September 30, 2009
Transcript: Senator Lugar - Congressional Perspective on the Future of NATO
CONGRESSIONAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE FUTURE OF NATO
- WELCOME AND MODERATOR: MR. FREDERICK KEMPE, PRESIDENT AND CEO,THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL
- INTRODUCTION: SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, CHAIRMAN, THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL
- SPEAKER: SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN), RANKING MEMBER, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, U.S. SENATE
Transcript by Federal News Service
FREDERICK KEMPE: Well, Sen. Lugar, it looks like we have a full house. Good afternoon and welcome to the Atlantic Council. I’m Fred Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council. I’ll be passing to our chairman, Sen. Chuck Hagel, in just a moment. Let me first just give you a little bit of a context for this event.
We will have two major speeches today at the Atlantic Council on the future of NATO as part of our new NATO forum. Today’s programming will begin in just a moment with an important speech on the future of the alliance from Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and longtime leader in Congress on trans-Atlantic affairs and foreign policy.
Senator, I do remember when you talked about out of area or out of business, and I also know how you have pushed things in energy security for the Atlantic alliance, so you have been ahead on both functional and geographic issues.
Later this evening, 5:00 p.m., National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones will introduce NATO Sec.-Gen. Anders Fogh Rasmussen for this first major speech in the United States as secretary-general.
On the eve of his meeting with President Obama, Sec.-Gen. Rasmussen will discuss Afghanistan, an issue that has become every more hot in the United States, his agenda for NATO, and the debate concerning NATO’s new strategic concept.
These two major speeches are meant to shape and inform the debate in allied capitals concerning not just the mission in Afghanistan but also future missions, tasks and requirements of the 60-year-old alliance as it seeks to ensure its future relevance in a changing world.
The Atlantic Council’s mission is renewing the trans-Atlantic partnership to face global challenges. It is in this spirit that the council, through the NATO forum, is helping to foster a debate about our alliance and hopefully helping to forget a consensus about its future.
NATO’s allied command transformation will serve as a critical intellectual resource for the alliance and much more as it thinks through its relationship with today’s strategic environment.
I am delighted that the Atlantic Council today is able to welcome Gen. Stéphan Abrial, supreme allied commander, Transformation, as a guest for both Sen. Lugar’s speech and Sec.-Gen. Rasmussen’s speech. The Atlantic Council is proud to have worked for some time already with ACT. And, General, we are delighted to continue working with you.
Lastly, I would like to recognize BAE Systems and Atlantic Council board members Lucy Fitch and Gen. Tony Zinni of BAE Systems for their support of the Atlantic Council and their sponsorship of this forum, as well as the National Security Series. Sen. Lugar speaks today as part of this series, which Gen. Jones inaugurated in May, 2009.
Now it’s my honor to turn the floor over to a man who needs no introduction inside these walls and outside these walls he needs it even less: Atlantic Council chairman and former Nebraska senator, Chuck Hagel.
CHUCK HAGEL: Fred, thank you. Gen. Abrial, welcome. We are indeed privileged to have you, and we appreciate you taking time today to come share the afternoon with us.
I know it’s not by happenstance you’re here also because the new secretary-general of NATO is in town, but to spend some time with us and some of our members here over the last couple of hours, we’re grateful and we appreciate your leadership. And the best to your children in high school. I know that’s a significant challenge that you and Mrs. Abrial are dealing with as well.
I have the personal honor, as well as in my capacity as chairman of the Atlantic Council, to introduce Dick Lugar. When I first was elected to the United States Senate in 1996, the day after that election I was asked by a reporter, is there any member of the United States Senate that you would like to model your next six years after? And I did not hesitate. I said yes. I said, there is one member in particular. He’s the senior senator from Indiana.
And I said, the reason I would very much like to emulate Sen. Lugar is because what I know of him – and I’ve watched him carefully since he was elected in 1976, and his previous service as mayor of Indianapolis, and previous to that as a distinguished nuclear naval officer in our United States Navy – is that he has always been a leader of purpose.
He has been a man committed to a noble and higher cause, and that is assisting his country and to make a better world. And his style, the way he’s done it – not just he’s always been informed; he always has something to say when he’s ready to say it. He reaches into every corner of the political spectrum. He is as respected as any member of our legislative body here in Washington and across the globe.
That did not just happen, like we all recognize and appreciate in all of our lives and all of our careers, that you build that. You build that block by block and it doesn’t come quickly or easily, and especially in this town.
And for that we, all citizens of the country and of the world, have benefited greatly from Dick Lugar’s wise leadership over the years. He, as you know, has been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He’s been ranking member, as he is now, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Over the last 12 years I had the privilege of either sitting right next to him or very close by.
And even a United States senator with limited intellectual capacity like Sen. Hagel, I even learned something from Sen. Lugar. So it really does give me a great amount of personal pleasure and I am so pleased that Sen. Lugar is here to be one of our first speakers in this series, which I think is relevant.
I think it is important, especially at a time in the world where we are truly shaping and redefine a new world order for the first part of the 21st century, and this country and the world will continue to rely to a great extent on Sen. Lugar’s wisdom and leadership.
Sen. Richard Lugar.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): Thank you. First of all I would like to thank Fred Kempe and the Atlantic Council for this remarkable invitation to address this very important gathering. By hosting today’s dialogue, the council once again has proven why it’s been held in such high esteem within the Atlantic community.
And it was a very special honor to be introduced by my dear friend, Chuck Hagel, who has contributed enormously to the United States Senate and to the United States’ national security. I deeply miss his presence on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but continue to benefit from his wise counsel.
The new NATO secretary-general has made the formulation of a new strategic concept one of his first priorities in office. He has asked a distinguished group of experts to lead that effort. And I am grateful for the opportunity to offer my thoughts on the state of the alliance.
Since 1991 it’s been axiomatic to begin discussion on the future of NATO by affirming that the alliance is at a crossroads or facing a crisis. Even before 1991 this was a common refrain. At a CSIS conference in Brussels in 1979 commemorating NATO’s first 30 years, French strategist Pierre Hassner presented a paper with two slogans, quote, “The situation has never been so serious,” end of quote, and, “NATO rocks but does not sink,” end of quote.
Now, Hassner’s point, which I believe rings true today, was that even as statements of alarm have been characteristic of alliance discussions since its inception, NATO has achieved impressive longevity. The NATO alliance has been a fundamental component of the basic peace and stability enjoyed by Europe for many decades.
Too often, NATO’s contributions are taken for granted. It’s important to take stock of just how remarkable it is that NATO is involved in combat 3,000 miles from Europe. We should also celebrate the fact that NATO membership has been a tremendous engine of reform among prospective members, helping them to achieve the institutional structures needed for success in the 21st century.
In light of the perennial debates on Capitol Hill concerning the size and direction of our foreign assistance budget, I would note that the sweeping reforms undertaken by NATO are, in large extent, self-driven and self-funded, constituting a foreign policy bargain for NATO governments and taxpayers.
Now, the accession of more confident, prosperous European countries to NATO has been an indispensable element of European stability during the last two decades. We must not repeat the folly of the early days of the Cold War when the appearance of a rigid, U.S.-drawn defense perimeter in the Far East invited the perception that we would abide any geopolitical upheaval behind that line. The West must hold out the prospect of membership to qualified aspirant countries, including Ukraine, Georgia and the entire Balkan region.
When evaluating NATO, I start from the presumption that after 60 years, it is still a work in progress. Alliances must continually reassess their purposes and adapt to new circumstances. If one takes this long-term view, current alliance deficiencies, though serious, do not seem insurmountable. NATO possesses enormous geopolitical assets and a history of achievement that, with the proper leadership, can undergird success in the future.
Before we can chart a course forward, the alliance must ask itself: What is it that the new secretary-general has inherited? What is it that we are supposed to fix? We must articulate a vision for NATO that both prepares for any potential threat from traditional rivals and develops new capabilities in meeting unconventional threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking, cyber warfare, energy manipulation.
This challenge is magnified by the fact that most of our domestic constituencies no longer perceive our security and way of life to be under imminent threat. The forthcoming strategic review must grapple, in my judgment, with at least four central issues now facing the Alliance.
First of all, how do we strengthen the credibility of Article V? Recent developments have eroded some of NATO’s deterrence value, both in the eyes of those who are supposed to be deterred by it and those who are supposed to benefit from such a deterrent.
This erosion has occurred as members of the alliance have expressed less enthusiasm for NATO expansion and found an increasing number of reasons to avoid committing forces to Afghanistan.
The decline in the deterrent value of Article V became more apparent with the onset of the energy crises in Europe and the adoption by several West European governments of “beggar-thy-neighbor” policies with respect to oil and natural gas arrangements with the Russian Federation.
The perceived success of Moscow’s foreign and energy policies has enlivened nostalgia in Russia for a privileged sphere of influence, causing allies on NATO’s periphery to be increasingly nervous about the credibility of Article V.
In this context, the recent decision by the Obama administration to alter alliance missile defense plans has the potential to further damage confidence in Article V. At the time of the Russia-Georgia conflict, U.S. negotiators were engaging Poland and the Czech Republic on the terms of deployment of a theater missile defense shield to protect against an Iranian missile threat.
In response to rising domestic opposition, these governments expended considerable capital to keep talks moving forward. Following Russia’s escalation in Georgia, the Poles expedited agreement on the terms of deployment for reasons having little to do with Iran or missile hardware.
For the Poles, the presence of American soldiers and trainers on Polish soil, who were ostensibly charged with maintenance and control of those systems, was a way to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Polish security.
It was in this psychological and political environment that the Obama administration announced its about-face on missile defense last week. The timing of the announcement was a surprise for several reasons.
The Quadrennial Defense and Nuclear Posture Reviews have not yet been completed. Over the past months, the administration has withheld final decisions on several other national security items on the basis that the QDR and NPR were not completed. In this case, it would appear that at least a portion of the NPR was accelerated or set aside as part of an effort to justify the president’s missile defense announcement.
Now, let me be clear: I am not opposed to the new missile defense architecture proposed by the president. It may well turn out to be a technical improvement in meeting the projected threat over the original design proposed by the previous administration.
But Iranian missiles never constituted the primary rationale for Polish and Czech decisions to buy into the Bush administration’s plan. Rather, it was the waning confidence in NATO, and Article V in particular, that lent missile defense a political credibility that exceeded the military merits of the plan.
The United States must be sensitive to events that have transpired in the broader European security environment since the Bush plan was proposed and negotiated. The risk is that whatever strategic benefit the alliance might realize from the new version of missile defense will be outweighed by the intra-alliance costs to cohesion of this decision.
Therefore, the Obama administration must re-engage the Poles and the Czechs, and the entire alliance, on ways to strengthen security in Central and Eastern Europe. A re-invigoration of military exercises in Eastern Europe and joint planning for Eastern European contingencies would be a first step.
The administration also must raise the profile of U.S. political and economic cooperation with Eastern Europe, and perhaps even find ways to put American boots on the ground in selected countries.
The second question NATO must ask is: Should the alliance’s performance in Afghanistan lead to a re-assessment of the out-of-area activities? During the Cold War, the majority view within the alliance was that a formal extension of NATO’s interest beyond its territorial and military core could endanger the consensus that existed over resistance to a direct Soviet military threat in Europe.
Members feared that any focus on indirect challenges in the Middle East or elsewhere would bring out national differences between alliance members and sharpen ideological dissonance among NATO publics.
That may have been true at some points during the Cold War, but the geopolitical situation facing NATO today is very different. The alliance would be greatly diminished if it were to constrain itself to defending only against conventional military threats targeted against members.
The success of NATO in Afghanistan remains inextricably linked to America’s own legacy there, and absent NATO structures, many of our allies would have even less incentive to field forces capable of fighting alongside the United States. We would also lose the added influence among local populations that derives from any activity conducted with a coalition, especially civilian-intensive operations as in Afghanistan.
The United States has struggled to garner greater European participation in Afghanistan despite strong strategic incentives for Europe. European cities are a lucrative destination for Afghan drugs, and territories in the region have been used as training grounds for terrorism perpetrated in Europe. Continued unrest in Afghanistan also has the potential to expand throughout the region and disrupt energy conduits on which Europe depends.
While the 2009 summit re-affirmed that, quote, “the principle of indivisibility of allied security is fundamental,” end of quote, this has not translated into sufficient contributions by alliance partners in Afghanistan. The situation is not monolithic; many allies have suffered extreme loss fighting alongside American forces in the most perilous zones of southern Afghanistan.
I understand historical sensitivities and the diverse military dispositions of our European friends. The economic dislocations of the last year have created additional constraints for defense budgets on both sides of the Atlantic. But some allies are failing to structure military forces in ways that would make them fully deployable.
The European NATO nations spend about one-third as much per service member as the United States does. We must reverse the growing perception of a two-tiered alliance where operational restraints and chronic troop shortfalls inoculate certain allies from the risks being undertaken by others. The alliance needs bold leadership if we are to arrest these trends and build strong defense institutions on both sides of the Atlantic.
The third question the strategic review must ask is: How should NATO respond in an era where computer attacks, energy cut-offs, terrorism and hazardous material can imperil a nation’s security and prosperity in ways that only military forces once could?
One particular gap in the last Strategic Concept, exposed by a series of energy crises and myopic responses, was its failure to incorporate energy security into NATO’s mission.
Three years ago at the NATO summit in Riga, I encouraged the alliance to make energy security an Article V commitment in which any member experiencing a deliberate energy disruption would receive assistance from other Alliance members.
I argued that there was little distinction between an energy cutoff and an armed invasion. A shutdown of natural gas supplies to a nation in the middle of winter could cause death and economic calamity on the same scale as a military attack.
Merging energy support into NATO’s core mission would also strengthen alliance cohesion and reinforce public support for the alliance. The challenge of securing stable, affordable energy supplies is one that looms at the top of every ally’s agenda, cutting across the fields of transportation, industrial, environmental and national security policy.
I did not expect my proposal to be immediately embraced by many alliance leaders, but I hoped it would stimulate more thought about NATO and other European institutions that could achieve collective solutions against energy insecurity. And I have been encouraged that NATO has made progress in making energy security part of its operational duties, including strategic planning, infrastructure protection and intelligence analysis.
But even as NATO works to confront energy threats, we have not answered the question of how NATO will respond when energy is used as a weapon. In past years, Gazprom has shut off the spigot to six NATO allies or their neighbors on the heels of political developments that the Kremlin found objectionable.
The Atlantic community must work together to establish a credible energy strategy that removes energy decisions from the realm of statecraft and eschews the go-it-alone polices that leave others exposed to exploitation.
This July, we saw promising signs that a common strategy is achievable. I was invited to join the U.S. Envoy for Energy Security, Ambassador Richard Morningstar, for the signing of a landmark agreement in Ankara to move forward on the Nabucco pipeline project.
Now, this agreement among 12 countries and the European Union was a breakthrough that had only dim prospects even one year ago. Apart from the natural gas it will carry, Nabucco illustrates that parochial interests can be surmounted for the common cause of energy cooperation.
The fourth question is whether closer cooperation between Russia and NATO is possible. Despite setbacks in the last year, NATO must continue to advance common interests with Russia through the Russia-NATO Council on such issues as weapons proliferation, terrorism and missile defense.
Russia, too, faces critical foreign policy challenges for which it requires allies. Russian participation in NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor in the eastern Mediterranean and the joint rescue of a Russian crew in the Atlantic are emblematic of the types of operations that can translate into cooperation with Moscow in other areas.
While vital alliance decisions must be made by members only, we must not let divergent views within NATO thwart the emergence of a more productive agenda with Russia. After the alliance lost its galvanizing threat, I was one of those who urged that NATO should not become a relic but rather re-cast its strategic rationale to meet emerging threats. NATO, I argued, had to go, quote, “out of area or out of business,” end of quote.
Though some allies have called for geopolitical retrenchment in response to perceptions that Article V guarantees have declined in value, I believe the proper response is to strengthen those guarantees and find creative ways to address the more nuanced threats that we face today. A new Strategic Concept simultaneously must reaffirm the fundamental value of NATO and reinforce those principles that led to its creation.
The provision of security assurance within Europe has been a central challenge to American foreign policy since 1917. Our continued commitment to NATO does not come without costs, but remains the most promising vehicle for projecting stability throughout Europe and its political fault lines with Asia and the Middle East, and I am hopeful that the new Strategic Concept can undergird NATO’s continued success for many decades to come.
I thank each one of your for your leadership and your concern. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. KEMPE: Thank you hugely, Senator. That was exactly what we wanted to launch this forum, and characteristically visionary forward-looking and also understanding both the value and the challenges facing the alliance.
There is much to drill down deeper on. Let me just pick one issue and then I’ll turn to the audience very quickly for questions as well: missile defense and also the relationship with Central and Eastern Europe.
Approval ratings of the U.S. are at 60 percent and above for the Obama administration in Western Europe. In Poland they’re 11 percent. Does that concern you? And when you talk about boots on the ground and exercises, can you be a little bit more concrete? What would you have the Obama administration do right now to specifically reassure Central and Eastern Europe?
SEN. LUGAR: Well, first of all with regard to Poland, there could be many reasons why the percentage in 11 quite apart from the most recent missile defense situation, and I’ll not try to analyze those. Others in this room are more gifted in that respect.
But I would just say that leaving aside Poland, when I visited NATO headquarters a year ago in Brussels I saw representatives of the Baltic states, for example, who were deeply worried about Article V, for the same reason the Poles and the Czechs and others might be worried about it.
They really are asking very directly, if something happened to us, would you come, physically, America, quite apart from the rest of NATO at this point? Now, I presume that we would. I think this is the commitment under Article V, but it clearly has not been contemplated in much discussion by the administration, the Congress or various other people.
And I would just say, therefore there is some reason for anxiety because prior to the oil prices tanking, the Russian exuberance over the fact that we’re back, and we’ve got to understand that, that led to some pushing out, and the pushing out comes really heavily against those who are pretty close.
So I’ve suggested in this message today that the Poles I believe have now been assured that there will be Patriot missiles or some other weapons on their soil, that that will constitute the reason why American boots might be on the ground in Poland, but there are other countries that might like that kind of reassurance who are not involved in missile defense or any aspect of that.
And I think this is something that we ought to be thinking through with our allies. The fact that we unilaterally come to that conclusion, that this is just the antidote for any fear of consequences, that doesn’t mean other European countries necessarily will agree with such unilateral decisions.
So this is a point for discussion rather than for American decision, but I think as Americans we ought to be prepared, really, to play a role in the alliance which reaffirms Article V and gives a new, more robust quality to that aspect.
MR. KEMPE: Vice President Biden, earlier this year in Munich spoke of pushing the reset button with Russia. The missile defense decision, some would argue, gives us a very good opportunity to do that.
Do you see an opportunity to have some sort of breakthrough in relations with Russia? Does missile defense do it? And then, if so, what sort of breakthrough? Should Russia become a member of NATO? Should we be entertaining President Medvedev’s idea of a new security structure? Which way would you think we should go?
SEN. LUGAR: Well, I believe a promising route with Russia is the resumption or continuation of the START treaty, which completely runs out December the 5th. Now, this doesn’t address specifically the NATO situation, but it is a situation where Russians are eager, really, to work.
Rose Gottemoeller and her group have been making good headway. Their agenda may be so ambitious that we are overtaken by the dates – December 5 is not a long time away – and the importance of inspections – of pervasive inspections, both on the Russian and the American side, are tremendously important in offering some guarantees to both countries that the missile reduction, warhead reduction, work on chemical weapons and what have you, is continuing.
We can put metrics out there and reassure ourselves and the rest of the world, even as we are talking, about broader disarmament questions. Now, it seems to me we ought to follow through on that.
I went to Moscow in mid-December last year and visited with the foreign minister. He was very eager to talk about it, and so was Mr. Kuryenko (sp), Ross Adam (sp) and others. And I was pleased with that and I reported that to President-elect Obama who had not yet taken office but has a great interest, I believe, in strategic weapons.
Now, the fact is that we do have opportunities on that ground and branching out from that to have a relation which is important because both Russia and the United States understand the dire circumstances of having fissile material, or other materials for that matter, in the chemical or biological area spread elsewhere, particularly to be used against us. That is, the two parties that are involved.
This is the reason why the new chemical weapon destruction situation out at Shchuch’ye is tremendously important. During some of our trips, Sam Nunn and I and others saw sheds out in Shchuch’ye that had tens of thousands of missiles filled with nerve gas. And these are easily portable. I put one in the proverbial suitcase – it was a small briefcase – and the Russians took pictures of it, and had them all over the country, the thought that you can cart it away physically.
The Russians affirm, maybe too boldly, that that single particular small weapon, if put in a football stadium in the United States, could kill all 30 (thousand) or 40,000 people who were sitting there.
So this is not by chance that the Russians are eager to proceed. And they’re drilling a hole in the bottom of each one of 120,000 missiles over the next five years, taking the nerve gas out of it, bituminizing it. This is still going on in the world.
Now, I stress this type of activity because we have something going for us here. It could be revived, it seems to me, more vividly, and then on that basis, a better relationship maybe for more consequential items.
MR. KEMPE: But on the other hand, there are other areas which could breed disagreements. You didn’t mention in your speech Georgia and Ukraine. What sort of –
SEN. LUGAR: But I did mention expansion and the fact that NATO should not be bashful about the thought that Georgia, Ukraine, some of the Balkan states, others for various reasons, have not yet been incorporated in our group.
Now, it seems to me important we keep that out there, we talk about it as opposed to simply saying that this is not the time, this is not the place. The sentiment is not there this year to have a go at it.
MR. KEMPE: So agree where you can agree with the Russians but don’t take your eye off the ball of your commitments to Central and Eastern –
SEN. LUGAR: Exactly.
MR. KEMPE: Let me turn to the audience for questions. Please, here in the first – and if you could identify yourself as well.
Q: Hi. Richard Burke, member of the Atlantic Council board. I’d like to kind of push you a little further on specifically the potential emergence of a problem with Ukraine.
As you know, that country is facing a presidential election in a couple of months. But it seems very likely that whoever wins that election, Ukraine is going to remain a very divided country. They face very serious economic problems and a variety of pressures, including pressures from Russia.
If the situation deteriorates in Ukraine and it begins to resemble a failed state, it seems to me that there will be very strong pressures on the Russians and others to intervene, not necessarily militarily but politically, economically and others, and we could face a real crisis there.
What can the Western community do – I’m not talking here about NATO but really thinking about the European Union, United States and other groups to try to get ahead of this problem to stabilize a potential crisis there.
SEN. LUGAR: I think that European countries, especially the United States likewise, should be paying a lot of attention to Ukraine right now, for the reason that you have expressed. The Rada is dysfunctional. They’re unable to go forward or backward with regard to an economic crisis, which continues to be severe in the country.
Not only is there the political rivalry among the previous allies – Ms. Tymoshenko and President Yushchenko – but we’re about to have a reenactment of the election of 2004. In that particularly case, many of you were involved – and I was out there representing President Bush, as it turned out, in that particular situation, noting many Russian friends who have been campaigning avidly throughout the country and made no mistake about that, bitterly disappointed with the result.
Now, this is a situation in which we cannot, as allies, work out the problems politically in Ukraine, but attention now is very important so that whatever the aftermath is of this election, there is a strong relationship, an understanding that if the problems in Crimea, for example, or other touch points that could offer all sorts of difficulties, that we understand that problems and that the Russians know that we understand those problems. In other words, we don’t slide into something in which by and large no one saw it coming. We can see it coming.
This is a very ominous potential crisis. And this is a country in which, as we know – President Yushchenko has said if we try to get into NATO we would have a referendum of the people, which indicates that it’s not a foregone conclusion how the people might take a look at this, anymore than the election is a foregone conclusion. But our inattention, really at this point it could be disastrous, and the timeframe is very short.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you. That was a very strong answer.
Q: Steve Lowery (sp), RAND. I’d like to go back to Fred Kempe’s question to about Eastern Europe and reassuring Eastern Europe on the missile defense issue because, as you alluded in your remarks, there is, in some parts of Eastern Europe, a declining sense that NATO would come to their defense if in fact something happened.
And the missile defense issue, in a way, is a reflection of the decision – their desire for a missile defense is a reflection of this lack of confidence in some cases in NATO, and therefore wanting a stronger bilateral reassurance from the United States.
But the dilemma, it seems to me, is that the more we do that, the more we would in fact weaken NATO. In other words, if we substitute a bilateral security measure because there is a lack of confidence in NATO, then everyone will want more reassurance from the United States if we weaken NATO. How do you see us getting around and squaring that circle?
MR. KEMPE: An excellent question.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, first of all, we put this on the agenda for all of NATO countries to discuss. This is not, as you point out, simply a unilateral or bilateral decision of the United States. In other words, it just seems to me that the French, the Germans, the Italians, the Hungarians, everybody needs to talk about Article V and what does this mean, and we have a frank sharing of this situation.
I found, for example, at the Riga summit when I made this statement about the energy situation and the cut-offs and what have you, that privately various foreign ministers who were at the dinner that night, sponsored by the Marshall Fund, came around and said this really is a problem.
This is almost an existential – it is so serious we don’t talk about it to other people. This is something you try to sort of work out bilaterally, in this case with Gazprom or with the Russians, or other would say, well, this is really an EU problem. After all, it’s economic; NATO deals with armed forces and so forth.
The reticence really to come to grips with a sharing, a conversation, an open forum was marked on the energy problem. So it is with Article V. People will come to each of you if you travel or go through Brussels or so forth. So what are we going to do about this? It’s undermining NATO.
But to have a roundtable in which NATO itself, its members, its ambassadors, its what have you to really frankly discuss this and maybe publicly discuss it so that everybody understands we’re talking about it, supplants really these sort of surreptitious little conversations that are likely to turn out to be disastrous because at some point some problem is going to occur.
I don’t know what the answer is, but if you cut off electronics or the computers, or what have you, of a Baltic state, hard to define precisely maybe the severity of how it – whether it knocks down the state. But I tried to illustrate in my comments that it’s not just the armed forces marching across. In sophisticated ways, countries can be undermined, and we need to talk about that too, all the methods of subversion.
MR. KEMPE: It sounds to me like what you’re saying is that Article V, as it currently exists, is not enough and therefore, in a new strategic concept, it has to get tougher. Now, what very few people understand – Article V being the common defense; attack on one is attack on all – in the language, I think partly because of the Congress, it says “intervention as it deems necessary.” So it’s not absolute as it is right now anyway,
What you’re saying is, let’s revisit this. Let’s perhaps make it more absolute. And let’s take it into the cyber realm. Let’s take it into the energy realm. Let’s toughen this up. A lot of people don’t want to go there because they’re not sure there is a political will right now in the alliance. You want to go there. You want that debate.
SEN. LUGAR: Yes.
MR. KEMPE: And you want it tougher.
SEN. LUGAR: Yes, because I think it will bring a political will, now, of different varieties. If you were to have a straw poll country by country, there are some who would say, just leave us alone. We’ve got enough problems solving the economic crisis in our country. We’ve already downgraded our military budget. We couldn’t send anybody anywhere if we wanted to.
And therefore Article V is interesting philosophically, but as a practical matter, neither would our people or our budgets or who we have in the armed forces. We don’t even have an aircraft that will deploy in that way.
But NATO is going to be reinvigorated. And this is the subject at least of our situation now, but in a strategic situation, if we talk about these things; if we frankly discuss why this makes any difference to each of the countries – those that are a little bit further away from Gazprom as well as those that are up tight and those that might be threatened.
MR. KEMPE: Mark Brzezinski. And if you could re-introduce yourself as well.
Q: Mark Brzezinski. Senator, you said that beyond hard security we should engage with the Poles and the Czechs and the Central Europeans in the political and economic domains. What specific suggestions might you have in terms of that engagement that would show American interests, because there seems to be a need for that right now?
And is there a way of engaging Russia in terms of our talks with them now that would convey to the Russians that it would be better if your neighbors feared you less – it would be better for you, Russia, if your neighbors feared you less, and might that have any impact or effect? Thank you.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, on the second issue, I’m not certain that our counseling with Russian friends right now on that subject would have much effect, although maybe over the course of time, as the timeframe situation – I think Russians would say to us, we are pretty good judges of what our interest are, so back off.
But, now, with regard to the more interesting question, I think, it seems to me that we have been engaging with the Czechs and the Poles in many more economic interests, and that is important, that there be American investors, that there be American scholars, that there be American medical people.
In other words, the sharing of all of the cultural weapons and strengths that we have are exceedingly important. Likewise, an acceleration of student exchange programs would be very, very important in terms of the future leadership, or some idea on the part of young Poles and young Czechs of who we are and why we make a difference or we don’t.
I think that a lot of that is going on, and I don’t for a moment diminish the extraordinary efforts. But it appears to me that this is a very, very timely avenue for acceleration of those programs.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you very much. Harlan Ullman.
Q: I’m Harlan Ullman. Senator, I would be grateful for your views in a different part of the world regarding Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. As we know, NATO has bet very much of its future on what happens in Afghanistan. And perhaps one of the things that could ensure disaster would be a real blowup between India and Pakistan.
Neither side, as you know, has always been fully responsible with the other. We’re still suffering from Mumbai. But as you also know, the Indians have declared they want to spend an additional $100 billion over the next 10 years in buying real weapons systems and possibly increasing the nuclear arsenals to high yield; that is, above 200-kiloton weapons.
The Pakistanis and the Pakistani military, I think have rather courageously shifted their attentions to the West, but steps like that could easily cause them to go back to their traditional enemy.
What might you suggest to propose to reduce further the tensions between India and Pakistan so that Pakistan can really continue to be engaged on what the issue at hand; namely dealing with its insurgency and not becoming transfixed again with the Indian threat?
SEN. LUGAR: Well, I’ve been impressed with Ambassador Holbrooke’s pulling together very rapidly after he began his work as an envoy in bringing the leaders – the top leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan to the United States. I’ve been privileged to participate in two of those conferences at various junctures as we met during the week or at the embassies.
It doesn’t get to the Indian problem, but getting back to Afghanistan and Pakistan for a moment, this was the first time that most Americans had ever really heard, quite apart from seeing these persons, and engaged in dialogue. And my impression was it was the first time some of these leaders themselves had ever had a good chance for a meeting or were pressed to give answers.
I think that was important. It didn’t ensure that the Pakistani military – Gen. Kayani, who always had a good relationship with our Adm. Mullen – would necessarily change his mind, or that the ISI people, having met their counterparts in Afghanistan for the first time liked each other particularly, but they saw each other. They had some sense of how those countries operate.
That is critically important for the future as it deals with India because in our conversations with Indians, which are much closer and more abundant, it’s important that they know that we have some sophistication in terms of Pakistan. We at least know who the people are, can call them, can argue with them, can, in a point of crisis, perhaps intervene so that there is less chance of a confrontation. And I think this has worked remarkably well in what is a very difficult set of circumstances.
Now, India, as you have suggested, has orders for a large amount of new armament, a lot of it from us, and our defense contractors are very eager to make those exports, as most of us are, in the balance of payments issues.
With the Pakistanis, we likewise have a program that was announced by the president, the so-called Kerry-Lugar bill. Now, this has been interpreted by all sorts of people in various ways, but I would just say even if people in our country are very aware of it, the Pakistani press is filled with it every day, suggesting how the money – $1.5 billion – might be spent, not just this year but for five years, and the important consequences of the five.
This is not an in and out proposition, but there is a multinational, multilateral commitment for that period of time. I would just say that I think, you know, we’re moving pragmatically on to some steps that will be helpful in the India-Pakistan relationship, quite apart from Afghanistan. But it is critically important.
Now, with regard to NATO, each country will have to make up its mind as to what it wants to do there, and without trying to get way ahead of the subject today, our country will have to make up its mind about Afghanistan. And the president is measuring a good number of thoughts, even as we speak.
They will have implications with regard to how we are perceived by NATO allies, quite apart from everyone else in the world at that point. But I don’t believe that Afghanistan defines really the success or failure of NATO.
I’m impressed with the fact that a number of NATO nations have sent troops, they have stayed, and largely I suspect it often is because of their feelings of alliance with the United States and with each other, as opposed to understanding altogether what the mission was and how it might come out. I think that has been important. I respect that and applaud it.
MR. KEMPE: You said the Obama administration has to make up its mind on Afghanistan. How would you assess the Obama administration’s policy approach to Afghanistan thus far, and what is your response to the Gen. McChrystal report that was leaked in the Washington Post? And is what he’s outlining something you would support?
SEN. LUGAR: Well, I’m going to duck a lot of that – (laughter) – because essentially these are arguments still to come and votes still to be cast. But let me just say I believe it is fair to say that President Obama, at the time that he took hold of our foreign policy, made some decisions with regard to Iraq, and as part of that decision-making process at the time, indicated that as had been planned apparently previously, another supplement of troops would go to Afghanistan but with the thought that there would be examination down the trail.
But still, a new strategy was set – or at least that’s the impression most of us had – about March or thereabouts with the decision for the additional troops. Now, coming along there, perhaps the agreement was that at some point Gen. McChrystal would outline things as he saw them, whether that strategy was working or not, or to make it work, what he needed, or so forth.
For a variety of reasons we have all been appraised that Gen. McChrystal has been writing a report. It’s hard to tell who he gives it to or sends it to or what have you, but it’s out there. And the second impression was that, in due course, then, after the president of the United States and his administration had examined this, then there would be a decision and request either for more troops or a decision that we would not be sending more troops; we would be doing something else.
But that second letter, or paper by Gen. McChrystal was not to be forthcoming until the first one was thoroughly examined. So those of us at least on the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate were waiting at the time of the leak in the Washington Post for some idea of what Gen. McChrystal had to say.
We may have bits and pieces of it now by virtue of the news coverage, but at the same time we have not seen the whole thing and maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe this is a privileged document. But at some point, the political system in this country works in ways that reflect the public of the United States.
So at this stage I suspect that we will have to get that decision-making process in the White House going a little swifter and some recommendations. It’s a very, very unfortunate set of circumstances because much of the president’s current enthusiasm is with regard to the health-care debate we’re having day in, day out, hour after hour, and the Senate, which shows no sign of going away, and then the Copenhagen conference on climate change with the legislation that the president is pushing there, which he feels he needs, and those have been the prime focuses.
Suddenly to have Afghanistan looming up in this way is untimely but this is the complexity of public life in America. So I hope that the president will respond, that he’ll send administration witnesses to our hearings so that we can examine that, and through the advent of television the American people can examine it at the same time, because for the moment the public in this country has become either confused or conflicted, quite apart from public opinion in European countries and our NATO allies, and that won’t work for long. And we’re really going to have to settle down the issue one way or another, even as we talk about the future of NATO.
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Senator. Please.
Q: Thank you. My name is David Nikuradze. I represent the Georgian Broadcasting Company, Rustavi 2 in Washington, D.C.
Senator, Georgia couldn’t receive membership action plan in Bucharest and now country is implementing special annual agenda, which has been given to Georgia by the alliance. Do you think that Georgia can become a NATO member one day without membership action plan? Thank you, sir.
MR. KEMPE: Whether Georgia can become a NATO member without a membership action plan.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, I think the membership action plan is still a very good idea as far as the procedure, moving into membership. It seems to me that preparatory step has served most countries well in terms of their own preparation, their own reforms.
I noted one of the important aspects of NATO has been that countries seeking admission have made huge reforms, huge changes and are better for it. So is the world better for those states that have stronger democratic institutions, that respect human rights, that have freedom of the press and so forth.
Now, I believe, as I said in my remarks, that NATO should be considering Georgia. It still is on the list. I mentioned Ukraine; I mentioned other Balkan states. I’ve not forgotten. I’m not one who would say that this is just beyond the pale right now. I think we have to keep talking about it.
But I would say to Georgians that the need for continued political economic reform will be very important, membership plan or not. I hope that at some point the NATO allies may decide upon a membership action plan.
MR. KEMPE: I’m going to turn for the last question to Gen. Abrial. And let me also welcome you again as prime allied commander, Transformation, to the United States. Can we – is there a microphone?
GEN. STÉPHAN ABRIAL: Thank you, Senator. I would like to come back to your point on Article V. I do agree with you that we need to define exactly what is Article V today, what we understand of it. After all, Article V was at the origin of the alliance, and it was and is still today the glue between the member nations.
I think if you want to hold together pieces of a puzzle, you need them to have a clear and polished interface, which in my mind could be a common understanding of security. So this common understanding of security, we did have it in 1949, we did have it when we initially enlarged the alliance up to 16, maybe even the first enlargement to 19, but what about today? Do you think we still have a common understanding of security in the 20 member nations, and if not, how to get to it?
SEN. LUGAR: I’m not certain that we do have a common understanding of security. I think this is a very important part of the agenda as NATO looks at its strategic posture now.
And in the same way that we all talk about Article V and read that backward and forward, you’re quite correct that it does denote some things that may require not only definition but actual national sentiments and our willingness to come to each other’s rescue, the importance we perceive in that, not only for ourselves and NATO but to the rest of the world, that there would be this cohesive, vital organization of democracies and people who treasure certain things that we do.
I think there’s hope around the world that that is the case, that there are countries that still are able to articulate things that are most important to human beings generally, and they take strength that we’re able to emulate that, and furthermore they might like to be a part of it.
This may lead, in fact, to some intersection of the NATO alliance with other alliances in due course who share those values around the world. This leaps beyond our agenda today but nevertheless, your question prompts it. We begin to think about our values and what security means to us and why we are confident we would come to each other’s rescue, even in such complex affairs as cyber attack or energy attack, quite apart from aircraft and tanks and guns.
MR. KEMPE: Sen. Lugar, let me take just one minute before thanking you to note how important it was to have you launch this series. There is no voice on these issues who’s better respected in this country or in Europe and among our allies. And I can’t think of a better way to follow you up than with the new secretary-general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen this afternoon.
So I want to thank our chairman, Sen. Hagel. Sen. Lugar, I want to thank you as well. And I hope you will all join us this afternoon where Sen. Hagel and then Gen. Jones will be teeing up Sec.-Gen. Rasmussen for his first on-the-record speech as secretary-general, in the United States.
Thank you very much, Sen. Lugar.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Fred.
MR. KEMPE: Glad to have you.