Jeroen Van der Veer, Vice Chair, NATO Strategic Concept Expert Group

Views and interviews: video 4

What are the personal opinions of some of those connected with the drawing up of the new Strategic Concept? How far can it go? In this section, we offer face to face interviews with some key players.

 Subtitles: On / Off

Views and interviews

What are the personal opinions of some of those connected with the drawing up of the new Strategic Concept? How far can it go? In this section, we offer face to face interviews with some key players.

Jeroen Van der Veer, why do we

need a new Strategic Concept now?

Three reasons come to mind.

During the Cold War, the public very

easily understood why we had NATO.

The Cold War is over,

so the public wonders:

What’s the new role for NATO and

can we get enough public support?

Secondly, there are new threats.

There is terrorism,

piracy, maybe cyber war.

So we have to make up, is that…

What is there to do for NATO?

And thirdly, we have now

12 more members than ten years ago.

So we are now with 28 members.

Ten years ago was the last update

of the Strategic Concept.

So, every reason for an update.

What’s the advantage

of doing it with a group of experts?

I think that to draft a new strategy,

which all the countries are saying:

That’s fine.

But not only the countries

where the public can say:

Yes, this makes sense,

this is updated,

this is how I look at the world,

I can see the role of NATO.

That's a very complex task. So I think

that it's good to take it in steps.

If you start immediately to draft

something which is so complex,

whilst you have not taken all

the inputs, listened very carefully,

and in fact, created space

to write something new,

then I think you may not make it.

Some analysts say that renewing

the Concept via a group of experts,

is because there are

too many voices, 28 members now,

and there are too many divisions.

Do they have a point?

If you say too many voices, I'd say:

This is of a very high complexity,

what a new strategy

should be of NATO.

So if something has

very high complexity,

you have to bring some order.

And I think some order,

some logic, some clustering.

And you do that in discussion

with those other countries,

which helps those countries

to see the complexities as well.

That’s why

the expert group can play a role.

Do you think that the main division

is between those

who see territorial defence

as the main issue.

In other words, still seeing old threats

such as Russia, as the priority.

And those who feel

that expeditionary operations,

such as Afghanistan

are more important?

You can’t say that old tasks

are more important than new tasks.

I think old tasks like territory...

To defend that,

is very easy to explain to the public.

I think if one thinks about every

threat, but especially new threats,

it is not a kind of digital answer:

This is for NATO

and this is not for NATO.

I think sometimes

NATO should be in the lead,

maybe kind of sole…

entity to face the threat.

Sometimes maybe NATO is hardly

involved but maybe still contributory.

But there is probably

quite a large middle group,

if you say we have a new threat

and a number of organisations

in the world or entities,

maybe they have to link up together

to cope with that threat.

So it's not yes-no,

you have a kind of middle approach,

an approach with others.

Is energy security

part of NATO’S role?

Yes, most NATO countries import

oil and gas.

And usually it comes

from countries close to NATO.

This is a kind of opportunity as well.

One likes to provide,

the other one likes to buy it.

The problem with energy is

you can’t say:

I do it for three months and then

I don’t have it for a certain period.

So yes, you must have this kind

of guaranteed flow for your economy

and that of course

then drives the security thinking.

Rather than to speculate on that,

we have to think that,

in these changing

supply and demand structures,

especially for oil and gas,

between NATO and non-NATO,

we have to think

with the expert group,

so what kind of security aspects

may come out of that?

And if we have listed those aspects,

we have to make up our mind:

Is this a NATO duty? Or is this

a duty in cooperation with others?

Or do we leave it to third parties?

How do you balance shorter term

threats, such as Afghanistan,

with longer term threats,

such as climate change?

Climate change… the danger is

that everything is climate change.

I think it is much more

for the expert group to think,

if there is climate change are there

coming security aspects out of it,

and, very much so, security aspects

which we can link back

to the kind of mission we see

for NATO. I think that can be helpful,

rather than talk in general

about climate change.

So we have to see which aspect of

climate change we may link back

and then what can we do about it?

- And talking about operations,

how does the group of experts get

military input to its deliberations?

I think the military input

is extremely important.

As an example, suppose we would

make, so yes, first the expert group

they advise into the new strategy,

then up to the Secretary General

and the countries.

They draft a new strategy.

Suppose that the military would say:

A fine strategy, but we can't

execute it. That’s useless.

The process is supposed to be

open, transparent and public.

How does the group of experts

make that happen?

If you take the high ideal:

global solutions for global threats.

NATO has a role to play there,

but NATO cannot solve,

or cope with all the global threats.

So we have always

to do it with others.

Now the part that NATO does,

is more powerful

if there is public support

in the NATO countries,

how they can help NATO

with those global threats.

It is even important as well

that in non-NATO countries

or NGOs or the UN that they think:

Hey, this new strategy of NATO,

that makes sense.

Because then

all that common understanding

within NATO and outside NATO,

what NATO does,

helps them to a maximum way

with the high ideal.

Global solution or global coping

with global threats.

You talk about global situation, there

is a global financial crisis going on.

Defence budgets are being cut, some

in Eastern Europe by 20, 30 percent.

Is this a particularly bad moment

for a new Strategic Concept?

That's back to this... If you have

global solutions to global threats,

if you make a very confidential report,

then you cannot expect

that people applaud it.

So you have to make public

certain things about your advice

in order to get this public support.

So you have to make

a very clear case for action.

I come from the business world,

we have a business ground.

If I can say: This is the task,

there’s high clarity about the tasks.

If people understand it,

they understand it takes resources.

And budgets. So that’s how I see it.

- And you mentioned making sure

that the messages

are conveyed to the public.

Some nations in NATO haven’t got

a good record of communicating

what NATO is about.

Why do you think that they’ll

be better with the Concept?

We don’t. We will of course

discuss this with the expert group.

I think that the best is

to explain very carefully,

but not be shy about it,

that because whatever

the new strategy will be in NATO...

In a time that we just had

an economic crisis...

It will cost money,

it will involve a lot of people,

it will of course expose people

to risks.

So it is important for every NATO

member that you get public support.

And I think personally it is quite easy

to convince people of that.

You’ve had extensive dealings

with Russia on oil projects,

with the government

and with companies.

Do you see Russia as an important

partner or as a potential threat?

Realise NATO came out

of the Cold War.

I think it is now very important for

the future that the NATO countries,

including the expert group,

they try to understand

why are the Russian opinions

as they are today?

Why are they as they are?

And then to reflect on that

and to see

where the common ground is.

So I would not put it

in words of confrontation.

As the Secretary General said:

We have to look at a new relationship

and a new relationship is always...

You can only get a new relationship

if you realise who we are today,

who do we like to be, that's for NATO.

But at the other side...

Why is the other side of

the relationship thinking as they are

and how may it evolve?

I’m optimistic about that.

In your career you renovated

the largest refinery in Europe.

Is that easier or more difficult

than renovating the largest

military organisation in the world?

I think that the art of...

to make a new strategy is...

In this case, it is to work upfront,

so in the very early stages,

and then to make sure

that you align all the parties.

I think the re-vamping of the largest

refinery we have in Europe,

that was more

about the execution of the strategy.

So what the military,

if you take it in NATO terms,

what the military has to do later.

This is about efficient organisation.

This is about many troops

who have to move, etc.

That was the problem over there.

Having said that...

In the end, you know, even

if you have to deal with complexity,

that it always helps

to bring high clarity

to that you can explain

the problems in five minutes

rather than in notes of 40 pages.

And I really hope

that in the expert advice

and in the new strategy for NATO,

that there are more 2 to 3 page

documents than 30 page documents.

If you had to change one thing

in this Concept, what would that be?

Always when you say there is

one thing you have to deal with,

then I think that ignores

the complexity of this world.

We have to face our many threats.

So if there is one priority,

it’s that you look at all the threats,

and you make a selection out of that.

So that’s how I deviate your question.

But I think that’s essential.

Then you go too far in simplification,

that’s exactly what we don’t need.

Mr Van der Veer, thank you so much.

- Thank you.

Jeroen Van der Veer, why do we

need a new Strategic Concept now?

Three reasons come to mind.

During the Cold War, the public very

easily understood why we had NATO.

The Cold War is over,

so the public wonders:

What’s the new role for NATO and

can we get enough public support?

Secondly, there are new threats.

There is terrorism,

piracy, maybe cyber war.

So we have to make up, is that…

What is there to do for NATO?

And thirdly, we have now

12 more members than ten years ago.

So we are now with 28 members.

Ten years ago was the last update

of the Strategic Concept.

So, every reason for an update.

What’s the advantage

of doing it with a group of experts?

I think that to draft a new strategy,

which all the countries are saying:

That’s fine.

But not only the countries

where the public can say:

Yes, this makes sense,

this is updated,

this is how I look at the world,

I can see the role of NATO.

That's a very complex task. So I think

that it's good to take it in steps.

If you start immediately to draft

something which is so complex,

whilst you have not taken all

the inputs, listened very carefully,

and in fact, created space

to write something new,

then I think you may not make it.

Some analysts say that renewing

the Concept via a group of experts,

is because there are

too many voices, 28 members now,

and there are too many divisions.

Do they have a point?

If you say too many voices, I'd say:

This is of a very high complexity,

what a new strategy

should be of NATO.

So if something has

very high complexity,

you have to bring some order.

And I think some order,

some logic, some clustering.

And you do that in discussion

with those other countries,

which helps those countries

to see the complexities as well.

That’s why

the expert group can play a role.

Do you think that the main division

is between those

who see territorial defence

as the main issue.

In other words, still seeing old threats

such as Russia, as the priority.

And those who feel

that expeditionary operations,

such as Afghanistan

are more important?

You can’t say that old tasks

are more important than new tasks.

I think old tasks like territory...

To defend that,

is very easy to explain to the public.

I think if one thinks about every

threat, but especially new threats,

it is not a kind of digital answer:

This is for NATO

and this is not for NATO.

I think sometimes

NATO should be in the lead,

maybe kind of sole…

entity to face the threat.

Sometimes maybe NATO is hardly

involved but maybe still contributory.

But there is probably

quite a large middle group,

if you say we have a new threat

and a number of organisations

in the world or entities,

maybe they have to link up together

to cope with that threat.

So it's not yes-no,

you have a kind of middle approach,

an approach with others.

Is energy security

part of NATO’S role?

Yes, most NATO countries import

oil and gas.

And usually it comes

from countries close to NATO.

This is a kind of opportunity as well.

One likes to provide,

the other one likes to buy it.

The problem with energy is

you can’t say:

I do it for three months and then

I don’t have it for a certain period.

So yes, you must have this kind

of guaranteed flow for your economy

and that of course

then drives the security thinking.

Rather than to speculate on that,

we have to think that,

in these changing

supply and demand structures,

especially for oil and gas,

between NATO and non-NATO,

we have to think

with the expert group,

so what kind of security aspects

may come out of that?

And if we have listed those aspects,

we have to make up our mind:

Is this a NATO duty? Or is this

a duty in cooperation with others?

Or do we leave it to third parties?

How do you balance shorter term

threats, such as Afghanistan,

with longer term threats,

such as climate change?

Climate change… the danger is

that everything is climate change.

I think it is much more

for the expert group to think,

if there is climate change are there

coming security aspects out of it,

and, very much so, security aspects

which we can link back

to the kind of mission we see

for NATO. I think that can be helpful,

rather than talk in general

about climate change.

So we have to see which aspect of

climate change we may link back

and then what can we do about it?

- And talking about operations,

how does the group of experts get

military input to its deliberations?

I think the military input

is extremely important.

As an example, suppose we would

make, so yes, first the expert group

they advise into the new strategy,

then up to the Secretary General

and the countries.

They draft a new strategy.

Suppose that the military would say:

A fine strategy, but we can't

execute it. That’s useless.

The process is supposed to be

open, transparent and public.

How does the group of experts

make that happen?

If you take the high ideal:

global solutions for global threats.

NATO has a role to play there,

but NATO cannot solve,

or cope with all the global threats.

So we have always

to do it with others.

Now the part that NATO does,

is more powerful

if there is public support

in the NATO countries,

how they can help NATO

with those global threats.

It is even important as well

that in non-NATO countries

or NGOs or the UN that they think:

Hey, this new strategy of NATO,

that makes sense.

Because then

all that common understanding

within NATO and outside NATO,

what NATO does,

helps them to a maximum way

with the high ideal.

Global solution or global coping

with global threats.

You talk about global situation, there

is a global financial crisis going on.

Defence budgets are being cut, some

in Eastern Europe by 20, 30 percent.

Is this a particularly bad moment

for a new Strategic Concept?

That's back to this... If you have

global solutions to global threats,

if you make a very confidential report,

then you cannot expect

that people applaud it.

So you have to make public

certain things about your advice

in order to get this public support.

So you have to make

a very clear case for action.

I come from the business world,

we have a business ground.

If I can say: This is the task,

there’s high clarity about the tasks.

If people understand it,

they understand it takes resources.

And budgets. So that’s how I see it.

- And you mentioned making sure

that the messages

are conveyed to the public.

Some nations in NATO haven’t got

a good record of communicating

what NATO is about.

Why do you think that they’ll

be better with the Concept?

We don’t. We will of course

discuss this with the expert group.

I think that the best is

to explain very carefully,

but not be shy about it,

that because whatever

the new strategy will be in NATO...

In a time that we just had

an economic crisis...

It will cost money,

it will involve a lot of people,

it will of course expose people

to risks.

So it is important for every NATO

member that you get public support.

And I think personally it is quite easy

to convince people of that.

You’ve had extensive dealings

with Russia on oil projects,

with the government

and with companies.

Do you see Russia as an important

partner or as a potential threat?

Realise NATO came out

of the Cold War.

I think it is now very important for

the future that the NATO countries,

including the expert group,

they try to understand

why are the Russian opinions

as they are today?

Why are they as they are?

And then to reflect on that

and to see

where the common ground is.

So I would not put it

in words of confrontation.

As the Secretary General said:

We have to look at a new relationship

and a new relationship is always...

You can only get a new relationship

if you realise who we are today,

who do we like to be, that's for NATO.

But at the other side...

Why is the other side of

the relationship thinking as they are

and how may it evolve?

I’m optimistic about that.

In your career you renovated

the largest refinery in Europe.

Is that easier or more difficult

than renovating the largest

military organisation in the world?

I think that the art of...

to make a new strategy is...

In this case, it is to work upfront,

so in the very early stages,

and then to make sure

that you align all the parties.

I think the re-vamping of the largest

refinery we have in Europe,

that was more

about the execution of the strategy.

So what the military,

if you take it in NATO terms,

what the military has to do later.

This is about efficient organisation.

This is about many troops

who have to move, etc.

That was the problem over there.

Having said that...

In the end, you know, even

if you have to deal with complexity,

that it always helps

to bring high clarity

to that you can explain

the problems in five minutes

rather than in notes of 40 pages.

And I really hope

that in the expert advice

and in the new strategy for NATO,

that there are more 2 to 3 page

documents than 30 page documents.

If you had to change one thing

in this Concept, what would that be?

Always when you say there is

one thing you have to deal with,

then I think that ignores

the complexity of this world.

We have to face our many threats.

So if there is one priority,

it’s that you look at all the threats,

and you make a selection out of that.

So that’s how I deviate your question.

But I think that’s essential.

Then you go too far in simplification,

that’s exactly what we don’t need.

Mr Van der Veer, thank you so much.

- Thank you.

Videos in Views and Interviews:

1. Admiral James G. Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

2. Ivo Daalder, US Ambassador to NATO

3. Madeleine K. Albright, Chair, NATO Strategic Concept Expert Group

4. Jeroen Van der Veer, Vice Chair, NATO Strategic Concept Expert Group

Share this    DiggIt   MySpace   Facebook   Delicious   Permalink