National Security in a Globalizing World of Chaos: The United States and European Responses
The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies takes great pride in presenting this fourth edition of the Marshall Center Papers. It explores many pressing issues for the international community, as NATO prepares for its October summit in Prague. President George W. Bush has remarked that NATO is headed toward a decisive effort to invite in “all of Europe's democracies that are ready to share in the responsibilities NATO brings.” NATO has also signed a new agreement with Russia, giving Moscow a role in alliance decision making that further transcends the old divide between East and West.
Yet, in spite of these accomplishments, some observers worry that the United States and Europe are drifting apart. After a brief burst of cooperation in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States, there is a rising chorus of both old and new complaints. Many Europeans criticize the United States for doing too much on its own, becoming overly focused on the Global War Against Terrorism, and ignoring legitimate European concerns. Americans respond that the Europeans are spending too little on defense, failing to implement the “Revolution in Military Affairs,” and pursuing narrowly European defense initiatives that may undermine NATO capabilities.
This Marshall Center Paper seeks to clarify such issues by presenting two rather different views. Peter van Ham, writing from the European perspective, contends that the transatlantic relationship suffers from the fact that it is asymmetrical. The United States is confident and strong—as the world's only remaining Superpower— while Europe is confused and indecisive, still searching for its own role and identity. He warns that it may be increasingly difficult for the United States and Europe to act together as a cohesive and unified “West.” Even so, he argues that U.S.–European cooperation is essential not only to counter new threats like international terrorism by non–state actors, but mainly to tackle the challenges of globalization for both continents.
Richard L. Kugler provides an incisive American view. He applauds the European dream of unifying an entire continent under the mantle of democracy, economic integration, and multilateral cooperation, but he warns that Europe must not wall itself off from the rest of the world. Globalization is nurturing venomous anti–Western ideologies, nihilistic terrorists, and menacing countries. These new threats are merging together, gaining access to modern information systems and technologies that allow them to inflict violence at very great distances. They are also bringing further turmoil to unstable regions. In many places, the result is a boiling primordial stew that endangers common Western interests, security, and values. To deal with these new threats, Kugler proposes a specific agenda of improvements in NATO and European military capabilities.
It seems clear that the international community faces many tough questions. Can the United States and Europe work together to conduct the Global War on Terrorism? Are the Europeans ready to modernize their forces and close the technological gap that limits their capability for distant, joint, and combined operations with the United States? What concrete steps can NATO take to prepare for tomorrow's threats, perhaps involving rogue states or terrorists armed with Weapons of Mass Destruction? And, finally, what are the implications of Globalization, not simply for NATO and Europe but for all the democratic countries of the world?
Peter van Ham and Richard L. Kugler provide answers to all of these questions that go beyond mere diagnosis of the current tensions. They propose coherent solutions that are sometimes controversial but always insightful. Their views are essential reading for anyone who seeks to strengthen the international community and defend it against attack.
Robert Kennedy, PhD
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
Globalization has lost its initial image as a source of peace and progress, giving way instead to an ugly time of chaos, turmoil, and violence. NATO's old distinction between “Article 5 threats” and “Article 4 threats” is becoming an anachronism because the new threats are often both at the same time. The United States today lives under siege, and Europe may not be far behind. If biological or nuclear weapons are used in the future, they could take many more than the 3,000 lives that were lost on 9/11.
For all these reasons, national security has been reborn with a new definition and a new face. The defining issue of the 21st century will be whether the democratic community can control mounting chaos along the “southern strategic arc” stretching from the Middle East to the Asian littoral. The United States and Europe are increasingly vulnerable in a world where distance from geopolitical hotspots can no longer guarantee safety. They must cooperate together, for if the United States and Europe stand apart, neither will succeed and both may fail disastrously.
Today, global terrorism is the main threat. A few years ago, the main threat was failed states and ethnic warfare. Tomorrow the main threat may be the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and aggression by rogue states. Major surprises likely lie ahead, and many of them may be quite unpleasant.
The United States will lead the endeavor in the security arena, but it cannot carry the burden alone, nor should it be expected to do so. As Europe's premier security institution, NATO is the natural vehicle for helping prepare Europe's contribution. The upcoming Prague Summit needs to define a new NATO agenda for defense preparedness. The current “Defense Capabilities Initiative” could be replaced with a transformation effort aimed at swift power projection and high–technology strike operations with U.S. forces.
Initially, NATO might create a small European “spearhead force”: a truly networked, joint force of 25,000–50,000 troops. It should include several fighter squadrons with smart munitions, ships with cruise missiles, and one or two highly mobile ground brigades. It should be kept at high readiness, with enough transport and logistic assets to deploy in a few days. This spearhead force would be equipped with the modern, high–technology weaponry needed for interoperability with U.S. forces in expeditionary, strike operations.
This small, elite force could be embedded in larger, new NATO “strategic response forces” to provide broader assets for new–era threats and missions, even at great distances outside Europe. The spearhead force could also provide outreach to the European Union's Rapid Reaction Force. NATO would gain a usable, affordable capability for high–technology strike operations, and the EU would have a similar force for Petersburg tasks. The two postures would be natural partners that would re–cement the transatlantic bond, give the United States a strong reason to stay involved in Europe, and bolster the EU in a manner that preserves a healthy role for NATO.
Only a short while ago, globalization was heralded as the stepping–stone to growing wealth for people everywhere. Likewise, national security was viewed as a matter of diminishing importance — as a natural byproduct of a world on autopilot, allegedly headed toward universal democracy and peace. Owing to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath, this comforting view has gone up in smoke. Globalization is not the direct cause of the war in Afghanistan or the crisis in the Middle East, both of which stem from deeper causes. But indirectly, globalization seems to have contributed its fair share to today's troubles and to the sense of mounting worry about the future. Beyond question, globalization has gained power as an irresistible trend of the information age. But simultaneously, it has lost its attractive image as a purveyor of peace and progress.
Whether because of globalization, or in spite of it, the world of the early 21st century is proving to be a dangerous place, full of such new–era threats and dangers as global terrorist networks, savage ethnic wars, failing states, regional bullies, proliferating weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and geopolitical rivalries. The earlier faith in progress is rapidly being replaced by worry that a cultural clash with Islamic fundamentalism, or other such calamities, may lie ahead. Indeed, some analysts are beginning to call the 21st century the new “Hundred Years’ War” — an ugly time of chaos, turmoil, and violence in many places. Perhaps these pessimists are too glum, but they are a sobering antidote to yesterday's blind optimism.
The truth is that nobody knows where the future is headed, for good or ill or a combination of both. What can be said is that for both the United States and Europe, national security can no longer be taken for granted.Their physical safety, their vital interests outside their borders, and their democratic values are seriously endangered by new–era threats arising in distant places. For over 50 years, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members could clearly distinguish between two types of threats. According to the Washington Treaty of 1949, “Article 4” threats meant that NATO members would consult if any one were threatened, while “Article 5” threats obliged each NATO member to assist the party or parties under attack, according to the principle that an attack on one is an attack on all. However, since 9/11, NATO's old distinction between “Article 5 threats” and “Article 4 threats” is rapidly becoming an anachronism because the new threats are often both at the same time. The terrorist attack on 9/11 killed over 3,000 people: more than were lost at Pearl Harbor in 1941. If biological or nuclear weapons are used in the future, they could kill many more. Today the United States lives under siege. Can Europe be far behind?
The implication is clear: National security has been reborn, to become once again a meaningful concept for guiding strategic policy, and an endangered goal to be pursued through hard, sustained effort in troubled times. Equally important, national security is acquiring a new definition and a new face. During the Cold War, it was defined mostly in terms of defending borders against big military threats in a bipolar world. Now, the old military threats are gone, and bipolarity has passed into history. The new strategic situation is very different from the Cold War, and it can be portrayed in a nutshell. The great drama of the 20th century was democracy's struggle against totalitarianism. The defining issue of the early 21st century will be whether the democratic community can control mounting chaos in the vast troubled regions outside its borders, especially along the “Southern strategic arc” stretching from the Middle East to the Asian littoral.
Handling this formidable challenge will be the new face of national security. Beyond question, the United States and Europe will need to cooperate together in this endeavor, for if they stand apart, neither will succeed and both may fail in ways that result in disastrous consequences. At a minimum, they will be increasingly vulnerable in a world where, owing to globalization, distance from smoldering geopolitical hotspots and flaming threats is no longer a guarantee of safety.
New Threats and Dangers in a Bifurcated World
Any attempt to assess U.S. and European security strategy for this new era must begin with a clear–eyed appraisal of why these threats are developing. The direct answer is the evil intentions of perpetrators who are willing to inflict massive destruction on their victims, including the United States, European nations, and other countries as well. But, the full reasons are wider and more deep–seated. The new geopolitics is one reason: new forms of rivalry among nation–states and political ideologies that transnational groups, such as terrorists, are joining. In important ways, globalization is another reason. The accelerating cross–border flow of trade, finances, technology, and communications is drawing once–distant regions closer together, creating webs of interdependent ties and vulnerabilities. Earlier globalization was seen as wholly positive because it promised to bring economic growth and democracy to all corners of the world. But more recently, globalization has emerged as hydra–headed. While it has many good features and is a positive trend for the long haul, it also strains regions unprepared for the information era, modernization, and stiff competition in global markets.
Globalization is producing a bifurcated world. Yes, globalization is making the already–prosperous democracies even wealthier, while helping others make progress. But elsewhere, it is spawning not only winners, but also losers, while leaving many societies, countries, and regions struggling to keep their heads above water, not knowing how to react to the changes rapidly unfolding around them. In this atmosphere of angst and confusion, globalization is nurturing venomous anti–Western ideologies and deeply angry actors — including nihilistic terrorists and menacing countries bent on acquiring WMD systems — that are willing to lash out against Western democracies and others that they blame for their fate.
These new threats are merging together in ways that reinforce each other. They also are gaining access to the modern information systems and technologies that allow them to inflict violence at very long distances, from one continent to the next. Beyond this, these threats are bringing further turmoil to unstable regions where great chaos is the byproduct of already–existing conditions, including widespread economic poverty, authoritarian governments, weak states and societies, criminal behavior, and a lack of collective security institutions. At many places along the vast Southern arc, the result is a boiling primordial stew that is producing new threats in ways that menace not only local peace and progress, but common western Western interests, values, and safety as well.
Today global terrorism is the main threat. A few years ago, the main threat was failed states and ethnic warfare. Tomorrow the main threat may be WMD proliferation and aggression by rogue states. Who knows what the future holds? Indeed, major surprises likely lie ahead, and many of them may be quite unpleasant. The key point is that we live in an increasingly dangerous world of multiple threats and shifting dangers. Neither the United States nor its allies can afford to remain passive in the face of them.
Crafting a Political and Strategic Response
Globalization means that as the democracies shape their foreign policy and national security strategy, they must see, think, and act in global terms. Doing so is nothing new for the United States, which has been a globally active power for decades, with weighty involvements in virtually every key region. But meeting this global challenge is decidedly new for Europe. Early in the 20th century, of course, many European countries were heavily involved around the world. Indeed, a number still possessed empires. But during the Cold War, European countries mostly withdrew from global affairs in order to focus on their own battered and endangered continent.
Thankfully, this effort has succeeded in ways that once seemed unimaginable. In a brief period, Europe has gone from being the cockpit of global calamity to become the poster–child for democracy, unity, and peaceful progress. Over the next decade or so, Europe stands a good chance of achieving a long–sought dream: the unification of the entire continent under the mantle of democracy, economic integration, and multilateral cooperation through such institutions as the European Union (EU) and NATO. But, as Europe pursues this vision, it cannot afford to wall itself off from the rest of the world, with a 21st century version of Euro–isolationism. Europe's growing global economic involvements make such a detached stance implausible. Beyond this, a brief look at the world map shows that Europe is located next–door to the most dangerous regions on earth, within easy range of the mounting threats there.
Europe can no longer rely upon the United States to protect it from these dangers. Yes, the United States should continue to play the role of global superpower and leader, and it should refrain from unilateralism when multilateralism is viable. But, Europe must make a worthy and weighty contribution itself, as a genuine and co–equal partner of the United States. The emerging strategic situation cries out for the United States and Europe, the world's leading democracies and strongest powers, to work together in a strategic partnership aimed at ensuring that the 21st century does not go up in smoke. A new transatlantic bargain is needed. It should join the United States and Europe in an historic collaboration not only to complete Europe's unification, but also to bring greater security, stability, and progress to distant regions whose growing turmoil, if left unchecked, could greatly damage the democracies themselves.
Are such a new transatlantic bargain and strategic partnership possible? Today's cacophony of complaints flowing back–and–forth across the Atlantic suggests not. Some Europeans are accusing the United States of arrogant unilateralism, hyper–powerism, and warlike militarism. In return, some Americans are accusing the Europeans of being inward–looking, incompetent free–riders, and complaining back–stabbers to boot. Hopefully, this error–filled and unproductive name–calling can give rise to something more constructive. There are reasons for hoping that this can be the case. Often before, Americans and Europeans argued bitterly at times of impeding strategic change, and then surmounted their disputes to reach common ground on behalf of policies that made sense to both of them. They need to do so again.
A new transatlantic bargain should neither ask the Europeans to support U.S. global policies in rote ways nor give them a brake on assertive U.S.– led efforts. Instead, it should establish a common framework for the United States and Europe to act together in energetic collaborative ways. Harmonizing alternative views requires patient dialogue, but this approach has worked in the past, and it can work again. The United States and some European countries may not always agree on specific actions. But, their core interests and goals are compatible in ways that normally will permit common perspectives and often will permit coordinated, mutually supporting actions. The core reality here is simple. The United States and Europe share the same basic values and are menaced in similarly serious ways. Individually they lack the resources and willpower to handle the world's problems, but together, they possess ample amounts of both. They merely need to work together in a spirit of partnership, not rivalry.
The United States and Europe need to launch a strong effort that covers the full spectrum of policy instruments: military, political, diplomatic, and economic. Clearly their strategy must be broader and more visionary than merely using military force to swat down new threats whenever they appear. Their strategy must aspire to bring better governance, market economies, and modernizing societies to poverty–stricken regions along the Southern arc and elsewhere, including Sub–Saharan Africa. Just as clearly, their strategy must aspire to defeat the twin threats of global terrorism and WMD proliferation — not only to protect themselves from direct attack, but also because these threats must be quelled if long–term efforts to bring progress to troubled regions are to succeed. In today's world, the pursuit of security and progress must go hand–in–hand. Indeed, the former often will be a precondition for the latter. Democracy, economic markets, and multilateral cooperation cannot take hold until these dangerous threats are checked and a climate of stable security affairs takes hold.
Making Use of NATO
The United States will lead the endeavor in the security arena, but it cannot carry the weight alone, nor should it be expected to do so. As Europe's premier security institution, NATO is the natural vehicle for helping prepare Europe's contribution, organize it, and harmonize it with U.S. efforts. In the aftermath of September 11, NATO rose to the occasion by activating Article 5. It sent Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft to help defend U.S. skies, assigned naval forces to patrol the Eastern Mediterranean, increased intelligence sharing, intensified law enforcement, and initiated an inventory of national civil emergency measures. When U.S. forces launched combat operations in Afghanistan, British forces joined them, other countries offered to help, and NATO made its infrastructure available. Later, several European countries, including Germany and France, sent troops to lead multinational peacekeeping in Afghanistan and to help root out lingering Al Qaeda cells in the countryside.
Now that the United States is widening the war on terrorism to other regions and preparing to confront WMD proliferators, the situation calls upon the Europeans and NATO to launch additional efforts in support. Exactly what role NATO is to play in future crises and missions is to be seen, but clearly, the Europeans cannot sit on the sidelines, complaining about American actions but not helping. If the Europeans are passive, the inevitable result will be the withering of NATO, because neither the Americans nor the Europeans will view it as relevant to the new era's security affairs. The demanding agenda ahead necessitates that even as NATO enlarges to welcome new members and pursues a close dialogue with Russia, it cannot afford to become a loose, collective security pact that lacks military teeth and strategic punch. In addition to bolstering homeland defenses on both sides of the Atlantic, NATO must strengthen its capacity to launch demanding security operations well outside Europe, for it will not be able to cope with the new threats if it remains a border–defense alliance. NATO should not become a “global alliance,” but it does need to become capable of acting strongly and wisely in other theaters.
NATO also must ensure that it continues to act as an alliance of equals. As during the Cold War, its future efforts in specific areas may be carried out by coalitions of the committed and able. Sometimes these coalitions may act outside the NATO structure, with NATO in support. But, NATO should steer away from any “division of labor” that divides the alliance into separate blocs. This judgment applies to politics and diplomacy, but it especially holds true for military operations. NATO should not expect the United States and Britain to act as “bad cops” while other members act as “good cops” who pursue peaceful reconciliation with adversaries. Nor should the United States and Britain carry out intense combat missions while other NATO members pursue peacekeeping in the aftermath. Nor should the United States perform high–tech bombing missions while other members fight on the ground. A seamless sharing of duties, coupled with a flexible approach to the particulars, makes sense.
New Forces and Capabilities for New Missions
Finally, NATO and the Europeans must improve their military capabilities for missions against the new threats. As a matter of growing urgency, this issue should be addressed at the upcoming Prague Summit, which needs to define a new NATO defense preparedness agenda for the future. Today's European militaries are larger and stronger than is commonly realized, with 2.4 million active duty troops and $150 billion in annual defense spending. But, because they still focus on defending their borders, they lack the capacity to swiftly project power to long distances and to strike lethally against the new threats. In addition, they are in danger of falling further behind the U.S. military as it transforms itself with new operational doctrines and technologies, including modern information systems, sensors, and munitions. If today's interoperability gap widens further, European and U.S. forces might not be able to fight together even if Europe's political leaders do not want to watch from the sidelines, and even if the Americans want them to be equal partners.
The Europeans cannot be expected to match the United States, but they must be able to contribute credibly to such missions when the need arises. While a crash defense buildup is not necessary, the Europeans need to configure a portion of their forces for swift power projection and high–tech strike operations with U.S. forces. To help guide this effort, NATO at Prague could replace its ongoing “Defense Capabilities Initiative” with a tighter–focused transformation effort aimed at acquiring high–priority forces and integrated capabilities in this area. Initially, this effort might create a small European “spearhead force”: a truly networked, joint force composed of 25,000–50,000 troops. This small, elite strike force would include several fighter squadrons with smart munitions, ships with cruise missiles, and one or two highly mobile ground brigades, backed by the transport and logistics assets needed to move quickly.
This spearhead force would be maintained at high readiness, capable of deploying in a few days. It would be equipped with the modern, high–tech weaponry needed for expeditionary strike operations in intense, demanding combat. It would be interoperable with U.S. forces, capable of similar battlefield missions. It would be commanded by a standing joint task force that possesses the requisite personnel and information networks to permit coordinated joint and combined operations that integrate air, naval, and ground forces. It would be a mostly European force, but properly configured U.S. forces in Europe could be affiliated with it, thereby expanding the pool of spearhead capabilities available to NATO.
This spearhead force could be embedded in larger, new NATO “strategic response forces” that provide broader assets for new–era threats and missions, including at long distances outside Europe. For example, the spearhead force could operate as a lead echelon for a medium–sized strike package of six–nine brigades along with commensurate air and naval assets. While these numbers are illustrative, the key point is that the small, elite spearhead force would deploy first to a distant crisis, thereby gaining early and forcible entry, and the remaining strategic response forces would deploy somewhat later, thereby providing the additional assets needed to carry the day. The exact force deployment, of course, would be modular and scalable, capable of being tailored to deal with the specific situation at hand. These forces could be used in a variety of different ways: e.g., under the integrated command, as a separate “coalition of the willing,” or assigned to U.S. command in distant situations where the United States is the lead country.
Such a small spearhead force, backed up by the other strategic response forces, would equip NATO with the assets needed to respond to crises similar to the recent intervention in Afghanistan. Together, they would provide a flexible and adaptable posture, capable of handling a wide spectrum of missions in a diverse array of geographic locations. This posture could also perform other critical functions. It could serve as a vanguard for promoting training, exercises, and experiments with U.S. forces, thus helping the European and American militaries pursue transformation together. The lessons learned about new–era operations can be applied elsewhere across NATO and European forces, thus helping them transform as well. This spearhead force also could perform outreach to the EU's European Rapid Reaction Force (ERRF). With it, NATO would have a usable force for high–tech strike operations, and the EU would have a similar force for Petersberg (conflict prevention and crisis management) tasks. The two postures would be natural partners that would help NATO and the EU work together, rather than drift apart as rivals.
Is such an innovation affordable in today's climate of constrained resources? The answer is “yes.” The combat forces needed for this posture already exist. They merely need to be organized and equipped properly. In theory, the Europeans could fund this effort by reprioritizing their existing defense budgets. While the Europeans arguably need bigger defense budgets, this owes to larger reasons, not to any big increase from funding this new posture.
The bottom line is that this spearhead force, backed by other strategic response forces, would help achieve three key strategic goals: 1) It would provide NATO and Europe with badly needed forces and capabilities for new threats and missions; 2) It would re–cement the transatlantic bond in ways that provide the United States a strong rationale for staying actively involved in Europe; and 3) It would contribute to the EU's growth in a manner that preserves a healthy role for NATO. Especially because this small force is readily affordable, it offers NATO, the Europeans, and the Americans a golden opportunity to enhance their alliance at Prague.
A new era of demanding security affairs thus has burst upon both the United States and Europe. The strategic challenges ahead can be properly interpreted only if they are seen against the backdrop of a world that is rapidly globalizing, producing a rich mix of opportunities and troubles. Great changes are taking place, but one thing hasn't changed: the need for the United States and Europe to cooperate together. This is how they won the Cold War, and it provides the best recipe for coping with the 21st century as well.
ABM – Anti–Ballistic Missile
AWACS – Airborne Warning and Control System CFSP – Common Foreign and Security Policy CIA – Central Intelligence Agency
CTBT – Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty EAPC – Euro–Atlantic Partnership Council EU – European Union
EADS – European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company ESDP – European Security and Defense Policy
ERRF – European Rapid Reaction Force ICC – International Criminal Court
IMF – International Monetary Fund
ISAF – International Security Assistance Force NAC – North Atlantic Council
NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization NCW – Network Centric Warfare
NGO – non–governmental Organization NPT – Non–Proliferation Treaty
NTA – New Transatlantic Agenda
OSCE – Organization for Security and Co–operation in Europe RMA – Revolution in Military Affairs
SIS – Schengen Information System UN – United Nations
WMD – Weapons of Mass Destruction WTO – World Trade Organization
About the Author
Dr. Richard L. Kugler is a Distinguished Research Professor at the Institute for National Security Studies, National Defense University, Washington, DC.
The Marshall Center Papers
The Marshall Center Papers seek to further the legacy of the Center's namesake, General George C. Marshall, by disseminating scholarly monographs that contribute to his ideal of ensuring that Europe and Eurasia are democratic, free, undivided, and at peace in the 21st century. Papers selected for this series are meant to identify, discuss, and influence significant defense-related security issues. The Marshall Center Papers' focus is on comparative and interdisciplinary topics to include international security and democratic defense management, civil military relations, strategy formulation, defense planning, arms control, peacekeeping, crisis management, and cooperative security. The Marshall Center Papers are authored by Marshall Center faculty and staff, Marshall Center alumni, or by individual, invited contributors.
The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, a German-American partnership, is committed to creating and enhancing worldwide networks to address global and regional security challenges. The Marshall Center offers fifteen resident programs designed to promote peaceful, whole of government approaches to address today’s most pressing security challenges. Since its creation in 1992, the Marshall Center’s alumni network has grown to include over 14,000 professionals from 156 countries. More information on the Marshall Center can be found online at www.marshallcenter.org.
The articles in the Security Insights series reflect the views of the authors and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.