by NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană at the Chicago Business School

  • 21 Jun. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 23 Jun. 2021 09:21

(As delivered)

MADHAV V. RAJAN [Dean, University of Chicago Booth School of Business]:  I wanted to thank the honourable Mircea Geoană, the Deputy Secretary General of NATO, for taking the time to speak to us today. On behalf of the University of Chicago and Chicago Booth, I wanted to extend my heartfelt welcome to you. It’s really an honour for us to have you with us today. I wanted to thank our student veterans, particularly Andy Chung, who never seems to sleep, for putting this great event together. Maybe just say a little bit about the Chicago Booth. So the Executive MBA programme at Chicago Booth was the first EMBA programme in the world. It was actually founded back in 1943 to strengthen leadership in American business in the wake of World War Two. And we were the first business school in the US to offer an MBA programme to global students through the EMBA programme. And in addition to what we have in Chicago, of course, we offer the Booth Executive MBA programme on our campuses in London and Hong Kong, all taught by our world-renowned Chicago faculty. So Booth continues to be the only US institution that has permanent campuses on three continents. And this global presence really helps us to better deliver on our mission, which is two-fold: which is to create knowledge that has enduring impact globally, and to influence and educate current and future leaders around the world. Just recently, we had our convocation and in the convocation address, a U-Chicago professor, Deborah Nelson, spoke about the global problems that we face and urged the graduates to take action. And she said – and this is a quote –  ‘We need a new world. We can’t go back to whatever that was.’ So, nearly 80 years after we started the EMBA, Booth students, alumni and faculty members all remain deeply engaged with the world and are committed to challenging conventions, promoting disruption and solving problems. And as we’ve grown, we’ve shown that we can adapt to change and even innovate around it. Change really is the DNA . . . in the DNA of this programme as everyone on this call can attest to. So right now, the global EMBA programme enrols close to 225 students from 48 countries. And in order for them to be better global leaders, it’s imperative that we understand global dynamics. And so today’s event allows us to expand this understanding in keeping with the university’s motto, ‘Let knowledge grow from more to more and so human life be enriched.’ Thank you. Let me turn it back to you, Andy.

ANDY CHUNG [Booth University]: By now, you’ve all had a chance to read the bio. Here are some highlights. The Honourable Mircea Geoană became NATO’s Deputy Secretary General in October of 2019 after a distinguished domestic and international career. He was the first Deputy Secretary General from Romania and the first from any countries that joined the Alliance after the end of the Cold War. He’s held a number of international positions, including OSCE Chairman in Person in 2001 and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office for Georgia in 2005. He is President and Founder of the Aspen Institute, Romania, and has published several extensive papers on domestic and international affairs. He is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Italian. [Deputy] Secretary General Geoană is a strong advocate of transatlantic integration and relationships, which is why we are here today. One thing that is evident is that the world is getting smaller and stronger relationships with intergovernmental agencies is critical to the security and stability of our future. Also, a strong relationship between private and public sectors will create innovation, and these diplomatic channels are there to build that trust and collaboration. Without further ado, please join me in welcoming [Deputy] Secretary General Mircea Geoană.

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: OK, thank you so much, Andy, for this kind introduction. Thank you for coming with this great idea. Thank you, Mr. Dean, for inviting me to address this . . . this global audience. And as much as I would have loved to be with you in person, in a way, the beauty of speaking to you online is that students from across the globe can participate at the same time. So, as you mentioned, you have campuses from Chicago to London and Hong Kong. But in these digital times, you are joining from all over the world and it’s not that often when I start a speech with good morning, good afternoon and good evening in one sentence, but in this case it’s very appropriate. So, thank you so much for having me, not least because you are traditionally – and, of course, this cohort of your Executive MBA – is bringing together the sharpest and brightest minds in the world. And this is also, which is always an interest for me and for the organisation I represent. And I also know because some of the alumni of the Chicago School of Business were here in NATO headquarters. I’m speaking to you from Brussels, in our superb headquarters and when you have time to visit Belgium and Brussels, do come and visit with us to see our colleagues, to see me, to see what we are doing here. But the Dean has mentioned something that he said – and this is known for all over the world – that your fantastic school has change in your DNA. NATO also has permanent adaptation to a changing world in our DNA. And now, in these unpredictable and fast-changing times, we need bold thinking and an innovative mindset. And this is why we say with great pride, as you say, with great pride, that Chicago Booth is the school when it comes to business education, we also say, with the same pride, that we are the most successful alliance in human history. So that’s a great tradition and big shoes to fill. And I also want to thank that many of you are also military veterans. Andy, thank you so much. Get some sleep. You’re one of those. And I have to say how much we want to thank you, for you and your colleagues and all the ones in so many countries, 30 nations in NATO, serving NATO and your countries in uniform. You do a remarkable job. You play a crucial part in keeping us all safe and we are indebted to you. And I’m so happy that you are pursuing even more challenging careers down the road. But our world today – and I think the discussion today is also an indication of the fact – that it’s . . . the world is not only getting smaller, as you have pointed out in your introduction, Andy, but it’s also becoming far more competitive, far more complex in terms of challenges to our security and, yes, to our freedom and to our democracies. We witness the rise of authoritarian regimes like in Russia or China, and they are challenging the rule-based international order. And we also face, at the same time, complex threats. Brutal terrorism is not far away; look at what’s now happening in . . . in big portions of Africa; sophisticated cyber-attacks – look at the disruptions that cyber-attacks produced on the east coast of America; the use, abuse and misuse of disruptive technologies; and also the implications on security of climate change, which is a topic that NATO is paying special interest and the Secretary General Stoltenberg is paying a personal top-leadership interest in climate change. All of these challenges are far greater than any country or continent can tackle alone. But the value of NATO and of our Alliance is that none of us is alone. Together, our 30 nations across Europe and North America represent half of the world’s economic might, and over half of the world’s military might. And we want to continue to stand strong together. And that’s why NATO was founded 72 years ago: to defend what we have today – one billion people as population in the 30 countries, 30 countries of NATO, protect our values and interests now, and also in the future. This is precisely what we are doing and what the leaders of NATO have done at the Summit in Brussels only last Monday. This was indeed a very important Summit, where the leaders of NATO countries took significant decisions for the future of our security. It was also President Biden’s first NATO Summit as US President. He has brought new impetus to America’s alliances. He mentioned many times that NATO is the prime Alliance of America. We also the prime Alliance of the World. President Biden knows NATO well, he knows it for so many, many years and decades of service to his country and to the world. And he has sent a strong message of America’s commitment to NATO. He was indeed the catalyst of a very good Summit. Our leaders agreed an ambitious and very substantial agenda, through what we call the NATO 2030 Initiative, anticipating change and preparing NATO for our next iteration of our adaptation. Our aim is to ensure that NATO is fit for the challenges of today and future-proof for those of tomorrow. So let me highlight some of the decisions our leaders took. We decided, for instance, to enhance our unity and cohesion. This means that we are going to use NATO even more as the unique and indispensable forum for Europe and North America to ensure our shared security, deciding, consulting and acting together. It also means we are going to reinforce our military posture, by making sure our forces are ready to defend any Ally, at any time, against any threat, from any direction. We need the best militaries with the right equipment. So as we look to 2030, we will continue to invest in our armed forces and modern military capabilities. They have kept us, our militaries, have kept us safe for over 70 years, and security is the foundation of our prosperity. We need a safe and stable environment for our societies, and yes, for our businesses to thrive. And strong militaries are important. They are the foundation of peace, of security, of economic prosperity, and human enhancement, and human activities at large. But not only militaries are key to our enduring success. Also, our strong societies are, in fact, our first line of defence. So we must raise the level of ambition when it comes to resilience. And the pandemic has shown only, once more, how important our resilience as societies really is. This is why another decision our leaders took last week is to work together to send more measurable national goals to increase our resilience as society, as businesses, as government and as individual citizens. This way we can better protect our critical infrastructure and – something which is important also for you and your education – our supply chains. We can make our societies less vulnerable to attack and coercion and ensure our militaries can operate at all times in very good conditions. We also decided to sharpen our technological edge, because NATO’s ability to innovate is what has guaranteed our military superiority. And you know that in human history – or the history of economics, for that matter – the ones having the technological edge, they’re eventually going to have also the political and military edge. We have done this for the last seven decades as NATO, we are now competing with authoritarian regimes that misuse and abuse these new technologies. They try to destabilise us, to manipulate and disrupt our free and democratic way of life. We have seen this trend accelerate during this pandemic, including disinformation and hybrid attacks. We cannot let this happen. We must remain competitive in a more contested and competitive space. For this reason, we agreed last week to launch what we call a Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic or DIANA – it’s very inspired acronym. We will start with start-ups, with industry, with universities, to promote transatlantic cooperation on new technologies. We also have agreed to establish an opt-in NATO Innovation Fund to invest in start-ups working on emerging and disruptive technologies. One of the greatest challenges of our time is, of course, climate change. It is making our world more dangerous to our lives, to our planet, to our world, to our biodiversity, but also has serious impact on our security. So climate change matters for NATO. We have recognised climate change as a security challenge for many years, but now we are stepping up our efforts through NATO 2030. And at this Summit, I’m talking to you about, NATO leaders approved an ambitious action plan on the security implications of climate change. We agreed for NATO to set the gold standard on addressing the security implications of climate change. And we made clear a very clear commitment to reduce also military emissions. Finally, a point that is the other significant ingredient to the lasting success of NATO, other than our DNA and change and adaptation – it’s also about our values. Our values of democracy, of freedom, of justice, of human rights, of liberty, of rule of law, of checks and balances within our systems, because these very values that are the underpinning of NATO’s core identity, they are under pressure like never before. I mentioned countries like Russia and China that are at the forefront of an authoritarian pushback against the rules-based international order, we see, unfortunately, more countries sliding back towards more autocratic systems. And NATO has the obligation to continue to play our part to uphold a system that has served us so well for many decades now. It is something we cannot do alone. It is a collective effort. This is why we agreed to deepen our existing partnerships and forge new ones with like-minded countries and organisations around the world. We all need to speak with one voice to defend our values and our interests and encourage others to play by the rules. All the decisions we took at the Summit must be underpinned by the right resources through national defence expenditure and more NATO common funding. To do more together, we need to invest more together in NATO. For instance, to support more joint training and exercises, build stronger cyber defences and better infrastructure and develop more capacity-building for our partners. Now, looking ahead, we are going to develop NATO’s next Strategic Concept in time for our Summit in 2022. If you want, in . . . in a sort of a ranking of importance of the documents that are, if you want, the foundation of NATO, we have the Washington Treaty, which is the founding act, which is, if you want, our Constitution in a way, which was adopted 72 years ago. But immediately after the Washington Treaty, the Strategic Concept – which is periodically upgraded, renewed or brought a new one – is the second most important document in what we do. This is why the decision of our leaders, to task Secretary General Stoltenberg to lead the process and present to the Madrid NATO Summit in 2022 an upgrade to the next Strategic Concept is also very, very important, because the last one is from 2010. At that time, we were speaking of Russia as becoming a potential strategic partner. China was never mentioned that… a single time in that document. I’m giving you just two elements for you to understand how much need for us there is to adapt this very important document to the new realities of today’s and tomorrow’s world. So, it was very successful, but now we have also to deliver on the decisions of our leaders like we always do in NATO. We have to roll up our sleeves and turn these historic decisions into consequential actions. And I’m confident, like always, in this great organisation that I’m so proud to serve, that we’ll deliver, by working all together and leveraging all the great talent we have across the 30 NATO countries that make up our Alliance, but also way beyond with our partners and our friends all over the world. This is why a big part of harnessing the talent we have in . . . in our democratic societies is to engage with people like you, to engage with the private sector, to engage with academia, to engage with our citizenry. Because this is the essence of the enduring success and permanent adaptation of NATO. And at the end of this very long introduction, let me tell you how much I appreciate this invitation and Andy and all of your colleagues, thank you so much for . . . for allowing me to be part of this conversation with you. And if there are, of course, interests in . . . in a dialogue with me, I’m at your disposal with great pleasure and great interest. Thank you so much. Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, all over the world, to this great university of yours.

ANDY CHUNG: Our first question is going to go to Dean Randy Kroszner. Dean Kroszner, go ahead and unmute yourself and ask your question.

RANDY KROSZNER [Deputy Dean for Executive Programs, Chicago Booth]: Thank you so much and thank you for that magnificent presentation and thank you for all the great work that you do. And thank to all of our . . . thanks to all of our veterans for all the great work that they do to keep us safe and uphold our values. And I’m delighted to hear about the focus on innovation and the focus on creating innovation hubs. As you may know, University of Chicago has just reached a memorandum of understanding with Imperial College and they’re working with the military in the UK on their innovation hub. And I think hopefully we can provide some support for what you’re doing at NATO. So I’d love to, if you could flesh out a little bit more what you see the key things that NATO can be doing, because, of course, we’ve got individual member countries who are supporting innovation – we have things like DARPA and then the proposed version of DARPA in the UK – and how . . . what NATO would be doing . . . would coordinate with that and then how places like Chicago Booth could be helpful on executing on that?

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Thank you, Dean, that’s a great question. I chair the Innovation Board in NATO. The Secretary General asked me to be the champion of innovation, which is, of course thrilling, but also quite complex, because we are seeing a tremendous acceleration of history, if you want. And today, 90 percent of the technologies that are also dual-use, that are also used for defence and security are produced by the private sector. So for us, engaging with the triple helix of private sector, big tech start-ups, you know, private equity, VC, all these things, are essential for us – as we have to engage with academia because, again, this ecosystem of innovation that is also our strength in our democratic societies needs to be nurtured, needs to be informed and it’s a two-way street. So what . . . what are we basically doing? Of course, nations have their own national innovation technology. You mentioned DARPA, I read a great piece by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in The Guardian today on the creation in the UK of ARIA, I think, is the acronym of this issue. Our leaders in the NATO Summit decided to have this DIANA, and we have headquarters in North America, headquarters in Europe, test centres, all these kind of things of doing together. So we are not, in a way, in the business of replicating what nations do. We are in the business of introducing a culture of innovation across the Alliance, making sure that we have interoperability – because there is a risk, we have some Allies that are quite . . . leaders in the world and also have the depth of financial markets depth of . . . rich universities and a core system of innovation that not all 30 Allies have at the same . . . the same level. So in a way, we are trying also to nurture all these . . . all these things. What we do in terms of new technologies, where we also do an important work is also to set standards. I give you the example of our recent AI strategy in NATO, which is the first, let’s say, crystal clear presentation of an AI strategy, I believe, from any international organisation around the world. And we decided also the way in which AI is used or not used in combat. So we are also introducing not only military standards, we are also introducing ethical, moral and legal standards in what we do. Again, we have to work here both ways in making sure that we do that thing right. We are now doing a lot of work on . . . on also on big data. We are doing lots of work on quantum computing – now that we do research in quantum, we want to make sure that we understand the implications of quantum computing on security and defence. We are also looking into . . . into hypersonic, you know, new technologies. We are looking into biotechnology. We are looking into space. Our leaders in the Summit I just talked to you a little bit . . . a little bit about, they decided that an eventual attack from space on critical infrastructures, populations or military assets in NATO could trigger Article 5, like we’ve done on cyber a few years ago. So my long answer is that, yes, we want to cooperate. I’m happy that you’re doing this thing with our UK Allies. And I stand ready, Mr Dean, after this conversation, get in touch with us, with me and my colleagues, and we’ll be more than happy to eventually, once . . . invite, virtually, make a small presentation to my colleagues, we are ready to engage with the . . . And whenever I will visit the US next time around or London, let’s make sure that I also visit your . . . one of your campuses. I look forward to . . . to engaging with you guys.

RANDY KROSZNER: Excellent. Thank you so much. And [inaudible; 00:24:42] once some of the restrictions come down, it’s easy to just hop across and visit me here in London. Thank you so much.

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Very good.

RANDY KROSZNER: I look forward to working with you.

ANDY CHUNG: The next question goes to Andras, who is a Romanian and Hungarian citizen, Andras, could you unmute yourself and ask your question?

ANDRAS MOLNAR [Principle Researcher, Chicago Booth]: Yes, hello, thank you very much, Your Excellency, very nice that you spend your time with us, [inaudible]. My question goes back to the original core mission of NATO that you briefly talked about, that with the ongoing developments in the conflicts in Central and Eastern Europe, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Belarus situation, the Black Sea issues around Azerbaijan and Armenia. And how do you see that is affecting, or how is that moulding the core mission of NATO? Or how do you see that the role of NATO will be changing in time? Not just because of these conflicts, which are . . . or these situations which are ongoing, but just generically, how do you see NATO’s role changing with time, if any? Thank you.

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Thank you Andras and [inaudible] to be such . . . on a such an exceptionally, you know, programme that . . . that makes me proud as well. I hope my son one day will be able to go to Booth and do something like that – he’s still a bit young. You know, deterrence and defence is the bread and butter of this Alliance. So that’s what we do – making sure that one billion people are safe and secure. And of course, the . . . there are lots of more traditional threats. What I would call the Article-5 related ones: military attacks, issues related to missile attacks, issues related to military power. And that’s what NATO does very well. We’ve done it successfully for 70 years. We’ll continue to do the same thing. And that’s why when Russia is becoming so assertive and aggressive in its . . . all its neighbourhoods, not only on the eastern flank of NATO, but also in the High North, also in the Mediterranean, all over, we take measures of prudency and vigilance, if you want. And we beefed up our presence in the Baltic countries, in the Black Sea. We are doing this. And I want to . . . I want to tell everyone that we are doing a very professional job and people should know that we are doing our job. As we speak, we are upgrading our defence planning to all these kind of situations, not only across 360 degrees in terms of our geographies – the plural – but also cross-domain. Because many of these challenges are not only in air, in space, in maritime, they’re also in cyberspace, they’re now in space. That’s why the . . . the five operational domains of NATO that I just mentioned are also part of our defence planning. But there is also something which is newer, which we can . . . let’s put them in a small box, intellectual box, which is under the threshold of Article 5. Cyber – difficult attribution, complicated. Look at the discussion that President Biden had with President Putin. Other than strategic, you know, architecture of strategic arms . . . arms control, which is critical, they discussed about cyber a lot of time: on ransomware, on this thing, on that thing. So there are lots of things in hybrid, lots of disinformation. We’ve seen during the pandemic, a huge increase in disinformation and fake news all over, all over the Alliance. So the issue is now how to make sure that we preserve our traditional capacity for deterrence and defence against any threat, from any direction, from any domain, while making sure that we have credible answers for the threats that are a little bit more diffuse, more insidious and sometimes more difficult to identify. So that’s the beauty of NATO, that we’re always in the position to adapt, to change and to be fit for purpose. NATO 2030 – this, in essence, that’s what NATO 2030 is. Strengthen our political cohesion because we have to discuss about all these things together, even if not every single time all Allies see all . . . everything eye to eye. Sometimes there are nuances amongst leaders, amongst nations in NATO, that should not be a surprise. We are democracies. Sometimes we see national interest with a prism that is a little bit different than somebody else’s. But together, we are a formidable bloc. So that’s what we do. NATO 2030, a new Strategic Concept will be . . . that’s why I mentioned a lot the Strategic Concept, because that will be the document that will be on, the one side codifying the new definition of threat in today and tomorrow’s world. And the moment we have that thing clear, at that moment, NATO is the best institution ever created to adapt to a changing security environment, that’s what we do. That’s not always easy, I have to say this, it’s not easy. It’s complex. Also politically complex sometimes. But the moment we have clarity on what we need to do and how we need to continue to do a good job, at that moment, NATO is formidable. And that’s why we’re on a very positive track, I can say not only for, you know, public diplomacy purposes, that I know that this organisation will continue to be the bulwark, if you want, of transatlantic security and also a big piece of global security, even if it’s a Euroatlantic organisation, the fact that NATO is so strong and so reliable is also projecting stability in many ways across the world, not only in . . . across the Atlantic, in North America and Europe. So thank you for the question. That’s a very important question and we’ll continue to be vigilant and be up for the job.

ANDY CHUNG: Thank you. The next question goes for our classmate Eduardo. Eduardo, do you mind unmuting yourself and asking your question? 

EDOARDO [Chicago Booth]: Sure. Hi, can you hear me?

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Yeah.

EDOARDO: Yeah, hi. Your Excellency, thank you very much for a thought-provoking and insightful session with us. Thank you for taking the time. I guess as an Italian living in London, this issue is quite close to my heart. But I wondered what your view was on the short and long term implications of Brexit for the NATO Alliance. And, I guess, going forward, how is this likely to impact the nature of strategic alliances between European countries and vis-a-vis external powers, such as, you know, their view on China and Russia and other multipolar powers? So I’d be curious on your views. Thank you.

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Thank you. And listen, the United Kingdom is a founding member of NATO and is a staunch Ally. It has been, is, and will continue to be like this. So that’s, for us in NATO, it’s . . . Brexit is an issue that, of course, creates consequences, creates also a dynamic between the UK and the other European Union member states, which is complex. But in a way, I have to say that here in NATO, we are aware of the consequences, but for us here, the UK is a leading Ally. And that’s why also with the rest of the Allies that are also EU member states – I’m coming from Romania, that’s also a country that is both a staunch NATO Ally and a staunch EU member state, so these two things do co-exist. But you mentioned also something which is very, very important. And this was also something discussed and agreed upon by our leaders: NATO-EU cooperation. Because in a way, the desire of the European Union to become stronger in security and defence is something which is understandable. We also say that a stronger Europe on defence and security is also good for NATO. Because we see now an asymmetry of military capabilities between the US and the rest of the European Allies, even if we have some countries, like the UK or Germany or France or Italy, or other countries that also have significant strength, but US is . . . is, in a way, a formidable military power, global superpower. So that’s why we need to harness all the resources of the political West, in a way that we could still retain not only the technological edge, but also the influence of the political West in terms of values, in terms of norms, in terms of model of organising human societies and the world. And this is why we need NATO and the EU to work even closer together. Of course, we have to make sure that we don’t diverge or don’t invest finite resources into things that duplicate. We have to ensure that we see convergence and complementarity. NATO is very good at some things: command and control, running important missions and operations. Our veterans know very well the gold standard that NATO sets in all these things. So when the EU is developing these things, we have to make sure that they are complementary to NATO and together, like two sides of the same coin in a way. So I do believe that the UK has left the EU, that’s a sovereign decision of this country. We read also with great interest the Integrated Review of the UK, the way in which the UK sees the world in this . . . in this part. But I believe that in NATO we are all together into this. And secondly, NATO-EU needs to be strengthened. That’s my view. That’s the policy from NATO. And I think there are lots of things we can do together into . . . into this. To give you a number – speaking of Europe and defence – from the total defence spending in NATO countries, EU member states today invest 20 percent of the total amount of NATO defence budgets – 20 percent. The rest is US, UK, Norway, Turkey and the others who are non-EU. So that’s also an indication of the fact that Europe, I think, needs to invest more in its own defence.

ANDY CHUNG: Awesome. Great, thank you. The next question is about China. Will Chau would you mind unmuting yourself and asking your question?

WILL CHAU: Thanks, Andy. And thank you again for organising that tonight. And importantly, thank you, Your Excellency, for speaking today. So last week during NATO’s annual Summit, China’s . . . China was perceived as posing a systematic challenge due to their growing economic and military influence. So firstly, we’re familiar with China’s actions in South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. But what else has shifted in terms of China’s more recent policies to draw heightened attention from NATO members? And secondly, does this not imply an agenda of competition, when the world needs a little bit more cooperation? Thank you.

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Thank you. You know, in the final communique of the NATO Summit, the language on China drew very significant media and international attention. And let me tell you just where we are. And the language is pretty straightforward, it’s consensual, that’s official NATO language. So the rise of China is one of the most consequential transformations in world affairs in decades and possibly in centuries. That’s a significant transformation of global power, balance of power, and also in terms of geopolitics, geo-economics and geo-technological things. That’s a fact. And the fact that today China has the largest fleet in the world and the second defence budget in the world after the US is also a reality. And as a global power, China is also investing in its military capabilities. Also, China is . . . is not only present in . . . in its immediate neighbourhood, it also has military bases in Africa; is investing massively in strategic infrastructures all over Europe; it’s also investing heavily in technologies that sometimes could create some problems. So nobody wants to create an adversary from China in NATO, this is not the purpose of what we are saying. We are saying that the moment you become a global power, you also have not only the right to become a global power. That’s normal. That’s competition. But you have the obligation to play by the rules of the game, including in arms control, including in making sure that there is more transparency in the doctrine and the way you intend to use power. So what I’m just trying to say, that here we don’t see a . . . a binary relationship. I think competition can coexist and should co-exist with collaboration. We should . . . we should cooperate with China on climate change, on setting a system of global norms that will be making our citizens free from risk of conflict and war, but also global trade and investments to be predictable and to live in an. . . in a world that has rules: on cyber, on all these issues, on space. China, of course, is going actively to pursue a space programme. We’ve seen the news over the weekend. We see other things coming over there. So we don’t see China – and let me say something, because we also heard some . . . some reactions to the decisions that we took in NATO – there is absolutely no interest, no desire and no propensity in NATO for starting a new Cold War with China or Russia or anybody else. We had enough of the . . . of the first one. We had enough of that. So we’re just trying to invite China to play by the rules, to be a responsible global power. And I think competition, which is in the nature of things – competition is as old as human beings on this planet. And between nations, global competition is part of who we are. But I think competition should not exclude, but the opposite, should encourage all of us to collaborate. And this is why NATO and the EU, US with China, all of us, we have to really find the right balance between making sure that we know that competition should not derail into something else. I think predictable, transparent relationship is the best recipe for . . . for global peace and security.

ANDY CHUNG: Thank you so much. The next question goes to our Commander from the Italian Navy, Giuseppe. Go ahead and unmute yourself and ask your question.

GIUSEPPE RAIMONDO [Italian Navy/Chicago Booth]: Thank you, [Deputy] Secretary General, for your time and for your conference, it’s absolutely great. I have a question for you. When I was born, NATO was an Alliance based on mutual defence against a conventional aggression. Now, as we see last week, NATO is committed to apply Article 5 to a wide domain such as cyber warfare and space domain, as you just told us. Those sectors are normally dominated by more a tech race than a conventional armament race. And new emerging disruptive technologies may give incredible competitive advantages to the first players who manage to develop them correctly. So my question is: how the Alliance is going to change in order to become a master in such technology? And can we have more detail about the venture capital programme to fund new small . . . new small start-ups, where those technologies are normally developed and discovered? And how it’s going to be coordinated henceforth among the different nations?

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Thank you, Giuseppe. I think . . . I think I responded, in a way, that NATO will continue to . . . to have deterrence and defence, credible, robust deterrence and defence for the traditional threats, what we call ‘conventional’. But also, because that’s the business of this Alliance to protect our people. And as security becomes more complicated, we are also building upon the very strong foundation we have already in NATO to make sure that we cover all the transformations of the definition of security and cyber and space and new technologies. NATO is not . . . NATO is an organisation, not ‘NATO is 30 nations’. NATO is an organisation. We are not in the business of innovating, per se. Even if we can innovate a lot in the way we do business, because innovation doesn’t mean only a breakthrough, a unicorn, sometimes innovation is relatively small for a process, for a method, for something that can . . . can improve. That’s also innovation. So what I would say that the race we are in, in NATO, is a race for adoption of state-of-the-art technologies for defence and security. Because today, 90 percent of technologies that are used, dual-used for defence and security, are produced by the private sector. So some of it is off the shelf, others a little bit more, you know, complicated and more specific, and this is why we have to make sure that we engage with private sector and academia, like I’m doing today with you guys. Because you’re the leaders, today and tomorrow you’ll be the ones taking decisions in . . . in industry, in private sector, in whatever things you’ll be doing in your life. We also have to have a two-way street dialogue with the private sector and academia, for them to understand which are our requirements. Also, which is our anticipation, our foresight, of the kind of defence-related technologies we might be in need, thus encouraging private entrepreneurs to also include us as potential customers, because we are also potential customers – NATO in a . . . in a way, but nations in NATO and around the world in a different . . . in a different way. This leads me to the last part of your question, Giuseppe: it’s the fact that we are not creating now a venture capital fund in NATO. Because venture capital is abundant, not everywhere, unfortunately, all across NATO, but in many places, VC is . . . is quite liquid. So what we are trying to do is to have an Innovation Fund that will be helping, initially, the start-ups to make sure that they . . . they, in a way, qualify to the needs and standards of NATO. And then, of course, they go to the proper VC markets and they build up this thing. We are also looking into something that is called trusted databases, because for us – and I think for national governments and I think also for the private sector – is not indifferent, if a start-up that is basically trying to grow, it doesn’t find funding, they might, God forbid, get investment for players that we are not very happy with. And sometimes they are quite disguised and have the right . . . they have the right apparent credentials. We have to make sure that we also help these companies to have trusted capital. Does it mean that NATO will provide the capital? We create the conditions, number one, for them to know which our requirements are and that’s good for business. And secondly, that we make sure that there is the proper kind of funding for them to start a business and then, of course, go to the markets and . . . and build it up. NATO is not in the business of having an IPO in New York or London or Milan. This is not the business of NATO.

ANDY CHUNG: That’s great.


ANDY CHUNG: The next question comes from our French Navy officer, David. David, would you mind unmuting yourself and asking your question?

DAVID FORESTIER [French Navy/Chicago Booth]: Thanks, Andy. Mr. [Deputy] Secretary General, you’ve talked a lot about cyber and I’d like to dive into that a little more. NATO has evolved a lot and created the Cyber Operations Centre in 2019, but could you share your view on the evolution of cyber cooperation within the Alliance? And how will NATO build that credible answer you talked about? Because today, from where I stand, it seems that cooperation on offensive capabilities is still fairly limited. Thank you.

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Merci David, listen. NATO decided to have cyber as an operational domain in 2016, at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland. So the moment we decide to embark on a new domain, we start doing things like in NATO very, very professionally, very thoroughly and . . . and gradually. So if you look to the final communique of the NATO Summit of last Monday, you’ll see that leaders have agreed on a new cyber defence policy for NATO. Endly, we have what we call a Cyber Pledge, where each nation – of course, it’s a national prerogative, it’s not for us to tell France or the US or the UK, or anybody else for that matter, how to organise themselves in terms of cyber defence, because it’s also a lot of variation on the architecture, the governance of cyber in each country. In some places it’s the MoD, in other places it’s Intelligence or a combination of these things. But we can also, what NATO offers in defensive cyber capabilities is also, if you want, a big platform for Allies to share as much as they possibly want, but to also draw the lessons learned and thus have a learning curve all over the Alliance that will help everyone become more efficient, less redundant and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes like someone . . . someone else before you. So this is, in a way, the Cyber Pledge that we do annually, that Allies accept to measure themselves against some agreed criteria for cyber defence, while, of course, nationally they, Allies, continue to operate into this quite well. We are also looking, of course, to cyber adaptation in NATO per se, to make sure that we have strong cyber defences in NATO. Also, our military commanders, they have specific military-driven cyber military plans, for all options. This is something that, of course, is for our military leaders to . . . to decide and act accordingly. So no, cyber is a very, very . . . I would say it’s one of the most, let’s say, rich in content and evolution things that we have done in some time. So we are continuing to invest. And NATO is a huge platform for Allies to do better individually and collectively. And that’s the two-way street of what we . . . what we do.

ANDY CHUNG: Alright, I think we have time for two more questions. The next question is going to be about AI. Esther, if you unmute yourself and ask your question? And then we’ll end with Gaurav. Esther?

ESTHER [Chicago Booth]: Oh, hi, can you hear me? OK. Hi. First of all, Andy, thank you so much for hosting this, I appreciate again. And Excellency, thank you so much for your time today. During this chat, I hear a lot about defence and I hear a lot about cyber defence and also the risk for technology. So my background is that I work for the largest AI company in China. So . . . so in, actually, as a matter of fact, for our company, the number one rule that we have is that we do not work with the military. So I’m just very curious about how you think of what kind of threat exactly China have on NATO, because especially when it comes to AI threat, because I can speak on behalf of literally the largest AI company in China, that we don’t deal with the military. So maybe just . . . I would just love to hear your thought on that. Thank you so much.

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Well, thank you, Esther. We are not looking into AI as a purely military issue, it’s . . . it’s about the use of AI for many, many purposes. Most of them are related to economic and social progress, but also there is a dimension of usage of AI for defence and security. Defence and security in the definition of NATO, if you want, but also national security in terms of large programmes for population surveillance, large programmes of using AI for . . . for uses of law and order, lots of things. So I’m not implying that a company, and a leading company in AI, has to work with the military. I’m not saying that. I’m saying that the applications of AI – and also the volume of data, as you know, is the bread and butter of the AI industry. So there are also security applications of AI in command and control, issues related to . . . to the way in which Artificial Intelligence can lead specific military operations in ways that are done properly. So when I spoke about AI strategy for NATO, I was . . . we are not speaking about the military use per se of AI – we are speaking about the ethical use of AI, and a respectful use of AI, according to international law, thus making sure that for states, but also for non-state actors, there is a clear rule on how not to abuse and misuse AI. This is where we are. For the rest, global competition, companies that are starting small and going . . . going big. That’s the beauty of world competition and world cooperation. So I have nothing to do with that. We’re just saying that AI has also national defence and international security implications. And there we have to make sure that this is not used and abused by nations or non-state actors, including terrorist organisations, others that might become a little bit more sophisticated than they are. And the use of this is very important. So it’s not . . . this is not finger-pointing anyone, it’s just telling also the private sector that what they produce, sometimes only for commercial civilian purposes, can and is sometimes used also for defence and security, in ways that we have to make sure that they are done properly and respectful of ethical norms, of freedoms of citizens. For our . . . for us, it’s important, democracy is important. And this is something that, of course, there is a little bit of . . . of a difference in the way in which the Chinese society is organised and our democratic societies are organised. And that’s a fact. This is no offence to no one, it's just a reality of life.

ANDY CHUNG: Thanks for that answer.

ESTHER: Andy, do I have time for one more question, or no?

ANDY CHUNG: Esther, Esther, we need to move on, we have time for one more question. So Gaurav, would you mind asking the last question? And then close . . . and then I’ll close us out?

GAURAV DHAR [Chicago Booth]: Thanks. Thanks, Andy, and thanks a lot, Deputy Secretary General, for taking time for us. You know, you have a lot of extensive experience, you know, dealing with . . . with, you know, all the different kind of leaders in the world and . . . and solving complicated, complex problems with, you know, with different interests and constraints. Could you share some, you know, leadership lessons and . . . and guidance for us, you know, for us to manage, you know, the . . . the different kind of problems we see in our own multinational organisations with varied culture, cultural backgrounds in our companies?

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]: Oh, Gaurav, you know, I’m a big fan of leadership. Andy mentioned the fact that I created the Aspen Institute in Romania and that’s about value-based leadership. So what . . . what can I say? You guys are so smart. You get the best education in the world, OK? So there’s not absolutely anything I can tell you about your skills, your intellect, your drive, your ambition and your talent, nothing, I can say nothing about that, because you’re already a preselected elite group. OK? What I can say from . . . from my personal experience and from what I’ve seen over the years, both in public service, in private sector, but also in civil society, is that: in complicated times and with such shifting sands, industries are changing, the way in which we work is changing, the way in which – speaking of AI and the questions on this – these are things that are . . . continue to create lots of anxiety, uncertainties and change. What I do believe personally, that is the thing that can make a leader like yourself, like yourselves, like the ones who want to really be in leadership positions across the spectrum, is to identify your own moral compass. The values that you really believe in. Not the ones that are fashionable in your corporation, or in reading a smart magazine, or some smart, inspirational speaker telling you is fashionable. Your own moral compass, the values you believe in, you truly believe in. The things that you really want to do with your life. For yourself, for your company you’re working with, for your family, for your friends, for your country, for the world. So spend a little bit of time with yourselves in trying to spend some introspection, I know that I think EMBA at Booth I think is so time-consuming that I’m really sorry for you guys – I think that’s a huge volume of work! But in between, I know that you’re doing this already, try to . . . to spend more time with yourselves and really think hard about your values and what you really stand for. Only to become the CEO of the company, OK, you will become. Is that enough? No way. Will you be a transformational leader? Would you do things for your small community, for your small NGO, or for a huge transnational? Or leader of a big or small country in the world? What do you leave behind? So, that’s my . . . not advice, it’s my reflection after already too many long years in . . . in public life and in politics. And I know that this is a kind of group that has the best moral, not only professional, ingredients, to come with a very positive answer for you and for the world community.

ANDY CHUNG: Well, Your Excellency, thank you so much for ending on that. We really appreciate your time and thank you again so much for spending . . . spending it with us today.

MIRCEA GEOANĂ [NATO Deputy Secretary General]:

Thank you, Andy. Thank you all. It was a great pleasure.