A New Atlanticism for the 21stCentury
A New Atlanticism for the
The conference on “Atlantic Alliance at a New Crossroads Conference” was
organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Turkish
Economic and Social Studies Foundation.
Speech by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop
Last year was, by any standards, a tough year for
transatlantic relations and for the Alliance. The controversy over Iraq pitted
European countries against each other. It created major frictions across the
Atlantic. And it provoked many pundits to dust off every conceivable stereotype
about the “irreconcilable differences” between America and Europe.
Today, the situation is markedly different. There is a new
momentum in transatlantic security cooperation. And there is a reappraisal of
NATO as the major instrument for that cooperation.
How did these positive changes come about? I believe there
are three main reasons.
The first reason is that those who cultivated the notion of
an inescapable transatlantic divorce were wrong all along. Europe and North
America can disagree, sometimes quite strongly, but they remain the world’s
closest community – not only in trade or shared security interests, but also in
common values. The fact of the matter is that America remains Europe’s No. 1
strategic partner, and that Washington’s need for likeminded Allies will
inevitably lead it to Europe. And, frankly, I cannot see this changing.
The second reason why we witness a return to realism is that
the extreme views that used to dominate so much of the Iraq debate have become
increasingly discredited. Those U.S. unilateralists who thought that the United
States didn’t really need Allies have come to realise that the U.S. not only
needs Allies, but also the Alliance.
At the same time, notions of turning Europe into a "counterweight"
to the United States have also floundered. Because Europe simply does not want
to define itself in opposition to the United States.
The third reason for moderation is our overall security
environment. Terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and failed states all
confront us with new and unprecedented challenges. Meeting these challenges
requires continued transatlantic cooperation, no matter how difficult it may
appear at times. And it requires a framework like NATO – a framework that offers
more predictability and consistency than any “coalition of the willing” could
These three factors have, in my view, been instrumental in
bringing back some much-needed realism to the transatlantic security debate.
But let there be no mistake. When I admit to a certain sense
of relief, it is not because I am somehow hoping that we could safely return to
the transatlantic status quo ante, pre-Iraq. This is impossible. As a matter of
fact, it is also unnecessary. We don’t need nostalgia. What we need instead is a
new transatlantic security consensus post-Iraq. And I believe that this
consensus is already coming together – with NATO as its major catalyst.
In the remainder of my remarks, I would like to sketch some
of those key elements of a new transatlantic security consensus, built on a
transformed NATO Alliance. And I will also point out how each of these elements
will be dealt with, one way or another, by our Summit meeting here tomorrow and
the day after tomorrow.
The first element of a new transatlantic security consensus
is the need to project stability where it matters. In a strategic environment
that is marked by terrorism, failed states and proliferation, projecting
stability is a precondition for ensuring our security. If we do not tackle the
problems where they emerge, they will end up on our doorstep.
For NATO, this means being ready to act outside of Europe.
You will recall that, until very recently, this very notion was highly
controversial. There was a time when even going to the Balkans was seen as
revolutionary. Today, NATO is leading ISAF in Afghanistan – and that is widely
seen as the right thing to do.
Tomorrow’s Summit will demonstrate that NATO is absorbing its
new mission of projecting stability to the full. We will extend our presence in
Afghanistan. We will strengthen our anti-terrorist operation “Active Endeavour”
in the Mediterranean, by including partner countries. And we will strengthen
relations with other countries, from our Partners in the Caucasus and Central
Asia, to others, such as Australia or Japan.
The significance of this evolution can hardly be overstated.
After more than half a century, NATO is finally turning into a framework for
transatlantic action wherever our security interests demand it. This is a sea
change in the way we think about – and employ – this Alliance. And it holds
enormous potential for the future of NATO as a transatlantic instrument.
This brings me to the second element of a new transatlantic
security consensus –the need for new military capabilities. If NATO is to
undertake missions potentially in faraway places, we need different forces –
forces that are slimmer, tougher, and faster; forces that reach further and stay
in the field longer, but that can still punch hard. In short, if we take our new
missions seriously, we must embrace military transformation in all its aspects.
NATO has been a very effective catalyst to push forward this
military transformation. And it is delivering results. Our Allied Command
Transformation is up and running. At tomorrow’s Summit, we will change the
command of the NATO Response Force, which will soon have reached its initial
operational capability. We will mark the full operational capability of our
Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence Battalion. Theatre
Missile Defence is coming along as well. And we will initiate a review of our
approach to force generation – because we need to ensure that our military means
continue to match our political ambitions.
The third element of a new transatlantic security consensus
is the recognition of the European Union as a genuine security actor. I am aware
that, for some, particularly on the other side of the Atlantic, recognising the
EU as a legitimate security player does not come easy. And I am the first to
admit that NATO and the EU have had their share of difficulties.
But I am also among those who believe that any sustainable
transatlantic security consensus must take the reality of European integration
into account – and this includes a security dimension. And I am also among those
who believe that, as cooperation between our two institutions deepens, the
competitive aspect of our relationship will fade, and give way to greater
pragmatism and complementarity.
Tomorrow, at the Summit, we will highlight this
complementarity. We will decide to terminate our SFOR mission in Bosnia as a
result of the improved security situation there. The EU has declared its
readiness to launch a mission of its own. And we will work with the EU to make
it a success.
The fourth element of a new transatlantic security consensus
is the need to engage North Africa and the broader Middle East. I don’t have to
explain at length why these regions matter to the transatlantic community. Ron
Asmus, who has been instrumental in launching this conference, has argued
extensively and convincingly on this matter. All I would say here is that no
other region’s development will affect transatlantic security more. And that a
coherent and comprehensive transatlantic policy for this region is therefore
Developing such a comprehensive policy will not be easy. What
this region needs is genuine Western support, not Western dogmatism. And I
maintain that if Don Rumsfeld and Joschka Fischer both think that it is a good
idea, then we’ll get there eventually.
Tomorrow, at our Summit, we will make a start. We will deepen
our Mediterranean Dialogue, by strengthening its military cooperation dimension.
And we will launch our new Istanbul Cooperation initiative, offering practical
cooperation in areas where NATO can make a real difference.
In designing this Initiative, we have put much emphasis on
joint ownership. Because we see the countries of the broader Middle East as
shareholders of a truly cooperative effort.
This brings me back to where I started – Iraq. Iraq will be
the lens through which many people – including many of you here – will look at
our Summit tomorrow. So close to the inauguration of a new Iraqi government,
that is understandable.
16 Allies are currently on the ground in Iraq. NATO is
supporting Poland in leading the multinational division. There is broad
agreement that a stable Iraq is in the interest of all Allies. And just a few
days ago, I received a letter by the interim Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi, asking
NATO to enhance its support. I expect that tomorrows discussion NATO will
respond positively to that request in support of UN Security Council Resolution
1546 and give a clear signal of our willingness to enhance our support to a
soverign Iraqi Government, including through the training of Iraqi security
forces. The transatlantic community is united in its commitment to a peaceful
and democratic future for Iraq.
Last year, when the Iraq controversy took its toll on the
transatlantic community, some pundits were fond of portraying it as the end of
Atlanticism. Today, we see more clearly.
Yes, the old, nostalgic Atlanticism is dead. The Cold War,
with its focus on Europe, has finally ceased to serve as a frame of reference
for the transatlantic relationship.
But something new is being put in its place: a new
Atlanticism for the 21st century. An Atlanticism that looks to the challenges of
today and tomorrow, not those of yesterday. An Atlanticism that also looks
beyond Europe. And an Atlanticism that does not shy away from occasional
controversy, but embraces it as a precondition for progress.
A transformed NATO is the place where this new Atlanticism is
translated into common action. That is why tomorrow’s Summit is so important. It
will give NATO more means to do the job. And it will signal that the
transatlantic community remains the most powerful force for shaping the future.