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ERIC SCHWARTZ: Because the Cold War no longer exists, the international system has become much more complicated.
KEITH PORTER: This week on Common Ground, US-European security.
LORELEI KELLY: The truth is, is that international engagement for the United States is a condition. It’s not a choice.
KRISTIN MCHUGH: Common Ground is a program on world affairs and the people who shape events. It’s produced by the Stanley Foundation. I’m Kristin McHugh.
PORTER: And I’m Keith Porter. President George W. Bush says he supports the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but Europeans are skeptical about his level of commitment. US plans to build a missile defense shield, and President Bush’s wavering position on American peacekeeping involvement in the Balkans are only adding fuel to the debate.
MCHUGH: Lorelei Kelly is a Senior Associate with the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington, DC, who works on congressional issues. Eric Schwartz is a public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson Center and a former Special Advisor to President Clinton. I recently visited with both about the Bush administration’s relationship with our European allies. I started by asking Eric Schwartz to provide his insight on the Clinton administration’s view of Europe.
ERIC SCHWARTZ: In large measure the similarities will outnumber the differences. I think both administrations see the American role in the world in preserving peace and security as critical. That we have something like 200,000 troops overseas, from the Persian Gulf to the Koreas to Europe. And I think that the commitments of the Clinton administration and the commitments of the Bush administration are gonna be roughly similar. I think the two critical differences in the two administrations that we see initially is that first, candidate Bush took the position that the Clinton administration was overengaged in peacekeeping operations, humanitarian operations, involving large-scale human suffering in places far away from the United States. The Clinton administration took the position that those sorts of commitments, number one, that trouble far away could become trouble at home, and number two, that America as the moral leader of the world and by far the most powerful nation in the world, had an obligation to try to address human suffering. So that was one basic difference.
And the second basic difference is on the question of missile defense. The Clinton administration took a much more cautious approach to essentially changing the strategic nuclear doctrine that has preserved peace and security since the end of the, of World War II. And in which it, the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, where basic deterrence, where we have the ability to annihilate our adversaries through use of nuclear weapons and our adversaries have the same ability. And the Clinton administration took a cautious approach towards fundamental changes in that doctrine. Where the Bush administration has taken a much more forceful approach towards changing that doctrine and trying to develop or move forward on the development of what they initially called national missile defense, which would essentially seek to protect the United States through a missile shield from attacks, as the Bush administration has argued, from rogue nations-that is evildoer nations like North Korea, Iraq-that might develop the capacity to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. So those are the, sort of the major differences.
MCHUGH: Now Lorelei Kelly, you do spend some time on the Hill, so can you maybe give us an overview of what you think is the Bush administration’s policy? At least what’s emerged so far, early in the term?
LORELEI KELLY: Well, early in the term one of the things I think did happen is that the Bush administration came out kicking to determinedly set itself apart from the Clinton administration. I think what we’ve seen in fact in the last month, a hasty retreat on that. The truth is, is that international engagement for the United States is a condition. It’s not a choice. We will be engaged. It’s how we’re engaged, I think, that is an important question that leads to lots of bipartisan problem solving-you would hope. I think one of the differences is indeed the priorities of these two administrations. One of the things that the Clinton administration did do was put democratization out there as a security issue. It broadened the definition of security with actual implemented programs. You know, declaring AIDS a security issue because of its stability implications. Programs like the nonproliferation of nuclear materials programs in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Tremendously successful in many ways and deserving scrutiny in other ways.
What worries me about making missile defense the centerpiece of your foreign policy is that it inevitably disrupts all of these other programs. And especially when you consider our relationships around the world and with our European alliance. I mean, missile defense is definitely not a high priority for them. They are very interested in probably what you could call a broader definition of security, meaning stability in the Balkans, which is a lot about long-term economic prosperity and basic issues like what we disdain to call nation building. But the truth is that long-term stability will require basic elements like prisons, police, and courts. Those are the questions that we’re dealing with now.
I do have to say that the Bush administration has taken quite a big initiative in asking the Pentagon to do a review, simply to shake up the sort of Cold War momentum is a good thing. I think what I’m waiting to see is how truly progressive and problem-solving the outcome will be and what the priorities really will be.
MCHUGH: Well, you know, I live and work in Iowa. And so I saw every presidential candidate more than once come through during the campaign. And I don’t remember defense and security being major campaign issues. And yet now they seem to be the hot button in Washington. Is this by design? Or did something suddenly change in the world? Lorelei Kelly?
KELLY: Oh, I definitely think foreign policy, defense, and security issues have come back onto the radar screen in a big way in the last 18 months. Possibly it’s because some sort of a critical mass has been reached in headlines, that people are seeing things come together. I think that part of it might be that globalization reminds people that there’s a world out there. And certainly the largest street actions we’ve seen in the last ten years have been over globalization.
MCHUGH: Eric Schwartz, your thoughts on whether or not this was, you know, put on the map suddenly or that it’s actually been on the map for a while?
SCHWARTZ: Well, I think that it was not a prominent part of the campaign. I think the issues we’re discussing were always of great importance to senior Bush administration advisors. And my concern, given the contrasts between the dearth of discussion of these issues during the campaign and the headlong approach of the Bush administration in particular on national missile defense, is that if we’re gonna move forward on such fundamental changes they ought to be the subject of a really full and fair debate within the Congress and within the American public before we make irreversible decisions. We’ve had a system of deterrence, of keeping the peace in terms of nuclear arsenals for more than 50 years. And to change that significantly raises some very serious questions. If we move forward on national missile defense will we encourage the Chinese and the Russians to build up their offensive capabilities to thwart a missile shield? Will we undermine the diplomatic efforts that we’ve undertaken for many years against rogue states?
MCHUGH: How would you rate our relationship with Europe and our allies, knowing all of that?
SCHWARTZ: Well, I think that our allies and the Europeans in particular have a basic beef with the Bush administration, and the short-hand term is they’re concerned about the unilateralism of the Bush administration. What does that mean? Well, what it means is they’ve been concerned about the way in which decisions are made and the decisions that are made. In other words the process and the substance. They’re concerned that, that decisions seemed to be, being made or have been made prior to his coming into office without adequate consideration and consultation on issues where the Europeans have a tremendous stake. And they’re concerned that the decisions themselves reflect a US desire to withdraw.
What are the examples of this? There are three or four that come right to mind. One is on this issue of peacekeeping and engagement. The Europeans regard the US commitment in the Balkans to be absolutely critical to maintaining the peace and security in the region. And see it tied up with our commitment to NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Preliminary statements by the Bush administration suggested we were going to withdraw as quickly as we possibly could. Lorelei was correct that they have been backing away from some of those initial statements. But the Europeans are still very concerned. So it’s that sort of engagement in peace operations.
A second issue is the issue of global warming, where even the Clinton administration had acknowledged that the global warming treaty which they had signed was flawed and that we were not prepared to ratify it. But we were prepared to engage with the Europeans in trying to move forward on the issue. And the Europeans are very concerned that the Bush administration has indicated no intention to move forward on that treaty.
The third issue is national missile defense, which we’ve already discussed. And there are others that we probably don’t have time to go into. But it’s a European concern about the process: that is lack of consultation; and the decisions themselves that seem to suggest that America is withdrawing from commitments that we’ve made to the Europeans. And why should that be of concern to us as Americans? It should be a concern to us as Americans not only because of our long-standing historical ties to the Europeans but the fact that we need the European support for a lot of things that really matter to us. Maintaining sanctions and a solid front against rogue states like Iraq. Trade and economic issues. It’s a two-way street and if we don’t demonstrate a deference to their concerns then we’re gonna find issues much more difficult for us.
MCHUGH: Lorelei Kelly, I see you shaking your head on this, a lot of his points.
KELLY: In terms of our relationship with our alliance, yes, I do think that there has been a wedge driven between the Atlantic alliance in the last six months. I think that the problems are very often style, maybe not substance, but we don’t hear about the substance until there’s been a diplomatic damage control effort and possibly that’s going to get better. But there are some really fundamental issues here about cooperative engagement and how far you can go it alone that I think gives a lot of people pause and makes a lot of Europeans very worried. I spent a week in Germany last month and it was a group of American policy people and journalists. And one of the German military officers said to us, “Listen, whether or not you and the new administration likes it, the job of a German soldier very long into the future looks like guarding children as they walk to school. Looks like helping societies run a lot more smoothly.” This is something that’s been tremendously derided by this administration not only in the campaign but continues to be very reluctantly taken up now.
MCHUGH: The last decade has been called by the media the post-Cold War era. I mean, that’s basically how we’ve described the last ten years. Are we past that era now? And, if so, what do we call the next decade? Eric Schwartz?
SCHWARTZ: I feel like we’re still very much in the, in the post-Cold War era. How it’s going to evolve is, is uncertain. But the two dominant characteristics of the post-Cold War era are, number one, that the United States is the preeminent power, unrivaled and unchallenged. And the second predominant characteristic is that because the Cold War no longer exists and we no longer operate with these sort of client states, the international system has become much more complicated. And we have seen a proliferation, for example, of wars and conflict in the Third World and elsewhere in which we are not constrained in our responses by the Cold War.
So what do I mean? What I mean is in Angola, when there was a war during the Cold War the Soviets supported a group called the NPLA and we supported a group called UNITA. And the conflict was defined in those terms for us. Now if there’s a conflict in a place like Angola the focus is on, what do we do to end the suffering and to promote a political settlement. Or the focus is, why aren’t we doing anything to stop this killing? And so those are the, sort of, the two predominant characteristics from my vantage point of the end of the Cold War and I think they were true in 1991 and they’re true today.
MCHUGH: Lorelei Kelly, do you agree?
KELLY: Well, what I’ve heard somebody say, jokingly actually in a phone call the other day, is now we’re in the post-post-Cold War. Whatever that means. I guess the era of globalization which encompasses an awful lot of the other issues we’re talking about here, which include the impact of economies and also information. I think something that I certainly see on Capitol Hill is a generational change. For example, you’ll have a 25-year-old staff person, much more interested in cybersecurity than their boss, who probably just learned how to use e-mail. And something that goes along with that is the different kinds of security implications that this massive explosion of information, information technology, has created, I think younger people today have more of a sense of a, the sense of entitlement that that kind of information and those kind of images create an impossibly-what we did at the end of the Cold War is maybe export the whole sense of democracy where it’s more rights than responsibilities. And we’re now gonna have to catch up on the responsibilities half of that equation.
Because people saw the rights and the images and MTV and the new cars and what the West has to offer. But the other part of that, is that with that sense of entitlement that is free for everyone, what happens to the frustration when they don’t somehow achieve that, when there isn’t progress forward toward that. And that my sense about talking to a lot of staff and to younger people who are working on these issues is that exclusion is not just an exclusion like maybe it used to be. It’s a forfeiture. And something happens as a result of it. And I think that we’re gonna see more and more of that understanding of security out there. And it’s part of this complexity that Eric referred to. We don’t really know what to call it yet. But what it is going to do is cause us to do a lot more long-term thinking, a lot more problem-solving and lot more collaboration.
MCHUGH: Lorelei Kelly is a Senior Associate with the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington, D.C. We also heard from Eric Schwartz, a public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson Center and a former Special Advisor to President Clinton.
PORTER: NATO’s parliamentary function, next on Common Ground.
SIMON LUNN: It is the right of countries to choose which alliances they wish to belong to, whether or not it was part of the former Soviet Union.
PORTER: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, is well recognized as a security organization. NATO’s intervention in Kosovo highlights this commitment.
MCHUGH: But NATO is much more than a military organization. Simon Lunn is the Secretary General of NATO’s parliamentary assembly. I recently visited with Lunn about his job and the lesser known side of NATO.
SIMON LUNN: Even in its initial creation, NATO was always much more than a military organization. It was, after all, a collection of countries that came together to agree to cooperate and consult with each other in a collective defense framework. And the political side of NATO, that coordination and consultation that goes on on a daily basis has always been the most important aspect of the alliance. It is true obviously that because of the Cold War a lot of attention was paid to the military side and the fact that as an alliance we had organized collectively our defenses to be in a position to, to resist an aggressor. But nevertheless the political and in my case the organization that I work for, the parliamentary side, was always a very important part of that.
Since the end of the Cold War, I think the political side and the role of NATO in helping the transition in Central and Eastern Europe has become one of its primary rationale.
MCHUGH: As you mentioned, certainly there has been expansion to three former Communist countries in Eastern Europe. And expansion is being eyed in four additional former Soviet Republics. And this, of course, is a great debate among the world’s leaders. What benefits do those countries gain with NATO membership?
LUNN: I prefer the term NATO enlargement rather than expansion. Enlargement, I think, is first of all a sign to these countries that they have gone through democratic and economic transition. It is not necessarily, it shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a plus or a minus, a zero sum game if you like, of advantage or disadvantage. These countries have earned the right to join alliances or organizations, whether it’s NATO or the European Union.
MCHUGH: President Bush has recently stated his very strong support for expansion of NATO to the Baltic region. And of course, Russia is concerned about this. What are your thoughts on the concerns that Russia has expressed?
LUNN: Well, one recognizes that we have two extremely difficult parallel processes to manage here. On the one hand we have always declared that it is the right of countries to choose which alliances they wish to belong to, or which groups, organizations they wish to belong to. And that clearly is the right of any independent country whether or not it was part of the former Soviet Union. And the Baltic states feel very strongly about their right to choose. And we have acknowledged that through various statements by heads of governments and foreign ministers. At the same time, we realize also that for Russia this is a difficult and a sensitive process. And it is part of what we hope is a transitional phase in Russian thinking about security. It’s not a question of NATO advancing to their borders. It is a question of the alliance responding to the requests and requirements of these independent countries. Managing these two processes at the same, at the one time reassuring Russia that this is a process in its interests and at the same time responding to the genuine democratic problem is probably the major test that we face in the next few years.
MCHUGH: But NATO does have somewhat of a relationship with Russia.
LUNN: Yes, we have a very strong relationship with Russia. NATO and Russia signed what is called the “NATO-Russia Founding Act,” where the act declares that neither view each other as an adversary and that partnership and cooperation should be the guiding principle between them. And indeed, there is a permanent joint council which meets once a month in Brussels at ambassadorial level; meets twice a year at both foreign minister and defense minister level. So there’s a great deal of consultation goes on between Russia and NATO, but nevertheless there are still these two basic dilemmas hovering over this conversation. One is the Russian view of NATO. They still do not really see NATO as a changed organization. They still have a Cold War image of it. And secondly, their outright opposition to the notion that, that NATO should be enlarging any further, and particularly, not to countries that were part of the former Soviet Union. So, it remains to be seen how much these two central problems will interfere with the cooperation and the partnership that’s been developed at other levels.
MCHUGH: Now President Bush has strongly suggested that Russia be included in NATO expansion. Is he being very optimistic?
LUNN: I think this is a way of saying that Russia obviously belongs in Europe. Russia is part of Europe. And that in the end we do not see NATO enlargement as being against Russia. And the best way of portraying that is by saying, of course, if Russia, if they were to come or were to arrive, Russia satisfied the criteria either for NATO or for the European Union, then obviously it would become part of the family of Western nations. It is a way of keeping the door open and of ensuring cooperation and partnership. At the end of the day it is the only message we can give to the Russians to persuade them that we are not creating exclusive dividing lines, and that they also belong to this group of nations. And so I think in that sense it’s, it’s a very good message to have been delivered at this particular point.
MCHUGH: The European Union is now in the process of building its own plan for a military alliance. Is there room both for NATO and the planned European military alliance?
LUNN: Well, the basic concept behind what we now call European Security and Defense Policy, ESDP, was that there is often criticism of the Europeans within the alliance and by the Americans particularly, of the European contribution to the collective defense burden. That debate has gone on forever. It’s never one one can satisfy easily because it’s, security is difficult to define and contribution to security is a difficult thing to define. But nevertheless, it has been an issue. Part of the response to that has been to say, “Well, let the Europeans try to take greater responsibility for themselves.” The problem was that for awhile there was no political framework within which that could easily happen.
But with the growth of the European Union, with the enlargement of the European Union and with its development of mechanisms and structures and greater cohesion, then the next task was for the European Union to develop some form of defense component itself. And the great debate has been over the last few years, should that be apart from NATO or a part of NATO. One thing I think it’s important particularly for American audiences, perhaps, to understand, is that we are not talking about a separate set of forces. The forces that European countries bring to the table for the European Union are exactly the same as they bring together for NATO. So we’re not talking about a separate set of forces, a separate entity. We’re talking about the same set of forces but they, on the one hand United Kingdom-my own country-commits to NATO, are the same forces that will be made available to the European Union.
And I think also it’s important to notice that most people within the European Union believe that the goals should be rather modest. We’re not talking about the sorts of operations that NATO itself would be capable of undertaking. We’re talking about tasks of a relatively minor nature. But nevertheless if the United States had said, “We don’t want to be involved,” the Europeans would be capable of taking on by themselves. And in that sense, if it works like that, then of course, it will strengthen the trans-Atlantic relationship.
MCHUGH: What should NATO’s role in European security be in the next ten years?
LUNN: Paramount to draw in Russia, to create a relationship, a partnership, cooperation, and perhaps in the longer term, integration. But obviously the longer term is really the long term. To bring in those countries, to extend membership to countries who have gone through this very difficult process; to give them a form of anchor, a form of stability which they obviously wish and desire; to help with the democratic process wherever possible. I mean, NATO’s ability, of course, in terms of democratic governments and transition, is somewhat limited. NATO is not, of course, like the European Union that has real money and real resources and real economic benefits to bring to the table.
But what NATO can do is to give people a sense of reassurance. That I think is probably very often overlooked. If you travel in countries-and I do frequently-such as the Baltic states or others who wish to be members, you miss very often the psychological desire of these countries. For them it’s not so much-people often say the Baltic states want to join because of their fear of Russia. There are some people in the Baltic states who will talk like that, but for most others it’s much more a sense of integration into the West. It’s a sense of belong-coming back to where they think they belong. And because NATO is, it’s not an easier organization, it’s just a different organization to the EU, but the criteria are certainly less demanding than those whereby they join the European Union-although the two processes are going on together-I think there, therefore NATO becomes, if you like, the first step into overall integration.
And in joining they get that sense of security. And certainly if you look at the three countries that have come in-Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic-I mean, I think one would say first of all their relationship with Russia has not worsened. In fact many, they would argue it’s improved. And secondly, I think that they are all continuing to make important progress in democratic and economic measures. And they are three countries, after all, who are candidates for the EU and I think that’s helped them. So, NATO’s role in a way should be to parallel the work of the European Union and in an economic and political sense, by generally spreading a security culture and giving people a sense of political and psychological security in terms of their own development.
MCHUGH: Simon Lunn is the Secretary General of NATO’s parliamentary assembly.
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