framework and with allies, in some cases in the EU, in some cases inside NATO, but this is a conversation that the West should be having right now, not just in isolation, either in Washington or London or Tokyo or wherever. So, with that, I’ll leave it.

MR. PAVEL: Great. Thank you, Julie. Excellent, excellent concepts and ideas for us to be discussing as we go forward.

Rolf, we’d love to hear from you in particular the Nordic perspective on all of these issues that have been raised.

ROLF TAMNES: Well, thank you, Barry. At least I can speak on behalf of myself. But your starting point was that there is a power shift going on, and that’s, of course, a deep reality that we are facing. But that has also led to the idea that we should define a new strategy for NATO, but I don’t agree with that. The current concept of 2010 takes into account all relevant threats and risks. It’s flexible. It’s sound. This is not time to invent new buzz words and catchphrases. This is actually the time to act, to do things. And I shall try to elaborate on that, what should be done.

Let me concentrate very briefly on four key priorities, and, additionally, underline the need for a stronger U.S. leadership.

The first one and the urgent one is to renew the focus on traditional collective security because there is a strong concern there in many countries in Europe. There is a need for deterring Russia and for reassuring member states. The defense minister talked extensively about this so I’ll leave it there at this stage.

But the second key priority I would emphasize is how to manage the high-end part of the new or emerging threats. We are talking about traditional or transnational terrorism of the gravest kind. We are talking about missile threats in combination with weapons of mass destruction, a growing threat. Some nations in Europe have committed themselves to take part. Others are sure to join for the sake of solidarity but also to give extra strength to this effort.

Next comes the Article Five-related cyber defense challenges. The concept of 2010 is a solid basis here as it recognizes cyber challenges as the major challenges but we have to move beyond that. Again, we are at this stage that it is necessary to act, to improve the information sharing, to develop contingency plans and capabilities, maybe establish a cyber-defense force. And, at one stage, the alliance will also address – will have to address the question of offensive cyber capabilities. I think that has to be a role for NATO. It will be difficult to sort out but it will be part of the package.

The third key priority I would mention is how to deal with the Greater Middle East, from West Africa to India. The things are moving in the wrong direction again. It affects us all, but, of course, it’s a more apparent challenge to the southern countries of NATO, those countries that do not regard basically Russia as a threat, that face quite another security environment. There is a growing north-south divide in the alliance. Economically, of course, we have seen it for some years but also strategically. So there is a bridge that has to be built between the regions and nations in NATO. And all countries in the alliance will have to take part in this effort, in fighting terrorism, in building nations, institutions and capacities in these very volatile regions.

The third key priority is how the alliance should adjust to the rise of the Asia Pacific. My reading of the situation is that in the longer term perspective, the Americans will reallocate substantial resources to that part of the world, and that’s basically a good thing. It’s in the interest of all of us because it makes it possible for the United States to maintain its role as global stabilizer; also that it will keep on the role as the foremost guardian or a rule-based international order.

But there are consequences for Europe. And I think we must gradually learn to live with the fact that the American presence in Europe will be in the form of lighter footprints, hopefully in combination with a concept for rapid reinforcements. That is a challenge, but I think that’s basically enough if we can manage that, that package. But, of course, it raises the fundamental question that has been addressed by several people here today, including the defense minister, the need for a fundamental new burden sharing across the Atlantic. That’s a part of it.

Four key priorities: traditional collective security, emerging threats, the Greater Middle East, and the rise of Asia. Then we come to the delicate question, can NATO make it? And I think it can. But, basically, on one condition, and that is that U.S. assumes stronger leadership, far stronger leadership. It’s a sad fact that the United States does not longer shape NATO’s agenda as it used to do. It doesn’t exert the discipline as it used to do, unpleasant at times, but I think necessary in the longer term perspective to maintain coherence in the alliance.

So that leads me to the fundamental questions to you and to the audience: could we expect stronger U.S. leadership in the years to come? Could we expect that the administration in Washington will make it crystal clear that the European part of NATO will now have to stand up and raise its defense expenditure? Could we expect this administration to be crystal clear when it comes to protecting some key multilateral capabilities – (inaudible) – and tell some of the countries that withdrawal is not acceptable, just to illustrate what is needed to move forward? Thank you very much.

MR. PAVEL: Thank you very much, Professor Tamnes. You really covered the waterfront in a very comprehensive way.

Let me ask each of the panelists a question about – a point or two that I’ve picked up from your discussion. And please, everyone, join in. We’ll keep this lively.

I want to return to Ambassador Ischinger, who I thought made a very important – among his many other points made a very important point about the need for dramatic steps forward toward a European Army. This is a generational challenge, and I think there’s no one to sort of discuss Germany’s role in that better than you. We would love to hear from you on how – where Germany is in dealing with this challenge. We know there were some very forward leaning speeches at your conference from the most senior German officials, but the public and the will to actually move forward isn’t quite there yet. Can you give us a snapshot of that and how do you think that’s all going to play out in the next five or so years?

MR. ISCHINGER: I have no idea.

MR. PAVEL: Thanks very much. (Laughter.)

MR. ISCHINGER: No. I mean, really, honestly, it’s really very hard to say. And, I mean, I’m involved in discussions in Berlin and elsewhere, you know, how to move forward. It’s very hard to say. It depends on the next election and the elections after that.

But I think what almost everybody recognizes in the German debate and also in the debate that takes place in Brussels and elsewhere is that our way of spending the defense dollar, or euro, is not a rational way. We collectively, 28 member nations of the European Union, spend approximately half of what the United States spends. This means, if you apply normal logic, that would mean that in terms of fighting capability, you would have to expect about 50 percent of the U.S. Most of the generals that I have checked with tell me that the EU collectively brings to the floor maybe 10 percent, depending on how you measure this. In other words, this is one of the least efficient ways of spending, of making a collective effort.

And that is why, you know, I think one of the first steps that we should take, and that these are steps that would not involve the very difficult constitutional questions of, you know, can we entrust the question of deploying our troops to a non – in this case, non-German authority, like the NATO Council or the European Parliament or some other super-national authority.

The first step should be, in my view, more pooling and sharing, or, as they say at NATO, more smart defense. What does this mean, for example? We have already started over the last number of years in some segments of the EU or of NATO efforts, for example, in air transport where a number of nations have pooled their resources, and, sure enough, you find out that the average hours of use of these aircraft has gone up tremendously. In other words, this is a more efficient use of your resource. And the nations who participate all of a sudden find out that when they need some transport aircraft, it’s there, even if it’s not their own but a partner aircraft is available.

So that’s a good model. And it is beyond my comprehension why in an age of austerity and in an age of security challenge, you know, 28 nations who have tied their fate together – I mean, some of them even by having a common currency but all of them in the Treaty of Lisbon, which also has a kind of a security element to it, it is beyond my comprehension that we behave – and most of these EU member countries, obviously, are small countries with 10 million or less in terms of people – we behave as if we were still in the 19th century. Each of these countries has its own general staff; some countries have navies that have more admirals than ships. It is ridiculous. I mean, if we want to be taken seriously, serious efforts at pooling and sharing in various categories, simply to provide models, to build a partner, I think that’s the way to move forward, and then, the ultimate goal can be the army.

To come back to your question, within the current Germany coalition, as you know, there is the more conservative party, the CDU, and the SPD. The CDU has traditionally embraced in their party programs the idea of the – you know, of the long-term vision of a European Army and they have not abandoned it. So it’s right there. It is – it was endorsed again, not so long ago, but the problem is no concrete steps really taken above and beyond some of these initial smaller, you know, these smaller regional efforts.

And my last point is I was as pleased as anybody that at the Munich Conference, President Gauck, Defense Minister von der Leyen, who was here last week, and even the foreign minister who comes from the other party, all agreed that Germany should be more proactive, should accept more responsibility, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But I have – I’m waiting to see and to listen to the first speech in which Chancellor Merkel will endorse these very points. I’m sure that will happen at some point, but so far, it hasn’t happened. In other words, this has not yet been translated in a formally endorsed and implemented national policy or policy document. That’s got to be the next step.

And a footnote: one thing that needs to be changed – and I don’t know whether there are other Germans here in the room – one thing that really needs to be changed in our approach to national security and to defense planning has to be that we need to write a white paper again, a fundamental planning document. The last German defense white paper dates from 2006. You know, this is almost a decade ago. And I think that’s – that would be one of the helpful steps also to educate our public about the kinds of questions that we are discussing here.

So we have a big agenda to follow. But I’m delighted that these speeches were made and that we are now having a beginning debate at least in Germany about where to go and what kind of resources we need. And I’d like to say, thank you, Vladimir Putin, for reminding us that actually it’s great that we have NATO.

MR. PAVEL: Thank you.

MR. POTHIER: With all respect for Wolfgang, I think the question of a European Army is a false question. I think, first, you will – my first reaction is, what kind of army? Maybe European, but, what, a bonsai army? So I think behind the question is something more complex, which you also touched on, which is where is Europe now in terms of military power? And I just would like to disperse a few misunderstandings which I often hear not only in the U.S. but also in Europe itself.

First, I think there are some silver linings. The Europeans got much better at using military power since the crisis in the Balkans, and many or few in the room can attest to that. Some countries could not perform night bombing raids, for example, during Kosovo, whilst in Libya, that was a different picture.

The second point is I think there is also a history. The European nations, the Western European nations were required to have a certain format of their armies with large land forces to basically absorb the Soviet Union’s forces, which means that it takes time to reformat forces. And we also have the new members which had even more I will say preponderance on land forces. And there is, I will say, historic background which you can’t just forget in a few years.

And the final point is there’s not just one Europe when we talk about military power. There are several Europes (sp). There are those who are able and still willing and they’re still managing to be able, but it’s a tough call. And I’m thinking mostly of France and the United Kingdom. Then you have those who are potentially able but are not necessarily willing. And I think Wolfgang was mentioning the debate happening currently in Berlin, and that’s why there’s so much focus towards Berlin. And then there’s those who are – maybe have some kind of ability, some kind of willingness but will not necessarily make a huge difference in the military balance, at least the European military balance.

So there are several Europes. And the real question is, you know, how do you bring it together to create a critical mass for Europe’s sake but also for the U.S. to feel that they have a partner on the other side of the Atlantic? And I think strategic awareness, strategic culture is an important thing. We will not always see the world in the same way, from Berlin, from Paris, from London. This is obvious. But at least we can have some points of agreement that the east but also the south and the north matter, and we need to be able to respond to all kind of surprise.

I think we also need to focus on not just 2 percent but, again, some three, four priority capability areas. Not everything. Pretending that we can do 15, 20 priorities means that we’re not going to do anything. So I think it’s better to focus on a few things, do them well rather than pretending to do the whole game and not to deliver.

And, finally, to reflect on Rolf’s point, I think collective investment in some key areas is where Europe but also the United States can punch above their weight. And the NATO common structure, however it sounds like a structure and very institutional is a key backbone. And next year will be the moment the new common structure, after the quite fundamental reform that was undertaken over the last few years, will come into play. And I think it would be the judgment point as to whether the nations are really delivering the quality they promised to deliver. And my bet is that the new secretary general will have to go to the nations and make sure that they are delivering the quality that means the numbers of personnel, but also the qualified personnel in order to make that smaller but leaner NATO common structure a real tool for everybody, the United States included. Thank you.

MR. PAVEL: Thanks very much, Fabrice. I want to come back to you and what I thought was a brilliant rendition of sort of how NATO should navigate this new world. And you keep talking about the West, you know, challenges in the – sorry, in the north and the south and in the east, but I would want to remind you where you sit. We are in North America. North America is part of the NATO alliance, and indeed, there is was an Article Five operation, as you know, right after 9/11 here. And is it conceivable that if the United States or Canada faces a threat from the Pacific, that NATO would also pay attention to this threat? I’m not suggesting that entire lines shift its military forces to the Pacific at all but we’ve talked about the importance of dialogue. Minister Søreide talked about the importance of U.S. attention in Asia and of European engagement in Asia. We have Norwegian ships near Hawaii as we speak. So how about the West at least from NATO’s point of view? Is that anywhere in your concept?

MR. POTHIER: It’s a very good question and something that was raised also by several speakers, you know. What does Asia Pacific mean for the alliance, especially for the European allies? And I think it’s one that we shall have in the coming years and come up with, hopefully, a convincing answer. And the way I see this sensor is first we need to start having at least a strategy discussion about what is happening in the Asia Pacific? What are the challenges and what do they mean for the global balance in general?

Second, if we don’t go to the Asia Pacific, Asia Pacific is coming to us. It’s as simple as that. China is becoming increasingly an important naval power, not only in the Gulf, but also in the Mediterranean. China has an important footprint in Africa. So even if we want to ignore that part, that part of the world is going to come to us, and I think it’s important we are mindful of that.

And, finally, I think it’s not so much about being in Asia Pacific as working with Asia Pacific. And I think partners like Japan, Australia, those partners who are basically – with whom we have worked very closely both in operation and at the political level, especially in Afghanistan, we need to keep them plugged, first, politically but also in our interoperability so that we understand how they view the world and how they view what’s happening in Asia Pacific and the impact on the Euro-Atlantic area and vice versa.

And I think Ukraine is probably the kind of fusion point of that. It was very telling that we are – we’ve heard from many Asia Pacific partners how they were reading the Ukraine and Crimea events and how these events were very meaningful to them, and how, therefore, we should also look at what is happening in East Asia as meaningful strategic events for the Euro Atlantic area. So I think in a way Afghanistan has kept us busy for many years. Ukraine, we had to respond, but now, that somehow the dust is settling, my bet is after the Wales summit, we’ll enter into this deep strategic discussion about what does Asia Pacific mean?

And just to finish – and I do think that the Europeans, at least some Europeans can contribute symbolically but still meaningfully to what the U.S. is trying to do in Asia Pacific. And this is a conversation that hopefully we’ll be able to have within NATO. Thank you.

MR. PAVEL: Excellent. Excellent. Julie, let me pick off on one of your very many good points on the tools and the types of contingencies that NATO is likely to face. I think you called them unconventional. And we’re, obviously, we’re all thinking of what went on in Ukraine and Crimea.

And it struck me – and this was discussed a little bit at the Atlantic Council Europe Whole and Free Conference that the breadth and type of tools that Russia was using are not only not in NATO’s toolkit but some of them are in the EU’s toolkit. Some of them are underused muscles from the Cold War when we’re talking covert operations, intelligence activities, a full range of instruments that just cut across the institutions that we have and then go beyond.

And so do you have any thoughts – it sounds like you’ve been doing some thinking on sort of does NATO need to expand its toolkit? Does NATO and the EU Need to have a different sort of mechanism to deal with these types of crises, where we’re actually using economic instruments for the first time in my memory to deter military or paramilitary action by what I call the Russian pros, not the pro-Russians, in the Ukraine? And so what’s your sense on the institutional machinery or where sort of NATO ends and other institutions begin on this question?

MS. SMITH: Well, I think in the case of the situation with Russia, it does cry out for a whole array of tools that cross multiple institutions. And I wouldn’t want to suggest by any means that NATO suddenly has to take all of that on. It would be wrong. And I think particularly on the cyber piece, that’s where it gets extremely complicated because there is capacity, institutional knowledge and the expertise, all sorts of regulations are being put in place. There is a home for cyber in the EU-U.S. relationship – well, just the EU alone, first and foremost, where it’s obviously carving out its own course, but also, there has been some dialogue between the United States and the EU, significant amount of dialogue that’s obviously impacted now quite negatively in a post-Snowden environment which is another topic for another day. But, in any case, there is a home for this type of conversation and for thinking creatively about what additional tools we may need as partners in that EU framework.

At the same time, I feel like NATO does need to up its game a little bit in the cyberspace. To date, it’s been able to successfully secure its own networks, which was an important first step. But above and beyond that, I think the NATO alliance has been a little bit skittish on even engaging in much of a dialogue about what types of tools might be provided by allies in the face of an attack but could be categorized as an Article Five operation. And if we’re not sure what could be categorized as such, we should also be having that debate. But it puts countries in very awkward positions because, obviously, in the cyber arena, you’ve got everything from highly developed offensive and defense capabilities to absolutely nothing in some countries. And so the range of capacity there is so great. Obviously, there are certain countries that also don’t want to share and reveal even what they have in hand. But I think this isn’t unlike some of the very sensitive conversations we’ve had over the last 60 or 70 years about nuclear capabilities. We’ve handled sensitive issues before and we’ve handled situations where allies bring a huge range of capabilities to bear.

So I feel confident that the alliance should slowly but surely be able to take cyber on. But, of course, cyber is just one piece of it. There’s the strategic communication/messaging/propaganda, whatever you want to call it piece where the U.S. government has struggled a great deal with this; State Department is experimenting with different types of messaging using social media, putting stuff up on their website, counterfactuals to the Russian propaganda. But it’s hard. It’s hard to compete with a country that’s exerting full control over the media. And that’s just a game where we come at it with the losing hand in some cases. But this is something NATO should be discussing, the EU-U.S. should be discussing, definitely on the strategic communications piece.

And then there’s the whole economic statecraft. This has great sex appeal right now. Everybody likes the ring to it, particularly folks in Washington, where we’re in a climate right now where a lot of Americans feel like they want to reject the military instrument. They’re looking for something else. Economic statecraft seems about right. But when we really get down to it, we’re not exactly sure what above and beyond sanctions it actually means. You know, we know that we used economic statecraft vis-à-vis the Iranians with some great success and getting them to the negotiating table. We know we’re now relying on economic statecraft, again, as defined as sanctions, with the Russians for their actions in the Ukraine and Crime.

But thinking more creatively outside the box of what that economic statecraft toolkit should look like is also a conversation we should be having. And that’s probably not suited for NATO. I think that obviously for multiple reasons should sit as it has with – in the case of Ukraine, primarily through a EU-U.S. dialogue or selective members across Europe that want to play a leading role. The Weimar group has been incredibly effective also in pursuing kind of their negotiations and political approach to the conflict, and so we should be open minded.

But your point is exactly right, Barry. I mean, this really has opened up I think our minds, I hope, to the variety of tools that we either lack or need to better develop to deal with this situation as the Ukraine has unfolded.

MR. POTHIER: Just a two-finger for me. I totally agree with Julie’s point, especially on cyber, where we need to go in terms of collective response, but just an important point on so-called hybrid warfare or symmetric means and so on. As much as we need to respond to those and to probably come up with better or actually old response, like info ops, which we have partly dismantled within the NATO common structure that may have to be injected in the common structure, but it should not distract us from a basic fact that this is about power, exerting pressure on weaker sovereign nations.

So, in the end, conventional forces, symmetric means, and this is what the alliance business is, matter. And hybrid warfare as used by President Putin is not efficient if it’s not backed in fact by symmetry conventional forces. So I think this is just to call for the alliance not to focus on indeed there’s this new modern kind of asymmetric questions but in the end get – do your homework. Do the symmetry conventional basic because without that, whatever you do in the asymmetric business will be meaningless. Thank you.

MR. PAVEL: The challenges are additive as well as the capabilities. I agree.

I want to get to Rolf, one quick question to Rolf before we open it to the audience. I thought you laid out a very good agenda. It was a global one, the Greater Middle East, other challenges. How does the alliance deal with this in a constrained resource environment? Do you have any thoughts on sort of dealing with this agenda? This could be quite expansive in terms of the resource needs.

MR. TAMNES: Well, it’s much easier for me to try to address that question than those who are in positions but let me try.

The first is to focus, as you pointed out as well, and to identify a clear course, and, as a part of that, there has to be a leadership. And the fact of life is that there is only one country that can offer strategic leadership in the alliance, and that is the United States; Germany perhaps, 10, 20 years from now, it’s a long time to wait. So that’s the starting point, the kind of leadership and an effort to focus.

From that comes the ability, so to say, to prioritize because that’s so much of a challenge today. There is a whole variety of ideas and concepts and thinking about anything. There has always been a challenge when it comes to too many tasks. That’s basically a fact of life. In such a situation, there is only one question that matters and that is the ability to prioritize. I’ll leave it there.

MR. PAVEL: Great. Thank you very much. I want to open it to the audience. We have a lot of issues, a lot of questions. Let’s take Hans Binnendijk in the back and then Peter Wilson.

Q: Thank you. I wanted to raise the question of European defense capabilities in the summit and what we might be able to do there to further that cause. The 2 percent goal would be nice to constitute but it’s a blunt instrument.

Fabrice, you were talking about three or four priority items, which is good but still small. And, at the other end, Wolfgang was talking about the larger, eventual vision of the European Army. And I’m wondering if there isn’t a goal somewhere between those two polls that we might use at the summit to begin to provide a vision of where we want European defense capabilities to go.

And so my suggestion here would be a European level of ambition within the alliance. We have a NATO level of ambition. We don’t have a European level of ambition. And a step in the direction of building priorities and potentially moving to a European Army – there’s problems with that – would be a European level of ambition, perhaps one major joint operation and three smaller joint operations.

MR. PAVEL: Any of our panelists want to address the European level of ambition?

MR. POTHIER: I know this is one Hans’ always good points. And I think, first, there is an EU level of ambition which you can say applies to at least most of the European nations.

My concern with that concept, however good it is and however useful it could be to help drive the capability investment is – in the end, Article Five means we are in it at 28. And if you start building some sub-level of ambition, you are basically starting to somehow split the notion of, you know, all for one and one for all. And I have – I would have a concern with that.

However, I think your question is very valid is how do you steer the Europeans, however diverse they are, and even they are in their resources, to create a greater European critical mass. And I think this is going to be the challenge not only of the summit, but of this summit, of next year’s EU council summit on defense, of potentially the next, next NATO summit to try to get, again, the Europeans to focus on priorities and I think the enablers that have shown to be missing so much in recent operations. This is something like the air-to-air refuelers, the ISR, et cetera. This is definitely something where the Europeans need to do more, and they know they can only do more by working together because very few of them have the means to invest individually in getting a critical mass of drones and so on. So I think priorities done in a cooperative way is the way forward.

And, finally, it may not be sexy but I think it’s very important – skills. One of the criticism of Bob Gates in his speech when he left his duty was to say that not only capability gaps but skills gap that the United States during the Libya operation had to inject, I think it was 60 more planners in the NATO common structures because the Europeans could not provide those. So we need to get better into the skills race, and this can be done by doing meaningful training and exercise. I think NATO can do its part by using some of the common funding, but I think every nation has to commit more money to training their armed forces. Thank you.

MR. PAVEL: Ambassador Ischinger.

MR. ISCHINGER: Fabrice speaks the language of NATO and NATO experts. I understand this language, but I’m afraid to say it’s not a language that’s understood by most of our publics today. I’m sad to say it but it’s true. So we need to make a huge effort for these types of reflections to be understood and supported.

I would respond to your point, Hans, by pointing to an example, to a model which was developed in the EU as a response to the financial crisis. We introduced the idea of what is called in the specialized language the European semester, in other words, you as a nation, EU member nation, a Euro zone member nation need to present your budget for next year to somebody in the EU in order to get the green light before you take this budget and let it be approved by your own national parliament. That’s the general idea. Not everybody liked this because some people thought it was taking prerogatives away from the national parliaments, but it is, of course, a very – if it works, a very interesting process to coordinate and to make sure that within this group of nations everybody understands what the other partner is doing, in this case on financial, on budget, on debt, et cetera, et cetera. Why do we not introduce this idea to NATO?

So my proposal would be, instead of dreaming of the 2 percent goal, which most NATO nations, it’s easy to predict will not – will continue not to meet, unfortunately, let them – or let us decide at the summit that we will introduce, you know, the NATO semester, each nation presents their defense budget to a collective, you know, auditor and auditing committee. And that would at least help us prevent the kinds of surprises that we’ve been exposed to recently, when, all of a sudden, at least as far as I’m concerned, out of the blue – for example, we saw that the British defense budget was plummeting for understandable reasons.

But I think we need a process where the individual NATO nations know what the other nation is planning and what it is not planning. And that would also enable us to at least start a more meaningful process of pooling and sharing, my principal thought that I wanted to introduce here, because if one nation, on its own, decides to eliminate all artillery or all tanks – and there are nations in the EU who have done that – then maybe it’s a useful thing for the others to be informed of these plans before they’re actually eliminated so that a thought can be given to maybe somebody else can bring in this tank, artillery capacity to balance things out so that, at the end of the day, those who are in command politically and militarily have better oversight.

So I think this would be one useful step both in the direction of pooling and sharing and also in the direction of budgetary discipline and coherence.

MR. PAVEL: I think Julie wanted to –

MS. SMITH: I just wanted to add Wolfgang’s absolutely right. We actually inside NATO have a defense planning process that is supposed to function this way. But it’s been broken for a long time. And it’s unfolding exactly the way Wolfgang outlined, and that is when I was at the Pentagon responsible for monitoring the budgets of 30 some countries across Europe, some in NATO, some not, in theory, we were supposed to get the feed from our colleagues at NATO saying we had a meeting today. Country X came in and said newsflash, we’re going to be eliminating this capability, how does that feel from a NATO perspective, because we can tell you what’s motivating us from a national perspective. And so that was how it was supposed to work. We were supposed to have this kind of dialogue.

What happened instead is either country X would skip the meeting, not really present the facts, not lay out the decisions that they were grappling with or in cases where they were courageous enough or brave enough to do that, they’d take the feedback, maybe NATO would response and say, hold up. If you get rid of that capability, that really puts the alliance at a disadvantage and adds some vulnerability to our national security posture, then they’d say, thank you very much for your interest in national security, and they’d walk away and then they’d still take the decision. And so as a bureaucrat sitting in the Pentagon, trying to monitor this, I mean, there were literally instances where we were opening the newspaper and we were reading about decisions that were unfolding in national capitals across the alliance when we should have gotten the head’s up inside NATO.

Now, to be fair, the U.S. doesn’t use this process either so I don’t want to give anyone the impression that the U.S. is always willing to walk in the door and reveal all. There have been instances where we’ve been better about it, in other cases where we’ve been terrible about it.

But, the fact of the matter is this process, as Wolfgang noted, needs to be completely turned on its head and revitalized. We have to reestablish the trust to have this conversation. And there needs to be some sort of feedback so that you don’t get the surprise of your neighbor a couple of miles over suddenly revealing that they’re going to get rid of a whole set of capabilities that you may feel you might want to have collectively.

MR. POTHIER: Very quickly, I agree with both of you. And I think you’re describing in a non-NATO lingua a very complicated process which is called the NATO defense planning process. Could not do better.

I think what we are lacking is not planning. What we are lacking is accountability.

MR. ISCHINGER: Yeah. Yeah.

MR. POTHIER: And I think accountability can help us kill two birds with one stone. One bird puts more pressure on the nations, not name and shame but more peer pressure for nations to really deliver on what they said they will do and explain why they are cutting certain things, et cetera.

Accountability also helps us to make a broader case, which you were absolutely spot on. It’s about defense, why defense matters? And it’s not about why NATO matters. It’s much more fundamental. It’s why to the public and also to parliamentarians because they are key individuals in that – in the whole decision making. Why do we need defense in the 21st century? And I think this is a discussion that we need to have in Berlin but also in London, in Washington, and so on. So I think accountability, being more transparent about defense spending figure is something we owe to our citizens but something that will help us explain to our citizens why in the end we’re not spending that much but we’re getting a lot in return. Thank you.

MR. PAVEL: Rolf.

MR. TAMNES: When I listen to you, it reminds me of the simple fact that when we look back at NATO’s history, it has always been in a crisis that has always been deep shortcomings. And today’s situation is no exception.

At the same time, I would indicate that I sense a certain movement today in a certain direction, a situation that wasn’t there a couple of years ago. And that gives some hope. At the same time, in my head, there is always a fallback position, and that is enhanced bilateral and multilateral cooperation between selected countries. But that’s another huge subject, which I suppose we would have to leave for another seminar.

MR. PAVEL: Thank you very much. I’m so upset that we’re out of time. I just have to do two things. One, recognize two ambassadors who are here as part of our family, Ambassador Luik, the Estonian ambassador to Russia, and Ambassador Bisogniero, the Italian ambassador to the United States. Thank you for coming.

Also, I have to say, this was the most forward-looking, insightful panel on NATO’s future that I have ever seen. I don’t always do this but I’m going to go to the tape later and study this because there’s a whole rich load of analyses that I think need to be done from the concepts that the four of you have outlined here. I really mean that.

So thank you, Rolf; thank you, Julie, thank you, Fabrice; thank you, Wolfgang. And please join me in thanking them for an excellent discussion. (Applause.)


IAN BRZEZINSKI: Good morning. My name is Ian Brezezinski. I’m a senior fellow here at the Atlantic Council with the Brent Scowcroft Center. And I have the privilege of hosting our luncheon conversation, the United States’ Future Role in European Security. “” And I’m going to be a little bit abbreviated because, unfortunately, our guest of honor, Derek Chollet, the assistant secretary of defense, International Security Affairs, has a hard departure at 12:15 p.m. So I’m going to keep my questions a little bit to the point so I can save some time for you all.

And I’m going to also be very brief in my introduction of Derek. He, as I said, is the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, where he’s responsible for U.S. defense strategy regarding issues related to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He has brought great experience to that post, having served as special assistant to the president on NSC for strategy planning, the deputy director for policy planning at state. He was a key member of the Obama-Biden transition teams. He’s been with the administration from the start. He served in the Clinton administration as a speech writer for ambassador to the U.N. Holbrooke and a special adviser to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. And one thing I particularly value in his background is he spent time on the Hill working for Senator John Edwards.

And just on an interesting personal note, he’s quite an accomplished research analyst and writer, having written six of his own books. But to reflect on his bipartisan background, he contributed significantly to the memoirs of Secretaries of State James Baker and Warren Christopher but also to some of his mentors, Ambassador Holbrooke on his book on the Dayton peace process and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott’s book on U.S.-Russia relations.

Now, this morning, we had an overview of kind of the context in which our conversation is occurring. This is an alliance. We have a transatlantic security relationship in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an increasingly assertive Russian conduct elsewhere in Eurasia.

Derek’s joining us just weeks after two important speeches by President Obama, one at West Point, where he rolled out and nuanced his vision on how and when U.S. military force should be used, and the president’s recent visit to Europe, where in Warsaw, he gave an important speech that touched on U.S. commitment to European security.

And since then, we’ve had the outbreak of ISIS in Iraq, the continuing turmoil in Syria, and, looking forward, we have a NATO summit in Wales. And, of course, this morning, I guess our town, NATO ministers, foreign ministers met to address that agenda.

So, Derek, let me start off by looking at some of these speeches that President Obama recently delivered. And I’m struck by probably the most important one, which is the one at West Point, in which he discussed where and how U.S. forces should be used. And he talked about U.S. military force being used primarily for the defense of our vital interests and those of our allies. And, for other situations, he talked about the requirement to utilize that force multilaterally, in cooperation with other nations.

How do you think that resonated in a country like Ukraine and Europe? It probably was reassuring for Poles, to Balts, to Romanians, where they saw allies resting assured on the commitment of American military force. But at a time when a country like Ukraine is being invaded by Russia, is a partner and doesn’t seem to fall in that first category of use of force, it must have been a little bit disturbing. And maybe it could have been seen as a little bit of a green light by the folks that surround Putin and Putin himself. How do you react to that?

DEREK CHOLLET: Well, thanks, Ian, for the question. But, before I get to the answer, I just want to thank everyone for being here. It’s a great privilege for me to be with Fred and friends like Damon and Barry Pavel. This is a fantastic new facility. This is the first time I’ve been here. And my only regret is that I’m only here for a short bit of time. My hard stop is because I have to go to Capitol Hill and testify on Libya so, believe me, I’d much prefer to elongate my time here. But I think Ileana Ros-Lehtinen would not be happy with me. So that’s why I have to leave early.

And I also want to congratulate you on the report that you’re launching with this conference. I had a chance to skim it last night. And I have to say both analytically and also in terms of the perspective parts of it, I agree with about 99 percent of it. I thought it was a terrific report, very cogent, very relevant, obviously, and very helpful to someone like myself.

In terms of the question, particularly in the West Point and how our friends, particularly in Ukraine, might have heard that speech, I happened to be in Ukraine just days after that speech was delivered to discuss with the minister of defense, the national security adviser and other senior officials ways that we can help them with their defense reform and to deal with the very disturbing events, of course, in their east.

And, you know, the president has said from the outset, when it comes to the situation in Ukraine, that there’s not a U.S. military solution, and that’s why the president, the vice president, Secretary Kerry, have been very involved diplomatically with the Ukrainians.

And part of the reason for my trip there and the timing of my trip coming just days before the inauguration of President Poroshenko but days after his election was to really dig into this conversation with them about ways that we can continue to help them on their defense needs. It was just later that week.

Of course, the president announced an additional $5 million in U.S. assistance for Ukrainians’ military. That brings us to about $23 million total in assistance we will be giving the Ukraine over the coming months. Now, a lot of that is going to be to address their immediate needs so I think just today, 2,000 sets of body armor are going to be arriving in Ukraine. Those are badly needed. That was item number one on their agenda with me several weeks ago. But also things like medical kits, uniforms, sleeping mats. I mean, this is a military that’s been deployed now for several months. It’s in great need of supply and it’s depleted. So we’re going to address those immediate needs.

But also, there is the medium to long-term challenges that they face. This is a military – although they’ve been 20 years independent. They’ve been a partner with NATO. They’ve operated with us in Afghanistan, in Iraq. It’s a military that’s in badly need of reform.

I found the Ukrainian defense minister was quite candid with me about the need – here we are still 20 years after their independence but the need to move out of the Soviet Russian orientation and they need help from the United States and other NATO partners in terms of training and reform. And that’s something that we’re very committed to doing. Right after my visit, we had sent a team of defense reform advisers to Ukraine to begin working with the Ukrainian Defense Ministry to talk to them about ways that they can do better planning, do better budgeting, be more professional. So we both have the urgent needs but as well as the medium to long-term approach.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: But when are we going to move to some assistance that the Ukrainians have been asking since your visit, lethal military assistance, anti-tank weapons, surface-to-air missiles, to allow them to operate more effectively with a little bit more lethal force, particularly in Luhansk and Donetsk?

MR. CHOLLET: Yes. So that’s something – they are asking for that. We’re talking it through with them. They are prioritizing their needs in terms of the urgent priorities along the lines of – again, initially, several months ago, it was MREs. Now the body armor was very urgent.

The border guards are in great need of support. When I was in Ukraine, I had an opportunity to meet with the head of the border guards. Now, these are border guards who are oriented to the West for many years and now they’re worried about the East, which is a complete – it’s been almost a non-border in many instances. It’s not even demarcated in some places. So they need communications equipment. They need night vision goggles. And I think the lethal conversation is something that we’ll get to eventually but it’s not the thing that’s foremost on our minds.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: What about military exercises in Ukraine? And I was struck by the fact that a major allied exercise which was supposed to occur in the (Rostov ?) region was indefinitely postpone. Doesn’t that send the wrong message to Russia? Doesn’t it send a disconcerting message to the Ukrainians?

MR. CHOLLET: So I think the Ukrainians have – we have participated in military exercises in the past. We’ve had military exercises on their soil in the past. The decision to delay was a mutual decision in part because, right now, the Ukrainian military is pretty busy and they’re in short supply of bandwidth. And so continuing exercises with Ukraine is something we are very committed to; I think NATO should be committed to. It’s part of what the funding that the president had announced as part of his trip, this $1 billion European reassurance initiative. Part of that money will go to things like additional exercises with countries like Ukraine.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: Let’s talk a little bit about the European Reassurance Initiative the president rolled out in Warsaw. It’s a $1 billion initiative. One of the concerns I have is that it could be spread real thin, real fast. Much of it is dedicated to ongoing operations or exercises. You’re talking about a big, vast realm, from the Baltic Sea, all the way down the Black and Adriatic Seas. What are some of the principles that are guiding your planning for that? And when are we going to see this initiative mature into actual tangible actions or deployments or infrastructure in the region?

MR. CHOLLET: Well, hopefully soon you’ll be seeing more detail on the European Reassurance Initiative. It was just announced several weeks ago, as you can imagine, and you know well from your experience at the Pentagon, it has consumed I daresay thousands of men and women hours since the announcement to try to fill out what this $1 billion is going to be used for. It’s a challenge but it’s also a happy challenge.

As you know, in the Pentagon recently, we’ve been going through a different kind of exercise, of finding ways we’re going to do as much with less. And putting new money, new resources towards some of these important efforts, whether it be further exercises, whether it be some infrastructure projects in partner countries, whether it be ways that we can continue to augment and keep up the up tempo of our own presence in Europe, that’s what this $1 billion will be for.

We’re going to be going to Congress really in the coming days with a more detailed proposal and we will look for congressional support. It’s something, frankly, we’re going to need the help of folks in this room for it as well because we will engage in that discussion with the Congress, but there will many questions for members of Congress as I get when I appear before Congress on these issues who ask, well, why should the United States spend an extra $1 billion on European reform or on European defense when European defense budgets are continuing to decline? Why should the American people continue to subsidize the security of Europe? Well, I believe strongly that it’s in our national security interest to do so, but it won’t be necessarily an easy argument to make with the Congress so we’ll need the help of everyone,

MR. BRZEZINSKI: What is the end state you’re aiming for, what the president’s aiming for in this initiative? Does it include something more than exercises that it could end, presence that could end? Are you aiming for the creation of an enduring, institutionalized, strategically significant presence perhaps in North-Central Europe, the Baltics, Poland? We already have a base, a forward operating base in Bulgaria and Romania? And I really emphasize the word enduring because people don’t like to use the word permanent.


MR. BRZEZINSKI: But enduring as something that will last for decades in my view.

MR. CHOLLET: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Fair enough. I think that’s all on the table. It’s important to note this is one – this is one sort of one-year money. This is not going to be $1 billion for all of eternity. This is just a one-time ask. It’s a contingency fund. And I think some of what we will seek to do in the near term are things that will be finite, things like exercises. But I do envision things along the lines of building up infrastructure to enable countries to host rotational forces through.

Permanent presence is not something we’re actively thinking about with this fund. I think persistent presence – maybe it’s just another euphemism, but things where are like what we’ve done in Poland over the last two years with the aviation detachment, which is a small number of permanent U.S. men and women, about I think 11 airmen in Poland but that then enabled us to rotate through substantial assets for exercises and presence there in Poland. So I think that to us is a very positive model that we can use and seek to replicate across Europe.

Are you expecting any European matching funds in this effort? Could you see this evolving into something that’s not just a unilateral American initiative demonstrating commitment to the alliance, but could it be complemented by European contributions in Central Europe, perhaps also to an enduring presence?


MR. BRZEZINSKI: Could it evolve into a deliverable at the NATO summit?

MR. CHOLLET: Yes, yes, and yes. When this – when the president announced this initiative during his trip, it was the same week I was with Secretary Hagel at our NATO defense ministerial in Brussels. And for those of you who experienced NATO defense ministerial, you can appreciate this, but it gave us a good talking point to use. You know, the analogy I would say is we’ve just signed up to being the main dish to the picnic, and we’re looking for other folks around the table at the NAC to say, what are you bringing to the picnic? And the United States was saying, we’ve got $1 billion here that we’re showing we’re going to commit to this very important effort.

And for many of those – this is difficult for the president, by the way. This is not something that politically is necessarily going to be popular here in the United States. But we’re showing our commitment. And it’s trying to lead by example. And some of our European friends took note. The Poles, of course, the same week of the ministerial and the president’s visit announced their commitment to increase their defense spending. Other countries, like Lithuania, have come online to say they’re going to get over 2 percent for the summit.

And I think the summit is an opportunity for all of us, for the alliance, for not just countries like the United States but all NATO allies, all of us to come together and show that we are prepared to do what it takes to spend the resources that are necessary for our common security.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: You know, when the president was in Warsaw, he also rolled out the U.S.-Poland Solidarity and Partnership Initiative, something which has your fingerprints all over it. Can you tell us what are going to be the key elements of this initiative, what areas are you focusing on, what will come of it and when?

MR. CHOLLET: Well, we are actively working on that. In fact, our friend, Robert Kupiecki is due in Washington shortly to really dig in the conversation with myself and my colleagues about filling that out in more detail.

And I think that a lot of what we’ve discussed already that it’s in this European Reassurance Initiative, things like that, but Poland specific is what we’re thinking about, ways that we can have a robust exercise program, continuing to leverage things like the aviation detachment to continue to deepen our relationship with Poland and to continue to develop Poland’s own defense capabilities. which are considerable.

So I think things like that are what’s on the table. But what’s very important and I feel strongly about, is we want to have a roadmap for the future, particularly given, you know, how day to day these things can seem, particularly over the last several months in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. But I have a roadmap that shows our mutual commitment to one another moving forward and has enough specificity to be able to hold ourselves accountable for what we’re committing to do.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: Poland, of course, has a major modernization program, and one of the centerpieces is developments of its own air and missile defense capability. Do you see air missile defense capability being part of this initiative?

MR. CHOLLET: Yeah, absolutely. As you know, Poland is right now in the middle of their process to think about – make some important decisions on air and defense capability, and that’s something we talked with the Poles about quite a bit. When Secretary Hagel was in Warsaw in January of this past year, their modernization generally and specifically the missile defense effort was a central topic so that will certainly be one of the pillars of our strategy moving forward.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: Then stepping back on kind of the European wide missile defense in light of the context of the Ukraine crisis, there has been some talk or hints from some administration officials there could be possible acceleration of EPAA. Is that in the works?

MR. CHOLLET: I think EPAA is moving forward apace. You know, we’re scheduled to have the AEGIS Ashore online in 2015 and the Poland piece of it in 2018. Ships are in Rota right now. So I think – I don’t anticipate an acceleration but I think we’re deeply committed to sticking to the program, and that’s something we – you know, make sure we make very clear whenever we’re talking to our friends and partners in the region.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: And how has the evolution of Russian policy, its changing force structure, the invasion of Ukraine, how is that adjusting, affecting U.S. defense relations with countries Azerbaijan and Georgia?

MR. CHOLLET: Well, we have very close defense relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia, of course. And Georgia in particular is a terrific partner, a partner that’s been in the fight with us in Iraq, it’s in the fight with us in Afghanistan, and has committed to be a major part of the train, advise and assist mission in Afghanistan post-2014. And we’re very interested in developing even deeper relations with both Georgia and Azerbaijan on the defense side.

I think one of the challenges we all face collectively, not just the United States but all – the entire alliance is grappling with is this new kind of warfare that Russia is waging right now and we’re seeing in Ukraine. Whether you call it irregular or asymmetric or indirect, you know, activities that still today we’re seeing where weaponry is disappearing on one side of the – is on the Russian side of the border that then is mysteriously appearing on the Ukrainian side of the border.

And how the alliance grapples with that where it’s a challenge that’s not black and white, where it’s forces crossing a border but it’s nevertheless deeply destabilizing and absolutely and directly a problem for us and an assault on our interests; how we deal with that, where there’s enough ambiguity that would mean a collective response sometimes will be difficult because, you know, there will be certain allies who will say, well, there’s no clear proof. That’s a challenge for us and it’s one that our military is thinking a lot about. General Breedlove at the defense ministerial a few weeks ago gave a very good presentation on this – on this new development and how we ought to be thinking about it. I think it will – something will clearly – leaders will have to take up at the summit but I see this as a big work project for the alliance really over the coming years.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: Let me push a little bit on Georgia and Azerbaijan. I mean, has there been a change in the tempo of our defense relationship with Georgia and Azerbaijan since February 26 or is it more of the same?

MR. CHOLLET: No. Yeah – well, it’s pretty intense already. We, of course – again, with Georgia, because we’re operating with them, it’s very intense. And there are things that they’re interested in, of course, that we’re working through, and I think one of the announcements today at the NATO foreign ministerial was NATO working with Georgia on what Rasmussen called a substantial package of support for them in terms of deepening the relationship between now and the time of the summit. Since that was just announced today, I don’t have the details of what that exactly means. But I think the U.S. in particular but the alliance generally I think signaled that it’s interested in working more with Georgia, even as this map issue unfolds.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: Before I open it up, let me ask kind of the big forward-looking question here in the Atlantic Council, which is, what are your expectations for the Wales summit, the NATO Wales Summit? What are the core themes or priorities that are driving your initiatives in the NATO channels to prepare for a summit that will be one that will be addressing current challenges and threats but also preparing, of course, for the more asymmetric diversified challenges that the alliance has to be prepared for if it’s going to be relevant in the future?

MR. CHOLLET: Absolutely. I think this is a very important summit. All summits are important but this one feels particularly so because of the moment we’re in right now as an alliance. Given the confluence of Afghanistan and the post-2014 transition in Afghanistan, the fact that we have, of course, Ukraine and the challenges with Russia and the fact that the alliance as a whole is going through – is in a period of austerity, I think it’s very important right now for the leaders to come together and give us all our guidance and our work plan moving forward.

You know, six months ago, those of us in the government already starting to think about the summit were worried that it was going to be very hard to get folks to pay much attention to it. I know the Atlantic Council will pay close attention to it but outside of folks who care about European security and who do this professionally, I think because of the particularly events with Russia, there’s going to be a lot of attention on the summit, and also this concern we had that some may be asking, what’s the point of NATO; we don’t need it anymore. Now, after almost 20 years of continuous operations starting in the Balkans through today in Afghanistan, what’s the point of the alliance? Well, I think that’s going to be an easier sell right now from the leaders.

That said, we still have some very difficult things we’ve got to work through, first of all, obviously, capabilities and ensuring that the alliance comes around a set of capabilities that are going to be relevant to the 21st century, being able to deal with things like this new kind of warfare Russia is waging but also dealing with threats coming up from North Africa and the Middle East in particular.

Interoperability – big challenge for the alliance because we’ve been in continuous operations now for almost two decades. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve developed a lot of strong muscle tissue in interoperability. And how we maintain that short of a war we’re fighting together will be a challenge. That’s where the exercise program in particular comes in.

And then, third, partnerships – one of the great accomplishments of this alliance since the mid-1990s was the development of the partnership program and the fact that we have 40 countries that are partners of NATO, and many of those countries, Georgia, for example – Australia is another – have been contributing more than most NATO allies when it comes to a place like Afghanistan in particular. And so how we maintain this partnership agenda and have it continue to evolve and benefit the alliance so it’s not just at the core of 28 but it’s the 28 plus, depending on whatever the situation is, is a big challenge for us moving forward.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: Let me push you a little bit on that. And it is the moderator’s prerogative here.

From briefings I’ve heard from NATO officials and discussions, and from other administration officials, I have the sense that the alliance’s agenda for the summit is still somewhat lost. At best, it’s stuck back in November of last year, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They’re talking about post-Afghanistan NATO; they’re talking about smart defense, the 2 percent issue, interconnected force initiative, collective defense, partnerships.

The fact of the matter is the alliance is occurring in the most major crisis in the last 25 years, an invasion of a European country, Ukraine. Reassuring the east, reassuring the countries along NATO’s eastern frontier strikes me as the most important priority and if that isn’t front and center the priority, NATO is going to look like it has its head in the sand, avoiding reality. And, moreover, it won’t be directly addressing what’s most important right now, which is preventing that instability, that invasion from the East, bringing to NATO’s borders occupation, confrontation, instability, if not insurrection. That ought to be the focus. Then, behind that comes collective defense, which the alliance has been focusing on, and then partnerships, all wrapped up in the transatlantic bowl of transatlantic bargain, so to speak, which the administrations has taken the first step and saying, hey, with our $1 billion initiative, you need to match it. Are those the wrong priorities?

MR. CHOLLET: No, but I don’t think they’re different necessarily. I think that I see them supporting one another. I mean, clearly, reassurance, both for the NATO members who are frontline states but also the partners in particularly who are in the Russia context, that’s going to be a key part of the summit. And by then we’ll obviously have a lot more detail on our $1 billion contribution to that effort. And, hopefully, we will have hustled up some allies to show something as well when it comes to reassurance.

But, also, I mean, if we were having this summit today, we would also be talking a lot about what’s going on in the Middle East. You know, I spent a lot of my time on the Middle East. And depending on where Iraq goes or if you talk to some of our southern NATO partners, they’re very interested in talking about what I’m about to go testify on, Libya, and the challenges both in terms of migration but also the threat stream coming up from the south, and they don’t want us to forget what’s going on in North Africa.

So that’s why I think it’s a great time to have a summit because if we didn’t have NATO, we’d have to invent it. And whether it’s – whether it’s the east, whether it’s the south or whether it’s the challenges within the alliance in terms of spending capabilities and whatnot, we have to come together and sort of chart a way forward. It’s the right time to do it.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: Great. Let me open it up to folks. Ambassador.

Q: Hi. Batu Kutelia, McCain Institute. I’m from Georgia. My question is on enlargement. In the Chicago Summit, Hillary Clinton mentioned that next – she hoped the next summit would be an enlargement summit. Well, clearly, we are not navigating towards this as it seems now. Every stage of enlargement was a mixture of two types of factors, geopolitical urgency or political feasibility and technical or political interoperability, and with different success, it proved to be good decisions.

So my question is for the upcoming or future enlargement. What are the ratio of these two considerations, of the political urgency or geopolitical urgency and technical interoperability or performance? Thank you.

MR. CHOLLET: Well, I think they’re both important and specifically on the case of Georgia, as you know, the U.S. supports Georgia’s getting a membership action plan. It’s an alliance of 28. We have other partners, other influential partners who have been very clear and very public about their reluctance to take that step. That’s why I thought it was positive today the secretary general in his press conference that I just saw as I was coming here said some, you know, very positive things about Georgia and made a commitment as an alliance for us to move forward on a substantial package with Georgia. I think that’s important to do because I have – I’ve never ceased to be impressed with Georgia as a partner, a defense partner of the United States in particular. So I think whether it comes to operational issues or the political impetus, I think they’re both very important.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: Does the United States support an invitation to Montenegro?

MR. CHOLLET: So we’ve had very long and detailed discussions with the Montenegrins. They’ve had some issues they’ve had to overcome. And, to their credit, they’re making progress along those lines. What NATO announced as part of the ministerial wrap-up today was that they would deepen consultations with the Montenegrins and hope to have an answer by the end of 2015 – so it would not be a summit issue, but to have a more specific way forward for Montenegro in the next year or so.

I think Montenegro is a place that’s made a lot of progress. It’s had some challenges, as you know. They have very good leadership right now. Their defense minister, who I know has come through town and been here several times, is a great advocate for them. And she gave Secretary Hagel the same version I think she gave here in terms of making the case, but I don’t think they’re quite there yet.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: Fred Kempe, the president.

Q: Derek, thanks so much for doing this. We know how busy you are so we really appreciate it. I wonder if you could, since you’re dealing with the Middle East as well, drill down a little bit deeper on that? Brent Scowcroft earlier today talked about the Mideast – forget about non-state actors. He said the Mideast is becoming a non-state region and talked about the dissolution of countries that seems to be taking place.

Do you see it as that historically dramatic what we’re watching right there? And if so, how does one guide a policy in the current sort of Iraq situation around that set of issues?

Oh, and since we’re talking about NATO, one of the criticisms in this conference has been we’re not really using NATO as a place to talk strategically about these sorts of issues before we actually get involved in something and one is almost afraid to. So do we need more strategic discussions transatlantically (sp) also about these sorts of issues just for political reasons?

MR. CHOLLET: Yes, absolutely. I think Secretary Kerry today used the opportunity of being at NATO and coming off his visit to Iraq to brief his fellow ministers on his trip and have a discussion with them on the way forward. I think that’s something the United States would be very interested in doing. I think some of our European partners would be worried that bringing those kinds of issues more actively into the NATO context would either dilute some of the things that they are more concerned by or perhaps, in some cases, put them in the position of expectations being risen on what they may do about it, to be honest.

In terms of what’s going on in the Middle East generally, I do see it as one of these uniquely historical moments. I mean, this is – the chess board is being rearranged in a way that it’s hard to really, you know, fathom the depth of what’s happening. I mean, the Iraq problem is to me not really an Iraq problem. It’s an ISIS problem. Its borders are mattering less between Syria and Iraq for sure, but even we’re seeing concerns about the Jordanian and the Iraqi border as well.

And I think that’s how we have to sort of try to look at this as not just state by state answers but it’s got to be a regional answer. And you could expand it out if you just want to make yourself feel worse. It’s not just a Syria, Iraq, Lebanon issue. You know, stretch out the arc of instability really from Mali, through Libya, Egypt, Sinai, you know, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran. If you want to make real fun, go Afghanistan and Pakistan. I mean, that’s a swath of territory.

I think arc of crisis was coined 30 years ago by an esteemed former national security adviser that if you look – as these networks are – these terrorist networks are getting traction and working more closely together. The tools we approach these problems with as a government, which are state-centric oftentimes, fall short of the problem. So it’s an immense challenge. It’s a generational challenge. It’s one that’s going to outlast the time that this administration is in office. And I think absolutely it’s an issue that we’re going to need our transatlantic partners support and active work on.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: I’m going to throw the last question. We have one more question. Damon.

Q: I’ll be quick. Thanks again, Derek, for doing this. Just a real quick question about deterrence and Putin. We failed in 2008 to clearly deter Putin from considering further aggression in the east. We see this back and forth in Ukraine right now. Do you expect that the alliance will actually – are we able to have a sense of strategic deterrence for Putin in the future or are we headed for a period of perhaps years of degree of instability, tensions and conflict on the alliance’s eastern flank?

MR. CHOLLET: Good question. You know, what – you know, trying to figure out ways to influence Putin is something many of us have puzzled over for many years now. And I do think that we’ve shown, in particular in the last three months, that the alliance is capable of deterrence. I mean, I think Putin definitely got the message not just by our actions but the actions of other partners, to in particular reassure the Balts and the Poles, the Romanians, that there was a line that could be not be crossed. And I think that, you know, although we’ve been criticized by some on the sanctions as not being tough enough, I think that they have heard pressure. I think that they’ve certainly gotten Putin’s attention.

So I think that although we’re never probably going to be in a place where we’re fully satisfied of the level of deterrence we have, in part because of the asymmetric and irregular part – the irregular way that Russia is going about destabilizing some of its neighboring states, I think that we’ve shown that we’re able to change our behavior that sends the message to Russia that there is a line that cannot be crossed.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: How are we affecting – how is this affecting our planning posture towards Russia? You know, every planning document that’s come out in your administration, previous administration has a time span of about five minutes and it becomes irrelevant. The QDR came and it had a very positive picture of the relationship with Russia. If that were to be rewritten today, would it be different? Are you making planning assumptions on the hope that Russia will be a partner or are you, for lack of better words, digging in and preparing for a longer term adversarial relationship driven by Putin rather than us, but, nonetheless, adversarial?

MR. CHOLLET: Yeah. I think I would quibble a little bit with the characterization that the QDR said it was a positive relationship. And I think we’ve been pretty sober about – particularly from a military perspective pretty sober about the potential of the relationship with Russia over the past several years, in particular since Putin has, you know, formally ascended the leadership again in Russia.

You know, I don’t think – the QDR, what’s happened is not going to lead to some sort of major rethink of our overall strategy. I think a lot of the basic thrust of our strategy, whether it’s building partnership capacity, whether it’s continuing to have rotational presence in Europe, whether it’s building up certain particular – or particular capabilities, whether it’s ISR, maritime, cyber – those are things that are all very relevant to the new challenge we’re facing from Russia.

You know, we don’t see Russia as an adversary. Often, we get that question, is Russia the new enemy? But I think it’s clear that Russia is not a partner right now. And even though NATO doesn’t see Russia as an adversary, it’s clear Russia sees NATO as an adversary. And so many of the assumptions that we all have been working under really since the early 1990s, when we first were talking about enlargement, are being rethought, and although things like the Founding Act are not on the table right now for rethinking, it’s clear Russia is not living up to its end of the Founding Act. So I think that’s going to be a conversation that certainly leaders will take up at the summit and that we’re going to be grappling with for months to come.

MR. BRZEZINSKI: Okay. Well, Derek, thank you very much. (Inaudible) – with your time. We promised to get you out of here a quarter after. We’re a little beyond that. You’ve done – been very gracious in terms of elaborating on the president’s speeches, talking about the upcoming summit and some of the challenges we’re facing in Europe and into the south. So thank you.

MR. CHOLLET: Thank you all. Thanks. I appreciate it. (Applause.)

MR. BRZEZINSKI: We’ll be back in 10.

MR. CHOLLET: Thanks.

(Break for lunch.)

JAMES GOLDGEIER: Welcome back from lunch. And I just want to – and to those of you who are just arriving, welcome to this wonderful conference today. And I’m Jim Goldgeier, dean of School of International Service at American University and delighted that we have our terrific panel today. I think the full bios are in your packets, but Kori Schake from the Hoover Institution at Stanford, Etienne de Durand at IFRI in Paris, and Jo Gade at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies.

All have significant experience inside and outside of government, who’ll help us with this panel discussion on Reassurance, Collective Defense, and Dissuasion, which has, of course, received a lot more attention in the last few months and was discussed a little bit at our keynote, just prior to lunch with Assistant Secretary Derek Chollet.

And I think we want to pick up some of the things that were discussed that Derek was discussing with Ian Brzezinski. But we will start first with brief remarks from each of our panelists, and then I’ll start a discussion, and then open it up to you. But I really hope that we’ll be able to address both the issue of – in the particular context of what’s happened in Ukraine, what is the actual Russian threat to NATO.

As we know and as it’s been discussed, Ukraine is not a NATO member. There was a suggestion in the previous session that Russia understands there’s a line they can’t cross. What exactly does that mean? And, you know, what is the threat that’s posed by what’s occurred in Ukraine? And then, what are the broader set of issues associated with reassurance and collective defense? And then, what are the things that can be done to strengthen reassurance and collective defense? I’m particularly interested in my two European colleagues up here to say a little bit about what they think is the sentiment across Europe, divisions within Europe and answering, again, the challenge from the session, in which it was argued that the billion dollars that President Obama announced for reassurance was an invitation to our European allies to bring other dishes to the picnic, I guess is how it was put.

So with that opening, Kori, please.

KORI SCHAKE: Okay, so the question that you asked that I will answer is what threat does Russia pose to NATO. I actually don’t think Russia poses much of a physical threat. Namely, I think, the Norwegian Air Force or the Polish Army could actually hold their own quite well against the Russian military. I don’t – even with all the defense spending of the last several years and the upgrading of capabilities, I actually think Russia is a weak country playing a bad hand quite well. And we in the West have a very strong hand and we’re not playing it very well.

So I think the Russian risk to us is twofold. First, we are persuading ourselves we’re not strong enough to manage this challenge, right? Like the notion that the United States has to rush reinforcing troops to be stationed in Poland because otherwise we won’t be able to manage this threat. There’re good reasons for sending troops to Poland. I’m not oppose to it. But what I’m saying is that we are talking ourselves into the belief that we are weak and we are not.

We are talking ourselves into the belief that nobody spends enough on defense in the West, that we’re losing interoperability. That we don’t have a central cohesive focus. And I just don’t think any of that’s true. And the Russians are – the Russian choices are actually causing us to really question whether we have the capacity to do this. And that’s a huge achievement on the Russians’ part, like that’s a lot to have accomplished and having done very little.

The second threat I think the Russians pose to us is the shadow of causing NATO governments to make choices about Russian populations. That is their own citizens who are ethnically Russian or speak Russian. And if NATO countries make invidious choices, make frightened choices that push their own populations out of the mainstream, I actually think that too is a terrible outcome, something that the Russians should be happy if they can achieve, because at the end of the day, values are what make the West the West. It’s what unites us. It’s what we need to be able to make the case on the basis of to get any of our publics to go to war.

And so I’m pretty worried that the Russians are actually making substantial progress on those two fronts and they shouldn’t be, because what they have done in Ukraine, for example, is a terrible thing. And they ought to pay consequences. I think the Western countries have done reasonably well in taking a situation where the Russians have lots of near term advantages, but they’re relatively small advantages compared to our longer term advantages. It takes us time to get ourselves organized. It takes time for the German chancellor to make a case that German businesses need to impose sanctions in one of their most promising markets. It takes time for us to figure out how we’re going to sensibly handle this, how – what is going to take to reassure European allies. And how to get that into alignment.

And I think, just to close, Jim, that we’re making a little bit panicking near term choices, like allowing this to be a conversation about defense spending, which aren’t in our interest and play to Russia’s advantages.

MR. GOLDGEIER: Great, thanks. All right, Etienne, as we go across the Atlantic here, good, little closer to the action.

ETIENNE de DURAND: Thanks to the Atlantic Council and also IFS for the invite and the opportunity to address this issue here in D.C. As was mentioned this morning, I think we need to start with the political dimension because it comes first, as always.

And I’ll be very quick because you’ve heard it already, but first, within the alliance, everyone has to agree that something has happened and that there cannot be any return to business as usual. This does not mean that this is a return to the Cold War. This is neither peace like in the ’90s, neither the Cold War. This is something new and we have to recognize that. We have to recognize the fact that Russia has used force and the threat of force in both covert and overt ways. And therefore, we cannot remain idle. And perhaps, for the discussion, I would also offer that sanctions probably won’t do it, that we should not put too much faith on sanctions. And sanctions actually are not the question that is being asked in terms of reassurances. Since the Russians are using force, we need to respond in kind at the strategic and military level and not so much with sanctions.

And final point, and this is linked to sanctions, final point at the political level, of course, what’s at stake is Western unity. And the Russians are trying, of course, to show that we’re not united. So nothing would more damage the credibility of Article 5 that fractured NATO and opened divisions. So we need to be very prudent about that, which is also why we need to be prudent about sanctions.

Now, we also need to do our homework in terms of the military posture. And we need to tailor our posture to the likely threats, not just from Russia, by the way. And here, I think we also need to revisit some of our core assumptions. First assumption, we need to – we used, during the Cold War, prepare for the big one, the total war. Quite clearly, in the past 20 years, what we’ve done is limited wars fought over limited interests with limited political capital and financial resources. And this is the likely future for us.

Second, we have modernized, in Europe especially, so as to be able to do expeditionary warfare. I’m talking in general. The Brits and the French were already capable of doing that, but the rest of Europe has modernized to be able to go places with the Americans and with the Brits and the French. Now, that came as a price, because at the same time, defense budgets were either stable or declining, most of the time declining. So in order to become expeditionary, most European militaries had to shrink their force and actually to do away with the high end capabilities.

So now, we are in a place where – and this is probably here where we diverge – most European countries are just incapable of defending their territory. They neither have the numbers, not the high end capabilities, nor the readiness, nor the training. So the numbers that were used this morning, I think by Ambassador Ischinger, are just numbers on paper. They don’t mean anything from a military point of view. And every time we’ve entered serious military operations, we had to prove that very few European countries were actually able and ready from a military point of view to intervene.

Second, I think we should see at the ministry level, we need to draw lessons of what’s happened with Crimea and Ukraine and the Russian strategy. First, speed is of the essence. We need to prevent fait accompli. And if we’re not able to do that, we might be much more powerful than Russia, but still we will be in trouble. Second, we do need some numbers. We do need some mass to cover borders, if only to block a credible – in a credible way Russian attempts at coercion through mobilization, which has happened with Ukraine.

We also need tailored intelligence capabilities to monitor dangerous activity and attempted subversion, like what we’ve seen in Ukraine. And finally, we need to improve our strategic communication capabilities and expose external propaganda for what it is, especially in our own countries, by the way. The target audience is not so much the Russians, than our own publics in Europe, I’m afraid. So all this makes for a tall order, especially in an age of austerity, as we all understand. We have weakened, it turns, Atlantic links. We have European divisions. But there are a few things that I think are feasible and that we should prepare ourselves to do.

First, to improve our speed of response and without stationing significant capabilities in Eastern Europe, which is not going to happen, if only for financial reasons, but also political reasons, probably we should look to what’s creating small depots of materiel in selected places like Estonia or Baltic countries, maybe Poland and a few others, a little bit after the Reforger model of the Cold War, but on a much smaller scale.

This is all the more feasible than the Americans and the British and the French are shrinking their land forces. So it means we’re going to have excess materiel. So this is physically doable. This does not exclude a very limited presence, either on a rotational basis or permanent, as political tripwire, but we are talking, you know, few thousands, maybe a few hundreds at top maximum.

We need also, and this has been said already, to increase the number and also the realism of our live ex, military exercising maneuvers. The last time we were in a very big maneuver in Western Europe was 1989 – (inaudible) – Franco-German maneuver. So as I usually say, most, you know, divisional commander in Europe don’t know what – (inaudible) – looks like. They’ve never seen one in their career. So it might be time to, you know, do exercises at that level.

But rotations and exercises are not going to do the trick. To solve the problem of mass, so to speak, we should go further, and we should especially acknowledge what exists already, namely a division of labor between different European countries. Quite clearly, when you look at Poland and Finland today, they are really focusing on collective defense, territorial defense, frankly speaking, and not so much about expeditionary warfare. Whereas Western European countries put most of their capabilities in training for expeditionary missions.

We should accept that. We’re not going – we don’t have the budgets to be capable of doing everything everywhere in Europe. So we should be there – the French and the British and hopefully the Germans and certainly the Americans – to provide direct support, certainly, and also to provide high end capabilities that the Finns or the Poles don’t have, so that we can block potential escalation, we can effect conventional deterrence and block potential escalation at the conventional level.

We also need to stop cutting high end – high intensity forces all across Western Europe, by the way. Today, just to give you ne figure, the Poles have more tanks than the British and French and Germans combined, if we’re talking modern tanks. We have very few tanks and artillery pieces left and we are going down very quickly in terms of planes, as well. So in 2020, we are going this way. And yes, the Russians are still weak, but they are going this way. So at one point, we are going to cross, except for the U.S., obviously.

Finally, we need to – and this is going to be – (inaudible) – I guess this one – we’re going to start a new conversation about nuclear deterrence and understand how popular it is in Europe. But we need to think about limited nuclear options in ways that we haven’t in the past or very, very little, so as to have credible options just in case. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves in situations where the burden that will be placed upon U.S. capabilities and U.S. nuclear capabilities will be probably too great.

And let me finish on this before turning to France, because you wanted me to say a few words about France. The real issue today is not multilateral versus minilateral, is not NATO versus EU. The real issue is money. It’s costs, okay? We need to ensure that reassurance is not seen as a costly duty by Western services, whether British or French or even American. I mean, if they have to take money to go exercise in Estonia, out of their own budget, this is a problem. So we have to find ways that those exercises, those rotations, you know, are transparent for Western countries, that they don’t cost more than they would if they had – if they were to take place in the home country.

So probably we need to revisit the rules, the costing rules within NATO because in reality, today, most of NATO is being funded by six nations, as we all know. That’s a problem. And especially for NATO powers, like the British and the French, we are in a position where we are asked to pay once to get our military capabilities, pay twice via NATO, via the common budget, and pay a third time, if we want to get there and do exercises. In such an age of austerity this is just not possible. So we have to find new ways of spreading the costs.

Finally, a few words about France. The French are ready to do their part. We did by sending Rafale during the crisis. We take our tour in Baltic air-policing. Rumor has it that eastern contingencies were taken into account in the French Defense White Paper, 18 months ago, that explains why the budget was not cut further, that explains also why we kept some high end capabilities, that frankly speaking, we don’t need to do Mali.

Finally, we certainly do our part in terms of burden sharing in the southern flank and here, despite the calls for European army that we heard this morning, we find ourselves practically alone in Mali, but for the U.S., in terms of information and (deterrence ?) on the ground. But there was very little European help, I must say.

Yes, there are still problems regarding reassurance in my country. I’m sure that Mistral will pop up during the questions, so I’m not going to talk about it now. There is also in France, like in many other European countries, voices that are sympathetic to Russia. That thing that we’ve pushed them too far, that we’ve humiliated them, so from a domestic political perspective, this is not necessarily easy to do the reassurance. But again, I want to end by emphasizing that the real issue is the cost issue. If we can find ways to, if not solve it, at least attenuate the problem, then we’ll – France, and I’m sure also the UK, will be more than ready to do their part for the reassurance mission. I’ll stop there.

MR. GOLDGEIER: Great, thank you. Well, and our third speaker has such extensive military experience to bring to bear on this discussion, so I look forward, Jo, to hear your remarks.

JO GADE: Thank you. I will also concentrate on what we can do, since you asked about that, going on. And I think to be able to – excuse me – to reassure allies members and potential adversaries, deter potential adversaries, these measures must be both credible and (visual ?). And I think one important reassuring measure is contingency planning. We have talked about that early today, but that is not necessary because there is an immediate need to execute such plans, but the reassurance the process gives by focusing on the security situation and the consequences NATO will face if such plans need to be executed.

And as we heard also early today, NATO is working on the new plan for Bulgaria and Romania and a revision of the plan for Poland and the Baltic states and also the plan for Norway. And I think that these strategic plans should be supported also by more detailed plans at the operational level.

I don’t see the need for very detailed planning, as we had during the Cold War and in the early 1990s, but at least, we need credibility concerning available and well trained forces, deployment capacity, command and control arrangements, sustainability, and strategic communications. So, so far, it seems that existing plans are too dependent on the NATO response force. We may need a more robust and flexible basis for force generation.

It will be important for NATO to consider if we have the capabilities needed and if they are rightly placed, not only for conventional defense, but also for hybrid warfare. As we all know – and that has also been alluded to early today – most of the European nations need to contribute more. And regardless, good initiatives as smart defense, pooling and sharing, and framework nations concept, defense – inaudible – 00:19:21 in most of the countries has to increase.

And on the other hand, NATO is dependent on a strong U.S. leadership and I think stronger than we have seen over the last years. Credible dissuasion and reassurance are also dependent on the functional NATO command structure. During the last revision, the NATO command structure was reduced from – (inaudible) – around 13,200 down to around 8,500. And one premise for that reduction was that the NATO command structure should be fully manned by qualified personnel. So far only six nations fulfill that premise and a particular concern is that one of the nations that most strongly argued for even the small structure has fill rate of less than 70 percent.

And even if the fill rate will improve by at the end of December, next year, when the full operational capability is expected, NATO need to consider, if we have a command structure well suited for future missions. The answer may be that the structure is too small and not robust enough. So creating a standby – (inaudible) – personnel, who can rapidly be inserted into the NATO command structure and making better use of the knowledge and situational awareness at national headquarters could improve the situation.

A robust NATO force structure with the right capabilities of response time is also very important. It seems that the thinking so far has been that the NATO response force is the right answer to all the challenges. That would probably not be the right answer for the future. But hopefully, the work of the Joint Expeditionary Force and the framework nation concept may contribute to the right balance of capabilities, response time, and operational effectiveness.

NATO is a unique alliance with the military structure as a tool for the political leadership. In order to being seen credible for deterrence and reassurance, the NATO command structure and the NATO force structure have to prove they can deliver, both through operations, but also through exercises.

So post-ISAF, it will be important to show force through realistic exercises covering the whole specter from low tension to high intensity warfare. One high value exercise every two years is not enough, but much can be done by better coordination and to combine national and NATO exercises. This would also be part of the Connected Forces Initiative, where it will be important to include partners, so we can continue to be interoperable and have the capability to work together also in future operations.

The Europeans should also be more supportive to the United States, by participating in exercises in the U.S. and in areas of strategic importance for them. With ISAF, NATO’s focus has been very much on land and air. Post-ISAF, it is time to look closer at the maritime side. Operation Ocean Shield can be seen as a success. But to use frigates hunting pirates is not cost effective and prohibits the crew to train and exercise the whole range of warfare areas they need to execute high intensity operations.

There has been a discussion if NATO needs four standing maritime forces, when the nations have problems in filling the billets. But regardless of how we organize the maritime forces, I think we need to consider how we use them. We could adapt the schedule for the old Standing Naval Force Atlantic. That means that in peacetime, the maritime forces are scheduled to operate where you find the capabilities for proper (opposition ?) to train and exercise the whole specter of maritime warfare. And the RIMPAC exercise could be a good example. And with some coordination, national and NATO exercises could be better tailored made for NATO Standing Maritime Forces.

We need to ensure that the maritime forces have the required capacity and that they can respond quickly when needed. Visibility of NATO in all NATO countries can be important for deterrence and reassurance. For those countries where no NATO infrastructure exists, prepositioning of equipment, temporary stationing of forces from alliance members, and NATO exercises and training could be hopeful.

And as I have mentioned earlier, deterrence and reassuring measures must be credible and visible. And these measures must be followed by a clear and coordinated strategic communication, sending the message that NATO is a strong alliance. Thank you.

MR. GOLDGEIER: Great, thank you. Well, thanks to all three of our panelists for getting us off such a good start and for their differences of opinion, which is always helpful for a good conversation. I want to push a little further on the issue of the need for reassurance. Kori argued that, you know, Russia, you know, doesn’t pose a physical threat in the sense of, you know, Russia attacking countries that are in the alliance. But what has occurred has sown doubt in the alliance and where people really weren’t thinking about these issues previously. You know when – and I remember back, when NATO was being discussed within the U.S. government in the 1990s, there was significant concern in the Pentagon. And one of the concerns from the Pentagon at that time was, well, you know – about enlarging NATO, when you take in new members, there is this Article 5 guarantee, and so you’re committing to their security. And most of the people on the political side, State Department, people on Capitol Hill, were not really thinking about the fact that you might actually have to defend any of these new members. And so there wasn’t much thought given to it.

Well, what President Putin has done through the actions in Ukraine is he’s forced people to think about defending these countries. And so of course, for the countries themselves, if you’re a country like Estonia and you’re vulnerable and you depend on others for your security, there’s no amount of reassurance that’s ever going to completely convince you that people would be there for you if you really needed them because you’re vulnerable, you’re dependent on others. And so you have this rush to reassure, but you also have a real sense, a real question of, I don’t know, would we be there for them? I mean, would – you know, and you see this in the discussion, both in the United States and Europe, about, you know, what it would really mean to really say yes, we’ll be there for you and sort of an effort to overachieve with respect to the language of reassurance. And so I just want to ask you how you see this really more in the sort of the psychological terms of what means for an alliance that is built around Article 5 and collective defense, but is only really now having to come to grips with the notion of, oh, yeah, we’d really all be there for each other.

MS. SCHAKE: So I’m a historian of the 1950s and 1960s, and actually the conversation we are having now feels very much like the conversation of the late 1950s, where it’s all about extended deterrence. Could France actually really rely on the United States? And wouldn’t Germany perhaps have a better choice, rather than taking a strong Western stand to sort of, you know, play the seam of that a little bit and be on both teams?

This is a constant conversation in an alliance of free people and we actually shouldn’t be afraid of it and we shouldn’t overreact to it. The Estonians are right to be worried about it, as our other front line states, and we are right to try and reassure them about that, because I actually don’t think an American president couldn’t fail to honor an Article 5 guarantee. And so, there’s a little bit of a reason why people are more worried about getting American troops there, then, I don’t know, Italian troops there, right? Because if we go, others will also. And if we don’t go, then that creates a much bigger magnitude of problem.

But whatever Russia’s ambitious are for the West, they actually can’t have a reasonable proposition of either preventing us from defending our allies or preventing our allies from defending themselves. And that’s the right restraint on the Russians. They couldn’t with at this. That doesn’t mean they won’t try it, but we’ve actually – we have long tested, both in this conversation – and I was struck, actually, as you two gentlemen were talking, at how practical and how solid the specific recommendations you made were. And that’s actually what NATO’s great at. The price that Russians are going to say – if you don’t mind my saying so – for what they have done in Crimea is NATO’s going to get serious about Article 5 defense again, which it hasn’t been in some substantial amount of time.

MR. GOLDGEIER: Thoughts, Jo?

MR. GADE: Well, I feel supported, but I think it’s important that we’ve now come from – for many years been talking about it. You have to show it. You have to be – it has to be visual that you can stand up to the Article 5. And that’s why I think that we have prudent planning, that we have really showing it through exercises and so. And that has been a problem, of course, over the last years, also due to the financial crisis, that it is costly to do these big exercises. It isn’t with the computer-assisted exercises, but really having troops on the ground and train the whole thing. But that is a way I think you really can do reassurance to those nations, although people that feel that put questions mark to NATO’s ability to stand up to the Article 5.

MR. DURAND: If I may, I think the problem we have is that we can envisage scenarios that are below the radar screen in terms of defense, like we’ve seen in Ukraine or as a result to a unconventional or irregular warfare that makes it kind of difficult for us to invoke Article 5. We can also think of situations where, again, there is a fait accompli because the things happen very quickly, which is why we need a minimum – and this is not a return to the Cold War – but a minimum, so that those possibilities are not open to any adversary, whether Russia or another.

MS. SCHAKE: Why short of stationing troops on NATO’s eastern perimeter would prevent that?

MR. DURAND: Rotations and a few number of troops. You know, Churchill’s phrase, all I want is one U.S. soldier, preferably dead. So – but I would also add that to make it credible in the Hill here, you would need also to have a few British and French soldiers dead.

The point should be the following, and I hope that would be reassuring to our Eastern allies, we should organize ourselves in such a way that the onus of escalation rests on the Russians and not on us. If we – when you look at Crimea, if we imagine we would have wanted to do something, then we would have had to escalate, which politically was simply not feasible.

MS. SCHAKE: But we actually are organized that way, right? The Russians would have to escalate. They would have to invade Estonia.


MS. SCHAKE: But the onus of escalation is on them.

MR. DURAND: Politically, but not militarily.

MR. GOLDGEIER: Right, but they can also – I mean, you know, as we’ve seen, I mean, one of the things that they can do is they can use the presence of the Russian population there to do things that destabilize the situation for the government, or at least just – I mean, you know, put pressure on the government, make the government nervous. You know, again, it’s really, I think, a psychological question, but an important psychological question.

MS. SCHAKE: Oh, I absolutely agree. It’s an important psychological question. But the solution to that is inclusive governance on the part of those governments, right? That’s how we fix this problem, which is Russian Estonians feeling Estonian, as well as Russian. I mean, all of us in diverse societies deal with that. And good governance and inclusive governance is the solution. But again, even there, the Russians have to escalate, right? They have foment discontent in a relatively benign situation.

And as the Ukrainian government did, I think, pretty well, once the crisis started, which was to come up with a program to address the legitimate political grievance of Russians in Ukraine. I think that’s a solution to it.

MR. DURAND: Except that when you look at what’s happened in Crimea, quite clearly – I’m not saying that the Russians provoked the crisis, but quite clearly, even the speed with which the annexation took place, quite clearly these had been planned militarily. This is not an improvisation.

MR. GOLDGEIER: Probably since 2008.

MR. DURAND: I don’t know since when, but all I’m saying is that you do not improvise that kind of operation. So I can imagine circumstances where trouble could happen within Article 5 covered territories, not so much because the Russians or other countries, by the way, are interested in invading us, Cold War time, that’s not point, but just to show that they can do something and that there will be very little reaction if they stay below that radar screen I mentioned.

MR. GOLDGEIER: I want to follow up with all three of you and then I will open it up. I want to make sure we get time – plenty of time for your comments and questions. President Obama, the billion dollar announcement, you know, you then have the people in this government working to actually –

MS. SCHAKE: (Laughs.) Figure out what the president meant?

MR. GOLDGEIER: – figure out what we would do. So I want Kori to comment on that. And then, for the two European panelists, you heard Derek Chollet in the previous session talk about this as what the United States was putting on the table with the expectation that Europeans would then bring their own dishes to the picnic and your thoughts on what we’re likely to see with respect to European reaction. Will you start and explain to us how this is going to work to actually make this concrete?

MS. SCHAKE: I don’t know, but I don’t think they know either. I actually think it was a bad idea on the president’s part for two reasons. First, because I do think it was a sort of reflexive overreaction and said – and the continuity and strength and unity of the alliance is where he should have vested his response. But the second thing is announcing that the U.S. is going to spend $1 billion and then telling everybody else, we’re waiting to see your response, I suffered through a lot of alliance management on my time in government. And that is a recipe for disaster, right? Because nobody – this is sort of like the Obama administration with the surge in Afghanistan, right? We’re going to add 33,000 additional forces and what are you folks going to add?

And in their minds, the expectation was Europe will match us and then Congress will be happy. And this will be a binding thing across the Atlantic. And that’s an improbable outcome, but it’s an absolutely impossible outcome, unless you have made somebody like Barry and Damon work in advance to get the Europeans locked in on it.

And so the president should have announced a $3 billion NATO reinforcement found, if he was going to announce anything, and he should have the British prime minister and the French president and everybody else lined up when he does it. Because now the story is instead going to be allies won’t contribute. Everybody expects us to do everything. Even if they do this exactly right from here, they have actually created the metric that they are going be great – (inaudible) – is not going to be successful.

So my mom’s going to be asking, why are we putting $1 billion into strengthening somebody else’s defense. Why aren’t they putting $1 billion into strengthening their defense when their neighbor just got invaded?

MR. GOLDGEIER: All right, guys.

MS. SCHAKE: I’m sorry. I didn’t actually answer the question. The answer to the question is spend it all on multilateral exercises. (Laughter.)

MR. GADE: I think you are quite right. I’m afraid that what the Europeans are coming up with is a little more to do already. I mean, more soldiers may be showing the flag, more exercises, and so on. So how substantial that would be, I’m not sure, but I think that is the thinking. So it’s a little bit difficult.

MR. DURAND: I think I’ve answered already. Unless we find ways to deal with the cost problem, this is not going to happen. We just cannot. So my advice for our Eastern European allies would be to make sure that they create incentives for the British and the French to show up. It’s not a question – it’s not a political problem. It’s a financial problem. Every 100 million euros or pounds that you take away from the army or the air force in our country would not be replaced by national treasury. So the battle we are fighting now is a battle with treasury. This is the real enemy. It’s not the Russians, it’s – you know. We are trying to survive. It sounds like a joke, but it’s not actually, because there are only five or six European countries that are still serious on that.

MR. GOLDGEIER: It’s not a joke. It’s a good tweet, actually. But anyway, so somebody out there – I hope somebody out there is tweeting it out. (Laughter.)

MR. DURAND: For those of you who don’t know that and probably you don’t know, a little more than a month ago, all the French chiefs together, plus the minister threatened to resign because they were faced with the possibility of a new round of cuts. So the message from – personal opinion, but to our Eastern European allies, make it attractive for our services to get there, and they will.

MR. GOLDGEIER: Great, okay, we’ll – yes, please.

MR. GADE: Maybe another point. I mean, my experience from NATO is that it’s very easy during ministers’ meetings, summits, and so on that you make good plans and decisions. But it all comes down to what we talked about here, on the financial side. Because when it comes to the bureaucracy in NATO and the nations start to look at what – the cost and so on, very often it ends with no action. So maybe we have to go back to the beginning of – at NATO because at that time, in the beginning, we also had a committee of the financial ministers. So maybe that should, let’s say, bring them into the picture, so that you can follow up good intentions and good decisions of the top level, also by financial (sector ?) and say, well, you have decided to do so and so, get the money.

MR. DURAND: Just quickly, obviously, what I’m saying, and this is not about your country, Mr. Ambassador, but some European countries –

AMBASSADOR JURI LUIK ?: The whole conference is about Estonia.

MR. DURAND: No, no, it’s not. It’s not. But –

AMB. LUIK: Frequently.

MR. DURAND: Some European countries are spending today, as we speak around 0.6 or 0.7 of GDP on defense. The very same ones are asking us to show up to do reassurance and to pay for the exercises. You know, at one point, they have to be logical. Instead of spending the very small amount of money they are spending to effect practically nothing in military terms, they should do more to finance those exercises and perhaps some infrastructure and stuff like that. That would be much more logical. And that would be probably – much more feasible than a European army. And finally, if we are to look for a piggy bank in Europe, I think we all know where it is.

MR. GOLDGEIER: And on that note – (laughter) – so if you can introduce yourself, you wait for a mike, introduce yourself, and if you could ask a brief question because the briefer the questions, the more time we have for our answer. So we’ll go right here.

Q: Good afternoon. Bill Toomey (sp) from IBM. With the conventions of conflict that have developed over hundreds of years, in 2008, with Georgia, we sort of saw a new effect in cyber conflict. We can now effect national infrastructure from remote without any physical presence. Is there any trend of political discussion or, you know, thought being collected as far as appropriate responses for various actions now? Because it’s – you know, now, right now, it’s – we’re not sure what to do and – but is there any conventions of conflict that are developing in this area now?

MR. GOLDGEIER: And why don’t we – can we – since someone else had a question, why don’t we just hand the mike right up in front there and we’ll get both questions on the table?

Q: Hi. Arwan Lagadic (ph) from George Washington. After Georgia, we found out that the Russians had much soul searching to do about how their military had broken apart halfway to Tbilisi. To what extent do you think, in spite of the efforts they clearly undertook in the past few years that they are not leading their own reach in Ukraine. They are doing – they are now realizing what they cannot do because their army still has not been fixed. Is it a valid point to say that they – what are they going – what are they finding out right now about the state of their military? That was Kori’s opening point that we all need to brush the Putin bubble about their capacity. We all tend to speak up, again the infiltration, the asymmetrical tactics that they utilize in Crimea, but is it fair to say that they would have – in a Russian ideal world, they would have wanted to do more and that they’ve been stuck with asymmetry and infiltration because they are realizing that they can’t do anything, but including the decision now to resend the authority to go in to use force into Crimea. Are they being, in fact, led by the limitations of their capacities? Is that fair to say?


MS. SCHAKE: I love that question, which is what are the Russians learning from the Russian incursion into Ukraine. I think that’s fantastic. I agree with you that if the Russians saw that they could achieve the military effects they wanted by, you know, more glorious silk scarf means, they probably would have, right? Because it looks a lot more impressive when you roll tanks into a place with banners flying from that, right? You look stronger. You look more assertive. That they have been driven to the margins of conflict and – is a good thing for us. But I’m not sure that military means are the reasons that they were driven to the margin of conflict. That is it bought them an enormous amount of time to consolidate what they were trying to do that we had to figure out whether this was the Russian’s acting or whether it was Ukrainians acting.

They – it bought them time. It bought them political deniability. It achieved their aims in lots of ways. So it may not be that they chose to do this on the margins of the conflict spectrum because they had no alternative.

What do I think they’re learning? Their near term advantage is, as of course always, it takes a while for the West to get organized and to persuade my mom and everybody else’s mom that we actually have to do something about this.

If I were the Russians, I would actually be surprised that we were able to get any economic sanctions passed. That, I think – I’m not surprised that we couldn’t get, you know, Siemens out of Moscow. I’m surprised we got anything, given the nature – the weakness of the Western economies at the moment, the nature of the European economic crisis and the way it’s alarmed people. I’m surprised the Russians didn’t get more bang for their buck in splitting Germany off from the rest of the West.

So militarily, I think if I were them, I would be much more worried that they blew the element of their new doctrine on Ukraine, when they might actually have blown it on Estonia or someplace else, because now, we’re going to adapt and respond to it, right? We are going to get ourselves organized to figure out how to tell early on in irregular circumstances who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, and NATO’s going to do what NATO does, as it did with cyber – to answer your question – which is we are ploddingly, systematically slowly going to establish a center for excellence. I won’t say where it is because we’re focusing too much on one country. (Laughter.) But we’re going to develop a doctrine, which I think NATO put out a draft of already about how we’re going to do this. We’re going to start getting the wheels turning about how do we respond. Is this an Article 5 case? What do we do about it? The boys down at Norfolk are going to be thinking about how do we incorporate cyber in our own operations because clearly our enemies are using it. Like, slowly, slowly we’re grinding if we’re over done this. And I think there’s been a reasonable amount of work done within the alliance. And some of the Scandinavian allies have actually done a lot better work than we, the United States, have.

MR. DURAND: As I was saying, indeed, the Russian military is never as strong as they think it is and never as weak as we think it is. Depending on who you’re talking to, some people would tell you that they have between, you know, 40,000 and 80,000 combat-ready troops. What is for sure is that, first, they are much better than during Georgia. We’ve seen them improve and we have, you know, ways of being sure that it’s the case.

And second, that from what has transpired from NATO and other places that along the border, they had put in place the means that would have allowed them to get into Ukraine if they wanted to. Now, yes, I do think it’s a strategic calculus that they did not send the tanks rolling in because obviously political damage would have been, you know, enormous.

That being said, the good surprise here comes from Ukraine itself and the Ukrainians. And I think they were not expecting that level of resistance because, let’s be frank, Ukraine is completely penetrated by the Russians in terms of intelligence and for obvious historical reasons. So the surprise comes more, to me at least, from Ukraine than it does from Western Europe, where they didn’t expect us to do much against them, but they did not expect us or even the Germans, to, you know, be neutral. On that, they understood from the start in Moscow that things would get hairy with the West.

Now, does that mean that, you know, again, all I do is looking at the trends. And when I look at the trends, military trends, and I refer you to a very good publication by my friend and colleague from SWP in Berlin, Christian Mölling for the European Defense Agency, when you look at how far demilitarization has gone for the past 10 years. And not all the decisions have been taken into account, because some decisions are being made now, and so we’ll see the result in five or six years from now. This is staggering, frankly speaking. I mean, according to one estimate, Singapore will have more combat planes than the UK in 2020. So you know, I’m sorry to sound a little bit the alarm, but this has to stop, frankly speaking. Because otherwise, there is very little military capability that will be left across Europe. And that will invite temptation. I mean, I would fully agree with Kori. If we do our homework, I don’t think anything bad will happen. But if we continue on that trend in Europe, then, you know, all bets are open.

MR. GOLDGEIER: Anything?

MR. GADE: Well, maybe on this – (inaudible) – on the cyber side, we have to see what will happen. But I mean, so far, it has been very much resistance, at least within NATO, to go to offensive cyber capacities. It is to defend our own system and national system depending on NATO – that NATO’s depending on. And when it comes to offensive cyber, then we have to rely on national capabilities. But maybe we have to see when – (inaudible) – go now if the trend will change because of what happened so far.

MR. GOLDGEIER: Great, thanks. So anybody on this side of the room? Yes, in the back. And then, I’ll come up here, and then, yes, Leo, I get you.

Q: Milson (sp) from Danish embassy. A lot of talk here, obviously on the reassurance and dissuasion and also what we have learned definitely from this crisis and that we are maybe getting sort of our act together. But what would be the response, do you think now, if, let’s say in a year’s time, we haven’t been able to reverse the situation in Crimea and Russia takes similar action in Moldova, what would be the response? In Moldova, what would be the response?

MS. SCHAKE: My guess is that our response in Moldova would be roughly the same as our response in Ukraine has been, which is that is for a country that is not a NATO member, we are going to take a much more circumspect, much less militarized, much more try and talk the Russians into realizing it’s not in their interest. Whereas, if it were a NATO member, we have, all of us, long chosen to interpret Article 5 as having no alternative, but to come to each other’s defense, and I think that’s exactly right, but for countries that are not NATO members. And I think the membership conversation is not going to open up again anytime soon, because all 28 current NATO members are going to have to agree. And given what has happened in Ukraine, they are going to, as our Congress will, be much more reticent about letting anybody in the door.

And so I think the real victims, in addition to Ukrainians, of Russia’s attack on Ukraine are the other countries in Russia’s geographic neighborhood that are going to feel alarmed at being outside the umbrella of NATO’s defense.

MR. DURAND: I fully agree and I would also add that this is probably one of Putin’s goals, to achieve precisely that.

MS. SCHAKE: Of course.

MR. DURAND: Just as a sort of an addition to that, I think the – we used to talk about the long shadow of nuclear weapons. I think there should be a long shadow of Article 5. Now, if every time something happens in our neighborhood and there is only a mild response, at one point, the shadow of Article 5 will be not that long. Whereas the shadow of intimidation from the outside will be – will loom much larger. So yes, you’re certainly right, but at one point, we might want to take into account even what’s outside of the formal guarantee, because otherwise, the guarantee itself will get weaker.

MS. SCHAKE: We have had the luxury since 1991 to make blurry the lines between NATO members and non-members. Right, the Partnership for Peace, to try and create the sense that even countries that we did not take a treaty obligation to defend, that those countries were connected to us. And you know, one of the effects of Russia’s choices is that it’s actually hardening the line between NATO members and non-NATO members.

Q: Thanks very much. I just wanted to sort of ask you a broader question and targeted towards Kori. Others can jump in. Kori, you were fairly critical of the fact that we let ourselves fall into a defense spending debate in reaction to what Russia’s doing in Ukraine, the European Reassurance Initiative maybe not being handled the right way.

So step back and we failed in 2008 to deter Putin from further aggression. We’re facing this right now in a more complex way in Ukraine. So what should – you know, step back and from a clearer piece of paper, what should be an effective response that’s going to deter Putin from taking both further military action, but further hybrid action to fundamentally disrupt, destabilize, occupy his neighbors if not NATO members?

MS. SCHAKE: So my favorite American strategist was a great baseball pitcher, Satchel Paige. And he was once asked what advice he would give young pitchers. And his answer was, throw strikes, right, because you always strike someone out a few throw strikes and home plate doesn’t move. The big challenge for us on deterring Putin is actually us figuring out as a collective of Western states what we will actually fight to defend and what we will not. And we want to pretend that’s not the question. We want to pretend we can finesse it in other ways. But at the end of the day, we know we’re going to fight to defend the Article 5 countries. And we are trying to figure out how much we are willing to risk for countries that are partners but not allies.

And so the first thing we need to do, if we’re going to deter Putin, is figure out for ourselves what we’re going to fight for. And then, once we know what we’re going to fight for, we actually need to convey that pretty clearly and pretty directly, both through our words and through our actions. And those are hard things for democracies to do individually and collectively. And it’s going to be really hard for us to do, as well.

The good news is Putin’s not that bright. The Russians aren’t that strong. We actually are that strong, you know? NATO has at least 16 of the 17 best militaries in the world. And we’re funding them badly and we’re making cuts. All those things are true. But at the end of the day, nobody’s going to fight France and win, unless maybe it’s the United States and we have the Canadians on our side. (Laughter.) But it’s pretty unlikely. I have to work a lot to come up with the scenario.

We’re actually so much stronger than we’re giving ourselves credit for. And deterring Putin is a challenge because he’s willing to run a risky set of choices to get what he wants. And we are very hesitant about the risks we are willing to run outside the NATO family. So he has a structural advantage over us in this regard.

Q: A real quick followup to that. If we are clear that we are not prepared to fight, so if we are clear that we’re not prepared to fight for Ukraine, as we frankly have been quite clear, do we still have the tools to be able to actually deter outright destabilization, aggression, recognizing issues of influence –

MS. SCHAKE: We still have the tools, but we’ve increased the price, right? Because if we had defended Ukraine, nobody would doubt that we would defend a small Baltic country like, for example, Lithuania. And by not having defended Ukraine, we are actually more likely to have to prove that we will. I mean, this is a point that you have made several times very well, which is that it’s not about what we are saying, it’s what about our adversaries are believing. And if we make narrow the universe of things we are willing to defend, then – this was McCain’s point as well – that you make the margins of our areas of interest much more vulnerable and you probably make it more expensive when you have to do it.

MR. DURAND: If I made jump in here, when I made the point that we are doing limited wars today, it meant precisely that out of the huge potential that is ours, only a fraction is usable. Whereas, Russia’s potential, is maybe much lower, but a much higher fraction is usable, because the stakes for them are higher. Which is why we are more or less on the par. So we should not compare potentials because the potentials don’t exist but on paper. We should compare what is politically usable. And here, I’m not so sure that we are that stronger than the Russians, depending on what’s at stake.

Second, Damon, I like your question because it reminds me of French nuclear doctrine in the Cold War. We, in essence, we told the Soviets we are going to nuke you. Not if you attack Germany, because West Germany was not covered, it was not extended deterrence, but certainly not once you reach the Rhine River, somewhere in between, go figure. Okay? And I think that’s the heart of the – I mean, again, if there is no shadow of Article 5, then it becomes more difficult to protect Article 5 to make it credible. And the less credible it is, the more taxing will become reassurance and deterrence. And we don’t want to get there because we don’t want to have to deploy 30,000 in Latvia. This is not going to happen in any circumstances that I can think of. So that’s why also we need to do our homework now.

MR. GOLDGEIER: I’d also just add that, you know, I think we need to be more forceful at stressing the accomplishments that we’ve made across Europe over the past 25 years and standing up for the policy that we pursued. When George H.W. Bush, 25 years ago, argued for fostering a Europe whole and free and, you know, we extended that, you know, to the next two administrations to really think about how we could bring peace and prosperity across Europe that had existed previously in Western Europe, it is a major accomplishment of America and its European allies. And we’ve spent a lot of time since the spring, you know, falling into that trap of blaming ourselves for, you know, again, you were talking about people – or suggesting that, you know, we pushed the Russians, we humiliated the Russians. You know, clearly, you know, there were a lot of difficult issues involved. And I think, you know, the impetus, for the most part, from the policy from the beginning was always to try to pursue this effort and be as inclusive as possible, including trying to establish a cooperative relationship with Russia throughout that was very difficult to pursue. And I think that it’s really problematic if we fall into that trap of, you know, we shouldn’t have done it because we really upset people like Putin, who, you know, has a very different vision for Europe. And the idea that we would think, yeah, that vision, that seems like a better vision than the vision that we’ve been pursuing for the last 25 years, is pretty perverse in my humble opinion.

MS. SCHAKE: And as long as we’re talking about deterrence, but for that argument, the argument that we shouldn’t have done this to have been successful, would have meant we should have been deterred all along from building a Europe that is democratic and stable and prosperous, which is in Europe’s interest and ours.


Q: Leo Michel, NDU. Etienne, you invited the audience, in effect someone in the audience to ask you about Mistral. So I wanted to be polite to give you the opportunity to respond. (Laughter.)

MR. DURAND: Thank you so much, Leo. (Laughter.) Should I –

MR. GOLDGEIER: Would you like to ask him something specific, such as whether they’re going to go trough with it?

Q: With a question mark. (Laughter.)

MS. SCHAKE: As in why are you doing this again?

MR. DURAND: Okay. (Laughter.) Well, you know fully well the answer. That decision was made by a previous government in a different era. Probably a rushed decision, a decision that is very difficult to stop now for both industrial, economic, financial reasons.

It’s not just the Mistral that is at stake. It’s not just the jobs in a country that is going through very difficult economic times, with a president who is quite weak today politically. I think everyone understands that, so, you know. But also what’s at stake is the country’s reputation on arms market and markets around the world. So it’s very difficult to, you know, terminate, to cancel a kind of big sale.

Now, finally, I, you know, went public on the fact that I think it’s a bad idea and should not be done. But I must also say that when I saw a letter from two U.S. senators stating that NATO should offer to buy those ships, I thought, well, that’s a great idea. How come that nobody supported it? Because, you know, back to what I was saying earlier on the costs, seen from Paris, we are being asked to do Mali to preserve our forces. Everyone tells us it’s very important. You are now the most powerful, capable military in Europe. You need to keep that, not just for you, but for the sake of all Europe, blah, blah, blah, first. Second, you need to pay as a NATO ally, and we do pay substantial amount, less than the U.S., but still a substantial amount.

Third, to do operations, whenever they are needed. And fourth, well, too bad for you if French weapons systems are not bought, including by allies, who for obvious political calculations and also for military reasons, depending systematically for some of them by American, because they buy a guarantee. You know, seen from Paris, it’s kind of difficult that we just sit on it. That’s as simple as that. So I’m very sorry that this is the situation. It certainly will teach us something about, you know, taking the long view next time. But NATO or the EU could have been more helpful here. And I didn’t – everything I saw in terms of proposal came from think tankers or a few isolated U.S. senators. So there’s absolutely no willingness on the part of our allies to do something.

And let me add – I’m being a little bit more offensive here, after all that’s the best defense, right – it’s very convenient that we are the lightning rod in that case. Because as you are aware and many people in this room are aware, a lot of other including – a lot of other European countries, including major ones, have interests at stake in Russia that are way bigger than ours. But of course, this is very visible because it’s a military sale. You know, it’s – so it’s very visible. So it’s very convenient for everyone that we take a lot of heat about this.

But if we were to reach level three of sanctions, where, you know, supposedly that sale could not happen, within the EU or framework, then you would see a lot of people actually crying in EU and not French.

MR. GOLDGEIER: I know we only have a couple of minutes left. So we’ll take – there was one hand there and I saw one hand over here, because I’m going to put both questions on the table before, but – okay, there’s just one.

Q: Hi.

MR. GOLDGEIER: There’s two right there. Okay, we’ll put those two on the table.

Q: Steve Wallace, recently retired from the Defense Department. I’d like to ask you to comment on the recent leak of comments by the Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski, in which he said basically that the U.S. security (LMT ?) was totally worthless. And basically two aspects of that. Do you believe that view is actually shared by other of our allies in Central and Eastern Europe? And secondly, how do you think his remarks and the kind of very clear language in which they were posed will affect U.S. attitudes toward giving those kind of guarantees to Poland?

MR. GOLDGEIER: And then we’ll put the other question on and then we’ll let you guys finish up with your comments.

Q: Hi. Konstantin Abramov, Center for Global Interests. You mentioned about the long shadow and responded through something that happens in our neighborhood. What exactly did you mean by “our neighborhood” and where does this neighborhood stop?

MS. SCHAKE: So first, on Radek Sikorski getting caught on tape, I guess the first thing I’d say is that there are days when I agree with him – (laughs) – right? Like the United States isn’t a terrific ally. Our narrative of ourselves is as the indispensable country. But you know, if you actually talk to a Brit long enough, they will eventually tell you that we might have come in World War II three years earlier and it should would have been good for Europeans. And the United States has a tendency as an ally to believe everyone should immediately drop what they’re doing and start caring about what we care about. And the Poles as new allies are new to this experience of having us come rushing in with everything we need from them right now, irrespective of what they are concerned about, their domestic politics of it, or how it’s going to affect them in the region. So I’m actually kind of sympathetic to the fact that he thinks we’re a crummy ally and not the Obama administration, the United States of America, because we actually kind of are a crummy ally a lot of times. So I wouldn’t give it too much sale, plus it sounds to me like you’re saying it an aggravation and we’re aggravating at times. So I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

The other thing that’s interesting, though, is who taped it and why. I think that’s actually a question that Western intelligence services ought to spend a fair amount of time figuring out because Radek Sikorski is actually quite a strong Atlanticist, as are other people in the Polish government who, you know, get caught in the moment of exasperation saying things I think from time to time. So I wouldn’t give it too much weight. I would actually wonder why people were doing this. And the third is that – you know, welcome to the West. You’re going to read it in the newspapers.

So on the who’s our neighborhood, I actually think the community of values really matters. That those are the countries the United States is willing to kill its sons and daughters to defend and we should. And so a country that is representatively governed, that cares about – that believes that people have rights and they loan them in limited ways to other governments, to their own government, the ways those countries behave – like those things all matter. And that’s what I mean by our neighborhood.

MR. DURAND: There’s no good answer, again.

MS. SCHAKE: I gave a good answer. What the hell are you talking about? (Laughter.)

MR. DURAND: From my point of view, it’s a balance of power thing. So the Russians will advance, all those will advance as they can. And whether or not we find a midway, you know, will depend. And we don’t want to say this is covered, this is not covered for reasons I just explained about the nuclear deterrence. You know, they have to wonder whether or not they’re going to go so far.

So we’ll never specify, you know, this country’s covered. This country is not covered. But as Kori pointed out, countries that are not in NATO, in principle are not covered. Now, for the Russians and others, they should just beware or be aware of the fact that at one point, even though it’s not covered by NATO, they might step a little bit too far. And then, they’re in for big trouble.

MR. GOLDGEIER: Last word, Jo? You’re good? Well, I just want to thank our three panelists. I really appreciate all the insight and wisdom. Thanks to you all for attending and those that asked questions, I appreciate you putting those on the table. And enjoy the short break before the next group comes on up. Thank you guys very much. (Applause.)


JILL DOUGHERTY: I think this is going to be a fascinating discussion with our guests. And it’s really – I think of it in terms of, you know, we’ve talked a lot about big ideas and how things are happening and will happen with NATO. And yet, here is, at least one person who is literally on the front lines, in the sense of the reality of what – of how NATO will react, how Russia will react plays out in Estonia and in the Baltics in general. So I think it’ll be a fascinating conversation.

I’m Jill Dougherty. I was in television for a long time. So my attention span is very short. (Laughter.) And I like to keep things moving and try to keep myself going for the main points. So I’ll try to do that.

And I think you, again, as has been said, you know our guests and I won’t get into all of the details, but certainly from the end there, Ambassador Juri Luik, ambassador of Estonia to Russia and a very long history in many different positions. I was really struck by how many jobs you’ve had in the government for Estonia. And then, we have Robert Kaplan, who is a chief geopolitical strategist for Stratfor and many other things as well.

And what we decided to do here was kind of turn this into a brainstorming session. And essentially, we’ll be talking about, let’s call it, the neighborhood, which would be Ambassador Luik’s bailiwick here. And then, Robert would also get into Europe, but he would go farther afield into the Middle East, in Asia. Of course, we can mix it up as we go along, but that’s kind of how we would divide it.

And I was just thinking as I’ve been here since this morning and really taking in everything. And I’m struck by the fact that although this discussion about the future of NATO, what NATO’s role is, obviously has been going on for quite a while. And the report is there to read. But I think if you think of the most recent trigger, it’s Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO and a crisis sparked in Ukraine, which really wasn’t directly of NATO’s making. I mean, it was more an EU decision or let’s say action that began to set this in train. So that started me thinking that we have a lot of this strategic unpredictability, things coming out of left field that you might not think about, both in terms of sparking this crisis and then how this crisis is going to play out literally around the world, which it is. And we can see that as far afield as Asia.

So I would like to begin with this. We’re going to have some opening remarks from both gentlemen. But really, the overall question is what is the next crisis and is NATO equipped to deal with it?

So Robert – actually, Ambassador Luik, why don’t we start with you, if that’s okay? You start five minutes or so on what is on your mind as you sit there, thinking about the next crisis.

AMBASSADOR JURI LUIK: Thank you, Jill. Thank you to the Atlantic Council for inviting me. I would have to make a small qualification. I’m a sitting ambassador in Moscow, so I hope you understand when I emphasize that these are my personal views and not the views of the Estonian government necessarily.

Let me start by saying that looking from Estonia, it is clear that President Putin’s actions in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, the aggression in East Ukraine, it has profound implications to European security order and profound implications to the world security order.

I would call Putin a revolutionary leader, revolutionary leader of magnitude, somebody who has actively managed in a short time span to change fundamentally the premises of what has been developed over tens and tens of years, both during the Cold War and post-Cold War.

Unfortunately, because I’m in Russia and I know many, many Russians, it’s a great country, but I have to say that re-insurgent Russia has become a serious risk factor in European security. And we can ignore that only in our own peril. And since this risk analysis is of paramount importance, and if we apply the classical rule of how strategic risks are assessed, you have capability and you have intent. And capabilities are there to create trouble and possibly havoc, at least in the new neighborhoods, and the intent is clearly expressed. I mean, you start from the Munich speech. You start with the Georgian aggression and obviously UN with Ukraine – perhaps you don’t end with Ukraine, but Ukraine, the contemporary crisis in Ukraine. And I think the speech of Putin of 18th of March, when he expressed his worldview, actually in a very comprehensive manner, when the annexation of Crimea was celebrated in the Kremlin, it’s a unique speech because it provides a worldview of a leader who today is, I would say, an absolute leader of his huge country, which spans over nine time zones and has thousands of nuclear weapons. So it’s something certainly to be looked at.

So when it comes to strategy, the intent is clear, but when it comes to tactics, then talking to many, many people in Moscow, it is clear that the tactical decisions in Moscow are not staffed through. I mean, they are very much the decisions of one man. That’s why it is extremely difficult to predict what the next move will be.

The decision making process is very fluid. It’s very ad hoc. And although several scenarios have been prepared, including, I believe, the Crimea scenario – and the preparation started actually when President Yushchenko said that the Russian Black Sea fleet should leave in 2017. But when to use this scenario and how to use this scenario, this is very much an ad hoc decision, essentially an ad hoc decision of one man.

I would clearly – I would point out some of the major issues which I think we should keep in mind when looking at the threats, some of the major trends in Moscow. And then, I will mention a couple of geographical points, which I believe we should also keep in mind.

One is structural economic difficulties, which have now brought Russian economy to recession in this year. Almost all analysts are very clear here. And obviously, the huge defense spending, the increase in defense spending and the huge spending which is going towards Crimea are only exasperating the situation. And a lot of this stuff is not in the budget used with various extra-budgetary means. And I have to recall to you that Russia is starting a snap exercise almost weekly. If you look at the media, almost weekly, there is another snap exercise. And I think all people here in the room who have dealt with that kind of stuff imagine how expensive it is if you move tens of thousands of people and equipment from one corner of Russia to the other. So there’s a lot of spending.

And obviously, the need for mobilization of the Russian society, which due to economic circumstances, it’s not so easy to do it by just throwing money towards various consumers or towards the voters. You have to mobilize this community by other means. And clearly, the aggressive moves in the neighborhood are a way to mobilize Russian citizens. You need to create a feeling of victimhood, which has been, I believe, created. And you have to be creating also a powerful enemy figure. And of course, this powerful enemy figure is the West writ large.

Surprisingly so, Russians are not separating Estonia and Great Britain anymore. I mean, they used to play one against the other. But now, when you want to show that the enemy is a huge dark matter, a huge dark power, and you mention Estonia, that doesn’t sound credible. So you actually have to slump all the Western countries together.

You remember, in a speech Putin said that we have been contained for hundreds of years. I mean, it’s obvious that Estonia wouldn’t have been able to contain Russia for hundreds of years. In fact, very few countries, when thinking of the history would have been able to do that. So it’s the West writ large and this anti-Western feeling is constantly, constantly encouraged and exasperated – encouraged and supported by the Russian regime.

Third tendency and third point, power in Russia, as I said, is very, very personal. There’s a small group of people who can influence President Putin. This group is also very fluid. They don’t have clear professions or clear government postings. There are rumors about who had visited Putin’s birthday, for instance and whether that is important or not. And actually, we don’t know whether that’s important or not. Perhaps somebody went to Putin’s birthday and spilled red wine and has become a kind of a confrontational figure. But anyway, it’s known that there is a small group of people who can influence and who, at least, consulted, but it is clear that their background is very much in security services, which has led to the – I don’t know what the word should be – securitization of the whole society.

Security and militarism are the response to all issues, to all questions. And the Russian army has become the symbol of greatness and power of the society, something which is played in the Russian media over and over again. And one point which I would also mention in response to what has been discussed here is the point about Russian minority. I mean, it’s always said that there are some countries who have Russian minority, my country among them, who are under bigger threat and other neighboring states. I actually don’t believe that because the issue of Russian minorities is used in a very simple and crude way. It’s like with a switch. You can put it on. You can put it off.

If you listen to Putin’s explanation of why Crimea was annexed, then he started with protecting the Russian minority. Then, he moved into Crimea has always been ours historically. Then, he went into there’re a lot of war memorials in Crimea. And now, he has stopped at the argument that in case we haven’t had moved in Crimea, NATO would have taken it and the Black Sea would have been controlled or the Russian access to Black Sea would have been controlled by NATO.

So really he can pick and choose arguments. And I don’t believe we should very much focus on the Russian minority, although this is a good argument, kind of red meat in internal discussions and mobilizing the Russian society, something which can be used.

And now, let me say a couple of words about the geographical conflict areas which I see as worth looking at. I’m not saying that there is a new war starting somewhere. But I’m saying these are sort of important areas to look at. First, of course, Ukraine, far from sold and the conflict I believe will continue for a very long time, various reasons for that. But it is also clear that Ukraine has become the new Germany. I mean, it is the country, the big prize, the big field where East and West is sort of – are fighting it out, mainly in covert means, but also in means of values, etcetera, etcetera.

So Ukraine will be, is and will be the key issue for a long way to come. And Putin knows that. And there’s no intention, I’m sure, in Putin’s mind to give it up or to be content with the kind of very weak solution.

I would be very much looking at Kazakhstan and Belorussia. Both of these countries are in the Russian sphere of influence, due to the decision of their leadership. I mean, Kazakhstan less because Kazakhstan has a number of national interests which are dependent on their desire to balance China and Russia. So any Kazak leader will probably be at least fierily pro-Russian or working actively with Russia. And of course, Kazakhstan is very, very vulnerable. I mean, the north of Kazakhstan is – it is difficult to protect that. There’s no doubt about it.

With Belorussia is a different dynamic. I mean, Belorussia can easily leave the sphere of influence when there will be a change of government. So there’s another big prize, another country which might be lost. And I’m sure this would be a big problem. Then, there is Moldova. I understand you will touch about Moldova. Georgia, I won’t go deeply into that. We can do it later.

And in the end, I would say a couple of words about the NATO front line states, something which has been discussed here thoroughly and my own country has been used as a major example here. I am constantly surprised by people using the argument that because our Eastern allies are worried, we should do something.

If it would only be our psychological disposition that we are sort of inadequately worried, nobody would do anything. I mean, people who do make decisions today to place limited amounts of troops to the Baltic states are worried because their own country might be drawn into a conflict. And they want to avoid this decision by any means possible. And if it takes bringing 300 paratroopers to Estonia, that’s a very small price to pay. And I’m sure even a higher price to pay is a very small price to pay to deter a possible aggression. And talking to people all around the defense community, people who actually work with these issues in Defense Department, there is an overwhelming concern. This is not something which comes from sick mind. It is there.

And the other issue, which we are very much concerned of is, you know, it has been mentioned many times here that there is a new war now, kind of a hybrid thing. And I’m very happy that this was, to some extent, explained by the – Fabrice, by the NATO representative. This is not a new type of war. There are aspects to it which are new and creative. But the main threat is the Russian army on the other side of the border. I mean, that is the main threat. Other aspects of this hybrid warfare can be handled. Some of them can be handled by a nation state. Some of them can be handled by the European Union, for instance. And I would say we needn’t even worry about it in this kind of large defense community.

If 20 green men prop up somewhere, we can take care of them. If 200 prop up, even 500 prop up, we can really take care of them. The question is if this is combined with the presence of huge Russian contingent on the other side of the border. I mean, that’s the – and it’s a very classic scenario. It’s not a new scenario. It’s a very classic scenario.

So NATO should be very clear and should provide protection for the allies via showing credible defense, via showing readiness to act. The tripwire, again, a very old trick in the book is the best way of doing it. And I’m very happy that people are doing it.

So I will end with that.

MS. DOUGHERTY: Okay. And Robert, you just came back from Moldova and also from Romania. So maybe you want to start us out there.

ROBERT KAPLAN: Why don’t I start off with Romania and Moldova and then migrate across Eurasia, ending up with the Korean Peninsula? And I’ll try to be quick about it. Romania and Moldova are the southeastern front there, somewhat protected by the Carpathian Mountains. They’re not – it’s not the North European Plain that so exposes the Baltic states and Poland to Russian aggression. So maybe it’s more subtle there.

But I was a reporter there for a month and here’s what prime ministers, presidents, national security advisors told me. They said Article 5 protects against the Red Army or, you know, conventional invasion, you know, a red line, yeah, tripwire, whatever it is. Article 5 is not what we’re worried about. You know, Article 5 doesn’t really matter to us. Nothing in NATO protects us against Russian subversion, Russia running criminal networks, Russia buying our banks and infrastructure, Russia using third parties to buy media that then influence public opinion. Russia loves weakly institutionalized, corrupt democracies because there is more politicians to bribe. Give them a weak democracy and they love it.

Russia – and then, I was also told that in the 21st century, Gazprom is a greater threat to freedom than the Red Army. And that, you know, if you look at the web work of pipelines – and this is what – two countries have not gotten into the news in the past few months, which shows that you can weaken and infiltrate a country from within without consequences, without making the other side nervous.

You know, I was constantly told that Putin is not an apparatchik. He’s an intelligence officer. He wants to – it’s all about taking over, influencing countries from within because the old form of Russian Empire, the Warsaw Pact didn’t work. It broke down. It was too expensive for the Soviet Union. If Putin’s smart, he knows this. He’s looking for a more traditional form of imperialism, a more subtle traditional form of imperialism, like Finlandization or something. The two countries are Bulgaria and Hungary. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban may be the most interesting prime minister in Europe that the West doesn’t write anything about. Because he’s essentially very right wing, some have called him neo-authoritarian. You know, his government has moved to control banks, control media. Every action he takes seems to show that he’s just as worried or interested in what Moscow thinks as what the EU thinks. He’s like an EU country that’s migrated towards a neutralism between the EU and Russia and yet, nobody writes about it.

Bulgaria. Bulgaria gets 90 percent of its natural gas from Russia. Bulgaria is infiltrated by crime groups. Bulgaria has worked in the past to make sure that Nabucco, Azerbaijani oil doesn’t make it into Europe, but that Russian oil through South Stream does. So Bulgaria is a country in the EU, in NATO that’s migrating towards a neutralism as well, between Russia and NATO.

So this, I was told, this is the future. You know, this is how you influence and distort countries from within without causing a crisis that leads to sanctions and other things like that because the whole notion of a red line gets completely erased. It becomes more subtle than that.

All right, Moldova. Moldova has been called a borderland. It’s more than that. It’s got many little borderlands within the borderland. It’s got ethnic Ukrainians, who, by the way, are pro-Russian, ethnic Russians who are pro-Russian, ethnic Bulgarians who are pro-Russian, and ethnic Turkic Christian Gagauz in the south, who are super pro-Russian and control territory and want to federalize and partially secede from Moldova. And then you have the ethnic – the dominant ethnic Romanian community, which is split between ethnic Romanians who are pro-Russian and anti-Russian. And there were towns that I visited in Moldova where the population is split between pro and anti. The Gagauz want to split away.

I was constantly told, see this town, Balti, this is the next Donetsk. You know, this is – because it’s a weakly institutionalize, fragile, super corrupt state with minority groups that are sympathetic to Russia. And when you’re in Moldova, Russia’s real. Whereas the West is just an interesting geopolitical concept. And so this could be a mean – you know, watch Moldova. It has a future in the headlines.

Other places, I think, that have futures in the headlines moving away from Europe – and I’m going to end up with Russia – is, all right, the Middle East. Syria no longer exists. Iraq no longer exists. Libya no longer exists. The capital of Tripoli is not the capital of a country anymore. It’s the central dispatch point for negotiations amongst tribes, gangs, and militias. You know, Libya was just eviscerated by the Western air action. It melted away. And Libya’s instability or formal Libya’s instability is causing significant problems on the borders with Tunisia and Algeria. Algeria may be the next big country in the Middle East to experience real high levels of unrest. Its leader, Abdulaziz Bouteflika, is dying or near death. He’s the only one who is able to hold the various security services, military and political establishment, all in one in piece together.

It’s a vast dispersed country. The Southern Sahara region is really not so much part of Algeria, but a part of the Sahara that’s occupied by the Algerian army. So I would watch Algeria in terms of future and next crisis. I would watch Saudi Arabia with an emphasis on Asir Province in the southwest because Yemen – you know, Yemen is the demographic hub of the Arabian Peninsula. It’s got only a fourth of the land area of Saudi Arabia, but almost as many people. And it’s – Yemen, like Iraq, like Syria, no longer exists essentially.

You know, this has been the result, the real result of the Arab Spring, which has not been about democracy. It’s been about the collapse of central authority. And Asir Province is right next to the unstable, totally unpoliced border with Yemen, full of gun running, you know, heavy tribal, you know, militarized elements. Saudi Arabia has 40 percent male youth unemployment, a diminishing water table, a royal family that’s gone from rule by about seven or 10 into, you know, gradual actuarial death into rules by vast hordes of grandchildren of the royal family, which means more factionalization and harder and harder to rule from the center.

If you would ask me, there’s only one real country in the Muslim world in the Middle East, of course, Turkey. Iran. Iran is a real country. Turkey is a real country. These other places are not real countries. And that’s why I think the very fact that Iran will hold together as a state, whatever happens to it, will make it in relative terms stronger and stronger. Watch the Fergana Valley in Central Asia. That is the demographic hub of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan. The reason those – the reason Uzbekistan is the most populous country in Central Asia is simply because most of the Fergana Valley happens to be in Uzbekistan. If they change the border by just a few miles inside the Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan would lose a large amount of population.

Now, you have large numbers of Tajiks in Uzbekistan, large numbers of Uzbeks in Tajikistan. It is a very fragile area with rising Islamic fundamentalism, increasing – leadership that’s about to – you know, the transition because of age, banking crisis in Kazakhstan, continuing unrest in Kyrgyzstan. And so Central Asia is still run in some countries by the same Brezhnev era central committee men types, as in the past. And these people will be passing from the scene.

And what’s interesting about Central Asia, it never had a post-Soviet crisis, with the exception of the Tajik civil war in the 1990s. So it’s – you know, the Baltic states had their peaceful revolution. Azerbaijan and Armenia fell into war over Nagorno-Karabakh. But Central Asia has stayed more or less relatively stable, under a Soviet style system. And that may now becoming apart.

In the Far East, we thought that capitalism would lead to universal values. Decades of successful capitalism in the Far East has led to a military arms race. A military arms race of submarines, fighter jets, amphibious warships, cyber warfare, ballistic missiles, it’s a very high end arms race. And what’s at issue is not ideas like you read about on the op-ed pages. It’s simply about territorian ethnicity. It’s – you know, it’s the Japanese and the Chinese fighting about islands in the East China Sea. The Chinese, the Vietnamese, the Malaysians, the Filipinos arguing about the South China Sea, who owns what space in the blue water territory.

The military arms race over the past few decades is real. The disputes are real. It’s not just about rocks. It’s about national prestige. It’s about possible energy finds. It’s about China trying to do to the South China Sea and East China Sea what the United States did to the greater Caribbean in the 19th and early 20th century, use it as a way to gain an outlet to the wider world through dominance. In China’s case to the Indian Ocean, in America’s case was to gain dominance of the Western Hemisphere and the greater Caribbean.

So this is – East Asia is not just a place for people who wear business suits and fly business class to do deals. It’s becoming a real military theater of action. Though, on a much more high end, elegant way than the Middle East or eastern Ukraine.

Finally, Russia and China, in terms of future crises. There’s a kind of easy acceptance, I find, in the West, that the future of – if only Putin would go and only the Communist Party would go, we would have democracy, stable democracy in Russia and we would have stable democracy in China. I think it is precisely authoritarianism that is holding these places together. That, as Ambassador Luik said, it’s a very personalized system in Russia. It’s not staffed through, which means it’s not institutionalized. And if it’s a super uber-energy state and the energy is going to diminish in the years and decades ahead and institutions have not been built, the future of Russia may be semi-chaotic in that sense.

And finally, China. China has Inner Mongolians in the north, Turkic Uighur Muslims in the west, Tibetans in the southwest, all of whom have terrible relations with the dominant ethnic Han Chinese. And what the ruling party is afraid of, rightly so, is that any form of politicalization will lead to a sustained rise in ethnic turbulence that would threaten China itself.

So I think what’s holding stability together in Eurasia is precisely what we don’t want, which is authoritarianism. I think beyond authoritarianism is not necessarily democracy. Thank you.

MS. DOUGHERTY: Well, Robert, you’ve succeeded in making me even more nervous than I was at 9:00 this morning. (Laughter.) So let’s – there’s a lot there, but I want to start very specifically with Ambassador Luik. When you look at threats – you mentioned, you know, troops and troops on the border. Let’s make it very basic. Do you believe that Vladimir Putin is intent or perhaps might on the spur of the moment decide to use military force in the Baltic, specifically in Estonia?

AMB. LUIK: Well, the answer is I don’t know. But if you ask me whether I can exclude that, then it’s clear. I cannot. And I don’t think anybody can. I would say – and I’ve been dealing with this stuff for a long time – that I would have put the likelihood for a long time at, I don’t know, 2 or 3 percent perhaps, not more. Now, I would put it somewhere in kind of 40 percent.

MS. DOUGHERTY: So if it’s 40 percent –

AMB. LUIK: Yeah.

MS. DOUGHERTY: – do you trust – sorry, if you want to continue, but do you trust that NATO would come to your defense?

AMB. LUIK: Well, that’s what I was getting about. I think it very much depends on what we are doing. I mean, the percentage very much depends on whether we are serious about the tripwire, whether we are serious about the political will, whether we are serious about honestly analyzing Russia. So the percentage, actually, can go up or down, depending on what we do. So it’s not all about what Putin would do.

But I think we have to understand, if you look at what Putin has said lately, then one of his basic ideas is that countries have to earn sovereignty, that sovereignty is not something which is, quote, unquote, “given” by the international law. It’s basically a power gain. So if the alliance – and the alliance is, of course, not a state, but let’s say – an alliance as an organization wants to maintain its sovereignty of decision making, then it has to be forceful and it has to be powerful. And I very much agree with the point which was made here. It’s not so much – it’s not so important how many troops you have. It’s more important whether you are ready to use them and how quickly, how decisively, how much are you willing to risk, etcetera, etcetera. I mean, that’s the big strength of President Putin. But I don’t think that the Baltic states would be the first target.

MS. DOUGHERTY: Robert, you know, when you look at the world that you’ve described, it’s very chaotic. It’s very unpredictable. It is rife these states that are falling apart or never have been cohesive, to begin with. You know, NATO – how does NATO deal with a world like this, in which you can’t really predict what’s going to happen. They’re not traditional, let’s say, threats to NATO per se. And yet, you’re saying that these are potential red flags or potential conflicts. So how does – is NATO even equipped to begin to deal with a world like that?

MR. KAPLAN: I don’t think it is. Because I think you put your money where your mouth is. You put your money in your defense budgets, which are not just about tanks and planes, but about intelligence services, special operations forces, all of which must be deployable. I think that NATO is coming off a war in Afghanistan, a decade long war, that many would argue that it lost or had a draw about. And that most of – the overwhelming amount of the fighting and hard work was done by the Americans with one or two other countries. Where some of the countries just were there to staff an office in Kabul in order to claim that they took part, but in fact, did very little or nothing.

I think that – remember why NATO was founded. It was founded to stop the Red Army. It was founded wile Stalin was still alive. When the Red Army was encamped in Eastern Germany and literally from Pilsudski’s Baltic to the Black Sea, his Intermarium, was occupied by the Red Army. And so NATO had a specific purpose: defend Western Europe.

America would come to the defense. And America was the central organizing principle. And because the World War II was so close in the past and so many GIs had served in Europe, it was easy to make the argument to the American public that Europe mattered, that we had to defend it. You know, all this was real to the average common man. But now, we’re many decades, 70 years from World War II, whole new generations. You have generations of European politicians in Western Europe who grew up thinking it was all about social welfare budgets because, after all, the Americans were providing the security. And have – and so you have anemic defense budgets in many European countries and you have an American public for whom very few people are still alive from World War II, who say, why do we have to defend Europe if they’re not paying for it themselves?

So I don’t – I think it would take really strong presidential geopolitical leadership with a real message to really reinvigorate NATO. For instance, I was thinking what would Ronald Reagan have done atmospherically, after Crimea was annexed? President Obama went to Brussels and made a speech, where he looked like he was reading from these lines. Reagan would have gone to Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia or one place near the Russian border in the Baltics and said, Mr. Putin, I want you to know I am standing on hallowed NATO ground.

I mean, you know, it would have been of that order. And it would take leadership of that determined magnitude, I think, to rescue NATO at this point.

MS. DOUGHERTY: You know, you’ve been referring to the Russian army as Red Army.

MR. KAPLAN: Yeah, I’ll excuse me. Why am I doing this? Yeah.

MS. DOUGHERTY: Well, it may be significant. I mean –

MR. KAPLAN: Freudian slip. I’m sorry.

MS. DOUGHERTY: In all of this, are we back to that confrontation? Are we back to, you know, Russia as kind of the Soviet Union? Or –

MR. KAPLAN: Well, if you think about it, czarist imperialism never died really. Lenin sort of co-opted czarist imperialism. That’s what the re-conquest of Transcaucasia and Central Asia were about, you know, at the tail end of the Russian civil war, in the 1920s. Then, after the Soviet Union collapsed, you had almost a decade of Boris Yeltsin’s incompetent chaotic rule, where Russia was not a threat. And – but now, you have kind of a rediscovery of the old imperial tradition, I would say, whether you call it czarist or Soviet or czarist Soviet, I don’t know, but it’s an imperial tradition that goes back many hundreds of years.

MS. DOUGHERTY: Ambassador Luik, you know, you know this region very well. You know Russia very well. So in a way, it’s counterintuitive what Putin is doing because if he wants to have a relationship with Europe, if he wants to be integrated – and this is a question mark, you know, does he – but let’s say that he does, then why is he doing this? Why is he pushing it – pushing the envelope to what some previous panelists have described as dangerous levels?

AMB. LUIK: Yeah. I’m on a very dangerous ground now as the ambassador to Moscow. But –

MS. DOUGHERTY: We can use informed sources or something –

AMB. LUIK: Informed sources. Informed sources believe that – (laughter) – that President Putin and the Russian government have decided that one way of realizing the full potential of Russia is to build a strong, large, powerful country. Some of the assumptions that the country should be, you know, innovative and modern and flexible, etcetera, etcetera, do not count for these guys. For them, the strength are military, security, the vastness of the territory. That is what counts.

So the assumptions of what is good for Russia and what should a Russian leader, any Russian leader do are simply very different. That’s why it’s difficult for us to say – I mean, we can say that from our point of view, he doesn’t seem to be doing any good for Russian people. But that’s not the assumptions there.

MS. DOUGHERTY: How should NATO deal with the challenges that Putin is presenting that stop short of Chapter 5? Things that are destabilizing and aren’t overtly military, what do you think, Robert?

MR. KAPLAN: Well, I think, like any military organization, it can only survive and remain relevant if it innovates. And remember, modern industrialized mass infantry warfare, which was really codified by Napoleon, but which has existed since the, you know, take your pick, in mid-18th century, up until the mid-20th century, is over the large span of history unusual to some extent. That’s why the whole literature of insurgency and counterinsurgency, I believe, will never go out of fashion. They’ll all be classics. Because insurgency and counterinsurgency go back to Greek antiquity. And they continued up into our era. So if it lasted this long, – (inaudible) – whatever you want to call them, are going to remain relevant.

And so I think NATO needs a very insurgent, counterinsurgent innovative approach to how to deal with Russia’s concept of what I’ll call total war, everything from buying off politicians in weak democracies, at one end of the spectrum, to the Russian army at the other end of the spectrum, with somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, people with ski masks and assault rifles who claim that they’re just independent, humanistic citizens. You know, taking up their rights.

In other words, there’s so much plausible deniability in eastern Ukraine by Russia that it’s almost implausible deniability. And it’s – and so Russia’s going to come at I from many ways. And unless NATO could figure out how to have a whole of government, whole of warfare approach, from intelligence, anti-crime, anti-corruption, unless all that can fit within a NATO umbrella, NATO’s either going to become a very limited – a very limited use. Yeah, I would say, you know, will be less and less relevant.

MS. DOUGHERTY: Ambassador, what do you think about forward basing in your neighborhood for NATO?

AMB. LUIK: I support that clearly.

MS. DOUGHERTY: But to what extent? What are you talking about?

AMB. LUIK: Well, obviously looking from our point of view, we are ready for anything the alliance is ready to throw to us. (Laughter.) But quite realistically, of course, the options which were described here, regarding the rotation, but permanent rotation of troops, meaning that there is always a presence. Presence today is quite small and it is clearly a tripwire effect. There’s no doubt that the principle of tripwire will remain, whether the size will be bigger or smaller, the principle will remain.

We believe that there should be units which would have, let’s say, heavier equipment at their disposal, simply to make a point. I mean, the paratrooper units today are very lightly, very, very lightly armed. And I think politically – again, it wouldn’t have any military – much military relevance, but I think politically a sort of heavier presence would make a stronger point.

And prepositioning of materiel I believe has a great future in creating forward positioning capability. As was mentioned here, there’s a lot of surplus equipment and it can easily be prepositioned. Of course, the key is that it should be usable. I mean, it cannot be scrap metal. It should be usable equipment. But I don’t think there is a lack of equipment in terms of NATO capabilities. So I very much believe that prepositioning of materiel is reasonable and I’m also sure it will come. So these two components I think are important.

MS. DOUGHERTY: Okay. I’d love to get some questions. Is there anybody – I see a gentleman right here.

Q: Thank you. Erwan Lagadec from George Washington. What’s interesting is some of this story starts with Kosovo, doesn’t it? I mean, you find the Russians rejecting the independence of Kosovo because they know that that process can kill them of the recognition of ethnic minorities and the responsibility to protect. So you get the Russians initially say, you can’t be – you can’t do that in Kosovo because this can kill us. And then, give it a few years, and the Russians are saying, we can do what we are doing in Crimea because you did it in Kosovo, even though that kind of process can still kill us. So in that sense, we talked about how NATO could learn from what’s going on, would learn from what’s going on in Crimea, you know, defensive sense. But isn’t – don’t you feel that Russia just gave us the how to guide offensively to how do you mess with Russia? You – (inaudible) – some of the techniques that they applied in Crimea. And where are – especially going to Dr. Kaplan here – where would the main fault lines be, in that sense? You know, we’ve been talking about, is Dagestan where Russia can be hurt or how do you see it?

The second is –

MS. DOUGHERTY: Let’s keep it focused, okay? I think that might be enough for the moment. Robert.

MR. KAPLAN: First of all, one thing about the successful U.S.-led interventions in the Balkans, in ’95 and ’99, that never gets enough attention, is that the only reason they were able to happen was because Russia was weak at the time. Because this was a normal traditional sphere of Russian influence, going back into the 19th century and earlier. And Yeltsin was simply unable to stop it. Or, in other words, they didn’t even have to consider Russia’s answer in this. They could just do what they wanted if they felt it was necessary for humanitarian reasons.

Had you had a Russia – hydrocarbon rich Russia with Putin in control, in the 1990s, I’m not so sure at all our brave interventions would have taken place in the first place, because they would have had to negotiate them through – they would have had to negotiate with Moscow in a totally different way, than rather than just dictate to Moscow on what they were going to do. But, yes, I agree, the Russians saw the Kosovo – you know, Kosovo was a precedent that could lead to, you know, that could lead to breakaway republics, both inside the Soviet Union and – I mean, inside the old Soviet Union and inside Russia itself.

I think if Putin ever – you know, if Putin passes from the scene and Russia were to fall back instability, which is what I would expect, I would not expect it to move forward into a stable democracy, I think that suddenly you would have, you know, Dagestan, Chechnya and other places would come undone. And here’s another cartographic redrawing that you should keep in mind. A weak Russia in the 21st century and a stronger China, if that happens, will lead to Chinese migration and colonization throughout the Russian Far East and in parts of Central Asia, where Russia would lose pieces of the map in decades to come.

MS. DOUGHERTY: Yes, sir.

Q: Thank you, Batu Kutelia, McCain Institute. Excellent discussion, thank you for this. And my question is, having in mind the developments in Iraq, obviously the future solution or outcome of the plans in Afghanistan might change its shape with some relevance in the influence for NATO. So in this context, how would you characterize the importance of the Central Asia, the region, for the NATO and what should be proactive policies of NATO or the U.S. engagement in that region?

MR. KAPLAN: Well, Afghanistan and Pakistan, for the first time in 13 years, are going to lose the stabilizing factor of the U.S. military, not totally, but to a significant extent over the next year or two. That, I believe, is going to lead to a tremendous weakening of U.S. influence there. And I think that Putin will be worried about Islamic extremism floating up north into Central Asia. And he’s going to need intelligence on that. And he’s not going to find it in Washington. He’s going to find it in Pakistan. So whereas Pakistan and Russia have been more or less estranged for decades, I expect one of the new diplomatic formations to be a new Pakistan-Russia alliance of sorts. And that Pakistan will play China and Russia off against each other in a small way.

And so that they need the U.S. much less and don’t have to listen to moral lectures from the West as to what they need to do. I think that NATO was not able to really affect Afghanistan. The U.S. had a very tough time. NATO would certainly not going to have much influence in Central Asia.

MS. DOUGHERTY: Mr. Ambassador.

AMB. LUIK: I would make an additional point about Central Asia. Of course, one of the important aspects is that it will be and already is a playground between Russia and China. And it is interesting that now that the Russian establishment is disappointed about Europe and very much turning on China – and if you go around in Moscow and speak in various semi-official think tanks, then everybody’s speaking about China and about the wiseness of this other option of forming some kind of a political, you know, understanding with China, the energy deal, etcetera, etcetera.

I believe that in the end this will not be a successful alliance because both powers have clearly diverging interests. There’s not much trust, neither historic, nor contemporary between the two great powers. There are a lot of friction points and Central Asia can easily be one of them. And there is also this understanding by the Chinese that the Russians are now hooked, that they have given up essentially their way to balance themselves between China and Europe. They have given up this other side. And this can only lead to problems.

MR. KAPLAN: I would agree with that. I think for historical and geographical reasons Russia and China can be tactical allies on this or that issue, but they cannot be strategic allies. And that my sense is that on the – you know, the announced pipeline deal, where Russia will sell natural gas to China is that the Chinese got the better deal out of that. They really took the Russians to the cleaners on that.

And I sense that China has the demography and also, China is a much more strongly institutionalized state than Russia is, with all of China’s – I know it’s got vast economic problems we could spend the whole day on, but it is still a more institutionalized sturdy state than Russia is.

MS. DOUGHERTY: Any questions. Yes, sir.

Q: Peter Mile Olsen (sp) from the Danish embassy. This is a question for Juri Luik. From your vantage point in Moscow, how do we best influence Russia in the coming years? You said decisions are made very much by Putin himself. How do we influence it, also in light of sort of the crises that you lined up which are likely to come?

AMB. LUIK: Again, there’s no easy answer, but it’s clear that in Moscow firmness and clarity is appreciated. Our attachment to nuance is not appreciated. And Russians are not surprised if we heavily protect our interests. In fact, the presuppose that we do that. They are not offended by it. They might look offended for tactical reasons, but they are not offended by it.

So I think the answer is clarity in our interests, clarity in our values, and let’s not always believe that somehow we can fudge the issues, the classical Western diplomatic ploy. That somehow the issue can be sort of talked away. That is not clearly happening when one negotiates with Russia.

And of course, Russians always understand the practical moves, for instance, the sanctions. I mean, even if the sanctions were limited, they have had enormous psychological impact in Moscow because they have shown that when push comes to shove, the Western community is ready to act, is ready to fight. And as was said here, the friction lines, which we usually describe inside the European Union, inside NATO, etcetera, etcetera, are not so relevant anymore in this crisis situation. This has been a strong message.

MS. DOUGHERTY: We just have a few more minutes left, but I wanted to ask a question of the Ambassador. You know, part of the basic tenet that Vladimir Putin has right now, that he has put forward during the Ukrainian crisis is that he has a responsibility to protect the Russian Diaspora, the Russian speakers, and he would say basically anywhere. He holds to this very strongly and I think many people find it potentially very destabilizing. Where does it end? Do you have a right to, you know, encourage people in Brighton Beach to rise up, you know? Or – and I’m joking, but in a way it’s not a joke, because there are a number of Russians all over the world. Ambassador, do you think that this is – is this a policy? Is this a definite policy that he’s going to follow? How serious is he about it? Is this something he is just turning on to turn up the heat or could he follow through on it? And where would you look for the first indication that he wants to do that?

AMB. LUIK: As I said in my introductory speech, I believe it is mainly to find a pretext to interfere into affairs of neighboring states. I mean, largely I believe it is a ploy. I mean, we saw it with Crimea. There were zero risks for the Russian community in Crimea. I mean zero. Even the Russian propaganda didn’t try to prove this risk only afterwards, when people started to look for reasons why the whole operation was done, then kind of – some kind of flimsy examples were provided. There were no examples at all, even no provocations, which would have created a pretext. It was just done.

So I don’t feel that this is a real concern by Putin. I don’t also feel that this is something which he sees as the main driver of his actions. And I think it is very important – it is very important to keep in mind that there are number of reasons which Putin has brought, as I said, in his Crimea adventure. But the key issue is – and when you read Putin’s 17th of March speech, you see that this is a missionary speech. This is a guy with a mission. It is not practicalities anymore. It’s not the details anymore. This is not important. There’s a big mission.

So one has to understand that a lot of the reasons, what he brings, they are not necessarily – I mean, he doesn’t care whether they are true or not. I mean, if a guy is in a mission, it’s not important what he says. It’s everything which is necessary for this mission. I mean, he said three times that he had withdrawn Russian troops from the Russian-Ukrainian border. And it was visibly wrong. And everybody knew that. And there were statements coming from the United States, from NATO that the troops are still there. But he just said it because he just felt like this is something which should be tactically said in these particular circumstances.

I always believe that people who believe that they have a mission are – should be carefully – one should – one should acknowledge that there are risks involved.

MS. DOUGHERTY: Robert, did you want to add anything? A man with a mission, to me, it sounds very destabilizing.

MR. KAPLAN: Yes, because he’s not interested in practicalities. He’s – what motivates him is historical grievance. And when you’re motivated by historical grievance, you could become dangerous. Now, I would argue that the Chinese are also motivated in the East and South China Sea by historical grievance that their humiliation by the Western powers and even their internal civil war, which was a humiliating national experience in its own right. Remember, China almost fell apart in the 20th century, in the 1930s. For a civilization that goes back as a civilization to Roman times and has been a great empire for most of that period to almost disappear from the map is a deeply humiliating experience. And so – but I would say that the Chinese form of resurrecting an empire of sorts is being done in much more elegant, sophisticated style than the Russian form of doing the same thing.

With the Russian form, we see guys with black ski masks, you know, occupying buildings and doing things. In China’s case, they send an oil rig into waters claimed by Vietnam and claimed all there doing is finding out if there’s oil there. They’re not ready yet to decide whether they’re going to exploit it. You know, it’s like the Chinese are very good at quarter steps and half steps and backtracking and all of that. Whereas the Russians are more offensive in nature.

MS. DOUGHERTY: All right. Well, unfortunately, I think we’re at the point where we have to end, but I want to thank you very much. It was a fascinating conversation, Ambassador Luik and also Robert Kaplan.

MR. KAPLAN: Thank you.

AMB. LUIK: Thank you very much. (Applause.)

JOHN ANDREAS OLSEN: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the conference for today. We have been listening to presentations and discussions with great interest. And I would like to thank all of you, those of you presented and those of you who took the time to be here and give priority to issues that we are concerned with as we move towards the NATO summit in September.

We also mark the ending of a very successful project between the Atlantic Council, the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies, and Norwegian Ministry of Defense. The project started 18 months ago. And through a series of conferences and seminars and workshops, we have raised issues concerning the future of NATO and we have discussed challenges and opportunities. And I would like you to pay attention to the two reports that have come out of the Atlantic Council and the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies. It’s a one-hour read altogether. You can do it in less than a football match and you will get some recommendations for the future.

Let me take this opportunity to thank the Atlantic Council and the Brent Scowcroft Center. I would especially like to acknowledge Barry and Magnus and Simona and Robbie for their professionalism and enthusiasm. Thanks to Damon Wilson and his partner in crime Jan Brzezinski for having been part of this project all the way. Great discussions, great collaboration, thoughtful assessments and valuable inputs throughout the period and good trips to Norway, and we also had fun.

Big thanks to the Institute for Defense Studies and its director, Sven Holtsmark, especially Michael Mayer for all these efforts throughout the period. I’m thrilled that Professor Rolf Tamnes was with us today because he was part of initiating all this, 18 months ago.

Closer to home, thank you to Kristine Fjellestads (ph), she’s been the one putting discipline into all of these guys. Otherwise, it would have been intellectual anarchy of the first order.

Bob Dylan once said that the future is so bright, I need shades. I don’t know if we’re quite there with NATO, but we have to think about these issues and take them seriously. And I would like to thank the Atlantic Council for continuously thinking of the transatlantic link and the relationship between the United States and Europe.

So thank you all for today. This conference has been very interesting. Thank you, Barry, and I will give you the final word, at least for now. (Laughter.) Thank you.

BARRY PAVEL: Thanks very much, John. And you don’t have to tweet this part. But thank you everybody for coming. I also just wanted to offer my very brief thank you, brief but very heartfelt and sincere thanks to our Norwegian MOD colleagues, all of you. I won’t name everyone, but you all know who you are, but the core team, we’ve really enjoyed working with you and we’ve learned a lot.

I also wanted to ask the audience to join me in giving a round of applause to Simona Kordosova, Robbie Gramer, Michael Mayer and his team. These guys worked together the entire time, 18 months of sustained effort to really advance the ball on these issues. So please join me in a round of applause. (Applause.)

And today, thanks to the events team, Yan and Meghan and Katherine on our team as well, thank you for this excellent, excellent conference. I learned a lot and I’m going to go back over the video on some of this because it really was rich. And please, everyone in this room, keep the conversation going. We’ll be having other events on Twitter with the same hashtag, doing a lot of work between now and the Wales summit in early September.

And then, we’ll certainly be doing more work pushing through the summit as well a very important set of issues. The alliance is a very valuable mechanism for a world that, as depressing as Bob Kaplan made it seem, we still have to deal with it. We have to live in it. We’ll face security challenges. We’ll face opportunities. And I think the best way to deal with them and to secure our prosperity, as well as our safety, is to continue to have these discussions and help improve the alliance mechanism.

So thanks very much, everyone, for coming. (Applause.)


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