Munich Conference on Security Policy 2008 - Lack of Strategies - 25 exclusive WSN TV interviews

Posted in Other | 10-Feb-08 | Author: Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann and Diet

WSN reporting from the Munich Conference on Security Policy: German entrepreneuer and geo-strategist Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann (left), Founder and President of the World Security Network Foundation; BrigGeneral (ret.) Dieter Farwick, Global Editor-in-Chief and WSN TV Vice President Dr. Michael Kueppers. "This conference showed us again quite clearly the general Archilles Heel of the U.S., EU and NATO planning processes in foreign and defence affairs especially in critical and demanding conflicts like Afghanistan or Iraq. Most speakers delivered only vague political approaches and no strategies, no options, no solutions."

The 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy covered a wide range of security issues under the label “The World in Disarray – Shifting Powers – Lack of Strategies”. (See all speeches in

After the heated transatlantic discussion about a fair burden-sharing in Afghanistan prior to the conference it came as no surprise that this issue played a dominant role in official speeches, the informal discussions and our numerous WSN TV interviews, as well.

Another subject wasThe Balkans and in particular Kosovo, where a unilateral declaration of independence is expected soon.

The present and future role of Turkey, an emerging economic power and long-standing NATO ally aspiring to join the EU, was prominently presented by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (See his speech at

The speech by Sergey B. Ivanov, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, attempted to give an answer to the question “Where is Russia heading?”, an issue that, ahead of the change in the Kremlin, is on the minds of many in Russia and the West. (See his speech at

The Archilles Heel of U.S., EU and NATO Planning

This conference showed us again quite clearly the general Archilles Heel of the U.S., EU and NATO planning processes in foreign and defence affairs especially in critical and demanding conflicts like Afghanistan or Iraq. Most speakers delivered only vague political approaches and no strategies, no options, no solutions. One can compare this with the progression of Windows 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. The officials stick with version 1.0 and vague wordings about stability and peace. Version 2.0 would entail a description of smart strategies, combining power on one side, and diplomacy and reconciliation on the other as credible double-peace strategies – rather than relying solely on military power and planning. The next level 3.0, should be to formulate a full set of precise options answering the question "What should we do?" and proposals on how to solve the many different problems at hand including sufficient funding and precise schedule.

If the U.S., EU or NATO do not reach levels 2.0 and 3.0 in crisis areas they must lose. Unclear strategies and vague options without clear milestones and funding may lead to a defeat in Afghanistan – not so much the attacks of the Taliban or the lack of some additional thousand soldiers on the ground.

Neither in Afghanistan nor in the Middle East nor Iraq do the U.S., the EU or NATO have detailed version 2.0 and 3.0 strategies and action plans. This is the main reason why the West has more and more problems there and may even lose the wars.

The strategic community lacks creativity, as well as a core ingredient that sucessful companies like Coca Cola, Toyota or Daimler have and employ to win market shares all over the world.

The defense and foreign affairs establishments do not seem to apply a clear due dilligence process before and during the implementation phase and lack a precise management of milestones.

In addition, the funding process is unclear from the beginning to the end.

We urgently need top politicians, advisors and generals who demand and implement a combined 2.0 and 3.0 planning in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Iraq and other areas of conflict or we stand to lose on the ground as well as to forfeit the necessary support of the public in our democracies.

For years, WSN has been calling for a comprehensive approach, which considers all three levels required to solve a conflict: visions, structures, and actions. These must include innovative master plans, sufficient funding, and rapid implementation. The indispensable core of such an approach is always a clever double strategy of power with diplomacy and reconciliation. (see WSN Mission and Strategy)

25 exclusive WSN TV interviews

WSN TV conducted exclusive interviews with 25 experts on the main topics discussed at the conference. You can watch these at our website and also in our WSN TV website in YouTube.

Among the interview partners on Afghanistan are:

WSN TV recorded two statements from experts on the independence of Kosovo:

Two participants were interviewed on the new French policy and transatlantic relations:

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates demanding a civil coordinator and more engagement in Afghanistan

Robert M. Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense, asked in his speech for a comprehensive NATO Strategy for Afghanistan combining military operations and civil efforts. He emphasized the need for a high-ranking civil coordinator – preferably a European – with sufficient authority to command and control the activities of international organizations like the UN and EU in Afghanistan as well as public and non-governmental organizations towards common goals and objectives. (See his speech at

The lack of such coordination is, in Gates’ view, the main obstacle on the road to success in Afghanistan.

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT), on NATO and Afghanistan - an exclusive WSN TV interview

Secretary Gates and other speakers underlined that the military forces should concentrate on creating the preconditions for the civil side of nation- and state-building efforts as well as the reconstitution of the country’s infrastructure. A mission that was highlighted as being of paramount importance is the training and build-up of national military and police forces.

The Secretary made clear that the 40 NATO member states and their partners are fulfilling their national obligations, but there is an urgent need to do more overall – including a temporary troop surge by committing additional forces to all regions of the country.

The U.S. Secretary of Defense reiterated his fear that NATO might face a split between fighting and non-fighting members.

General (ret.) James Jones, USA, Special Envoy of the U.S. President for Security in the Middle East, on Afghanistan - an exclusive WSN TV interview

Gates and other speakers raised their concerns about a possible NATO failure in Afghanistan. If this were to happen, Gates fears that Afghanistan would again fall into the hands of the Taliban, becoming a “safe haven” and training area for radical Islamists who would then launch their deadly attacks against cities worldwide. NATO governments should therefore do more to inform their publics about the grave threat emanating from a newly failed Afghanistan. (see the WSN proposals for Afghanistan and Pakistan in: Hubertus Hoffmann on Afghanistan & NATO's Mission Impossible and Hubertus Hoffmann from Pakistan: Land in the Line of Fire)

Carl Bildt, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Sweden, on the development in Afghanistan - an exclusive WSN TV interview

The Russian Bear focussed on the American counterparts - not the EU Partners

After last year’s “shock therapy” by the speech of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (see WSN newsletter Munich Conference on Security Policy 2007), which some considered the proclamation of a “new cold war”, this year’s speech by Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov was more moderate. (See his speech at

Particularly remarkable was that he concentrated his remarks to a great extent on the U.S.A. – almost entirely neglecting the EU, China and the rest of the world.

Although Ivanov repeatedly mentioned the need for more multilateral actions, it became obvious that Russia primarily wants to be seen as an equal to the U.S. in world politics. Based upon its regained financial and economic strength, Russia nurses the dream of the old “duopoly” in international power politics. For some European participants, it was disappointing to recognize that Russia does not regard the EU as a natural partner on the common Eurasian continent but is fixated on its old counterpart of cold war times.

In any case, Ivanov’s message was clear: Russia wants to play a vital role in international affairs. In 2020, Russia wants to be the fifth largest economy in the world with a per capita income of 30 000 dollars – today it stands at a mere 12 000 USD. Based upon extremely high oil and gas revenues Russia wants to overcome demographic and social problems.

Judging by Ivanov’s speech this year, and Putin’s remarks last year, an assertive tone looks set to prevail in Russian foreign policy, with a strong, ambitious Russia attempting to execute power projection in the “near abroad” and beyond.

Rolling consensus in favor of Independence of Kosovo

With regard to The Balkans, the Munich Conference on Security Policy provided a “rolling consensus” within the Alliance that Kosovo must gain independence and that Serbia and Kosovo should both join the EU as soon as possible to be united again under the greater umbrella of the European Union.

Wolfgang F. Ischinger, EU representative at the Kosovo talks, German Ambassador in London, on the independence of Kosovo - an exclusive WSN TV interview

Wolfgang Ischinger – the new Chairman of the Munich Conference on Security Policy – who is the EU representative at the Kosovo talks and acting German Ambassador in London, argued in a speech at the Hanns Seidel Stiftung in Munich some days before that two dozen EU states and the U.S. will recognize the independence of Kosovo once it is declared within the near future. The people of Kosovo, after years of uncertainty and diplomatic deadlock, cannot wait any longer for a solution. Serbia and Russia have had enough time to come up with a common solution. At the high-level international talks on Kosovo, the Russian representative even worked constructively with the EU and U.S. on a creative new international treaty for Kosovo but was blocked by Moscow with a clear and hard “Nyet!” – mainly out of frustration about the U.S. missile defence plans in Poland and the Czech Republic. Now, with a unilateral declaration of independence imminent, a new confrontation is to be expected. For Ischinger, Kosovo is currently the most important issue on the EU’s foreign affairs agenda: an opportunity to show unity and effectiveness – or the opposite.

German General (ret.) Klaus Reinhardt, former KFOR commander and member of the WSN International Advisory Board, fears that Kosovo may set a bad precedent rather than settle a problem. There might be an atomization of states in the region into tiny, non-viable entities through a succession of independence declarations in the Balkans. The Serb republic within Bosnia Herzegovina, as well as other ethnic enclaves, could follow the example of a declaration of independence in Kosovo.

General (ret.) Klaus Reinhardt, former KFOR commander, on the independence of Kosovo and the atomization of enclaves on The Balkans - an exclusive WSN TV interview

The President of the Republic of Serbia, Boris Tadic, strongly opposed the independence of Kosovo, arguing that “Serbian democracy is a guarantor of stability for Kosovo”, and “Serbian patriotism is a part of the solution”. Tadic called for a new UN Security Council solution – which can, of course, be blocked by Russian veto. Independence, in his opinion, is “a dangerous leap” and a “punishment of Serbia”, and would lead to an escalation and re-activation of frozen conflicts in The Balkans and possibly beyond. (See his speech at

The role of Turkey, the PKK, Iraqi Kurdistan and membership in the EU

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a strong speech about the threat posed by the Kurdish Workers Party PKK, and announced that “we are going to win”. Ankara estimates that some 3,000 PKK fighters are based in Northern Iraq. On Feb. 4th, Turkish airplanes bombed 70 Kurdish targets in Iraqi Kurdistan. (See his speech at

Erdogan criticized European countries for failing to crack down on PKK-led organizations he said were operating across the bloc. Turkey, the United States and the European Union all classify the PKK as a terrorist group. "Despite this, the PKK is still operating in many European countries under different names. Unfortunately they are being supported," Erdogan said.

He said Turkey had difficulty understanding why any PKK affiliates would be allowed to move freely in European countries instead of being extradited to Turkey.

Erdogan’s statement showed once again that Turkey’s political leadership still has a long road ahead toward reconciliation with the Kurds in order to pull the rug out from underneath the PKK. Ankara has made several good first steps to improve the situation of the 16 million-strong Kurdish population in the South-East. It must continue to improve the cultural autonomy, show signs of respect toward this population segment and also fight unemployment, underdevelopment and poverty in this region.

Erdogan showed in Munich too much skepticism and reservation toward Iraqi Kurdistan. It is in the interest of Turkey to start now a new phase in its relations with the regional government in Erbil. A dialogue should be organised by the EU with standing working groups on security and economic cooperation. WSN even sees signs that Erbil could give the Turks cooperation rights in exploring the oil fields including Kirkuk. A basis for mutually beneficial cooperation does exist: there are now 1,200 Turkish companies operating in Iraqi Kurdistan including many construction companies.

Turkey should leverage its soft power in order to stabilize Northern Iraq and become an ally of the Kurds there.

A détente is needed between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan – only this will lead to an end of the terrorist activities of the PKK, and consolidate regional stability. (See the proposals of WSN for a new Turkish and Kurdish relationship in Iraqi Kurdistan: Hubertus Hoffmann meets Fear and a Lighthouse of Hope, Iraqi Kurdistan: Hubertus Hoffmann on the Heaven for Christians and Tolerance Near Hell and Hubertus Hoffmann on Iraqi Kurdistan and How President Bush could at least realize a half victory in Iraq)

Last year WSN TV met with the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, and his bright son Masrour Barzani, Head of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Security Protection Agency. Watch their statements here:

Massoud Barzani, President of Iraqi Kurdistan, on the History and Future of Kurdistan - an exclusive WSN TV interview

Masrour Barzani, Head of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Security Protection Agency on Why Iraqi Kurdistan Is Safe Now - an exclusive WSN TV interview

Prime Minister Erdogan reiterated his call for the European Union to move forward with Turkey’s long-standing application for membership and rejected calls by some Europeans to give Turkey a “privileged partnership status” short of full membership.

On the thorny issue of the Armenian genocide, the Turkish prime minister was unrelenting: he challenged Armenia’s foreign minister to provide proof that Turkey was responsible for a massacre of Armenians in 1915. Armenia should not hesitate to accept Erdogan’s offer to open the archives in Turkey and start a reconciliation process between the two neighbours.

Only with a clear commitment to human rights, a willingness to openly come to terms with sins of the past and a fair treatment of the Kurdish minority would Turkey appear to be ripe for a full membership in the EU.

Turkey's focus to join the EU has become a highly ambitious demand after the European Union realized that it is taking much longer to integrate its new Eastern European partners; it has to absorb the formerly hostile Balkan States, as well, and now it has to find a clearer and sharper profile and unity in foreign and defence affairs. Furthermore, majorities of the populations in Europe do not want to integrate a large Muslim country with long borders with an apparently hostile Iran, Syria and even war-torn Iraq with all the problems and risks involved.

Therefore the planned super-merger of Turkey with the EU has become unrealistic until around 2020. We are convinced that this time schedule is in line with the internal planning of the Turkish government.

Great thinkers and statesmen like his Imperial Highness, Archduke Dr. Otto von Habsburg, see the future of Turkey in the next decades as a strong regional power revitalising the links of the Ottoman Empire around the Southern shores of the Mediterranean – a strategic approach much smarter than EU membership. This aim could follow after Turkey has succeeded in becoming the respected and positive partner in its region and the Middle East and the EU had solved its many problems in its heartlands.

WSN therefore would advise a realistic and innovative two-step approach to the EU membership of Turkey:

- Step 1, from 2008 to 2015/2020 :

Stop talking about the unrealistic aim of a quick membership of the Turkey in the EU within the next few years, but support a feasible time schedule for it. European politicians should avoid the loaded phrase of a “privileged partnership” but talk about a new kind of special relationship like the establishment of an EU-Turkey Council. This new Council should have several standing committees including one about a common foreign and defence policy; another about issues related to currency union; and a third combining the interests of Turkey and the EU in energy policy and economic development. This should be combined with the establishment of Turkey as a strong and reliable partner with its neighbours and the old territories of the Ottoman Empire along the Southern shores of the Mediterranean, from Syria, Lebanon and Israel/Palestine up to Morocco, including a special partnership of these important Mediterranean countries with the EU. This must include a transformation to a stable democracy including respect for other opinions, the Christian minority and the Kurds, free media, guarantee of women’s rights and the priority of political decisions over the rule of the Generals.

- Step 2, after 2015/2020 :

After successful implementation of Step 1, Turkey’s acceptance of the euro as a common currency with the EU and full EU membership for Turkey could follow.

Please watch the WSN TV interview with his Imperial highness, Archduke Dr. Otto von Habsburg about the meaning of Europe and the relationship between Christian Europe and Muslim Turkey here:

His Imperial Highness, Archduke Dr. Otto von Habsburg on the meaning of Europe - an exclusive WSN TV Interview

His Imperial Highness, Archduke Dr. Otto von Habsburg on Muslims and Christians in Europe - an exclusive WSN TV Interview