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Global Coalition Against Global Terrorism
At a conference organized by the Old Dominium University and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Forces Atlantic (SACLANT) in Norfolk in the US I was asked to speak about the expanding dimensions of security.

The Expanding Dimensions of Transatlantic Security

Remarks by Mr Carl Bildt

2002 ODU & SACLANT Symposium
Norfolk, Virginia, Monday May 13, 2002.

It is symbolic that we are meeting here in Norfolk to discuss the new dimensions of security at the same time as the Foreign Ministers of NATO are meeting in Reykjavik to forge a new close relationship to Russia.

For more than a generation, it was the confrontation with the Soviet Union that defined the security policy of our countries.

Then, Iceland was the key bastion in the critical defence of those sea-lines-of-communications that tied North America and Western Europe into a true Alliance, and Norfolk was the key command centre of these efforts.

But the last thirteen years have seen our world changing in a dramatic way. The first dramatic changes are clustered around November 1989, and the second set of dramatic changes around September 2001.

It was in November of 1989 that we saw the beginning of the end of first the Soviet empire, and then the Soviet Union itself, as the wall in Berlin that had been dividing a city, a country, a continent and even a world come down.

And it was then that we were confronted with the task of building a new order of security and stability in the Europe. No longer was this an issue primarily of military deterrence, as had been the case until then, but instead one of political and economic integration, following the successful example of France and Germany in the western part of the continent.

The then 12 nations of the then European Community decided to transform themselves into the European Union, invited those countries of Western Europe that had not been part of them during the decades of confrontation to join, set the ambitious aim of creating an economic and monetary union, including a common currency, within a decade, launched a renewed effort to set up a common foreign and security policy and, most important, started to prepare to receive as members all of the democracies of Europe to the West of Russia and the Ukraine.

This was an agenda of momentous proportions.

There have been setbacks. But overall, Europe is pressing ahead with this momentous agenda of change.

A common currency of no less than 12 countries is in place. This autumn, it is likely that there will be signed treaties of accession with no less than 10 nations, thus truly starting to build the structures of integration for Europe as a whole that can build security for generations to come.

A constitutional convention is now working on what could be the constitutional model of this unique, evolving federation of nation states. The debate in all the 25 countries, before a consensus is achieved, is bound to be as difficult as it will be important.

Further on, there are new challenges. We are far from a self-sustaining stability in South-Eastern Europe, with some of the core issues of the conflicts there left unresolved. And we must soon be ready to take more concrete decisions on the future position of Turkey within the federation of nation states we are building.

All of this will take time and effort. We are not yet half the way towards the post-Cold War new structure of peace and prosperity in Europe.

Iím stressing the magnitude of the tasks we are in the midst of in Europe because of their global significance also in the new situation we are facing now. Donít forget that during the last century, conflict and confrontation in Europe was the number one source of global instability. We Europeans exported two wars and two totalitarian threats to the rest of the world. And it was over Europe that a third world war very nearly started.

Obviously, we are building this new European order in our own interest. But we are also doing it to remove from the rest of the world the threat of being dragged into the conflicts of Europe. And perhaps we could give an example to other conflict-ridden parts of the world.

The years immediately after 1989 were years of profound optimism. We believed in the steady march of democratic institutions and open markets all over the world, and in the peace and stability this would bring.

And there was impressive progress in these directions.

In the mid-70ís, more than two thirds of the member states of the United Nations had more or less despotic and undemocratic regimes. In the mid-90ís, it was the other way around, with roughly two thirds of the same states having more or less open and democratic regimes.

At the same time, the new phase of globalisation of the world economy brought enormous benefits throughout the world. During the last four decades, the per capita income in the developing countries has doubled, and we have seen the fastest decline of poverty ever in human history. Contrary to popular belief, the gap between rich and poor in the world started to close.

There were the disturbing signs. But ethnic, national and cultural conflicts of the sort we were confronted with in the Balkans, and for which we were so obviously unprepared, were seen as the odd exceptions rather than the new rule. And we didnít really feel the need to know what was happening in far away places like Ė to take just an example - Afghanistan.

On September 11 the world woke up to a new reality. There was no avoiding the new realities that slowly had emerged. What had been seen as the odd exceptions during the past years suddenly looked like the new rule.

There are many lessons to be drawn from September 11. But the number one lesson must be as there is no such thing as absolute homeland security.

We must fully understand that in the world without walls that we have been seeking, we are all neighbours of chaos and conflict, wherever in the world it happens to be.

And we must fully understand, that in this world without walls, the marriage between ancient hatreds and modern technology has transformed the threats our policies will have to deal with.

The months since September 11 have been dominated by the necessary, forceful and successful action taken to unseat the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and to deny the terrorist networks their base area and safe haven.

But it was clear from the very start that this was only the beginning. And now we are increasingly starting to discuss the wider issues and the wider tasks, and their implications for the wider international system.

Sometimes, forceful military action becomes necessary, and sometimes this forceful military action can and must be undertaken unilaterally. This was clearly the case after September 11. The United States truly impressed the world with its ability to project effective military force to distant regions.

But military action is the exception rather than the norm when it comes to countering the threat from a global terrorist network. One canít bomb Hamburg or invade Indonesia.

Global terrorist networks can only be countered with a global anti-terrorist network based on the common trust between and the common determination of all the states involved. On this front so critical for the ultimate success, unilateralism brings us absolutely nowhere. Coalition becomes the name of the game.

This is by no means always easy. There are obvious dangers.

The agenda of fighting terrorism could easily be hijacked be governments whose methods and perhaps even objectives we might have serious reservations against. Chechnya illustrates this point. And there are elements of this in the policies of Prime Minister Sharon.

The need to work closely together with governments that are less than democratic runs the long-term risk of creating the impression that we are indifferent or perhaps even hostile to the need for political reforms in the respective countries. Most of the Muslim world illustrates this point.

And the longer we go on, the more obvious are these risks. Were we to lose the support for or acceptance of our effort to combat global terrorism among the majority of the peoples of the Muslim world, it is obvious that the chances for long-term success will decline very significantly.

But coalition building does not only apply to the necessity of building a close global network of cooperation between governments and their security and policy efforts. It becomes even more necessary when it comes to handling the wider issues of bringing stability and order to areas of chaos and conflict.

In the past, it might have been possible to ignore chaos and conflict in far-away areas of which we knew little. After September 11 this is no longer the case. We have learnt how areas of chaos invite a deadly combination of warlords, drug lords and terrorist, how this can easily produce a domino effect of chaos in the region concerned, and how this can easily produce a base area for wider attacks against our societies.

And we have also learnt, that while the instruments of military deterrence still work against state actors, even of the more evil variety, it distinctly does not against the non-state actors that take over and operate from the different chaotic corners of the world.

Thus, what in the debate in this country is often referred to as nation building, but more appropriately should be called state building, has become the first line of defence against the new threats we face.

If there is a functioning state, even if that state is hostile to us, that state can often be militarily deterred from undertaking hostile acts or harbouring hostile groups. And, in the more benign cases, that state can and should be encouraged to join in the global anti-terrorist efforts.

The task is then to prevent states from falling apart, and to try to restore states when this has already happened.

Afghanistan illustrates the point. For too long we ignored the plight of that country as it was falling apart, only to be taken over by the talibans, the thugs and the terrorist. And now we are faced with the task of trying to restore some sort of functioning state authority over this land.

As usual, it has fallen on the United Nations to be in the forefront of the political and economic efforts of state building. And it has had to start from zero in practically every respect.

Key is to restore some sort of law and order throughout the country. This requires more than the occasional offensive against remaining pockets of resistance. It requires a constant safeguarding of the monopoly of power and violence that is the definition of a state.

If this is lost, we can count the days until the era of the drug lords, the warlords and ultimately the terrorists are back. We would have won the war Ė and lost the peace.

For the critical period of the next few years, only international forces, operating as part of the overall international efforts to help the rebuilding of an Afghan state, can prevent this from happening.

Order is the foundation of any state. Without order, no state can function, and chaos will come again.

We see partly the same challenge in Palestine today.

For Israel, sending tanks into the villages of the West Bank has become the prime instrument in its version of the war against terrorism. But for every terrorist caught in this way, there is a serious risk that two terrorists are created.

It is only a stable and sovereign state that over time can make certain that these villages are not used as havens of terrorism directed against the state and citizens of Israel.

Few tasks are as complex as the tasks of state building. Itís not a question of quickly imposing alien structures, but of assisting the long-term development of indigenous institutions of order and self-government. It requires an abundance of both resources and patience. Experience show that no nation alone has enough of either.

With the likelihood that we will see more ethnic, cultural and religious conflicts in the years ahead, and that this will risk creating more zones of chaos and conflict, it is imperative that we develop better international instruments to assist with these critically important tasks.

More often than not, they will be centred on the United Nations as the default mechanism for those tasks too complex, too demanding and too uncertain for any one state or combination of states to take on.

There are the examples of failure. But they must never serve as an excuse for not trying. And we must not forget the examples of success. This week, the UN Interim Administration of East Timor (UNIAET) comes to its end as the country achieves its independence after years of repression, rebellion and reaction.

While zones of chaos and conflict can create the havens for the terrorist, they are not always the origin of the terrorist threat itself. There were no Afghans in the attacks on September 11.

These attacks were not the result of a conflict with the Muslim world, but primarily of a conflict within the Muslim world.

And there is no doubt that we must be far more aware of the tensions and turmoilís of this large part of the world than we have been in the past. It faces massive economic, political and social challenges, and it is hardly surprising that these leads also to serious religious tensions between attempts at reform and attacks of reaction.

In what we might refer to as the Greater Middle East we will see the population increase from approximately 300 million today to approximately 400 million a decade and a half from now.

By then, in much of the Middle East, the populations are likely to be significantly larger, significantly poorer, significantly more urban and significantly more desperate.

In many of these countries, more than half of their population is now under 20 years of age. If we take away energy resources, their combined export of different goods is less than the export of Finland. And in the vast majority of them, the political system is repressive and hostile to change.

Without profound political and economic reforms in all of the states throughout this region, which will also require the support of the religious communities, there is a serious risk that rapidly growing political, economic and religious tensions will provide a fertile recruiting ground for extremists and terrorism of a domestic or a global nature.

Although everyone stresses all the time that there is no conflict between us and the Muslim world, we must not ignore the signs of rising sentiments against the West across the Muslim world, and we must seriously ask ourselves what can and what must be done to reverse this trend.

We must not build walls between us and them, but rather build bridges of cooperation to facilitate the reforms that are necessary in the years ahead. If we are seen as more responsive to their different concerns, they will be more responsive to our different concerns. Laws of human nature apply here as well.

Around the world, there are numerous areas where we have reason to be concern, and where we canít just ignore and stand idly by without trying to influence and help.

Pakistan of today is already more populous than Russia, and on present trends will be the third most populous country in the world by mid-century. The fractured society and geography of Indonesia and the rise of extremist sentiments there gives cause for serious concern. Developments in Colombia and Venezuela demonstrates that itís not only the Muslim world were we see these challenges. And we are all familiar with the tragic failure of both economic and political development in much of sub-Saharan Africa.

After September 11, we are all neighbours of chaos, and the security of our part of the world will be a function of the stability of all other parts of the parts of the world. And that stability will to a large extent be a function of their perceived possibilities of economic and social development.

Security has become globalized Ė and has become a function of how we handle globalisation itself.

The world needs more, not less, of globalisation. We see the clear difference in development between those countries that open up and reform and those that donít.

But at the same time we must be aware of the perceived downsides of globalisation. When cultures and traditions feel threatened, they might retreat into reaction and fundamentalism. When there are the winners, there will also be those that see themselves as losers.

There is no doubt that we can and must do more to help in bringing the fruits of globalisation to all parts of the world. Through the United Nations, we have now set the common goal of cutting poverty in the world in half by 2015.

This requires more than words.

While encouraging nations to open up for trade, which is the key to economic and social development, we canít close their possibilities of actually doing so.

Nearly 50 developing countries depend on agriculture for over a third of their export earnings Ė nearly 40 of them depend on agriculture for over 50 %. And for many, the manufacturing of textiles represents the first step on the long ladder of industrialisation.

And yet we often block our markets to their food or textile products. In Europe and the United States, we spend a billion dollar every day to make our food more expensive and their producers even poorer.

We always preach globalisation to others Ė and sometimes refuse to practice it ourselves.

Thus, we see how the concept of security has expanded with our deepening awareness of the world after September 11. In the past, a limited military coalition could concentrate on the issues of military deterrence to handle the security threat of the evil Soviet empire. Now, we will need much broader coalitions, handling a much wider set of issues and challenges, to be able to feel more secure in the decades ahead.

The changes underway in Europe are part of the efforts to build a new order of peace and security there. And the changes now discussed in Reykjavik are part of the transformation of NATO into a larger organisation with a broader security agenda.

But the importance of the relationship between the United States and Europe remains, if it hasnít increased.

A United States without strong links with, and the political support of, Europe would risk degenerating into raw power that would breed resentment and revenge across the world. A Europe without strong links with the United States would risk degenerating into little more than a talking shop of increasing irrelevance to the issues of the world.

It is together that the United States and Europe can build an ďaxis of goodĒ for which there is no real alternative in the world today. And it is this ďaxis of goodĒ that can start to address all the more diverse global challenges we have now become more aware of.

But for this to happen, we must change in important ways. Iím worried when I see perspectives on critical issues, like the present conflict in the Middle East, diverging as profoundly as they do today. Clearly, there is a need for a broader and deeper dialogue between our political systems and cultures.

And we must understand that there is a price worth paying for peace, but which we arenít paying today. In a world without walls, we must be prepared to spend more for global security, stability and development.

All of our nations spend a significantly lower share of our resources on the broader issues of security and stability than we did in past decades. This must be changed in the years ahead.

On this side of the Atlantic it is often said that Europe is underspending on defence. On the other side of the Atlantic, it is often said that the United States is underspending on development. Both are correct.

And I would add that both are underspending on the diplomacy necessary to be present around the world, to build the links and to address conflicts and concerns before they start addressing us.

Thus, I believe we will have to spend significantly more on diplomacy, development and defence in the decades ahead.

But even more than material resources, I believe we will be dependent on our intellectual resources in properly understanding and interpreting an international environment likely to be more complex, more volatile and in some respects perhaps also more dangerous than the one we had to handle in the old days of the Denmark Strait and the Fulda Gap.

Bildt Blog Comments

In addition to this webpage, and the email letters ongoing since 1994, I have now started a blog as well.

You find it at

At you will continue to find articles, speeches and different documents.

At the blog there will be the shorter and perhaps somewhat faster comments.

And the e-letter continues to give at the least an attempt at analys.