The Future of NATO

Speech by Federal Minister Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble at the 140th Bergedorfer Gesprächskreis of the Koerber Foundation in Berlin

The security situation has changed radically since the end of the Cold War. The con-flicts that developed in Africa and above all in Eastern Europe in the 1980s and the 1990s after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the collapse of the Soviet Union are also referred to as the ?New Wars?. What distinguishes them from the ?Old Wars? is the players involved, the objectives they are pursuing, the methods of violence used and the way they are being financed. In these conflicts, the boundaries between armed battle, personal violence, organised crime and mass violation of human rights are being gradually erased.

It is true that one always lives in times of change and many things are perhaps not quite as new as they appear to be at first glance. This also applies to asymmetrical warfare and asymmetrical conflicts. There are many examples in history of what we would refer to today as ?asymmetrical wars?: The tactics used by George Washington and the colonial militia during the War of Independence are a classic example of guerrilla war. The list can be continued right up to the 19th and 20th century from the Spanish War of Independence opposing French Emperor Napoleon’s invasion of Por-tugal and Spain right up to Vietnam. The US military coined the phrase ?low-intensity conflicts? during the Cold War to describe partisan warfare.

So even though there is nothing new about asymmetrical conflicts, their importance and sheer scale have certainly changed. What is new, however, is that they have now become the main form of conflict resolution. They reveal the darker side of glob-alisation. The rapid development of information and communication technologies and the resulting process of global convergence have proven to be a considerable gain in freedom for our liberal societies. The increase in global integration ? a combination of social, economic and political forces ? has, however, also led to a loss of state sov-ereignty. And it means global crises and conflicts are having a much more rapid and immediate effect on the Euro-Atlantic stability area than would have been the case even a few years ago.

Nothing highlights the boundaries of national politics more clearly than the economy. In times of growing convergence of the global economy, countries are losing their regulatory powers. Yet these changes are affecting all areas of our lives. In the same way as we have a globalised economy, we have an increasing globalised security situation. The threats and challenges facing our security are less predictable than they used to be. In this day and age, criminals and terrorists have access to means of violence which the state had a monopoly on up to very recently. This too is threaten-ing the assertiveness of sovereign nation states as well as the state?s monopoly on violence ? in some regions of the world actually leading to the complete dissolution of states.

The more permeable borders become, the greater is the need for international coop-eration. Contrary to the era of the traditional nation state, countries nowadays rely much more heavily on closer and more diversified cooperation and are indeed rising to this challenge ? we have achieved a new quality of cooperation especially in Europe. Cooperation in supranational organisations like NATO is equally important.

Nowadays, there are practically no political tasks worth mentioning that countries are able to handle on their own. Multilateral structures and decisions offer a better means of preventing conflicts and threats from escalating. That is precisely why we need to adopt a multilateral approach.

However, we cannot take multilateral decisions and then turn around and say we do not want to be involved in implementing them. This is why we Europeans need to become more involved. Yet if we want a strong, capable, responsible and coopera-tive Europe, we should not see ourselves as a counterbalance to the Unities States of America, but as partners, as a strong European pillar in the Atlantic Partnership. We will be able to communicate our position in the transatlantic dialogue most effec-tively as partners and it is as partners that we are most likely to achieve our common goal which is to safeguard freedom and security.

In principle, the Transatlantic Trends 2007 published by the German Marshall Fund think-tank paint a positive picture as far as concerted action by Americans and Euro-peans in future is concerned: 88 percent of Europeans hold the view that the Euro-pean Union needs to take great responsibility for dealing with global threats. And the majority of Europeans (54 percent) think the European Union should do so in part-nership with the United States rather than on its own.

However, it is not quite clear how this can actually be achieved: the vast majority are in favour of committing peace-keeping troops but are opposed to deploying more troops for combat actions in general. Solid majorities of Europeans and Americans supported contributing troops to international reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Yet Europeans and Americans differ on whether to commit troops for combat opera-tions against the Taliban, with the approval of 70% of Americans and only 30% of Europeans.

Yet the practitioners involved in the mission in Afghanistan ? officers and generals who have been there are telling us that it is not possible to draw a clear line between the ISAF mission and Operation Enduring Freedom. Of course the soldiers work to-gether locally. And if our allies in the South of Afghanistan had not cracked down on the Taliban as resolutely as they have done, we would soon have encountered far more security problems in other regions of the country and would be facing attacks by the Taliban. This is where powers of persuasion are called for.

At the same time, it is correct to say that the military alone is not enough. This applies in particular to international civilian crisis intervention and to joint stabilisation mis-sions abroad. Military means can only develop their full potential in the long term if they are used in tandem with other instruments, namely political, economic, police, judicial, and development policy instruments.

Missions such as those in Afghanistan are necessary in order to restore a minimum of security and order which are the basic prerequisite for stability and social devel-opment. Yet in the end what we need to do is to convince the people of our values of a liberal society. This is the only way we can bring permanent stability to crisis-ridden regions. Hard power alone is not enough, we need soft power too. And when we say ?we? in this day and age, we should mean above all Europe and the Western com-munity of values.

We may not be able to turn everyone into convinced supporters of our Western way of life, but we must succeed in cutting terrorists off their support. Development pro-grammes based on long-term considerations and programmes aimed at establishing stable civilian structures must be part of these endeavours.

The parliamentary group of the CDU/CSU presented its security strategy in the Ger-man Bundestag recently, outlining its considerations on further development of the Federal Security Council. And it contains the proposal to initiate a discussion on how the Parliamentary Participation Act might need to be amended in respect of overseas missions if units of the Federal Armed Forces are used as an integral part of multina-tional deployment military crisis management. This discussion could also take place within the framework of NATO.

This proposal does not mean that the parliamentary scrutiny reservation would basi-cally be called into question in connection with overseas missions in multinational organisations. On the contrary: we need to consider how parliamentary participation could be organised meaningfully in any such case scenario. Just imagine what would happen if multinational troops of NATO countries were to be deployed overseas at short notice and all the Parliaments of the countries concerned had to take a decision on it first.

NATO and the countries of the Transatlantic Alliance now face threats that are more dynamic, more complex and at the same time more unpredictable than they ever were during the Cold War. This applies in particular to international terrorism: the ter-rorist attacks of September 11 at the very latest revealed the sheer scale of terrorist threat facing NATO and Western civilisation which also raises issues under interna-tional law. Although the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were planned and prepared outside the United States, they were launched on US soil.

International terrorism is breaking the old divide between internal and external secu-rity. The decision by the UN Security Council to rate the attack on the World Trade Centre as a case of collective self-defence pursuant to Article 51 of the UN Charter and hence as a state of defence under international law demonstrates this just as NATO? subsequent invoking of the self-defence clause pursuant to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty does ? a first time in the history of the Alliance which continues to be the legal basis for Operation Enduring Freedom.

NATO must and will face the changed set of challenges. This not only include devel-oping collective military skills, but also admitting new members insofar as this will contribute to the security and stability of Europe and North America, further develop-ing relations with Russia and intensifying existing partnerships in global terms too. We also need to address new types of serious attacks within NATO that call for de-terrents other than military ones, such as IT-based attacks right up to so-called cyber war.

The transatlantic community is based on a broad bedrock of common values and be-liefs. We must make a concerted effort to maintain this fundament as a prerequisite for freedom and security ? through our joint work in crises-ridden regions. Yet we must try not just there, but also here in our Western societies, to convince people of our liberal democratic values. Global mobility and migration, but also growing indi-vidualism, the loss of traditions and ties are making our societies more heterogene-ous. One of the most important tasks in our globalised world is therefore to ensure our societies do not drift apart, but maintain a sense of togetherness.

This includes creating the prerequisites for integration. Also the German Islam Con-ference which I initiated is intended to and will make a contribution to that. If we don?t want to live in isolation from each other, we will need to foster a more intensive dia-logue between Muslims and non-Muslims.

If we see the changes and tasks resulting from them in their overall context, we will achieve the most for the freedom and stability of our societies and hence for our se-curity and freedom too. We have every reason to defend our values and beliefs: our system of liberal democracy may make us more vulnerable, but at the same time, it is our greatest strength.