Former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright analyzes how transatlantic relations will evolve and why NATO remains relevant today.
This meeting was the annual John B. Hurford Memorial Lecture.
RICHARD HAASS: Well, good evening and welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations. And welcome to the Annual John B. Hurford Memorial Lecture, which is dedicated to producing -- or providing a venue where new ideas in this business can be discussed -- we'll get to that in a second.
Let me thank the Hurford Foundation and its directors, Bob Miller, Bill Priest and -- is it Jayne Kurzman; and great of you to do that and be here.
This meeting, I should tell everybody, is being teleconferenced to both our national and corporate members. There's a laptop computer here. I will dazzle you all with my technological prowess, until I fail to dazzle you all with my lack of technical prowess. And so I will take questions, at some point, from those connected through cyberspace.
We're going to begin, for a bit of time, with Secretary Albright and myself having a bit of a chitchat, which we promise to let you in on, and then we will open it up to you, our members. This is on the record I am told.
We have with us, as you know, Madeleine Albright, who is the -- not just the former secretary of State, though that's pretty good, she is, more important, a member of the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations. So she's one of my bosses. And in the particular context of tonight, she is the chair of the Group of Experts who has been asked to develop, or help develop the New Strategic Concept for NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Now, I have to give you -- this is "true confessions" here. About, what, two weeks ago or so I wrote a piece for that salmon-colored newspaper -- not the New York Observer either -- (laughter) -- and the opening sentences said, "It is more than a little ironic that NATO has committed itself to defining a New Strategic Concept at precisely the moment the trans-Atlantic relationship counts for less than at any time since the 1930s." An e-mail shows up --
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: (Laughs.)
HAASS: -- "Look forward to equal time once our report is out. As Mark Twain would say, your report of NATO's death is highly exaggerated. Love, Madeleine." (Laughter.)
HAASS: So, Madeleine, Madame Secretary, how did -- tell us about this process. You were the "wise woman" of the wise men group, essentially who's been brought in to help develop this concept by the NATO secretary general.
So why don't we -- for people who aren't familiar with the background, I think what would be great, just to tee this up, would be to explain, kind of, how we got to tonight.
ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, thank you for giving me equal time.
ALBRIGHT: What happened was that last April was the 60th anniversary of NATO, and the heads of state got together in Strasbourg/Kehl and felt that it was time to have a New Strategic Concept. The last one was written in 1999, before the new countries came into NATO and before 9/11. And so the world had changed in many, many ways, and so the heads thought that something should be done about it. There is also a new secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former prime minister of Denmark, and he is the one that was tasked with writing the New Strategic Concept.
However, what happened was that the heads of state also thought that it would be useful to get a group of experts to advise him on how to put the Strategic Concept together. In other words, to kind of provide the building blocks and recommendations for it. So every country then named an expert and I was named by the United States. And then what happened was Secretary General Rasmussen selected 12 of the 28, as individuals, to be on this Group of Experts, automatically irritating 16 countries -- (laughter) -- and then he asked me to chair it.
So what we've had -- and it's really been a very interesting process, and the most transparent ever for creating one of these Strategic Concepts -- is, first of all, we had four seminars, and the first one was on laying all the problems of the world on the table: what were the various threats and issues that had to be dealt with. The second one was on lessons that were there from previous NATO operations in the Balkans and in Afghanistan. The third was on partnerships, and what has happened is there are now -- NATO has more partners than it has members, and how the partnerships work. And the fourth one was on the capabilities that NATO has in order to fulfill whatever the desires of the members are.
And then we did consultations in every NATO capital, and we also had consultations with the EU, and the OSCE, and the U.N., and Russians, and a variety of other partners that we talked with. And then our group, in fact, put together this report that is, kind of, two parts: There's a shorter point, which is a summary, and I believe quite readable; and then a second part, which is also more readable than any previous Strategic Concept background on some of the recommendations. So that's the process.
HAASS: So let me ask the obvious question, which is: What's wrong with the current Strategic Concept, and why, after a decade, is it really necessary to have a new one?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think the real thing is, because of the fact that the last one was written before any of the new -- it was at 16, and so by having 28 members, it does change how this Alliance operates.
And also what has happened is it is very clear -- as it was in '99, but clearer to this day, that this is not an Alliance against the Soviet Union, which doesn't exist; and also, that there are more and more activities that are required "outside of area," or expeditionary. And I think what we managed to do in this new rewriting of it -- and I'd have to keep stressing that this is not the Strategic Concept; it's just the background for it -- is to combine two things: One is to reiterate and reassure that Article 5, which is the central part of the North Atlantic Treaty, which is "An attack on one is an attack on all," is not incompatible with what are now out-of-area operations; that in order to be secure at home, you have to be able to deal with the threats from abroad, and so that's why we're calling it "Assured Security and Dynamic Engagement." In other words, it is a -- not just a static Alliance, but one that is prepared to deal with the threats that are coming from outside.
HAASS: That said, though, isn't it true that NATO has evolved significantly not just in its membership, but in its focus; and in, I would say, moving away from Article 5?
Article 5, as the secretary just said, is this, what I would call a "collective defense agreement" -- "an attack on one is an attack on all." Article 4, which tends to get read less, is really more of a security arrangement that basically the members of NATO also have this optional ability to go off and do other things, even if it's not necessarily a direct threat to the common defense.
Isn't that really much more the future of NATO, this kind of a 'We see things out there; some of us may decide to do it; some of us may stay at home minding other things;' and that, rather than NATO acting as NATO, subsets of NATO will go off and do some things in Afghanistan or, conceivably, Iraq, or other places, and who knows what -- in Africa one day, and this is really the future of the Alliance?
ALBRIGHT: Well, it's yes and no. Article 5, which is my new -- (inaudible) -- (laughs.) (Laughter.)
HAASS: Oh, I was going to ask you about that. That was my last question. (Laughs.)
ALBRIGHT: (Laughs.) To many members of NATO, Article 5 continues to be totally central. And I think that was one of the aspects of the discussion that we had, was, to many members, that assured security is what this is all about. And what is stated a number of times in this report is that the security of all continues to be the major aspect.
And it's interesting that you mentioned Article 4, because we looked Article 4 and have said that it is much more important than ever before because it, in many ways, creates the political community that we think NATO is. And what we were calling for -- and we had interesting discussions about this, was that Article 4 should be used more in terms of members bringing problems to NATO before they got to the military point, that it allowed for discussion, it allowed for crisis management, it allowed for sharing of ideas, and then working through the partnerships, exactly.
The partnership point, though, is not so much the way you put it, in terms of "coalitions of willing," but basically trying to figure out what the right mix is of whether you do something with the European Union, or with the Mediterranean dialogue, or various other -- or the United Nations. It provides a way to get more interaction from countries outside of NATO to deal with problems that they thought were threats.
HAASS: Then why not go all the way if the principal security challenges of this 'year of international relations' aren't -- quite frankly, are not going to be in Europe? Europe has become, and is arguably the most stable, successful part of the world despite its economic travails, which we'll get to in a few minutes. So why not have a global arrangement and bring in a country like Australia -- you know, which is, more often than not, the most willing ally the United States now often can count on? Why even have this trans-Atlantic core for a world in which the trans-Atlantic arena is no longer central to history?
ALBRIGHT: Well, being where I'm from, I can -- having been born in Czechoslovakia, I do believe that the trans-Atlantic core is still very important. And also I do think that if we have more in common with any other group of countries, it is with the Europeans, and that, when they aren't disorganized, they actually can be very supportive and helpful --
HAASS: And you'll let me know when that is. (Laughter.)
ALBRIGHT: I'll let you know. (Laughter.)
But I think the thing -- I mean, you mentioned Australia, one of the things that I think we did come with, as I say, there are more partners -- more partners than there are allies, and Australia is a very important one, a major contributor to what is happening in Afghanistan. So we thought that it was important to have those relationships.
And one of the things we suggested was that there be a better mechanism within the bureaucracy of NATO to be able to plug those relationships in. One of the things -- I thought you were going a different direction, and you were going to say, "Why didn't we use the U.N. more?" I've been there, tried that, so --
HAASS: That wouldn't have -- no, that didn't occur to me. (Laughter.)
ALBRIGHT: Okay. Because, that is not -- that's one of the questions that people said, we have a global organization. We did not say that NATO should be global. We said that NATO had to operate within a global context.
HAASS: Well, I'm speaking about -- well, let me ask one more philosophical question. If NATO didn't exist, would we invent it? (I mean, on the off chance, ?) the answer is no, in its current form. I don't think we would invent it in the current form. Why are we so insistent on keeping it?
Again, why not move to a more -- because, quite honestly, if there's a crisis tomorrow in Pakistan, or some other place, or even North Korea or wherever, most of NATO's members will neither be -- will be neither willing nor able to contribute meaningfully to any response. It'll be a couple of members of NATO and a couple of nonmembers of NATO who would be doing it.
So why not focus on a 21st century pool of countries, rather than try to adapt NATO, which was sensationally effective for a previous geopolitical era? Why this great effort to make it relevant, where, quite honestly, we're pushing it to some extent?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I know that the Council has a study, the first sentence of which is that we would not invent it again.
I don't happen to agree. I think that it is -- has been the most powerful military alliance in the history of the world. It has brought democracies together in a common effort. But there are various parts of it that don't work, which is what we have tried to address. I think that it needs a better decisionmaking process. It needs to be streamlined.
What was interesting, Richard, is when I was ambassador at the U.N. I went with General Shalikashvili -- who at the time was chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in order to persuade countries that wanted to be members of NATO that their time had not come yet, that we were going to do "Partnership for Peace," which was a glide path. And the number of countries that wanted to be members, we said 'NATO is not some kind of a philanthropic organization; it is a military alliance. And what you have to do, if you want to be a member of it, you have to live up to the responsibilities, then you get the privileges.'
I think that -- one of the things we talked about was there need to be a better fulfillment. There needs to be a "renewal of vows," so to speak. And one of the things that are supposed to happen with NATO is that each of the countries needs to give 2 percent of its GDP to NATO. Only six out of the 28 countries do it. So there needs to be some way to make that work. Money has to be spent better, and the decisionmaking process has to be better. So you look -- and what we did, and this will probably come up, is we looked at Afghanistan as what the lessons were and how you plan.
And so I think you take an alliance that has, in fact -- it's an alliance that people want to join, which I find interesting. It's not a dead alliance, as far as that's concerned. People are -- countries want to be members of NATO. And it has a very useful structure that needs some adjustment, and I do think there's the need for an alliance structure in the 21st century.
HAASS: (Inaudible) -- go in two different directions there. If only six of NATO's members have been willing to devote 2 percent of GDP when Europe's economy was rolling along at a robust 2 to 3 percent growth -- most of the forecasts have Europe essentially flat-lining; if we're lucky, a growth over the next decade -- what chance is there that NATO is going to have the capacities?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think this is -- this is the major issue our there. And the question is, how the financial crisis affects NATO's capabilities.
The secretary general -- we had a press conference together just as we put this out, and I think he stated it very well in saying, 'If one of the issues that we're seeing in Europe at the moment is how political and economic stability is working, here is an opportunity to provide some security.' This is an alliance that helps to provide security, and that, in fact, it is a very good time for NATO, in terms of showing 'We are together; we are able to act together,' and it provides the security component and the political component of a community.
But this is the hard part. What has to happen is that the bureaucracy at NATO has to prove that they're spending their money right. There has to be -- we advocated some common funding, some common procurement, and different ways of doing things, but that it was worth looking at how the financial crisis impacted.
HAASS: You talked about 'the countries still want to join' are the ones which -- and Georgia has been the most, the country that seems to want to join the most; Ukraine is split on the issue -- at the moment, more against it seemingly than for it. What about Russia?
Why not, if NATO is increasingly focused on out-of-area threats, as you yourself said; is no longer predicated on resistance to the old Soviet Union or a communist land threat through Europe; then increasingly, NATO chooses up who decides to go and deal with this or that out-of-area conflict -- why not bring Russia in? And why not, essentially, once and for all, end the division of Europe and some of the lingering, if you will, residue of the Cold War?
Why not make Russia a member, and if they want to do something, like -- one way or another, they did at times in Kosovo, they can do it; and if they want to be like Greece and not participate in this or that NATO intervention, they could be like Greece?
ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, we spent a lot of time on Russia. What we were trying to do was not to have the relationship with Russia be the "be-all and end-all" of our discussion.
ALBRIGHT: And I made very clear that we didn't want Russia -- the "tail to wag the dog." They then came up with a parable that said "the chicken has to learn from the egg," which I couldn't figure out until I reread it in "War and Peace." (Laughter.) So -- (laughs) --
HAASS: And it means what?
ALBRIGHT: I don't -- I have no idea. (Laughter.)
HAASS: (Laughs.) Thank you for that.
ALBRIGHT: But basically we had a very interesting dialogue with the Russians, and the question is whether they want to be members of NATO. I think that you have to want to be members.
You also have to be a functioning democracy, and you have to make sure that there are not a variety of conflicts that are brought into the Alliance. I think that's one of the big deals. When new countries in Central and Eastern Europe came in, their -- some of their conflicts that had been endemic, the Romanian-Hungarian and various conflicts that they had to deal with.
But I have to say, the Russia reaction was very interesting. We went there, and they had just issued their military doctrine in which they said that the expansion of NATO was one of their major threats or problems, and they basically see -- they continue to see NATO as being against them.
Now, what we said in the report was that we believed that it was very important to have all kinds of activities with the Russians, that the NATO-Russia Council needed to be revived. It was something that we started when I'd helped to -- negotiated the NATO-Russia Founding Act, and it was discontinued after the events in Georgia. But the NATO-Russia Council provides a very good way to have dialogue. We felt that there were things that we should work on in common -- counterterrorism, drug trafficking, climate, a variety of issues that we had in common.
And specifically in this report we suggest that there be work together on missile defense. We felt that one of the missions of NATO was -- NATO is an alliance that is a deterrence, that has to have a deterrence -- one, are the nuclear weapons and the other is the missile defense, and we thought that we should work with the Russians on that.
HAASS: Could you imagine the day, though, that Russia would be a member of NATO?
ALBRIGHT: I think it's not beyond imagination. I mean, it was something, when we were in office, we actually talked about. And I think the question is whether they -- I repeat, whether they want to be. It's a very interesting --
HAASS: Given their politics.
ALBRIGHT: Given their politics -- because to some extent they are operating in a way where they talk about NATO as a problem. The other is, whether they do fulfill the guidelines.
HAASS: You've been watching Europe closely for years. We talked a little bit about budgets and military spending. Bob Gates, the current secretary of Defense, had a quote about Europe which is quite powerful. And for those of you not familiar with it, "The demilitarization of Europe, where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it, has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st."
ALBRIGHT: Well, he delivered it at our fourth seminar, which was done at the National Defense University where we had all the experts that came to that, plus the various people that were part of our seminars. By the way, we spent a lot of time conferring with the military authorities of NATO. I went to Scheff, we all went to Scheff. We met regularly with the chairman of the military committee, Admiral DiPaola, and then our SACEUR, Admiral Stavridis.
So we spent a lot of time with them. Also, I have to say, one of the more intriguing meetings was I met with all the CHODs. I have never seen so many different military uniforms in my life in the same room. So a lot of them came to this seminar, and Bob Gates made that comment, there was kind of a shock. I think he's telling it like it is. I think there is a problem. There is no question about that.
And the point here is that if -- and let me just, I forgot to give one major part of the process. What is happening now is the secretary general is going to write the Strategic Concept; he is then going to go and consult with the governments; and then he is going to present it to the heads of state in Lisbon in November. And he is the one that has so many times said that if NATO is going to work, everybody has to do their share. And I think using that statement of Secretary Gates' is going to be very important. It is a problem.
We also said that any decisions that were made on the nuclear issues -- on the tactical nucs, had to be Alliance decisions. That was a very big step, frankly.
HAASS: I agree.
I think I've got two questions left, and then I will open it up.
One's on Afghanistan. You've got nearly 100,000 American troops now in Afghanistan -- somewhere, 80 (to) 90,000; you've got 30-odd thousand, I think, European troops, nearly 10,000 of which are from the U.K. alone. How is this seen? I mean, is it seen as a positive, given that people are there? Is it seen more as a negative, given some of them caveats and conditions, uncertainties about duration of deployment? How has Afghanistan, if you will, influenced where you all came out?
ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say, it was one of -- in terms of trying to figure out how to deal with Afghanistan, we had a very interesting issue.
First of all, if any of our recommendations are accepted, they're for the next decade. This is not something that is supposed to deal with the next year, or even two years. And yet obviously Afghanistan was the major elephant in the room, in many different ways. And so the question was how to deal with the whole -- what happened.
So in the second seminar, as I said, we really looked at lessons learned, and obviously Afghanistan was the biggest one. We decided that the best way to deal with the issue of Afghanistan was to look at the lessons, because -- And there were questions. There were people who said, well, Afghanistan is the ultimate test for NATO, and whatever happens in Afghanistan will affect NATO forever.
We didn't want to go down that road. We wanted to look at it as "lessons." So the lesson, first of all -- and this is a very important part of this, NATO, for the first time in history, activated Article 5 because of 9/11.
ALBRIGHT: And the United States, for whatever reason -- you many know more than I, decided that we would not really go that direction. So then, all of a sudden, later there was a decision to get NATO involved. And then the whole situation in Afghanistan -- it became very evident, was much more a combination of military and civilian.
So the lessons that we learned were, first of all, that there should be planning for this kind of thing; that you can't try to get countries to join a force or activity without them really knowing what it was going to be -- kind of, them understanding the full range of the issues that they had to deal with, so planning for various thing.
The other is -- and every once in awhile there's some new language added to the international lexicon, so in Afghanistan the words that now came out were "comprehensive approach," meaning that there had to be a better way that the military and civilian work together. And so we are recommending that there be more done on the comprehensive approach, which means that NATO has to learn how to work with civilians better; and we thought that NATO should have a small civilian component that could be there early on to deal with the civilians.
The other thing, we said "no national caveats," because that has created a huge problem.
So we looked at Afghanistan in that particular way. And I think, for the purposes of this report, I think that's probably the best way to go about it.
HAASS: Last question: One interesting sentence, of many in the report, is that "The next significant attack on the Alliance may well come down a fiber-optic cable. Come a long way --
HAASS: How much of an appreciation is that? Was that something that when people put out, lots of people said, no, no, no, or?
ALBRIGHT: No. I think people understood that this was a big threat. But the question was how to deal with it.
Now, basically the -- a cyber threat is something that is going to happen, if it does, nationally. And so a lot of countries are going to have to do it in terms of how their nation deals with a cyber threat. The issue is how NATO deals with its own command structure and infrastructure to protect itself against a cyber threat.
The other is how you help to train some of the people within the national countries to deal with cyber issues. So, for instance, Estonia -- that, in fact, had had a problem with this, there is now a centre of excellence there where they are looking at how to train people to understand what a cyber -- what it looks like.
And the other point, and to go back to one of the first things we talked about here, is we thought there were -- actually, we had a very interesting discussion as to whether a cyber attack was an "armed attack." Article 5 says it's an armed attack. So what is the definition of an armed attack in the 21st century?
So people wanted to keep, kind of, the purity of Article 5, and, therefore, suggested that discussions about "cyber" should come under Article 4 to really see what direction it was going. But I think we put it on the table. I don't think that people had ever talked about it before, and I think it's worth having it there as one of the major threats of the 21st century.
HAASS: Don't worry, by the way, there's not going to be a quiz on Article 4 versus Article 5 --
HAASS: -- at the end of tonight's meeting. So you can all relax. I sense the pressure rising in the room. (Laughter.)
Let me open it up to you, our members, and start with Bill Drozdiak. And just stand up, wait for the microphone, and keep it short and sweet.
QUESTIONER: Bill Drozdiak, American Council on Germany.
Madame Secretary, what in the process that you conducted was the tone of the debate between whether NATO should be -- its identity should be that of a collective pan-European defense or an expeditionary alliance? And if that was not resolved, and if -- I don't know, I haven't read your report, but if it concludes that NATO has to be prepared to do both, aren't you then making NATO, putting it into a position where there will be a constant debate and, thus, this will never be resolved?
ALBRIGHT: We actually thought that it was not incompatible to have both as the mission, that, in fact, the kind of training that was necessary was not one where they would be totally different missions, that there needed to be generally more planning, generally more contingencies, thinking about what the threats were.
And I do believe that, for this Alliance, we had to do -- and I personally believe it, is to make very central still the assured security for the members of NATO; but also an understanding that we in the United States have, and our people are leaning about it more and more, that the threats to our security are likely to come from abroad. And so the two, we thought, went together.
Now, part of the way that we thought we would work on the capabilities is to say the major partner that NATO needs to have is the European Union -- there is overlapping membership; the same taxpayers, and the issue was how to rationalize who had what.
Bill, we always talk about this: When I was secretary, you were doing something else, and we used to talk about what the versions were, in terms of how not to duplicate; how to try to figure out how the European defense identity could, in fact, help how NATO and the EU operate together. But we tried to make clear that in the 21st century both those missions were important.
HAASS: I'm going to turn to a question from Beth Pond, who you know -- a well-known correspondent for years, one of the most experienced writing about the United States and Europe, and talks about the identity crisis going on amongst European elites, given the euro zone, the Lisbon treaty, the generational change, Copenhagen, the sense that Europe was ignored.
And she goes on to ask whether the institution of NATO is adequate for the trans-Atlantic, quote, unquote, "renewal of vows" that your report calls for. Could the Europeans do anything to make themselves, again, the indispensable allies?
What is it that we can realistically look for?
ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I do think she raises a point that should be quite clear, which is NATO is the way that North America is linked to Europe. There isn't another organization that does that. We always say the U.S., but the Canadians are part of NATO and play a very important role in terms of that linkage.
And I think that that was a very important part to the European -- by the way, we had a Canadian expert on this group too -- is that was very important, is how the U.S. stays linked. I think that what the Europeans -- what I find so interesting is when we first had our consultations with the EU members, they were feeling pretty feisty and kind of acting like the EU -- there is a little bit of competition between the two organizations, and they clearly kind of thought that they were a driving force. It disintegrated over the eight months.
But I think that there is -- for me, the Europeans do have to take cognizance of what Bob Gates said. I think there has to be an understanding that what they're getting out of NATO is security for them in dealing with the threats out there. And they do have to get their act together. There's no question about it. I have to say -- I always say this, presage it by saying I was born in Europe, but I think that the Europeans have to stop examining their navel and get with it. (Laughter.)
HAASS: Is that a technical State Department phrase? (Laughter.)
ALBRIGHT: Technical statement. No, I'm not anything. (Laughs.)
HAASS: "Navel" clearly refers to the U.S. Navy -- (laughter) --
HAASS: -- in that case. Sure.
QUESTIONER: (Off mike.)
HAASS: Bill, Bill, just wait for the microphone.
QUESTIONER: Bill Priest.
Many years ago, as part of a CFR trip, I went to NATO with a group of people, and over dinner one night I had a conversation with a fairly senior individual. And he asked me if I knew what NATO meant. I said, well, I trust you're going to tell me it's not the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And he said that's right. The real definition is, "needs America to operate," and you guys are failing.
Now, today we have a diminished America in many respects. Can NATO really survive without a strong United States of America? Or, in effect, is NATO diminished because we're diminished in so many respects?
ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I don't think the world can survive without a strong America. You said "indispensable." It's a term --
HAASS: (Laughs.) Our indispensable guest -- (inaudible) -- (laughs) --
ALBRIGHT: (Laughs.) I mean, first -- President Clinton first used the term first. But I used it so often, it became identified with me.
I do believe that the U.S. is the indispensable nation -- not out of any arrogance about the fact that we have to run the world, but if we are not engaged, things don't happen. There's just no question about it.
And I think that the United States -- by the way, I've just read President Obama's new National Security Strategy and it does talk about the importance of the United States having partnerships with countries, and alliances, and seeing the strength of all of us by a multiplying factor of the Alliance structure.
Richard wrote "The Reluctant Sheriff." I think that there really is -- Americans don't want to run the world, but I do think Americans need to be engaged in trying to help solve these problems. And so I would hope that we -- I don't see us as a diminished power, I see that there are more powers out there. And so the question is, what are the international institutions that mobilize that kind of -- a collective way of dealing with the problems?
And, for me, NATO is one of those good alliances that makes that work. There are others, but that one, to me, is central.
HAASS: Sure. Maurice.
QUESTIONER: Maurice Tempelsman.
Let me switch the discussion to political will, and, therefore, by inference, credibility of Article 5. Considering the reaction to Iraq and Afghanistan in this country, and taking it into account that some of these countries that have come in -- rightly or wrongly at this point, one would have a difficult time to really specifically define the national interests of the U.S. What does that credibility and political will do to Article 5 as the structure -- in the structure?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think -- this is where I talked about the "renewal of vows."
I mean, either people -- the experts and the -- by the way, we really -- we had lots of consultations with parliamentarians and with -- I gave speeches at Moscow State University, and others gave speeches, and we tried to get as much public opinion as we could. One of the reasons -- this report is public. It's kind of interesting that a set of recommendations for a draft that the secretary general's going to do is already in public.
And there is a great deal of discussion on the Web about what this is all about. And it has to do with political will. I think if people in countries see a value to NATO -- and maybe they won't, but we at least have to talk about it -- and what there is is a desire, a very strong desire by half the, at least half the members that Article 5 is absolutely central to their existence. And the question is where the political will comes from the others.
The other point I think that comes out of this is I'm not -- and I don't wish to criticize any past administrations, but I think that the issue of how we got into those two, whether it's Iraq and Afghanistan, and how they were handled, and what was told to the heads of the countries that were part of it, and how they dealt with their publics has a lot to do with what is going on in terms of political will on this.
HAASS: Everyone's in the front.
Rabbi Schneider (sp).
QUESTIONER: It's good to see you engaged.
A major concern in the United States and our European allies is the elephant: Iran. And then you have a NATO member, like Turkey, who has a different attitude toward this whole issue. We're trying to get sanctions through the U.N. and you have a NATO member who's saying, 'No, no, no. I'm not going to work with you.'
So what does NATO do in coping with an issue like North Korea? But let's go to Iran first: How do you cope with that?
ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, we had a Turk on the Group of Experts. We also -- and, by the way, this is a consensus document, which I think was an important step in all of this.
When we talked about missile defense, we made very clear that the problem was Iran, and generally we talked about the threats coming from Iran. I think that it will -- we'll have to see how this gets sorted out as the secretary general consults on it.
But Turkey has been a major stalwart of NATO -- it was all during the Cold War. And I think that there's generally the idea that Turkey needs to be part of a very active Alliance on this. I do think it would be helpful if the Europeans had a somewhat different attitude towards Turkey.
But I think that they are going to have to figure this out. What happened in our discussions was, as I said, there was a consensus on this -- that we were concerned about what was happening in Iran and that the missile defense was against that.
HAASS: But I would think that under the current economic circumstances, the chance of Turkish entry into the EU, which were negligible before the current crisis, are going to zilch in the current crisis.
ALBRIGHT: I think difficult. And obviously, also, the whole issue of Cyprus.
But, by the way, what was interesting, we had both a Greek expert and a Turkish expert. And since they had both been ambassadors to NATO, they knew each other very well. They sat next to each other and they made -- might have been the best friends of all of us on the Group of Experts.
HAASS: Seeds of peace. (Laughter.)
I see anybody in the back? No, then we're going to stick with the front.
Sure. We'll just go around. We'll get to everybody.
QUESTIONER: Madame Secretary, good to see you again. I'm Roland Paul (sp), a lawyer.
You've mentioned missile defense a couple of times. As it was originally configured, with facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic -- although it was primarily against Iran, one would suspect, and I ask you, there must have been some element against the Russians, otherwise they wouldn't have been that upset about it. And even though you can argue they would overwhelm it; it would be a mobilization.
And so, wasn't there not, somewhere in the Pentagon, some belief that it had some anti-Russian element in it?
ALBRIGHT: I had nothing to do with it. (Laughter.)
And the bottom line is that it would not -- from my perspective, was not one of the most brilliantly negotiated aspects of the whole process, in terms of whether it worked or why it had to be there. But the bottom line is I am willing to accept that a missile defense at this stage, as a deterrent, is against the threat of Iran and nuclear proliferation.
And I think it is very important for us to try to figure out how, in fact, to work with the Russians on dealing with this issue, and to make clear to the Russians that NATO is not against them. I think that is going to be one of the really important parts here.
It's not easy, because -- and one of the things we did, and I think we spread the circle pretty elegantly on this, which is we said -- I think the sentence is something like, 'As a result of historic and geographical position, not all countries of NATO agreed totally on Russia, but they all felt that we needed to engage with Russia.'
So we didn't want to, kind of, paper over the fact that there really were differences about how countries felt about their relationship with Russia. But they felt that the, going forward, it was very important to try to look for the common places to do business with Russia, to try to get them to be part of looking at a Euro-Atlantic system.
HAASS: And for what it's worth, I never thought that missile system -- the system itself had an anti-Russian bias. The basing system might have been designed, in part, to send a message, but the capabilities and the limited numbers of the -- the system, it was irrelevant against Russia. But obviously, stationing it where you -- where it was going to be stationed had a certain, shall we say, political (context. ?)
Yes, sir. We're just going to go around, because I see a number of hands.
QUESTIONER: Bob Bestani, Stanford University.
Madame Secretary, I'm wondering, in this time, all the argument against and for NATO expansion has sort of died down, but from a retrospective point of view, I'm very curious as to what you think the lessons of that whole experience was -- what did we do right; what did we do wrong; what should we have done differently in the process of expanding NATO?
HAASS: I'm going to piggy-back on the question: and, in retrospect, are you still persuaded it was worth it that the benefits we got from inclusion were worth whatever geopolitical price we paid with normalizing a relationship with Russia after the Cold War?
ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I definitely think that it was worth it.
Let me just say this was a very big deal in the '90s, in terms of what we were trying to do in a post-Cold War world. What I think -- it's a very important question, and if I can take a little bit more time on this --
ALBRIGHT: -- I think that NATO has gone -- it's in its third phase. The first phase was as an alliance against the Soviet Union -- flat out. Very successful alliance; never had to go to war; was set to deal with a conventional attack; and could see the troops massing, and all the various things.
The second phase was in the '90s, of trying to figure out how you dealt with the post-Cold War world and how to erase the artificial dividing line that went through the middle of Europe, of trying to create what the first President Bush had said was "a Europe whole and free." And that was, kind of, we're trying to sort out how to do it; and also do something that had never been done in the history of the world, which is how to deal in a peaceful way with your former adversary.
I happen to believe that it isn't right that we won the Cold War. I think they lost it. It's not just a semantic difference, but I think it meant that here was our former adversary that we had to try to figure out how to integrate into the system.
And the Russians, many of them, developed a narrative that I don't happen to agree with, which is that we didn't respect them enough during that period, that we took advantage of their weakness. I can tell you I spent a lot of time respecting the Russians, and trying to figure out how to bring them in, and creating the NATO-Russia Founding Act, and doing all the various things.
But for whatever their purposes, they decided that they would have a different narrative. We felt that, in fact, in this third phase of NATO, it would be very useful not to give them excuses for a different narrative, which is why I went through all that. I think that the main thing here was how to create a complete Europe. It had a lot to do with what we did in the Balkans, because that was the last piece of the puzzle, but that was the purpose of what we were doing in expanding NATO.
I personally think that more should have been done with the Partnership for Peace. It was a very important glide path, in terms of making sure that countries were really ready to come into NATO; to make sure that the catalyst that was there -- in terms of having a democratic government, and having civilian control over the military, and ending various disputes -- was a very important catalytic aspect, in terms of creating the Europe that was whole and free.
So I think that the expansion was very good and very much worth it. I think that one of the things that has been going on is because there really is a difference, in some ways, between Western and Central and Eastern Europe. Many Central and East European countries are wanting to prove that they are the best Allies. That's part of what the story is about.
And so I think it was the right thing to do. I think that where we somehow failed was that the Russians have a different narrative of it. And I don't know whether that was inevitable, given their political issues and their needs to try to figure out how to develop their own identity, but I would do it again. I think it was a very important thing to do.
HAASS: Just to pick up one thing -- you talked about we should have made more out of the Partnership for Peace, but I would actually argue that one of the reasons we couldn't make more out of the Partnership for Peace is because NATO enlargement "devalued the coin" of the Partnership for Peace. It became "the second-best club." It no longer had a tremendous appeal once certain countries got offered NATO members.
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think one of the -- first of all, I think -- and, you know, this is not easy to say, or I'm not sure I can fully articulate it is, I do believe that the first three countries that came in were fully qualified to be members of NATO.
One of the interesting parts was, I did go around, as I said, with Shali trying to explain --
HAASS: Could you remind people what the first three countries were?
ALBRIGHT: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. But I have to say that one of the great moments was, in order to welcome them in -- in Independence, Missouri, and signing the protocols of the accession on President Truman's desk, it kind of made a lot of sense.
But I think that the issue here was, Shalikashvili and I went around and we had to persuade -- the meeting that I remember having with Lech Walesa over this was, "What do you mean we're not ready for NATO right now?" And we went through a series of steps on Partnership for Peace, and Shali and I would say, "It's an accident of history that two of the five members of the principals (who) actually have connections are Slavic." And Shali would say, "and if you come into the Partnership for Peace, you will get a telephone and a file cabinet in Mons." And we would get up, one plane after another, and we'd say, "AOH," accident of history and "file cabinet," and that was our message. (Laughter.)
And the bottom line is, I personally think that the glide path on some of the countries might have been extended exactly because I think they needed to make sure how it worked. What's happened now is there have been gradations, so that countries get their map, their project about how they're going to be members, and that has, in some ways, clarified what the guidelines are supposed to be.
HAASS: And some get better file cabinets than others. (Laughter.)
I see three hands.
QUESTIONER: (Off mike) -- the Czech Republic to the United Nations.
I'd just like to follow up this discussion, from our perspective, and with my question.
QUESTIONER: Obviously for us, the fact of the NATO expansion and enlargement was maybe the most important achievement in the 20 years of our transition after 1989. First comment is that we have experienced -- and I can go even before that period to Jimmy Carter and his presidency, and Ronald Reagan, certain significant element of continuity of the policy of the U.S. government towards our region. I mean, support for the process of opening, overcoming this (bi pole illusion ?) --
HAASS: I don't mean to be rude, but I'm going to ask you to ask a question.
QUESTIONER: Yes, I'm going to my question.
Actually, we are not anti-Russian. But recently I had opportunity to listen to the argument made by Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian representative in Brussels, and here he said clearly that what Russians are interested in is stability in Europe, and ambitions of some small countries are, in fact, destabilizing the situation -- and obviously they are all in between bigger countries.
So my question is -- and I would have -- (inaudible) -- appreciation first, that the U.S. policy toward small nations, small nations has been, so far, in the past 20 years, quite positive, and is this new concept of NATO also thinking about this element? I think NATO open-door policy is maybe most important part of that. But small nations have their own smaller perspective. How they can be -- what kind of message should they get from you?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I would hope that the message to the smaller nations is, in fact, the stability provided by being part of not only this military community, but the political community, the community of countries that are democracies, that find that they can manage the issues that are out there for them through a collective approach, and also through trying to foresee what the crises are. I think it is the stability for the small countries, and Europe has many of them, and I think it is that way of providing that. We thought that.
QUESTIONER: My name is Joe Bartlett (sp). I am a former platoon leader in the 1st Antimissile -- (laughs) -- Nike-Ajax -- (inaudible.)
NATO is a military alliance. Could you talk a little bit about what your report does in terms of streamlining the command structure, sharing science and technology? Napoleon said, given a preference, he would fight coalitions. (Laughter.) What are we doing about having a more effective military coalition so people want to join to upgrade their own military capacity?
ALBRIGHT: First of all, let me just say, so much of my own history is somehow tied up with NATO. But, in one way or another, I was the first secretary of State to take NATO to war -- in the Balkans. Not a simple issue, for all the reasons that you talked about.
And I think now you add what the lessons were in Kosovo to ones in Afghanistan, and then spending time with the military authorities. What they want is some kind of a streamlined procedure. And I think that we -- there are tons of committees, what we suggested -- we couldn't go and describe what the surgery should be; we just said there needed to be surgery; and that really the secretary general now has to have the authority to work with the military authorities to try to side-line it, and have more common funding, have some way of common procurement. That is not easy.
And looking at how -- one of the big issues, as you know, NATO, at the political level, has to make decisions by consensus. That is a very hard part, and no country wanted to give up that possibility. But one of the things we talked about -- not so elliptically, that it was important that lower-level committees not undo the decisions, and that they follow through, that there not be the national caveats, and to really push on trying to streamline it.
Admiral Stavridis and I just did a program together in Washington. He likes this report. He's the Supreme Allied Commander. Also, what has happened is the French are now part of the story, and they have General Abrial, who's in Norfolk, who is looking at the future of NATO. So there's just more being done in exactly this -- because people are aware of what the problem is.
HAASS: Yes, sir. Mr. Mankoff. We get it younger here.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. I'm Jeff Mankoff, with the Council.
Expansion has historically, throughout the 1990s and the past decade, been one of the more explosive issues in NATO. In 2008, Georgia and Ukraine were promised future membership in the organization. You talked yourself about the possibility that under a different set of political circumstances Russia could one day become a member.
So is expansion of NATO still on the table? Which countries are potential future members? And where does the process of expansion logically end?
ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all -- just to bring another article in, Article 10 of NATO --
HAASS: The quiz just got more difficult. (Laughter.)
ALBRIGHT: The quiz got more difficult -- (laughter) -- says that European countries can be members of NATO. And the question really is: What is Europe? And I had, in previous times of my life, said, you don't have to be in the center of Europe to have -- you don't have to be in the heart of Europe to have Europe in your heart.
And so the question is -- and Georgia was the real issue. There have been various definitions of Georgia, as part of the Euro-Atlantic system. But the issue here that it really comes down to is whether the countries meet the guidelines that are in Article 10, which does mean that there needs to be a variety of ways of showing that you're not bringing your disputes into NATO, that it's a democratic government.
And what we did, and we had a -- we did not have an easy time with this because the Bucharest (comment had ?) said that Georgia and Ukraine would be members of NATO, and what you have is people in Ukraine who -- or a government of Ukraine that doesn't want to be in NATO. And one of the things that we actually had a hard time persuading the Russians about is that NATO is a voluntary organization. We actually have a line in here that says, "It should go without saying that NATO is a voluntary organization."
In order to kind of figure out how to deal with the Ukrainian issue, what we did was to say that the NATO-Ukrainian commission and the NATO-Georgian commission should continue to operate as a channel of communication, no matter what the future showed, because there were ways that we needed to work with those two countries, so that the structure would remain; and we said that countries that could fulfill the obligations under Article 10 were welcome into NATO. So we left that open -- open for further expansion, depending on meeting the guidelines.
HAASS: I see a hand in the back. Is that you Jeffrey?
QUESTIONER: Jeff Laurenti with The Century Foundation.
Madame Secretary, after President Obama's Prague speech recommitting the United States to eventual nuclear weapons abolition, perhaps the keenest public interest in the Strategic Review for NATO was whether NATO would begin pushing that envelope, and you had pressures from the countries that still host American tactical nuclear weapons -- Germany, Italy, and elsewhere in Western Europe, to try to get rid of these. But the report here seems to suggest, pretty much, "stand pat," and that NATO at least wouldn't be in the vanguard.
Was there any real debate within the "committee of experts" on pushing the envelope on nuclear abolition, or whatever, or removing it from NATO defense doctrine?
ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, we obviously talked a lot about what should happen in terms of moving towards a nuclear-free world. I think there were a number of discussions that followed up on what President Obama has said, also on the nuclear -- the summit that went on. It was clearly the context in which we were operating.
But what we focused on was that NATO was an Alliance that was supposed -- a deterrence, and so long as nuclear weapons existed, that NATO needed the continue to have nuclear deterrent, and that, and focusing all the time on the nuclear -- on the deterrence aspect of it. So that was one part -- that we felt that so long as nuclear weapons existed, NATO had to continue to have it.
Then there was the question about the tactical nukes, and that was a lot of discussion about that. And we thought that whatever changes were to be made had to be an Alliance decision. And that was in (the) face of the various discussions that were going on in countries about getting rid of nuclear -- of the tactical nukes.
We also felt that whatever discussions should take place, that they needed to be done with the Russians, so that it was not a unilateral activity on behalf of NATO. So I think that the idea (wasn't a ?), an Alliance decision, that we wanted ultimately to see a world in which there would not be nuclear weapons. But so long as there were, NATO could not give up the concept of having that deterrence. But then we also coupled it with the mission of dealing with missile defense.
HAASS: We've now reached the "witching hour." So I apologize to those of you whose hands have been up and your blind moderator did not get to them. Let me just thank the -- is it the 64th?
HAASS: Sixty-four over here -- the 64th secretary of State, who is both a practitioner of diplomacy of and a professor of the practitioners -- or the practice of diplomacy.
Let me thank again the people -- the representatives of the Hurford Foundation, who have been so intimately involved with this event and with the Council more broadly.
Let me thank you all for coming out to be with us tonight. And the reward, in addition to the intellectual you've already had, is outside. We've got a reception that will go on for some time.
So then, Madeleine, thank you for coming here, and best of luck with your report. (Applause.)
ALBRIGHT: Thank you. Thank you.
And let me thank you very much for providing this forum, because the whole point of this is to see, ultimately, this is an alliance of democracies that needs public support. And the question is whether people -- the political will is there. So, thank you.
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