PrintPrint CiteCite
Style: MLAAPAChicago Close


NATO, EU and the Transatlantic Partnership After the Summits

Moderator: Robert E. Hunter
Speakers: Wolfgang Ischinger, German Ambassador to the United States, Nicholas Burns, U.S. representative, North Atlantic Council, and George Savvaides, Greek Ambassador to the United States
January 9, 2003
Council on Foreign Relations


New York, NY

Robert Hunter [RH]: Bob, thank you very much, and welcome to everyone here. I don't know if our three speakers have much experience at the Council, but this is an extraordinary group of people that we have here tonight. And part of it, I think, is the subject. The importance of what is now happening in transatlantic relations, going through another one of those fundamental redefinitions. This one in some ways more profound than others. I say Europe advisedly. In this time, some of us refer to it nowadays as the western flank of the Greater Middle East. (Laughter) But also I think people are here because Bob Orr has produced, and my three colleagues here, the first team of people who work on European issues, and an extraordinary collection of talent and ability, and dedication to their countries and to the Alliance and relationship as a whole. I will introduce them in the order in which they are going to speak, and then turn it over to them for very, very brief comments.

I have to preface that by saying that at NATO, and two of these gentlemen have, or are serving there now. It's like the United States Senate. Once a permanent representative starts talking, you can't get him to shut up. So I'm going to try to act like my friend Burner(?) who would have imposed that kind of discipline.

First is the US Representative to the North Atlantic Council, Nick Burns. I think everyone in this room does know Nick. He's been at NATO since August of 2001. And I think I'm in a position to say without contradiction, that we have never had a better ambassador to NATO than the gentleman who's sitting here now. Prior to that he was in Greece as Ambassador, for four years. Most people in the room probably remember him best as spokesman at the State Department at a very complex time. And prior to that five years on the National Security Council, with Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia, and a whole bag of tricks at a critical time. Education: Paris, Boston College, and down the street here at SAIS.

Next to speak will be George Savvaides, Ambassador of Greece here in the United States since last June, and I should be addressing him tonight in lieu of his head of government, as Mr. President. Because he is at the moment, since the first of the year, in the Presidency of the European Union. It would be hard to find somebody better trained to do that. Most recently, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens, and prior to that at NATO for four years, where I was honored to have him as a colleague, and I could say we had no better colleague than George Savvaides in that very critical time of NATO's reform and expansion. Actually that was his second tour. He'd been there from 1983 to 1991, first as political advisor in his mission, and then defense advisor, heading for the Joseph Luntz(?) prize of longevity at NATO. (Laughter) And also back in the Ministry for his sins had to deal with relations with Cyprus and Turkey. Education: Athens, Harvard Law, and at one point he was Counsel in Boston, and anybody here who knows anything about Greek American relations knows just how critical that is.

Third speaker, Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, Ambassador in the United States from Germany since July of 2001. Prior to that, the highest level civil servant…that is non-political officer…in the Foreign Ministry as State Secretary. Prior to that, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is also Political Director, and Head of the Policy Planning Staff before that. Doing a whole range of matters, and among others, he bears quite proudly the German equivalent of the Purple Heart, which we know better as the Dayton Peace Talks Wound Stripe. (Laughter) Education: Bonn, Geneva, Fletcher and Harvard Law. And he is also on the Fletcher board of overseers.

Now you may notice that all four of us have one very important thing in common here. It's the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

RH: I was born in Cambridge, and they all have…and those of you who have nothing to do with Massachusetts, I'm sorry, it's probably too late to do anything about it. (Laughter) So we have three extraordinarily talented people here tonight. These are the ones you want to hear from. Let me start with Nick Burns.

Nicholas Burns [NB]: Bob, thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be with all of you this evening. We have been given the envious task of briefing you from each of our perspectives in three or four minutes (Laughter) on what we've been doing and what our institutions have. So I'll commence my speed briefing by thanking Bob, who was the most outstanding ambassador the United States has ever sent to NATO. (Laughter)

RH: I'm going to pull rank on you there.

NB: And I want to say it's a pleasure to be with both Wolfgang Ischinger and George Savvaides, both long time friends and colleagues, from the very good relationships the United States enjoys with both Greece and Germany. Let me do this, because I'm anxious to get to the discussion phase. It's always more interesting to discuss than to hear people speak to you. I think that 2002 was a pivotal year for the NATO alliance, and if you combine what we succeeded in doing at the Prague Summit in late November, with what the European Union succeeded in doing in Copenhagen in December, I think there is some reason to be optimistic about your transatlantic relations, about relations between NATO and the European Union. I would not have said that a year ago today. A year ago today, I think most of us would have said Euro- Atlantic relations is somewhat troubled, because of all the differences we had had…very public differences…over climate change, the Kyoto Treaty, International Criminal Court, which of course did extend into 2002, and a host of other issues. We still have many differences that separate us. United States and Europe, NATO and the European Union. But I think because of what we were able to accomplish at these two summits, we have a much greater capacity to think about a common future, and a common ability to have joint security missions, and for NATO to help the EU emerge as a significant security player in Europe itself.

What we and NATO tried to do in 2002 is nothing less than create a fundamentally new alliance that united 19 countries across the Atlantic Ocean. The lesson that we derived from September 11th was that NATO had to change its military structure, our military capabilities, our ability to go out and meet the threats where they were, several thousand miles from Europe, and not inside Europe itself. And so what we did throughout 2002 leading up to Prague, and what President Bush and his colleagues at Prague agreed to was the following:

Three significant ways, new colors rebuild the Alliance. The first was to look at the military structure. And here I must say that…and this gets to one of the great challenges we have with the Europeans in 2003. We looked at our alliance and found that we have an enormous military capabilities gap between the United States and all of its other allies. A troubling gap. Which left the United States in some instances…and you know when they were, in the 1990's…as the only country capable of lifting its troops into a theater, and using sophisticated military technology to stop wars and to keep the peace. We certainly do not want to see the Alliance turn into a two tiered Alliance. And so we worked very hard over the course of 2002 to isolate those military sectors where we felt that more had to be done by our European allies.

The agreement of Prague was the following: that on strategic lift, Germany will take the lead in 2003, to form a consortium of NATO allies to procure strategic lift for those allies that do not have it. This is absolutely critical, for our ability, whether it's in Iraq, or going to be in Iraq, whether it's in Afghanistan…was in Afghanistan in 2001…or any of the other contingencies before us. It's absolutely critical that Europeans, as well as Americans, have this capability.

The Dutch are taking the lead to procure precision guided munitions for a consortium of allies. Again, a weapons system that the United States has enjoyed to great advantage in Kosovo, and in Bosnia, and in Afghanistan, but which by and large most of our European allies do not possess. Secure communications, air to air refueling, sea lift. We decided in all of those critical areas we'd make a major effort to see if Europeans could lift their capabilities. And that will mean the need for higher defense budgets in some European countries. In those countries that cannot do that, the need for different types of spending. Spending on different priorities. It means pooling of resources and specialization.

We also agreed to radically reform our command structure so that NATO may have a flexible and lighter command structure, more conducive to the kind of counter-terrorist operations that we're going to have to undertake. Surely in the future, rather than the continental war that NATO had always planned, and unfortunately never had to execute against the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union. And third we decided with Prague to create a NATO response force, to give NATO the capability that the United States has to respond within a matter of days to an attack, in a convincing way, in a way that could meet any possible threat from a terrorist group, or from a state sponsored terrorist group, using weapons of mass destruction. We also as you know, took in new members at Prague. We invited seven countries to join the Alliance, and I think that these countries are going to strengthen the Alliance. They're not going to bring a considerable added military capability, but in a relative sense, particularly Bulgaria and Romania will add a lot in terms of niche capabilities. But I think in a larger sense, these countries will strenghthen us. President Bush said at Prague, they're going to refresh the spirit of the Alliance. These are tough minded countries who have been the victims of history and of totalitarianism in the 20th century. They're countries that certainly prize their relationship with the United States and they will with NATO.

And if you look at what Romania and Bulgaria and the Baltic countries to mention five of the seven have done, and Bosnia and Kosovo, and now in Afghanistan, to help us in combat operations, it's very impressive indeed. And I think they'll strengthen the backbone of a NATO alliance. And we look forward to their admission in May of 2004.

And finally the third color(?), and Bob, I'm coming to the end of my remarks. The third color is that in addition to new military capabilities, to make NATO effective in counter-terrorist operations…in addition to new members that will strengthen us, we have got to have new relationships with the countries to the East of NATO that are singularly important for stability and security in Europe. Russia, and the Ukraine, and the states of the Caucuses in Central Asia. We have a vision for NATO that NATO has to be the one institution that can link North America and Europe as the single security institution that can unify all of the countries involved from Vancouver to Vladivostok, for military training, for exercises, for peace keeping, and to in effect replace the balance of power system that is not present in Europe, replace the fact that there is no longer a bipolar world that governs security in Europe, but that uses the power and the physical presence of the United States in Europe and our membership in NATO to unite both our Allies and partners, to create what I think the last three American presidents have considered to be their most important strategic goal in Europe…the creation of a Europe that is all free, stable and at peace. That is the supreme strategic objective of the United States and Europe, and a healthy, strong, vibrant and aggressive NATO is one of the fundamental pillars for making sure that that happens. And we believe that we have undertaken sufficient reform of NATO to make sure that NATO can play that role.

My final point would be this. And I think that both Wolfgang and George will obviously want to speak for this. We also have an opportunity for NATO to help and assist the European Union to play the role that it has long wanted to play, but until now has been unable to play. Because of a variety of theological differences which I will not go into, because I want to spare you, NATO and the EU were not able to reach and understanding of how the EU could undertake security measures with the assistance of NATO military assets. We broke through those theological disputes in late December, and we're now poised in the first half of 2003 to look forward to the EU taking on some of the missions that NATO has been leading in Macedonia, and perhaps even as we get into 2004 in Bosnia itself.

From an American perspective, this is a very welcomed development. Because it means that Europe can at long last play the role that many Europeans have wanted to play. And that should be in conjunction with NATO. And it must be done. And this is a very decidedly American perspective. With the following firmly in mind: That NATO remains the pre-eminent security institution in Europe. That NATO has first right of refusal to decide when NATO will be engaged. And when NATO wishes not to be engaged, then of course we will be the best partner to the European Union. That's a fair deal, and that's essentially the deal that both President Clinton, and now President Bush have insisted upon as the basis of our relationship with the European Union on security matters, and we look forward very much to working with our European allies on that basis. And with a great deal of optimism in this year. Thank you.

RH: Nick, thank you very much for your excellent presentation in almost the time. See, I told you he was good. (Laughter) George Savvaides.

George Savvaides [GS]: At the outset, I would like to thank Bob for his flattering words, this Council for inviting me, and all the distinguished audience for attending this event. This very timely and important panel discussion. I'll try to keep my remarks quite general and quite brief. Both NATO and the EU summit constitute historic milestones in the life of the two organizations. The enlargement processes which have been decided by them are expected to deeply influence the breath, the scope and the impact of their involvement and their activities in the respective areas of their interest and responsibility.

The two enlargement processes will evolve in parallel. Although not identical, regarding their origin requirements and ramification, they are expected to end political, geo-strategic and economic divisions in Europe, and both are expected to contribute in the medium and longer terms to the strategic stability, and to a more harmonious development of the continent.

These positive developments will certainly have a beneficial effect on the transatlantic partnership between an American pole, which following the events of 9/11 is looking for answers…new world challenges…including isometric— (Inaudible)…and a European one which is gradually becoming more cognizant of its potential, and more receptive in climate regarding its role in international placement.

I expect that this partnership will become more sincere and predictable in the future. If the two sides of the Atlantic embark on a coordinated effort of defining priorities, areas of cooperation beyond Europe and the United States, issues whose magnitude, for example international commerce or the environment render the global approach a must, and finally issues of the wider security and the rule of law.

The transatlantic partnership as it will evolve following the recent summits will certainly involve an increased number of partners…I mean from the European side…but who will have to quickly adjust and adapt to the rules of the play. Given the economic disparities that both enlargements will bring to the respective groupings…NATO and the EU…the transatlantic partnership will have in the coming years at least to base itself less on the efficiency of the respective organizations and more on the transparency, the commonality of purpose, and the exploitation of comparative advantages.

In addition, the two enlargement processes will provide new impetus to internal reform and adaptations within both organizations which in their turn will influence not just their internal life, but the transatlantic relationship too. And finally, and this perhaps is a positive comment to what Nick has already said, it's worth noting that following the summits, there is a question not just of a new transatlantic partnership, but of a new partnership between NATO and the EU too. Perhaps this last partnership merits our formal consideration, given the very important areas of the dynamic operation which exist between the two organizations.

RH: George, thank you very much for that very clear, crisp and concise presentation. I think in particular your stressing of the relationship between NATO and the EU is something that we couldn't have said while you and I were at NATO. When we talked about at the time of the two institutions in the same city living on different planets. And I think this is setting on the right direction. We're going to explore more of it this evening. Wolfgang, you're the clean up hitter.

Wolfgang Ischinger [WI]: Thank you. And thanks for including me in this group. It's a pleasure to be there. And I want to say that I agree with literally every point that Nick made about NATO and I think we all agree we Europeans with the US that what has happened at NATO has been, I think, for many of us, an unexpected hugely important success story. I think many of us thought that we would have a lot more problems as we moved along on the road towards Prague. For example, a question of how we would handle the relationship with Russia. It's been a tremendous success story. The enlargement of the European Union, the European covenant, that is continuing as we speak here, is also the success story. The one complaint that I would have is that we have not…We, Europeans, have not yet sufficiently been able to translate what the European Union does in terms of the political areas of the EU's activities. We have not yet been able to translate that into something that actually does appear on the American political radar screen. I think that's our problem, and we have to keep working on that.

But when one listens to our presentations of what has been a NATO and an EU success story to a large degree, why then is it that we still have a problem as we look at the future. And I'd like to spend just a couple of minutes if I may…how many minutes do I have?

RH: You have four and a quarter minutes left. (Laughter)

WI: All right. Let me spend these four minutes on trying to share with you just a few thoughts in shorthand about why I need…why I believe that there is a problem, and what we should do in order to deal with it. I think we agree that the West…by the West I mean NATO and the EU…the whole of the Transatlantic Relationship has a new agenda. I think we can define the new agenda as the challenge of dealing with security threats that are no longer coming from the East, but are coming from an area that NATO traditionally didn't look at much, wasn't supposed to actually, and the European Union didn't have the capacity to deal with it much.

The Greater Middle East. You mentioned that, Bob, in your introductory remarks. I believe that one, if not the only one, certainly one of the reasons why we have continuing friction about such issues of war, or not war, use of military force, or not use of military force against Iraq, is that we have not yet figured out a sufficiently cohesive vision as to how we propose to deal with these future challenges that come from that region, including how to deal with terrorism. Including how to deal with the proliferation.

And I think it starts with the question…with the debate which is not a debate that we're engaging in as ambassadors, but we are following because it's a debate that's happening in academic circles and intellectual circles. What is it that we are interested in achieving in that part of the world? We as the West? Are we interested in bringing democracy to that region of the world? Or are our goals a lot more modest and limited? Continuing what we have been doing for the last 10, 15, 20 or more years?

I don't think that we have been able to figure out a common answer to that question. And let me just tick off a couple of elements that I believe for purposes of debate and discussion, that I believe should be or could be elements of a more comprehensive, Western, NATO/EU strategy of dealing with that new region of challenge.

First obviously from a European perspective, we have to make clear that helping to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict remains an item for the United States and the Europeans of the first order of priority. And I think it would be desirable, not only from a European point of view, if the famous road map that we've been talking about could be presented and implemented as soon as possible, for the benefit of not only Transatlantic Coalition, but of Israelis and Palestinians alike. First item.

Second item, we need to…and I think we're doing a pretty good job there…we need to re-affirm our long term commitment not to let Afghanistan you know, fall apart again. This effort must not be allowed to fail. I think the United States and many of us Europeans have made a very good effort together, but we need to be clear, vis-a-vis our Parliaments and our publics that this is not over. And just like in the Balkans, it's going to require the readiness to be in there for the long haul.

Third, I don't know how popular that point is in this setting here, I believe that we should try again to do what we have failed to do over the last decade, namely work out a common Western…namely US and EU approach on how to deal with Iran. I believe that our inability to have a common strategy on Iran does not help those who undoubtedly exist in Teheran and would like to work towards transformation of that society. I don't have the time here to go into details.

Fourth…and I have one more point after it…fourth, proliferation. It's not the point to spend time on the North Korean issue, but clearly we must take a fresh look…not only at counter-proliferation as a popular catch-word, but at all our instruments. I have carefully read the recent US policy paper on proliferation, and it actually does speak of the need to look at all the elements including such concepts as arms control and non-proliferation treaties. I happen to believe that unless we can devise a program that creates more and more convincing incentives for countries not just for North Korea and Iraq, to stop their nuclear ambitions, if we want to get that done, we need US leadership, and I think we need US leadership, not only (Inaudible) proliferation terms, we need US leadership in taking a fresh look also at the question of whether treaties such as the CTBT are in fact useless, or maybe necessary in order to meet this challenge.

I could go on. I'll stop here. I promised not to be too long. To sum up, what I think is necessary for us to do as the West, is to clarify a number of rather fundamental questions. One of those questions is the degree of our ambition…Timothy Garton Ash wrote recently in an Op Ed piece, that he thought America was committed to a Wilsonian project for reshaping the whole Middle East. I happen to believe that we Europeans have not committed ourselves to such an ambitious project, and I don't think we've had an intelligent debate about whether that's desirable, and if so, to what extent. And if so, over what kind of period…and with what kinds of resources.

In other words, I think we need to describe and define a vision. The lesson from the Transatlantic difficulties over Iraq of 2002 as well as the lesson, as far as I'm concerned, from the decades of the Cold War, is that Transatlantic friction can best be avoided if we operate on the basis of a shared vision. Therefore let's start a more serious, more fundamental Transatlantic effort to define a coherent long term strategy towards that greater region. If we don't do that, the West might be in trouble, and so could be the Middle East.

RH: Well, thank you Wolfgang for your sober, but I think very precise and very intelligent entry into the debate about the future. We've had three superb presentations. I'm going to take the Chairman's prerogative and just pose one question to each of them, if they'd answer it very briefly.

We have a lot of optimism, I think up here, but also a lot of concern about whether these relationships across the Atlantic, and these two great institutions, are going to continue to be relevant. Is it possible that by taking in so many members, they'll become ungovernable, and lose focus. Will there be economic competition across the Atlantic that will undercut the possibility of a grand geo-political bargain? Will US and European interest beyond Europe essentially divide…or if I could paraphrase in another Sam Huntington, are we seeing here a clash of siblings?

Let me just ask, if indeed Wolfgang is right, that we need a common vision, let me ask Nick to say what one or two things he would most like to see the Europeans do over the next decade, and our two Europeans, what one or two things would you most like to see America do to make this vision possible? Very briefly, so we can get to the floor.

NB: Good, I'll just start off and say that we think that the fundamental challenge for Europe as well as the United States and Canada is to look at the arc of countries from North Africa to the Middle East and South and Central Asia. Look at the threat that comes from terrorist groups and failed states in that region, to us, and the nexus of those groups with weapons of mass destruction that we have to in essence pivot. And I'll talk from a NATO perspective here.

NATO's gaze from an inward focus on Europe, where it's been necessarily since 1945, and an outward gaze to this arc of countries, and that we be prepared now that the out of area debate is over and dead, that we could prepare to go out and meet that threat. Hopefully a combination of our diplomatic prowess, Europe and North America, can deter attacks. But if that is not possible, and it certainly was certainly not possible on September 11th, then we have to have the capacity and the political will to meet it squarely. And so I think that to directly answer Bob's question, to see Europe match the strong and clear political will of the United States on this central issue. And secondly to see Europe step up to the plate, military budget increases, different way of thinking about the use of military force, and acquiring the kind of military technologies that are absolutely essential to win these wars. That's what we need inside NATO and that's what we need from our European Allies.

RH: Okay. Very clear prescription. George?

GS: I think that the relationship will take some time to evolve productively . And I'm saying this because I expect that both organizations following the respective enlargements will need some time of internal adaptation, internal preparation. They will need some time of observing the "shock" in quotation marks, of the new members. And at the same time they will redefine priorities, areas of possible cooperation, but they also need in the meantime to cultivate and to improve as much as possible some common vision as my friend Wolfgang has already said. I do not see a great relevance anymore to questions about in area or out of area discussion. That was something very difficult. In the past I could say handle this discussion, and differences on society terms(?)…but I think that cooperation in the future will become much more practical, and much more down to earth provided that both sides approach this relationship…this Transatlantic relationship with also the possibility that the this relationship provides to both sides in a candid manner, in a constructive manner, and don't show…sharing not just you know, common vision, or common purpose, but some concrete interests that have to be translated in concrete actions, activities, and initiatives.

So I sincerely see additional possibilities for the future with lesser divisions in Europe, with the best use of all the potential that Europe is providing to this constructive relationship between Europe and the United States. And also with the clear participation and added value of all the players.

RH: Very clear summons…to get the practical work done and get behind the ideology and get some vision implemented here. Wolfgang?

WI: I would have three points on my wish list as a European looking at the United States. First, I would hope that the United States will continue to see the emerging Europe not as a potential rival, but as a potentially more important and useful and better and more cohesive partner. I disagree with Robert Kagan, when he wrote in his article that…rather disparagingly…that Europeans think the whole world should behave…should comply with you know, the rules the Europeans have created for themselves. Well, in a way, what would be wrong with that? (Laughter) I think that would be a very, very good world. I agree with you, that we are far from that. But I propose to you that our solutions to our European problems are good solutions, and future oriented solutions. And they will help Europe carry a larger share of the global burden, even if it's going to be hard to do what US(?) (Inaudible) to do and increase the defense budgets.

That brings me to my second point. I hope that the United States will continue to work with us Europeans as we try to meet these challenges in recognizing that resolving these problems requires not only military instruments, and as we have seen over and over and over again, over the last decade of crisis management, employing military force is actually quite easy. They can do it. Running Afghanistan after the military has resolved their problem is a lot more difficult, especially if it requires a lot of money. So I hope that the European contributions in the area in which we are strong, and admittedly those are not the military areas, will continue to be recognized and respected by the United States. And third and last point, I would hope that for the sake of a cohesive Transatlantic relationship the United States would continue to accept and continue to work with us Europeans on the basis of the rules and institutions based approach, including of course NATO and the EU/US relationship, and last not least, the UN Security Council. Thank you.

RH: Sounds to me we have a pretty complementary agenda here. All right. To the floor. First mic.…and if you can stand up and speak up and be brief, we'll see whether we have to do them in groups. Here comes the first microphone.

Audience: I'd like to pick up where Wolfgang just left off. I agree completely with the need for a common Western vision on how to approach the Greater Middle East…so that's a long term project, and I think you labeled it as such. I'd like to ask a very short term question, and lay out for the purposes of argument, a scenario. In less than three weeks, Hans Blix will make a report to the UN Security Council. For the sake of argument let me postulate that he says the inspectors need another eight or nine months. The United States is unable to get a second vote in the Security Council that would sanction military action…the United States makes it clear that it's going to…in spite of the fact that it has not gotten the second vote…going to act alone.

I'd like to ask Nick what would happen at the NSC. I'd like to ask Wolfgang what would happen in the Federal Republic of Germany, and I'd like to ask Ambassador Savvaides what would happen in the EU, institutionally, and in Greece.

RH: (Inaudible) I think we ought to get to this one right away.

NB: Okay. I'm going to disappoint my good friend, Mike Hull(?)…so I learned when I was spokesman in the State Department never to answer a hypothetical question. (Laughter) And since we're on the record, and members of the press are present, and we're not under Council rules, I think that's the better part of valor.

NB: We're on the record and not under Council rules. But let me just say this. At the Prague summit, what we said to our Allies was that we wanted to have political unity on Iraq, and we wanted to send a strong message to the Iraqi government of NATO resolve, and we got that in the statement that some of you may have seen that all of our NATO leaders agreed to at Prague, from Chancellor Schroeder to Prime Minister Semedes(?) to President Bush, and all of the other leaders.

We also said, post-Prague, in early December, when Paul Wolfowitz came to NATO, that if there is a conflict in Iraq, and we hope there won't be one. As the President said again this week, we hope there's going to be an opportunity for a peaceful and a diplomatic solution to this crisis. But if there isn't one, then we will want NATO to play a role in that conflict. Not to want NATO to the coalition. The coalition we hoped would be wider than the 19 members of NATO. But certainly NATO would have to be involved in providing military support to a coalition, and Secretary Wolfowitz actually gave the Alliance four or five ideas to think about, and we will be coming back to you shortly.

It's imperative that we have political unity on this question. We are big enough certainly as…I'll just take the Alliance as an example…to accommodate different political perspective, and there's no question that Germany and the United States have very different views on how to handle the conflict in Iraq. But if we can unify ourselves politically to keep sending the forceful message, we're convinced of one thing. The inspectors would not be back in Iraq today had the United States not led a coalition, and not worked a solution within the United States Security Council for two and a half months, Wolfgang, so I wanted to respond to your point three there…to send a message to Saddam Hussein that disarmament had to take place one way or another, and without threat of the use of force…he wouldn't have complied with the resolution in allowing the inspectors back.

What we all have to measure is not just will the inspectors find something. We have to measure the nature and level of cooperation with the inspectors. There are two different questions, but both of them are important.

RH: George? Your answer?

GS: With respect to the EU, we consider the Iraqi…the evolution of the Iraqi problem is one of the major challenges for our presidency. We sincerely hope that all options are used until the end to avoid the use of the military option. But you cannot exclude this. It will play a great role as to whether we have a real clear mandate from the Security Council to proceed. In case that proves to be a futile situation, our responsibility is (Inaudible) presence within the EU, is to try and forge the maximum possible consensus at the least common denominator. I say this in very realistic terms. We sincerely hope that we avoid such a situation. But we know already that we are having problems even today in forging a uniform and concrete European voice on that.

So we'll try to use our best possibilities throughout this critical period to keep the unity of European Union, and also to provide to our partners within the European Union a sense of purpose and a sense of responsibility for the future. Both of Iraq and also for the broader area.

RH: Very forthcoming. Wolfgang?

WI: I have very little to add. Like Nick I don't really want to go into the hypothetical question. But let me say that I think we have come…you know, a very long way. Resolution 1441 in New York. And the fact that at the Prague summit, NATO as a whole, including by the way the Federal Republic of Germany, in very strong language, endorsed the implementation of that resolution. So you've got…and that I think also a few years ago would have almost been unthinkable for NATO to speak in that clear a language about an issue that is not directly in Europe. And so we have come a long way. And we are all committed to that Prague, NATO language.

I'm an optimist. And I think I've always been an optimist. And I think my government shares that optimism or that hope. I think that we will succeed in obtaining the goal of disarming Saddam as we continue this UN based approach. I'm quite confident that we will be successful.

RH: Thank you. We've got five names and not that much time. Beg your pardon, take all five of them together, and then we'll give these gentlemen a chance to wrap up…first is Rick Burt.

RB: My question is sort of (Inaudible) hypothetical element. But I think probably a more important issue is not the question of what happens if the United States sort of unilaterally within the Security Council context decides to go to war, but it's the aftermath issue. And Wolfgang, you talked about the importance of continuing the process of rebuilding Afghanistan. The problem of rebuilding Iraq is going to be hugely important, not only economically and politically within the country, but for the whole region as a whole. If that's the case, to what degree will NATO, will the EU, will countries individually be prepared to participate in that effort in the aftermath of a conflict?

RH: Thank you, Bob. Lieber?

Audience: My question is for our European (Inaudible)…it's about Europe's capability…and my question for our European friends is about Europe's capability. Some nice things have been said about the desirability of Europe cooperating with the US…and its capacities, especially in the security realm. But first part of it. How is that going to happen when all the pressure in Europe is to reduce the defense budgets rather than increase them, in view of your troubled demographics and economies. Number two, related to that, how…even if the economic problem weren't there, from military spending…how in the world does a Europe of 25 going to have any effective common foreign security policy whether or not in cooperation with the United States, when often the disagreements among the 25 are likely to be greater than between the United States and the European mainstream?

RH: Howard Ware?

HW: EU and NATO have both expanded to the East, and we have more or less good relations with Russia at this stage. But that leaves a group of countries in between. Belarus and the Ukraine and Moldava and Georgia without a great deal of attention. The Americans seem to be oriented towards incorporating at least Ukraine in long range terms into NATO. The Europeans in the EU tend to say we have our hands full with Poland, and all those other poor countries out to the East…don't talk to us about expanding even farther east at this stage. I'd like to hear all of the three ambassadors address the issue of these three marginally presumably at some point unstable, undemocratic, not very happy countries to the East, and what you would propose we do at this stage.

RH: Thank you. Here in the back. Yes, please?

MS: Thank you. Miriam Shapiro. I wanted to touch on an issue that Ambassador Ischinger raised, and that is North Korea, which is currently an issue of increasing and intense concern, at least in Washington, and I presume in European capitals as well. In fact some think that it is more of an immediate threat to international security than even Iraq. So my question is to what extent is this issue at the top of the agenda of NATO and of the European Union. And if it is not, then to what extent do you as ambassadors…to the extent that you can speak in your personal capacity do you believe that it should be.

RH: Final comment. Ray (Inaudible).

RC: Raymond Cantor. The Washington Institute for Near East policy. I'm concerned with the gap between the United States and Europe on the issue of the Arab Israel conflict. In particular, the President's April and June Rose Garden talks emphasized democratic peace. Europe seems to want to push the peace process along as if the Palestinians not being democratic wouldn't make any difference. The only peace that can be sustained is a democratic peace. Political scientists have put this forth, and there's considerable amount of evidence that democracies don't fight one another. Why is Europe willing to cut the Palestinians so much slack with respect to being dictatorial when the consequence of doing so would, I think, indicate quite clearly that there cannot be a sustained peace with Israel unless there's democratic reform on the Palestinian side.

RH: Thank you Bob. How much time do we have? Six minutes? Two minutes each. So we'll proceed with the issue or two you think most important…I apologize for the ones that don't get answered. Why don't we start in reverse order this time. Wolfgang you go first. Very brief. One or two issues.

WI: All right. I'll start with North Korea. Miriam's question. I mean I can only speak for my own government here. I can't pretend to speak for the entire EU. But I think we all agreed that this is hugely important. Regardless of what our governments may think about how best to deal with the Iraq issue, clearly the way the Iraq issue has been dealt with makes it pretty clear that Iraq is not going to be a case that will invite other countries to follow in its footsteps. There's not much of an incentive to follow Saddam.

I would be extremely concerned that unless we find some leverage here there might be people out there in this world who might like to follow Mr. Il(?) in his ambition. And as a representative of a non-nuclear country, I can tell you that that is an extremely disconcerting thing. My country has been strongly committed for the last generation or two to help prevent proliferation. And I think that's why we regard this as a matter of urgent importance. It must not…we must not let a situation develop where others might think that if the North Koreans can do it, we can do it too.

RH: Okay. We're going to have to move on. One issue per each. George?

GS: Let me say a few words on defense budgets. Within NATO and among NATO countries. I think this long standing issue needs a fresh look following the enlargement and following also the very important events that you know, happened in the last decade. It is evolving. We now need to set priorities. To set incentives and objectives for capabilities and then see how the guidance that we are providing through you know, increased defense spending is a realistic one or not. I don't think that previous discussions in this respect may help us very much. We have used many methodologies in the past. But I think that in the future we should try to combine all this effort with the adaptation process within NATO and how this adaptation process responds and reflects roles, responsibilities, capabilities, and also political possibilities for the new members as well as for the old members to be used in providing increased spending, but also being provided a confirmation that what they are invited to do really is worth the effort, that corresponds to something that will be translated to something of a collective benefit, and also of an added value for the NATO effort.

RH: Thank you. Last word?

NB: I think in a very brief answer try to hit on three of the questions. Miriam's question, Rick's question, and the question on Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldava, by addressing the following issue: Where should NATO be present? And the fundamental change that the United States wishes to bring to NATO is this: That it was NATO's mission between 1949 and 1990 to be present and focused in Europe and on Europe. It's now NATO's mission, post September 11th certainly, to operate on behalf of Europe and North America, and to be focused well outside where the threats are. So should we be in North Korea ? I would say not. NATO is not a global cop. But NATO has to operate when the interests of the Euro- Atlantic committee…the Transatlantic community are threatened. So we might not want to be in North Korea…NATO. But the United States will certainly be active in North Korea, with Japan, and South Korea and Russia, and others. We must definitely be in the Ukraine and have a ...

NB:…not exist in the 20th Century. One Europe, undivided, free and peaceful. NATO is the only security institution working with members as well as partners…Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Moldava, Belarus…and that's another country by the way, Belarus, that makes life very difficult for itself, and for us from time to time. But that has got to be our major strategic objective.

And finally, to answer Rick's question, NATO must most definitely…I will engage in one slight hypothetical response. To answer Rick's question, if there is to be a military conflict in Iraq, then certainly that conflict will be…we will be victorious in that conflict…the coalition…NATO must be present in the aftermath, as NATO now is in support of Germany and the Dutch, leading the peace keeping force in Afghanistan to help stabilize the country, to help bring it back where it should be economically, provide the security. I would think that NATO would have a role, as well as many other countries, in that effort. So we have a very expansive role of NATO quite different perhaps than we did during the Cold War.

RH: Well, Ambassador Burns, Ambassador Ischinger, and President Savvaides. I think I speak for everyone here. If the three of you could be put in charge over the next decade, this critical Transatlantic relationship will be in good shape. Thanks to the three of you and everyone else. Thanks.

More on This Topic