Ambassador Robert E. HUNTER

U.S. Permanent Representative on the North Atlantic Council

"The Coming Europeanization of NATO"
Address to the Cicero Foundation

Paris, 12 December 1996

Opening Address in the International Seminar for Experts "The Coming Europeanization of NATO", organised by the Cicero Foundation in the series Great Debates in Paris on 12-13 December 1996


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As I was traveling to this conference. I reflected on why the Cicero Foundation would have that name. I think, as the Chairman has told me, it's because Cicero himself was a great European and a great humanist, and he wrote in one of his essays something I think can characterize what we're all trying to do, today, in what we call the trans-Atlantic region. Cicero wrote that "everyone ought to have the same purpose, to identify the interests of each with the interests of all." This is what we're trying to do. In fact, for the first time in modern European history, and maybe in all of European history, we who are Europeans - and we Americans consider ourselves, for this purpose, to be Europeans - have a chance to fulfill Cicero's injunction.

Cicero also said that justice is the "queen of virtues." He was a person who was absolutely inflexible on the idea that no good could come for any person from doing harm to another. This is another principle that has had a 2,000-year experiment here in Europe, and we are still working to try to fulfill it. Of course, one also remembers Cicero as a person who justified the assassination of Julius Caesar, but we will pass over that lightly, when we think about this great man's role!

I have been asked to speak this morning about the strengthening of the role of Europe in the Atlantic Alliance. I will recall an incident about three months ago to illustrate where we're going. I spoke at a conference in Brussels on "Security in the Baltics," on the relationship between the Baltic states and the NATO. We had a couple of foreign ministers and some ambassadors and defense ministers from the Baltic states, and the conference organizers were determined that they should understand the importance of NATO and their relationship to NATO. There was a great explanation of what NATO does. The remarkable thing, however, was that the conference was sponsored by an institute from Sweden! It was very much playing its role, as do all the Nordics. Indeed, Sweden and Finland, along with Austria - countries which have traditionally been neutral or non-aligned - now have very close relationships with us. About two months ago, we even took the U.S. NATO Mission into the true holy of holies, when it comes to preserving neutrality, namely to Dublin, to sponsor a conference on PFP. And last night at 6:00 o'clock, we had another historic event, which I am sure will revise the calculations people have had for centuries, when Switzerland joined the Partnership for Peace. So we have moved forward on engaging neutral and non-aligned countries in NATO's work.

We are achieving a lot of NATO. And I do not think it is strange for an American to be asked about the Europeanization of NATO because we Americans are, as we have been for so long, very strong supporters of European integration. In fact, during the last 50 years, we have often been accused of being somewhat romantic about the subject of European integration.

This is, I think, a very important moment to hold your conference, because, during the last two days, we had our Foreign Minister's meeting in Brussels. Today, as well, is what we call in NATO parlance Day D-plus-356. This is the 356th day since NATO - all 16 Allies, plus 13 members of the Partnership for Peace - have been assuming the responsibility for implementing the military parts of the Dayton Accords for Bosnia. And as of this morning, thank God, there has not been one single combat fatality in that operation, which, I think, speaks mightily to what is possible when we all work together, not just at 16, but everyone else. In fact, every single country in Europe outside of the former Yugoslavia supports what we are attempting to do in Bosnia, and therefore there is no room for any mischief-maker who would choose to go beyond Dayton and look for support, whether to Russia or to anyone else. It does not exist.

The day before yesterday our ministers approved the continuation of the engagement in Bosnia, the so-called SFOR, the Stabilization Force, for another 18 months. Again, it will be NATO-led, but again, it will include each and every country that wishes to participate. This decision, let me underscore, was taken by all 16 countries, with no country dissenting, because at NATO, with our current membership and with our future membership, we take all decisions by consensus.

We also decided hold a summit in Madrid on the 8th and 9th of July 1997, which will do a number of things. First, we will agree to take in the first countries, as NATO members, since Spain joined in 1982. We will also ensure that the door to NATO membership remains open for other countries. The United States has said the door will remain open so long as there are European countries ready and willing to bear the burdens of NATO membership.

Yesterday, we also agreed to enhance the Partnership for Peace (PFP), which has been the fundamental building block for engagement of the 27 Partner countries in the security of the West and in the work of NATO to an unprecedented degree. We agreed the day before yesterday to create a new Atlantic Partnership Council (APC), which will replace the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) and merge it with PFP. We agreed two days ago to empower the NATO Secretary General to open negotiations with Russia on a direct, special relationship with Russia, leading, perhaps, to a NATO-Russia charter. And yesterday morning at 8:30, with 16 NATO ministers and the Russian Foreign Minister, Mr. Primakov, agreed to these negotiations. We expect them to start in January, and we hope they can come to fruitful conclusion by the NATO summit in July.

Yes, we have also been moving forward with internal changes at NATO - adapting the Alliance, including its significant Europeanization and added responsibilities for our European allies, within the context of Atlantic security.

Three Basic Precepts

At NATO, we have been operating on the basis of three precepts. These were hard-won. They were not advanced at the beginning, but over the last several years we have learned that they are significant.

First, security in Europe still matters. History did not come to an end in 1989. In some ways it was the reverse - namely, the opportunity for history to be reborn, particularly in a number of countries for which history was frozen, some in the late 1940s, some even earlier than that.

Thus security matters. Second, within that proposition, many institutions have responsibilities. The Cicero Foundation is, itself, deeply engaged with NATO and with the European Union. There is the OSCE - the follow-on to the Helsinki Final Act. There is the European Council in Strasbourg. And there is the Western European Union, about which I will say a good deal. But at heart, European security, now and for the foreseeable future, must turn in its most fundamental scope upon NATO and its future. This is, however, a new NATO, a NATO that is open, a NATO that offers opportunities for any country in Europe to have some form of engagement.

The third proposition, which goes to the heart of our topic today, is that NATO works when the United States is deeply engaged and is prepared to lead. Of all the ideas that were launched at the 1994 summit and that will be brought to fruition, we hope, at the summit in Madrid next summer, one very important idea, the NATO-Russia charter, was invented here in Europe. Every other idea we are pursuing was invented in the United States. We don't like that any more than Europeans do. In the United States, we believe that the greater Europeanization of NATO, the greater taking of responsibility and authority by European allies, is mutually healthy and certainly healthy for our institutions. But, let me underscore, this has not yet happened. Whether it was Bosnia, or the future of NATO, or the future of the Western European Union, we discovered that the United States again had to play a decisive leadership role in order to make these things happen. I say that not as an act of pride.

I say it as an act of commitment of my country to the freedom, the independence, and the security of the Continent for the fourth time in this century, just as we were committed three other times in this century.

NATO has embarked upon four great goals. The first is to keep America here, and we are here. I think it is remarkable, for example, that in our recent presidential election, President Clinton gave one speech on foreign policy. It was about NATO. And in his first press conference following his election, he listed four major priorities for U.S. foreign policy. Number one was NATO and helping to build a Europe without barriers and with deepened security for the future. And if you look at the distinguished team of people that he has appointed to lead American foreign policy, it is deeply steeped in European issues. We had a leader in American foreign policy for a number of years who was a German, Dr. Kissinger, and then a Pole, Dr. Brzezinski. Now we are moving slightly south and east and we have a Czech in Ambassador Albright to lead American foreign policy. And let me tell you, Europe is going to be the centerpiece.

The European Security and Defence Identity: A European Pillar?

But we do want to see a rebalancing of the Alliance. We would like to see more European responsibility, and we are very strong supporters of a European Security and Defense Identity, at least in part in support of a Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union.

Two great decisions were involved. The first decision was taken by President Clinton at the Brussels Summit, now just a little under three years ago. We have always been strong supporters of the Western European Union and of a strong European pillar of the Alliance. That was true during the Cold War as it is today. During the Cold War, however, we were ambivalent. To put it most simply, we wanted a strong European pillar, but we wanted it to be firmly and clearly under U.S. guidance, for a very simple reason: because of the nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union and our belief that it was essential to have central direction of the Western component of confrontation with the Soviet Union. So we wanted a strong European pillar, but we wanted it to be very much within the framework of American thinking.

By 1994, however, not only had the Cold War come to an end, but also the nuclear confrontation was over, and the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact no longer existed. The reasons for American ambivalence had gone away, and we reversed policy: to support without ambiguity or ambivalence the European Security and Defense Identity, for several reasons. First, it helps keep Europeans thinking about security. One way to make sure that we stay here in Europe, if this is what our friends and allies want, is to show the United States Congress that our friends and allies are pulling their weight in terms of defense, in terms of defense spending, and in terms of commitment to security. A strong ESDI can help do that.

Second, a strong ESDI supports European integration, which helps to preserve the peace here in this part of the Continent; it helps to lead to the transformation of the countries of Central Europe; and it helps achieve the grand purpose of finally - and we hope forever - providing stability and certainty and confidence in the part of Europe which, to borrow Professor McKinder's thesis, is the region which has dominated issues of war and peace throughout this century.

We recognize also that there is continuing value in ensuring that all the countries in the western part of Europe, including Germany, are deeply embedded within Western institutions. This is a fundamental German foreign policy goal, as carried through in this generation by Chancellor Kohl.

In addition, a strong ESDI is a good insurance policy, just in case my country on some issues decided not to be engaged. I don't believe that's going to be true, but I can't prove that to you; and having an effective ESDI is an insurance policy just in case there is that problem.

The Rapprochement of France to NATO

That was the first great decision. The United States therefore offered to make available from NATO resources direct material support for the Western European Union on the basis of a fundamental concept: that forces and other assets within NATO could be made available on the basis of their being separable from NATO but not separate from it. This is a very complicated thought but one which ultimately will have a great simplicity and provide, we think, a great strength. To that end, we proposed a new device called Combined Joint Task Force Headquarters - the CJTF-HQ. To put it simply, the CJTF is a device for NATO to be able to relate to the future in relatively small packages, rapidly, flexibly, effectively. In fact, the CJTF provides something of the model for what we are doing today with IFOR and, in a week and a half's time, with SFOR in Bosnia.

That was the first great decision. It did not, however, have a real chance of becoming effective because we did not have a proper, effective answer from the European side of the trans-Atlantic connection until a year ago, December 5th, when the French government took a basic decision and Foreign Minister de Charette presented it at NATO headquarters. This was a fundamental transformation of French policy in regard to the Atlantic Alliance. Some people say it reversed Gaullist policy of 1966. I would say, rather, it was carrying that policy a step further; frankly, I believe that, if De Gaulle were still in power, France would have done this a long time ago. One of the problems was that De Gaulle, who had initiated a policy, was not around to use his same logic to undo that policy and to fulfill his own purpose.

What did the French do a year ago? They said they wanted to continue to pursue a European Security and Defense Identity; but instead of building it outside of NATO and in competition with NATO, they would build it inside the Alliance. Instead of seeing this ESDI as working against the trans-Atlantic association, it had to be in confirmation of that association. Instead of attempting to undercut the role of the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe - SACEUR-it would be to confirm the role of that strategic commander. Instead of trying to create two NATOs - one to do what we call Article V operations against external aggression and one for all other operations which we call non-Article V - there would be one NATO, a seamless web throughout its full continuum of potential operations.

We all welcomed this decisive development by the French government. We welcomed it, and we have been working to bring it to fulfillment. As President Chirac has said many times, if and when we complete the transformation of NATOs internal structures - and I believe the question is "when," not "if" - this will lead to the full reintegration of France within the military structures of the Alliance. Already, France has retaken its seat on the NATO Military Committee. You may also notice that, about two weeks ago, Spain voted to change its status from the one France now has to become a full member of the military side of the Alliance.

At Berlin and in Brussels last spring, we decided to take this effort another decisive step forward. Today, we have arrived at the following, all agreed at NATO, subject to final completion of all elements of our internal restructuring. We now will make plans for implementing them. We will, however, do one set of plans, not two, so that if a contingency has to be implemented, it can be done by NATO or it can be done by WEU - either one. We won't do two set of plans.

NATO Assets for the WEU?

We will then designate a series of NATO officers who could, if WEU undertook an action, leave their NATO jobs and go to work directly for WEU. Let me underscore something very important. If, in a particular command situation in NATO, part of the Alliance is to be transferred for WEU use and American staff officers are involved, they will take part, as well. American staff officers will work for WEU. We have no problem
with that.

At NATO we will also identify other assets within the Alliance which could be transferred, en bloc or in particular, for the use of WEU. We've even taken a step further. Because there is no command structure at WEU, we have decided - again, subject to the completion of everything else we're doing - that the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander-Europe can function as the Strategic Commander for WEU. He will, under SACEUR's direction, be in charge of planning and of preparations, so that if, indeed, there is a transfer of NATO assets to WEU, this man can go along as the Strategic Commander. Maybe WEU will want to choose someone else, but this individual will be available.

This arrangement means several things. It means that, for the first time, WEU will have a real capacity to act. It means that WEU will have this capacity without government's having to build a second set of offices, officers, headquarters, and forces. This was part of the deal struck with the United States: that we were prepared to see a material part of NATO used by a different institution, in order to reduce the pressures on governments here to build a separate set of costly institutions, which, frankly, wasn't going to happen, anyway.

But we have insisted on several things, all of which are agreed. The first relates to who will act. As far as we Americans are concerned, if anything serious is happening here in Europe in security, we want to be involved, and we will be involved. But that means through NATO, which is another way of saying that, if something happens, NATO should have first choice. If NATO decides not to do something, or if some members of NATO - particularly the United States - decided not to be involved, that is the time at which WEU could, if its members wanted to, come into action.

We also insisted - and this was agreed at Brussels last June - that everything that is done in this regard needs to respect the integrity of the chain of command. This means that, during regular operations, everything we do at NATO for WEU has to be done in a way in which NATO can continue to operate. It also means that, if we transfer to WEU these forces, assets, headquarters, personnel, and commanders, NATO also has to be able to continue to function. That is why no NATO officer who would be transferred would, if he or she left the "day job" to do the "night job", would enfeeble NATO in its capacity to act. We also have insisted, and everyone has agreed, if there is an overriding need for NATO to reclaim its assets that will be done.

But with those qualifications, NATO is now moving forward expeditiously to implement this new relationship with WEU. It is part also of what we call our Long Term Study, which is a change in our military structure. At the moment, at NATO we have 65 headquarters left over from the Cold War. When we complete this effort, we hope to be down to about 22 or 23 headquarters. This will be a radical transformation of the Alliance. Today, we have four levels of command; tomorrow we will only have three. Getting this process done is also deeply instrumental to the capacity for transferring assets to WEU, if it comes to that.

Let me make two fundamental, additional points. We recognize that a key reason WEU has asked for this arrangement with NATO is because the countries which belong to WEU have not purchased and are not prepared to purchase many of the items of equipment they might need in order to act. These include three categories: first, large transport aircraft, where there is some European capacity but not that much; second, satellite-based communications - for example, in IFOR in Bosnia, of the 45 satellite channels that are being used by the military, 43 of them belong to the United States, not to NATO; and third, certain highly sophisticated forms of intelligence. A large percentage of these three items belong not to NATO as a whole - an institution which has very few common assets - but to the United States. We have indicated, however, that, if all the processes, procedures, and arrangements I've talked about are done properly, thoroughly, completely, and intelligently, then if it comes time for WEU to act, if Americans assets are needed, and if we are asked, the chances are very likely that we will also say "Yes." We do this even today in regard to various actions by European countries in Africa and elsewhere, as we did in Rwanda and Burundi about two years ago.

Let me make a final point about WEU and this new relationship. It is to ask the question: Will it ever happen? I'm not sure it will; not, however, because will-power is lacking on our part; and not because there will be peace and stability, automatically, and no need for anyone to act. Rather, it is highly likely that, if there is a requirement for such action, and the United States is asked to take part, the answer will be "Yes" and, therefore, NATO will come into play and not WEU. We in the United States are pleased to be in the forefront of helping to make this happen.

One reason that these new NATO-WEU arrangements have not yet come to fruition is that there is a disagreement within the Alliance about the proper distribution of command headquarters and positions within the Alliance. This is, I think, a normal and natural process of redistributing tasks, duties, authority, and responsibility, and there is a dispute now over the one command in Naples - the Commander-in-Chief of the NATO Southern Command. If you look at the glass on the table in front of me, you might say that this glass is half full or half empty. But with regard to everything I am talking about today, the glass today is 99 percent full. I am confident - I say this even here in Paris - that between now and the NATO Summit next July, we will work out the last one percent. But, then, the issue will be whether the Europeans states will have the political will to make WEU effective. Will the European states have the will to create a common foreign and security policy? Will they have the will to assume possible? I am an optimist here, too, but here I think the future on these questions is a good deal more cloudy than in the areas I've discussed.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to share with an extraordinary group a bit of my thinking on what we're doing at NATO.