Full transcript from a NATO Forum public event with General Bantz Craddock, Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and The Honorable Robert Hunter, Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO.
A BLUEPRINT FOR NATO AT LISBON
VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR,
INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM,
ATLANTIC COUNCIL OF THE UNITED STATES
GEN. BANTZ J. CRADDOCK (ret.)
FORMER SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER EUROPE
FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO
NOVEMBER 17, 2010
2:15 – 3:30 PM
Federal News Service
DAMON WILSON: Welcome back, everyone, if I can get your attention. We want to go ahead and get our second part of the program started, so if I could have your attention.
I was going to save this for during our discussion a little bit, but about a year – in May of 2009, I think it was – when Gen. Craddock was here at the Atlantic Council in uniform, he made some headlines here by basically saying, I’m probably being harsh here – but I also believe that much of this is due to the fact that the political leadership in NATO is AWOL.
So I’m only leading with this now because, for a second, I was frightened that our political leadership on the panel today – Ambassador Hunter – was AWOL on us. (Chuckles.)
ROBERT HUNTER: The other panel is the one with the leadership. (Laughter.)
MR. WILSON: But let us get started. I’m Damon Wilson here, vice president and director of our International Security Program. Thank you for coming back and joining us for the second part of the NATO forum. We’re delighted to have you stick with us. I think your presence, and the turnout for this even this morning, only underscores the need to our continuing expansion and to grow our conference room here, so you’re giving us good arguments.
But as Fred mentioned at the start of our program, this is what we call our NATO Forum. It’s a series of programs that we began over a year ago, when Secretary-General Rasmussen was here with Sen. Richard Luger to really kick off the public debate on the future of NATO in the context of developing the New Strategic Concept.
So I think it’s quite elegant that just a little over a year after having launched that public debate, with both the first Congressional speech on the strategic concept and the next Secretary-General’s first speech in Washington as Sec-Gen, that we’re convening on the eve of the Lisbon summit to re-visit where we are a year after having been working through this process of developing the strategic concept.
We’ve just come from a good conversation with Assistant Secretary Gordon, Phil Gordon, about the Obama administration priorities for the NATO summit, but also more broadly for Europe. We had a chance to review the agenda for Europe writ large, beginning with Europe as our global partner, with the process of completing Europe, and also a Russia reset, as well as to delve into some of the specifics that we’ll be facing in Lisbon – both at the NATO summit, the U.S.-EU summit, and to a bit of an extent at the Astana OSCE summit as well.
As part of our NATO Forum programming – as part of our NATO Forum programming, we are also running with our Strategic Advisors Group an online debate about the Lisbon summit. So you will see on our website, we will have the logo of the Lisbon summit, and with that we’ll have an ongoing commentary from many of our strategic advisors, our members, some of our board on key issues both before the Lisbon summit – there are already some pieces up now – things coming out over the weekend, and in the aftermath of that.
So I encourage you to follow this continuing debate on our web site, , and if you want to partake in that, please do. Just let Jeff Lightfoot and myself know. There will be opportunities to respond to some of the pieces online, as well.
This afternoon’s panel – we want to step back and think a little bit about the alliance more strategically. My guests this afternoon are not bound by official U.S. government positions any longer. They are not bound by official talking points, and so I hope we can push this conversation a little bit more deeply – perhaps a little bit more provocatively – and begin to think about what this summit means beyond for the alliance, beyond the meeting this weekend in Lisbon.
Ambassador Robert Hunter brought up the right question this morning about, how do you do any of this in the context of the current financial crisis? I think we want to be able to peel much of that back today, as well.
But it’s important for you to know this discussion, this event today – the seeds of this were planted by my colleague here, Sarwar Kashmeri, who is serving as a senior fellow here at the Atlantic Council. Sen. Hagel introduced us to Sarwar well over a year ago. And he came and said he had published a book on America and Europe after 9/11; and he came and said he wanted to do a book on NATO.
And he came up front and said, I’m not a NATO-nik; I’m not a trans-Atlantic security geek. But he’s been a trans-Atlantic businessman. And he came to us with a proposal to drill down and spend the next year doing research, talking to a range of folks and writing on NATO, and promised that he would produce a more unconventional approach to many of what we – much of the work we do here at the council.
So something that we embraced – so we’re delighted that he’s made progress on that: “NATO 2.0: Reboot or Delete?” It’s in this – (inaudible) – we’ve got one of his articles that we’ve given out today. And the book will be coming out fairly soon.
But Sarwar is the one that’s brought us much of this thinking, much of this idea and it’s why we’ve gathered today. So thank you for doing that, Sarwar.
SARWAR KASHMERI: My pleasure, thank you.
MR. WILSON: As I said, he’s been serving over the past year as a senior fellow here at the council. He is also a strategic communications advisor to international companies, a business columnist. And, just as importantly, he runs a series of podcast interviews which you can find on our blog site the “New Atlanticist:” some fascinating conversations, including one most recently with the Russian ambassador to NATO, which are always fun to discuss.
Our two guests here are related to the enterprise that Sarwar undertook a year ago. Ambassador Bob Hunter has done the forward for Sarwar’s book. Gen. Bantz Craddock was one of the resources that Sarwar went to throughout his period of research and study to help ground much of the work that he was doing with two of our most prominent experts, with just terrific experience on the alliance.
Ambassador Bob Hunter is, of course, here at the Atlantic Council as one of my bosses on the executive committee of the board. He also –
MR. HUNTER: Meaning I work for him. (Laughter.)
MR. WILSON: I think I work – (inaudible) – you. Sitting on our Strategic Advisors Group as well – as you know, he’s a senior advisor at Rand Corporation, a prolific commentator on the trans-Atlantic relationship; has served as president of the Atlantic Treaty Association; importantly for this discussion has served as U.S. ambassador to NATO. And if you take a look at his CV, a remarkable breadth of foreign policy experience including the Carter and back to the Johnson administrations.
So we’re delighted to have you not only provide the forward for Sarwar’s book, but to bring your thoughts to this debate today.
And finally, Gen. Craddock who has been a terrific friend of the council both while he was SACEUR coming to strategy sessions here – coming to provide his public remarks as well – and now out of uniform, sits on the Atlantic Council as a board director. We’re delighted for your continuing engagement, delighted to welcome you back to the council.
He was named president of L-3 MPRI in January of this year following his 38-year career with the U.S. Army, where of course is he served as SACEUR as chief of U.S.-European command, and including serving as a combat commander in Operation Desert Storm, and as commander of U.S. Southern Command.
One of the things we enjoyed about Gen. Craddock is that he was willing to be plain-spoken while he was in uniform, so we look forward to your plain-spokenness now out of uniform. (Laughter.)
With that, I want to get our conversation started so that we have time to hear not just from our guest today, but to hear from you. Sarwar, we’re going to start with you. You have just – you have just finished your manuscript, your book, “NATO 2.0: Reboot or Delete?.” You’ve published one of your articles with us recently where you advance an argument about NATO and its intrinsic – the importance of its intrinsic linkage to the European Union, particularly to the common defense and security policy of the EU.
And yet, we’ve just had a conversation with an Obama administration official headed to Lisbon who pretty much downplayed, I think, all of our expectations on NATO-EU; pointed out the frustrations of the inability to really forge a strategic partnership because of continuing differences within the alliance and within key members of the alliance and the European Union on this set of issues.
So if you could, for our audience here, lay out your key thesis, lay out your key arguments. Explain how this is something that you think makes sense for the continued vitality of the alliance when it’s hard today to actually develop some practical cooperation with the European Union itself.
MR. KASHMERI: And still leave some time for the rest of you to – (inaudible).
MR. WILSON: Absolutely – (inaudible).
MR. KASHMERI: I just wanted to say, thank you, first of all, for all the help that the Atlantic Council has given which is tremendous. And for those of you who don’t know, I wound up actually starting the book – the very first word of the first chapter says “Damon”, and the next one says “Wilson”, so the book starts actually with you.
But I wanted to just mention the book comes out March the 17th and it’s just being listed on Amazon and there’s a story there. You know when you go to Amazon, you search for a book, it says if you like this book you might enjoy these other books? Well, all the other books that you find on Amazon are computer books. (Laughter.) Because in “re-boot”, “2.0”, I guess to them, means it should be computer books. (Chuckles.) But –
MR. WILSON: Before Sarwar jumps in, some of you may have heard our good ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, talking about “NATO 3.0”. For the record, Sarwar has been talking about “NATO 2.0” for the past year. (Laughter.) And I think our ambassador saw an opportunity to stick ahead – so you’re also going to explain that to us.
MR. KASHMERI: Yes. And I think James Opperer (ph) took me up on that one when I told him “2.0”. He said, 2.0, he says, we can do better than that, he said. (Laughter.) But I was glad that the secretary talked about the trans-Atlantic relationship, and I just wanted to, A, commend him for that, but B, start my talk by pointing out once again that we sometimes forget in this area of galloping economies of Asia – which are going to be the biggest part of change as we go forward – what a huge relationship: business, economy, jobs the trans-Atlantic relationship is.
You know, it’s a $4 trillion relationship. It accounts for 14 million jobs. It’s the broadest, deepest, widest relationship in recorded business history. I mean, many of you may know that 70 percent of the inward investment into the U.S. comes from the European Union.
The American investment in Netherlands is three times the American investment in China. And I’ll throw out one more statistic: the American investment in Spain is greater than the investment in China and India combined.
So this is a huge relationship, and it behooves all of us to keep what’s taking place in perspective. The relationship, obviously, has so many different links and one of them – perhaps the most important one – is NATO. And so what happens to NATO, I think, is of great importance.
I happen to believe that NATO is a vital piece of the Euro-Atlantic security dimension, but that it is increasingly dysfunctional, still has not found its way. And the way forward is for NATO to be bridged to the European Union’s CSDP; that if we don’t do that, then NATO will become increasingly irrelevant and begin to fade. And if it does, heaven forbid, someday North America, Canada and the Europeans will need to use it again. And in the current political climate, I would submit it will be impossible to recreate it.
So I mention in my book, Damon, that NATO, A, doesn’t appear to have – as Gen. Scowcroft so appropriately puts it all the time, that it’s great military organization, but what is it for? So you look at it, and you know, the Central and Eastern Europeans still consider Russia a threat; Western Europeans don’t. We have Afghanistan where, which depending on who you talk to, isn’t really going as well from the point of view of NATO.
The American image of NATO, I’m convinced, is not what it used to be. I was at a very elite American military establishment three weeks ago, and I asked for a show of hands for how many people there wanted to see NATO continue – out of 80 people there, four raised their hands. I said, come on, you can do better than that. And one other person hesitantly raised their hand.
I was on one of the Navy’s carriers a few months ago sitting between the two-most senior officers. Their age group – the younger one who commanded the flight squadron was, maybe, 12, 14 years younger than the executive officer. And I asked the executive officer what he thought about NATO, and he said it’s the cornerstone of Western security. During dessert I asked that to the other gentleman who was younger, and he said, you know, you still have to prove to me what use NATO is anymore.
So there is a demographic change that’s taken place. And I submit that this is dangerous. I’ll give you one example from yesterday: the International Herald-Tribune had two editorials on NATO, one by our ambassador to NATO. The New York Times didn’t think it important enough to have those printed in America. Why this disconnect?
So I mentioned that I start my book with pointing out this dysfunctionality. I then move over to the ESDP, the EU side. And I point out that over the last 10 years, the EU has sent out 27 missions. Most of these have been very small. But there was also a mission where they mobilized 10,000 soldiers, to put 4,000 at a time for 19 months in the center of Africa, in Chad, right? This is thousands of miles from Brussels or Paris. These people were there for some really strenuous actions and had a successful mission, came back.
I spent quite some time talking to Gen. Nash, who was the operations commander of that mission. We can get into some details in Q&A. While they were doing that, they organized – the EU organized the mission to the Horn of Africa which is twice the size of the NATO, the U.S. mission there. That is an interesting mission to look at because it points to the strength that the EU brings to the security table.
Because it is not just a military alliance, it’s able to field a much more holistic group of missions. So in the Horn of Africa – because they are a governmental entity they can sign treaties, as they’ve done with Mozambique, and are working another one out so when pirates are captured they can turn them over for prosecution because the court systems in those countries are not well-developed.
They can send out teams to help with the court system, they can send out aid to improve the computer systems. Winning hearts and minds is a very large part of what they’re all about. Now, I spent quite a bit of time in Europe asking people, so if you had problem in your backyard, you could take care of it, right? And they said, yes, as long as we had the will – which is an important issue to talk about.
So I believe that as NATO’s trajectory is heading down, the EU’s going up. And if I had to set the agenda for Mr. Obama in Lisbon, I would have said, the most important thing you needed to do is to make a connection with the EU and then charge the secretary of state, perhaps, and the Canadian foreign minister to get together with the high representative of foreign policy and security and make that direct connection. Bridge NATO to CSDP, let Europeans handle their day-to-day security. NATO remains connected for when the trans-Atlantic partners wish to act together, as opposed to this business of missile defense.
And you know, I mean, here’s an organization, NATO, that can’t send 900 – can’t find the will or the money to send 900 trainers to Afghanistan in two years, and we are going to set up a missile defense system for half the planet? I mean, maybe it can happen, which was the reason for my question earlier to the secretary, that how do we pay for this? Who pays for this? The American taxpayer has actually sunk in.
So that’s kind of the thesis. And I believe that going forward, that’s what we need to do. We need to make a direct connection with the EU, we need to take NATO and bridge it to CSDP and let the Europeans call the shots. When they need us, NATO is still there.
Is that provocative enough?
MR. WILSON: I think that is. Sarwar warned me when he began this effort – exactly, Ambassador Finley’s got it right – Sarwar warned me when he began this effort that his approach and his perspective on this is going to be from a different angle. And I think you’ve put that out there. I’m going to turn –
MR. KASHMERI: May I just – I forgot my joke. (Laughter.)
MR. WILSON: Of course.
MR. KASHMERI: This was Ambassador Rogozin, one of your favorite people. I met with him three weeks ago in Brussels and he invited me over to his house, kindly, and turned out to be a very gracious host. At one point, I asked him about the Russian, the NATO reset and the kinder, gentler NATO and so on. He leaned over to me, and he said, Kashmeri, old Russian saying: your grandmother grows whiskers; is it your grandfather? (Laughter.) Sorry.
MR. HUNTER: Nowadays, you don’t know. (Chuckles.)
MR. WILSON: I’m going to skip comment on that and – you have put forward a controversial argument. Let me just press a little bit to make sure I get this.
You’re essentially arguing for a more passive – (inaudible) – almost as a secondary insurance policy, security blanket. Is that taking it too far, or is that right? That you increasingly would want to see the European Union – and Europe – sort of acting on its own, acting of its own cognizance, and NATO being back there for those more intermittent and, perhaps, more rare occasions when we find ourselves to take military action together?
MR. KASHMERI: I think that’s pretty close, because no matter where you go in Europe, people still think of NATO as their shield of last resort. It’s just that I don’t believe people drill into it enough to say, well, what does that mean? I mean, what happened in Georgia? What happened in Estonia?
But once you roll down, you find out that things are a little bit different. And Europeans want, I think, increasingly to handle their own business. And I’m not certain they want us to be the leader in that.
MR. WILSON: Thank you. I hope we hear, in the conversation we’ll have, some challenges to that thesis. And I’m going to invite Ambassador Finley to pose a good question when we get into the conversation, as well.
MR. KASHMERI: I hope not. Copy editing is done. (Laughter.)
MR. WILSON: Let me turn to Ambassador Hunter. You’ve been one of the most outspoken voices for stronger NATO-EU cooperation over the years, and very forceful, very eloquent on that topic. But when you hear the thesis that Sarwar is making – first of all, let me ask, is this – first of all, is this realistic? We’re talking about trying to bridge NATO to the EU’s common security and defense policy at a time when we can’t even really get NATO and the EU to meet more formally, to cooperate more formally where we’ve got real tension on the basics of cooperation between the two institutions. Is it realistic to even go down this path of a bridging approach?
And then second, is this desirable? Do you share some of the views here or would you approach this from a little bit of a different perspective? You make the case for NATO-EU cooperation but I tend to think you make a case from a little bit of a different argument.
MR. HUNTER: Well, why don’t you go ahead and make my argument? (Laughter.) First, Sarwar may have only been involved in this for a year but you could have fooled me.
MR. KASHMERI: Oh, thank you.
MR. HUNTER: Along with my colleague, here, I think John and I would both agree that you guys are real experts on this. I agree with Sarwar – and of course I don’t agree with him as well.
Certainly, in terms of the relationship between NATO and the EU, which is bizarre in some respects – when I went to NATO in 1993, I coined a phrase: NATO and the EU were two institutions living in the same town on separate planets. (Laughter.) They had no interconnection. And frankly, even though we did an awful lot in the ’90s, and to an extent in this decade as well, the distinctions between them and the barriers between them are still very high.
I liked what the assistant secretary said earlier. I thought it was a very professional job. And the folks here who work on NATO and everything can hear what he didn’t say in the interstices. And one of the interstices was that the EU is just kind of a sideshow. And when he got to talking about the president and talking to them about security, there was almost nothing there and, certainly, nothing in terms of what NATO and the EU ought to be doing together.
Now, I agree that it is important to have a strong European Union in the security area – the so-called third pillar. They’ve been going at it a long time. It’s part of creating over time a, let’s say, a completion of the European Union, whether you call it the United States of Europe or something else – it’s important to do that. An awful lot of capabilities are involved in it.
We also understand, as the former secretary will know, that it’s not as though NATO has a set of capabilities and the EU has a set of capabilities. They’re the same people. And if you’re going to do – have a meeting, capabilities – I can’t remember what it’s called now. Where you put the capabilities together and you take them through different places sometimes – I often talk about it, who gets to drive the Army tonight?
Now, the European Union can, in regard to this, and I think do a lot of good things – whether the 27 missions you’ve talked about. Let’s say the smaller end or things that are more Eurocentric in which we have less of a say in it. And that should cause us no problems.
After all, I’ve had $20 bet now for 15 years – I’ll renew it now. Maybe for inflation I should put up to $30. Can anybody name a circumstance in which all the members of the European Union would want to do something militarily to which the United States would object? Nobody’s ever been able to come up with an example of that.
Now, maybe the other way around – Iraq et cetera – but we have a lot of strategic compatibility that the assistant secretary said – Phil said earlier, that never have U.S. and European relationships been more aligned than they are now. That’s certainly hyperbole but there’s something to it.
Now, where do we really need to look at this clearly? Number one, the Europeans still need the engagement of the United States on the continent for a variety of reasons, some of which have to do with economics, the financial system and all of that, where we are the great repositories of capacity and if we don’t get it right, nobody is. But also in the strategic sense.
When it comes to dealing with the future of Russia, nobody can do that in the Western side except the United States, or at least it can’t be done without us. And everybody wants us there for that purpose. And that would, I think, include the West Europeans who are, in fact, dumb and happy about the end of the Cold War; certainly if you go to the old Central European countries. If you were to say to them, even today, would you rather have the United States without NATO or NATO without the United States, in a heartbeat, they’d say, the United States.
Well, if we’re going to be engaged, we’re going to do it through NATO. That’s how we do our strategic engagement there. It gives us the kind of leverage, the kinds of involvement. But even leaving that aside, which is not inconsequential, if you’re going to have an effective military capacity of the Europeans, you’re going to have to have something that remains the organizing principle in terms of training, in terms of interoperability, in terms of this unique quality in history – the integrated military command structure – the integrated structure. Never existed before.
NATO operates in two languages: English and French, formally; and in one language, in fact, called American. You go to ISAF in Kabul, and if you watch what people were doing and all this kind of stuff, and if you didn’t look at the arm patches to see what country they were from, you wouldn’t know where they were from. They all do the same kind of stuff together. This works. That is a resource you don’t want to let go.
And frankly, if it weren’t for the United States there big-time, that stuff is just going to kind of go away into the weeds. Like it or not, it’s just going to do that. So we remain a great organizing principle for them, and it’s got a – I hate to use this thing, “fire department”. There’s no fire going on right now, but by god, everybody wants to know the fire department’s there. And that is the United States.
Now, from our perspective, what do we get out of it? Well, here is the real dilemma – the real dilemma: Most Europeans want to see the focus continue to be in Europe because of their strategic and political and historical uncertainties. It’s one reason Germany decided, when it came to the enlargement of NATO in the EU, to surround itself with these two institutions in order – the phrase I used to use: to make it impossible for their children and grandchildren to do what their parents and grandparents did, even if they decided they wanted to do it. All right? So certainly we are there for that purpose, and we gain an incredible amount of influence from it.
That’s why picking up on something the general said here, very boldly, last year, I think it is stupid – How’s that? That provocative? – for the United States to contemplate cutting up to 50 percent of its force deployments in Europe. Not only is it cheaper to keep them in Europe than it is here – and you can deploy them in lots of places – but there goes the influence, there goes the training, there goes the interoperability, and there goes the capacity to have this functioning institution in Brussels. It’s just dumb. We’re doing it for domestic, political and budgetary reasons.
Now, from our perspective, here’s the dilemma: We see Europe more or less taken care of, though we need to be around to make sure certain things come out right. But we’re concerned with the Middle East and Southwest Asia and some other places. The reason they are focusing so much on partnerships – Australia and Japan in particular – is to try to get folks who are willing to put in resource capabilities to make up for things the allies aren’t doing. The big debate has been how do we balance off the grand strategic relationship in a kind of a new compact? We will be in Europe if they will be with us elsewhere.
And that’s why Afghanistan, god help us, is so important in terms of how we got where we are and how we go from here on. Most of the Europeans are in Afghanistan not because they believe there’s a threat from Afghanistan to them, but because they didn’t want to show that they weren’t responding to an American, and they didn’t want to let down NATO. That’s one reason it’s so difficult and why this masterstroke that’s coming up this weekend to prevent Afghanistan from hijacking a summit, of saying, oh, we’ll set a date in 2014 which we can get the troops out. And so the leaders can finally say, oh, I don’t have to come back from Lisbon and justify to people that we’re going to be there a hundred years. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t.
Now, what we have to work out is how do you balance these two perspectives so that NATO is not just a niche capability and the like? One way of doing it is to recognize something which the general on my right was very strong in pushing, the current SACEUR’s strong in pushing, the national security advisor – about to leave – who’s been strong in pushing, which is the so-called comprehensive approach. I noticed – tell me if I’m wrong – I don’t think the secretary used that phrase here. He didn’t use it. Comprehensive approach; that means in Afghanistan, as it was in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, military governance, reconstruction, development, and to borrow something from those of us who’re old enough, it’s the competition for hearts and minds. All right?
That’s really how you do it. You got to have the whole package together. And here is an area where the European Union has some fantastic resources. They’re also probably cheaper and they’re also, while they entail risk, they entail less risk than actual combat operations. One reason, they’re prepared to put – some countries to put – trainers in but they won’t put in combat forces. Here’s what we need to be doing. Not necessarily a division of labor but recognizing, and this is one thing Phil Gordon said which we do not operationalize sufficiently, that we are the great partners, we are the great repositories – We’re the great repository resources. Health, education, economies – strong economies – strong NGOs, educated populations, governments at work, democracies, people who have – who can go out and do things to shape environments. Phase zero or phase four, to use the military kind of thing. This is where we need to be working together. And when I hear that that isn’t even going to be discussed in Lisbon, I kind of wish they had postponed it a year.
What we really need is an overarching formula for a new Atlantic compact – new Atlantic Charter, and then parcel out the bits and pieces, including a U.S.-European Union strategic partnership in the areas that I just discussed. And I’m afraid it’s not going to happen this weekend, but maybe they’ll get on to it in the future because otherwise people are going to lose interest in NATO, we will lose interest in NATO, the Europeans, we will lose their opportunity to be involved – have them involved, and we will be more interested in non-European things. They’ll be more rooted to Europe, and we will find less of the glue that we have to have to deal with the unforeseen.
MR. WILSON: Ambassador Hunter, thank you very much. As I promised, you’re plain-spoken on these issues, and you’ve put quite a few issues on the table that I want to try to get into with our conversation.
MR. HUNTER: Buy Sarwar’s book, incidentally. It’s excellent.
MR. WILSON: Let me turn to Gen. Craddock to try to ground this conversation with someone who’s had the responsibilities in the role of serving as supreme allied commander in Europe. A couple points here – One, I’d welcome your, sort of, view on this NATO-EU set of issues. Sarwar’s put forward a relatively provocative argument of the need to bridge NATO to the European Union’s common security and defense policy, perhaps the alliance playing a bit more of a passive role in European security.
Given your experience, and given as you watch the EU’s capacity grow, what is your assessment of the potential, of the capabilities of the European Union will be growing. How would you like to see that connected to the alliance and the relationship between that. But as you take up that particular like of argument, perhaps stepping back into a broader context of – we’re talking about a whole range of issues for the alliance as leaders head to Lisbon against the backdrop of a severe financial crisis, a real defense depression taking place within many – within Europe.
We will face tough decisions here with our own defense budget, but our European allies have already faced very tough decisions as we see dramatic cuts. So as someone who used to be responsible for delivering the capability of the alliance, what’s your prognosis for how the alliance weathers this storm of a defense depression in Europe right now?
GEN. CRADDOCK: In a nutshell, more of the same, but I’ll articulate. First thanks to you and to Fred for the opportunity to be here with my esteemed colleagues. This is always a good opportunity, and I always immensely enjoy this. Difficult issues here, and I would say that, Sarwar, you and Robert have framed these pretty well.
I don’t want to dive down into a lot of detail. What I’ll try to do – and not bored you with anecdotes – Time and time again over 30 months, dealing with these issues almost on a daily basis – And I must also warn you, my wife has told me now that I’m retired, some 18 months from wearing the uniform, I have clearer and clearer recollections of things that never were, so – (Laughter) So I’ll try to limit what I say – (Laughter)
MR. WILSON: We have fact checkers –
MR. HUNTER: In which you were the hero –
GEN. CRADDOCK: Always, always – That’s the criticism – I do think that the fact of the matter is that without forcing functions, very little gets done. Now, I think this forcing function NATO-EU bridge – I don’t know if it’s a bridge from NATO to the EU or it’s more like a transcontinental railroad that meets in the middle, but somehow we have to connect better than we have today. And it can be parsed out based upon the spectrum of conflict – low-end, high-end. Robert talked to that a bit, fair enough.
Now, there may be issues there on, you know, as we determine manhood issues – No, I want to be the warfighter versus the low-end nation-builder, if you will. That has to be resolved, but that – those discussions, those debates have to occur. Now, another forcing function obviously is, they would have said is, how do we pay for it? Is there enough to go around to have both? Absolutely not. As Robert has said, they’re the same formations. When you look at what’s available and you look at those formations, the ones that NATO counts as obligated to NATO by nations, when they prescribe every year what it is they will commit – the numbers land forces, maritime forces, air forces – and then you would go and compare notes to what the European Union looks at, the overlap is astounding.
So the question then is, who gets it first? Well, I don’t know if it’s who calls first or there’s another priority, but those are nation interests that have to be resolved. So I think that it is essential in this day and age if for that very reason alone the ability, physically, to pay for this, that there has to be an accommodation reached. Now, beyond that, I think many other political factors will come into play.
The issue becomes to NATO, what capabilities do they have versus what capabilities do they need? What does NATO want to do? That’s why I hope this strategic concept that rolls out will not be so broad and so grand in design that it does not specify to the degree needed what NATO is going to do in the future. I think it must do that in order to provide the parameters then for the capabilities development. Once NATO beings that process, and it’ll be a long, arduous process by design – this is the way NATO’s built – There’ll be two supreme commanders who will have to work together closely; more closely than in the past. One has to prescribe the capabilities required. The other has to determine what’s present and where it isn’t present, what nations have it.
And then the – really the political/military process of determining then what nations want to provide that commitment to the alliance. The military committee, then, starts to play in that. And then it continues through the political process – the international staff, the international military staff. And it will continue for some time. Absent deliverables, I think, from the summit – Specific deliverables against a timeline – And quite frankly, I think the last one to do that with any great respect was Prague – And there was a flurry of activity afterwards with some suspenses on that, and some were met and some weren’t, but at least there was focused effort. I think, absent that – That’s why I said more of the same. I hope that’s not the case, but I think it may well be.
Now, the question then next is, how do we know if we’ve satisfied the capability? What do we do in NATO, how we approach that? The tension exists always between what the alliance needs and what the nations’ interests are. I think we see that here in the United States, you see it in every nation in Europe with regards to the parsing out of its budget; how much for security versus how much for social welfare, other mandatory obligations – Going to have the same thing continue on in the future, probably more difficult than it is today. There’s not enough to stretch both ways, but the tension is there and it will continue to be there.
Everyone wants to have a little bit of everything, from a security-defense perspective. Nations – And fairly enough because I think it’s – Over years it’s been that way, and it’s recognized as things have to proceed that way – They’ll all want land forces, they’ll all want maritime forces, they’ll all want air forces, they all want the latest, most modernized capabilities. You don’t want prop-driven aircraft when jets are available. You don’t want F-16s if 35s are available, or F-22s –
Those are the type decisions that’ll always be the tension that has to be made. Question becomes, how much will national interest prevail, then, over the alliance? Where’s the cut line? And it’s different in every country, as it should be, and it’ll be debated. The challenge becomes, then, the levying of the requirement to build the capability on NATO and the commitment by its members to provide that versus maybe a timeshare where they have the capability, they won’t commit it, but it’ll be available so often, so many days – some level of effort, capability from a nation.
Now, NATO then will look at – that’s not enough and decide alternative strategies. We’ve done that with the Airborne Early Warning System, the AEWACS, NATO strategic airlifts, now the airborne ground sensor that NATO, overtime, will put these programs together. I think the last one, the AGS, was 17 years, 20 years to fruition before an agreement was reached?
MR. : It was there in 1992 – (inaudible).
GEN. CRADDOCK: Okay, so 2009, 17 years. I don’t know if we can wait 17 years for the next critical need. And that’s the challenge we have. So I think that the processes and procedures from the past need a forcing function to be able to upgrade them to the exigency, the time demands of the 21st century. I think that the notion, maybe the fact, that the European Union could be that forcing function if we can – I think there’s not an issue militarily.
The problem is politically, we have to get by some longstanding political roadblocks. And then, I think, the practicality of what can be done, the advantages to be realized will sell themselves. But getting over the political hurdle is really, I think, the first step. And then beyond that, what areas could we start? Absolutely, research and development, procurement. There doesn’t need to be everybody by their own.
One size can’t fit all, but one size could fit a bunch, and I think common training areas, common training exercises, sharing of the burden – many opportunities to be able to look at those defense budgets, look where we’ve got overlaps and to be able to minimize those, then determine where there are gaps and invest what you save in the overlap into the gaps. So I would only welcome that. And I’m a bit disappointed at what I heard, that we’re probably not going to get that focus or that effort here this weekend. So let me stop there.
MR. WILSON: Gen, Craddock, thank you for that. I want to pull some of this together. I think you’ve identified some key issues here and have done so consistently throughout your career, but as we tackle the issue of capabilities, the Lisbon Summit will try to address the capabilities problem in an era of fiscal austerity through a Critical Capabilities Initiative that tries to target and refocus allies on a limited number of priorities. We’ve seen some success, some failure of these types of initiatives at previous summits, as you say.
And what’s also a real opportunity to test this concept is, you’re laying out a real – a serious multinational cooperation, which has always been a theme within the alliance. But at the end of the day, chiefs of defense often want their own kit, their own equipment, and have been reluctant to, sort of, take the dive into certain decisions where it means your military doesn’t have to have every capability.
One of the questions I think the alliance faces, given that cuts have been done in an uncoordinated way, can the alliance step in and help coordinate this in such ways that it pushes the idea of multinational defense cooperation in a way that has actually become more of an imperative because of the fiscal situation?
But I want to pick up on what you – your comment, because you basically said, the problem at the end of the day is not really military, it’s political. And so I want to ask this to your colleagues on the panel as well as to you, when you – I started off by referring back to your statement here at the council when you were SACEUR about the tension between national and alliance interests – and where you said, I believe that much of this tension is due to the fact that political leadership in NATO is AWOL.
I think that in many cases, political leaders have to determine what is in the best interest of their nation, and if that’s not popular with their citizens, then it’s their role as a political leader to convince the citizenry to support the government decision. You were particularly focused on Afghanistan at the time, but part of what we’re seeing this weekend in Lisbon – the idea behind coming together with the new strategic concept was meant to help re-forge the bonds of the transatlantic relationship and give a little bit of political impetus, political will to the alliance itself and the decisions that are required to support the alliance.
So I want to ask Sarwar and Ambassador Hunter and come back to you, Gen. Craddock, do you see this coming together of political will? Do you see the Lisbon Summit, the gathering of leaders with a new strategic concept to be adapted, as a key moment to try to reestablish that bond and reestablish the political will that’s required to follow through on these decisions?
MR. KASHMERI: I wish I could be optimistic about that, but I’m not. I think there are just too many divergent forces within NATO to accomplish that, especially given that the heads of state will have, what, three hours to deal with this topic? I mean, there are three huge agenda items over a 20-hour period that these people are going to deal with, and I suspect they’ll spend less than three hours on trying to do what you’re suggesting.
I think that the way to get over the political issue, and the political issue that everyone always talks about is the Cyprus-Turkey issue, which one person vetoes but the other person wants to do, and one is in NATO, the other one is not, one is in EU, the other one is not. To me, the only way to do that is for the president of the United States to make a direct approach to the EU and say, hey, listen, we need to get over this. We are going to establish a strategic relationship and then move on from there. I am personally not very optimistic that it can be done at the NATO level.
MR. WILSON: Thanks, Sarwar. Ambassador Hunter?
MR. HUNTER: I agree with that entirely. I think it’s – leadership in the alliance, more often that it should, has to come from the United States, and I think people there are waiting to see this kind of leadership. And it might come this weekend, I have no idea what the president is going to say and how he’s going to frame it. He’s still immensely popular in Europe, has a lot he can say and that people will relate to.
There is a particular problem, since we were focusing primarily on NATO-EU, in that the kinds of practical cooperation, including in Afghanistan, that should be there naturally is vetoed by the Turks at NATO. And on the EU side, Cyprus, if it doesn’t veto, causes problems. And so the Turkey-Cyprus relationship gets in the way of everything. And that has got to be sorted out.
The relationship of the U.S. to Turkey, NATO to Turkey, et cetera, EU to Turkey is one of those critical things that’s got to be dealt with, because, more than it should, it’s holding hostage to other things.
Now, I want to endorse something the general said: forcing functions. What I would like to see this summit do is to create a body or use existing bodies with the time certain to get the right people in the room to talk about everybody’s budgets, to get them transparent to a degree that the NATO processes now don’t work effectively, to relate that also to what the United States is doing with a focus on, if people are going to spend less on this – the military piece – how do we make sure that we cut things that are not necessary and maybe increase things that are necessary.
The remarkable statistic: The European countries have, what, about two million men and women under arms?
GEN. CRADDOCK (?): Two and a half.
MR. HUNTER: And they’re able to deploy about 60,000 plus. Get the one number down, and maybe you can get the other number up. It gets to some of the problems that the general talked about, but that ought to be a doable proposition. Now, one of the problems is – and why this summit is ill-timed – the strategic concept can’t come to terms with any of the big questions – really big questions – because people don’t know where Afghanistan is going. There’s a lot of bruised feelings over it, and nobody is willing to make a concrete commitment – at least in Europe, maybe even here – that might look like segueing into another Afghanistan.
But what you’re trying to do is build the capabilities to have in your locker which you can then move on to use if you need to, and then get the civilian-military piece worked together where the leadership is taken, so far, by the uniformed military and the U.S. secretary of defense.
MR. WILSON: So Gen. Craddock, let me come back to you, given you kicked off much of this discussion a year-and-a-half ago, the strategic concept in some respects is the political guidance. Given your statement a year-and-a-half ago, how do you see and sense political leadership within the alliance providing the sustained attention to actually implement many of the decisions that will be taken in Lisbon.
GEN. CRADDOCK: Well, I hope it’s improved over past performance. I think that what we have is, we have major pronouncements, generally well-intentioned. The problem, then, is direction given to, let’s face it, ministers and others, the politicos who have to, one, corral the efforts of their nations and then carry that forward into executable plans or commitments back into the alliance. And I think that’s the challenge, and the longer it takes, the less and less focus it has, the more likely it is to drift away and fade off into nothingness.
If I may, U.S. leadership, absolutely essential. For any large-muscle task in NATO, U.S. leadership is essential. NATO will not move absent U.S. leadership. The counter-piracy that Sarwar talked about, the fact that the European Union took this mission and did well – I absolutely agree, they’ve done well, but let me make two points: First of all, they couldn’t do it quickly. They came to NATO first and said, how fast? And NATO said, we can name that tune and whatever it is. And so NATO went and handed it over.
Secondly, the fact is that initially, the logistic side of that operation and the intelligence side of that operation was provided out of NATO headquarters Northwood, because the EU co-located their headquarters for that operation there.
So it’s not to say it can’t be done. It is to say that that there are enablers yet that are not in place, and the European Union’s security apparatus still need to be there. And that’s another forcing function, on the military side, that could bring this closer together. So I still think that’s – the search for forcing functions continue. The more you can find – the stronger the connective tissue, the more likely it works.
Last piece: Robert mentioned comprehensive approach. Absolutely critical. My perspective is that there is a security world, and that’s where the conflicts are – Afghanistan, Sudan – wherever there is conflict, the bullets are flying, military forces, paramilitary forces are there. There is a development world – non-conflict, uncertain, unsettled, ambiguous politically, economically, but it is not conflict, people are not shooting at each other. That’s where much of USAID, a lot of nongovernmental, international organizations work.
There’s white space in between, and that’s the stabilization or the stability world, and that’s where the comprehensive approach works and that’s what’s missing today. And that’s where I think there’s fertile ground. The EU has deep pockets, as we’ve said. NATO doesn’t have that, but there is a chance for a transfer in that white space of capabilities, or at least a delineation of where niche capabilities exist and can be applied to complement the other.
MR. WILSON: I need to turn to the audience to take questions and bring you into this conversation, so please catch my attention if you have a question. I have one last one before I do that, because I – you underscored U.S. leadership as key here in the connective tissue. Many would argue that U.S. leadership is actually very much linked to its military presence in Europe, and the presence particularly of U.S. forces in Europe. Ambassador Hunter, I think the word you used was “stupid” in terms of –
MR. HUNTER: Something like that.
MR. WILSON: – something like that – in terms of an imminent decision –
MR. HUNTER: Not in the best interests of the nation at this time.
MR. WILSON: That’s a lot more words than the first one, but –
MR. HUNTER: No guts, no glory.
MR. WILSON: – but particularly in the wake of the NATO summit, the likely decision to withdraw two brigade-combat teams from Europe or some variant thereof – how does this impact the decision of U.S. leadership within the alliance? What is your take on that, Gen. Craddock, and if you wanted to add it to it as well?
GEN. CRADDOCK: Well, I think it will degrade that. I think that any reduction in the current level of U.S. forces in Europe would bring into question U.S. commitment to Europe. And I think, then, a growing debate would ensue in NATO about the U.S. commitment. I think it would also distinctly restrict these forcing functions to bring the European Union and NATO together, because it would appear that U.S. was placing Europe in a far less important position in its foreign policy.
I don’t know that there will be linkage in the summit on this. I’ve gone on record for, the current level needs to be retained. The fact of the matter is, the reason that about 70 percent of the coalition in Iraq, favorable or not with that conflict, and about 90 percent of the international forces in Afghanistan are from the NATO Alliance for European nations is based upon all these years of close coordination, cooperation, habitual relationships built by U.S. military presence in Europe.
And it’s the fact that we all know each other and we train and worked and came up together, and then we’re there together. So absent that, the alternative, well, what we’ll do is we’ll rotate our forces through, and every six months you rotate a formation into Europe and they meet with, train with, get to know their counterparts in whatever country. And it’ll be fine.
That briefs well, sounds good, but my experience in Sothern Command, where we did not have forces presence, and we rotate through, and my experience in Europe says, it may work in the war fight; it will not work in building partner-nation capability, because what happens is, well, what I call is the “Cheers” syndrome. Everybody remember the T.V. show “Cheers”? You want to go “where everybody knows your name” – that’s the last part of the little tune. (Laughter.)
And if they don’t know you, it doesn’t work. It works for us. We’re fine – we go over, six-month rotation, the fact of the matter is, the first three months you’re a tourist. You get into it for six weeks and then you get ready to come home. (Laughter.) And then as you depart, when you do the farewell ceremony, your counterpart says, when you are you coming back? And the answer is, I don’t know. I may never be back. And they don’t understand. And they rightfully shouldn’t understand – why would they get it? If it’s important to us, why wouldn’t we commit to this?
So I think that habitual relationships are important, and if we are really serious about our leadership in NATO, we have to make that commitment. And of course, the economists will argue and everyone will look at it, the force developers, as the (where ?) and the cost and things like that. I don’t know.
All I know is that the reason there are still four brigades of land forces there is because of the cost avoidance of about a billion dollars to build temporary facilities to bring them home early versus when the facilities would be available later. So that’s why they were extended for a few years. So I mean, those things are all, in my judgment, negotiable.
MR. WILSON: That was a terrific answer to that. Did you want to amplify your – (inaudible, cross talk).
MR. HUNTER: Well, just a couple of extra little points, agreeing to all of that. One of the major reasons for pressure to bring them home is because of the BRAC here. Individual congressional districts and congresspeople say, why are they sitting in Germany when they could be sitting in my district? Good question, except that the military is designed to promote America’s national interest, and being in Europe buys us such an incredible amount of stuff.
The amount of influence we get is incommensurate. The amount of slack we get, including in places like Iraq and including – they’re going to Afghanistan when almost none of them thought they had to do it for any other reason. They did it because we were there.
MR. : We were there.
MR. HUNTER: Two anecdotes that – incidentally, if you really do the math, it’s cheaper in the main to keep them there than to put them here, in terms of sending them places, and also, things called host-nation support, money they give us to keep them there.
Two anecdotes: One of the problems we’re having with Pakistan now, major problem, is that for a generation and a half, because of various legislation, our military wasn’t allowed to deal with their military. And as a result, they don’t know one another. The Brits have a better job, but fine, by the time they get to the – all the way from the lowest ranks up to the two-star level, they’ve never worked together, and big problem with the Pakistanis.
Final anecdote: During the Cold War, something like 15 million Americans lived in Germany in connection with the U.S. military, soldiers and support. You can’t buy that stuff. And if we’re for – the economists would say, you can always deploy force but you can’t deploy influence.
MR. WILSON: Thank you, good point. Let me go ahead and bring Ambassador Don Bandler into the conversation. Please, introduce yourself.
MR. KASHMERI: Can I leave now? (Laughter.)
MR. WILSON: Can I come back to you on –
Q: Okay, well this is for the panel. Turkey is – we know it’s been a close ally in many respects over a long period of time, close relationship among our militaries, but also a lot of troubling issues within Turkey – you know, old things like drugs and jailing, inability of Turkey to achieve its own goals in their region, Turkish dealings with Israel and vice versa.
So we really have a stack of issues involving Turkey, and I think some of us old enough to think back, well, Turkey was just going to be as strong as possible and a really terrific ballplayer in the broad region that we’re talking about. So I wanted to get your sense of where you think this is going.
MR. WILSON: Particularly, and as the panel takes that up, Sarwar, if you could address that issue in the context of – given Turkey, Norway are not in the European Union in the context of your thesis about the NATO and EU relationship, how that factors in as well. Do you want to start?
MR. KASHMERI: Sure. I mean, I continue to believe that Turkey is an extremely close and powerful ally of the United States. I also happen to believe that the internal issues within Turkey are being exaggerated to an extent that the relationship could be hurt. That’s not to say Turkey is not doing its part to hurt the relationship. But I think Turkey is simply growing up, becoming a rich – and – its own form of democracy.
And I think the more we can encourage the European Union to increase its strategic relationship with Turkey, the better, obviously, it will be. And having said that, we obviously – we have no influence in having the European Union make a decision to get Turkey or not. But I happen to think Turkey is an extremely important cog and I think we are pushing them too hard and I think we ought to be sensitive to that. That’s my opinion.
MR. WILSON: Do you gentlemen want to – Gen. Craddock, you had to deal with Turkey quite a bit.
GEN. CRADDOCK: Right, well, two perspectives: one from my time as a European Command commander, and that’s a U.S.-Turkey bilateral relationship. Strong but difficult.
Now, the Turkish problem with the terrorist – Kurdish PKK terrorist group for years on and off. Then the U.S. conflict in Iraq exacerbated the issues because of locations and borders and things like that.
We were able to bilaterally and work out some arrangements with the Turkish government, executed through the military, that enabled them to, I think, set some conditions that improved that situation. And while it’s not solved, has moved it into a more – more of a comprehensive approach than it’s ever been. So I was encouraged that, that arrangement – the military arrangement led to, quite frankly, the broadening of the engagement strategy by the Turks. And I think there’s far more flexibility now selling that than in the past. So I was – I think that was a good effort.
Secondly, with NATO: difficult also because of the issue with Greece. We got to the point we’re trying to do any type of an exercise in the Aegean area was a challenge. And we had many deliberations, discussions, dialogues and debates in order to determine could we do that as a NATO exercise or was it a national exercise with NATO support? So it continues to this day.
MR. WILSON: Terrific. We’ve got a question here. And did you a question, first, Jeff if we may? And then into the center.
Q: Jeff Lightfoot, Atlantic Council. I have kind of a quirky question for you but I think it’s sort of – potentially fundamental. I’d be curious to get your perspective on it.
How do you make these summits worth the president’s time? I heard at Strasbourg that Adm. Mullen’s on his Blackberry and Gates is doing crossword puzzles – (laughter) – and the president is sitting there with this, you know, kill-me look on his face because he’s got to hear talking points from 27 other heads of state in government. And it seems like such a waste of time to have all these heads of state in government of our best friends together in one room and then just have a recitation of talking points.
It seems like the president would be better served going to Estonia or Poland and showing that we care about Central and Eastern Europe and making that presence rather than sitting there and having a gabfest. How could you make these summits more worthwhile? I’d be curious for your perspective on it.
MR. WILSON: Let me go ahead and pick up the second question and then we’ll group this with the panel, please.
Q: Christoph von Marschall from the German daily Der Tagesspiegel. I want to come back to the Turkish question in two regards: leadership of the U.S., and second, EU and Turkey. And I first have to say that I’m a big advocate of integration of Turkey but under the right circumstances, not for any price.
So leadership – I try to imagine a board meeting – (laughter) – over years. Say, meet every three months. There are 20 board members and two board members are misbehaving all the time and trying to block the agenda for national or egoistic interests. And I wonder if a board would let that happen and happen and happen.
And we talk about leadership, I mean, the other 18 at the board meeting or 26 in an alliance of 28 members should come if they want to lead to a moment where they say, listen, we would be willing to help you to sort out your problems but stop hijacking our board meetings for your problems.
And the same is true for – so where is the leadership everybody was talking about in this respect? And when it comes to the EU and Turkey, again, I really want to see Turkey to integrate. But there’s only one way how to get into the EU. They have to meet the criteria.
And I’m totally struck how many Americans I meet who doesn’t seem to get it. We have not seen progress over the last three or four years in the accession of Turkey. They are not reforming. And I really – I’m very unhappy to make this statement because I would like them to be successful. But if they’re here all the time, even if we don’t perform America will always tell us we push the EU hard to let them in. That is a way to derail the process. It is not the way of helping Turkey to get in.
MR. WILSON: Got it. So summit effectiveness for gentlemen who’ve sat through many ministerials, summits. How do we actually make this worthwhile for the president? And do we “get it” on Turkey?
MR. HUNTER: On Turkey: I used to say when I was at NATO, we want you at the EU to take in Turkey. That was the U.S. position. But you’re right; it’s useless for us to say it because it’s not going to happen. It just makes it look like recurring favor and it may actually make things more difficult.
The fact is – tell me if I’m wrong, the European Union is not going to let Turkey in anytime soon even if they met every single criterion that were. It’s just not going to happen for a variety of reasons.
Well, you know, they’re applying for membership in the European Union while being Turkish, which is an ultimate sin. But they’ve – (laughter) – got to find some other way to deal with it.
I like what Sarwar said, which is, we have to be a little careful here as we deal with this country which is strategically much more important than it has ever been to us – more important than it was in the Cold War. It had some marginal additional importance but it wasn’t in the nexus of where we have a lot of things going on including people who are in combat or next to a country, Iran, with which we’re daggers drawn.
There is a risk, as Turkey does things we don’t like, that we will start treating them the way we treated France. Countries are individual – an alliance is made up of sovereign countries. The idea that somehow if they’re out of step with us they’re not good allies, you got to at least change that psychology and then you try to influence things. That’s my basic perspective.
Now, on summits: One reason you have summits is to get work done. You have a summit, people come and they feel, god, I got to do something – (laughter) – because it’s a – not a (particular ?) occasion – the president has got to sit through it. When I was in the White House, under Carter, doing Europe and the Middle East and I must have run 20 different meetings for the president and other things, we use to joke that, why don’t we do is come in and they’ll give us their briefing book and we’ll give them our briefing book and then the two leaders can sit down and play pinochle. (Laughter.) Now, in effect – and the communiqués are often written in advance. But the moment is important.
What I would do for the United States president if I would never go any place, nor if I were secretary of state or advising them, unless you’re going to have a piece of business to do. There is no such thing as a fact-finding visit for people at that level. You go there because there’s a piece of business.
And on this summit, I think what the leadership that I hope the president will show on – particularly on some of the issues you identify, that’s the thing that can happen. And that, quite frankly, would electrify people.
I recall this – (inaudible) – times were different, a meeting and travel – (inaudible) – to Germany in the fall of 1993. NATO was in the doldrums. Les Aspin showed up and he laid out an agenda for the future of about six items. And within 20 minutes, the alliance had been rescued. The United States was back and it was doing things. And that, I think, is what can be done by this president, too, if he takes on some of these issues and puts his imprint on them, not just in the wonderful phraseology but saying, now, let’s do the following seven things – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Not to decide here today but the ministers and the North-Atlantic Council should, in six months, come back with the concrete answers on the following seven things from SACEUR John Bantz to – John Bantz Craddock to do. Or is Bantz John Craddock? (Laughter.)
GEN. CRADDOCK: Either one is fine.
MR. HUNTER: Either one. That’s the kind of thing. He can electrify that meeting and it’ll be worth his time.
MR. WILSON: And Gen. Craddock?
GEN. CRADDOCK: Yeah, just, while there is – much of that is pro forma, it’s not all the case.
Now, absolutely, look, I’ve been through a lot of foreign ministrials, defense ministrials and a few summits. No head of state wants to go on the record in front of their peers without very careful prepared statements. So that’s why they’re pro forma.
But on the other hand, I think that – and I’ve been there – there will be other venues at that summit that will be incredibly productive and fascinating. Now, I don’t know about all of them but I attended one that there was a dinner prior to the day’s – the next day’s official summit and it was, without question, a working session. And I’m talking about jackets off, sleeves rolled up, seven heads of state over here arguing about something, three over here and it was unbelievable.
So the notion that they’re all like that, not necessarily so. I’ve been at others where I see them pull out a newspaper and while one is reading their prepared statement, three are reading newspapers at the table. Well, that’s a little bit rude but that’s the way it is. I think Robert is right. First of all, you want to have – never have a meeting without an intended outcome.
You’ve got a summit. What’s the intended outcome? Then you want deliverables. What do you want to deliver out of this and then how do you get it? You prepare and you coordinate. And you figure, just like the U.S. interagency; if you go there, if you’re in Department of Defense and you want something and you go in there by yourself you’re probably not going to get it.
But if you go in with another department or agency with you and you’ve got a joint position you’ll probably carry the day – same thing at NATO: Figure out who’s on your side of the fence and then prepare the turf and get it organized first so that you go in there with common deliverables. And I think then you’ve got some opportunities, really, to come out and the intended outcome can be realized.
So while true, there’s a lot of that’s ceremonial and a lot of its scripted and a lot of it is pro forma. There are some values to having those people at that meeting because we’re not even privy to the sidebars but we know that goes on, too.
MR. WILSON: I think that’s right. I’m going to turn to Sarwar and then get the last questions here. Did you want to comment on that?
MR.KASHMERI: No, I’m fine. I think you just –
MR. WILSON: Okay. Let me take these two – the last two questions if I can bundle them together. I wanted to add to just what – Jeff’s question. My experience working in both the White House and with Lord Robertson, going through many summits, many ministerials the U.S. sets the tone. So if the U.S. shows up with a vision and a plan you’ve got a meeting. So we have to take it seriously, first.
Second, the more you can target particular discussions to specific issues, specific questions where you say, okay, we’ve got a big communiqué, big agenda. Our session today is to address these two particular issues where we’ve got problems. And third, as Gen. Craddock said, the working dinners where you can get rid of staff like me and they can actually start talking without the talking points is when it is sometimes the most interesting, most effective.
But let’s take the last two questions right here.
Q: Yeah. Bill Jones, Executive Intelligence Review. My question is to Gen. Craddock. Some years ago, I think in your position as commander in Europe you said that NATI, in Afghanistan, should begin to deal with the drug trade there in some way. That probably caused quite a flurry and it seemed as if that was somewhat tabled at the time because of opposition to do that.
Now since then, of course, the Russians, whom we are now working closer with on Afghanistan, have at every meeting taken up the issue that something has to be done about this drug trade which is really destroying their population in the south of Russia. I wonder if you think, at this point, we are coming to a general consensus within NATO on how to deal with this and if that consensus is the right one.
MR. WILSON: And let me pick up the last question from Ant, our senior fellow.
Q: Hello, Anthony Calandra, Atlantic Council. Mr. Wilson, Ambassador, about 15 minutes ago you caught us – and by us I mean the United States in, kind of, a double standard. Mr. Wilson, you mentioned that maybe some of the political leadership in Europe should go back to their constituents and say, hey, this is why it’s important; this is why we need to spend the money.
Now, Ambassador, you talked about how stupid it would be to remove brigade combat teams from Europe. Why are we removing them? You mentioned that as well. I think somebody down the street, maybe, should go back to their constituents and talk to them about why might it might be important to keep those brigade combat teams in Europe. You want to comment on that?
MR. WILSON: Good comment. All right, Gen. Craddock and then closing comments from our two panelists.
GEN. CRADDOCK: Yeah, what NATO decided in the spring of 2009 – no, 2008, I’m sorry – no, it was in the fall of 2008 at a defense ministerial was that the existing traffickers in Afghanistan, the opium/heroin traffickers were aiding and abetting the insurgents. The insurgents then in the OP-plan, the operations plan, were the targeted enemy. Therefore those aiding and abetting could also be targeted as enemy. That was a political decision. It was the outcome of the defense ministerial.
We were asking for additional authority. The decision for the ministers was, you already have the authority because you’ve proven they’re aiding and abetting. So no change required to the operations plan.
So then we issued orders, you know, and it was all through legal channels and vetted. Now, the problem became of the interpretation and legal channels of a civilian – versus a civilian aiding and abetting versus an insurgent. That’s where it got hung up in execution.
The fact of the matter is, NATO granted authority to go after the traffickers before the United States did. The United States followed suit. The problem has been there’s either, one, never been enough capability or, two, it’s been held up in legal debate and they have not actioned against these laboratories and the traffickers to the extent that they could have or should have to put a serious dent in the funding for the insurgencies – both the Taliban and the HIG and Haqqani insurgent elements up in the east.
Now, you know, you see this time – from time to time. Low-side estimates: $200 million a year going to the insurgency from the control of that trafficking process. High side: upwards of a billion. Take your choice, but it’s that range; somewhere in there is probably on target. So I still think there’s more work to be done. I absolutely believe it’s fueling corruption in the government, in the private sector, and it is also funding the insurgency. It is not targeted against farmers. It is targeted against laboratories and traffickers where the value is added.
The price of a kilogram of opium was $100. It’s stored in raw opium form. Once processed into heroin, then it goes up $3500 and moved out mostly through Russia into Europe. The value add is laboratory. That’s where the focus was.
MR. WILSON: Such a huge issue for the alliance and Afghanistan. We’ve hit the witching hour but I’d like to give Ambassador Hunter and Sarwar an opportunity for final comments.
MR. HUNTER: Two quick comments. One reason the Russians are being more helpful to us in Afghanistan is because they and Iran are the two countries who suffer most from the drug trade out of Afghanistan. In regard to why we’re removing troops, I think it’s because of – there are pressures on the force deployments. People are going constantly to Iraq and to Afghanistan.
The effort to put on a worldwide basis – I think it’s probably already the legal framework now — nobody gets assigned forces anymore. It’s all taken from a common pool, some of which are in Europe. And that makes good, logical sense in terms of global-force management.
What I’m arguing for is to understand that forward deployment of forces, and not just in Europe, do have other effects than strictly defense effects in that region that contribute to the national security. And you’d better figure out what those effects are before you monkey with them.
At the very least, if we’re going to take them down, it needs to be embedded in a broader process within the alliance so it’s something we do with them rather than sending them a telegram at some point, which is kind of the way it looks like now.
MR. WILSON: Thank you. Sarwar, the final word.
MR. KASHMERI: Well, I just have two very small comments. One is that the United States has always played a leadership role in Euro-Atlantic security. And the role that I think we need to play now is we need to provide the spark for the European Union and at CSDP to take the leadership role in Euro-Atlantic security. I just think we have to do that or we will be disappointed in the way NATO goes.
And I’ll close with a statement that Gen. Syren who is a chairman of the military – EU Military Committee made after we discussed the leadership issue and so on. As I was leaving, he said, I just want you to remember this. He said, if we – meaning the leadership, military and civilian – don’t handle this issue, he said, Mother Nature is going to and we may not like what she does.
So that’s where I’d like to stop.
MR. WILSON: A terrific concluding thought. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Thank you, Sarwar, for the work you’ve been doing over the course of the past year. We’re all anxious to – I’ve got the manuscript but we’re all anxious to read your book.
MR. KASHMERI: I’m taking that back. (Laughter.)
MR. WILSON: Ambassador Hunter, thank you as always, for your –
MR. HUNTER: Thank you.
MR. WILSON: – your vision, your guidance on issues to the alliance. And Gen. Craddock, it’s such a delight to welcome you back –
GEN. CRADDOCK: Thank you.
MR. WILSON: – to the Atlantic Council in your private capacity and in your capacity as a board director here. We’re delighted to continue that affiliation.
I want to thank our team, Jeff Lightfoot –
MR. : Yeah, well done.
MR. WILSON: – Simona Kordosova, our Executech colleagues, as well, for the A/V. I thank all of you for joining us today and to our sponsors: BAE Systems, EADS North America, Airbus and The Scowcroft Group. So thank you for joining us for this – one of our final installments of NATO Forum.
MR. : Great.
MR. : Thank you.
MR. : Thank you.
MR. : Thank you. (Applause.)