by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the National Defense University,
29 JANUARY 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen,
a great pleasure to be here. This is, as you know, my first
to the United States as Secretary General
of NATO, and I’m grateful to the NDU for hosting my
not intend to mince words. In the next few minutes, I want
out for you my vision of NATO over the next
coming months, and the coming years. I will set out my priorities
as Secretary General. I will identify what I believe to be
the steps we must take to meet them. And then – in
a very reasonable amount of time, I promise -- I will take
I accepted my new post because I have great confidence
in NATO. The Atlantic Alliance today is, as it has always
been, a unique and invaluable organisation. It is the place
where North America and Europe come together to discuss the
most serious political issues on our agenda. It is where
the countries that share most profoundly our common values
agree on common action. And it is the platform for the most
effective militaries in the world to defend our security,
our values and our interestes, wherever required, together.
To my mind, the 21st century NATO is an irreplaceable asset
for the transatlantic community. I was certainly grateful
to have been given the opportunity to lead this organisation.
me be clear, however. I have come into the job with my
eyes open. I
know that NATO has had a bruising year. The
Iraq war sparked very strong debate amongst even the closest
friends and allies, including in the UN and the European
Union. And NATO didn’t escape the fallout.
is simple: it’s time to get back to business.
There are simply too many threats on the horizon, too many
challenges for us to tackle. For us to succeed, there is
no alternative to open security dialogue, and profound security
cooperation between the NATO Allies. And there is no time
first, and immediate priority is to get Afghanistan right.
afford to fail. My predecessor, Lord Robertson,
said that if we don’t go to Afghanistan, Afghanistan
will come to us. He was right. No country knows that more
clearly than this one.
Afghanistan mission may be halfway around the world, but
its success matters to our security right
here. If the political process fails, that country will become,
once again, a haven for the terrorists who threaten us, for
the drugs that end up on our streets.
is another problem as well. If we fail in Afghanistan – if
we do not meet our commitments to the people of that country
to help them build a better future – then who will
have confidence in us again? Our credibility – as NATO,
as the Euro-Atlantic community – is on the line. And
credibility is one of our strongest assets. To preserve it,
we have no choice but to succeed.
Just think of the implications of success, even if we still
have a long way to go. Peace and security for people who
have suffered terribly for decades. A major terrorist haven
shut down for good. A more stable region. And an illustration
of the power, and the potential, of transatlantic cooperation
to achieve massive change for the better.
all these reasons, Afghanistan is my priority number one.
to Afghanistan isn’t enough. A simple
presence in the capital, while important, isn’t enough.
We must do more.
We have to spread security beyond the capital, to the provinces.
We have to buttress the credibility and the authority of
the Karzai Government. We have to protect and nurture the
very fragile political process, to build on the success of
the recent Loya Jirga and lay the foundation for free and
fair elections to be held in the summer. And as part of that,
the international community has to beat back any attempts
by recidivist members of the Taliban to choke the peace and
the progress in Afghanistan that is only now beginning to
NATO is taking action. The Alliance has decided to take
command of Provincial Reconstruction Teams throughout the
country. We have already take over leadership of one, in
Kundoz. We must now move forward on others.
headquarters, we are in the process of defining an overall
plan. I will be pushing hard for that
plan to be approved for March, in time for the June elections.
And I will make sure NATO’s member states are well
aware of the military assets needed to carry out their commitments.
Throughout its long history, NATO has never made empty
promises. We have always backed up our words with deeds.
My first priority is to ensure that that long and honourable
tradition continues in Afghanistan.
My second priority is to ensure that NATO is prepared,
if called upon, to play a greater role in Iraq.
the Alliance is supporting the Polish troops leading a
division in Iraq’s central province.
NATO is providing planning, intelligence and logistical assistance.
And if Allies were to decide together that they wish for
NATO to do more, it will.
Now, let me be very clear: This is a decision for the Allies
themselves to make. My job, as Secretary General, is to ensure
that, when a decision is made, NATO is ready to do the job.
For that to be the case, NATO must be a forum where Iraq
is discussed, and where our common approaches are shaped.
Because I can guarantee that there will be pressure for the
Alliance to do more in Iraq.
Because NATO has demonstrated over and over again that
the world’s most effective organisation
at generating, leading and supporting large, multinational
and long-term peace support operations – in the Balkans
since the mid-90s, and today in Afghanistan. NATO is also
a forum where enhanced outreach to the Greater Middle East,
especially in the security area, will be discussed. It is
too early to say what form this outreach will take, but we
have successful models in the Mediterranean Dialogue and
the Partnership for Peace.
NATO's success depends on open consultation and on trusting
cooperation. But it also relies, as an essential foundation,
on modern, effective military capabilities. And there is
urgent work that must be done, starting right now, if we
are to have the forces we need, when we need them, to go
where we need them.
As a transatlantic community, and as an Alliance, we face
a real and urgent shortfall in useable military forces. The
US military faces a daunting array of challenges and its
commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be over tomorrow.
European and Canadian forces are heavily deployed as well.
Germany has some ten thousand troops deployed outside of
its borders, including in Afghanistan. France has thirty
thousand troops deployed, including some in all NATO missions.
And in taking command of ISAF in Afghanistan, Canada has
over ten percent of its total army across the oceans.
of these commitments should, first and foremost, demonstrates
America’s Allies are determined to pull their
weight when it comes to security. But these operations also
illustrate a broader trend – that we are close to the
point where, as an Alliance, we are going to be unable to
meet new commitments. And this would have very negative repercussions
at Afghanistan. I will be honest – we are not
flooded with offers of troop contributions to expand into
the provinces. Not because NATO members don’t want
to. But because they are having real trouble coming up with
deployable forces to take on this new task.
This is already a real problem today. But what about tomorrow?
I can guarantee you that Afghanistan will not be the last
crisis we face. We need to make the necessary improvements
now, to be able to handle the crises and challenges that
certainly wait around the corner. Improving the capability
and usability of our forces is critical and I will be as
persistent as my predecessor on this issue.
We are already making progress. The NATO Response Force,
which Secretary Rumsfeld proposed only two years ago, is
already up and running with an initial capability. It will
be fully operational no later than 2006. The NRF will not
only give us a fast-moving and hard-hitting force. It will
also ensure that all the Allies can engage together at the
sharp end of military operations, so there is no division
of labour between those who do the dirty work and those who
do the dishes.
the NRF and our new Allied Command Transformation will
another vital role as well -- as a transmission
belt for the latest technology, the latest doctrine, the
latest thinking on defence. We cannot let technology divide
us. We cannot afford a world where the US is forced to act
alone simply for technical reasons. That would make US unilateralism
in military affairs inevitable – and I guarantee you
that that is not healthy for this country, for NATO, or for
international relations. My third priority, as Secretary
General, is to ensure that transformation happens .
My fourth priority builds directly from this. I intend
to work hard to put transatlantic security cooperation back
on a more pragmatic, realistic and trusting footing.
the past few months and years, some pernicious myths have
to become a little too popular. Myths that are
undermining the foundation of our cooperation – trust.
And I fully intend to make my voice heard in dispelling them.
The first myth is of a Europe that might rival the US.
Let us be clear: such a Europe is politically impossible,
militarily unrealistic and financially unaffordable. Europe
wants to stand together as a partner to America.
as Europe, can only be a partner to the US. There cannot
be, and there
will never be, a rivalry between Europe
and the United States in the security arena. In this context
I want to underline NATO’s commitment to build a strategic
partnership with the European Union. We have successfully
worked together in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia <outbind://37/#_ftn1> ,
and NATO is prepared to support a possible new EU mission
The second myth is the flip side of the first: the dangerous
illusion that the US can, and should, go it alone when it
comes to security. Iraq should demonstrate the impossibility
of that approach.
the US down a unilateralist road serves no one’s
interest, least of all America’s. President Bush said,
just a few days ago in the State of Union address, that the
US must never forget the vital contribution of its international
partners, or dismiss their sacrifices. I couldn’t agree
more. And I will continue to make that case, loudly and clearly.
its NATO Allies, the US is part of the world’s
most effective permanent coalition. A group of countries
that share values; who share a determination to defend them;
and who share the capability to defend them, wherever and
whenever required. In an increasingly volatile world, that
mutual commitment and robust capability is something precious.
It must never be taken for granted. It must be preserved.
It must be strengthened. It is at the very heart of the “effective
multilateralism” that President Bush has talked about.
means having open debates, in the Alliance, on all the
issues on the agenda today, so we can shape
true cooperative approaches to the threats and challenges
we all face. It means enhancing and modernising NATO’s
military capabilities, so the US doesn’t have to act
alone. And it means using NATO, not as a tool-box, but as
the most effective and most reliable tool of transatlantic
a broad and important agenda to complete together: bringing
to troubled areas; welcoming new democracies
into the NATO family; engaging with Russia, and with Ukraine;
building our partnerships with countries across Europe, through
the Caucasus, and into Central Asia; strengthening our bridges
to countries of North Africa and the Middle East; and building
a true and trusting Strategic Partnership with the European
Union. We have no more time to brood over past disagreements.
As I said when I began, it’s time to get back to business.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today’s NATO has taken on new missions, in part of
the world that had never before appeared on the Alliance
horizon. It is tackling the threats we face today – terrorism,
weapons of mass destruction, failed states. It is building
security through dialogue and cooperation. And it is sparking
and guiding the transformation of the military capabilities
that we, the transatlantic community, need to preserve our
common security, today and into the future.
amidst all of this transformation, some things do not change.
still needs reliable friends – and
it has them in its NATO Allies. NATO remains the world’s
most effective security coalition. And NATO still delivers
security when it is needed, and where it is needed, even
in a radically new security environment.
That is the NATO which I took over a few weeks ago. It
is a NATO in which I am very confident. And I intend to do
my utmost, leading up the Istanbul Summit this summer and
beyond, to ensure that our great Alliance continues to deliver
on its enormous potential.
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