NATO’s Views of the Changing Security Environment
NATO’s Views of the Changing Security Environment
Speech delivered by Jaap de Hoop
Scheffer, Secretary General of NATO. In Tokyo, Japan, April 4, 2005.
Ladies and Gentlemen
This is my first visit to Japan as NATO’s Secretary General. And I am very
happy, and indeed proud, to have this opportunity to be here with you today and
to address such a distinguished audience.
These past few days I have visited New Zealand and Australia. And in the past
few months I have been to Algeria, Jordan, Israel and Morocco. These are
countries that did not regularly feature in the official travel schedule of any
of my predecessors. But I have gone to all these countries to discuss with their
governments how we can work together to promote our security. And that is one
clear indication of just how much our strategic environment has changed in
recent years. Today I would like to set out NATO’s views of that changing
security environment and then consider how this environment encourages NATO and
Japan to work together.
Geographically, NATO Allies and Japan may be far apart from one another. But in
today’s world, geographic distance has little meaning. Japan and the
transatlantic community face very similar challenges. All of us need to come to
grips with a security landscape that bears little resemblance to the past, and
that requires a radical rethinking of the way we do business.
When I was a student and it seems ages ago -- the strategic environment was much
less complex, and much more predictable. With the world divided essentially into
two blocs, we faced one clear security threat. As a result, all we needed was
one single response to deter and defend against that threat. And just as Japan
relied upon its Alliance with the US to defend itself against that threat, we
did so through NATO.
This situation lasted for four decades. Forty years in which NATO and the Warsaw
Pact were locked in confrontation like two giant Sumo wrestlers facing each
other before their bout. And perhaps this explains why many people still think
of NATO as a passive, static organisation.
But the reality is quite different. NATO has long ceased to be a static,
“Eurocentric” organisation, geared exclusively towards deterrence and defence.
It has proven to be much more than just a collective security agreement for
defence of our territory. Since the end of the Cold War, the Alliance has become
a very flexible and very creative instrument for shaping change. An instrument
that North America and Europe can use whenever and wherever their security
interests demand it in today’s changing security environment.
What are the main characteristics of this new security environment?
Globalisation is an obvious one. Let there be no mistake. Globalisation is,
above all, an opportunity, and Japan is a textbook example of how to turn
globalisation to one’s own advantage.
But globalisation also has a darker side. It makes our societies more vulnerable
for example, by giving more states, and unfortunately in these times more
non-state actors, the means to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Above all, however, terrorism has emerged as a challenge of unprecedented
magnitude. Many of today’s terrorists may reject modernity, but they have been
quite astute in using modern technology to inflict enormous damage on our
societies be it in the Tokyo subway or at the World Trade Center in New York.
And as we unfortunately all know, in many places in the world.
No one has explained these changes in our strategic environment more succinctly
than Henry Kissinger, when he said that today, our main concern is no longer the
threat of large-scale military invasion. This is true as much for North Korea’s
nuclear programme as it would be if Afghanistan would become a failed state
again as it was under the Taliban regime.
Certainly not by a
wait-and-see approach. We cannot simply sit on the sidelines and wait for good
tidings. This would amount to an abdication of our common responsibility to
build a better world. The only realistic way forward is to engage to tackle the
problems where they emerge.
I very well realise this is an approach that presents certain difficulties for
the people of Japan and certainly not one you could effortlessly replicate in
all spheres, but it is the approach that NATO has chosen to take.
If the Balkans are largely at peace today, and if countries in that region are
now firmly on their way into an integrated Europe, it is because NATO got
engaged. NATO soldiers stopped the bloodshed in Bosnia. NATO stopped and then
reversed the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. And NATO’s presence created the safe
environment for other institutions from the United Nations to the European Union
to do their part in helping reconstruction and reconciliation.
NATO also plays a major role in bringing back security and stability to
Afghanistan. Today, that country is no longer under the Taliban boot. Al Qaida
has lost a safe haven from which to plan its attacks against liberal democratic
trading nations such as our own. NATO is extending its presence in the country,
to help the Government of President Karzai to assert its authority, and to help
nations like Japan assist that Government at capacity building within the
framework of the Bonn Process. We are determined to continue to help the Afghan
people to realise their dream of a better future. And I know the ways in which
Japan is playing an important role as one of the major donors in Afghanistan and
we have to greatly appreciate that role.
More recently, NATO started a mission to train Iraqi security forces. It will
take time for the political process to take root in Iraq, to build strong and
effective institutions, instill respect for the rule of law, and encourage
economic progress. Japan’s efforts to repair Iraq’s infrastructure in Southern
Iraq are immensely valuable in this regard. But all these reconstruction efforts
will depend critically on the ability of the Iraqi authorities to provide basic
security for their people. And NATO is determined to help them to meet that
What makes this NATO Alliance -- an organisation that many people thought would
vanish after the end of the Cold War -- so strong, and so durable? I believe
that the answer is quite simple. The transatlantic community that has emerged
within NATO is not only a community of shared interests -- but also very much a
community of shared values.
This is not to say that all NATO nations share identical views on all aspects of
politics and society. Each country has its distinct historical experience and
cultural background. But on key issues -- such as the need to protect democracy,
pluralism and fundamental freedoms -- all our 26 NATO member countries agree.
And in NATO, as in Japan, these values are non-negotiable. And this shared
conviction gives NATO its unique strength and cohesion.
As NATO Allies, we know that, if we want to uphold these values, values that we
share with your nation, we must be prepared to protect them. We were prepared to
do that during the Cold War, when the stakes were so abundantly clear. And we
defended our values once again when they were threatened in the Balkans, when
deportation trains ran through Europe once more and raised ghosts from a Europe
we thought had been buried half a century ago.
We must also be prepared to protect our values now, against a range of new
threats -- a lethal, indiscriminate breed of terrorism; the risk of
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We must be prepared to act; and we
The NATO Allies need modern military capabilities to carry out those new types
of missions far away from Alliance territory. If you will forgive my analogy, we
need to transform from being a Sumo wrestler - large, and slow to react (although
my colleague who has lived in Japan tells me Sumo wrestlers can be surprisingly
fleet of foot) - and into a Ninja warrior quick and agile. We need forces that
can deploy with little notice and to faraway places. And we have to be able to
support these forces until they get their job done. We have already been quite
successful in acquiring those modern capabilities, but we realise that there is
still a lot left to do.
We have to make improvements in areas that are critical to modern military
operations, such as strategic lift and air-to-air refuelling. And we want to
ensure that a much larger proportion of our military forces are readily
available for operations far away from home.
We also realize full well that tackling today’s global threats requires the
broadest possible international cooperation and so we are enhancing relations
with our partner countries across Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, and in
North Africa and the Middle East. We are helping many of our Partners with the
reform of their security sectors, and the development of effective,
democratically controlled defence institutions. And we have made the new
security challenges a major focus of cooperation with all our partners including
our special partners Russia and Ukraine.
And, in tackling new threats, we are keen to work more closely together with
countries that are even further a field, including very much your country, Japan.
The evolution of post-war Japan is as impressive as that of the transatlantic
community. You have built a superb reputation as an economic powerhouse, and as
a generous country that is fully prepared to share its wealth with less
fortunate neighbours. And you underlined this generosity just recently with your
response to the Tsunami disaster.
In addition to this economic leadership role, you have also come to recognise
the importance of making a more concrete contribution to international peace and
security. Your new National Defence Programme Outline makes clear that improving
the international security environment is now a major pillar of Japan’s security
policy, and that is a major breakthrough.
This evolution in Japan’s security policy has already manifested itself in Iraq
and Afghanistan, where Japan has taken on major responsibilities in addition to
lending financial assistance. Your leading role in disarmament efforts in
Afghanistan is hgihly appreciated. With 800 members of the Japanese Self Defence
Force in Iraq, you have taken on considerable military responsibilities in that
country as well. And like many NATO Allies, you are also an active participant
in the Proliferation Security Initiative that seeks to prevent the flow of
weapons of mass destruction.
For all these reasons, the NATO-Japan relationship is destined to become more
intense, and more effective. Increasingly, our military forces may be called
upon to work together to defend our common interests. NATO has an enormous track
record in crisis management and peacekeeping, and Japan will benefit from the
considerable expertise that we have to share. Japan has already participated in
several NATO-led disaster response exercises, and that is another promising area
for fruitful cooperation. The fight against terrorism and WMD proliferation are
also important areas in which I believe we should work more closely together.
Indeed, from NATO’s point of view, there really are no limits on how far we can
take our cooperation.
For a number of years now, NATO and Japan have maintained a security dialogue to
stay abreast of each other’s views on the security challenges in our respective
regions. Since our security concerns and interests have now become much more
similar, the importance of our relationship has only grown. I was pleased to
learn from your Prime Minister today that that is also his assessment. And so I
am confident that we can deepen our cooperation, and make it more effective.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the past,
this obligation was widely interpreted as an obligation to limit one’s global
engagement to economic assistance. Today, however, this interpretation no longer
corresponds to reality. Today, the greatest service that we Japan and the NATO
Allies can render to peace and stability is active engagement. To help out where
help is needed through political encouragement, financial or technical
assistance, or indeed the deployment of our military forces.
Geography may once have separated us, but common values and interests now unite
us more strongly than ever before. The fact that we are both prepared to protect
and promote those values and interests makes us natural partners in upholding
international stability. And that is why I see a great future for the NATO-Japan