HALIFAX INTERNATIONAL SECURITY FORUM
PANEL V: THE STRATEGIC CONCEPT: NATO BEYOND AFGHANISTAN
INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE
GEN. STEPHANE ABRIAL,
SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER,
MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENCE,
CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
GRAND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY,
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2010
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
Federal News Service
MR. : Good afternoon once again. For those of you who haven’t looked out of the window, it is still raining outside so you aren’t missing anything in the outer world. All the action is here. And we have a very exciting final panel of this afternoon.
I will do some housekeeping a little later for the dinners. We will move to buses. This is a one-hour panel. And before I give it over to Roger Cohen, we will see a short video, so please turn your attention to the screens.
(Begin video segment.)
(End video segment.)
MR. : It’s all yours, Roger.
ROGER COHEN: Thank you. Good evening, everyone. I’m Roger Cohen from the New York Times. A long day, a light lunch, and we stand between you and dinner – not an enviable position but we’ll try to keep you entertained looking at the future of NATO.
Fortunately we have an extremely distinguished panel here tonight: Stephane Abrial, who is supreme allied commander, transformation; our wonderful, high-energy, idealistic host – (laughter) – Canadian Defense Secretary Peter MacKay; Condoleezza Rice, who really needs no introduction, former secretary of state, former national security advisor, now back at Stanford, author of a wonderful new book, “Extraordinary Ordinary People”; and, finally, Murat Mercan, who is chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish Parliament.
Well, as you saw, NATO has been – according to Defense Secretary Gates and many others – the most successful military alliance in history. However, Peter, if I could start with you, it’s been a difficult decade: an intractable war in Afghanistan – caveat – some NATO countries fighting, others not – the Dutch going home, talk of a Pacific century. How frayed is NATO at this point and what’s it for?
PETER MACKAY: Well, I think NATO, by its very nature, by description – and you saw some of the very, I think, apt descriptive words here – is not frayed. It’s resilient. It’s enduring. It’s got to modernize, and the strategic concept discussion that we’ll have at Lisbon, the ongoing efforts internally to reform NATO to make it more adaptable, more deployable; as the secretary general has described it, the effort to cut the fat but leave the muscle, move away from being transfixed in certain locations, fixed infrastructure, to being deployable, being able to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
So, I think NATO is strong; it’s maturing; it has the very strong commitment of the membership countries plus the ability to grow. And, you know, an example that is perhaps overused but I think is very important is you look at the fact that we have countries in Afghanistan today that were recipients of NATO forces that are now contributing nations.
That to me is a testament to the fact that NATO will continue to be the most important international alliance and will factor very strongly in the future when it comes to global security. Yes, it has to change. It will transform and it will continue to progress in its ability to project outward the type of security and defense that the world needs.
MR. COHEN: You don’t think Afghanistan has been a very debilitating, traumatic almost, experience for NATO? Look at Canada. Canada may be pulling out next year, and Canada has done such important work in the south of Afghanistan. Surely the alliance has really undergone extreme strains though this war.
MR. MACKAY: Roger, you’re trying to test my optimism, I can tell. (Laughter.)
MR. COHEN: That’s my job.
MR. MACKAY: Look, let’s be clear: Canada is very committed – committed as a founding nation, as part of the alliance from its inception, but it is very committed as well to the ongoing missions, including Afghanistan. Let’s be clear. Like a lot of countries, we are assessing our experience there, and NATO itself of course is examining some very tough lessons that have been learned in Afghanistan.
To be sure, what we have seen in Afghanistan has demonstrated that the world has changed. This isn’t the Cold War. This isn’t your grandmother’s Volkswagen. This is absolutely now the new reality.
But Canada will be there with our partners. We will continue to contribute in many different ways. And, by all means, we know that Afghanistan has been the test of this generation, but I think we’ve met it. There’s more to do, but Canada is very committed to the alliance and committed to the future shaping of alliance, which we have from the beginning.
MR. COHEN: Condi, if I may, how much do you think the United States still needs NATO? Secretary Gates has had some pretty scathing words on NATO spending. One of the first acts of President Obama was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. What does that say about Atlanticism?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Well, the United States needs NATO and Europe, I would say, more than ever. What we –
MR. COHEN: More than ever?
MS. RICE: More than ever. What we share with our allies in Europe in NATO and with a few select allies around the world – South Korea, Japan, Australia – we share values. And the challenge is that there are rising powers out there that don’t share our values.
Now, it’s true that it’s been a difficult decade for NATO, but when we consider that two decades ago people were asking would NATO even survive the Cold War, 25 years ago we were still talking about whether NATO should fight out of area. We’ve not only gotten past those issues but NATO has successfully integrated most of the countries of Eastern Europe.
It has successfully launched partnerships with countries with other values – with the same values, like South Korea, like Australia, like Japan – and I do think that the United States recognizes that it’s always been hard – and, look, Americans have complained about NATO since we signed the Washington Treaty in 1949 – this isn’t anything new – because there’s always the hope that the alliance will do even more.
The one big concern that I have as I look at the Strategic Concept is it’s a very fine concept. I think it has the three most important elements, but will it be –
MR. COHEN: You’ve seen the new Concept?
MS. RICE: I’ve seen an analysis of it.
MR. COHEN: Can you tell us what’s in it?
MS. RICE: I’ve seen an analysis of the new concept. Look, I did work on this – (laughter) – so I have some sense of what’s there. But I think that the focus on the transformation of the forces, the focus on being able to deploy, the focus on civil military cooperation, on humanitarian issues, on being able to work in an integrated way with countries that are not in NATO but that are great partners, that’s the right concept.
The real question is, will it be properly resourced? And I think is what is on everybody’s mind because we have allies who are looking at budget problems, as the United States is, but looking at austerity measures: What is going to happen to the resourcing for the NATO Concept?
MR. COHEN: Well, Prime Minister Cameron has a very clear answer. Britain, it seems, won’t have a usable aircraft carrier for a decade, and the cuts are very severe. The Dutch have gone home from Afghanistan. So, what realistic hope is there? I mean, we’re talking about a missile shield. I mean, that could cost 20 billion (dollars). Is the money there?
MS. RICE: Well, it may not mean a usable aircraft carrier; it may simply mean more helicopters, more ability to deploy. Not all of these are very expensive items.
MR. COHEN: But they have to fly or something.
MS. RICE: They do have to be able to get off the ground. But the question is, can we find a way to resource the concept so that it’s not – there’s not redundant resourcing? One thing that we may want to think about is something that sometimes gets people’s ire a little bit, but everybody doesn’t have to do everything in the alliance. There can be some division of labor in what the alliance takes on.
But I want to go back to where I started, Roger. The United States needs NATO, it needs Europe more than ever, and if we can modernize the alliance I think we’re going to find that it’s usable well into the next several decades, not just this next one.
MR. COHEN: Thank you.
Stephane, you have been working on transformation. What would you – give us a few key phrases that you would like to see in this new Strategic Concept. NATO goes through this exercise every decade. To some it seems like a lot of semantics. You know, one problem with NATO is relevance.
You say NATO, it’s the next best thing to a sleeping drug in many Western societies. So, what do you want to see in this Strategic Concept that makes NATO capable and relevant, not only to itself but to citizens of Western societies in the 21st century?
STEPHANE ABRIAL: Well, at the NATO Command there, I would say I will have
three criteria for the Strategic Concept. I would like it to be clear,
to be realistic and to be
flexible. I want it to be clear so that we immediately can interpret
it and translate it into our own
terms and implement it the best that we can for the benefit of our own nation.
I also want it to be clear to make sure that our people understand why we are here, why we do what we do, and that they keep supporting us or increase their support to us. I want it to be realistic, and the point was touched on before, because I think that it’s absolutely vital for us that the objectives which were given are matched with the adequate resources. So we have to be sure that it is not just words, but that we can implement it in the real world.
And I want it to be flexible because, as you mentioned, Roger, we have the strategic concept about every 10 years, and during this 10-years’ period, as you look back at history, we can expect a string of strategic surprises. And these documents must stay valid and must continue guiding us in the 10 coming years despite these surprises.
MR. COHEN: On the why, what would you say – a German defense minister said that the defense of the west begins in the Hindu Kush, and maybe many people in this room would agree with that. But it seems that leaves most people cold. So what’s the why? Is it the rule of law, open societies, democracy, as Condi was suggesting – values above all? Connected defense, Article V – what is the why today?
GEN. ABRIAL: I guess what the strategic concept should emphasize, reemphasize we’re coming to is Article V, collective defense of a member nation. It’s the core of the alliance. It has to be there, it has to be real firm. It has to be demonstrated. We need, also, to make sure that people understand that NATO member nations are legitimate to us wherever the security interests are engaged, and this does not stop at their borders.
MR. COHEN: Anywhere in the world?
GEN. ABRIAL: Wherever interests are engaged.
MR. COHEN: And the Frenchman is saying this. (Laughter.)
GEN. ABRIAL: Look, listen to – in the previous panel, we were talking about cyber, and I think one of the panelists said, wherever the other three can be, in the cyber world, it can be on the other side of the world.
MR. COHEN: Right.
GEN. ABRIAL: Basically, it’s right behind your firewall. It’s watching you from just behind your screen. So there may be threats or challenges to your security interests wherever in the world. And then I think that the strategic concept should also reemphasize the – what we call in our jargon – the Article IV item, which is consultation, cooperation, dialogue to increase security.
MR. COHEN: All right, if I could turn to you. A lot of people have been a little worried about Turkey of late cozying up to Iran, in the view of some people – difficult confrontation with Israel over the Mavi Marmara incident and a sense that, to use the phrase, Turkey is turning east and is no longer a reliable NATO ally. What do you say to that? Is it true?
MURAT MERCAN: I disagree with most of the people – what people said. Turkey is not turning its face to east. But what Turkey is doing is that Turkey is realigning its position vis-a-vis changing dynamics in the whole world, and also, Turkey is trying to exert its soft power ability, which I think NATO is needed most right now to be successful in the future. Soft power ability to influence the regional, geostrategic problems that has been existing in the world for a long time.
So for that reason, Turkey’s new attempt, new initiatives, in my opinion should be an integral part of NATO’s new strategic concept in terms of trying to approach security issues, trying to approach conflict in a different manner other than conventional manner. I think we need some time to digest this. We need some time to understand this and maybe to have an exchange of ideas, what Turkey is trying to do, what Turkey needs to do and what aspect Turkey could bring to NATO’s future.
Now, if, for instance, we discussed the role of Turkey in Afghanistan, I think Turkey’s role in Afghanistan is probably one of the most successful roles Turkey is playing in Afghanistan. But nevertheless, the underlying statement should be how NATO can integrate soft powers in order to handle first, security problems and secondly, the defense problems for the all member countries. And I think Turkey’s new initiatives will help this aspect of NATO.
Now, coming back to Iran, I think many people have seen my interaction this morning regarding Iran. I don’t think we have any difference about Iran’s ambition. I don’t think that Turkey would ever and never want Iran to develop nuclear weapons. If there is going to be one country who doesn’t want Iran to develop nuclear weapons, it’s going to be Turkey, because Turkey is Iran’s neighbor –
MR. COHEN: But you want to use soft power to prevent it because –
MR. MERCAN: That’s probably the difference we have, and that’s probably the aspect Turkey can bring into the table for the benefit of all the rest and also for the benefit of the people who has been confronting all these problems.
MR. COHEN: So if, in talking about missile defense in Lisbon, Iran is designated, identified as the target of that defense, which I think is the general understanding, what would Turkey feel about that?
MR. MERCAN: I think we are going to have to wait and see whether Iran is going to be specified. Now, we are not –
MR. COHEN: You’re totally against that.
MR. MERCAN: But we are not bogged with the names. Now, the concept and the mentality, we are trying to criticize, is probably pinning down to Iran. Now, what we are saying is that if NATO is going to be a reliable defense agent, international agent, which we think should be, NATO’s approach to these problems should be neither religious-based nor country- based. NATO has to have a conceptual approach to these security concerns and defense concerns rather than pointing a specific country.
Now, what benefit is going to be received when a specific country is mentioned? Let alone if you are able to develop strategic analysis to missile-defense issue without naming Iran, why do we hurt Iran? Why do we hurt Iranians over this?
MR. COHEN: Peter, what do you think about that. Naming Iran a good idea, a bad idea?
MR. MACKAY: Well, I think back to your basic question, what do we have NATO for? Protecting people, projecting outward some of the values that you mentioned, that Condi referenced. But it’s combating terrorism, and terrorism isn’t always attached to state actors. It’s non-state actors as well. That has been, in my view, one of the major things that NATO has had to adapt to. But having the Turks as member nations represents new perspectives that perhaps allow us to have a more diplomatic role within NATO.
Modernizing doesn’t just mean hard infrastructure and new equipment, although one of the things I would reference in terms of cost-savings, you know, are the deplorability of drones, the ability to use new technology, sharing intelligence, both human intelligence, our ability to share with our NATO partners experiences that bring up their capability. That will help avoid duplication.
Patterning, that’s obviously going to be part of the strategic concept; how we interface with the European Union; how we, I hope, find a more functional relationship with the United Nations; how we make NATO work with other organizations and learn from the experiences of new NATO countries, I think, is also part of this modernizing process that we’re going through.
Iran? Yeah, everyone’s concerned about Iran. Certainly, we’re following developments there and using the collective efforts of sanctions to fight Iran and maybe change their thinking. I think the change that we’re looking for is coming within. It’s not aimed at Iran, per say, the Persian people. It’s aimed at the administration and the regime. That is where the real concern rests. It’s not Iran writ large.
MR. COHEN: But if we bomb Iran, the Iranian people might react rather badly. (Laughter.)
MR. MACKAY: No question there would be a negative reaction to that course of action – (laughter) – although I know that, that has perhaps provoked some of the hottest discussions in the hallways. But you know, there was an earlier reference. Senator Graham talked about how it’s not just our backyard that we’re worried about anymore, and when I say backyard, I’m talking the collective backyard of NATO. It’s the fact that terrorism moves around, and they’re like that horror show “The Blob” – when you squeeze them, they go somewhere else.
And so that is the ability of NATO, now, to be much more agile on its feet and move with the terrorism when we have to. Deploy, react and protect – that is, of course, one of the fundamentals of NATO.
MR. COHEN: Condi, what about Russia? President Medvedev is coming to Lisbon, which is an encouraging sign. A lot of this administration’s diplomacy has been directed toward Russia. In the central part of Europe and in the Baltics, there is still a lot of concern about Russia and the perception that Article V in some degree is still directed at Russia. What’s the right balance with Russia? How do we get Russia – I know you’ve thought about this for decades. (Laughter.) How do we get Russia, you know, on our side? What’s the best way forward?
MS. RICE: Well, I think the first thing to remember is that on many global issues, Russia, NATO, the United States are on the same side. We had a very good relationship with Russia when it came to Middle East peace, very good relationship with Russia when it came to managing the North Korean problem. Even I think the Russians didn’t get enough respect for what they did vis-a-vis Iran. The Bushehr reactor, for instance, was structured in a way that there was a fuel take-back provision which, to my mind, would have been a perfect way for the Iranians to get enriched fuel.
So I think the Russians actually behaved rather well in those instances. The problem is when you come to the periphery of Russia and when you talk about Ukraine or Georgia or the Central Asian states and where Russia then believes that it has a special place or wishes to exercise a special zone – then, I think you have to draw the line because these are independent countries. They should have the right to have their own alliances. They should have the right to have their own foreign policies. They are not appendances of Russia.
That is a very delicate balance for NATO, but it is a principle – it NATO is going to say that I truly has an open door to all, at least European, democracies in the future, that line has to be maintained. The one other thing that I would say is, I do think there is an interesting dynamic inside Russia now that bears watching. You have President Medvedev talking a great deal about Russia’s need to break out of an extractive industries’ failed economy to something that is more knowledge-based, where Russia can use its great applied mathematicians to be a part of the future of the global economy.
And if, indeed, Russia goes in that direction, there will be a lot that Russia can do with the countries of Europe, with the democracies of Asia, and indeed, with NATO. So that bears watching, because the internal development of Russia is not really settled yet. There are really two competing visions right now of what Russia is going to be.
MR. COHEN: If there was a term that you would hope, out of and beyond Lisbon, that we could use for Russia, will it be a near ally or a not-quite enemy – (laughter) – or I mean, what are we trying to get? An ally? I don’t know.
MS. RICE: Labels always get you into trouble, right? So – (laughter) – I would rather –
MR. COHEN: Yeah, but I’m a columnist. We need brief – (chuckles).
MS. RICE: I’d rather describe a relationship in which Russia is a reliable partner in the war against terrorism, and I think they are for the most part; in which Russia is a reliable ally in managing proliferation issues around the world, which I think, we’re getting there; in which a part of the management of that proliferation might even be cooperation on missile defense through NATO and bilaterally with the United States; and finally, where Russia takes advantage of an international system that could very much use Russia’s capabilities on the high-technology side – not to be a problem, but to be a solution to even issues like cyber security.
So that’s the relationship that I would hope to see. It’s not going to be, quote, an ally. It’s a big, powerful country that is never going to, I think, join NATO. But there is a lot that could be done with the NATO-Russia Council if Russia can get over this idea that there are countries in the world, just because they used to be a part of the Soviet Union, that still have to answer first to Russia. That’s a very dangerous concept.
MR. COHEN: Stephane, one question, then I’m going to throw it open. In the new concept, what would you like to see about NATO’s nuclear deterrent, global zero – how do you balance these things? I mean, there’s concern that – and I’m asking this to a Frenchman, again – there is concern that global zero is dangerous. After all, global zero brought us World War One and World War Two. So is this really desirable as a vision, as a dream, as a whatever? What words would you like to see about this subject in the new concept?
GEN. ABRIAL: I’m not here as a Frenchman, but as a NATO guy, so let me answer from a NATO point of view.
MR. COHEN: Well, you’ll have to change your accent. (Laughter.)
GEN. ABRIAL: On parlera francais, alors. On est au Canada, on peut. (Laughter.) I think what is extremely important in the new strategic concept, which will be agreed upon in Lisbon, is to strike the right balance. On the one hand, NATO is a place where solidarity has to be expressed. And I think NATO is the right place for nations to discuss about nonproliferation – (inaudible) – arms control and to try to have another position. On the other hand, and this was said also in the panel earlier today, deterrent is there and it’s there to stay, and as long as this world is nuclear, the alliance has to keep nuclear weapons.
And third aspect of this triangle balance, I would say, is missile defense. Missile defense is here with us. We have been working for a while now and tactical – theater missile defense, it is normal to try to protect our forces and also because it’s normal to try not to be subject to any blackmailing on deployed force and because we have the technology and the resources.
But then the question came, why you protect the military and not your population? And once you ask the question, you have the answer. Now, the technology is here. The resources seem to be there. So extension is normal. And – but I will expect the Strategic Concept is to find the right balance these three points: deterrence, arms control, disarmament and missile defense.
MR. COHEN: Okay, I think I’m going to throw it open at this point. So any questions? Yes, ma’am.
Q: My name is –
MR. COHEN: Need a mike here, please. Yeah.
Q: Thank you, thank you. My name is – (inaudible, audio interference). I’m from the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. We all know that there are fundamental differences among allies over the security strategy and the instruments to deal with them.
So do you think that it’s really possible to harbor the seed of common consensus on security strategy or shall we just stop pretending that Americans and Europeans – and also Europeans in themselves still share a common view on security and shift to a different kind of cooperation to be more efficient in the struggle with the unknown? Thank you.
MR. COHEN: Whoever.
MR. MACKAY: Well, I mean, that’s an excellent question. It goes to the very root of the trans-Atlantic relationship and do we, in North America, view the same threats as, perhaps, as imminent as they might in some other partner nation? Probably we do. We’re bound by Article V, which I think has adopted people’s thinking over time that when you’re in the alliance, when somebody is hit, we all come to the collective aid of whoever is the recipient of that attack.
So that is a confidence-building philosophy and measure that is in place. It’s part of the DNA of NATO. And I think it also has shaped our thinking as we have adapted over time, that we have to – and this is what I think is part of the more modern aspect of the Strategic Concept and where we go from here beyond the Strategic Concept because you know, it will not be worth the paper it’s written on unless we actually address some of the practical, pragmatic challenges of being able to operate outside of that country, that is, to go where the threats are and address them on the ground.
That is clearly the example that we are seeing playing out in Afghanistan. Afghanistan was the incubator, exporter of terrorism. It could just as easily be someplace else and you know, we’re aware of where those potentials lie. So to answer your question directly, I think we are very much likeminded in our assessment of where the threats are, where they will be in the future, which is why I believe very strongly in NATO.
I believe that it is fundamentally the best forum for the discussion on how we address threats in the future and how we adapt collectively and bring people along, be leaders in the discussion as opposed to reactionary. And I think that NATO could be a little bit more proactive in that regard in communicating its importance to addressing world stability, peace and addressing terrorist threats.
MR. COHEN: Yes, sir.
Q: Hi, I’m Jonathan Landay. I am with McClatchy Newspapers in Washington, but I spend a considerable amount of time on the ground in Afghanistan, both embedded and traveling independently.
And there’s – notwithstanding the enormous sacrifices and contributions of the allies in Afghanistan, there’s a considerable disconnect between what you are saying, military and political leaders at your level are saying about NATO cooperation in the future and what troops on the ground, including field-grade officers and above on how they regard what’s going on in terms of cooperation in Afghanistan.
As you know, a lot of American troops – or maybe some of you don’t – say that ISAF stands for “I saw Americans fight.” I can tell you about an incident in Ghazni province during this last election where an American agriculture development team, reservists, spent 16-and-a- half hours under fire and were not rescued or defended by the NATO unit that was supposed to do that. And American unit had to come and get them after 16-and-a-half hours.
And a lot of Americans are looking at what’s going on in Northern Afghanistan and the expansion of the Taliban up there and blaming, to a certain extent, the caveat that are on NATO forces up there. How do you – how are you going to – in the future – beyond NATO, deal with this question? Deal with the question of the confidence that ordinary grunts and field-grade officers on the ground have in each other? In being able to know that they can rely on allied units to come to their aid when Afghanistan is leaving such a bad taste in their mouths right now?
MR. COHEN: Condi, perhaps, would you take that, please?
MS. RICE: Gee, I was going to turn it to – (laughter) – people who are actually in office as opposed to those of us who aren’t.
MS. RICE: I can’t speak to the experiences that you’ve had with individual soldiers. I can tell you that not too long before I left office, I visited Kandahar. I had an opportunity to watch the cooperation there and what was, at the time, a Canadian-led mission.
It is obviously the case that there are stories on the ground that are not very flattering of NATO cooperation, including some that I’ve heard, also, about aid workers and their inability to receive the military support that they need. But I think we – we need to be careful in aggregating up individual anecdotes into a strategic concept or a strategic view because very often, the anecdotes that don’t get reported are the ones of cooperation that worked.
The anecdotes that don’t get reported are ones of cooperation that just kind of goes along on its daily basis and they are the most extreme ones that come to the fore. I would be the first to say. I railed against caveats – every – with every breath that I had because I think they are, ultimately, very damaging to alliance unity.
I do still understand, however, that these are democratic societies within NATO that have to manage their democratic politics. It’s not as if everyone can simply give orders. They have parliaments that they have to deal with. They have coalitions that they have to deal with. And so I understand the caveats. But I would hope that we wouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Afghanistan was always going to be hard.
This is the fifth poorest country in the world, poorer than that by some counts. If you fly over the high mountains of Afghanistan as many of us have done, you know why people can hide there. It has an ungoverned border with Pakistan that is permitting a sanctuary for terrorists. And you’re fighting a fundamentally different kind of war that is not war and then peace, but a continuum where one night, you’re clearing bad guys.
The next morning, you’re trying to do governance and in the afternoon, you’re trying to reconstruct a city. This was always going to be very, very hard. But we shouldn’t underestimate how well NATO has done in bringing about even new concepts like provincial reconstruction teams that I think give us a chance to fight that new kind of war. So again, I don’t want to underestimate or dismiss the specific anecdotes, but I think we have to be careful about aggregating up individual anecdotes into a strategic picture.
MR. COHEN: The gentleman there in the red. I’ll take – first, with the beard – with the red tie, yeah. And then – yeah. And then you, sir.
Q: Igor Munteanu. I’m ambassador of Moldova to the United States. We have generally addressed the issue of the non-state actors, covering the topic related to cyber space. But we have not mentioned the issue of the para-states, so the administrations that are not recognized or are unilaterally recognized in the ex-Soviet space, by Russia.
What shall be the place in the concept of the – security concept of NATO? What should be the – how they should be treated by NATO? By different nations? And of course, I will mention here Transnistria, also Abkhazia and South Ossetia?
MR. COHEN: Perhaps.
MR. MERCAN: I don’t think that NATO is to address all the questions, all the problems that exist in the world, you know? (Laughter.) NATO’s 90 percent – maybe 90 percent. But those are – those are more political problems than the problems that are within the framework of NATO. And in fact, it’d be that the main – the main trap that we could fall in easily is that it’d be – if we involve NATO in all these problems, bilateral problems, then they’ll get nowhere.
Now, probably, this is one of the problems we’re having in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, we have to be very frank and we have to debate often. I was in Afghanistan, to answer the previous question, in July and I was able to walk on the streets. Unlike many people, I was able to ride on the streets and I don’t think that the situation is as rosy as depicted here.
Now, the experiences we have in Afghanistan – negative experiences, mostly – we have in Afghanistan should make us to be more cautious and to be more pragmatic and clever, proactive and unconventional in devising new policies. In my opinion, if NATO wants to be successful in Afghanistan, NATO has to show its soft-power ability. Otherwise, there’s no way that NATO can be successful in Afghanistan.
And then eventually, some NATO member countries will start defecting from Afghanistan. For instance, Turkey has taken the second year commandership in Kabul and Turkey also has taken, you know, several times, some initiatives. So if you don’t have a coherent approach to a specific problem, which is the – (inaudible) – question. If you don’t have this common concept of security and strategic, in-depth analysis, I don’t think that NATO is going to be very successful.
MR. COHEN: If the West did go to war with Iran, would Turkey consider withdrawing from NATO? I assume Turkey would find itself in an extremely –
MR. MERCAN: To be very open with you, even going to war with Iran (shouldn’t even be the last resort – shouldn’t even be the last resort ?). We were never thinking about it because Iran is not like other countries in the region.
MR. COHEN: You mean it should be off the table?
MR. MERCAN: In my opinion, should be off the table.
MR. COHEN: Okay. At the back, there. Yes.
Q: Hermann Griech (ph), German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. I wonder – and this question goes to Condoleezza Rice and Peter MacKay. How is NATO able to act proactively before a crisis grows too difficult to solve? I mean the parameters for that are difficult. There’s no political will, no money, and the political dialogue is diffuse.
The NATO members only react when there’s a crisis and it’s necessary to do something immediately. But wouldn’t it be much cheaper and easier to act proactively? I think NATO should be able to do it but isn’t. What do you think?
MR. MACKAY: You know, I actually – I think one of the areas, although it is now deemed to be reactive is the training. And I think the proactive element of us imparting some of the skill set, the equipment, the abilities, capabilities to countries where we know, frankly, that terrorism can start to take root and start to foster because of extreme poverty.
And it brings you to a proactive, comprehensive approach as well so that you have, what Canada refers to as whole of government. So you’re there training, helping build their own security forces, police and army. But also looking to help with education, immunization, roads, infrastructure, water, basic amenities of life.
That, to me, is part of the total aid package. So helping countries build their own security capabilities and flowing in as well, the necessary aid packaging that goes with that whole comprehensive approach. So not just after the fact and dealing with it, you know, in the midst of a full-pitched counterterrorism COIN insurgency action as we’re seeing in Afghanistan, but identifying where we might find ourself (ph) next and trying to flow in some of those capabilities.
Q: So what would you do in Yemen, for example?
MR. MACKAY: Well, I think upping our game on the aid and development side plus looking in a very serious way at what their existing security capability is to respond to what we know are some of the same root causes and same trace elements that we saw in Afghanistan, frankly.
MR. COHEN: Did you want to add something here?
MS. RICE: I would just – it really goes, also, to the first question. I do think NATO needs to stand for the proposition that in these quote, “frozen conflicts,” that integrity is a state matter. So for instance, in conversations with the Russians, I would never let past the fact that most of the world did not recognize the secession of Abkhazia or of Ossetia. In fact, the Russians are there with the resounding diplomatic support of Nicaragua and Hamas. And that should be made very clear.
Secondly, Peter, I think is exactly right. It’s in giving others capabilities. NATO is a military alliance and I don’t know that it’s going to be able to be so proactive as to prevent or to step in where diplomacy has to work. And that really argues for the strengthening of other organizations like the OSCE, which I think does have that capability to try and be proactive diplomatically.
MR. COHEN: Yes, there.
Q: Thank you. I’m Jawed Ludin; I’m Afghanistan’s ambassador in Canada. There are so many questions that could be asked about Afghanistan, so I choose not to ask a question about Afghanistan but – (laughter) – to ask a more general and probably academic question about the strategic concept and the concept of global NATO. And probably Dr. Rice would be the appropriate person to address this to.
We all agree that Afghanistan has been a test case, but a lot of times we talk about the deployability factor as one – the challenge that Afghanistan brought out, the question of caveats, the question of – the challenge that the mobilization of forces as presented. However, Afghanistan in my view has also presented a much more fundamental challenge to NATO and that goes back to the principles that underpin the creation of NATO, the geography question, the fact that this is, after all, an Atlantic alliance. And also the other factor, which is values – why this alliance has come together and why was it founded.
So what is the future in terms – don’t you think, Dr. Rice, that the strategic concept based on what we have learned from Afghanistan is still very unambitious in the sense that it again underlines that it’s still limited to its geography, which is the Atlantic area rather than more committed to its values. You talked about Australia, about South Korea, about Japan – why aren’t they members of NATO? So what is your views about the prospect for a global NATO to come out of maybe if not this strategic concept but five years on?
MS. RICE: Well, I think that NATO still has a lot to do to fully make Europe whole, free and at peace and so I don’t mind the concentration on the Atlantic for NATO. It keeps the alliance coherent. I do think that the alliance has done an amazing job in integrating the new states of Eastern Europe.
One way that NATO may well have prevented some conflicts is by giving the countries that were emerging from communism a kind of lodestar to which to work so that they made the internal reforms that they needed to make, they made the civil-military reforms that they needed to make. And we had far less trouble – if you leave aside the Balkans – we had far less trouble in the post-communist period in places like Bulgaria and Hungary and Romania and relations between them, I think because they were looking both to NATO and to the European Union.
So I would prefer that NATO concentrate on what are we going to do about Macedonia, what are we doing to do about other parts of the former communist states and get that right. But that doesn’t mean that NATO loses sight of the fact that most of our problems are not now Atlantic problems; they are global problems. We need global partners. We have very good democratic global partners in South Korea, Japan, Australia, who in different ways have all contributed to the Afghanistan enterprise.
And one of the things that was promoted very much at NATO over the last several years was that these countries came to NATO, they participated in meetings, there were planning meetings between them. And if we’re going to talk about not having redundancies, if we’re going to talk about having people share the load, these are countries that have considerable capacity and ought to be mobilized on behalf of the same common problems.
I would add, for instance, to the terrorism problem that Peter very well described – proliferation. You can’t deal with the North Korean proliferation problem as an Asian problem when you find that, through the Proliferation Security Initiative, you’re seeing things come through Germany. And so these global problems require a global response, but I would rather see the alliance itself maintain its Atlantic character and then reach out to global partners to deal with these common problems.
MR. COHEN: Do you agree, Sen. McCain?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): (Inaudible) – we always agree. (Laughter.) Yes, sir. Here.
Q: Peter Gitmark, member of the Norwegian parliament. Are you at all afraid that there will be a two-tier NATO? I look upon NATO as a little like the three musketeers, where it’s one for all and all for one, where we now had discussions of most of Europe about defense cuts and quite heavy defense cuts and therefore limiting capabilities, that we will now have people that would focus more on development aid as a projection of power and not contribute forces on the ground.
MR. COHEN: Anyone? Two-tier NATO?
MS. RICE: I think it’s a concern. And let me just say a word about development aid. In many of the failed states that we’re trying to deliver development aid, you can’t do it with simply development people; it has to have some security concepts. The idea that you can even deliver development aid in Haiti or Liberia without – at least Liberia two years ago – without building the security forces, without having a security element.
This is why the concept of, you do the war and then you rebuild the country is an outmoded concept. This is really now a continuum. And so I would hope that as the strategic concept goes forward, that civil-military cooperation is understood to be something that we’re going to be doing for a long time. And I don’t mean in Iraq or Afghanistan. I mean in almost any place where you’re going to try to build responsible sovereign states that can defend themselves and not contribute to international instability.
MIN. MACKAY: I might just add to it. I don’t think it’s a question of a two-tiered NATO; it’s actually a multi-tiered NATO now. And I think we just have to be frank about that. And everybody brings what they can to the fight or to the cause. And Condi is right, we have seen an effort, I think, in the past in this, in this comprehensive approach to clear the ground and then flow in what we consider to be reconstruction and development. And I think everyone now recognizes that this has to be done in a synchronized fashion. And some countries, quite frankly, were quicker off the bat in doing that, in adapting to that approach and some have learned from it.
And you know, it isn’t just Americans. I want to be very clear. They have in this case really leaned forward. That surge that President Obama and the previous administration had put in place has really made the difference. And I think that is why we are now seeing us take the initiative, particularly in the south.
But you know, truth be told, we have seen enormous contributions from countries that perhaps don’t get the recognition they should – Estonia, Romania, the Dutch – the Danes. We have seen enormous contributions proportionate in size and even disproportionately sometimes in terms of what they have been able to bring to the fight.
I am very proud, albeit biased, of what Canada has contributed. We have done a full spectrum of combat, but we have also clearly recognized this. I think this is the fundamental question for NATO going forward is being able to bring all of these efforts to bear. Provincial reconstruction teams have been a formidable ally in this effort against terrorism in converting the local population, building their confidence and the training piece. Imparting in those countries like Afghanistan the skill set that they need to do what we do for them.
And that’s what’s happening right now. You see that transition happening, we hope at an accelerated pace that will bring our soldiers back home knowing and having confidence in the knowledge that we have given Afghanistan the ability to defend their own borders. Afghanistan needs that. But they also need help for their neighbors. And they are at the crossroads of chaos right now. We need help from those surrounding nations to get on board and perhaps not send soldiers but pick up some of the slack on the aid package and the development side.
MR. COHEN: Did you want to say something, Stephane?
GEN. ABRIAL: Yeah, I want to say that the defense budget cuts are a great concern. And we can see them throughout most of the nations in NATO, maybe it’s in all of them. It is something which is extremely dangerous because as long as we say we got fat, it’s okay, but when you reach for muscle or the bone, then you know what you lose and you never know when you get it back.
But on the other hand, I must say that this is also another reason why NATO is so important because inside NATO – and it’s one of my jobs in Allied Command Transformation – we can harmonize the points of view of a nation and we can make sure that all NATO nations together keep a coherent picture, a coherent capability; that we do not create unwanted shortfall somewhere, which we discover in 10 years and then it’s too late; that we don’t continue investing in duplications which would not be wanted and that we can address the question of doing things together. Synergies, multinational initiatives, collective initiatives, sharing, pooling and so on.
And we’re looking around for best proteges (ph) and I’m (very interested for the time being ?) and we have launched an analysis of a Nordic defense cooperation model. Is it applicable somewhere else? Is it a good lesson for other parts of NATO?
MR. COHEN: Yeah, even the English and the French are working together now. So something must be – (inaudible) –
GEN. ABRIAL: It’s a recent example. Yeah, even – (laughter) –
MR. COHEN: Yeah, so we’ve got about seven minutes or so, so maybe I’ll just try to take – unfortunately, and I apologize, I’m not going to be able to take all of your questions, but this gentleman I know has had his hand – you start. Were there any more in this sector? The gentleman – yeah, Kamin (sp). Yeah, afterward.
Q: Yeah, thank you.
MR. COHEN: And then over here is there anybody?
Q: My name is L. Bold, I am defense minister of Mongolia. Since we are discussing here the future activities of NATO, I just wanted to raise the single case of Mongolia here to understand how it sits in the future activities of NATO because right now we are – have a position as a troop contributing nation to ISAF in Afghanistan. We understand that NATO has expanded their membership to the Eastern Europe. You’re also developing some development programs across the “stan” countries into Central Asia.
Of course, you have bilateral relations with our neighbor countries, the superpowers like Russia, China and, of course, relations with South Korea, Japan, Australia and so on. But Mongolia is also a democratic country, which shares same values but a small country. So how – but it is also part of this region. And what is really important to know, what will be the place of countries like Mongolia in future activities of NATO? Thank you.
MR. COHEN: Okay, thank you. So could you – Mongolia. Kamin. And then you.
Q: Kamin (sp) – (inaudible) – from the Foundation for Strategic Research. One of the key words of the next strategic concept is likely to be partnership. And I was quite struck hearing the panelists that one partner has not been mentioned – that is EU. We know it’s a difficult choice, that it’s a difficult political issue, but at the same time, it has about 21 members in common. And in dealing with all the new security challenges and the capability challenges, cooperation with the EU will be crucial. So what are your hopes for a breakthrough in that at the next summit? Thank you.
MR. COHEN: So EU. I’m going to take one here and then one more and then I – yes, you sir. And then we will have to wrap up. Yeah.
Q: (Inaudible.) Leo Michel, National Defense University in Washington. We’ve heard a lot over the past day and a half about what Americans would like to see our allies do more or do differently. I’d like to turn it around and ask allies, where could the United States do a better job in NATO or do a different type of job?
MR. COHEN: So U.S. Yeah. Yes, sir.
Q: Sir. Ken Hansen, Dalhousie University Center for Foreign Policy Studies. When Minister Beck from Denmark spoke, she estimated that less than 30 percent of NATO force structure is mobile. I would estimate that in terms of sustainment, less than 10 percent is sustainable.
Canada is currently struggling to sustain two-and-a-half thousand troops in what is really a low-intensity conflict. It’s straining our current capabilities. What hope is there in an era of reduced budgets for the strategic transformation to provide more in the way of mobility and sustainment capability when really what I’m hearing is everybody is concerned about conserving muscle and bone?
MR. COHEN: Okay, so we’ve got Mongolia, EU, U.S. and mobility. And I think I’d ask each of you in turn just to round out this discussion trying to touch on those themes. And I’d just like to add one question to each of you, which is, can you imagine circumstances in which there could be another Afghanistan? Is this it? I mean, that’s the end of that chapter and there won’t be another operation like that? With President Obama, we have a kind of new undeclared doctrine of unmanned drones taking out violent extremists, as they’re now called, rather than terrorists in various parts of the world. Is that in fact the new way forward rather than invasion or operations of the scale of Afghanistan?
So I know that’s a lot. But try and each of you get through that in about 90 seconds. (Laughter.)
GEN. ABRIAL: Starting with?
MR. COHEN: Stephane, starting with you here.
GEN. ABRIAL: Okay. First of all, I’m very happy that this forum, which was titled, “NATO: Beyond Afghanistan,” has been mainly NATO Beyond Lisbon, because the change will start in Lisbon. The new NATO will start there.
Transformation is at the core of our business. The main drivers are operations and the budget constraints, as we have mentioned. And we need to transform and we’re going to transform. In this framework, NATO-EU relationship is probably going to increase. We have an agreed framework. We all know. I would not answer the question of how to break the current situation. It’s not in my remit, of course. But I can assure you that we in ACT are working very strongly and very deeply with the EU, especially with the European Defense Agency in order to make sure that we make the best benefit we can from our initiatives in both institutions. And we will continue that.
Benefit of the U.S. and how to organize this bilateral relationship, this two-way street – well, it’s exactly what we do on a day-to-day basis in Norfolk with our U.S friends of Joint Forces Command. I would argue that we benefit from their power, from their numbers, from the amount of work they produce. And they benefit from our multinational different approach. So in this view, it’s quite a balanced exercise
Mobility, of course, is at the heart of the matter of our transformation. We need forces, which for tomorrow are more mobile, more sustainable, more adaptive, and more interoperable. So these are criteria, which are also at the heart of my work.
And are we going to know another Afghanistan? My answer is obviously no. We never get the same kind of crisis twice. So the main mistake would be to prepare for a new Afghanistan. But we have to prepare for something in the future and try to imagine what it will be.
MR. MACKAY: Going across the spectrum, you know, in terms of what Canada is doing to continue our ability to participate in NATO-led missions, U.N.-backed missions, we are investing $490 billion over the next 20-odd years as part of the Canada First defense strategy. Much of that we have achieved early: getting C-17 transport aircraft. Investing in the necessary muscle, if you will, to be able to be a contributing nation requires making smart investments.
Our navy – we are building our navy again. We are back in the business of Chinooks, fighter aircraft. Giving our troops the necessary protective ability and enablers will allow us to play an important role in the future. I would say this has been the highest intensity of combat that we have seen since Korea. So this hasn’t been a period of rest by any means.
For Mongolia, we are taking applications. Canada leans very much towards the open door policy of NATO. And we are very grateful for what Mongolia is doing now and obviously has an important stake in the future, given the neighborhood.
As far as Canada being – or I should say NATO being – interoperable with the EU, absolutely. And in fact, one of the areas where I think we need to coordinate better is counter- piracy so that we avoid any overlap. That again is going to be very reliant on how nations identify what their priorities are within that relationship. There is, of course, a lot of overlap right now in terms of membership between the European Union and NATO countries.
And as far as lessons learned from the United States and what they do well, I mean, let’s be frank. In the NATO context, there is the United States and everybody else in terms of their military capability. It’s a bit like Canada in hockey. (Laughter.) So you know, to that extent – (applause) – the one thing that the Americans, I think, we would encourage them to do more of is obviously on the training side. And having military exchanges, learning from their experience – that, I think, is something that they could do more of and invite countries, military exchanges. Those type of things are extremely beneficial for new member countries and aspirant countries.