"The relationship must shift to a more global view"Interview with Daniel Hamilton, Ph.D., Center for Transatlantic Relations, Washington, DC

Posted in Other | 15-May-05 | Author: Benedikt Franke and Benedikt W

Daniel Hamilton: "US and Europe are the force that drives any effective global coalition"
Daniel Hamilton: "US and Europe are the force that drives any effective global coalition"
WSN: Professor Hamilton, one of the towering figures of the 20th century, Pope John Paul II passed away this weekend. When one reads the obituaries on both sides of the Atlantic, it feels as though it was meant to illustrate the notion spread on the right in the US and the left in Europe that the old “community of values” is moving apart. Applauding his “culture of life”, President Bush picks only the pope's defense of unborn life and those suffering terminal illnesses, whereas commentators in Europe emphasize his pacifism, advocacy of the rights of the poor and his critical stance to the materialistic side of modern capitalist societies.

In your assessment, is there such a widening transatlantic gap of values, an increasing mutual misunderstanding? Is the community of values strong enough to sustain transatlantic partnership for some more time?

Hamilton: Despite many European and American commonalities, the history of transatlantic relations has often been the history of difference. So simply asserting that there are differences on both sides of the Atlantic doesn't make the case for divergence or divorce. Current debates within Europe and within America are perhaps as intense as those between Americans and Europeans. The issue is less the prospect of transatlantic divorce and more the prospect of transatlantic dysfunction in the face of new and sometimes disorienting challenges -- whether we can move from a post-Cold War relationship to a transatlantic global partnership. The strangest aspect of the current debate about values is that it is happening at the very time when the core values shared by Europeans and Americans are simultaneously ascendant and under threat. Rather than indulging in the “narcissism of small differences” we would best tend to the full agenda of challenges facing both Europeans and Americans.

WSN: In their back-to-back visits to Europe, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush tried to heal the wounds that both sides had inflicted on the transatlantic partnership during the last few years. They promised a new era of diplomacy and multilateral cooperation between Europe and the United States. Shortly after, two persons who in Europe enjoy a bad reputation for their stance towards multilateralism, John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz were nominated to key positions at the United Nations and the World Bank.

Many in Europe's political class were irritated about these seemingly conflicting messages. How serious should European statesmen take the charm offensive by Washington? What should they expect from this administration on multilateral cooperation in its second term?

Hamilton: They should take the Bush Administration’s effort seriously, but work hard to put substance behind the rhetoric if both sides are going to be successful in their efforts to reinvigorate the transatlantic relationship. In the end, the rhetoric doesn't hold if the substance isn't there. So, the challenge is to build the substantive basis for a fresh start. The touchstone for a new approach is to realize that the relationship must shift from an inordinate focus on Europe itself to a more global partnership. For sixty years transatlantic relations basically focused on stabilizing the European continent. Today, our work together in Europe itself is perhaps only one-third of our agenda. Another third is our common agenda beyond Europe – coping with wider challenges that no nation, not even a superpower, can deal with on its own. And the final third of our agenda is that between European and American societies – how each side of the Atlantic will deal with the positive and negative aspects of globalization. Within Europe, the historic opportunity we face together is how to incorporate the emerging democracies of what some call “wider Europe” into the Euro-Atlantic community. In my view, this should be coupled with more straightforward U.S. support for European integration and U.S.-EU cooperation. Beyond Europe, the historic opportunity we face – and the challenge for a generation -- is transformation of the vast region known as the “Broader Middle East.”

A new dimension: transatlantic homeland security
A new dimension: transatlantic homeland security
And the agenda between Europeans and Americans is particularly important in the area of “transatlantic homeland security” -- how we should work together to protect our societies now from potentially catastrophic terrorism. No nation is “home alone,” no homeland security strategy can be effective without an international dimension. Both the Bush administration and the EU want to work in this area. A related task is dealing with the various economic frictions that accompany globalization across the Atlantic. Pundits like to talk of “transatlantic drift” and the headlines are full of trade disputes. But such disputes affect only 1-2 percent of transatlantic commerce. Investment flows, not trade, dominate the transatlantic relationship. Germany, for instance, is considered the classic “export nation,” but the value of German investment in the US is five times that of German exports to the United States. There is more European investment in Texas than all of U.S. investment in Japan and China put together. Europe accounts for half of the profits abroad of American companies in the world. Europe and America have never been so dependent on each other’s economic success as they are today. We are so deeply intertwined that many of our frictions come not our drifting apart, but from the deep integration of our economies, when our different systems rub up against each other. We need to look more closely at this relatively new phenomenon.

How can we deal with these issues? Both sides have agreed to advance what is called “effective multilateralism.” Multilateralist approaches that are not effective are not much use to anyone. That means that those who are committed to the principle of multilateralism must consider more deeply what they are prepared to do when multilateral initiatives fail - then what? And those who are skeptical of multilateral approaches have to realize that there are some challenges in this world that no nation is going to deal with on its own, and that banding together with others, particularly one’s closest allies, is a good way to extend one’s influence and share one’s burdens. Otherwise you can be a superpower without peers, but you are going to be very lonely. So there is some room for Europeans and Americans to translate “effective multilateralism” into practical policy.

None of that helps, of course, if the Bush administration then turns right around and appoints the type of people you mentioned. The test of such appointments, if they are supported by the U.S. Senate, will come in the daily give-and-take with U.S. partners.

WSN: You just mentioned as one area where transatlantic cooperation is really necessary what you termed “transatlantic homeland security”, which is a very good way of putting it. Would you say that the European Security Strategy that was agreed under the auspices of Javier Solana is a hopeful sign in that direction? Are there any concise measures you would expect to come out of it anytime soon for “transatlantic homeland security”?

Hamilton: The divisive intra-European debates over Iraq, I believe, led many Europeans to realize that they, too, had to devise more unified approaches to security and strategy in the post-911 world. The product that they came up, the European Security Strategy, is close in many ways to the U.S. National Security Strategy. So there is a basis for a good transatlantic discussion about “effective multilateralism.”

Regarding what the U.S. calls “homeland security,” there have been ad hoc agreements and some useful progress across the Atlantic, but there is not yet a systematic transatlantic effort to protect our societies. Essentially, we need a high profile “safer societies” initiative that seeks better US-EU cooperation in areas ranging from intelligence, counterterrorism, financial coordination and law enforcement to customs, air and seaport security, biodefense, critical infrastructure protection and other activities.

In this regard, we each can learn some lessons from the other. For our part, Americans could learn some things from countries who have had to deal with terrorism and societal protection for some decades now. Take the Nordic countries or Switzerland, for example. For fifty years, these countries have had to construct systems of “total defense,” -- mobilizing their societies to work with their militaries in case of attack. Today, these countries have stood this concept on its head and are devising ways to integrate the military as one element of society to be mobilized as part of a whole societal mobilization in the case of catastrophic disaster, whether intentional or unintentional. At our Center for Transatlantic Relations we are publishing a book comparing Swiss and Nordic experiences with U.S. experience in this area. We are publishing a second book this year entitled “Transatlantic Homeland Security.” This is a whole new realm of considerable transatlantic importance.

WSN: Having just spoken about “effective multilateralism” and cooperation, what kind of reforms would you see necessary for the United Nations to implement “effective multilateralism” on the basis of the United Nations, including active participation by the United States and the European Union?

Hamilton: Well, I am not an expert in all the details of the United Nations. I think the Secretary General's proposals have been very interesting. The Independent Panel has put forward some other proposals, and there is a further U.S. domestic effort under way. One challenge when discussing reform priorities is to distinguish between the very good work of some of the UN specialized agencies, which really have changed the lives of millions of people around the world, and the UN’s more problematic role in peace and security, and in particular the role of the Security Council.

The United Nations is a reflection of its member states, it is not an autonomous body, and if member states are not willing to use it, it is going to have difficulties. During the Cold War, of course, it was blocked from being effective because of stalemates in the Security Council. Today, we have Great Power peace and the members of the Security Council could come around to certain ways of working together. You see that on terrorism. But the United Nations needs to be able to engage in conflict situations not only after peace has been agreed, and simply have forces stationed to monitor such a peace, and when the peace fails again to escape or to leave, it needs to be actually be able to be a peacekeeper – a peacemaker, as the parlance goes -- and consider how to intervene when dictators use their people as shooting galleries or believe that “sovereignty” protects them when they massively violate human rights.

How does the UN become more effective? There is much discussion of the “international community.” Yet if we seriously want to consider how this “international community” could be effective, we must start with the United States and Europe. What makes the transatlantic relationship still distinctive is that when the U.S. and Europe agree, they together are usually the force that drives any effective global coalition. When we disagree, we are the global brake. So “effective multilateralism” must begin with a functioning transatlantic partnership, which in turn can mobilize broader coalitions.

A challenge for the UN, and for the “international community” behind it, is how to think new about sovereignty. As a number of the commissions examining the UN these days have noted, sovereignty implies responsibilities, not just rights. How should we act when one precept of international law, such as non-interference in a nation’s affairs, collides with another, such as respect for human rights? Western intervention in Kosovo did not violate the principle of non-interference as much as demonstrate its inadequacy. How do we prevent future Kosovos, Rwandas, Sudans? How can institutions created to keep peace between nations be adapted to secure peace within nations? A first step is to recognize that sovereignty implies the responsibility to protect one’s citizens, not just the right to rule with impunity, and if a nation fails in this basic responsibility, this duty shifts to the broader international community.

A related project that the U.S. and Europe should support more forcefully is the movement toward a community or “caucus of democracies”. In the UN today, the protection of human rights is often entrusted to the leading violators of those rights. Even though free societies now comprise more than half the UN’s membership, they rarely act cohesively in international institutions. The U.S. and Europe should lead the emerging UN Democracy Caucus to promote Kofi Annan’s own ultimate vision for the United Nations: a Community of Democracies.

WSN: You just mentioned the need for the United States and Europe to work together to form the core for an “effective multilateralism”. One of the tools that they could use to make missions work is certainly NATO. In February, at the Munich Security Conference Chancellor Schröder's assessed that NATO no longer is used as the principal forum for strategic consultation.

Do you share this evaluation? How do you see the future of NATO as a transatlantic organization of collective security?

Hamilton: It is rather paradoxical that at a time when NATO is probably more operationally engaged than it has ever been in its history, not only in Europe but as far away as the Hindukush in Afghanistan, there is this perennial debate about NATO not being relevant anymore. The fact is that over the last fifteen years NATO has shifted from a defensive alliance focused on the Fulda Gap and on the stabilization of half of the European continent to a sort of a three-fold path of transformation.

NATO - strong Alliance or tool-box?
NATO - strong Alliance or tool-box?
The first element deals with new missions for NATO. Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan have all been major activities for the Alliance. NATO habits of training and NATO operational procedures form the basis of interactions among differing coalition forces in Iraq, even though NATO itself is not formally engaged in Iraq. NATO does provide support to aspects of the Iraqi mission, as it is considering for African Union forces in Africa. The NATO Response Force is an initiative designed to train and equip allied forces to work together to project force quickly at great distance. If there is a Middle East peace, NATO certainly is one of the organizations that should be considered for monitoring and maintaining the peace. That seems a radical idea to some, and I think it is actually much more realistic than many realize.

The second element has to do with new members. Critics of NATO enlargement tend to reduce NATO’s role only to the old Cold War mission of deterring the Soviet Union. It is understandable, perhaps, to forget that NATO has always had a second, equally ambitious role, and that has been to reconcile Europeans and North Americans with each other within a common space of democratic stability where wars do not happen. NATO has performed this second role quite well, and it is a role that has continued beyond the bounds of the old Cold War. The U.S. presence and the NATO alliance removed from individual European nations the perceived need to build up their national military capabilities against their neighbors, and thus provided a foundation of security and trust upon which the European Union has developed. This second role of NATO had nothing to do with the Soviet threat, it relates to Russia now only in a potentially positive way, meaning that a democratic Russia and other democratic countries can join together as possible with NATO to extend the area of stability in Europe where war does not happen. That is quite a historic achievement and it is continuing. Those European democracies that are willing and able to add their strength to ours should be able to join the Alliance. That has been the logic of NATO’s continuing enlargement.

Wider Europe now poses a major question for our Alliance as it does for the EU. Are we prepared to consider membership in our core institutions for countries such as Ukraine, Georgia, or other nations to the east? A democratic Ukraine anchored within NATO would be a very powerful force for stability throughout the European continent. A Ukraine anchored to the EU could have hugely positive ripple effects throughout all of Europe. Fifteen years ago, the idea of Baltic membership in NATO was considered as pure fantasy. Today it is reality. We need to consider further possibilities for the Alliance now in “Wider Europe.”

NATO’s third track was to build new partnerships, particularly with Russia and Ukraine, but also with many other countries not yet ready for or interested in NATO membership. Most of the challenges allies face in the world today do not need to be necessarily faced by allies alone, membership per se doesn't have to be a barrier for broader coalition participation. Russians and Americans in jeeps patrolling neighborhoods in Bosnia a decade ago: that is the kind of partnership you want to build. And NATO is now reaching out to nations in the Broader Middle East countries.

In short, NATO certainly is struggling with many challenges. But it is very hard to argue that NATO doesn’t continue to be relevant.

WSN: Just to follow up on the point of strategic consultation: do you think it has taken place too little over the course of the last three years, say, after September 11? And what would be the right forum for it, in your mind?

Hamilton: The Chancellor's statement was completely misunderstood, and proved to be a public relations embarrassment. But there was a point that bears consideration: over the past few years the United States and Europe have not been using the institutions we created to have the kind of strategic dialogue we need. This underscores my basic point: when we created those institutions, 90% of our transatlantic agenda was about stabilizing the European continent. Our institutions and our mechanisms for transatlantic dialogue are a reflection of that. Today, 80% of our agenda is about global challenges beyond the European continent. So, we either have to adapt the institutions we created for an earlier period to meet this new agenda or we have to come up with new forms of

NATO could be a good forum for aspects of this agenda, but it is unlikely to be the sole forum for what will necessarily be a much broader transatlantic strategic dialogue. The U.S.-EU track becomes more important in this context. The formal U.S.-EU framework, which is called the New Transatlantic Agenda, was set up in 1995. It provides mechanisms for this global dialogue, but we don't use it effectively. So the question is not foremost one of institutions but rather of political will: are we prepared to adjust from a relationship focused on the stability of Europe to a relationship focused on global challenges? That is the key adjustment. Everything else will flow from that.

WSN: Having spoken about Russia's role in transatlantic relations, just recently President Putin was invited to the Elysée Palace in Paris to meet President Chirac, Spain's Prime Minister Zapatero and Chancellor Schröder of Germany. Officially they were to discuss a strengthening of EU-Russia relations. Such preferential treatment contrasted sharply with the more open criticism President Bush had for Putin at their Bratislava summit.

How do you see these different approaches to Russia affect the relations between Europe and the US? And at the level of the European Union, what effects on Common Foreign and Security Policy should we expect from this preferential treatment that such a controversial partner receives from Paris, Berlin and now Madrid?

Hamilton: I am critical of current U.S. and European approaches to Russia. Democracy is being shut down in Russia, and neither President Bush, nor European leaders such as Chirac or Schröder are speaking straightforwardly to Putin about this. Events in “wider Europe” are pushing us to work more clearly with Russia about the need to end the type of “zero-sum” security thinking that remains prevalent in Moscow.

Let me go back briefly to the Berlin Wall. That wall came down because of the people on the other side of that wall, not just in Berlin but everywhere to its east, had one message: “we want to return to Europe. We want to be part of the Europe we have always been part of, but were separated from because of where the Red Army happened to be at in the summer of 1945.” This simple message is the earthquake that is still driving the dynamic changes reshaping the European continent. This earthquake did not stop rumbling with the last wave of NATO or EU enlargement, it continues today. We have seen its aftershocks most recently in Kyrgyzstan, of all places. We have seen it at work in Georgia and in Ukraine. Europe’s geopolitical dynamic continues to reverberate from the East.

As this Wider Europe merges with the enlarged EU and NATO, the question whether traditional zero-sum security thinking in Moscow will prevail is becoming ever more critical. The notion is very engrained that a win for countries who associate more closely with the West must be a loss for Russia. It is a very destructive perspective. As I mentioned earlier, much of the drive to join NATO has nothing to do with Russia. It has to do with the people who want to join this alliance because they feel more secure and part of a zone of stability and democracy. And it is something that, I and others believe, could be extended even further across the Eurasian continent to good effect. And so, when one sees democracy in Russia going in the wrong direction, both internally and also through attempts by Russian authorities to interfere massively in elections such as in Ukraine, and continuing to maintain something like a zone of controlled instability around Russia’s borders, one has to be concerned.

This challenge is coming to a head around what some call “frozen conflicts” in regions around Russia’s periphery. These conflicts are not frozen, they are festering, they are unresolved, they are dragging down poor countries and hindering their development. What is the lesson of a Europe without walls? Either you export stability or you import instability. Are we willing to tackle these festering conflicts now? And are we willing to say to Moscow, you have a greater stake in a positive security relationship with more prosperous, stable, democratic nations on your borders rather than a zero-sum relationship with a broad band of poor and relatively unstable nations on your borders? The worst opposition to Yushchenko in Ukraine is across the border in Transnistria, in this no man's land where the ethnic Ukrainians have a vested interest in toppling the president of Ukraine. The question for much of the world is: is that tolerable -- or should be working together to resolve this situation?

These are tough issues. But one has to be very straightforward with the Russian leadership about the kind of Europe that is evolving and the kind of positive participation Russia could have. It is a great country. It could be part of something truly great. But we have to still get over this ingrained mentality. And I don't know that either President Bush or European leaders are really prepared to do that. They shelve their concerns because they want to remain on good terms with President Putin.

WSN: Thank you so much for the interview, Professor Hamilton.

The interview was conducted by Benedikt Franke and Benedikt Wahler, Editors USA for The World Security Network Foundation.