Munich Security Conference: Smart Power World 3.0 Needed
A special team of the World Security Network Foundation participated in the most important Munich Security Conference yet. Hot-spots like Egypt, Afghanistan, Cyber Warfare and the implications of the financial crisis for defense were discussed by more than 300 experts:
1. One milestone was the New START Agreement which was enforced in Munich by the signatures of U.S. Secretary of State Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. This is the most important real reduction in their nuclear arsenals, and a true "reset" of US-Russian relations. See our WSN TV video below. This was a positive step in the foreign affairs of former enemies that offers hope for a safer world.
2. On Egypt, the high society of global security was insecure, mostly vague, and stuck to buzzwords that unfortunately showed neither impressive leadership nor effective planning. At least there was clear support for the forces of freedom and a change of the old regimes. The EU was weakly represented, with no global leadership by the Europeans as neighbors across the Mediterranean.
3. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan again shocked his coalition partners. The U.S. alone have spent USD 345 bn in Afghanistan. Karzai attacked ISAF’s important Provincial Reconstruction Teams and the 60,000 private security personnel as "shadow powers" who discredit Kabul. As the new ‘King of Kabul’, he wants all this money and power in his own hands. Yet the Kabulbank just spent USD 160 m of its funds on villas in Dubai.The lack of trust and loss of touch with reality are growing. Karzai’s plans with the West for negotiations with insurgents remain too vague and misty. Afghanistan has shown mismanagement and poor planning, and a lack of imagination, vision and leadership for years. Now better NATO planning and moderate optimism prevail.
4. The Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, presented a topic of great interest and importance: the impact of the global financial and economic crisis on global security and stability. He illustrated his concern with the defense cuts in most European countries, and asked for a smart defense policy that pooled resources.
5. Cyber Security was another thought-provoking topic. It brings a new dimension to internal and external security affairs. The most spectacular events were the cyber attack on Estonia in 2006, cyber attacks against Georgia’s command and control system in 2008, and the Stuxnet attack against nuclear installations in Iran. These spectacular attacks are accompanied by thousands of attacks daily against governments, military installations, economy and industry, energy supply, banking systems – recently against Nasdaq for example.
The historic highlight of the 47th Munich Security Conference, in the famous Hotel Bayerischer Hof (see www.securityconference.de for details and speeches), was the signing ceremony of the new START Treaty by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
This treaty limits the number of strategic weapons in the U.S. and Russia, and allows mutual inspections after a multi-year break. This treaty symbolizes the new-found mutual trust and confidence between both countries and a 'reset' accomplished by former enemies. It bodes well for further advances in arms control, although they may be even more difficult to achieve.
The area of non-strategic nuclear weapons is even more complex. More than two thousand tactical and non-strategic nuclear weapons in Russia pose a serious risk for Europe. The 200 tactical and non-strategic weapons in European NATO countries do not offer a second strike capability.
In this context, missile defense systems are important. To find a balance between offensive and defensive weapons comes close to squaring the circle. But both countries seem to be ready to tackle the issue. For Russia, Chinese nuclear potential is of great concern, as is Iran’s continued development of nuclear weapons and strategic missiles.
In addition, this START treaty is a signal about non-proliferation to other nuclear and non-nuclear powers. It should underline the willingness of the two main nuclear powers to cut the numbers of their nuclear weapons.
Another pressing topic was the development in Egypt and the Maghreb.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle argued that we see now a 'Globalization of the Enlightenment' and the 'Globalization of Values' following globalization of economies and finance (see his speech here). The West wants local democrats to formulate their own ideas.
Thanks to the flexible program, there was time to address the Egyptian situation from various angles. Unsurprisingly, there were controversial assessments of the current situation and its future development. Some argued for to ousting Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak in order to achieve early elections, while others advocated allowing Egypt more time to deal with the crisis.
U.S. Secretary of State Clinton told the conference that political reforms in the Middle East are needed, alongside a positive vision for its people. All states must reform. The majority there is under 30 years old and has no work. The status quo is not sustainable, she said, and there exists a gap between people and their governments. A fair system of government is needed. (see her speech here).
Clinton sees the risks involved in a transition process, and prefers to have it 'managed', as did many others in the room, to avoid it being hijacked by new autocrats and extremists. Respect, tolerance, compromise and good governance are needed, along with free and fair elections as the 'soil in which democracy grows'; free people govern themselves best.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron agreed: "We want the transition."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a frank speech covering her personal background in East Germany, saying that there can be no compromise on the UN Human Rights Declaration. This must be the ‘red line'. (See her speech here). She said that we cannot transfer our Westminster model of democracy all over the world, and any transition process has to be managed; the Germans in 1989/90 had no patience and looked for rapid change. No large conflict can be solved alone by NATO alone, not in the Middle East, Afghanistan nor Korea nor terrorism.
It was very informative to listen to the U.S. Ambassador Frank Wisner, the special envoy of U.S. President Barack Obama to Egypt. In Cairo, he talked to President Mubarak, Vice President Omar Suleiman, and to members of opposition parties. His information and assessments led to a broad consensus among the participants of the conference with the following essentials: if President Mubarak left his office and perhaps the country, early elections in the subsequent chaos would run the risk that a non-democratic movement might win and keep Egypt a non-democratic country with negative implications for the Middle East and beyond.
On the other hand, elections should be scheduled in due course, perhaps in the Fall. That would allow a controlled transition, including a new or at least interim constitution.
Most speakers agreed that any solution has to have an Egyptian face. The Egyptians themselves have to find the path to a better future. In this phase of transition President Mubarak could play an historic role. In contrast to Tunisia, Egypt still has a functioning government, reliable armed forces, and an economy which could recover quickly from the current chaos.
Egyptian stakeholders should be very keen to ensure a smooth transition that offers the people, especially the young, hope for a better future (See Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann: Implosion in Egypt: What to now?)
The third topic of great interest and importance was presented by the Secretary of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He raised serious concerns about the impact of the global financial and economic crisis on global security and stability (see his speech here).
He said frankly and openly that defense spending in the last two years had dropped in Europe but increased in the U.S..Europe believes more in soft power and the U.S. in hard power. There is a danger of being naive about how the West can preserve the current world order with less military, so Europe must re-vitalize its defenses with smart power, less money and more flexibility including a pooling of capabilities and a reduction of bureaucracy.
Rasmussen illustrated his concerns with the defense budget cuts in most European countries, who have spent 48 billion USD less over the last two years. That is equivalent to the present German defense budget. The U.S. share of the NATO budget has risen from 50 to 75 percent over this period.
These financial cuts go hand-in-hand with reductions in troop strength and the modernization process for arms and equipment. Even the interoperability between allies and partners may come under threat, not to mention the sustainability of commitments in Afghanistan.
As a glimmer of hope the SecGen stressed the chance for “smart defense”, a closer coordination and co-operation between NATO members. France and United Kingdom have started a closer co-operation in the nuclear field already.
This plea for better coordination and co-operation is not new for NATO. ”Burden sharing”, ”division of labor” and “role specialization” are well known catchphrases in this context. There is some improvement, but the overall record is very modest – even with the European Defense Agency. In a time of financial crisis, individual countries will try to enhance their own situation and protect their work force especially. It will remain a dream that NATO countries will give up their air force, navy and army, or even production of their tanks, ships and aircraft.
With shrinking budgets, NATO members will be less able to address global challenges like energy security or cyber security.
Cyber Security was another thought-provoking topic.
It brings a new dimension into internal and external security affairs. The most spectacular events were the cyber attack on Estonia in 2006, cyber attacks against Georgia’s command and control system in 2008, and the Stuxnet attack against nuclear installations in Iran. There are also thousands of attacks daily against governments, military installations, economy and industry, energy supply, banking systems – recently against Nasdaq, for example.
All attacks have one common element: there is no clear originator; there is no smoking gun. How to identify the aggressor and react against the attacks? With massive attacks you can bring a country to a standstill, like Estonia. What about NATO members? Is such an attack a declaration of war? Does Article 5 of the NATO treaty, collective defense, apply?
Prof. Joseph S. Nye, a renowned expert on Cyber Security from the Kennedy School in Harvard, defines four areas of concern: Cyber crime, Cyber espionage, Cyber terror and Cyber war.
The German Federal Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, called Cyber Security a “critical infrastructure”. NATO and its constituent countries realize the destructive threat to their infrastructure and have started to implement modest counter measures.
There is an urgent need for cooperation between states and the big companies like Microsoft and Deutsche Telekom to enhance defenses against cyber attacks and to find out where those attacks come from. Today, there are more questions than answers.
Afghanistan has been a hot topic at the Munich conference for three years. In 2011 this topic was almost overshadowed by events in Tunisia and Egypt. The active role played by Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai stopped this from happening however.
Karzai appeared very confident that Afghanistan could take over full responsibility for itself in 2014. This deadline matches the political goals and objectives of the NATO-led coalition (see his speech here).
But there is one caveat: security and stability must be strong enough to enable such a shift of responsibility and power. In the discussion about Afghanistan’s future it became obvious that there is a need for an regional approach, with China, India, Pakistan, Central Asia, Russia and Turkey as stakeholders of a stable Afghanistan. This year representatives of some of these countries were missing in Munich, including Iran and China.
It was remarkable in Munich that the prospects of a better future for Afghanistan were regarded more optimistically, and the planning was felt to be on track too.
Hamid Karzai gave the strong impression of a harassed leader with little energy left, especially resentful now of his Western kingmaker allies. He argued strongly against any "parallel systems" (meaning ISAF's Provincial Reconstruction Teams and the 60,000 private security guards) and felt that his Kabul-centered government knows how to run everything everywhere in this large country.
His Western masters have not convinced him that even in the U.S., much if not most political power lies with the thousands of local city councils and counties and the 50 states, and not with the White House alone; and that in a diverse country, central government will fail – this is why Kabul has failed for 10 years. The Afghan President seems to be on the wrong track, moving against the regionalization approach that the World Security Network Foundation has preached for the last seven years; an approach that Western powers now understand and start to implement.
Karzai thinks now like the ‘King of Kabul’, and exhibits clear authoritarian behavior, demanding 100 percent of all authority by 2014. But outside his palace, many of his countrymen mock him as 'the Mayor of Kabul'.
He is in line with WSN proposals to reconcile with the Taliban as soon as possible and not wait for a military victory, so as to separate them from hard-core al-Queda elements.
A new Bonn Conference at the end of this year should for the first time decide what the Afghans want and include all surrounding countries like Iran and Pakistan. His team in Kabul promotes a better relationship with Pakistan, which is key for peace, but again and again stresses indirectly that 'other forces' (ie Pakistan's ISI) works with the Taliban and that between the lines Pakistan is playing a double-game of influence.
Dr. Guido Westerwelle, the German Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, emphasized in a good presentation that Germany would continue its commitment in Afghanistan after any withdrawal of German troops (view his speech here).
On Afghanistan, he argued that a vacuum could lead to another takeover by extremists. In 2014 all combat soldiers should be withdrawn if security allows, and the Afghans take over responsibility with “no victory from both sides" but a political solution.
German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg spoke of a “way full of stones with patience needed”, where NATO is involved as a community of values (see his speech here).
Most speakers stressed that Afghanistan needs the support of the international community after 2014, but not with large troops. This should be a signal to the Taliban that they cannot take over the whole country, and should strengthen the pro-Western forces in Afghanistan and neighboring countries. It remains unclear what this means in reality.
David Cameron gave a very different speech about the roots of Islamic extremism, in which the British Prime Minister described them as “a perverse version of Islamic ideology” which must be separated from peaceful Islam [see speech].
Many terrorists are middle class, even academics, with an identity problem looking for something they can believe in. Therefore we must ban preachers of hate and promote active tolerance and the promoting of values with immigrants speaking the langue of the host country and being proud of it. This analysis is in line with The Human Codes of Tolerance and Respect project of the World Security Network. (see www.codesoftolerance.com)
Grey tones for peacemaking dominated the Munich conference, which started purely trans-Atlantic and military in nature 47 years ago, but is now a balanced military-political-civilian and global forum under the good leadership of Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger.
Whereas in the past the military dominated the talks, now the people of soft power prevail. Like even Juergen Trittin, the head of German Green party in the Bundestag, who asked where now and in the past a combination of soft and hard factors had been planned and implemented.
Until now, neither NATO nor the U.S. or other nations have planned the needed double strategies for peacemaking in conflicts like Afghanistan or in Africa or the Middle East. Diplomacy and other soft tools remain too separate from the military. But we urgently need smart double strategies like the very successful Harmel Report of NATO from 1967 or the genius NATO Two Track Decision on Euro missiles in 1979 for all conflicts. Such strategies have to combine recourses, means, timing and so on into one large peace-making motor with all the wheels of peace-making meshing at speed.
One of the promoters of soft power in peace-making is UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon, who delivered an excellent speech about how to make peace and avoid costly military actions. It showed the importance of the UN as a truly international organization for peace, supported and accepted now even by the new U.S. administration and more and more Americans (watch his speech here).
A fresh debate about areas all areas and aspects of foreign policy is needed.
As always, most politicians stay vague and have no plan (a software analogy has them as the famous Microsoft Windows 1.0 or World 1.0).
But smart, cost-efficient, and forceful peace making needs better strategies (let's call them World 2.0).
Precise international action plans with price tags and flexible control, as in large global companies must be executed (World 3.0).
There is still too much ignorance, too much arrogance of power, and too much belief that speeches of important functionaries and politicians really matter on the ground. This is a myth. See Cairo. See Afghanistan.
A new effective and low-cost design of security policies is needed.
But the West clings ever more to illusions, show speeches and pure crisis management stuck in endless bureaucracy. This is outdated, it will not work, and it will never be cheap.
We need a new approach in the age of globalization.
We all have to learn from Albert Einstein: "Imagination is more important than knowledge" and from Pentagon strategist Dr. Fritz Kraemer: "We have to shape reality rather than adapt to reality." (see Fritz Kraemer on Excellence)
The long term planning of global business players can help us form a new smart foreign policy which works and which we can afford.
We know how to plan, promote and sell McDonalds, Apple or BMW from Munich, but not the best concept in the world: free, prosperous, and peaceful societies with jobs and human rights.
The WSN TV team, under the leadership of Dr. Michael Küppers, was able to interview several experts on hot topics of international security as listed below. You can watch all the interviews on WSN TV here: www.worldsecuritynetwork.com, Facebook and our own WSN site in YouTube.