Events: September 2009 - January 2010
The following list provides summaries of some events we have attended between September 2009-January 2010. They cover topics related to the Streit Council and the work we do – from climate change policy after Copenhagen to NATO in Afghanistan to, most recently, Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero on the prospects for the EU and the transatlantic relationship. We prepare these summaries for our Facebook webpage, which we update daily, but we also wanted to provide easier access to our work for those of you not visiting Facebook on a regular basis.
The events are:
After Copenhagen: What’s Next for Transatlantic Environmental Cooperation? – February 1, 2010
Italian Foreign Minister on Italian Foreign Policy – January 26, 2010
Prime Minister of Montenegro on Euro-Atlantic Institutions – January 21, 2010
The Lisbon Treaty: Implications for Future Relations Between the European Union and the United States – December 15, 2009
The Real G2? Forging a US-EU Strategic Partnership – 10 December 10 2009
Is There a Convergence between US and European Policy on Democracy Support? –November 20, 2009
Involving the Citizen in Building the New Europe – November 9, 2009
The Surges in Afghanistan and Iraq – November 4, 2009
NATO ‘Burden-Sharing’ in Afghanistan – September 21, 2009
This event was moderated by Michael Haltzer with panelists Sascha Muller-Kraenner, Managing Director and Euro. Rep to the Nature Conservancy, and Alexander Ochs, Director of the Worldwatch Institute’s Climate and Energy Program.
This panel touched upon the negative and positive outcomes of the Copenhagen Accord. Both panelists agreed that though there were huge hurtles going into the conference, there were significant steps forward. Sascha Muller-Kraenner discussed the major issues going into the conference. Specifically he touched upon the discrepancies in emission reduction expectations, finances, and verification protocol. Thus going in to Copenhagen, there were low expectations of success. However, he argued, and Alexander Ochs agreed, that there were some significant steps forward. Though the Accord is nonbinding, the January 31st deadline for ratification and release of actual climate goals has been met, and all major economies stand behind their endorsement, including the US. Also there were great strides toward actual global legislation on slowing tropical deforestation and a follow up summit has been scheduled for May in Paris. Copenhagen has also created a consensus on the 2-degree C increase global leaders have pledged to try and stop global warming from increasing more than 2 degrees, something championed by the UN IPCC. They have also pledged 30 billion dollars in aid to developing countries to be spread over the next 3 years with a possible increase to 100 billion by 2020.
Alexander Ochs and Sascha Muller-Kraenner also discussed the next steps necessary to move forward from Copenhagen. Ochs specifically mentioned fast track financing for the developing countries as the US and EU’s first major global investment in slowing climate change. Also there needs to be major progress in the development of regional carbon markets, while making sure that these markets will be compatible on a global scale. Both Ochs and Muller-Kraenner agree that these markets are where the majority of funding for climate technology will come from. Finally, there needs to be increase in funding for green technology as well as a distribution of that tech knowledge to developing countries. For more information, please click here.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini spoke at SAIS about Italy's role in confronting some of today's major international challenges, and the course he hopes the United States and Europe will take in dealing with them. Frattini, who is serving his second tenure as foreign minister and has also been Vice President of the European Commission, focused on three key areas: the war in Afghanistan, instability in Somalia and Yemen, and the Iranian nuclear dispute.
Frattini referred to an "Arc of Instability" reaching from the Middle East to Central Asia, where threats against the West continue to materialize. In Afghanistan, Italy is increasing its military presence, and the foreign minister expressed support for the plan laid out by President Obama at West Point in November. Italy wants a "new pact" to be reached between Afghan leaders and the international community. This would strengthen the civilian component of the mission in Afghanistan, to help in economic development, training of security forces, and combating corruption. On an ambitious timetable, more responsibilities should be transferred to Afghan authorities on a province-by-province basis.
The next region of concern Frattini addressed was Yemen and Somalia, where al-Qaeda activity is increasing and piracy has become a high-profile problem. He noted that Italy is already involved in bilateral cooperation with Yemen on maritime security, training Yemeni coast guards. Italy had also proposed an approach for the whole international community to take towards Yemen, which Frattini said he had discussed with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this morning. The proposal would emphasize Yemeni and regional ownership of initiatives to stabilize the country, avoiding the appearance of solutions being imposed from outside. The Yemeni government and its neighbors in the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council should develop a re-stabilization plan, which could then be implemented with the involvement of other countries and international aid groups in a Friends of Yemen group. Frattini also urged support for the Transitional Government of Somalia and a similarly comprehensive rebuilding approach.
On the issue of Iran, Frattini lamented that there had been little progress in negotiations. However, he reiterated that the "open hand" diplomatic policy pursued by President Obama was the correct one, and that it had produced some important results, namely increased international solidarity on the issue and more willingness on Russia's part to push Iran away from developing nuclear weapons. If Iran continued to drag its feet, Frattini said, greater pressure should be applied in the form of sanctions targeted at high-ranking members of the regime, and that agreement on these sanctions should be sought from the greatest number of countries possible. When asked to address the prospect of more "direct action" if this approach did not work, Frattini pointedly said that a military first strike on Iran would be a catastrophe. Italy, which he said was the best friend of Israel among European countries, had been urging Israel not to take this step. The international community could scarcely afford division on the most important issues in the Middle East.
In closing, Frattini expressed optimism on the European Union's progress on forming a common foreign policy and presenting a unified voice in international affairs. The United States and Europe formed an indispensable 'G2,' and was hopeful that they would rise to the challenges together. To read Frattini's prepared remarks, please click here.
Prime Minister of Montenegro on Euro-Atlantic Institutions
School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University
21 January 2010
Montenegro’s Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic, spoke today at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies on "Montenegro's Path to Euro-Atlantic Institutions." Yesterday, he had met with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with whom he affirmed Montenegro's intention to be a reliable partner for stability in the Balkans, and a member of the Atlantic community. He noted the economic and political progress the country had made since voting for independence in 2006.
Djukanovic first became prime minister in 1991, served as president, and is credited with leading Montenegro toward independence after the breakup of communist Yugoslavia. The idea had been greeted skeptically by other countries in Europe, who questioned whether Montenegro was viable as an independent state. Independence, according to Djukanovic, was not the result of a desire to settle old historical scores, but to improve the quality of life for their citizens through the path of European and Atlantic integration. Since 2006, Montenegro has signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union, and should achieve candidate status this year. In December, it also received a Membership Action Plan from NATO.
Djukanovic stressed the importance of stability in the Balkan region, and asserted his belief that integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions was the way to protect stability. Montenegro was committed to cooperation with its neighbors, he said, and such cooperation would demonstrate its readiness to be a member of NATO and the EU. He noted that Montenegro was unique among former Yugoslav states in having achieved independence peacefully and while maintaining harmony between the ethnic groups living within its borders, which include Serbs, Bosniaks, and Albanians. He promoted the country as a model for stability of a multiethnic society in the Balkans.
The prime minister acknowledged that convincing Montenegrin citizens of the benefits of Euro-Atlantic integration was not an easy task. Prejudices against the West, dating back to the Cold War and to the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia (of which Montenegro was then a part) in 1999, would have to be overcome, but he was confident of success. SAIS Senior Fellow Michael Haltzel, who hosted the event, pointed out the success other former communist states had had in winning public support for integration. Djukanovic also had a message for Western countries that suffered from "expansion fatigue," and doubted whether Balkan countries should be integrated into NATO or the EU. Maintaining stability in the Balkans was in all of their best interests, and integration was the only way to achieve this. European nations had paid the price for not paying close enough attention to the region in the early 1990s, as the NATO troops still stationed there and the money still being spent on those missions demonstrated. Although the wars of the '90s had ended, stability remained fragile, and the West could not afford to look away. To view the webcast of this event, please click here.
Ms. Shelley Berkley, Chair of the US Delegation of the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue began by noting that during the 67th TLD meeting held in New York City, the members of the European Parliament offered many proposals to upgrade the EU-US summit. These proposals ranged from basic steps, like developing an intern exchange program, to many other more significant suggestions. One very important idea is related to the new office that the EP is going to open in Washington, DC in January, which aims to deepen the cooperation between the EP and Congress. Ms. Berkley proposed that Congress opens an office in Brussels as well. The Committee Chairman, Mr. Bill Delahunt, very warmly received this proposal. Mr. Philip H. Gordon, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, also supported the idea of opening a congressional office in Brussels, since the EP will now have a greater role in the EU’s common foreign policy. Mr. John Boozman mentioned that the EU and US, as democracies, cannot have closer relations without the people and legislators.
Many committee members inquired on the redundancies that the Lisbon Treaty would create with NATO and its effect on the organization. Mr. Gordon affirmed that NATO and the EU should try to cooperate more to avoid duplications, of which there are several at the moment. Further, he argued that NATO is not always ready to take action at the same time as the US. Moreover, the EU is more involved in stabilization. The EU has a greater role in post-conflict periods, while US is more involved in military conflicts. Mr. Gordon also said that the EU is still a work in progress, but the US still wants the EU to be as powerful as possible throughout its evolution. This allows better US-EU relations as well as a better capacity to stabilize the world.
Another main point discussed was that the EEAS, if well conceived, will be a very important step forward. It is still a bit too early to judge, but the US should look at it carefully.
Mr. Dan Hamilton affirmed that Justice and Home Affairs, or Home Security, is probably the area that will be most affected by the Lisbon Treaty. Thus, the US should carefully investigate this area. Another important point for Mr. Hamilton was the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which includes the right of petition. This means that the European Court will have the power to regulate rights in the EU in the same way that the Supreme Court does in the US. This means that both international trade and US citizens, while in Europe, can be influenced by this charter.
Other proposals were made by Dr. Karen E. Donfried, Executive Vice President of The German Marshall Fund of the United States. After analyzing the present situation under the Lisbon Treaty, Dr. Donfried proposed:
• Expanding the TLD to include European legislators from the national Parliaments to discuss specific topics of mutual concern and relevance, from agricultural subsidies to homeland security. The aim should be to target a limited number of legislators for each substantive topic. If each parliamentarian has the opportunity to engage in a policy dialogue directly relevant to that individual’s legislative priorities and learn how counterparts are addressing similar problems, it would be a great opportunity to strengthen individual relationships.
• In the opening months of 2010, President Obama could make a visit to Brussels and engage the European Union and embrace its post-Lisbon architecture. Such a visit could be a fitting reflection of the trip that then-president Bush made to Brussels in February 2005. He met with representatives of the European Parliament, Council, and Commission to express US support for the development of the EU into a more effective strategic actor. Given the continued phenomenal popularity of President Obama across Europe, even a short stop to Brussels would be a powerful sign of both US support and also of heightened expectations.
• The Obama administration could encourage a substantial European “civilian surge” in Afghanistan. Ideally, the EU could announce this stepped-up commitment at the international conference on Afghanistan that London will host on January 28, 2010. This conference would be a fitting way to mark with action the enhanced European foreign policy role the Lisbon Treaty outlines with words.
The Center for Transatlantic Relations at the School of Advanced International Studies hosted the day-long conference "The Real G2? Enhancing a Transatlantic Strategic Partnership." This conference focused around the idea that the EU and the US need to develop a closer and more effective relationship. Many important topics were discussed with the many scholars and policy makers that attended this event. The event also presented a new study, produced in a collaborative effort by a number of American and European think tanks, entitled “Shoulder to Shoulder: Forging a Strategic U.S.-EU Partnership.”
The first panel discussion of the conference focused on the need for a renewed US-EU Strategic Partnership. Dan Hamilton, Director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations, opened the conference by addressing the need for direct involvement. In the “Shoulder to Shoulder,” the authors list 10 practical initiatives to reinforce the transatlantic relationship. Noting that the only binding transatlantic obligation is Article 5 of NATO, Hamilton called for further obligation between the EU and US. He affirmed, in agreement with the “Shoulder to Shoulder” report, that the EU and US must develop norms of collaboration, especially now that the EU is a real actor in the international stage. Hamilton also pointed out that a more unified EU foreign and security policy is necessary. This point was echoed by many scholars at this event.
Several speakers, including Mirek Topolanek, former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, called for a need to empower and reshape NATO to more effectively face new challenges. In fact, as Ana Palacio averred, we should take into account that the world has new important actors, like China, Brazil, India, and others, and that threats do not necessarily come just from states. NATO should be updated to face these new challenges. At the same time, the EU should empower and rationalize its security policy. In fact, as many underlined, US and EU can only be effective on the international stage, if they work together.
Many, including Camille Grand, Managing Director of the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique in Paris, underlined that while NATO is indeed important, it is not the main link of cooperation. Rather, more political connections should be used to make the transatlantic relationship more fruitful.
Frances G. Burwell, the Director of Transatlantic Relations and Studies at the Atlantic Council of the US, proposed mutual intelligence gathering and sharing. In dealing with new threats we need new tools. This mainly means be involved in conflict prevention and crisis prevention, as Camille Grand said. Crisis prevention should also be linked, as Istvan Gyarmati affirmed, with a number of shared tools and predetermined action to crisis solution. In addition, Mirek Topolanek affirmed that EU and US need a “free market area”. It should be more efficiently regulated, particularly to avoid corruption.
The second panel discussion focused on transatlantic issues of justice, freedom, and security and the need to develop safe and resilient societies. It began with Bengt Sundelius, from the Swedish National Defense College, who spoke about the need for transatlantic cooperation on security issues. He the noted that past crises have been described as failures of imagination (9/11) and failures of initiative (the response to Hurricane Katrina), and shared his worry that the next major crises might be a failure of coordination. Thus, we need a holistic reframing of security issues to overcome jurisdictional and mental gaps. He also supported the idea of a Transatlantic Resilience Council to promote societal resilience to crises.
Next Mike Granatt, the former Head of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat in the UK, noted the need for flexible and resilient architecture to deal with crises. Then Rachida Dati, a Member of the European Parliament and former French Minister of Justice, noted that the Lisbon Treaty implements majority decision-making procedures in the areas of security and justice. She stressed the importance of transatlantic cooperation in these areas, asking how the US and EU could work for common transatlantic trade and economic regulations but not cooperate to fight terrorism or organized crime. Dati also explained that the EU is beginning to develop an effective structure to fight criminal networks with tools such as the European arrest warrant and international investigation teams.
Next, Paul F. Fritch of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) noted that issues of security and societal resilience underpin the work of the OSCE. He asked how far justice, freedom, and security cooperation should be spread. Could the US and EU include the larger OSCE community in their efforts? Zygimantas Pavilionis, the Chief Coordinator of Lithuania’s Presidency of the Community of Democracies, pointed out that his organization is a unique network, a “lobby for democracy,” that could also play an important role.
During the question and answer period, Bengt Sundelius pointed out that the US and Europe are so interconnected that their relations can really be described as “intermestic” (between international and domestic). But he also noted that while everyone is in favor of policy coordination, “no one wants to be coordinated!” Yet despite the challenges, the EU and US should try to coordinate in justice and security matters.
The last panel discussion focused on issues of energy supply, energy security, and the problem of global climate change. Ambassador Richard Morningstar, currently the US Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy, explained that the US policy is “to help enhance European energy security.” This translates into support for a Southern Corridor to diversify energy routes to Europe, recognition of the need to develop alternative energy sources, and urging Europe to better integrate its energy markets. Ambassador Morningstar also discussed the new US-EU Energy Council, announced at the US-EU summit in November. He also noted the need to engage with Russia, but without compromising principles such as the need for diverse energy sources.
Next, Reka Szemerkenyi, a former advisor to the Prime Minister of Hungary, explained that on energy issues, there is a big difference between Western and Eastern Europe. She noted that the energy structures in Central and Eastern European states have not changed since the fall of the Soviet Union. In addition, they are dependent on Russia for gas, but make up only a small fraction of Russia’s export market. These realities have severe political and business consequences in Eastern Europe. Szemerkenyi stressed that because of Europe’s interconnectedness, this is not just an Eastern European problem but also an EU problem. Ambassador Morningstar declared that the Central and Eastern European states must work together and take a regional approach to energy issues in the EU. Szemerkenyi went further and said that all EU member states must coordinate their energy policies and present a united front in dealings with suppliers such as Russia.
Karen Harbert, from the Institute for 21st Century Energy of the US Chamber of Commerce, then stressed the need for a better understanding of international and domestic realities in the discussion of energy—especially the fact that energy demand will increase in the near future, particularly in developing countries. Harbert declared that to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will take transatlantic cooperation on huge transformations of the electricity and transportation sectors.
Next, an audience member from the US Department of Energy was asked to add her two cents. She said that she was optimistic about the new US-EU Energy Council. The funding is there, she noted, and the policy group will hopefully deal with the business climate more effectively and increase investment in new energy technologies.
Then two commentators were asked to provide some input. Laure Mandeville, the US Chief Correspondent for France’s Le Figaro, asserted that the Obama administration has put a lower profile on energy security than Bush. Ambassador Morningstar disputed this, saying that Obama has stressed energy security issues, using both high-profile and behind-the-scenes efforts. He also stressed that energy issues in Europe will be most improved by Europe itself, working together and presenting a unified front.
Paul Isbell, Director of the Energy Program at Elcano Royal Institute for International and Strategic Studies in Spain, identified several good areas for transatlantic collaboration: security of energy supplies, carbon capture and sequestration technology, development of shale gas in the US and Eastern Europe, and trade related issues (to counter the specter of green protectionism or green mercantilism). Karen Harbert then summed things up nicely by declaring that the US and EU need to work together and use “silver buckshot, not a silver bullet” to address climate change and energy security issues. For more information, click here.
This panel discussion was co-sponsored by the Embassy of Sweden, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. It was moderated by Thomas Carothers, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment, and the panelists included Maria Leissner, Swedish Ambassador for Democracy in Development Cooperation; Vidar Helgesen, Secretary General of International IDEA; Ingrid Wetterqvist, director of the project “Democracy in Development” at International IDEA; Pia Bungarten, representative to the US and Canada of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES); and Larry Garber, expert consultant to USAID.
In his opening remarks, Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafström noted that the topic of the discussion was significant because the EU is one of the most important global actors for democracy support and human rights, and the Obama administration is redefining US policies on democracy support. Thomas Carothers then articulated the attitude with which I had initially approached the event—that it seems like the question of convergence on democracy support policies between the US and the EU is a simple one. After all, both the US and the EU value democracy and desire its spread across the globe. However, Carothers pointed out that while the 1990s saw significant convergence of US and European efforts, the 2000s saw underlying differences in attitudes and methodology of democracy support come to the fore, in particular with the US-led war in Iraq. Despite this recent divergence, the new Obama administration and the EU’s adoption of the Lisbon Treaty make this year an opportunity for policy convergence.
Ingrid Wetterqvist began the discussion with a presentation on her project “Democracy in Development: global consultations on the EU’s role in democracy building.” The project reached four main recommendations for EU democracy support: the EU should 1) use its own internal experiences of reconciliation, cooperation, and integration (and democratizing Eastern Europe) to inform its external action, 2) apply a broader understanding of democracy to its policies, 3) stand by long-term commitments, and 4) form genuine partnerships with democratizing nations.
Maria Leissner then began the panel discussion by pointing out how timely this event turned out to be: three days before (on 17 November) the Council of the EU approved a six-page document, “Conclusions on Democracy Support in the EU’s External Relations,” that affirms the EU’s commitment to democracy support and aims to improve the coherence, complementarities, and coordination of EU democracy support policies. Leissner described the report as a response to the need to redefine what democracy support is all about, and provide an alternative to the Iraq War model. This approach stresses “democracy and human rights as integral parts of development.” It is also meant to be a more humble, less preachy approach, where partners are treated as equals and the EU leads by example. Leissner asserted that the conclusions would change the way the EU conducts democracy support (and development), and would serve well as a strategy or inspiration for US democracy support policy. When other panelists pointed out that the practical effects of the Conclusions have yet to be seen, Leissner said that the document was “a beginning, but a good beginning.”
Next, Pia Bungarten stressed the shared values, motivations, and goals of EU and US democracy support, but said that there were not enough fora for discussion and constructive debate. Larry Garber brought a realistic point of view to the discussion and noted that in some areas, national security and other vital interests are involved, which often affects democracy support, and that such nuances must be kept in mind. The panelists all seemed to see some possibility of increased convergence and cooperation between the US and EU on democracy support policies. They also stressed the idea of democracy support rather than democracy promotion, supporting partner countries in establishing democracy rather than pushing democracy on unwilling nations.
During the discussion, Thomas Carothers interjected with a few interesting points. He asked whether the convergence in policy, which the panelists were discussing, was really a convergence, or simply the US giving up its approach and moving more towards the EU’s methods. He also noted that linking democracy support with development support (as the EU Conclusions suggest) sounds great, but what about countries—such as Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia—where the EU and the US are not engaged in development work but still want to encourage democracy? To read more and listen to audio of this event, please click here.
For the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Partners for Democratic Change hosted the event “Involving the Citizen in Building the New Europe,” which focused on what has been done in Eastern Europe over the past years to pursue the goal of integration with the rest of Europe. In the past twenty years, Eastern European countries assimilated into community of Western Europe, by joining NATO and the EU. While there is still more to be done, it is important to recognize how much had already been achieved. Four speakers from various Eastern European countries presented projects involving citizens' engagement with European issues and institutions.
Eva Deak, Partners for Democratic Change's’ Hungary Executive Director, presented two projects. The first project involved teaching secondary school students how to influence European decision-making process, particularly in regards to the environment. The second project involved people from different backgrounds on how to change and improve European identity. More than 500 people have been involved in the project. As a result, they noticed that people are more willing to participate in the discussion if they received previous information in their own language. Moreover, if the people involved are part of a network, the panel was seemingly more effective. Finally, it seemed that the Hungarians were especially willing to participate in this project, as it allowed them the possibility to travel around Europe, something unlikely prior to 1989.
Dana Rabiňáková, Director of Partners for Democratic Change in Czech Republic, presented a project called “Make your Voice Heard!” People from all the 27 EU countries were involved in the project to come up with ideas about how the EU could shape the economic and social future in a global world. The strongest ideas were sent to the European Commission for review.
Dr. Dušan Ondrušek, the Executive Director of Partners for Democratic Change Slovakia, also presented his project, simulating the EU's process of discussion and consensus-building. People from the 27 EU countries chosen to represent extremely varied backgrounds were brought to Brussels. They were divided into small groups and they discussed different topics. Finally all the topics were discussed in a plenary session. It is important to notice, Mr. Ondrušek underlined, that despite the extreme diversity of the people involved, they were able to discuss every assigned topic and come up with some general agreement on it.
Lastly, Anthony Smallwood, Spokesman and Press and Cultural Counselor at the European Commission’s Delegation in Washington DC, described his experience in managing the European Commission’s Erasmus Program. This program allows students from across Europe to study in other European universities. The program promoted the idea of harmony within the EU. Mr. Smallwood also underlined that a real European demos does not exist yet and much more needs to be done in this respect.
After presenting their personal experiences, all the panelists brought together their achievements. They agreed that building the European demos in Eastern European countries is a different challenge than in the older EU members. Moreover, they affirmed the fear toward the EU had decreased. In fact, many believed that the EU would become a new regulator, like the Soviet Union. The commentators also noted that the young generation feel more European and will be able to form a new identity more easily than the older generation.
In conclusion, it was also discussed and agreed upon that security is a central issues for eastern European countries. The EU should participate more in this aspect. Furthermore, security is also the aspect in which cooperation with US is of key importance. Hopefully, the EU will be soon be cohesive in this regard and will be able to produce a better and shared agenda with the US.
For more information on this event, please click here.
In opening her remarks about her book “The Surge: A Military History,” Kimberly Kagan noted that the surge worked, probably beyond anyone’s (including the optimists) wildest hopes. Now, it is paramount that we look at it historically, and not politically, in order to draw and study the lessons learned to be applied in Afghanistan and in the future. The most important thing that the US and allied commanders did in Iraq – and will have to do in Afghanistan – is to define the problem correctly. This led to the development of the strategy to combat it and to fight the various different insurgent elements (al-Qaeda Iraq, various Shiite militia groups et. al). A lot of credit here, Kagan noted, goes to General David Petraeus, Ray Odierno, and their respective teams. As more or less everyone knows now, protecting and building relationship with the population is the key to success to this counterinsurgent strategy.
As far as Afghanistan is concerned, Kagan remarked that it has become somewhat of a truism that “Afghanistan is different than Iraq.” Of course it is, she said, but our basic lessons learned from Iraq are still applicable – define the problem, combat it with your main effort, and devise many other simultaneous efforts to support it. That is the problem the US and NATO needs to confront in the coming months. Furthermore, Kagan said, the counterinsurgency operations in Iraq were not “one size fit all”; what worked in Ramadi could not in Fallujah or in Baghdad. Each of those places had their own sets of problems, like Afghanistan does, and we need to develop sets of solutions.
For more information, including video of this event, please click here.
Dr. Nile Gardiner, Director of The Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, opened the talk by stating that 2/3 of NATO forces in Afghanistan come from the Anglo-American (and Commonwealth) alliance, as well as most of the casualties. This is very indicative of current NATO “burden-sharing.” Nevertheless, war in Afghanistan is one the West cannot and must not lose. Should NATO withdraw, this would be a major victory for Islamic extremists around the world, Afghanistan would once again be used as a launch pad for al-Qaeda and its terror attacks. Furthermore, Gardiner said, should NATO fail in Afghanistan, this could mean the collapse of the alliance and end of NATO as we know it today.
Following Gardiner’s introduction, Liam Fox MP spoke on the present situation in Afghanistan. 2009, he said, has been the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since the original invasion in 2001. Political future – of Afghanistan and of support for the war in the West – is filled with uncertainty. He spoke about the need to clarify the fact that the US, UK, and NATO are in Afghanistan because of national security necessity, not choice. Afghanistan, he said, is where Sept. 11th attacks were planned and put in motion – and as such, this war is paramount in preserving safety and security of the West. If we lose in Afghanistan, Fox emphatically stated, it would be a shot in the arm of every jihadist and extremist in Middle East and around the world, and NATO would be seem as ineffective and as a failed body. This would mean that in the first test since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, NATO would have failed miserably – and would possibly lead to the collapse of the alliance.
Fox furthermore urged the continental European allies to reflect on the security future where the United States is isolationist and focused away from Europe. Also, Fox reminded NATO members that war in Afghanistan is waged under the Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, and NATO is not living up to its promises of both burden-sharing and of its treaty obligations. It’s time for Europe to stop making excuses and start contributing.
As far as Afghanistan itself was concerned, Fox said that we shouldn’t apply standards of Jeffersonian democracy on a 13th century tribal country. It is good, he said, that democracy is slowly building there and human rights are being restored, but that is not the primary mission of Western forces in Afghanistan. The primary mission, he reiterated, is national security and fighting terrorism. The international community, however, needs to rally behind the fledgling Afghanistan government and assist in building a top-down Afghanistan National Army, as well as a localized bottom-up approach to its police force. Concerning negotiations with the Taliban, Fox said that it would be great to create consensus among those Afghanis (and various tribes) who want to see the country move forward – but warned that there will always be those unreasonable and irreconcilable elements who seek to fight against the West until the bitter end. Those, he said, we must defeat.
Fox also touched upon the Pakistan part of the AfPak theater, and said that those two are inseparable. A collapse in Pakistan would mean that regional success would be impossible – but at the same time, Pakistan is not ready to fight terror within its own borders and in the Swat Province. To the Pashtu tribes there, the majority-Punjabi Pakistan Army might as well be foreign. Furthermore, a collapse of a nuclear-armed state would be a nightmare for the West, both in the region and in the broader sense.
Finally, Fox noted that we are entering a crucial and historic stage of war in Afghanistan – the time is running out, but we need to stay the course. However, the time is running out, and there will be some tough decisions (against the public opinion) that governments on both sides of the Atlantic will have to make.
For more information, including video, please click here.