28 Sept. 2001
the Secretary General of NATO Lord Robertson
on the 50th Anniversary of the NATO Defence College
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We gather here for a happy occasion -- but in a somber
time. The 50th anniversary of the NATO Defense College
is a moment for congratulations for a vision implemented
and job well done. But we do so in a much broader context:
of a grave shock to our Atlantic community, and a changing
perspective on security.
Let me begin with the congratulations, because they
are well deserved indeed. Since the day it was founded,
five decades ago, this College has been a centre of academic
excellence. For almost as long the Alliance has existed,
the NATO Defense College has helped to shape generations
of officers for the highest levels of service. Indeed,
I suspect that many of the people in uniform here today
have passed through the academic halls of the College,
either in this new building or its predecessor.
When the Cold War ended, security changed. NATO changed.
And as an essential part of that adaptation, the Defense
College changed too, illustrating that the College didn't
just teach flexibility and vision -- it practiced what
it preached. Let me give you just two examples.
First, in the post-Cold War environment, security grew
to mean much more than just military security, to include
diplomatic and economic tools as well. NATO's
Strategic Concept, in 1991, reflected that change.
And the Defense College reacted swiftly, by greatly expanding
its student base to include civilians as well as military
Today, many of the civilians who have passed through
these halls are now also occupying senior positions in
governments across the Euro-Atlantic area -- with a much
greater understanding of strategic thinking and their
military colleagues. We see the benefits in our capitals,
and we see them even more clearly where it counts most
-- on the ground, in our operations. The College calls
this new relationship "human interoperability",
and cultivating human interoperability has been one of
the singular achievements of the school during this past
Second, after the end of the Cold War, the Alliance
moved quickly to reach out the hand of partnership and
cooperation to the countries of the former Warsaw Pact.
The logic was clear: by helping them through their difficult
transition, the Alliance could help minimise instability
across Europe. And by opening our structures and organizations
up to former adversaries, we could demonstrate that we
truly wanted to build a broader community, not just rhetorically,
but in practice.
For all these reasons, NATO put in place first the North
Atlantic Cooperation Council, the Partnership
for Peace Programme and then the Euro-Atlantic
Partnership Council. We have opened up the organization
to new members. And we have entered into focused relationships
with Russia and Ukraine, two countries crucial to the
long-term peace and stability of the continent.
In this effort, too, the NATO Defense College has been
an important participant. Indeed, I would suggest that
the College has become a flagship of NATO's cooperation
and outreach policy. This institution hosts PfP and even
OSCE participants, and is also playing a leading role
in the Mediterranean
The College's efforts to provide common education to
NATO and non-NATO participants are laying the seeds of
ever stronger understanding and cooperation across, and
even beyond, the Euro-Atlantic area. That, too, is a major
accomplishment, and a testament to the vital role the
Defense College continues to play in the overall agenda
of the Alliance. For this achievement too, I say: congratulations.
But even though this praise is well-earned, the leaders
of the College know that they cannot rest on their laurels.
They must also look to the future. And after the tragedy
in the United States, they have been reminded, as we have
all, that we must learn to deal with a security environment
that continues to change very quickly indeed.
Before the 11th of September, 2001, who could have foreseen
such a catastrophic terrorist attack? Not even Tom Clancy.
But the best intelligence the world can buy -- not only
US intelligence, but everyone's -- failed to predict that
it would happen; or indeed, even that it could happen.
Our initial response to this attack is clear. First
and foremost, we stand with our American friends in total
solidarity. Throughout the past century, the United States
has supported Europe in its times of need. Now the United
States has been dealt a brutal blow. Today, America's
Allies are with her, in her time of need. The US can count
on its 18 NATO Allies for assistance and support, to deal
with the immediate effects of this crisis. NATO members
have already offered emergency assistance to US authorities,
wherever they can help.
Even as we express our profound sympathy, and try to
help the many, many victims of this tragedy, we must also
assist the United States in finding and punishing the
culprits. That is why NATO's members agreed that, if it
is determined that this attack was directed from abroad
against the United States, it shall be regarded as an
action covered by Article
5 of the Washington
Treaty, which states that an attack against one or
more Allies shall be considered an attack against them
NATO's essential foundation -- its bedrock -- has always
been Article 5, the commitment to collective defence.
Of course, this commitment was first entered into in 1949,
in very different circumstances. But it remains as valid
and essential today, in the face of this new threat. With
the decision to invoke Article 5, NATO's members demonstrated,
once again, that the Alliance is no simple talking shop
-- it is a community of nations, united by its values
and interests, and utterly determined to act together
to defend them. Today, the United States' NATO allies
stand ready to provide the assistance that may be required
as a consequence of these acts of barbarism.
Now, I know you are wondering what exactly that means,
in terms of concrete action. The answer is, it is still
too soon to tell. Traditional critics of US policy predicted
a knee-jerk reaction, military force used prematurely,
incoherently and without effect. They were wrong. Washington's
response has been measured, and military capabilities
have been placed securely in the wider context of a multifaceted
campaign against terrorism.
Our first collective priority is helping to deal with
the immediate crisis. At the same time, our intelligence
services are working together to help provide the United
States with the information it needs to determine culpability
and to find the culprits. Then we will consider our collective
response, what form that response should take, and who
will participate in what way. But through Article 5, NATO's
members have made a commitment that they will be part
of that response -- and that solidarity alone is a powerful
symbol indeed that this Atlantic community is as solid
as it has every been.
We must all stand together in the face of this scourge,
to defeat it. NATO's members are unanimous: in this struggle
too, we are united with the United States -- along, I
am sure, with Russia and a growing coalition of countries
around the world. And I am confident that we will win
But we must also look beyond this immediate crisis.
Our jobs, as government officials and military personnel,
is not only to deal with the challenges of today, but
also to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. And if
the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania make
anything clear, it is that tomorrow is unclear.
We must recognise that new threats, of very different
kinds, have already crossed a threshold that should make
them the focus of serious concern. For example, terrorists
are able to communicate with each other with unprecedented
communications security - both because of the availability
of sophisticated encryption technology and the fact that
their messages are buried in the overwhelming volume of
electronic communication in the world today.
We can also see that attacks with military-style effectiveness
can be made by a different kind of assailant. The attacks
on the USS Cole in Yemen, the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi
and Dar Es Salaam, and now the coordinated hijack attacks
in the US itself were direct hits against a nation's interests
- conducted by a new kind of enemy. In the past, we might
have expected attacks of this intensity from other States.
Yet with the spread of technology, it is painfully clear
that we are facing major threats not just from so-called
rogue states, but from non-state actors as well.
To add to these complications, the Internet provides
all the information one needs to build nuclear, biological
and chemical weapons. Missile technology, too, is becoming
ever more widespread -- and as a result, ballistic missiles
are posing an ever-increasing danger to our societies.
The list goes on. Globalisation offers our societies
the opportunity to become more creative and prosperous;
but it also makes them more vulnerable. Regional conflicts
will confront us with a cruel choice between costly indifference
and costly engagement. The scarcity of natural resources
may have major economic, political, and perhaps even military
ramifications. And an economic downswing, an environmental
disaster, or a regional conflict could give migration
an entirely new dimension.
The principle is clear. The 21st century will offer
no shortage of tough challenges, and the international
community is only beginning to figure out how to address
them. I believe that three tracks need to be followed,
if we are to continue to preserve our security in an uncertain
First, we must take active steps now to meet these new
challenges from within existing resources and capabilities.
NATO is already doing so. I have already mentioned the
steps that the Alliance is taking in immediate response
to the attacks on the US. We are also doing more. NATO
members are cooperating more closely together to deal
with the effects of proliferation. We are fostering a
vigorous and structured debate to strengthen our common
understanding of the risks posed by weapons of mass destruction.
We are improving the quality and quantity of intelligence
and information-sharing among Allies across the board.
We are also working to ensure that our deployed soldiers
have protection against nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons - so they will not be deterred by an aggressor
who might use such weapons against them. The Alliance
is working to develop theater missile defence systems
to protect our troops in action from the kind of missile
attacks Iraq launched at Israel and coalition forces during
the Gulf War. This will raise the threshold for any potential
aggressor, who will know his weapons have less of a chance
of getting through.
International organisations such as NATO, the EU and
the OSCE - as well as private NGOs - are also working
much more closely together. These different organisations
all have unique strengths. By working together, we are
better able to tackle the full range of challenges we
face. We are seeing the product of that cooperation today
in the Balkans, and there is room for much more.
That is the first track: to respond more effectively
to the challenges we can see today. The second track is
equally important: to invest in our capabilities to respond.
Safety and security are taken for granted by so many
of our citizens, but these do not come about by accident.
In the Cold War, we spent hundreds upon hundreds of billions
of dollars ensuring the safety of ourselves and our future
generations. We must approach the new security challenges
with the same vigour, the commitment, and the willingness
to spend money on the right things.
When I took up my post as Secretary General, I said that
I had three priorities: capabilities, capabilities, capabilities.
At the 1999 Summit in Washington, NATO's Heads of State
and Government said much the same thing. They directed
that the Alliance take steps to make our forces more mobile,
more effective in the field, and better able to stay in
the field for extended periods of time. I am determined
to hold the NATO Allies to this commitment - and to stretch
their thinking even beyond this into the future.
But doing so will take money, and we must all make the
case for taking the steps now to preserve our safety and
security well into the future. And I am referring not
only to armed forces, but also to a wide spectrum of capacities
which could prove essential to face effectively the new
challenges to our societies. Better early warning. More
deployable civilian police. More effective monitoring
of illegal monetary transactions, and more effective ways
to stop them. The list goes on and on, and much thinking
needs to go into finding the best way forward.
Which brings me to the third track I believe we need
to follow: more forward-looking thinking and education
in security issues.
There is a term used by security experts to describe
dramatic changes in military doctrine and operations resulting
from new uses of new technology. Everyone who has attended
the NATO Defence College will be familiar with it: "the
Revolution in Military Affairs". I believe that we
also need a "Revolution in Strategic Education"
-- and I believe that, as the NATO Defence College enters
its second half-century, this organisation is well placed
indeed to lead that revolution.
By a "revolution in strategic education",
I mean simply that the academic community needs to focus
its attention on these new, complex and sometimes amorphous
challenges. It is the academic community that has the
time, and the long-term perspective, to look into the
future and assess the new environment. And it is the academic
community that has the mandate to pass on that assessment
to its students, so that practitioners, be they military
or civilian, are better prepared to meet the challenges
we are likely to face.
General Dwight Eisenhower, NATO's first Supreme Allied
Commander, put it best. In 1951, at the outset of the
Cold War, he wrote: "the venture upon which we
are now embarked is so new to all of us, and the problems
which it raises are of such a different scale from those
which have hitherto confronted the member nation, that
we are continually faced with a necessity for exploring
new approaches and broadening our points of view".
Those words inspired the creation of the Defence College,
in a very different context. They are equally relevant
today, on the College's 50th anniversary. The NATO Defence
College will be at the forefront of this effort. Of that,
I have no doubt. This College has always been at the leading
edge of change in the Alliance -- both anticipating change,
and helping to foster it, to the benefit of all participants.
As we enter this new era of uncertainty, I am certain
that that tradition will continue.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Despite the terrible attacks in the United States, we
must not forget how much success we have had, over the
past decade, in building peace and security in the post-Cold
War world. We have been successful because we had the
foresight to see challenges coming, the capabilities to
respond, and the determination to act together when necessary.
Those are the essential ingredients for success -- and
as long as we maintain our vision, our capabilities and
our solidarity, the Alliance will continue to preserve
the safety of future generations, in an uncertain future.
website of the
NATO Defence College in Rome, Italy
"NATO and the Scourge of Terrorism" on the
NATO web site offering all information related to NATO's
reaction to the terrorist attacks on the United States