Rede von Klaus Naumann, NATO

Klaus Naumann

General ( ret )

NATO and the Post-Saddam World

The Future of the Transatlantic Relations

I was asked to talk about NATO after Prague and Iraq and I should start by saying that Prague was a true success after NATO had been left on the sidelines following the historic invocation of Article V. Obviously those in the U.S. who believe in alliances and who understand that an alliance can never be a tool box from which its leading nation can choose and pick allies to form coalitions of the willing had prevailed in fall 2002 and this lead to the remarkable success at. Prague. Prague sent a very strong signal of unity and it heralded to the world two messages:

  1. NATO will achieve the Europe whole and free it had had in mind at its inception in 1949.

  2. NATO will take on the challenges of the 21st century and it will act there where it will be necessary, be it inside our outside the NATO Treaty Area.

The Prague Summit thus marked a defining moment in NATO’s history since NATO became de facto a global alliance and it decided to transform NATO accordingly.

To this end NATO decided to establish the NATO Response Force (NRF ) and its member nations agreed on the Prague Capabilities Commitment ( PCC ).

Hope prevailed after Prague that nations would eventually do better than they had done in the years after the Washington Summit of 1999 when they had entered commitments to modernise their military capabilities but had failed to honour them.

These hopes and the optimism vanished during the Iraq Crisis, which eventually became NATO’s most severe crisis ever. Political ineptitude prevailed on both sides of the Atlantic and at the climax of the crisis three nations, among them unfortunately Germany, put an axe at the roots of NATO when they refused to permit precautionary planning for the defence of Turkey. They thus destroyed the confidence of the member nations, and most importantly of the nations, which will soon be members, in NATO’s pivotal promises, collective defence.

This crisis is not yet over since the most precious asset of NATO was severely damaged, the trust into each other and the confidence that NATO will continue to take the line it had so successfully taken throughout the Cold War: United we stand all for one and one for all.

There we are and therefore we have to ask ourselves, which are the challenges and what should be done to overcome them?

Challenge number one is in my view to restore trust.

To this end nations should remember the commitments they had entered at Prague and they should demonstrate that they would implement the summit decisions this time.

This means first and foremost to make the NRF fully operational by 2006. To achieve full operational capability by 2006 requires more than nominating some extant forces without modernising them, without transforming them into 21st century forces capable of expeditionary war-fighting and being fully interoperable with U.S. Forces.

The onus is therefore undoubtedly on the shoulders of the Europeans but the U.S. must make a contribution as well: It has to abandon the flawed view that the U.S. does no longer need alliances, it must prove that it wishes to strengthen NATO and it must grant its allies access to the decision making process instead of reducing their role to the execution of decisions taken in Washington without proper allied participation.

Challenge number two is to find common answers to some of the uncertainties our nations are confronted with.

There is the growing interconnectivity and the interdependence of our world which will make everybody aware that our world consists in reality of three different worlds that exist in parallel, the post-modern, the modern and the pre-modern. In each of these worlds there are different ways to settle conflicts and the post-modern way of peaceful settlements has and will for quite some time not be applicable on a global scale. It is simply an illusion to believe that the despots and tyrants of this world will be amenable to peacefully negotiated agreements which would mean for them to agree at the end of the day to accept some reduction of their power. They will not and therefore one has to accept that the use of force will remain the last resort of international politics. As our world is such a use has to be legitimate and, desirably, legal as well and this latter point means it has in principle to be sanctioned by the UNSC unless it were self-defence. A further evolution of international law is in my view unavoidable but it will take time, I suspect long time. Therefore to insist on legality must in the meantime never mean to allow the bad guys of this world to do whatever they wish to do and to pretend that their national sovereignty will protect them against intervention. Consequently, the future will bring war back on the stage. War is alive and well outside Europe and North-America. This is one of the unpleasant realities with which our nations will have to cope.

Legality must also never mean to deploy forces and to authorise ROE which ties one hand of the deployed military on their backs whereas the opponents do not show the slightest respect for any other law but the law of the jungle which means the rule of force. In addition to this discrepancy of respect for the law this phenomenon of the three simultaneously existing worlds will mean that the military of the NATO Nations have to be prepared to fight across the full spectrum ranging from the pre-modern struggle man against man to the post-modern cyber war. A glance at my crystal ball suggests that we will most probably see an increase of the use of force in conjunction with little to no respect for the limits and the rules set by international law. No doubt, a review of both the “ ius ad bellum” and the “ius in bello” seems to be appropriate.

This discrepancy may lead to ever growing violence against unarmed and unprotected civilian citizens of our nations. Our adversaries, in particular those who hate us since they the see our way to live and our way to communicate with the world as a deadly threat to their islands of ideologies, religious fervour and fanatism, will attack the Achilles heels of our post-modern societies, our citizens in order to compensate for their military inferiority. The tragic events from 9/11 to Riyadh will be followed by further attacks and we have to acknowledge that there will never be a 100 % protection.

Terrorism will remain with us for a very long time to come and our nations must know that we entered a war at a global scale of unknown duration, against an enemy whose face we do not know and in which one cannot achieve quick victories. But we should refrain from harbouring one illusion on the war on terrorism: As true as it is that this war cannot be won by military means alone as fatal would it be to believe that one could achieve a peaceful settlement with terrorist who hate our way to live.

These discrepancies between us, the nations who share the same convictions and values and most of the countries in the world exist and we, the NATO Nations, will neither be able to reduce them substantially nor to eliminate them. Furthermore they may, at least temporarily, be aggravated by the risks and uncertainties NATO will have to cope with and which will determine the relevance, the role and the mission of NATO.

Further uncertainties emanate from some of the unfinished processes of political transformation in Europe. You all are aware that neither the EU nor NATO has found a political formula for the Balkans. The Serb national question has not been answered nor has the Albanian. None of the issues in the Caucasian powder-keg has been brought closer to a political settlement. The last remaining totalitarian dictatorship in Europe – Belarus - cannot be tolerated forever and the issue of the integration of a democratic Ukraine into the West awaits a solution, presumably the most important unresolved issue in Europe if one assumes that the transformation of Russia into a democratic and modern state is on its way although it may take decades.

Challenge number three concerns NATO’s transformation. It has to go far beyond the NRF. Transformation means much more than the modernisation or restructuring of some military instruments. NATO has to review its political decision making process and it has to reflect on touchy issues such as the pre-delegation of some response options to the military authorities in certain time critical tasks such as missile defence.

This latter issue is presumably the politically most difficult one. To make the member nations agree on it will require great skill, firmness and resolve on the side of the incoming Secretary General and the preparedness to cross thresholds on the side of nations.

But transformation requires as well reviewing and adapting the entire force planning process as appropriate. Moreover, a review of extant national force planning deems necessary. To this end NATO should avail itself of the new Allied Command Transformation ( ACT ) to establish planning priorities for the nations, which reflect the requirements, established by the Allied Command Operations or SHAPE as it were. This is clearly an approach different from today’s force planning in which nations more or less tell NATO what they would like to see as NATO Force Proposals. Such a planning process could well result in proposals such as to establish multi-nationally manned and NATO owned and operated force multiplying component forces for ground surveillance, precision long-range engagement or deployable theatre ballistic missile defence. Thus the allies of the U.S. would acquire capabilities which matter for the U.S. and which therefore produce political influence without copying the U.S.

To make such an approach happen the Europeans must be willing to give such ideas priority over national programs, which in many cases still produce legacy forces. The allies have to understand that dominant battlefield awareness achieved through C4ISR, precision strike capabilities and focused logistics have to be in the driving seat for both NATO and national force planning. The U.S. should push for such an approach instead of asking nations to develop niche capabilities, which is at the end of the day a result of the flawed view that NATO should be a toolbox. The Europeans on their side should be eager to take that line since it will produce some, albeit limited capabilities which will enable them to act independently in crises in which the U.S. are either not capable to act or do not wish to be engaged.

Challenge number three is that NATO shaken as it is will have to review its 1999 Strategic Concept rather sooner than later. This concept is no longer in line with the US National Strategy Document nor with the evolving EU strategy paper. Both documents have much in common and, most importantly; they reflect the realities of today’s strategic environment. Hence, a review and an adaptation of the 1999 Strategic Concept is inevitably necessary. Such a review process would at the same time allow the U.S. and its allies to reflect upon the geographical areas in which both sides have common interests and to select an area of main emphasis. This is another difficult task but it is unavoidable since NATO cannot be the global policeman and it will achieve more if it concentrated its limited resources to those areas, which matter most for all allies. Moreover, a NATO, which signalled in which area, its main emphasis is might well be able to restore deterrence to some extent. I could imagine that the U.S., Canada and the Europeans will be able to agree on the area of the Greater Middle East, the area ranging from Morocco through the Levant and the Middle East proper to Afghanistan and Central Asia, as the area of main emphasis in which NATO will the option of choice should crises require to look at military options as well.

A follow on step worthwhile to be considered could be to draft a grand strategy of crisis prevention and stabilisation, which would encompass all instruments of politics. Should NATO be able to master this challenge as well it will restore itself, as the truly indispensable alliance and it would create a platform for a new dimension of cooperation with Russia.

Challenge number four for NATO will be to succeed in increasing defence efforts while most of the national resources will be needed to modernise societies and to complete the process of EU enlargement. No doubt, most Europeans must do more but the Americans could and should help them through more preparedness to share technology or to co-develop equipment. Most Europeans understand that transformation does not come for free. Therefore the preparedness seems to grow that the minimum for all allies should be what NATO set as condition for the new members: To spend two percent of the GNP for defence. It should be feasible to arrive at this level by the end of this decade despite the many competing demands. It should also be possible to follow the example given by nations like the British to exploit all possibilities to spend the allocated money more wisely and to explore the options public private financing may offer. In addition Europe should identify those areas in which either the Europeans can offer more advantageous solutions or those in which the American force posture shows weaknesses, which the Europeans might be able to reduce. If the U.S. were willing to transfer in return some of the technology needed for a quick transformation then the NATO Nations would kill two birds with one stone: Transformation would be accelerated and interoperability would be vastly improved.

In conclusion, I believe that these or similar steps would help to heal the transatlantic rift. The allies would thus be able to respond to the two additional challenges, which the future will bring:

  1. The shift of strategic paradigms, which is about to happen. The aim in future armed conflicts will increasingly shift from enforcing political objectives through destruction and attrition to the paralysation of the opponent through crippling his ability to control his country and to employ his armed forces.

  2. If such an approach were initiated now the allies would be prepared to cope with the next revolution in military affairs, which will most probably knock at our doors around the year 2020. By then nano-technology and biotechnology might offer opportunities which could well revolutionise today’s ways to run military operations.

A NATO, which was prepared to cope with these two clearly foreseeable challenges, would be well placed to cope with the many uncertainties the future seems to hold. It would be ahead of t he power curve and this would help to restore the transatlantic relationship which both sides, the Europeans as well as the Americans, need today and for the foreseeable future as badly as the Europeans needed them to end the Cold War and to overcome the division of Europe.