How did NATO survive the Cold War? NATO's transformation after the Cold War from 1989 to the present
Video lecture by Jamie Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for External Relations and acting NATO Spokesman
A very warm good afternoon to friends and colleagues down there in Garmisch at the Marshall Centre, and to the audience here at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
This is a first, the first lecture that I've been invited to give, not just for the audience who is here today, but for all those who log on to the NATO Web site, on current issues facing the Atlantic Alliance.
Over the next few weeks, it will be my honour and pleasure to comment directly with you some of the recent developments in NATO's history, but also to try to answer some of the questions that are out there in the wider public about how successful NATO has been at transforming itself, and where the Alliance can be expected to go in the future.
It was the German 19 th Century philosopher Hegel who once said that you can only look as far into the future as you are capable of looking back into the past. And therefore today, in the first of this series of lectures, I'd like to talk a little about how NATO survived the Cold War.
It still strikes many commentators, as something of a paradox that an organization which was created by the Cold War, and in the eyes of many to uphold the Cold War division of Europe, has had perhaps its most exciting period since 1989, and since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and shows every sign, currently, of surviving the post-Cold War world for even longer than the half century that it survived during the Cold War itself.
So today I'd like to try to explain how this rather paradoxical phenomenon happened, and how NATO transformed itself after 1989, and what some of the lessons we learned along the way in terms of the transatlantic relationship and our ability to deal with other states in Europe and beyond.
Paul Henri Spaak was the second Secretary General of NATO in the 1950s. He famously said that every village and town in Europe should erect a statue to Joseph Stalin because it was Stalin, even more than Churchill or Truman, or the other wartime leaders of the allied coalition in World War II, it was Stalin who was the true father of the Alliance. Had Stalin not overplayed his hand in the late 1940s, had there not been a coup d'état in Czechoslovakia in 1948, had we not had to go through the experience of the Berlin airlift, the political will in both Europe and the United States would never have been there to found the Atlantic Alliance.
The U.S. Congress would never have been concerned enough to agree to give an open-handed security guarantee against any type of threat to a group of European countries, particularly given the traditional American practice of fighting wars, of winning wars, but then retreating into isolationism at home. And even today we take the American commitment to Europe so much for granted that we forget that NATO was only the second military alliance that the United States had signed up until then in its entire history. Even then, the vote in the Congress was a close round thing; and when the Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, had to testify on NATO, he had to give a commitment that signing the Transatlantic Pact would not mean that any U.S. soldiers would be sent back to Europe.
Of course at that time, in 1949, Acheson was being totally sincere. But what he did not know was that within a year the war in Korea would break out, there would be worries of instability in Asia could produce instability in Europe. And American troops accordingly came back in large numbers and they've stayed in Europe, albeit in slightly smaller numbers, through this very day.
So there is no denying the fact that it was the perception of the Soviet threat to Europe in the 1940s that led to NATO. That perception, incidentally, was based not just on overwhelming Soviet military power but on the perception that left at themselves, the European countries would be too weak economically, too weak in a security sense, too divided to be able to withstand Soviet political influence domestically, as much as military pressure against their borders.
So NATO was not only a military alliance. From the very beginning it was also a political psychological confidence pact whereby the American umbrella allowed Europeans to regain their sense of identity, their sense of confidence, and to rebuild after the Second World War. There is even a case which I think can be made by historians that without the security blanket that NATO put in place, the willingness to risk both new experiments in European integration at the end of the 1950s would not have been there.
So yes, I think we have to acknowledge that NATO was the stepchild of Stalin. It was an alliance that responded to a developing Cold War situation, even if it was not itself responsible for creating the Cold War. But I would argue that the Cold War circumstances were already in place before April 4 th 1949, when NATO came into existence.
But, having said that, from the word 'go', there was a sense from both sides of the Atlantic that if NATO were only a Cold War organization, if its focus were only directed against Stalin or the Soviet Union, it would have no future. Because once those circumstances changed, NATO would lose its raison d'être.
So at the very beginning, the Treaty was left deliberately vague. Unlike many other treaties, it contains only a dozen or so articles. Nowhere in the Treaty is there a reference to the Soviet Union. Indeed, the Atlantic Pact was designed to cover European countries from any kind of threats or instability, or to be prepared to consult on security developments anywhere in the world.
This may not have seemed very necessary at the time, but it's turned out to be prophetic because the very looseness of the Treaty, the unspecificity of the Treaty, has allowed of course NATO, since the end of the Cold War, to take on issues in other areas of the world, whether it be in the Balkans or Afghanistan, to consult on all kinds of problems, such as terrorism or weapons of mass destruction that an anti-Soviet pact, in the classical sense of the term, would never have given us the legal basis to do.
The second aspect was that in the 1950s, the allies had a report by the so-called Three Wisemen, in 1956, three Foreign ministers that clearly said that if NATO were to thrive, it had to go beyond simply an American military guarantee, but to develop political institutions and a habit of political consultation, which would underline the permanent common values and common interests of the members.
And this led directly to the developments of the political side of the alliance, which has kept on growing and has become so important in dealing with problems today.
And then, throughout the Cold War period, NATO was constantly trying to adapt its strategy and its doctrine to deal with different times. And particularly in the 1960s, the prospect of the détente with the Soviet Union. In 1967, NATO's Harmel Report clearly spelled out that security could not simply reside in nuclear weapons, or nuclear deterrents, or high-level of defence spending, even if at the end of the day they were the ultimate guarantee. Security required a political tract trying to defuse tensions through transparency and engaging the other side. The détente aspect, the dialogue aspect, which NATO pursued at the end of the 60s by seeking with the Soviet Union reductions in conventional military forces in Europe.
And that, of course, led NATO into this whole business of dialogue and partnership, albeit in a rather tentative way, which has become so important in the tasks of this organization, since the end of the Cold War.
Having said that, it's true that the Cold War was a comfortable time for many people. When I was a student, one of the key books was written by a State Department's official, Anton DePorte. It was called : Europe between the super powers. And it expressed the common view at the time, which was ultimately that the division of Europe may not be morally a good thing, but it procured many advantages. The West did not have to worry about the problems of the East. The American security umbrella gave Western European the ability to survive on low levels of defence spending, which without the Americans, would have been impossible. And that money, of course, was applied into economic and social development creating the "Wirtschaftswunders", the economic miracles of the time, or to pursue European integration without needing to worry too much about what was going on in the rest of the world.
It seemed also to others that no matter how much they may have wanted the Soviet system to disappear, or Eastern Europe to be returned to a democratic government, but because of the division of Europe, because of the balance of power, the two scorpions in the bottle that Winston Churchill memorably described, there wasn't really much that we could do about it. According to George Kennan, the father of containment, the most we could hope to do was to maintain and wait for the Soviet system to gradually change from within, or even to mellow, or to fade away, which of course was ultimately was what happened.
But above all, even if there was a sense that the Cold War was not something that could be challenged through military power, through a roll-back strategy, NATO had to be ready when change suddenly began, and to be in a position, not to take military advantage of that change, but to seize the political opportunities. And of course, in 1989, suddenly the unthinkable happened on a night in November, the Berlin Wall was breached. People power had made itself felt and heard throughout Central and Eastern Europe.
And therefore, we come to the next question: Can NATO take any credit for the ending of the Cold War?
In one sense, no. The end of the Cold War was visibly the result of the popular, the velvet revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe, people power being expressed directly, and the Soviet Union realizing under Gorbachev that history was not on its side. Those that go against history are defeated by it, Gorbachev told the leader of East Germany, and therefore the ability not to stand in the way of necessary change.
So I'm not claiming that therefore NATO should take all of the credit for what happened. But it's difficult to believe either that that change in 1989 and 1990 would have happened had the Alliance not existed in the first place.
For one thing, as I said, NATO in the 60s and 70s was able to establish the practice of détente, of a contract between the two alliances... alliances, the beginning of transparency for openness in the relationship, which was a powerful driver of all the change in Central and Eastern Europe.
Secondly, NATO made it impossible for the Soviet Union to expand further in Europe after World War II thereby delivering a response to those that argued that the future of communism lay in a world revolution, or the ability to carry on expanding around the globe. Once NATO had blocked that expansionism, the belief that communism represented necessarily the future was dealt a powerful, psychological blow.
The next thing is that NATO helped Western Europe to grow economically, as I've said. And therefore, increasingly in the 1960s, the success of the Western model in delivering the goods of human happiness was visibly a powerful magnet on the peoples in Central and Eastern Europe, not to believe that they lived necessarily in a worker's paradise.
And then NATO too, also, created a situation in which it became pointless for the Soviet Union to try to win advantages through an arms race or a military competition with the West, given NATO's ability to respond. The decisive moment, in this respect, undoubtedly occurred in the 1980s, during the saga over the deployment of cruise and Pershing weapons, nuclear weapons, in Europe. This of course, today, in an age when nuclear weapons are so less important in NATO's strategy, seems like a long, long, long way away. But at the time, the NATO governments had a difficult time facing down very strong anti-nuclear protest movements, and a great deal of Soviet political opposition, demonstrating that despite the costs, they were capable of in fact going ahead with the deployment strategy.
This then gave the Soviet Union more of an incentive to negotiate these weapons away through arms control negotiations, than through confrontations. And in 1987, we had the INF Treaty, the forerunner of a whole series of arms control agreements in East-West relations that came thereafter.
So NATO's strength ultimately pushed the Soviet Union into forms of political cooperation that were not originally envisaged.
Finally, NATO undoubtedly committed the United States to the defence of Western Europe which had the advantage of anchoring Germany in the West, and solving, up until then, what historians have described as the problem of Germany, with its central location swinging between East and West.
And in fact, even the Russians ultimately recognized, despite a previous policy of seeking German neutrality, that Germany in NATO anchored in the West, integrated was better for their security and everybody's security than the Germany which was somehow unhinged.
Indeed, when Chancellor Kohl went to Russia, to the Caucuses in 1990 to negotiate German unification with Gorbachev, Gorbachev at the end agreed that it would be best for everybody if a united Germany remained in NATO, and a German unification would not come at the expense of the alliance.
So in other words, NATO's great contribution was to be a factor that created a durable political order in Europe where one had not previously existed.
Now, after 1989, of course the question immediately was on everybody's mind: Would NATO, despite a very impressive record, survive? Why should it survive, particularly as its so-called counterpart, the Warsaw Pact, disintegrated in the winter of 1990 and the spring of 1991. If no Warsaw Pact, what need for a counterpart in the West?
But strangely, there was never a debate about NATO suddenly disappearing. Yes, there was some hesitation among the NATO staff. I well remember a meeting that Manfred Woerner, the then Secretary General had to have with his staff reassuring many anxious staffers who feared for their future that NATO would be in business. He had more confidence than many of them at the time.
But there were fundamental differences between NATO and the Warsaw Pact that had been there from the very beginning. The Warsaw Pact was a forced alliance based on the limited sovereignty of its members, exemplified, of course, in the crushing of the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in August of 1968. NATO was a free alliance. Nobody had ever been forced to join. Indeed some countries, particularly in Scandinavia, had a very difficult domestic debate in the 1940s before deciding to go ahead and join in the first place. But having won that hard fought contest, thereafter they did not look back.
Others like Greece or France had left the military structure at various times. Others were quite happy to work out their own individual form of alliance membership in line with their political traditions, some contributed troops, other didn't. Some stationed these forces over seas, some didn't. Some hosted nuclear weapons on their territory, others didn't. NATO therefore was clearly an alliance which combined solidarity with a high degree of self choice at home. And NATO had always allowed any member that wanted to leave to give one year's notice and leave.
So NATO could, yes, have gone the way of the Warsaw Pact technically after 1990. So why didn't it?
Well, I think the first thing is that there was right then a sense that the end of the Soviet Union, the end of the Warsaw Pact, did not mean the end of security problems. Nobody suddenly believed that the disappearance of communism had created a nirvana, a golden age in which the allies would be able to live without armed forces, or to live without protection. Indeed, at the time, in the early 1990s, there were considerable fears that the collapse of the Soviet Union could not be peaceful any more than the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, or the Ottoman Empire at the same time, had been peaceful affairs.
And at a time of instability in the East, the key thing is to have stability and predictability in the West, and therefore to keep NATO. There was also the factor, as I said before, of making sure that Germany remained anchored in multi-lateral institutions provided by NATO and the EU. Nobody wanted to give up the U.S. link. Sure, in 1990 the idea of needing Americans for nuclear protection might have looked less urgent than in 1960. But everybody realized that if you gave up NATO and the American security guarantee, a Congress, perhaps in a more isolationist mood, might not be willing to grant that again in a future time of uncertainty. And having got it, the best thing was to keep it.
It's true, ladies and gentlemen, that certain intellectual figures in Eastern Europe did believe that NATO could be replaced with a collective security organization resembling the CSCE, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has now become the OSCE, the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe.
But interestingly enough, many of the key figures in Eastern Europe, like Vaclav Havel, who became subsequently the President of Czechoslovakia and of the Czech Republic, did not believe that that was the way to go. Havel came to NATO in 1990 and made one of the greatest speeches ever made in this building, apologizing on behalf of the Czechs for the propaganda that had been spread about NATO in his country for many years, and making it clear that he much preferred the predictability of a functioning security alliance to keep peace in Europe, than to go back to a League of Nations style collective security system, in which theoretically everybody is responsible for the security of everybody else; and in reality, nobody is responsible for anybody's security, a system which would come onto the domination of one or two great powers.
So the notion which was popular for a time that NATO could be dissolved in a new pan-European system did not hold for very long.
So even though maybe in 1990 it wasn't very clear where NATO would be going in the future, in a world without the dominant Soviet threat as the glue that would hold the allies together, there was still the sense that this had been an effective insurance policy, that it was based on a habit of cooperation and consultation and sharing of risks, of responsibilities and integrated military structure, and like an insurance policy, better to keep it and adapt it, and wait for the new threats and challenges to come along, to give it a meaning, than to do without it, but then try to have to reinvent it at a moment's notice, when those threats re-emerged.
But certain people did predict a boring future. I remember Lord Carrington, when he was Secretary General, telling his incoming Secretary General, his successor, Manfred Woerner, "Oh, I feel sorry for you! You're going to have such a boring time!" And of course, Woerner then had all of the excitement of having to deal with the collapse of communism and the reshaping of NATO after the Cold War. Carrington once telephoned him and he said "My God! Manfred! If I had known this was going to happen, I would have never have let you take over!"
But of course, by then it was too late, and Manfred Woerner, one of the greatest Secretary Generals, was firmly in the saddle.
Georgi Arbatov, who was a very famous Soviet strategist, the Head of the U.S. and Canada Institute in Moscow, made a reputation for himself by going around saying "We, the Soviets, have done something dreadful to you, NATO. We've taken away the threat, and you won't be able to survive without us."
Taking this formula to heart, Manfred Woerner then set out to prove that the security alliance can indeed survive without a threat by turning itself from a defence organization, upholding the status quo, into a security organization trying to, politically, not simply to protect itself, but to shape change around it.
Now, this, of course, was a tough business for the Alliance, and it dominated much of the 1990s. In essence, what NATO set out to do was to demonstrate that it could project to the East the type of stability and security which hitherto for only NATO members in the West have been able to enjoy. But unlike the Cold War where if you were in, you had everything, but if you were out, you had nothing, that NATO, in various stages, could extend security, different degrees to all of the many, many countries in the Euro-Atlantic area; not as an act of charity, although these programs, of course, considerably assisted NATO members themselves, but also because this would help to keep at a distance potential new threats, or potentially by stabilizing the hinterland of the Alliance make NATO's own military efforts be able to be considerably reduced, so that we could generally reap, as everybody hoped for, at the beginning of the 1990s, the peace dividend.
This story, I think, is well known to most of the people who would be tuning in to this particular lecture. The first thing, of course, was to make it clear at the end of the Cold War that NATO would not seek to take advantage of Soviet discomfiture. In Turnberry in 1989, we extended a hand of friendship to the East and made it clear that for us the time of confrontation was over, we were not going to pursue it, and that we wanted a dialogue with former adversaries. At the NATO Summit, in London, in 1990, we invited Gorbachev to visit NATO headquarters, something which, unfortunately, he never did. But his successors, hopefully, will do in the future. Certainly NATO has met with his successors and on many occasions.
In 1991, we created the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, because we were overwhelmed with the desire of so many former adversaries to not only benefit from a dialogue with the Alliance, but to actually want to come here and seek if, for some, NATO membership, but for maybe some form of practical cooperation, as if the closer they got to NATO, the more secure and the more comfortable with themselves they would feel.
In 1994, NATO's Summit in Brussels led to some major innovations in this regard. We launched the Partnership for Peace. This has been one of the most successful ideas of the 20 th century. A tailored-made programme of cooperation based on a Chinese menu of possible cooperation activities which allows any NATO partner state to do as much as it wants according to its political will, according to its budget, according to its security needs.
This program has been so successful that it now extends to the Caucasus and Central Asia, even Serbia and Montenegro, the only country that NATO ever fought a conflict against in its history in 1989, wishes to be a part of it. And a program so successful that it's now been extended in a different shape to seven countries in the Mediterranean and the Middle-East area as well. It's a program, which has helped the Central and Eastern European countries to gain democratic control over their armed forces, the first principle of democracy. To restructure their armed forces while retraining for civilian life those military officers that no longer have a role, to be interoperable with NATO so that they've been able to join us in our peacekeeping operations, to get help with the restructuring of their Defence ministries and other institutions.
This is kind of a permanent Marshall Plan for defence, which, as it has increasingly done the job in Central and Eastern Europe with more and more countries in this area joining NATO, can be extended outwards, therefore, further afield into Asia, into Central Asia, dealing with issues there like the drugs trade, like border security, that are very very germane to that area indeed.
If for no other reasons than the Partnership for Peace, NATO will have fully justified its right to survive for the first half of the 21st century. Eventually, these arrangements became so successful that they were developed into various other forms of cooperation. A Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council involving even more regular concentrations with our partners. The European neutral states that normally had given NATO a very wide berth coming in and realizing the cooperation with NATO would not mean the abandonment of neutrality.
Indeed, Switzerland joined NATO's Partnership for Peace years before it joined the United Nations. The current Secretary General, George Robertson, liked to go around every time he saw the U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, saying "Kofi, I've got something that you don't have: Switzerland!", although he can't unfortunately use that joke any longer because, as you know, two years ago Switzerland did finally join the United Nations.
But it was under the Partnership for Peace that Switzerland sent armed troops outside its borders for the first time since the end of the 18 th century. And vast numbers of other countries have been able to use the PfP to make a contribution to European security in a multilateral sense that they would not have been able to make alone.
NATO too opened its doors and enlarged to the three countries in 1999 to seven countries in 2002. Seven countries which will be not just de facto, but also de jure members of the Alliance next year before we have our Summit in Istanbul. At that time, ladies and gentlemen, 40 percent of our membership will be countries that used to be our adversaries, just a decade ago, ex-communist countries, which shows, I think, very graphically the extent of the transformation. That door will remain open proving a point which has never before existed in the history of European security, that a state can choose to be a member of the Alliance or not to be a member, that is its own choice. No other country can impose that choice upon it, but the small can have as much security as the big, getting away from the whole sphere of influence, arrangements that we used to have.
And finally, that history and geography are not fatalities, that because you have lived in the past in a rough neighbourhood, or because you have been part of somebody's sphere influence, does not mean that you cannot be a member of NATO tomorrow.
Some people ask, of course, well, how far can you expand and not lose your cohesion? The answer is we don't know. It's a very difficult question to answer. What we have learned so far is that new members coming into the Alliance have not been Delilah weakening of the powerful Samson, but in fact have constituted new blood, new ideas, new vigour for atlantism, vastly strengthening the Alliance, and putting a lot more in than so far they have had to take out.
Even Russia, the country that was for so long our adversary, is now embedded in a NATO-Russia Council where we meet to not talk about fighting each other but how we can fight together against modern problems such as terrorism.
So indeed, ladies and gentlemen, at the beginning of the 1990s, NATO had every reason to experience a degree of satisfaction. We've confounded the critics by outliving the systems that we were brought into existence to confront. The Warsaw Pact is gone, the Soviet Union had gone. We've proven that wooing adversaries instead of denouncing them could be a perfectly legitimate business for a security oganization, that expanding the zone East to finish the unification of Europe that was started in 1945 was a worthy goal. We've proven that NATO's ability to deal with the soft security aspects, retraining security dialogues, help, could be as worthwhile activities for a military structure as preparing to fight high-technology warfare.
We'd even achieve the ultimate, which was persuading Russia to bury the hatchet of the Cold War and enter into a relationship with us.
But at the beginning of the 1990s, by 91, 92, not only were people congratulating us but were wondering where the NATO's future lay in becoming a kind of security university. But perhaps, never again would we need to fight anybody. The Jaw-Jaw as Churchill would put it, has permanently replaced War-War as the main raison d'être for the Alliance. Der Spiegel, the German news magazine, in a famous cover, even declared that we could get rid of armies, we didn't need them any longer. There would be no conceivable threat on the horizon of European security, and that therefore, NATO's business, before going out of existence sometime in the future, was really to tidy up the unfinished business of the Cold War by completing the integration of East and West.
An attractive vision, no doubt, you would all think. But at the very moment when Der Speigel was announcing that the Bundeswehr could be abolished because Germany didn't need it any longer, at the very moment where we were seeing Europe as a kind of Arcadian continent in which war had been banished to the bad memories of the first part of the 20 th century, and that Europe now would be a model of civilized behaviour, of overcoming ancestral disputes to the rest of the world, at the very moment where it seemed that NATO could be a security organization without armed forces, down in the Balkans, in 1991, ethnic conflict broke out between Croatia and Slovenia, soon followed by the tragedy of the disintegration of Bosnia, and a civil war in Europe, which was soon to lead to 300,000 deaths, 2.4 million refugees and 65 percent of the entire population of Bosnia suddenly displaced.
The euphoria was dealt a very bad blow indeed. And therefore, in addition to partnership, suddenly NATO was thrust into a very different light. Could the Alliance, which had maintained that status quo strategically actually deploy forces for the first time outside its border? Could it get involved in ethnic conflicts based on ethnic lines? Could it keep the peace? In other words, could it be rather like the United Nations, an organization able to uphold peace beyond its borders and effectively handle crisis?
NATO was up to the challenge of partnership, would it be up to the challenge of Bosnia? And that's what I'd like to talk about in my next lecture when I will zero in more specifically on NATO's transformation, on account of its involvements in the murderous wars of the collapse of Yugoslavia in the second half of the 1990s.
Questions and answers
Q: I'm from Azerbaijan. My name is Sharif Zabaief. Mr Shea, thank you very much for finding time for organizing this video conference. We met last month in Brussels, in NATO Headquarters. I have two questions. My first question is: What is your assessment of the current level of cooperation between the south Caucasus nations and the alliance?
Second: What is your opinion about the following: What should these states do, apart from modernizing their armed forces up to NATO standards and ensuring interoperability, to join NATO? What do you think are the main reasons that are preventing us from proactively cooperating with NATO? Thank you.
Dr. Jamie Shea: Thank you for that. NATO is, as you can imagine, becoming more and more interested in assisting the countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia, because we very much realize, of course, that you face a set of particular problems in the area and that our Partnership for Peace, which began perhaps as a program overwhelmingly focused on the Central and Eastern European countries, has to be developed in a way which is more receptive to your concerns. And therefore, at the moment, NATO is sending teams to the region, in discussion with the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Defense, to try to look at how we can upgrade the Partnership for Peace so it deals better with the types of problems you face.
For example, we're trying to develop a particular program for the building of democratic institutions. Another one which I mentioned in my lecture is border guards to stop, for example, drugs or weapons of mass destruction, or terrorist organizations from transiting through open borders and over your territories. Another one, of course, is helping the process of forming police and effective military forces, so that more and more of that security burden can be assumed by your government, nationally speaking.
So I believe that the future of the Partnership for Peace lies very much in the Caucasus and Central Asia. One of the problems which has impeded this type of cooperation in the past is been resources, there's no doubt about that, because obviously, Partnership for Peace is a largely self-financing activity with some limited NATO money. One way around that is to establish trust funds, in other words, for specific projects, like border guards, or the retraining of retired military officers or humanitarian demining. We are appealing to the Allies to constitute trust funds which are enabling us to finance these activities.
Another one is partnering with the World Bank. For instance, in the region, we have a World Bank program now for the retraining of retired military officers, to help them fit back into civilian life. So to the extent we can solve the resource problem, we will be able to move forward decisively.
We also see more exercises under the PfP. It was true that at the beginning, most of the exercises were focused in Central and Eastern Europe but lately, what we've seen, and I think this is a good sign, is that there are more exercises, for example, in peace-keeping, taking place in the region, which are helping, of course, interoperability between a country like Azerbaijan and NATO. And of course, that interoperability also will allow your country to contribute where you wish forces capabilities for NATO’s ongoing peace support operations.
So there's obviously a fantastic amount of work that we still need to do, but I think that the political focus is now much more on your region than perhaps it was the case in the past.
Q: Lieutenant-Colonel Milksza from Romania. My question is if the ever-growing capabilities gap between the U.S. and NATO allies has any influence on the trans-Atlantic link and if it jeopardizes in any way the Alliance cohesion?
Dr. Jamie Shea: Thank you for that question. The answer is it could do, yes. NATO is based not just on the political identity of values between Canada and the United States and the European allies. The assumption of you know, despite inevitable political differences which you always have when democracies are debating something, that fundamentally, we share the same problems and we have a common interest in working together. America can't solve these problems alone, neither can Europe. The trans-Atlantic partnership is what makes the difference. So that is the credo on which NATO is based.
But you cannot have an effective alliance which is just based on values or on a common philosophy. You have to be able to act. That's what makes NATO unique. Frederick the Great of Prussia used to say that diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments. The values don't exist if you can't defend them and therefore, you have to be able to act together. And what made NATO different from many other international organizations was that it could actually deploy forces collectively as well as take collective decisions.
So interoperability is everything in the Alliance. And it's true that we face, now, a challenge. The United States is spending vastly more than Europe on defense. The U.S. is spending upwards of nearly 400 billion, whereas the European figure is about 150. So whereas the gap in the past was about 50 percent, now it's less in Europe. But of course, the consequences are that the United States, with the revolution in military affairs has moved forward into new generations of technology, new ways of doing things, new communication systems, new kinds of precision-guided munitions and a major lift capability based on strategic lift aircraft who go to crises, whereas Europe, which began its military revolution far too long after the Cold War and has just started in recent years with professionalization, with the end of conscription, with trying to become, like America, a global projection force, Europe is lagging behind and some American commentators in the past have said: We want to work with the Europeans, but we can't. What do they have to offer? Or are the problems in working with them greater than the advantages because we're not compatible?
So it's extremely important that we overcome this gap in the alliance. We cannot ask the Americans to stop their development and wait for us to catch up. Given the global challenges that America faces, that would be an unreasonable proposition. So Europeans have to catch up.
Can they? The question is yes, if they want to. European technology is as good as American technology: look at Airbus, which is a very tough competitor with Boeing. Look at Europe's ability to build satellites, which are as good as those of the United States. Look at the Airbus 400 aircraft, which when it exists, will be as good as U.S. strategic aircraft. So it's not as if Europe is technologically backward. The question for Europe, as you know, sir, is to be able to commit the resources, to take the decisions, so that we produce technologies, like America, in one year, not in 10 or 20 years, which tends to be the case at the moment.
The second thing is that European countries have got to work together to procure systems that they cannot afford to procure alone, such as precision-guided munitions, tanker aircraft for in-flight refueling and the all-important strategic lift aircraft so that you can go to the crisis and not wait for the crisis to come to you.
I'm glad to say that if you look at NATO today, these initiatives have started. NATO is transforming. We have the NATO Response Force, which is being developed. We have a new command structure, with one command devoted to transformation. We have a prior capabilities commitment which is now focusing countries on getting the things that we need, rather than the things that they may wish to have, but which do not allow us to carry out our operations. The question is, though: Can the Europeans do these things fast enough so that we narrow the gap with the United States, but more importantly, so that we are also able to service the greater number of missions that we are taking on?
What we see is a proliferation in the missions. NATO is now in Afghanistan as well as the Balkans. But we do not see a proliferation in the capabilities to undertake those missions. And the credibility of NATO is based on the fact that we have the military resources to make a success. The Secretary General, Lord Robertson, has pointed out that there is a usability issue: Europe has 1.4 million soldiers on paper, but at the moment, can only deploy 55 000 on a permanent basis overseas. This is a tiny fraction of the overall number.
So we need more international cooperation, more polling of resources, fewer troops, but those that we have are more usable than what we have at the moment. It's really a question of political will and going fast enough so that we have the troops there for the crisis and not after the crisis has already burst upon us.
Q: I'm Colonel Robert Tuchec from Bosnia-Herzegovina. You explained 10 min. ago what happened in my country, but I don't want to think about the past, I want to think about the future and please, could you tell me something more about the future in my country. What about your NATO mission in my country, SFOR troops, because there is rumor that the U.S.A. will leave the area. Thank you.
Dr. Jamie Shea: Thank you for the question. I believe that NATO sees Bosnia as a success story. It's true we've had to wait a long time to see the successes, but they are now there. This is a country which is finally beginning to gel together as a functioning state and society. Many refugees have come back in recent years and have been able to stay. We now see Bosnia participating in the Olympics, participating in football games like any other normal country. Even Bosnia, the other day, voting in the Parliament to send peacekeeping forces to Africa on U.N. missions. In other words, Bosnia as an exporter of security and no longer as an importer of security for its own problems.
Now, I'm not going to try to paint a picture which is totally rosy. We know from all civil wars, like that in the United States, like that in Spain, like anywhere else, that countries that have experienced that kind of violence take not just one year, but sometimes decades to recover fully.
But one thing that has given NATO a great deal of encouragement had been the fact that recently, the government has approved a defense law which will establish a Ministry of Defense, a Minister of Defense, a Chief of the Defense Staff, which will help to integrate the armed forces of the two entities: The Federation and the Republic of Serbia. And this will give much more of a state character to Bosnia's military doctrine and arrangements. And this is a key precondition for Bosnia to join the Partnership for Peace, which is something which everybody in NATO hopes that can be achieved in the near future. So it's very important that this new defense law be now passed by the assembly in Sarajevo and implemented.
Now, it's true that yes, we want, hopefully, one day, to end the SFOR mission. And why not? It was never designed to be there forever. It's not good for Bosnia as a country to have international peacekeepers on its territory forever, even if they are a stabilizing factor. We want Bosnia to be able to run its own affairs like any other country in Europe. And it's also important for SFOR to end successfully, to show the whole world that nation-building is possible.
We live in an age where, if you look at Iraq, or Afghanistan, or many African societies, there is a tremendous degree of pessimism about nation-building, the sense that Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together again, that conflicts cannot be resolved, that reconstruction, democracy cannot be built. And Bosnia, hopefully, will be an example that will say: No, that's wrong. But sure, it takes time. Sure, it takes patience and perseverance and effort but if we are willing to make that effort, after five, six, seven years, we will see light at the end of the tunnel. We cannot start new peacekeeping missions around the world if we cannot finish existing ones successfully, not only to release troops for the new missions because we don't, as I said, unfortunately, have an infinite supply of troops but also to create that climate of confidence that the job is doable and that, I believe, will happen in Bosnia.
Now, the international community will not abandon Bosnia. It's too early for that. But whether it's going to need 12 000 troops is something that I doubt. I think we can look to the end of SFOR. When, I don't know, perhaps next year, but the EU has already offered to take over that mission. And we'll have to see what happens then. But I'm sure both NATO, through the Partnership for Peace and the EU, through any follow-up mission which it agrees with NATO to take on, will stay committed. But the fact is that it will be more police and judges and fewer heavily-armed troops with tanks on the streets of Sarajevo or Banja Luka will be a sign that we really are moving forward and no longer going around in circles.
Q: A Captain from the German Air Force. Sir, I was wondering: In your article about Kosovo and the media, the Kosovo Crisis and the media, you pointed out it is necessary to train experts as long as you have the time and it's important to reinforce the department on information and press if it deems that the crisis is unavoidable. So I was wondering: Could you carry out your job, because I see that it's always difficult to spend money on something that is not yet happened, this is the problem always, and I was wondering could you convince NATO that it was necessary and have experts been trained for conflicts that may arise that have not yet arisen?
Dr. Jamie Shea: Well, thanks for this question. I think there are two aspects here. I think the first aspect is that many modern military missions are controversial. The public wants to know: Well, Afghanistan, I know it's a difficult place, but it's thousands of miles away. What's the connection between Afghanistan and our security? The Soviet Union was, if you like, a kind of Hollywood central casting threat, if I can use that expression. It was in central Europe, it was militarily powerful and not many people needed to be convinced that you needed some kind of alliance as a counter-weight for it.
But we're now dealing with conflicts that take place very far from our homes and the public needs to be convinced that stabilizing those societies is in our interest. As Lord Robertson often says, if we don't go to Afghanistan, Afghanistan, in terms of instability, drugs, will come to us.
So the first point, I believe, the media and press, and information activities is to convince people that it matters, that it's worth the efforts and the economic sacrifices, that we live in one world where other people's problems, if not dealt with, eventually become our problems too.
The other aspect, as we've discovered in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedoniaa, is that you have to also convince the local population to support what you're doing. A few years ago I was surprised and depressed to find out that NATO was not popular in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedoniaa. Many people did not understand what we were doing in the country, believed that we were maybe there to divide the country, or to support one ethnic group at the expense of the other. And it was our fault in a way that this bad image had occurred, because we were spending too much time influencing the international press and we were neglecting the local press. We weren't explaining ourselves to the local people. When we eventually realized this and began to set up a big media operation in Skopje, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedoniaa and to demonstrate that NATO was even-handed and was there really to keep the country together and to stop conflict, that our popularity went up.
So the local media everywhere is actually the key and now, of course, we face the same challenge in Afghanistan, in explaining to Afghanis why NATO, a Euro-Atlantic organization is now conducting its most ambitious mission to date in Asia.
Q: Vladimir Lebrenko Ukraine. Could you share with us what are the main problems the new members of NATO have to handle as part of the adaptation process? What difficulties have they met with? Also, the final decision on the part of the big seven, during the Prague Summit, the membership decision, what was it influenced by so Albania, Macedonia did not receive invitations. Why was that? And what are the prospects of a third wave of this process? Thank you.
Dr. Jamie Shea: Thanks. I think it was the Greek philosopher Herodotus who said, several thousand years ago of course, that no man ever steps in the same stream twice, because the stream is constantly flowing forward. And I suppose the difficulty in integrating into NATO for new members is the fact that they are undergoing a very thorough process of domestic transformation to get themselves up to NATO standards. But as they're doing it, NATO is changing. So it's rather like a moving platform, trying to shoot at a moving target. And therefore, they have to continuously revise their transformation because suddenly, NATO has a new command structure, or new capabilities commitment and they have to re-adapt to that.
For example, at the moment, one of the big issues that the seven are facing is: How can they make a contribution to the new NATO Response Force, which requires troops able to deploy not after two months, but after five days? Very challenging indeed.
But these countries are very enthusiastic, very motivated to join the Alliance, for them NATO is extremely important. It's not just seen as a doorway to the EU, it's seen as important in its own right and they are able to make the transformation because we're helping them. They are receiving through the Membership Action Plan, MAP as we say in the NATO jargon, much more guidance, expert help, advice than the Poles, the Czechs or the Hungarians had when they joined NATO between 1997 and 1999. So it’s not a one-way street, it's a two-way street process.
But obviously, you don't become a perfect ally overnight, that's recognized, any more than you become a perfect motorist one minute after you have passed your driving test. It's a question of time and experience and the adaptation of NATO is not, as I said, a one-time exercise, it's something that all allies, new and old allies, have to be ready to do constantly, rather like permanent education. As the threats change, the world changes and NATO has to change as well.
But I'm optimistic. As I've said, we've discovered that the new allies put more in than they get out. They are always there when it comes to contributing to NATO's new missions, being ready to share the burden and therefore, as I say, being bigger does not mean being weaker, far from it.
Now the open door will remain open. There were many countries that will be joining NATO next year that were bitterly disappointed when they did not receive an invitation in Madrid in 1997. At the time I know that in some countries, there was a sense: Oh, my God! NATO has not invited us. It's the end of the world. We are felled.
Nonsense. The fact that just a few years later they are Allies shows that in the great historical scheme of things, waiting one year or two years doesn't make a great deal of difference and that's the same message that I'd like to give today to Albania, Croatia or the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedoniaa, that may have been disappointed not to have been invited in Prague. The fact is they know that it's not only in NATO's interest, but it's in their interest if they join our alliance when they are ready for membership. The European Union is the same when they are able to make a contribution, when they are able to integrate.
And as I have said in my lecture, the fact that they are not in NATO does not mean that they're left in some grey zone, insecure and vulnerable, because the Partnership for Peace, the MAP, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, engages them perfectly and helps them in the meantime to deal with all of their security problems.
So I'm certain that this enlargement of NATO, even though it takes us to 26, won't be the last. What will be the last is something that I can't predict at the present time.
Q: Some people say that in NATO's transformation in the 1990s, it made just one, but an important strategic booboo. And that is that it forgot to change its name. Yes, keep the political consensus, keep the security guarantee, especially today, these are things that would be hard to recreate. But a symbolic change of name would have so much better communicated the organization's move from a defense, to a security organization, a North Atlantic Security Alliance, if you wish although that's taken by NASA no something different.
But basically, that would help so much better to communicate NATO's new priorities and avoid a lot of what we have today, NATO being perceived as a Cold War relic.
Dr. Jamie Shea: Well, it's true that Javier Solana, the previous Secretary General, was once told by Russians on a visit to Moscow that if he wanted to change NATO's image in Russia, which was very bad at that time for the reasons that the Cold War stereotypes you can imagine, the single most important thing that he could do was simply change the name. And that would be better, as you imply, than spending millions of dollars on a public relations marketing campaign.
But NATO hasn't changed its name, why not? Institutional inertia? No, I don't think so. If we changed the name, we would be sort of saying that there was something bad about the old NATO. And it's true that some people felt that because NATO is new today, we should sort of apologize for NATO as it was in the Cold War, as if there was something bad about that, because it was Cold War, it was status quo, it was east-west confrontation and that we should therefore contrast the bad, old NATO with the good NATO of today, which is partnership.
As I implied in my lecture, I don't agree with that. I'm the first person to salute NATO's post-war transformation and to say that an organization which risked irrelevance in 1989, when the threat disappeared, had no choice but to change, to survive. It's like the English diarist who once said: The thought of hanging concentrates a man's mind wonderfully. Absolutely true. We had no choice but to transform.
But the Cold War was not a situation we created. We inherited it and we did our best to prevent it turning into World War Three. We offered dialogue to the other side, we didn't try triumphantly exploit the situation in 1989, which we might have done. We helped the Soviet Union to downsize in Eastern Europe. And therefore, I don't think we have to sort of change the name because we're ashamed of what NATO was. So that's the first point I would make.
Secondly, NATO is a brand name like any other brand name, and what would you replace it with? This is the tricky part. For example, you could have said the Euro-Atlantic Cooperation. But NATO is now in Afghanistan. Where will it be tomorrow? So we would then have to change the name every six months as we launched the different operations, perhaps in a different geographical area of the world. And above all, what NATO means is the American-Canadian link to Europe. The Atlantic is the key dimension. There are so many European names in titles today, not just the European Union. There is almost nothing, these days in the world, an organization which has the word Atlantic in it. And therefore, I'm open, perhaps, to a name change if you really want one, but keeping that word, Atlantic, which is what NATO is all about, in a world in which, unfortunately, the word Atlantic has disappeared from so much in the vocabulary of international relations, is the one thing I would always want to be seen there.
Q: Sir, you've been mentioning the EU several times now. I would like to know: Where do you see the future in NATO-EU relations? Is it more a relationship of competition for mandate? You know the EU is building up its own airlift and sealift force, its own headquarters for this may be planned, its own intervention army. Or is it more a case of burden-sharing and of Europe closing the gap to America? Where you see the future relationship?
Dr. Jamie Shea: Well, I believe that dealing with the problems of the twenty-first century is going to require two major organizations working together: NATO and the European Union, in perpetual dialogue with each other, with overlapping interests, overlapping responsibilities, but with each with the ability to maybe do certain things that the other cannot do.
Both have tremendous advantages. NATO has the United States and Canada linked to European security. NATO has the peace-keeping experience. NATO has the integrated military structure. NATO has the relationship with Russia. NATO has the security partnerships with 27 countries in the Partnership for Peace, and seven in the Mediterranean Dialogue.
The European Union has economic dynamism, although we would like to see more of that in Europe perhaps at the present time. The EU has the whole range of crisis management capabilities: economic aid, justice, election observers, police, and the rest.
So clearly, it makes common sense to put them together as partners, thereby creating that twin-pillar concept that John Kennedy spoke about as long ago as 1962. When we work together, we can be effective. We have seen this already in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedoniaa, where NATO in the form of Lord Robertson, EU in the form of Javier Solana went there together, using their respective strengths, EU the economic carrot, NATO military pressure, and prevented a country, I believe, degenerating into open civil war.
I mentioned the fact that in Bosnia, the EU and NATO are working together. The EU had the police role, NATO the military role. And so, there are lots of examples whereby putting the assets together, we can have much more leverage over the situation.
What we want therefore, are two things. The first thing is we want the EU to develop a common foreign security policy. A divided, weak Europe, is no good to anybody, least of all to the Europeans themselves. It's not a partner for the United States. And it will only encourage the Americans to act through ad hoc coalitions of the willing, rather than acting through established institutions.
So it's in NATO's interest that the European Union pushes ahead in developing a common foreign policy but, also, security angle as well. There is enough work in the world to keep NATO and the EU occupied full-time. We don't, certainly, need to compete for each other's business. So we want that to be developed. But at the same time, it makes sense for the cooperation to be pragmatic. First of all, we should be transparent to each other. We should tell each other what we are doing. Secondly, we should avoid duplication. There's not enough money to have an EU army and a NATO army with different standards, different equipment, different doctrines. We need to make best use of a single set of forces available to both organizations.
And of course, we would like the EU to focus on the things that we need which is not, at the moment, more headquarters, more superstructures, but capabilities, the ships, the troops, the tanks, the aircraft and the helicopters which the U.N. and other organizations are crying out for in order to be able to stabilize the conflict areas of this world. And NATO has offered the EU an agreement which the EU has accepted, called Berlin Plus, in the NATO jargon, which gives the EU countries and the EU access to NATO's planning, access to NATO's capabilities, so that the EU can use all of NATO's experience and know-how in conducting military missions. And obviously, having got this agreement, it only makes sense not to duplicate it outside, which would be a waste of resources, but to make full use of it.
But we meet regularly with the EU, the cooperation is moving ahead and I believe that we are condemned to work together. You remember Benjamin Franklin's quip that either we hang together or we hang separately. And I think it's true that if we really want a stable world in the twentieth century, NATO and EU as rivals, as competitors to each other is the one thing we really don't need if we're actually going to have an impact on events.
Q: How flexible the organization is and how it's adapted over time to the new security environment? It's engaged in crisis management operations in the North Atlantic area but also, beyond there. And do you actually see it in the near future engaging in preventative military operations?
Dr. Jamie Shea: Well, they exist to some degree already. You could argue that Kosovo, for NATO at least, was prevented in the sense that we stopped it, we intervened to stop what clearly would have been a humanitarian tragedy with vast numbers of refugees on a permanent basis, by the way, not able to go back in the region and further destabilization and so, to some degree, preventative actions have taken place already. The U.N. launched one in 1994 by putting preventative troops, mainly U.S. and European, in a U.N. operation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedoniaa. We are acting, to some degree, preventively, in Afghanistan, if you want to see it as a way of preventing a situation of anarchy which would undermine the ability of the current government of President Karzai to effectively administer the territory.
So yes, I think it's clear and I think the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedoniaa, where NATO and the EU intervened together to stop a civil war, shows that it's much easier to act early on in a crisis, before things have degenerated to the point of armed conflict and bring both sides to the negotiating table, than to try to do something once the passions have risen, the fighting has started, nobody wants to make peace because they fear they're going to be the loser and as in the tragic wars of Bosnia, it takes many, many hard, long years, before you can finally convince the parties to give up their tirade and thousands of people have died who otherwise may not have died. So preventative action, I think, is going to be an increasingly important feature of the modern security scene.
Q: Changing the actual nature of the Alliance, is it becoming in addition to being a defensive organization often engaging in preventative operations?
Dr. Jamie Shea: It's a side of defense, of course. Defensive strategy was never to wait for catastrophes to happen before deciding if there was a reason to do something. We've seen, as I've said, in the Balkans, the terrible consequences of delaying, of waiting too long, of trying to sort out whether this was an international war or a civil war and those lives are not going to come back, as we know.
But the key thing is first of all, for the alliance, preventative action will require a basis in international law. That's clear. In many cases, we will seek the approval of the United Nations Security Council, obviously, which NATO has always done, by the way, for every single action, we have never not sought a U.N. Security Council endorsement and in every case except one, the Kosovo air campaign, we've had that U.N. Security Council endorsement. The decision will have to be a collective one of all 19 allies. There will be no majority voting on these things. Many countries, of course, will have domestic constitutional procedures to accomplish, like in Germany, or Hungary, or Turkey, parliamentary approval.
But to answer your question, the key thing is that we are able to speed up our decision-making, not change it, not make it less democratic, but to speed it up in such a way that we can actually use the NATO Response Force as an instrument of prevention and take advantage of the fact that it will be able to arrive anywhere within five days. There is obviously little point of having more rapid reaction forces if the decision-making is not as rapid as to take advantage of that speed.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank both listeners, friends and colleagues and the Garmisch audience here for being here today and asking questions, which were obviously better than the answers. That's in the nature of good questions. And I look forward to the second lecture in this series in a few weeks’ time when, as I said to remind everybody, will be focusing in more detail on NATO's experience in the Balkans in the 1990s.
Thank you very much.