Thank you Mr. Horst,
Distinguished ministers, Parliamentarians, representatives of the United States Congress – ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to thank Horst for inviting me to speak at this venerable forum to offer some thoughts on our transatlantic partnership. It’s gratifying to see so many people who I’ve worked with on these security issues going back many years. Speaking of issues going back many years, as an old Cold Warrior, one of yesterday’s speeches almost filled me with nostalgia for a less complex time. Almost.
Many of you have backgrounds in diplomacy or politics. I have, like your second speaker yesterday, a starkly different background – a career in the spy business. And, I guess, old spies have a habit of blunt speaking.
However, I have been to re-education camp, spending four and half years as a university president and dealing with faculty. And, as more than a few university presidents have learned in recent years, when it comes to faculty it is either “be nice” or “be gone.”
The real world we inhabit is a different and a much more complex world than that of 20 or 30 years ago. We all face many common problems and challenges that must be addressed in partnership with other countries, including Russia.
For this reason, I have this week accepted the invitation of both President Putin and Minister of Defense Ivanov to visit Russia. One Cold War was quite enough.
The world has dramatically changed since May 1989, when Horst Teltschik and I sat out on the patio of the “Chancellor’s Bungalow” in Bonn with Chancellor Kohl and my colleague Larry Eagleburger. At that time, the allies were trying to come together on the issue of reducing conventional forces in Europe. The way I remember that particular meeting, however, was that the tough part wasn’t addressing the military balance of power in Europe, it was seeing to it that there were enough cakes and pastries on hand for both the Chancellor and the Deputy Secretary of State.
It is certainly good to be in Munich following the NATO ministerial in Seville. I should say that this trip has been quite a different experience than my so-called fact-finding excursion last month to Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia.
The one fact, above all, that became clear from that venture is that I am too old to visit seven countries in five days. However, I have now learned here in Munich that I am still too young to sit still for seven hours.
As many of you know, the security of this continent has been of interest to me for much of my academic and professional life – for more than 40 years in fact. This was true when I was a Ph.D. candidate in Russian and Soviet history, through my career at CIA, as well as during service on the National Security Council under four presidents.
For many of those years, I worked hand in hand with colleagues from Western European governments to help coordinate our actions and responses in the latter half of the Cold War. Many of those colleagues are here this morning. I had a ringside seat for an extraordinary run of events from the 1975 Helsinki conference to the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe a decade and a half later.
During that struggle, there were times of confrontation between the superpowers. Relations among the allies were not without their stresses and strains, either. But our Atlantic partnership was strong enough to allow us to surmount the difficulties and make the right choices at the right times. For example, the decision to deploy cruise and Pershing missiles to counter the Soviet Union’s new weapons in the late 1970s, was politically difficult for many allies.
But ultimately, the courage and leadership of statesmen and stateswomen on both sides of the Atlantic, and the actual deployment of the missiles early in the 1980s, helped set the stage for deep reductions in nuclear arms and the end of the Cold War.
Looking back, it seems clear that totalitarianism was defeated as much by ideas the West championed – then as now – as by ICBMs, tanks, and warships that the West deployed. Our most effective weapon, then and now, has been Europe’s and North America’s shared belief in political and economic freedom, religious toleration, human rights, representative government, and the rule of law. These values kept our side united, and inspired those on the other side – in Wenceslas Square, in Gdansk, behind the wall in Berlin, and in so many other places around the world – to defeat communism from within.
At the end, the peoples of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union simply stood up, shrugged off their chains, and re-claimed a future based on these same ideas.
I believe these shared values and shared interests endure, as do our shared responsibilities to come to their defense. Today, they are under threat by another virulent ideological adversary and are confronted by a range of other looming geopolitical challenges.
This strategic environment has challenged the mission and identity of the Atlantic Alliance – an institution and an arrangement that, in my view, is the political and military expression of a deeper bond between Europe and North America.
Many of these questions are not new. I recall spending countless hours beginning in 1989 on the future of the Alliance and how it would need to change in order to remain vital and relevant after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact.
The question that still confronts us today is how a partnership originally formed to defend fixed borders should adapt to an era of unconventional and global threats. The European continent, of course, has been confronting the threat of terrorism for decades. I don’t have to remind the citizens of Munich of this – the very city where, in 1972, the world witnessed the kidnapping and massacre of Olympic athletes not too far from where we sit today.
But the challenge posed by violent extremism today is unlike anything the West has faced in many generations. In many ways it is grounded in a profound alienation from the foundations of the modern world – religious toleration, freedom of expression and equality for women. As we have seen, many of these extremist networks are homegrown, and can take root in the restless and alienated immigrant populations of Europe.
The dark talent of the extremists today is, as President Bush said, to combine “new technologies and old hatreds.” Their ability to tap into global communications systems turns modern advances against us and turns local conflicts into problems potentially of much wider concern. The interest they have shown in weapons of mass destruction is real and needs to be taken seriously.
We have learned that from a distant and isolated place, from any failed or extremist state – such as Afghanistan during the 1990s – these networks can plan and launch far-reaching and devastating attacks on free and civilized nations.
No fewer than 18 terrorist organizations, many linked with al Qaeda, have pulled off bloody attacks throughout the world – in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, India, Algeria, Somalia, Russia, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia, Tunisia, Morocco and in others as well.
Those attacks – and other threats that have since emerged – revealed even more starkly the need to reorient the Atlantic Alliance to be able to export security beyond the borders of NATO.
Although created to oppose Soviet communism, NATO’s guiding principle was a broad and deep one from the very start: to build a defensive alliance against any threat to the security and interests of the transatlantic community for generations to come.
And today we see that an Alliance that never fired a shot in the Cold War now conducts six missions on three continents. It has created new mechanisms for action on the international stage. It has been through profound changes and will undergo more in the future.
We see this in NATO’s truly historic mission in Afghanistan, where Alliance forces have engaged in significant ground combat for the first time, in complex operations across difficult terrain, in a theater many long miles from Western Europe.
Last year in Afghanistan, the Taliban paid the price for testing the fighting mettle of NATO forces, as troops from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Romania, Estonia and Denmark – along with our Afghan allies – prevailed in often fierce combat in Kandahar province.
In fact, as the NATO allies just discussed in Seville, if we take the necessary steps now, the offensive in Afghanistan this spring will be our offensive – one that will inflict a powerful setback on the enemy of an elected people supported by the overwhelming majority of the Afghan people.
Going forward, it is vitally important that the success Afghanistan has achieved not be allowed to slip away through neglect or lack of political will or resolve.
All allies agree we need a comprehensive strategy – combining a muscular military effort with effective support for governance, economic development, and counternarcotics.
But now we have to back up those promises with money and with forces. An Alliance consisting of the world’s most prosperous industrialized nations, with over two million people in uniform – not even counting the American military – should be able to generate the manpower and materiel needed to get the job done in Afghanistan – a mission in which there is virtually no dispute over its justness, necessity, or international legitimacy. Our failure to do so would be a mark of shame.
What has emerged in Afghanistan is a test of our ability to overcome a challenge of enormous consequence to our shared values and interests. In today’s strategic environment, there are potentially others. The fault lines of sectarian conflict and jihadist movements radiating outward from the Middle East and Central Asia; an Iran with hegemonic ambitions seeking nuclear weapons; and the struggle over the future of Iraq, with enormous implications for our common interests in the Middle East – and beyond.
Looking eastward, China is a country at a strategic crossroads. All of us seek a constructive relationship with China, but we also wonder about the strategic choices China may make. We note with concern their recent test of an anti-satellite weapon.
Russia is a partner in endeavors. But we wonder, too, about some Russian policies that seem to work against international stability, such as its arms transfers and its temptation to use energy resources for political coercion. And as the NATO Secretary General said yesterday, Russia need not fear law-based democracies on its borders.
In this strategic environment, the Alliance must be willing to alter long-standing habits, assumptions and arrangements. Much progress has been made, to be sure. After almost 15 years away from government, I have been deeply impressed by the new expeditionary capabilities and institutional reforms NATO has undertaken. The missile defense discussion the United States is having with Poland, the Czech Republic, the U.K, and Denmark to protect our homelands is another promising development.
And, at the Riga Summit, our allied leaders agreed to strengthen our security relationships with like-minded nations in other parts of the globe – such as Australia, Japan, and South Korea.
But in addition to pursuing new missions, capabilities and partnerships, the members of this alliance must, individually and collectively, be willing to commit the necessary resources as well – not just in Afghanistan, but across the board.
The benchmark of spending 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product on defense, for example, is a commitment agreed to by each member. Such an investment is necessary to meet our collective obligations to ensure that when we stand together in battle – whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere – the quality, quantity and sophistication of our equipment and our capabilities are at an appropriate level.
And yet, at this time, only six of NATO’s 26 members have met the GDP standard. Over the years, people have tried to put the nations of Europe and the Alliance into different categories:
The “free world” versus “those behind the Iron Curtain;”
“North” versus “South;”
“East” versus “West;”
I am even told that some have even spoken in terms of “old” Europe versus “new.” --all of these characterizations belong to the past. The distinction I would draw is a very practical one – a “realist’s” view: It is between Alliance members who do all they can to fulfill collective commitments, and those who do not. NATO is not a “paper membership,” or a “social club,” or a “talk shop.” It is a military alliance – one with very serious real world obligations.
It is a sad reality today, as through all human history, there are those who seek through violence and crimes against the innocent to dominate others. Another sad reality is that, when all is said and done, they understand and bow not to reason nor to negotiation, but only to superior force. This is perhaps politically incorrect, and perhaps an old intelligence officer being too blunt. But it is reality.
And it is the power, the political and military power of 26 democracies of NATO – the most potent alliance in the history of the world – that is the shield behind which the ideas and values we share are spreading around the globe.
In short, meeting our commitment to one another and to those we strive to help – from the Balkans to Afghanistan and beyond – is critical to our success and theirs.
Looking back, the Cold War was an epic struggle that incurred epic costs. I believe we all agree that incurring those costs was preferable to the alternatives: catastrophic conflict or totalitarian domination. The range of challenges and threats we face today will also test our willingness to meet our commitments to spend the money and take the risks – indeed, to fully embrace our shared responsibility to protect our shared interests and values.
There cannot be any doubt: The world needs a vibrant and muscular transatlantic alliance. The cooperation between our countries must continue and it must deepen. We will need to work hard at it. And we are working hard together in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, and, many of us, in Iraq.
As we face these challenges as rich and powerful democracies, it is worth recalling the words of a leader of a fledgling and weak alliance of disparate provinces with: Disrupted economies; Differing issues and goals; Diverse allegiances; Mutual suspicion; an army comprised of soldiers often with parochial loyalties, and lacking in equipment and training; and with but one strong ally.
George Washington reminded his countrymen – and us – that “Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” These should be our watchwords going forward: “Perseverance” and “spirit.” And, I should add – “unity.” Thank you very much. I look forward to your questions.
VIKTOR OSEROV (Chairman, Committee of the State Duma on Defense and Security, Russian Federation): The high level of preparation of the status of the officials that address itattaches not only the high rating to our forum but also makes us very careful to treat everything that is being said here. Especially for the Russian delegation, it is extremely important to hear the pronouncements of my colleagues, Senator McCain and the Secretary General of NATO and the Minister of Defense, the Secretary of Defense of the United States, that the European Union and NATO are at the threshold of a new Cold War with Russia. And I start thinking, now what has Russia done, or did not do, in the last decade to come to such a conclusion? What Russia is more preferable and predictable for the West? The Russia that was sitting on the needle of the IMF and the Paris Club? The Russia that was engulfed in a war in its own territory? Russia with a rate of inflation would allow people to receive their remuneration in sex but not to live under the poverty line of 50 percent of the population? Or the Russia that, ten years ago, has signed the founding act, for five years already is active in, the Russia-NATO Council, and today, with satisfaction, we know that we are moving forward in the common assessment of threats, and in the looking for solutions to react to these threats together? And Afghanistan is a vivid example of that.
President Putin and Minister Ivanov very often are being criticized in our country, especially from the opposition side, for such stabs towards NATO and the European Union. Maybe Russia is not abiding by some of the commitments it has assumed, but I must say that … agreement which are not in the form of an international treaty and have not yet been ratified by the Russians, Russia is observing them, and the President spoke about that yesterday. From that point of view, we are, we have the right to ask the European Union and NATO, how do they abide by their commitments? I will cite but one example. A lazy citizen of Jewish descent has not yet left Russia. Some already have done it twice or three times, but still in the United States, there is still the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Or when we are talking about expansion of NATO. Russia is a member of the Security Council. We have never vetoed such an expansion but if you said sometimes that this expansion, the infrastructure of the alliance will not come closer to Russian frontiers, then maybe together with Russia you have to abide by your commitments, even if they are not in the form of an international treaty. Or when you say that we have to adopt the values of the West, we are prepared to move to them, but not all of them. If such values say that you can deliver military blows outside of the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations; if these values say that you want to consolidate the status quo that exists in Kosovo; if these values call on us to demolish memorials to the soldiers who perished during the second world war; and to create difficulties for minorities in this movement towards education; these kinds of values, Russia has never adopted, and will never adopt. And the President of Russia yesterday said so in so many words. The independence of foreign and internal policies of Russia cannot be questioned. But here we are not going to raise ourselves above other states and ignore our partnership agreements and commitments.
So I have a question to the Secretary of Defense of the United States. This week, speaking in the House of Representatives, you put Russia in the same line with North Korea, Iran; and you said that we have to get prepared for a large scale military confrontation with it. I understand the position of the Secretary of Defense who addresses a parliament. If you try to use the rules of a card game, you can be successful tomorrow but when it concerns Russia, this is not a cause for satisfaction. It is a cause of concern. So I have a question. Please tell us. What objective assessments were in the basis of such statements? And isn’t it a start of a new arms race? Isn’t it you who wants to start this new cold war, trying to convince Russia that it was starting it? Thank you.
DR. HORST TELTSCHIK (Chairman, Munich Conference on Security Policy): Ladies and gentlemen, there are eight people who have questions. Time is moving on. So what I have decided to do is as follows. I want to give each and everyone two minutes to raise their questions.
PROFESSOR KARL KAISER (Visiting Scholar, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University): Secretary Gates, you differentiated between the “old” Europe and the “new” Europe. This is a controversial term which we have left behind us, I believe. In the last two to four years, we have in fact discussed other controversial terms: NATO as a toolbox, for example, as a reservoir for “coalitions of the willing,” “the mission defines the coalition.” Many of us believed that if these terms are used in such a way, they might undermine NATO. Of course, different states have a different contribution to make, but if we don’t have a shared analysis, if we don’t have shared decisions and shared resolutions, and shared action behind all this, then we will be undermining NATO. Much has changed. I will be very grateful if you could spell out your idea of the overall philosophy behind NATO in the years ahead of us, especially with respect to the interaction between military and civil procedures in an alliance which is of a military origin but has to deal with threats of a completely different nature.
JIM HOAGLAND (Associate Editor and Senior Foreign Correspondent, The Washington Post): My question is also for Secretary Gates and follows on Karl Kaiser’s question. Mr. Secretary, thank you for your remarks this morning. The absence of discussion by American participants and others of Iraq is perhaps in some ways welcome and understandable but it raises two questions I would like to get a sense of your thinking on. One is, what is the role of NATO in Iraq in the future? And what is the role of Iraq in NATO?
CONSTANZE STELZENMÜLLER (Director, The German Marshall Fund of the United States): This is also a question for the Secretary of Defense. It’s about missile defense in Europe. Mr. Gates, leaving aside the many open technical questions about missile defense, for many of us here in Europe, the European part of AMD is associated with the times when Europe was still being divided in two parts – old and new. How do you reassure your allies today, in front of a reinvigorated transatlantic relationship, that this is not capable or designed to divide NATO and/or Europe?
KENNETH ROTH (Executive Director, Human Rights Watch): Also a question for Secretary Gates. I agree very much with your comments that totalitarianism is defeated as much by Western ideals as by Western military force. You didn’t explicitly apply that to the fight against terrorism, although I suspect you would agree with Minister Steinmeier that political credibility is as important as military might. My question concerns Guantanamo which is very much a scar on Western ideals and Western credibility at this stage. President Bush has said theoretically he would like to close Guantanamo but has complained, as have others in the Administration, that there are some people that should be released who can’t be sent either to a country where they might be tortured or in the case of Yemen, they simply don’t want them back. With America’s NATO partners here, would you be willing to offer a grand bargain? That in return for the NATO partners helping the United States re-settle the Guantanamo detainees who should be released, you would commit to two things. One, those who are really terrorists would be tried in genuine courts martial, not in the sub-standard military commissions that are being offered today. And second, everybody else would be released promptly.
DR. RAINER STINNER (Member of the German Bundestag, Member of the Defense Committee): Thank you. In the defense committee in the German Parliament, last year we had a very important event – a key event in fact. It was a meeting with 20 Afghani female MPs. And they gave us two clear messages in outlining their concerns. One, don’t leave us alone. This would be terrible for our country, for women and children. Message number two, and this came out crystal clear as well. Change your approach. Do things differently in other words. Otherwise, we won’t be able to work with you. And we said, what do you mean – do things differently. And they gave us two clear messages. Firstly, make it clear to the population that you are supporters, not just as military occupiers. And I think this is part and parcel of the … strategy and the interaction between military and civil engagement. Secondly, respect us as an independent culture, an independent country. And show that it is not only important what you are doing, but how you do it. This is a considerable problem for us. So my question is as follows. I wonder. These were the concerns of the Afghanis. And I wonder, has NATO got the message? Does this influence your operational management? I think we don’t really need rules of engagement, but rules of behavior for NATO. We need a shared understanding of what we are doing, and also how we do it. I address this not only to one country, or a number of countries. This is a general shared task for all of us. Now we have sent troops to Afghanistan and we are one of the major partners, and I would be glad if one of the ministers could go into this question.
GIORGI BARAMIDZE (State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Georgia): Addressing our conference’s idea – Global Crisis and Responsibilities. I would like to say that my people have taken very seriously the responsibilities facing the crisis that is going on in the Caucasus region, in the Black Sea region which is a European region very, very seriously. We have started three years ago very ambitious democratic, economic, anti-corruption reforms and succeeded a lot. The World Bank has declared Georgia as the first … country in the world and according to the EBRD, we have the largest and quickest reduction in corruption in the world. And we have solved a separatist problem in Georgia in our region. But still we are facing a crisis and a problem of separatism on our own soil because of foreign sponsorship. And it is well-known. We have tried our best to solve these problems and we will continue to do so. We have started intensified dialogue with NATO and we are launching the implementation process of the ENB action plan and Georgia is committed to build real, democratic, prosperous European country. We think that we need even more support right now in our harsh environment and it is important that collective measures be taken by the European Union and the United States. Do you agree with this?
WINFRIED NACHTWEI (Member of the German Bundestag): Mr. Gates, yesterday President Putin gave a speech and he referred to the security and defense policy of the U.S. and, in fact, he criticized it in a rather unusual way. And even if he didn’t refer to the authoritarian developments in Russia which makes his statement rather incredible; nevertheless, and also some of his criticism was exaggerated, nevertheless when you consider many of these criticisms, and if you were to ask the public what they thought about it, many of the people in the public would agree. And I think this is an indicator that evidently there is a loss of credibility vis-à-vis the United States. Now you yourself compared the situation with 1989 where there was this radiation of the West and the U.S. So I think this is a decline in soft power. Would you agree? Do you see this problem as well, as a lack or loss of credibility, or would you just say that this is anti-American propaganda? And if you do think there is at least a partial loss in credibility, I wonder how could we improve the situation. Thank you.
SEC. GATES: Yes, yes, no, no, yes, yes, no.
With respect to the first question, I think there is not a new cold war with Russia. I think no one wants a new cold war with Russia. I think I was pretty explicit about that in my remarks. I think that Russia is an important partner in addressing a number of issues and this kind of partnership is in the long term interests of the United States, the Europeans and the Russians. That also means speaking candidly to one another when we have concerns about decisions and behavior. I think we have heard a good bit of that candor on both sides. In terms of my presentation before the Congress in talking about potential security problems for the United States, I certainly did not include Russia in the same category as North Korea and Iran, but I did mention several decisions by Russia and several internal developments in Russia that are, at a minimum, a cause for concern; and I think they are a cause for concern not just in the United States but elsewhere. But let me repeat, there is no desire for a new cold war with Russia, and one is completely unnecessary.
With respect to differentiating between “old” and “new” Europe and the notion that you thought that we had left this behind, I regret that you misunderstood my remarks. I was very explicit in saying that, and the other characterizations about Europe and the alliance, were part of the past. In short, I agreed with what you said.
What is my philosophy for NATO? First of all, as I indicated, I believe it is principally a military alliance. I think that, as we have seen in Afghanistan, sometimes military action, and it is also true in Iraq, requires integrated with it, economic redevelopment and reconstruction as well as the development of civic, civil society. And I think that we are showing in Afghanistan that we can do both, that we can run effective military operations, and also help re-build the society. So I think that there is room in NATO to carry out such actions.
With respect to the role of NATO in Iraq, the reality is a number of NATO nations are cooperating with us and helping us in Iraq. I don’t think that every action that takes place around the world that involves NATO nations necessarily has to be a NATO approved operation, but obviously when other members of the alliance are willing to join us, that is individual countries, their participation is welcome.
With respect to the role of Iraq in NATO, I will answer the question in this way. If the United States and our partners in Iraq fail and there is chaos in Iraq, every member of this alliance will feel the consequences. Chaos in Iraq, the failure to foster the emergence of a stable state that can defend itself and govern itself, will result in conflict, in further conflict in the Middle East. It will result in, I think, more terrorism reaching out to touch all of us. There may be great disagreement within the room on how we got to where we are but the reality is, as of today, failure in Iraq will impact every country represented in this room.
With respect to ballistic missile defense, we are doing this frankly in support of our friends in Europe, as we look at the potential for the development of longer-range missiles, not only in Iran but perhaps elsewhere. The capabilities of the system that are being installed provide essentially no protection against Russia, against Russian missiles. It is not directed against Russia. It is not directed against undermining their deterrent whatsoever. The irony is that it is to provide protection for our friends and allies. And we are being as transparent as possible within the alliance and reporting on developments and on the emerging negotiations with our partners within NATO who are participating in this. We believe this umbrella of protection unifies the alliance, rather than divides it.
With respect to Guantanamo, there is no question in my mind that Guantanamo and some of the abuses that have taken place in Iraq have negatively impacted the reputation of the United States. It is also true though that there are real terrorists at Guantanamo. The tribunals that will take place -- and legal actions have already started with the bringing of charges on February 2 against several; the tribunals are being conducted under the auspices of legislation, voted by our Congress. The trials will be transparent. The press will be admitted. There will be adequate defense. I think these are legitimate trials that will be carried out completely in the open. There is no question that most of us would like to close the detainee facility at Guantanamo. And if we could, I don’t know that there are more people there that should be released. We certainly are going through that process and if we can get people to take those who can and should be released, that would be a good thing. We have had some difficulty in that respect. But there are also some people at Guantanamothatshould never be released, who are serious, committed terrorists by their own admission in many cases. And so this is a difficult problem for us, and we will continue to try and work through it but to do so with transparency and in ways that are consistent with law and openness.
I guess the final question is kind of related to that – whether there has been a decline in American soft power, or whether in terms of anti-Americanism, or whether it is just anti-American propaganda. Well, I don’t have any doubt that there is, in certain quarters, anti-American propaganda but I think we also have made some mistakes and have not presented our case as well as we might in many instances. And I think we have to work on that. I am new to this. This is, I think, my seventh week in office. But I think we have some work to do in terms of re-strengthening American soft power around the world. I think that for the last century, one of the great assets the United States has had is that most people around the world felt that, while we might from time to time, do something stupid, that we were a force for good in the world, that on balance the United States was a force for order, for law, for human rights, and for human advancement. I believe a lot of people still believe that. And I think that what we have to focus on, as we look to the future, is strengthening that reputation that we have had for a century and perhaps doing a better job of explaining what we are trying to do in the world.