|Foreign & security policy
The New Security Agenda
|Have we seen the demise of the westphalian order of international affairs? And are we heading for a decade long period of turmoil until a new order emerges? These were some of the issues I addressed in the concluding speech at the 5th International Security Forum in Zurich.
The New Security Agenda
Remarks by Mr Carl Bildt
5th International Security Forum, Zurich, October 16, 2002
We all know it: we are living through a period of momentous changes in the landscape of – and most probably also the very nature of – international relations and security issues.
Most us grew up and were formed in a very different world. Few expected that the Soviet Union, its entire empire and its socialist systems would end up on the scrap heap of history as quickly as they did.
In those long gone days, security was often a question of primarily military issues. In Europe, it was military deterrence, backed up by enormous nuclear arsenals, that secured the absence of war.
Across the world, most issues were viewed and dealt with as part of the shifting correlation of forces between the two competing camps.
But in November 1989 the wall in Berlin come down, and in December 1991 the red flag was lowered from the Kremlin, and the Soviet Union officially declared dead.
When Francis Fukyama wrote his piece on the end of history, he was certainly reflecting the mood of those days. The great ideological battles were over. We had witnessed the triumph of liberal democracy and market economies. We were all on the same side.
There was optimism in the air.
We saw a revival of international cooperation through the United Nations. The rapid growth of the global economy during the 1990’s started to bring the benefits of globalisation to ever more remote corners of our world. Hundreds of millions of people were able to join the growing global middle class from Shanghai to Sao Paulo.
We were faced with very major tasks.
Here in Europe, it was no less than to build a completely new order of security. The lights had gone out over all of Europe in 1914, and it was only in 1989 that the nightmare was finally over, and we could see the lights coming on again in all parts of Europe.
Europe has been ridden by war for centuries. The one structure after the other had been tried in order to secure some sort of stability.
A kaleidoscope of national states. The concert of the big powers and empires. The de facto division between the far-away superpowers.
Now, it was a question of moving from a stability based on military deterrence towards a stability based on economic and political integration.
It is by building a federation of nation states that encompasses all of Europe to the West of Russia and the Ukraine, and of tying this evolving federation in a security alliance with the United States, as well as to develop a close relationship with Russia, that we hope to build a structure that could secure the peace in our part of the world - perhaps for generations to come.
This task is by no means completed.
When NATO in November invites seven countries to become members, and when the European Union in December completes accession negotiations with no less than ten countries, we might be half the way towards that goal.
Good progress done, but major issues still ahead of us.
As we speak, the European Convention is contemplating the structures of this historically unique system of integration of nation states. Next year, its work will be carried forward into an intergovernmental conference, and the year after next the voters and citizens of Europe will, the one way or the other, take the final decisions on how to further develop these democratic structures of integration across our continent.
At the same time, the process of enlargement will go on.
The countries of the Eastern Balkans are on their way towards membership. We must truly be ready to tackle the complex issues of the Western Balkans to make it possible for them to enter this process as well.
And we have to address – sooner rather than later - the question of the future evolution of both the European Union and of Turkey as that great country continues to move towards membership of the European Union.
At the end of the day, it’s all about peace and security. From the shores of the Artic Ocean in the North – towards, at the end of the day, the edge of the plains of Mesopotamia in the South.
When I’m on the other side of the Atlantic, I sometimes meet those that accuse us Europeans of being too preoccupied with our esoteric issues of cooperation, integration and institutional evolution.
But this is to grossly misread the agenda of history. The peace and security of Europe is an issue of supreme global importance.
During the 20th century, we Europeans gave the world two global wars and two global totalitarian ideologies.
If we can now build a Europe that instead projects peace, democratic values and the virtues of cooperation over the world, it is no small achievement, and no small service to the cause of global peace and stability.
But if we are to succeed in this, we have to learn from our mistakes. During the 1990’s, we failed to facilitate the transition of South-eastern Europe from one political order to another, and as a consequence were faced with the series of wars that from 1991 until last year tore apart the region, drove millions of people from their homes and created an economic and social disaster in an important part of Europe.
At the time, the conflicts in the Balkans were seen as exceptions to the rule of the new era of peace and stability.
There were often entertained rather simplistic beliefs concerning both the nature of the conflicts and how they could be addressed. Some robust use of military power, a couple of quick elections, and then we could leave. Sometimes it was portrayed being as simple as that.
Since then, we have learnt the hard way. There are no quick fixes to ethnic and national conflicts. There are no shortcuts to the essential tasks of state buildings in areas were states have collapsed or been destroyed. Military power can certainly separate or destroy armies, but military power alone can never unite peoples and build states.
And – most important of all - we have been forced to recognize that the conflicts in the Balkans perhaps weren’t the exceptions to the rule of the new era, but were in fact the rule.
Time after time, in place after place, we are confronted with issues of the same character.
From Bihac to Basra we have to deal with the one question of the order of the post-Ottoman order after the other. From Agadir to Astrakhan, we see an arch of instability that we ignore at our own peril.
And somewhat hesitantly, we have started to try to develop the different instruments that will be necessary to try to deal with the different security issues of that wider region that our continent is a part of.
The European Union is trying to create a European Security and Defence Policy, although the difficulties are obvious. We are trying to focus the OSCE on issues of conflict prevention and institution building in an area that takes in the Caucasus as well as the states of Central Asia. The United Nations has been reassessing its capabilities for preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping as well as peace building. And NATO is adapting its role to new and sometimes very different task, among them the running of peacekeeping operations.
All of this was underway before September 11 last year.
What happen then underlined the urgency of all of these tasks. It brought to its head tendencies we had seen, but the full significance we had not grasped. And it is now reshaping the international system in way that could be very fundamental.
It has become convention wisdom to speak of an international order based on states that emerged out of the Treaties of Westphalia in 1648.
Sovereign states were the building blocs of the international order. During nearly five centuries, it took the resources of a state to destroy another state. Only they could wage war, and only they could secure peace. The international order was the order of the orderly states.
But when the towers of the financial centre of the world come crushing down, the building blocs of the Westphalian order came down as well.
In the new US national security strategy, President Bush writes that “enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endangered America”, but that now, “shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank.”
He speaks of America. But the same applies to Europe. To Southeast Asia – as we have now seen so tragically. Indeed to every single part of our world.
We see a forceful marriage between modern technology and ancient hatreds. We are suddenly more threatened by weak states than we are by strong states. The later can still, in most cases, be deterred. But the weak, fragile or failed states can develop into a source of threats that can attack the very core of our societies.
It’s not only a question of the networks of terrorism. It’s also the power of the global drug networks. The streets of Zurich are directly affected by the instabilities of Afghanistan. We are all neighbours of chaos.
This, then, is the new security agenda that now brings also old adversaries together.
It confronts us anew with old issues that we thought history had already closed. It widens the security agenda well beyond the military to take in issues of culture, demography, political institutions, environmental degradation, religious controversies, emerging new health threats, economic growth possibilities and much, much more.
From our perspective, we have special relations to be concerned with the region that we often refer to as the Greater Middle East. The countries between the Sahara and the Mediterranean. The regions between the Indus and the Nile.
This is our “near abroad”. And as the process of globalisation proceeds, and as communications continues to develop and information about both problems and possibilities become more widely available it comes closer by the day.
Today, much of the discussion is focused on the issues of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But let us not forget the issues of the implosions or explosions of mass effects that we are likely to see in this region in the years ahead.
Just look at the figures.
Today, the 22 states of the Arab world have a population of app 280 million people. Within 20 years, that figure is likely to be app 450 million. This is a region with a larger number of young people than any other region – 38 % of the population is under 14 years of age.
This would not necessarily be a problem if we saw solid economic growth, stable social progress and open political systems in these countries. But it is the other way around.
Over the past 20 years, the region has had the slowest growth of any part of the world with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa. Still, two out of three women in the region can’t read or write. The region has the lowest Internet penetration of any in the world. And across the region, we see regimes that are basically repressive, and that are rapidly losing the thrust of their populations.
On present trends, we are likely to see a series of either explosions or implosions in this region over the coming years.
The consequences will be profound.
It’s not only the fact that the region houses app 60 % of the known oil resources of the world, and that every effort to study the global energy equation as the giants of China and India start to develop see a need to expand production here by no less than 50 % through truly massive investments.
Even more important is the fact recently highlighted by a survey by UNDP that showed that app 50 % of the grown-up population of this region would like to leave and go for other, richer countries.
Whatever their reservations against the United States, many of them might be dreaming of a future in Manhattan rather than Mosul. But they are more likely to end up in the suburbs of Milano, Munich, Marseilles or Manchester.
Then, the strains in their societies risks creating strains in our societies, for which we are obviously not yet ready.
We all know that we are more likely than not to be heading towards war over Iraq.
The marriage of modern technologies and ancient hatreds has acquired a dimension of its own when weapons of mass destruction come into the picture. And the regime of Saddam Hussein has a record of defiance of the United Nations and its Security Council second to none.
But the challenges – not of the war, but of what comes thereafter – will be enormous.
Armies entering Baghdad will be entering a true Terra Incognito. Instant imagery from space can certainly show the streets down to the minute details of the pavements. But I am not aware of any modern technology yet able to chart the minds of men, the reactions of cultures, the powers of religious beliefs or the strength of national or other tribal feelings.
And at the end of the day, that’s what is going to be decisive.
If overwhelming force massacre their armies, but mobilizes their terrorists, not much will have been achieved. But if new ground is broken for more open, tolerant societies, and more open and growth-oriented economies in this region, much will indeed have been.
We will, in all probability, be faced with “the mother of all nation building efforts”. Our track record over the past years in these regards is, regrettably, less than stellar. And here, we are at the hearth of the most volatile region of the world.
No one will remain unaffected by the outcome.
The issues of the Greater Middle East highlight the new security agenda. We have left the era when international relations and security was primarily a question of the relationship between states.
State sovereignty has ceased to be absolute as the primacy of states when it comes to the use of power has been challenged by modern technologies, as borders are losing part of their significance in the process of globalisation and as the internal structure of states can have major effects well beyond its borders.
The possible presence of weapons of mass destruction is a source of acute concern, but so should certainly the absence of human rights and structures conducive to economic and social developments be. The combination – wherever it occurs - could easily become a threat to the global order as a whole.
Yesterday, I saw UN Secretary General Kofi Annan commenting on the state of the world in unusually blunt terms. In Beijing, after having spoken about the dangers of the threatening AIDS/HIV epidemic in China, he said “I haven’t seen it this messy for a long time”.
Messy it is, and messy it will remain. Indeed, this is the sign of times of transition.
The Westphalian order in Europe was established after thirty years of a conflict consisting of a number of separate military campaigns, the recognizing and setting up of new states, major efforts to try to win the hearths and minds of peoples and intense diplomatic and political manoeuvring. At the end, the very nature of the international order had been transformed.
Now, we might well be entering into a similar period, the outcome of which is uncertain.
Again, we see intense struggles between forces of reaction and forces of reform within a major world religion - this time Islam rather than Christianity. Again, we are likely to face the need for military action and presence in different also far-away places. Again, there will be the need to assist in the setting up of new political structures, sources of legitimacy and frameworks of international order.
The marriage between ancient hatreds and modern technologies has upset the very foundations of the old international order.
We must continue to build our federation of nation states to secure the peace and promote the prosperity of Europe. But in the world after September 11, there are no fortresses that can safeguard us from the issues and challenges of the wider world.
We must also, together not the least with the United States, seek to make our contribution not only to the solution of the issues of the day, but to the gradual sorting out of the mess, and the evolution of an order than better than the old can bring security, stability and not the least economic, social and political development.
This – no more, and certainly no less – is the task ahead.
|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 http://bildt.blogspot.com.
At www.bildt.net 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.