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Captain Bill Norris is a retired submarine Officer with long experience in the field of nuclear weapons affairs, both in the Navy and in civilian life. In retirement he has served as an executive of Sandia Corporation. He is a frequent contributor on political-milit01y issues to these pages.

Much is made today of how America, the world’s only remaining st1pe1power, and its foreign and military policy are distressing transatlantic relations. Similarly, we hear that the European Union (EU) creation of a common European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) will create a counterweight to US foreign policy. Then we hear that the French and Dutch voters’ rejection of the EU Constitutional Treaty will stymie any effective EU actions for a decade. NA TO is said to be no longer needed in a world in which Europe has no real threats. Although truth is often said to be stranger than fiction, where do the truths and fictions really lie? Where is there agreement and disagreement?

One could probably write a fairly large tome on this subject, but let us attempt to address this issue by selecting several specific subjects to discuss. These may not be either the best subjects for an example or the most contentious. But maybe they will start the dialogue. Let us discuss the following:

1. War on Terror
3. EU Constitution
4. Nonproliferation and Weapons of Mass Destruction
5. Greater Middle East

The first thing with which Europeans and Americans disagree is that there is a war on terrorism. The Europeans would ask “How you can conduct a war on a thing?” At most, they would call it a campaign. And Europeans do not sense they are at all at war as they have lived with national based terrorism for years.

That could be changing. The Madrid bombings of last March and the London bombings of July this year are bringing a new awareness that international Jihadist terrorism can occur in EU countries. The fact that more people know London than Madrid places more emphasis on the deed. This apparently random terrorism is now viewed as a more real threat than Europeans wanted to admit. The events of9/l 1 in the US had caused the EU to initiate some recommendations on changes to national laws that should be enacted in EU countries. However, most have been slow to take any action because they did not see the threat as either real or imminent. Europe (and the EU) is a land of law and personal freedoms. Just as with the Patriot Act, these laws (such as national ID cards) would impinge upon their freedoms. They have now seen two instances where countries with strong anti-terrorism laws in place have been able to fairly quickly run to ground the Jihadist terrorists from within their countries.

Europeans do see that the road ahead in this area has many twists, turns and bumps. The major industries of many European countries have been fueled by the immigration from all over the world to offset their own population stagnation or declines. They all now have indigenous population that are second and third generation nationals and citizens. The alienation or expulsion of this population in the name of internal security would be crippling to their economies. Any solution to curbing this terrorism from within must have an inclusive and uniting theme with these new citizens. And it must be a universal solution that does not end Jihadist terrorism at the expense of advancing some different ethnic or religious terrorism or curb the appeal of the free and democratic vision.

From the US perspective, the events of9/l l permanently scarred the American psyche. The invulnerability of the homeland was forever shattered. The events of both Madrid and London were further reinforcement of how easy terrorism is and that those events could happen here. Yes, the Oklahoma City bombing could be viewed as terrorism, but most Americans tended to view it as the act of a very few kooks with no real associated cause. So Americans generally believed that 9/11 was different and seminal and demanded real action to reduce the threat.

Throughout the last half of the twentieth century, American leaders have tended to use the word war when they needed to mobilize the country’s efforts. Besides the Cold War, we have seen War on Poverty, War on Drugs, and War on Aids as examples of this. To try and make the essentially overnight changes in a national approach to counter terrorism, a national mobilization in thought process was required. The changes needed in individual rights and civil liberties were much more acceptable in a national cause, especially when wars are not viewed as permanent and there could be some restoration when the need for mobilization of resources was over.

The US by its very aggressive use of force and other tools, has clearly placed itself at the top of the terrorists’ target lists. As compared to the likes of Luxembourg or Estonia, the US should expect to eventually experience some terrorist action. Because the 9/11 event was so large to Americans, a basic US position is to try to do whatever is necessary to prevent anything similar. By such a definition, it is both a stretch goal that by its ambition begets strong action. While President Bush may have lost popularity because of the Iraq War, support of his counter terrorism policy remains strong and vibrant. We must be careful that we are not making our judgments based on what we see in the rear view mirror.

I believe that one should view ESDP as a natural outgrowth of the maturing of the EU. In the global world of today, foreign policy generally tends to be driven by economic (soft) power. Now the world is finding(and actually always knew) that not all problems can be solved with only soft power. From a start of six European countries forty years ago, the EU is now a community of twenty-five European countries and still growing. By many measures, the combined economic power of the EU is roughly the equivalent of the US. ESDP is a way of ensuring that its economic power cannot be held hostage through the lack of hard power and a policy for its use.

But the same rationale that brought this argument this far now begins to falter. Twenty-five sovereign powers have different national interests both inside and outside economic drivers. Twenty-five nations have leaders with different visions of both their countries place in the world and the EU’s place in the world. Some of these nations have years of history and culture that define them. Others of these EU nations are young in their present incarnation with developing economies and national interests, yet at the same time mired in an older ethnicity and culture. The EU is a union of nations divided by culture, history, religions and language.

For more than fifty years, the military power, or defense policies, of most of the twenty-five EU nations have been defined by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NA TO). As NA TO is evolving from a pure defense organization against a very specific threat in Europe to a collective security organization against an ill-defined or global threat, the EU is also seeking an identity. The static forces that characterized the old NATO and Warsaw Pact are the capabilities of today’s European NA TO forces. As each country has taken its peace dividend from the end of the Cold War, most countries are forced to offer the same static forces (in some cases these forces are even more static than before) to both NATO and the EU.

When two organizations are compeling for the same forces and missions, the spawning of differences is inevitable. Some of these differences arise from the opinion and policies of the non-members of each group (France not a member of the NA TO military structure, the US not an EU member, etc.). Others stem from the capabilities that are brought to the table, or maybe even absent from one group or the other. Still others are caused by disparities in the national interests that might merit their involvement in any forum. Some are driven by the name tags used to describe the missions (Peace-making, peace-keeping, etc.). In recent years, a few would even suggest that France and Germany have added to the differences by working to rid the continent of American influence. Both NA TO and the EU are essentially consensus driven organizations which exacerbates any differences when action might be required.

In a global world there has to be place for both. Intervention somewhere in the world is a matter of when, not if. No nation can sustain the role of the world policeman. Neither can any nation sit on the side and claim that all the world’s nations are good citizens who are always acting in the world’s interests and will react to a soft power carrot. Nor can any but the most undeveloped nations contend that their national interests are not affected by a failed or failing state several continents away.

An ESDP is needed and is necessary. Yes, the economic, legislative and judicial legs of the EU are healthy and sustainable without ESDP. But can the evolving NATO continue to be the continuing source of hard power that is necessary for the EU to continue to thrive and grow in a global economy? The US is often characterized as seeing every problem as a nail and only having a hammer to solve it. On the other hand the EU is seen as only having carrots and so every problem looks like a rabbit.

What if the US decides that it has neither a role nor a national interest in a world crisis, can the EU (or NA TO for that fact) act without US logistic support? The answer for today for anything but the smallest event is no. A forcible insertion of peace-making forces would be extremely problematic for the EU. Therefore the laying out of a security policy and the commitments of the EU nations to support it is absolutely needed. An old American saying thatjieedom is not free also applies to EU economic power.

Along this line, a short discussion of the EU constitutional approval process is probably in order. The French and Dutch No votes this summer sent tremors through the EU. How could the voters reject so strongly the advice of their leaders? There are probably two underlying reasons. First, the growing general trend in democracies is to believe that major decisions should be made by the people at the polls. Ballots in the US are filled with proposals on laws or projects. Luckily, in most cases, these proposals only require an interested voter to read a short volume as opposed to the many tomes a French or Dutch voter would have had to read.

So the majority of voters then make their decision based on what they see and hear in the media or in what they talk about in the coffee house or over the backyard fence. A growing concern for Europeans is can the EU and their nations maintain the social services networks as the population ages. This type of decision making can quickly sink into such national and even regional emotional issues, the rumor de jour or even pure fiction for which no rebuttal is available. The voters really care more about what they believe the effect will be on their daily lives than the grand vision.

Second, there seems to be a growing trend of elitist government (and even corporate) leadership. To some degree this elitist trend seems to grow with longevity of the leader. The senior functionairies in the EU bureaucracy and EU governments are embroiled daily in the issues addressed in the constitution and therefore clearly believe that they only put forth a visionary document that would resolve all issues. There seems to have been some belief that the voters would just rubber stamp the well wrapped package that their elite had provided them. Most of the countries that have ratified the treaty to date have done so in national legislatures where there may be more trust in the other elites and where discussions are more likely to be steered away from rumor and fiction, and even some cases, facts.

Thus when one submits something to the voters, the landscape must be prepared. There must be at least as much positive propaganda as negative. The rumors and fiction must be identified as such and countered. The loyal opposition attempts to embarrass those in power must be expected, and the radical fringe groups must be kept on the fringe. Those in power must remember that the voters’ no votes may in fact be a vote against the government in protest over issues that are not even on the ballot, especially in a one issue ballot.

The rejection by the French and Dutch voters so closely followed by the wrangling of the national leaders at the EU summit may lead people to believe that the constitution is dead. It is not, as the yes vote by Luxembourg recently indicates. But a multitude of issues have been identified that must be worked and resolved. It should serve as a wake-up call to European leaders that their countrymen are disillusioned with the current path being traveled. This may result in a multi-year delay in getting an ESDP and on admitting further new members. A lesson learned is that the rules that will govern an institution after enlargement should probably be in place before the enlargement occurs.

Two related subjects that are often discussed in security and defense conferences are proliferation and weapons of mass destruction. With respect to Europeans, these discussions are normally fillers or sidebars. While speakers will openly brand the proliferation to and the possession of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists or rogue governments as the greatest threat to world peace, they do not seem to believe it to be a real threat. Therefore they are willing to let existing arms control conventions and UN sanctions attempt to control proliferation with the belief that if they fail, soft power, or in the worst case, the US hard power, will resolve, what they believe to be an unlikely scenario, favorably. There has always been a struggle in and between governments on the soft power forms of non-proliferation and the hard power means of counter-proliferation.

There was also a belief that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) would prevent any nuclear weapons proliferation concerns. Some people believe that the three new nuclear weapons nations since the NPT’s inception (Israel, India and Pakistan) did so in violation of the NPT. They did not since they never signed the treaty. However, the main subjects of today’s proliferation discussions, North Korea and Iran did sign the NPT and therefore are in violation of the NPT. Two other proliferators, Libya and South Africa, have now made national decisions to abandon their proliferation pro-grams. Other nations probably investigated the development of a nuclear weapon in secret, but then decided that the cost/benefit equation at the time was wrong for them to continue.

That was then and this is now. Iran is now faced with a nuclear armed neighbor on its eastern border as well as the nagging Israeli one. There may be questions in the Iranian leaders as to the long term stability of the Pakistani government, or its entanglements with the Great Satan, the United States. What national pride is involved when Pakistan claims its technical superiority and claims an Islamic bomb? Iran is a self-anointed Islamic state and cannot believe itself a less capable nation than Pakistan, a more secular one. Maybe Iran is even looking to use its nuclear aspirations to define a new balance of power in the region. The isolationist and paranoid North Korean government may believe that possession of a nuclear weapon will ensure their sovereignty and well being when they are unable to provide for their peoples’ common good. It may even be a bargaining chip to gain that capability.

The real dilemma today is getting world-wide consensus on how to deal with NPT violators, especially since the world has changed from the bi-polar (some would say multi-polar) state that existed when the NPT was originated. Are the guarantees of the NPT enough, in and of themselves, to assure the safety of smaller nations today who find themselves next to a new nuclear weapon state? The United States has provided extended deterrence treaty obligations to numerous nations. That commitment to extended deterrence may be a much more demanding and important one today than when it was given .

Since the first and only uses of nuclear weapons in war sixty years ago, nuclear weapons principal role has been deterrence. As more and more nations acquire nuclear weapons, we may be transitioning from deterrence on an international scale with well developed policies, protocols and command and control systems to an era in which nuclear weapons are weapons available to be used without the same level of deliberation and with unintended consequences to solve a nation’s immediate tactical problems. We have greatly changed the entering arguments in the cost/benefit equations for new nuclear weapons states.

NA TO has a nuclear policy that is underwritten by the United States, and to a lesser degree, the United Kingdom. In general, the association of nuclear weapons and NA TO is treated as a sleeping dog that is let lie. The public demonstrations of the 1980s and 1990s are better left unprovoked and unrenewed. How long it can be kept out of the public eye is the real question. These non-strategic weapons were originally put in place as a deterrent to the onrush of the Soviet and Warsaw pact forces into Western Europe. President George H. W. Bush removed most of them in his Presidential Initiative in 1991. Today, NATO documents refer to these nuclear weapons as political weapons.

What they represent today is really a commitment of the United States to Europe. Our other military forces cannot totally leave Europe because those weapons represent assets which cannot be allowed to fall under any other nation’s control. I believe that deep down Europe believes that even without a mission for those weapons, as long as they remain in Europe, the Europeans can rely on US participation in their defense needs. One might say that they are political weapons that keep the US bound to Europe.

There is some small chance that could change in the somewhat distant future as the limits of proliferating nations is reached. To me, the three nations that could change this future are Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The reason is that Iran becoming a nuclear state could cause both Turkey and Saudi Arabia to reexamine their cost/benefit calculations. First, Saudi Arabia as the keeper of two of the Islamic holy sites is already nervous about the rise of Islamic states and its affect on their kingdom. They certainly have the money for a nuclear weapons program. The Saudi kingdom’s survival may come to partially rest on not being blackmailed by an Islamist state with nuclear weapons, such as a nuclear armed Iran.

Turkey, as a secular nation, yearns for inclusion in the European Union. It also views itself as the leader of the moderate Arab nations. But Turkey’s membership in the European Union is far from guaranteed, even if it fulfills its entire membership plan. There remain serious prejudices against Turkey as both an Islamic nation and an Asian nation that make its membership a problem with many Europeans. The words of a union of nations who share a common heritage and set of beliefs are a tough yardstick for Turkey. If Turkey were denied membership and the joining of a united Europe, it will view its NA TO commitments and the need for its own nuclear deterrent differently.

Remember, Iran is on its eastern border. One must also wonder how Israel will react to having nuclear weapons states in several different axes.

The term Greater Middle East is being used much more frequently these days. There seems to be a somewhat na’ive belief that by lumping all the nations from Algeria cast to Iran, one solution can fit all. I believe that is a dream. The countries are too different and the existing major problems (e.g. Israel-Palestine and Iraq) must be solved before we can move very far forward. The Mahgreb (North Africa) is different from the Masher (eastern Mediterranean nations or the Levant to some) which is different from the Persian Gulf. Even within these three regions, the nations are hardly alike.

While peace and stability in these regions are vitally important to the European nations, as well as the United States and the global economy, a one size fits all approach will not work. A rational approach that solves each regional problem in the Greater Middle East must be developed and then we must build upon that for a longer term solution. Democracy, in and of itself, is definitely not a near or long term answer. What is democracy? Some Arabs will tell you that two-thirds of the Muslim world is democratic. Neither is the lslamist state a guaranteed solution. The focus needs to be on reform, job creation, women’ s rights, education, etc., this is what will secure the support of the people not empty slogans.

Europe looks to have a long term lack of manpower to keep its economies stoked with adequate internal labor. The Greater Middle East appears to have a lack of industry and infrastructure to maintain stability after we leave an oil based energy system. The answer is also not just to move the people of the Greater Middle East to Europe. But a closer answer might be to move some of the jobs Europe can’t fill with its shrinking manpower pool to the Greater Middle East. The new paradigm must be to create integration and growth. Europe well knows that there is no security for Europe in today’s world without global security.


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