House of COMMONS
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE
Tuesday 9 October 2007
DR DANA ALLIN, PROFESSOR MICHAEL COX, DR JONATHAN EYAL
DR ROBIN NIBLETT and DR MARK WEBBER
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
Taken before the Defence Committee
on Tuesday 9 October 2007
Mr James Arbuthnot, in the Chair
Mr David S Borrow
Mr David Hamilton
Mr Mike Hancock
Mr Adam Holloway
Mr Bernard Jenkin
Mr Brian Jenkins
Mr Kevan Jones
Witnesses: Dr Dana Allin, International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS); Professor Michael Cox, London School of Economics; Dr Jonathan Eyal, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI); Dr Robin Niblett, Director, Chatham House; and Dr Mark Webber, University of Loughborough, gave evidence.
Q77 Chairman: This is the second evidence session in our inquiry into the future of NATO and European defence. Welcome to our witnesses this morning. The purpose of our inquiry is to look very broadly at the role of NATO, at the sorts of challenges that NATO faces and how it relates to the European Security and Defence Policy and we expect to have further evidence sessions during the course of the next few months, including with the Secretary of State, and we hope to publish our report in the New Year ahead of the NATO Summit in Bucharest in April. This morning we have got a panel of very distinguished academic people, and I wonder if you could possibly begin by introducing yourselves, saying where you work and what you do.
Dr Allin: I am Dana Allin and I am a Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Affairs and editor of our journal Survival at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Professor Cox: I am Professor Michael Cox, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics.
Dr Eyal: I am Jonathan Eyal, Director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute.
Dr Niblett: I am Robin Niblett, Director of Chatham House.
Dr Webber: I am Mark Webber, Senior Lecturer in Politics at Loughborough University.
Q78 Chairman: We have a number of questions to ask you and, first, I wonder if we could ask what the role and purpose of NATO actually is. I know that is a huge question, but I wonder if you could try to condense your answers into a few sentences.
Dr Webber: It is a difficult question to answer and no doubt the hearings here are partly spurred by the fact that NATO itself is uncertain of its role and purpose. Its role and purpose today is clearly different from that of its formation during the Cold War. NATO's own self-estimation of its role is very widespread, partnership, counter-terrorism, enlargement and so on, but I think that is a discourse which hides a considerable degree of uncertainty as to what its current role and purpose is. In essence, I think one of its most important roles at the moment is simply to ensure its own relevance and that has been a spur to its activities in the last ten years or so and sometimes, I think, mistakenly.
Q79 Chairman: So its role is to exist?
Dr Webber: Yes. In some senses, its role is simply to ensure its survival and to accrue certain functions in order to justify its continued existence.
Dr Eyal: I must admit, I disagree. I do not think that NATO is an amoeba which has to grow because it has to grow because it has to grow. I would say, without descending into the clichés of the 1940s about why it was created, that the main purpose is to prevent the renationalisation of its Member States' defence policies, to maintain a formal, explicit, enshrined-in-treaties link with the United States of the kind that Europe is very unlikely to get even on paper or in theory in Congress today, and increasingly also to prevent a knee-jerk reaction in the European security arrangements if NATO were to disintegrate tomorrow. There is an additional element which we tend to forget and we tend to dismiss which is that the new Member States from Central and Eastern Europe are still looking upon this organisation as the ultimate umbrella organisation for defence purposes and they still feel quite vulnerable. There is no other institution in the Euro-Atlantic area that could provide, at least on paper, the security guarantees and the security framework, the habit of negotiation and dialogue of the kind that NATO can.
Professor Cox: I think there is a simple answer to your question as to what is its current purpose and that is to win in Afghanistan and if it does not, then NATO may be dead, and I think that is where you have to begin, ie, where it is currently deploying 35,000-odd troops in the most important part of the world now facing global security. That is the simple answer to your question. I think the second answer I would give is that it has got to provide some role for the United States because the United States for all sorts of other reasons is still the only hegemon left in the world and nobody is going to replace it for a very long time, despite China's rise and all the rest, and thus if NATO is irrelevant to the United States, it is not relevant at all. Therefore, what the United States is seeing NATO as being is essentially as a global player. It has to provide global security and a global role and the United States thinks post-9/11 that it has got to be global, so regionally its first task is Afghanistan, but that has global implications, and, secondly, it has to look relevant to what the United States wants, and what it wants from NATO effectively is a global perspective and indeed a global role.
Dr Niblett: I think I would agree with some of the points raised by Jonathan Eyal, so I will not repeat those. For me, NATO has a fundamental purpose and I would just pick one, which is to maintain the transatlantic link on security issues between the United States and the nations of Europe. I think that remains a highly valid and important purpose in a world that is dangerous in different ways from the ways that it was when it was formed, but where I think both the United States, Canada obviously and the nations of Europe are far more secure by being organised around a treaty-legally-constructed organisation in which they work together on security questions in today's world and I would put that at the centre and I think the rest in a way moves around it.
Dr Allin: Well, its purpose is clearly more fuzzy than it was in the Cold War and I think that the diversity of answers you have had from my colleagues suggests that. I think all of the answers my colleagues have given are plausible, but they are not obviously compelling in the fundamental way that mutual defence against a Soviet threat was. For example, security guaranteed for East and Central Europe is very important for East and Central Europe, but it is not going to be the animating purpose for much of the rest of the Alliance. The transatlantic link, formalising the transatlantic link, that is obviously important and I think it is very important as we have seen in the repair or the recovery of transatlantic relations and the sort of transatlantic spring and it is important to elites in Europe, but it is not, judging by the polls, an entirely compelling purpose as far as the European public are concerned. I do not think it is threatened not just because of institutional inertia, but because it does have many purposes that are valuable, but it is problematic that the purposes are so difficult to describe. The role, which is a slightly different word, is obviously currently that it has a major project in Afghanistan and more broadly I have heard it described, I think, very well as a kind of military services organisation that brings together militaries very good for force-generation purposes, the best organisation in the world for force-generation purposes, to serve the purposes of the various Western allies when they are common and they can agree, but the agreement is not pre-programmed, which is the point, and it is always going to be more difficult, more ad hoc, case by case.
Q80 Mr Jenkin: Is the survival of NATO still one of our most fundamental national interests and can you express what our national interest is in relation to NATO and perhaps Dana Allin would like to express that view from the point of view of the United States' national interest?
Dr Eyal: I will try to answer Mr Jenkin's point. It depends of course to whom you talk in terms of the definition of the British national interest. My suggestion is that there is no European structure in purely European defence that could match NATO's habit of co-operation and NATO procedures. Of course it could be invented and one of the oddities of the academic intellectual debate is that whenever you mention European defence, people nod very sagely and say, "This is an urgent project", but the moment you mention NATO, they say, "What do we need the organisation for?", so presumably we do need a collective security organisation. I think the onus is on those who suggest that this current security organisation no longer serves a function. The onus is on them to prove why it does not. If you ask me the way I interpret British security interests, they are to maintain a formal link with the United States because any other link with the United States is unlikely to befall. The poodles are likely to be discovered much more quickly if there is not a NATO than if there is a NATO. Number two, it is to maintain NATO as a military structure and not as a fuzzy, political organisation. We have got plenty of these structures around and they all issue communiqués. Number three is to try to maintain or improve the ability of the Alliance for force-generation and that has been the bane of NATO's problems for decades and it has been exposed much more since the end of the Cold War. These, I would say, are British national security interests, as I see them.
Professor Cox: I kind of give a three-point response to the question of national interest and it is very unfashionable now in international relations to talk of such things. If you take the British national interest, to be very precise about it, since 1956 the first British interest has been to remain close to the United States and the best and most useful means of doing that and in an organisation or an international institution which still has high legitimacy in the United States is NATO, so if part of the national interest of Britain is defined not simply in terms of what it does, but also in terms of the relationship it has with the major players still in the international system to the United States, then NATO serves that purpose. There is no other body that the United States wants to look towards in terms of its security and in terms of definitions of global security other than NATO. It does not want the ESDP, it does not want to look to European institutions. They may be an addition, but they are not fundamental. Secondly, Britain is a global player. It has global foreign direct investments around the world, it is a global trader and it always has been and it will remain so and even if you do not believe in the linguistic nonsense which comes up with the globalisation theory, you can still accept that Britain is a global player and most of the threats in the world today are not going to come from armies steaming across the frontiers, but they are going to come from sources around the world which we do not even know are going to happen in the next few years. Who would ever have believed that Afghanistan would become a serious global threat, so in that sense NATO, it seems to me, again is the only force protection organisation that exists and Britain plays a role in that. Let me also conclude with one other thing, being an old Cold Warrior intellectually at least, I studied it for many years and still do, and that is do not forget Russia. NATO went away because the Soviet threat has gone away. Well, lots of people are now talking Russia up as a new problem and of course for many people essentially in Eastern Europe the existence of NATO is reassurance. If it is reassurance for them, then presumably it does serve the British national interest.
Dr Allin: Well, I was asked from the American point of view and I would say from the US perspective that a warm, strong, amicable and good working relationship and a good working link with European allies is an extremely important and probably a vital American interest. I think the evidence for that is that Europe is kind of the canary in the mineshaft in terms of American isolation. If America cannot maintain this relationship and convince Europeans of common purposes in the world, then I think it is highly implausible that it is going to be anything but isolated.
Chairman: We will come on to the American view of NATO actually in just a few minutes.
Q81 Mr Hancock: When Jonathan Eyal said there are those people who say, "Why NATO?", I am always curious to know who these people are who say, "Why NATO?".
Dr Eyal: I think that this is a fairly widespread view.
Q82 Mr Hancock: But of whom?
Dr Eyal: In the academic community. I did refer to the academic community. It may not count, but it does. At the end of the day ----
Q83 Mr Hancock: I did not say that it did not count, but I was curious to know where it was.
Dr Eyal: It is an intellectual fashion and I was just pointing to the contradiction which is very widespread and it is widespread in the media as well that the moment you mention European defence and the imperative of creating a European defence structure, everyone nods very sagely and says, "Let's do it by yesterday", and the moment you mention NATO and say, "Let's improve NATO", people say, "Well, what's the organisation for?" and I would submit that the same "What's it for?" could apply to the European Union security structure, but I was merely referring to this curious contradiction that very often an existing, functioning security organisation to which most of us are bound with very strict, legal obligations is questioned almost as an intellectual fashion.
Dr Webber: I wanted to return to the question just asked, the degree to which NATO serves the UK national interest. It is an unquestioned assumption, it seems to me, in hearings of this sort and in the commentaries that NATO does serve British national interests, in hearings of this sort, when questioned, the fundamental link which UK defence policy enjoys through NATO to the United States, for instance, so in that sense hearings like this and commentary on NATO tends to be problem-solving about how NATO can be repaired, how it can be made to better serve the functions one presumes it undertakes. In a wider setting, however, insofar as it is possible to define a national interest which is a difficult job in itself, NATO is only one of a number of things which serve a presumed national interest. I think sometimes the trouble with NATO is that it crowds out alternatives and the very nature of NATO transformation over the last ten years has been to take on more and more roles for itself and to some degree encroach upon the roles of others. I have no doubt we will go into Afghanistan in great detail in a moment, but the fact that NATO is now engaged to some degree in reconstruction and humanitarian missions is a crowding out of other agencies which could perhaps perform the job to some degree better, and I think a similar process occurs intellectually. The assumption that NATO is, was and must be at the centre of British defence thinking crowds out other creative alternatives, one of which clearly is the relationship with the European Union and the development of the ESDP, for instance, and empowering global organisations to a greater degree. Insofar as NATO wants to be a global actor, one should not forget that there is already another one out there which is the United Nations, so I think the presumption that NATO is at the heart of our British national interest should not necessarily be taken at face value, but it should be questioned.
Q84 Mr Jenkins: One of the difficulties I have got is when I walk the streets and talk to people and say, "Now, I want you to make a choice between NATO and the European defence, let Europe defend us", and people say, "Europe? Do you mean that bunch of bureaucrats who can't get anything right or NATO, a rather clean-cut military group who have actually improved their expertise over 50 years in our defence?". How do I get the concept of what the public across Europe feel when I think our country is pro-NATO, but across Europe how do I get the concept of how the European people feel with regard to what they see as being the future of NATO? Do they still value NATO and still think it is the way forward or do they think they want to go for a European defence force?
Dr Niblett: I agree again with a lot of the points raised by both Dr Allin and Mick Cox in particular. If you need to answer that question, "What's value?", I am afraid I would agree with you, that I think it is a fair question to ask. In other words, when Member States of the European Union try to come together to look at foreign policy and security questions, there is a fragmentation which seems to naturally take effect. As countries look out, there are different aspects of priority around their periphery. In some countries of Europe, it is Russia, if you are in the south of Europe, it is North Africa and in certain parts it is Libya or the Middle East, and if you are here in the UK, maybe it is global interests which stretch way beyond Europe's periphery, so it is very difficult, I think, to make it an either/or question, "Is it NATO or the EU?". In my opinion, from the British national interest perspective, the UK has interests around the world. They are in the future of Pakistan, they are in Afghanistan, they are in parts of East Asia in terms of our economic interest, they are in Africa, they are in the Middle East and ultimately our ability to pursue those is going to be insufficient either by ourselves or with our European partners alone and they are much more likely to be pursued in collaboration with an institution that brings the United States into that mix as well. I would note, however, that the members of NATO and the EU are mostly the same, so when we create this dichotomy between it being either NATO or the EU, in fact we are talking about the same people wearing different hats, sometimes arguing against each other in different ways. From a military perspective, members of all the European Armed Forces that I am aware of, including the French, one might add, are highly committed towards operations within NATO because they see them as being very valuable to achieving their military goals, so it is not a case of their wishing that Europe was doing more or that NATO was doing more, but it is a matter of which institutions are best at doing which things and how can we get them to work better together, and I know we are getting on to that later on.
Q85 Chairman: Could you comment also on Brian Jenkins' question about the public support for NATO as opposed to the public support for the EU?
Dr Niblett: Yes, I understood his comment to mean that it is very hard to build up public support for European defence and it is easier because there is a residual support for NATO, so in that sense I suppose I am agreeing with him. If one wants to explain to the British public why NATO remains valuable, I think you can point to Afghanistan as a first point. If Afghanistan and its future to the British national interest, which I happen to believe it is, the ability of UK forces to be protected and operate well there more often than not depend on US close-air support than they do on support from any of their other European partners who are perhaps not as committed to that operation. Therefore, having the United States as a close ally within a NATO context is an important part of that mix. On the European front in terms of public support, I think a much stronger case can be made, and should be made, for the role that the European Union and the EU institutions can play in promoting security, but it is a much broader realm than in the military realm per se and I think that case can be made in terms of foreign assistance, in terms of post-conflict reconstruction and in terms of the needs of police forces to be able to win the peace after you have won the war.
Dr Eyal: To answer Brian Jenkins' point, it is fair to say that NATO does suffer from an image as being a US-dominated institution and that clouds the kind of responses that one gets in terms of public opinion in certain European countries, so when you put a bland question like the one you have suggested which is, "Which one would you prefer?", my guess, and I suspect it would be proven by opinion polls, is that the majority of the French and probably, as a numerical symbol, a majority of Germans would say, "We prefer a European structure" for precisely the reasons of starting on your own, looking after yourself and not listening to the Americans, the sort of broad slogans. However, I think it is the wrong question. I think the real question which should be put is, "Are you prepared to pay for this European construction?" and the answer there, well, the members of the Committee know fully well from the record of most, not all, but most European countries. I would like to address one point which I think needs to be addressed of Dr Webber's which is about NATO crowding out other institutions. There is an element of that, although I would submit that the European Union tends to crowd out almost any institution, but there is also a point which ought to be remembered which is that NATO has over the last 50 years worked as an agency, in effect the sub-contractor of the United Nations. It has done so in the Balkans, both in Bosnia and in Kosovo and it has done so in strictly legal terms in Afghanistan as well, so far from being outside the international legal system, they could make a very good case that it is a very important pillar of the international legal system in the absence of standing United Nations' peacekeeping forces.
Dr Allin: I do not personally see an irrevocable choice to be made between NATO and European defence policy. There are obviously going to be frictions and tensions, and we are largely talking about the same forces, but it all has to depend on a prior question which Europeans have to ask themselves, and are asking themselves, which is, "Are there places where European power as Europe should be projected?". I am speaking to a group of British politicians where this question is fraught, but looking from the outside, not only do I think the answer is yes, but I see a couple of examples where it has been very successful, such as in Congo, so I really do not see an irrevocable choice and I do not necessarily think that the European public need to have it presented that way.
Chairman: We will come back to this issue of the EU and NATO in a few minutes, but now I think we ought to get back to the issue of the United States' attitude towards NATO.
Q86 Mr Hancock: Dr Allin has already answered part of the question from the American perspective, but I would be interested to know what the rest of the panel feel about what importance the United Nations attaches to NATO. How has the Alliance's place in American foreign policy changed over recent years and what kind of alliance are the United States seeking from NATO in the next decade or so?
Dr Niblett: I think the United States still attaches importance to NATO. I have not put a qualifying adjective in front of it because I think probably, in the sum of it, it attaches less importance than it did for obvious reasons perhaps during the Cold War to NATO, but NATO remains important. It remains important for some of the reasons that Dana Allin mentioned earlier on which is that ultimately when the United States needs to operate in theatres abroad, having allies to be able to go in with it can be useful both in terms of political support and also in terms of manpower, material and so on. Ultimately, they are looking for a NATO that is effective and this is one of the deep concerns. I think it is less a NATO that is a forum within which the United States is able to convince and marshal European allies around a common, strategic vision of what needs to be done in the world and it is more a place where, once decisions have been taken quite often by perhaps a small group of European countries and the United States or within the United States and they have then been able to convince others in Europe that military forces are part of the answer to a particular problem, then NATO is a vehicle to be able to pursue that particular goal. This has been paraphrased into the toolbox metaphor that ultimately it provides a good forum within which the integrated military command retains a usefulness, training, common standards, doctrine, logistics, et cetera, and I think there is some truth to that description within US perceptions. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I think as the United States looks at security threats around the world, whether they be in China or in the Far East, whether they be in terms of the kind of relationships they are trying to build up with India, NATO does not feature as yet as much in that particular answer. There is a clear effort going on which cuts across, and I think this is very important, the political divide between Democrats and Republicans in favour of a more global NATO, a NATO that can operate internationally, and I am sure you have seen there the commentary made by various presidential candidates about enlarging to Israel and Australia, et cetera, et cetera, and we can talk more about that, but I think what this reflects is a perception that the threats are far more global, they are far more dispersed and being able to have allies that can participate in that would be the ultimate goal. I do not think there is a huge amount of confidence yet in the United States that that particular global NATO will necessarily emerge.
Q87 Mr Hancock: So why have they had a problem then convincing their NATO colleagues of the importance of having a global role and a global perception? Why have the Americans not been able to win that argument?
Dr Niblett: My personal belief is that most European governments still think of security in a regional and peripheral sense, that it is the Middle East, it is North Africa, it is Central and Eastern Europe maybe stretching to Russia. What they do not want to do is to get pulled into what is perceived to be, especially after the recent George W Bush Administration, a zero-sum approach to international relations in which China has to be hedged primarily and engaged with and that if you let NATO go global, you are going to get wrapped into and drawn into an us and them zero-sum approach to international relations. That is the concern and that is why the resistance has existed. Not to go too far into the Committee's later commentary, I think we are at a moment where that perception could be changed and it could be helped to be changed because of changes both within governments in Europe and prospective changes in the United States, but I will leave that for the moment.
Professor Cox: For me, it goes back to the question about the British national interest. I think the United States looks at NATO and says, "Does it serve our national interest?" and it is as simple as that. In the Cold War, it was a very simple answer to that question. After the end of the Cold War, without getting too historical, clearly there was not an easy answer to the question of what NATO was actually for and that was not just an academic question, by the way, that was an American question and indeed a question for everybody in Europe, "What's it for when there is no longer an enemy to fight?", and that was one problem for NATO and from the American perspective on it. Secondly, there is no longer any threat in Europe and it had always been a European-based organisation, so "What's it for?" is another question. There is then that huge question of the capabilities gap and "What are the Europeans for?" and, "To contribute to a military organisation, what are they for?". Okay, the Brits do a bit and the French in their own unambiguous way do their bit, but what are the rest for? As you saw, the military spending gap grew and grew and grew through the 1990s, so most Americans would ask from a national interest point of view, "There are several nice theme parks in Europe, but what's it for militarily?", and then of course we had the whole thing over Kosovo where clearly the Americans came out of it and Dana has written about this great skill and he knows more about it than I do, but they came out of Kosovo saying, "Fighting war by committee is a problem. Why should I kind of consult with guys who don't want to do what I want to do militarily when I want to do what I want to do militarily?". I think that when you get into the post-9/11 situation, it is actually noticeable that NATO actually does not look terribly relevant immediately after 9/11. Article 5 is declared and I think the response in Washington, at least within some circles of the Bush Administration, is, "So what?" and then immediately in the first days, weeks and months of Afghanistan, the United States clearly did not go through NATO. It seems to me that they have had to come back to NATO for a variety of reasons partly which I think are to do with the disaster which is currently Iraq, partly because Afghanistan is still an ongoing problem and partly because I think in the end they do see that NATO is in the national interest. However, I do think that the world we are now living in, a world where the threats are different, where pre-emption has become the military doctrine of the United States and where the definition of alliances has moved over to things called 'coalitions of the willing', I think that does raise a series of major questions about what an alliance of a stable and permanent character is for a power as strong as the United States. Why should they give consultation rights to those who do not contribute militarily to international security and who do not pay the same amount on defence and security as they do, and those are very legitimate, but tough questions that Americans ask in America and we have got to know that they do ask those questions because they may be very polite when they come to Europe, but they ask these questions very seriously on the hill.
Q88 Mr Hancock: Do they understand the Europeans' changing view of NATO because, if they do, why are they surprised when they make bilateral arrangements on missile defence with Poland and the Czech Republic and the rest of NATO find that a rather strange occurrence?
Professor Cox: Well, the powerful do what the powerful do.
Q89 Mr Hancock: But that means they do not understand then?
Professor Cox: I think they simply act like a very, very, very powerful nation which sees NATO as one part of an overview it has of the whole world and it will deal bilaterally and in its own interests on certain things it would do and it will not get a pink permission slip from anybody to do it. In certain other areas, such as NATO, where it has to seek collective consultation, it will go in that direction. I think there is a contradiction there.
Q90 Mr Hancock: Yes, a big one.
Professor Cox: I accept the point.
Dr Eyal: First, on the point of a missile defence, looking at it from the American perspective, they would argue that missile defence has been discussed in the NATO context for quite some time. The European answer has been, "We can't provide you an answer. It's all too difficult with the German coalition and France's elections", et cetera, et cetera, and the feeling was at the end that the only way that there would be an impulse or a push is by the Americans going in with the Poles and with the Czechs. I think they do understand the concerns of Europe, but, as Professor Cox says, at the end of the day they cannot understand why they must continually pay a political price for people who are not prepared to invest in their defence in an adequate manner, and they know that it would not be the same kind of investment, but not even in an adequate manner. I would like to pick up the point you mentioned about why the NATO global outreach has failed, just to strengthen the points of Dr Niblett. There are a few proposals, there is a dialogue going on with Japan, there is one going on with Australia and there is even a dialogue going on sotto voce, very quietly, with China. There is of course the Mediterranean dialogue which NATO has launched and a special one with the Gulf States. The reason it has not worked is that this is where Mark Webber's point about crowding out does make sense. The reason it did not work is that the European Union is pledged in economic terms to maintaining a unified position and the two simply could not be made to match. It is very difficult to see what NATO could offer to Japan and the Japanese were very interested to find out, but they have never got an answer, and it is very difficult to see what NATO could offer Australia. It is very easy to see what NATO could do in the Mediterranean, but then we have got the Barcelona Process and another process about to be launched by the French now, so I do not think that there is much scope for NATO enlarging its activities, despite the innumerable plans that are put on the table.
Dr Allin: First of all, Professor Cox is absolutely correct about the lessons that many Americans drew from the Kosovo war. I would only want to add that that lesson is entirely perverse because there would have been no Kosovo war unless it was fought through NATO, but it only made sense in that way and its legitimacy, as opposed to its legality, was only established as a NATO operation. We cannot talk, or it would be idle to speculate, about when this might happen again and military strikes against Iran, well, it seems implausible, but one cannot imagine a place where it would be more plausible than within the UN Security Council and it could make a difference. On the global NATO issue, I think I may disagree with my colleagues a little bit. First of all, Afghanistan is not in Europe, as far as I know, so the sort of out-of-area issue is not really an issue anymore, that has been solved, but if you are talking about a global NATO where everyone is together as an alliance with the scope and the ambitions and the responsibilities sort of paralleling the United States, I think that obviously is not plausible and it is not going to work. Where is the United States likely to be, or not likely, but where is the United States possibly going to be involved in military action? There is a possibility of a war with China over Taiwan and that is a real possibility. I do not think it is plausible or necessarily even a good idea to ask NATO to sign on to something like that.
Dr Webber: I would not disagree with most of what has been said, but there are just a few points which in a sense back up some of the observations. It seems to me that NATO has been, in the post-Cold War period, an organisation which the United States has tried to fashion in a way which serves its foreign policy interests, and part of the difficulty with NATO at the moment is that the utility of that strategy is no longer working perhaps in the way Washington and particularly the Pentagon would like. In the 1990s, there was a lot of success for American foreign policy in this respect. Enlargement was largely American and to some degree German, but the largely American strategy of NATO-Russian relations was largely led by Clinton and his very dynamic Under-Secretary of State, John Bolton(?) and the intervention in Kosovo, although Tony Blair played a fairly significant role in galvanising the Alliance, was certainly executed, by and large, by the United States and the current agenda of military transformation is largely led by developments in the American military in order to make NATO interoperable still with American Armed Forces. Now, it seems to me that those successes served the United States rather well. It preserved its influence in Europe and extended its influence in Eastern Europe to talk of a global NATO as a way of consolidating American influence in Central Asia and to some degree also in the South Caucuses, so in that sense NATO remains of some use, but the notion of a global NATO, it seems to me, is where the strategy hits the buffers because NATO is not, I think, is well-geared to play that role, there is clear dissent within the Alliance on whether it should play that role and over the last year there has been some back-pedalling on this sort of rhetoric in any case. I think if that division becomes more obvious, and it was fairly hidden in the Riga Summit Declaration, the last Defence Ministerial hardly mentioned global partnerships, and it will be interesting to see whether the upcoming Defence Ministerial does either, so I think it may be an idea that is running into the sands, even though it is still one favoured in Washington.
Q91 Willie Rennie: Could you see a circumstance where you would have a series of global treaties between the different partners with the US at the centre of each of them and, if that was the case, one with, say, Australia and one with, say, Japan and another one in development with the US common to them all, what would be the impact on NATO if those organisations were to develop?
Dr Niblett: Do you mean a series of global treaties between NATO and those countries or the United States?
Q92 Willie Rennie: The United States.
Dr Niblett: My only point on that is that I think the United States has most of those treaties already lined up with Australia and New Zealand and with Japan in particular.
Q93 Willie Rennie: And what about the impact on NATO from those treaties?
Dr Niblett: Maybe my colleagues know better than I in terms of how deeply integrated they are, but I know in the Japanese sense that there are troops deployed out there already with Korea, they have troops deployed out there. These are quite integrated and quite elaborate arrangements that they have already, so to a certain extent you could argue that the United States already has that global network of alliances established and set up in many cases in treaty format and the North Atlantic Treaty happens to be the bit for that area, but what perhaps is different in terms of coming back to this discussion of a global NATO, a lot of this is designed also for domestic politics, but I think some of the push that is going on for Rudy Giuliani to mention, "We must enlarge NATO to Israel", you do wonder a little bit how much of that is politics and how much of that is strategy. One should separate these things out, but one should not forget, and maybe this does get to your point, Mr Rennie, and, in my perspective, the United States has made a shift and it is hard to talk about the United States, but many of those involved in high-level politics and those involved in government have made a shift in terms of how they think about NATO from an alliance to a pool of allies. I do not think they necessarily think of it as an alliance as much anymore. They do see it as a pool of allies who happen to be conveniently and well-integrated, as I said earlier, around a military command, around a certain disciplined structure in which the United States can be heavily involved in debating, in engaging as an active member at the table not under a caucusing role and they can actually set out a plan for the future. We should not forget that on missile defence, this was designed and this is very much a domestic strategy that started off in the Aleutian Islands in which Europe has now been put into a mix for a US priority, and it is not talked about backing it into NATO and backing it into Europe, but that is not where it started from. The kind of alliances I was talking about earlier with Japan and with Australia which are being strengthened right now are very much part of this looking around the world at the mix and match of priorities that serve very much a US interest and, as a result at the same time, the United States has become much less doctrinaire about how it thinks about the European Union's defence capabilities and they, in essence, let us worry about it. There is less of a theology about NATO right now within US thinking and NATO does not help that much with homeland security which is a huge priority for any US government. You said we would get on later to the issue of the ESDP-NATO linkage, but I think the United States steps back much further from NATO than it did in the past.
Q94 Mr Hancock: I was in Brussels recently, meeting American ambassadors there to NATO and to the EU. The issue that they raised was that there was a fundamental shift in their policy and that they were no longer up for peacekeeping and that the war-fighting capability was one thing where they now accepted that they had made a mistake in saying that they did not do peacekeeping. Do you perceive that to be the case at all, that there is a definite change in policy?
Dr Eyal: The simple answer is yes, there has been. I would not say it is definite, but it is definitely a marked shift. One could see it in the adoption of a comprehensive approach to Afghanistan, the so-called 'comprehensive approach' which basically tries to embrace what are increasingly seen in that context as superficial distinctions between imposing peace and maintaining peace, all the usual arguments of the last 20 years. There is a feeling that if NATO is going to be involved in any conflict, it will need to have ideally the high-intensity and the low-intensity warfare capabilities at the same time. The problem always with the Europeans is that they used to argue that a while back to the Americans and now they are getting rather worried that the Americans are arguing back to them because the feeling now is that NATO could be relegated to the lower end of the spectrum, mopping up after the high-intensity operations which the Americans may have launched. I think one could trace exactly the point that you make, the shift in the American view, to the departure of Mr Rumsfeld from the Defense Department; it is clearly there.
Professor Cox: The word 'Rumsfeld' immediately precipitates a kind of wry snigger around most tables these days, but Rumsfeld used a term which actually Robin also used, but in a different form. When Rumsfeld said, "Basically we're looking for a coalition of the willing", all the hands went up around Europe and in the UK with people saying, "My goodness me! What does this mean? It's a highly opportunistic approach to the definition of what was a formally structured alliance", but Robin, who is not Donald Rumsfeld of course, talked of, "We've moved from an alliance to a pool of people we can deploy". Well, by any other name, that strikes me as a coalition of the willing, so Rumsfeld may have departed the political stage and everybody rubs their hands and says, "Well, thank goodness the Bush doctrine is now dead and buried", which I do not believe for one minute, by the way, but Rumsfeldian kind of thinking about what is the purpose of alliances in the age of the War on Terror and in an age of American military predominance and in a way where we do not have fixed threats as we did in the past, I think that kind of thinking has not disappeared at all.
Q95 Mr Holloway: But, Professor, was it always thus?
Professor Cox: How far are we going back now?
Q96 Mr Holloway: Is it not always going to be the case that states, whatever alliances they are involved in, are going to commit big or commit symbolically based upon how it impacts them?
Professor Cox: Well, in some deep sense international relations has not changed for 2,000 years, so in that sense it has been ever thus, that there are some fundamentals of international politics and power and relations with states and other states and coalitions and the causes of wars, and I do accept that point, but I do think that something fundamental changed because of the end of the Cold War, to make the obvious point, when you removed a single magnetic north in your strategic thinking called the Soviet Union around which you then constructed a clearly focused European alliance. You knew exactly where you were and what you were doing and I think that has changed post the Cold War.
Chairman: I do want now to throw France into the mix.
Q97 Robert Key: Please can we focus on France. In the dying days of the Chirac presidency, as part of this inquiry, I went to the Elysée for a briefing with the President's military advisers on the French perception of NATO and I was quite surprised to discover that even the Chirac regime recognised the significance of NATO as the ultimate guarantor of France's nationhood. I also was fascinated to talk to academics who seemed to agree that when it came to France's relationship with Europe and the European defence policy, France would always talk the talk, but never walk the walk. What difference has it made with President Sarkozy in post and what perception does Sarkozy have of NATO and what perception of France does America have of France's role in NATO?
Dr Webber: If I could just say a couple of words on Sarkozy, I think it is well-known now that his position on NATO has seemingly shifted, but what is significant is that he has laid down certain conditions for French re-entry to the NATO integrated military structure, and I would just repeat the two in order to demonstrate possibly how problematic they are. One is that there should be progress on European defence, for which read 'ESDP' which we will come to, and the second, and this is the one on which it is likely to falter and where it faltered in the mid-1990s when Chirac had a similar position, is that there should be a more prominent French position within allied structures. Now, I think it was in 1996 that a similar proposal hit the dirt because Chirac insisted that a French commander head Afsouth(?) in Naples and the Americans were not happy with that and resisted and the French returned it. If Sarkozy keeps to the conditions he has laid down, and I do not think we can expect a French return to the integrated military structures, however, that return may be more formal than real in any case. The French, despite the fact that they do not sit on certain committees, are well-integrated in many respects in NATO in any case. Over the years, I have visited a fair number of NATO command structures and the French presence is always very visible, the French role in defence thinking and strategic thinking is always very obvious and the French role in advising on military transformation is always very evident. The French have 1,000-plus in Afghanistan at the moment and they played a very prominent role in K4 and in S4, et cetera, et cetera, so the Sarkozy position may be more words than substance in the sense that there is a continuity to the French role in NATO and I think the French have always regarded NATO as very important. However, the contradiction of course is that they regard a Europeanisation of defence as particularly equally important. It did not happen in NATO in the 1990s in ESDI, so the acronym shifted to 'ESDP' and I think that is where the real crux of the matter lies, the relationship between those two.
Dr Allin: Sarkozy is important because I think he clearly has personally fewer dogmatic inhibitions about these issues, maybe not quite to say that he is congenitally pro-American, but he clearly has greater affinities and understanding or less worry about maintaining a particular French line, so in those circumstances, although these conditions are very important and could, as in the 1990s, torpedo the whole thing, perhaps he will be more flexible and I think that is at least probable. Of course the French military circles ----
Q98 Chairman: And would the Americans be more flexible as well?
Dr Allin: That, I do not know. Whilst I think it is true, as I think Dr Niblett said, that Americans have kind of given up being so worried about ESDP, I think we could revert to the problem that the United States, because of its power, can basically feel that it can deliver more ultimatums. I just do not know the answer to that and I do not know how the political constellation is going to go. I would think that the difference between Giuliani and (?) on this score could actually be very important. French military circles have always wanted to be closer to NATO and, as I have suggested, in many ways they are. It has been more of a diplomatic idea to insist on French separation, but I think one thing I have noticed in France which is dawning and is sinking in, and not too soon as far as I am concerned, is the understanding that it is structurally impossible to pursue European ambitions, to build European structures, European unity on what is even perceived as an anti-American or an anti-NATO basis; it just does not work. It did not work with the old European Union and it certainly does not work with the new European Union and I think the French understand this. When I talk about an anti-American basis, I do not even necessarily think that is the right word, but they have come to recognise or they are coming to recognise that if it is perceived as an anti-American project, that is already a problem.
Dr Niblett: I completely agree with Dr Allin's last point there and perhaps I could enlarge on that and make two other points. Number one, I think that there is a realisation that a separate France that is anti the United States, not only can it not achieve its goals vis-à-vis ESDP, but it is actually weaker within Europe and within the European Union, so I think we do have a fundamental change here and I would go more for this being actually quite an important moment. Whether it is successful because of tactical, political issues, we can worry about, but I think that the further enlargement of the EU has fundamentally changed the balance within the EU. France cannot rely on a partnership with Germany to be able to pursue its own goals anymore. Germany is pulled more in the centre of Europe, it is pulled in more directions, so France has to strike out more on its own and it cannot rely on a Franco-German solution in the way it did for being able to further its own cause within the European Union. In essence, therefore, looking out and looking for new options and breaking the mould and the consensus is an important part of what Sarkozy and his team, I think, have realised they need to do and there is no more totemic thing to take on than this. I think it is also part of Sarkozy trying to shake up the French bureaucracy and, as we know, (?), the foreign ministry, has traditionally been more anti this and the French military, as I have mentioned, has been more pro and I do think it is well-known that President Sarkozy's view of the (?) is not particularly positive and I think he is taking them on.
Q99 Robert Key: Has the Pentagon woken up to this change?
Dr Niblett: I think the Pentagon more possibly than other parts of the American system, but the other, and this is very important in terms of an audience because the audience you often need to look for in Washington is the Congress and this is where, I think, President Sarkozy has been especially clever and I think he is clever partly because he has been very well advised by Jean-David Levitte who, as you know, was the Ambassador there who was recalled to service as Sarkozy's adviser and he knows Washington very well, they are saying things to gain the confidence of Washington. The commentary about Iran and the holidaying out there, the tough language, it has an effect and it permeates through. It counters a little bit the freedom fries perspective of France, and I will not use all the other descriptions for the sake of the record, but I think that they have realised that they need at least to talk the talk at the beginning if it is going to be possible for the Americans to let them walk the walk, and this is where I think it does become important because I think the United States, which is my third point, has a different view. We had a visit by a senior US official to Chatham House just last week where this issue was heavily debated. You cannot take one official's viewpoint on this to represent the whole Administration, but their view was, "Come on, let's talk about it". The view of ESDP today is not the view of ESDP or the ESDI in 1996 not for necessarily good reasons for NATO. I think the US is much less altruistic and it is much more self-interested, so it does not care as much, but that does open up an opportunity. It is a more flexible organisation. France will not join the NATO of 1996 if it rejoins in 2007, if you see what I mean, some form of integrated military command structure and I think this is an important moment.
Q100 Robert Key: Can I just ask about the global role that America perceives for NATO and is Sarkozy moving in that direction?
Dr Niblett: I would think not in the sense that that is something the French retain a nervousness about, but they also know that the United States is going to be very choosy about when it goes with NATO abroad as well. I think they see the politics on the US side on that as well.
Dr Eyal: I am absolutely convinced that the French are serious in their overture now on the integrated military command structure. I think the key, as Robin Niblett pointed out, is the fact that they will make no progress on European defence with a large number of former communist countries from Central and Eastern Europe unless the project is seen as being another pillar strengthening, or parallel to, NATO rather than in opposition or as a substitute. However, this is where it will stop. I do not believe for a moment that the French will accept NATO taking a larger role in, let us say, the Pacific area. I think that this is one where they would look very much upon the European Union, and especially if the European Treaty is adopted, and a unified foreign policy of the European Union as leading.
Professor Cox: I have two very quick points. It is a great moment and I do not think we should underestimate that. France has gone through a crisis between 2003 and 2007. It had its Iraq moment and that collapsed around it and we also know there is a whole debate going on inside France about the economic model and all the rest of it, so Sarkozy is coming out at the moment of a sense of decline and crisis and the old formulas have failed both externally and internally and I think it has to be taken extremely seriously and more seriously, I think, than in the 1990s. In that sense, the 1990s does not give us a guide to the possibilities that have opened up today. I would simply, however, make two points, going back to the scepticism which was, I think, expressed by Mark Webber at the very beginning. One, can he overcome the French political establishment? I am seriously doubtful. I think there are still very deep and imbued views inside large sections of the political establishment and the intellectual establishment. He is not an énarque-iste, Sarkozy. He comes from outside, he is an outsider, and I think there are still powerful forces of resistance intellectually and philosophically which are very deeply embedded into what I call almost 'French identity'. It, secondly, comes to another point which is connected: can he overcome Gaullism? Gaullism is a coherent philosophical doctrine which has defined and shaped French foreign policy since 1956 again or 1958 when the President became President of this republic. How deep is that Gaullism and can that be overcome? If it cannot be and if it is so embedded into the French identity, society and politics, then there are two philosophical opposition positions here on global security in Europe.
Q101 Mr Jenkin: It is a brilliant evidence session, but Robin Niblett has stolen the words from my lips, that the reason why the United States cares less about the ESDP is because it cares less about NATO and its disappointment with NATO is tangible. Should we not be very careful about what President Sarkozy is doing? Should the Americans not remember that we only resolved the NATO crisis in 2003 before the invasion of Iraq because France was not sitting in the military committee and where does the British national interest lie in this? Is President Sarkozy not seeking to supplant what has been a traditional Anglo-American partnership with a Franco-American partnership? As our new Prime Minister appears visibly cooler towards President Bush and his predecessor, is President Sarkozy not jumping into the breach and what should the British Government do about it?
Dr Eyal: First, on the episode of 2003, you are absolutely right, that one of the reasons why the French are now accepting their perhaps re-entry in the integrated military command structure makes sense is that they have discovered that their ability to veto issues around the Permanent Representatives' table was limited with Lord Robinson reinventing the wheel and deciding that this was a purely military issue which should be left to the Chiefs of Staff. There is an element there and it is not a secret that the Ministry of Defence in London is a bit doubtful about the impact of France's re-entry into the military structure and what it would mean. Nevertheless, I would submit that it is a risk worth taking. I believe that it is not in France's interest to paralyse the military structure which would be the ultimate outcome of a bad scenario mainly because I am not sure that anyone in Paris believes that they could now push what was the traditional French agenda on the European Union. As Robin Niblett reminded all of us, the Union today is not the Union that Chirac wanted, dreamed of and ultimately obtained, so in that respect it will not be one that will be manoeuvred by the old traditional French ways. As to whether Sarkozy can supplant any other European country in a special relationship with the United States, I doubt it. I think that what Michael Cox has suggested is extremely important. Please look at the French media, please look at the whole French intellectual elite. Any president who tries to supplant Britain in the special relationship with the United States, to use the completely opposite example, would have a very, very tough fight and the potential internal domestic benefits in France would simply be too small. That does not mean to say that Britain does not need to watch the situation very carefully, but it does mean to say that Mr Sarkozy has a very long journey to cover.
Q102 Mr Borrow: We ought to move on to the relationship between NATO and the ESDP and the practical difficulties in that relationship. To what extent are there difficulties and what are the main obstacles to effective co-operation and I would like you to touch specifically on the issue around Turkey and Cyprus?
Dr Eyal: I think the Turkish-Cyprus question is a difficult one, there is no doubt about it. It is one on which everyone is tiptoeing both in NATO and in the European Union, but I do not think that that is the crux of the problem. The crux of the problem goes much, much deeper and at the end of the day, having looked at it for years, and one could go into all the details of who meets where, what the formats of the decisions are, but my guess is that the institutions are not compatible because they are bureaucratically incompatible. Despite the celebration of a planning cell within the European Union, there is no military culture in the European bureaucracy; they do not know how to deal with NATO. What you have and what everyone tells you of is this constant sort of periodic luncheons or breakfasts between the President of the Commission and the Secretary General of NATO, but this is at the formal, superficial level. The reality is that the organisations will work only when there are docking mechanisms between their bureaucrats at various levels, and institutionally the European Union is incapable of realising that at the moment. It just does not have the staff and it does not have the abilities. It has the desire to acquire powers, but it does not have them in practice and it does not know how to discharge them. That is, I think, fundamentally the problem, quite apart from the usual political issues that we all know.
Dr Webber: I would largely agree with that. I think the Turkish problem is important, but I do agree in the sense that a focus on the Turkish-Cyprus problem often means that we overlook some of the others and there is a real institutional issue. A lot of the crafting between NATO and the EU over the last six or seven years has circled around institutional design and through the Burnham-plus(?) mechanism and so on which has been successful to some degree, but what looms large now, it seems to me, is that NATO and the EU work increasingly together, as they have done in the Balkans to some degree, and they are, and will, in Afghanistan as well. It is a working relationship between NATO and the European Commission which, as far as I understand at the moment, is completely absent. The Commission does not play a leading role in the ESDP, but the Commission does play a leading role in the release of funds for the ESDP and it has an oversight role over the manner in which ESDP funds are used and how the ESDP in its civilian dimension is exercised. Let us not forget the upcoming EU role in Afghanistan where there will be an important policing role, so the crafting of that relationship, it seems to me, will be a real challenge. Some of the proposals, and I think there was one at the WEU Assembly recently, is the notion that some sort of working relationship be established between the office of the Secretary General at NATO and the office of the President of the European Commission. I do not know if this is being actively thought on, but it is that sort of creative thinking that needs to be looked at, I think.
Dr Allin: I think all of this is correct. The lack of a kind of military culture in the EU is a problem. Of course that is precisely what members who want planning cells and so forth are trying to overcome, but it is a long way from that and it seems to me that the basic question is if you go back to St Malo and consider what was that all about, now it seems to me what that was all about was an agreement, and this is crucial, between a British Prime Minister and a French President that in the context of what was happening in the Balkans and what was brewing in Kosovo and what was happening in Washington in terms of indecision and inter-agency fighting about whether intervention was a good idea, there was a view that the British Prime Minister shared the view that an important matter of European security could not await the outcome of an inter-agency debate in Washington. Now, if that is considered a problem and if that is still considered a problem, then it seems to me that there are ways to overcome these bureaucratic and cultural issues. If it is not considered a problem, then it is not a problem, but it was then and it seemed that there was a certain logic to it.
Professor Cox: I think the thing I would say about the ESDP is that it can do some useful stuff, but it cannot do the serious stuff and I think that is the way we should approach it. It can do some very useful things usually after NATO has done the serious stuff. That has been the history so far for the Balkans and we can see the role of the ESDP in Afghanistan today, almost zero, so it does useful stuff and I do not think anybody should get too upset about it or too worried about it. There was kind of a lot of nonsense being talked on the other side of the Atlantic and around this city about it being NATO-threatening and NATO busting and all that stuff and I do not think that should be taken seriously. I think it just can be used for specific purposes and I do not think anybody in Europe really takes it beyond that any longer. Going back to the French thing quickly, I think Sarkozy has drawn that conclusion as well. The idea that you can have a European defence, a European Army, a European wing which in a sense is going to balance NATO in any fundamental way, challenge it or replace it, has simply gone out of the window. It would be useful? Serious in terms of deep, hard security? I think probably not. We are going to live with that for a very long time to come and I do not think we should be worried about it either.
Q103 Mr Jones: I agree with the analysis but we have the unfortunate task sometimes of having to attend meetings of European counterparts in the European Parliament. I agree with your approach but there is clearly still a clamour, if not a creeping, approach from the European Parliament. They want one more control over foreign affairs defence policy. I do not think they see the ESDP in the way that you do. I agree with your position on it. They do think it should be a rival to NATO and that is not just the French; that is also some of the British who have gone native.
Professor Cox: I know. I lecture frequently now in Brussels and you do meet that viewpoint. My only response is: where is the beef? How much are you guys spending per year of GDP on military and security? How much real coordination, how much integrated military structure is there actually going on here? Secondly, the Europeans themselves fundamentally disagree on certain fundamental security issues as well, as we have seen. The enlargement process brought in a number of countries from the former Communist countries with rather different views on the United States than some of what we might call old Europe, if I dare use that phrase. Yes, you do meet that attitude, but I would not get too worried about it.
Dr Niblett: First of all, at the operational level, the ESDP type forces, Eurocorps and others have been able to work reasonably well under NATO command in recent years, whether in Kosovo or in Afghanistan, at a military level, despite some of the intelligence cooperation limits that are important and do limit therefore the total potential. Despite that, it is possible for the ESDP - let us call them European defined forces - to be able to work with NATO forces on common goals. When we talk about the ESDP and NATO not working together, we are talking about something bigger. We are talking about what is force for and, in a way, it is a strange thing. When European forces inside NATO talk about the ESDP, they seem to be talking about different things. NATO seems to represent a view in which military force is an important part of a solution. For most European politicians, they lump them together, the ones in the NDPs, the ones described in there. The ESDP is reflecting a different purpose of force which is to pop in, separate the competences, oversee the election, deal with the immediate crisis, help with the peace keeping and get out ideally and ultimately military force ends up making the situation worse rather than better. I am drawing a little bit of a straw man here between the two organisations but I think it is important to get to what is the problem. ESDP forces have been defined slightly as an EU conception of what force is about in general terms. NATO still comes out of an environment, a period, in which force was used for very different purposes. Therefore, we see a mismatch in the way of strategic concept and we have a mismatch of forces. The battle groups are great concepts in a way but they are designed again to come in and out. As a senior official in the European Defence Agency commented recently, the need in the future is probably only going to be for sustainable forces rather than for rapid forces. My concern is that the ESDP is designed around rapid and NATO is trying to struggle with what is sustainable. Therefore, the problems are much deeper in terms of Turkey.
Q104 Mr Hamilton: Following what Robin has said, that sounds very much like the role of the United Nations, not Europe. You have talked about the police coming in and washing up. If I was a member of the public out there and I thought about what the United Nations do, that is what they do. All we are talking about here is duplication of work which is ludicrous.
Dr Niblett: This is where subcontracting comes in. Who will the United Nations subcontract that operation to? Many in the European Union would like them to subcontract it to the EU. Then it has the legal mandate. It is not either/or.
Q105 Mr Jenkin: This all begs the question: should there not be a clear division of responsibility between the EU and NATO? Should that not be achievable?
Dr Eyal: In theory, yes. One could see the outlines of a grand bargain, as it were, fairly easily. The European Union does have the staying power in financial terms and in organisational terms. Please look at the administration of places like Bosnia, for instance, to see that they can take countries which need nurturing and build them up. Once they get going on the peace reconstruction process, they are far better equipped for that than NATO, both bureaucratically and in financial terms. They do have one great asset that NATO does not have, which is central funding. We tend to forget that. That is one of the big banes of NATO, that it does not have central funding, with a few minor exceptions. Therefore, there is a staying power which would suggest that the EU should take one side of an operation while the higher end - that is, the military side - should be left to NATO. We are back again to ultimately a political question and one of aspirations. Neither institution ultimately wishes to be consigned to one role in these conflicts, partly because we do not know what kind of conflicts there are likely to be in the future, partly because both institutions in this context are fighting for their survival as they see it.
Dr Allin: I think there is a logical division of labour but it is not one that is very easy to spell out in advance. It has a lot to do first of all in a particular crisis with whether the United States is going to be involved. It is going to want to be involved. You can imagine the European Union being more likely to be deployed in sub-Saharan Africa. I mentioned the Democratic Republic of the Congo example. I forget which one of my colleagues was complaining about the idea of in and out and not preparing for sustainability but this might be something that battle groups can do fairly well because they are more ready to go in at the service of the United Nations to try to stabilise a situation but not having the political support throughout Europe to imagine a prolonged deployment. I think it is called punctuated intervention. It is an idea that I think makes sense and to which the ESDP may be more suited than the United States and NATO. Again, we can draw these notional ideas about sub-Saharan Africa and specific cases, Europe to a large extent, the Balkans and so forth but I do not really think you can necessarily have hard and fast rules.
Dr Webber: I think there should be a division of labour but I do not think there will be because the tasks which both the European Union and NATO have increasingly taken on are too complex and there is too much duplication. Any grand bargain that should occur between NATO and the European Union should not be a bargain simply between those two organisations. The parts of the world they are now involved in involve other actors to a very considerable degree, one of which has been mentioned, which is the United Nations. Others perhaps we will come on to. I do not think you can talk about grand bargains in the so-called arc of crisis, through the Caucasus, central Asia, Russia and China. A couple of organisations which are very obscure and consequently always overlooked, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Corporation Organisation, are of increasing importance in that part of the world.
Q106 Mr Jenkin: Are you not all confirming that this relationship between the EU and NATO is fundamentally unstable? They are in fact very different organisations in that the European Union has a much more legally superior structure and, with the addition of the European Reform Treaty, which we hear this morning is the same as the Constitution substantially according to the European Scrutiny Committee on the advice of Speaker's Counsel, how are we going to prevent the very duplication and replication of NATO assets which we have always wanted to prevent?
Dr Niblett: I find it hard to see that they can a priori be incompatible because the same countries are choosing to do things through different tracks. To say they are incompatible is almost like saying your right hand is incompatible with your left hand. To me, they are part of the same countries in many cases.
Q107 Mr Jenkin: Your right hand and your left hand do not try and do the same thing at the same time.
Dr Niblett: No. This is what we are talking about. Can you get them to work in coordination and not try to do the same thing at the same time? Just to state the obvious, we cannot have a bargain between hard and soft power where NATO does hard and the ESDP just does soft. Some of the thinking in Afghanistan throws a strong light on why this would be a bad idea.
Q108 Chairman: Why is that obvious?
Dr Niblett: I think it is obvious because what potentially happens is that a particular chain of command in which the US is likely to be dominant, because of the size of the forces and the strength and sophistication of the forces it has, is the hard power part and the European side, which has much less of those forces on a sustainable basis, will be involved inevitably on the soft side. Those two strategies will not necessarily match because, as we have seen from national caveats which seem to permeate all aspects not only of NATO operations but definitely ESDP operations where you do not even have an integrated military command, you end up with people doing different things for different objectives. In Afghanistan we have in many cases the US forces going round trying to kill people at the same time as ----
Q109 Mr Jenkin: It is the antithesis of the comprehensive approach.
Dr Niblett: Exactly. That is my concern.
Professor Cox: There is no fundamental incompatibility at the moment but there is a potential incompatibility and I do not think one can ignore that. The origins of the ESDP, complex though they are, still arise out of a European desire to frankly let Europe do more and not have the United States define every single global agenda. The incompatibility will be managed, it seems to me, as long as the ESDP is not terribly serious. If the ESDP did get very serious, there may be an incompatibility. Indeed, if the European Union - whether through a Constitution or a Treaty; I would not dare comment on either - were to become far more significant as a foreign policy actor, which seems to be implied in what has been going on, again there could be an incompatibility. There is an ambiguity at the moment which could become a tension other things being equal and if things were to change, but it is there. Maybe Robin and I do not agree on this completely. I am not sure it is whether the left hand is compatible with the right hand. I think there could be a point where the left hand could start fighting with the right.
Q110 Mr Holloway: Is there not a danger, when you have two organisations in the same place but slightly at cross purposes, that you undermine the whole thing, the British and American principles of counter-insurgency warfare? If you do not have unity of command and unity of purpose, you are starting from a very bad place.
Dr Niblett: I would argue that that argues therefore for having greater unity of command and the biggest case - for example, in Afghanistan - is that we do need somebody who is able to coordinate precisely those two parts. You are right. Without that greater concentration of empowering a person or a group overseen by a person to dominate that, yes, you could end up precisely with that kind of tension, as we have seen right now. On the other hand, this idea that the EU can bring different forces to the table in a post-conflict environment is an important one. The police force, the gendarmerie, the development support are more likely to be brought into a post-conflict environment through an ESDP that is tied into an EU mechanism than through a NATO one, unless we are going to end up with a duplicating operation on both sides.
Dr Allin: The problems that we see in practice are not problems that so far have been created by a European Union aspiration. They are a factor of national sovereignty and different national cultures. I speak here in terms of Afghanistan or a country like Germany. German inhibitions and national caveats are not caused by the European Union. They would not go away if the European Union abandoned all ambitions in defence policy.
Q111 Mr Jones: Have we reached the outer limits of NATO? If we have not, what are the future prospects? What are the consequences for the countries that are left out if we say that NATO is now closed to new partners?
Dr Eyal: We have not reached the outer limits. I am not persuaded by the argument that is very frequently made that NATO had indigestion from the large waves that came in. If one looks at the decision making processes in Brussels, one would see that the same countries which created difficulties in the past are creating them now and they happen to be on what is called the old Europe rather than the new Europe. The large influx of new members has not created any problems. In fact, they have been rather scrupulous in their commitments, probably more than most people expected. One should not put the shutters down. At the same time, it is clear that we are talking about very difficult countries, some of them fairly dubious countries, that are putting themselves forward, with a much bigger geographic dispersion. Talking about the Caucasus as being part of it is understandable but it is not something that immediately comes to people's minds in most of Europe as being part of the continent. There is a problem in keeping countries out. The problem is that, unlike the first or the second post-Cold War waves of enlargements, where the European Union was able to walk step in step with NATO, in the case of some of the countries left out, the European Union has no better options than NATO, with the possible exception of Croatia.
Q112 Mr Jones: When I visited Poland and other countries before they came into NATO or the EU, some of the former eastern European countries saw it as a badge that you had to have on your lapel to see that you have advanced. To what extent are we looking at it in terms of what they can bring to the table rather than it just being a badge that they have to get to say that somehow they have progressed from the old, former Soviet Union days?
Dr Webber: This goes to a well worn phrase: are new members consumers or producers of security? Most of the new entrants into NATO have shown a great deal of will in their willingness to go off on NATO missions and so on but have brought very little economically. I personally do not see that as a problem because I think NATO's strength historically has been to pacify its membership as well as to project itself externally. Part and parcel of enlargement, it seems to me, is to continue with that process. Going back to the question, I think NATO enlargement will continue. I do not think it has reached its limits. The two most credible candidates, by the way, are Finland and Sweden but they will not join in the sense that they are not formal candidates, but they could easily be absorbed. I think one should watch that in the very long term. There is some possibility in the north. If you go to the south and the east, it seems almost inevitable that Macedonia, Croatia and Albania will join NATO. They will probably get an invite in 2008 and join in 2010. That is the way the pattern has worked in the nineties and in the early part of this century. A country joins or its forerunner inevitably gets an invite and then inevitably joins. The real crunch, it seems to me, will come after and you can envisage Bosnia perhaps at some very large, distant future joining and even Kosovo and Serbia as independents for the sake of completing the jigsaw in that part of the world, but I think it is extremely unlikely that Ukraine and Georgia will join, despite the fact that I know Georgia is very much on the radar of American foreign policy. They are very far from the criteria. It would cause no end of trouble with Russia, which Russia is already exploiting. It seems to me that the United States gets sufficient strategic advantage with countries like Georgia bilaterally in any case without having to go the route of having them in NATO.
Q113 Chairman: Yes or no? Do you agree with Dr Webber's analysis of Ukraine and Georgia?
Professor Cox: Not exactly.
Dr Allin: Yes.
Professor Cox: Enlargement occurred in the 1990s, not simply from external pressure but by demand. It was demand driven. Namely, Poland wanted NATO membership. The only qualification I would put to what Mark has argued is that what happens if the Ukrainian Government duly elected comes to NATO and says, "We want to join"? That was the dilemma with Poland back in 1992, 1993 and 1994. There was no immediate push to enlarge NATO in 1990 and 1991. I used to take my students off to Brussels and give them 25 reasons why enlargement was a very bad idea, not a good idea. It came about by demand from democratic and newly elected governments. I agree with what Mark has said but what happens if you do get democratically elected governments in Ukraine or Tbilisi who say, "We want to join. We do not want a half-way house where you want to call it something else, PFP"? That could be the moment which formulates views about should we be in favour or not of enlargement challenged by political pressures on the ground, as it was in the early 1990s.
Q114 Mr Jenkins: That is the difficulty we have at the present time. We have a NATO Russia committee operating and trying to bring Russia into the centre of activities. I feel that Russia has been isolated and put in the outer ranges and the advancement of NATO across Europe for the security of the American cloak rather than anything to do with Europe to save the countries going back into the former Soviet Union or being overrun by Russia gives us a major problem. Russia is now developing and gaining lots and lots of money being sent there by Europe by the truck load, to pay for the oil and gas. They are spending more on the military hardware provision, like a 700 per cent increase, and they are going to walk the world stage again as a super power. Nobody will be able to get in their way while they are doing it because now they have a white knight in charge of their country who says, "You have been humiliated and I am going to put you back where you really and truly belong as a super power, walking the world stage." How is NATO going to be able to cope with this, because it was arranged, developed and built to stop the Soviet armies walking across Europe. If we perceive a slight instance that it might happen again, will that not refocus the countries in Europe to reconsider an old NATO?
Dr Eyal: I disagree fundamentally with the Russian suggestion that it was NATO which was responsible for the humiliation of Russia. The people who were responsible for the humiliation of Russia were the Soviet leaders themselves and the Russian leaders thereafter. A good argument would have been that the end of the Soviet empire was a liberating experience for the Russians themselves. This is what other countries, including Britain and France, have ultimately made. It is not the argument that Russian leaders, including Mr Putin, have made. To return to the NATO issue, there have been enormous efforts to engage in a dialogue with the Russians. There was a great deal of effort after the Istanbul summit in 1999 to expand the dialogue. If the Russians wanted, they could have had an enormous amount of cooperation with NATO. Every single time, it was either rejected or simply neutered. I know because I took part in a lot of this effort. There were genuine efforts undertaken by NATO. What has happened - which NATO could do nothing about - is that the Russians resent the territorial status quo as established at the end of the Cold War. They are in all their moves over the last 18 months trying to reverse that particular status quo, the repudiation or the withdrawal from the CFE being one classic example of a lot of very spurious arguments that could have easily been addressed with the Treaty being implemented. There are many things we could have done better but I would not accept that it was NATO that humiliated them. Although I know that this is the argument the Russians make very often, I would not accept that NATO was not aware of the sensitivities in Moscow.
Dr Allin: I disagree. It was an argument that the Russians made and believed. The entire premise of NATO enlargement was to ignore that, it seems to me. It is fine if you think it is important enough but you cannot have it both ways. I am not in any way defending anything that has happened in Russia since the end of the Cold War and I am certainly not defending the policies of the Putin government but it seems to me that it is elementary that there was an understanding of a peaceful end to the Cold War that had to preclude the expansion of an alliance that was remaining for the new members basically, an anti-Russian alliance. This was said at the very beginning of our session here. From their point of view, that is the most important that NATO was about. They required the security from NATO to be defended from Russia? I do not think so. I do not think Russia is threatening them but in any event we can ignore but I do not think we can deny the Russian perspective in all of this, which is that the West has taken advantage of their weakness. I think that has caused us problems in our relationship with Russia. I am not blaming NATO for everything that has gone wrong in Russia. Obviously that has deeper roots but I think NATO enlargement has been undertaken with a kind of strategic carelessness in these terms.
Dr Niblett: I think Dana Allin and Jonathan both make very good points. Even though they contradict each other, I thought the most important point was Dana Allin's point. You have to make a choice. We are trying to have it both ways. We want Russia to like us. At the same time we want to enlarge NATO and everyone to feel happy. You cannot have both. A choice was made and I think it was the right choice, as long as we knew why we were making it and what some of the potential implications were going to be. A resurgent, strong Russia, as we have today, with the countries who are currently in NATO not in NATO would worry me more than the current situation we have now with a resurgent Russia being annoyed that these countries are in NATO and we are even talking about potentially expanding it a little further. I would go along with the argument that there was a vacuum and vacuums are better filled than not filled. Ultimately, the choices taken were the right ones. What it means in terms of our relationship with Russia going forward - I do think we need to be sensitive to their sense of humiliation but my premise point on Russia is that at the moment this is a country that sees the world through a very different prism to the way we see it in the European Union in zero sum terms that we are the most ill equipped to deal with. An element of toughness will be respected and will serve us better than the reverse.
Dr Webber: In an attempt to adopt a middle position between those who have just spoken, it is very easy to give Russia a bad press, particularly in light of some of the developments of the last few months, the redeployment of long range fighter flights across various parts of the world, tub thumping over issues of energy security, the so-called suspension from the CFE Treaty. However, I think Russia often does have a case but it puts it very badly. Russian diplomacy, particularly defence diplomacy, is often very incompetent. On two very technical issues I think it has had a case and it has been rejected by the countries of NATO. One is the CFE Treaty. It is a very technical issue which we do not have the time or maybe the mental energy to go into, but I do not think the Russian case of a revision of the CFE Treaty is entirely wrong. It has been not entirely correct of the NATO side not to ratify the amended Treaty and not to push the Baltic states to join it. The second - and it is equally technical - is the reluctance of NATO to formally establish relations with the Collective Security Treaty Organisation which is a Russian led military organisation which Russia takes as a snub. It takes it as putting a firewall between itself and NATO, particularly in areas of cooperation such as Afghanistan.
Q115 Mr Jones: Afghanistan has been seen by many commentators as a great test for NATO. What lessons do you think can be drawn from what happened in Afghanistan and is it fair to say that we are seeing a development within NATO in terms of force generation, willingness to fight or provide assets, a two tier system where some members are prepared to do more than others?
Professor Cox: I want to go back on Russia but I will not. The history does not matter. We are confronted with a real problem there and we do not have an answer to it. Anyway, on Afghanistan, the only thing one can keep coming up with is a series of obvious statements about it. It is the largest deployment we now have and have ever had. Who would have ever thought we would be in this situation today? Nobody a few years ago. NATO was sidelined in the first part of the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban. They have now become central. There is clearly a very uneven contribution, blood and treasure, through NATO allies. The war is not going very well, in spite of what many people would say, it seems to me. The future credibility of NATO really rests on the outcomes in Afghanistan. This is the great test. NATO has never fought wars before. What are the marks out of ten? On certain things you can tick certain boxes and say, "Not bad, quite good, doing well", but who? The Brits, the Canadians, the Dutch, the Norwegians? You go down the list. I know that there are national cultures and peculiarities and all the rest of it but at the end of the day it is a fighting military alliance and has a meaningful contribution. That is undermining and doing some really major damage not only in this country but in other countries who are members of the NATO Alliance who are contributing in blood while others are doing it less so, for all sorts of peculiar and specific national reasons. Secondly, from the United States, the United States is part of NATO in some points but it is also acting in its own way relatively independently. It is NATO but it is the United States which is still taking up the bulk of the fighting in some of the most serious, dangerous areas in Afghanistan. That also raises this question: is it really only NATO? The United States would be there for its own reasons anyway to do with it. Frankly, this is not an academic point of view; it is a personal point of view just listening to what people have told me: one has to think that there is a real crisis that is going to hit us in about a year or a year and a half's time on this issue, it seems to me. We are not there yet but we are heading towards it and we have seriously underestimated a whole series of issues here. That will be the brick wall we are going to hit.
Q116 Chairman: What sort of crisis are you talking about?
Professor Cox: Obviously the resurgence of the Taliban, the ability of the Taliban to adapt their military strategy to car bombing, differences between the British and the Americans over what to do about the poppies, over the heroin. It knocks on into Pakistan which is as important in this whole debate as is Afghanistan itself. It hits on that relationship. In a way, it is the worst kind of domino theory working against the West. Iraq has clearly knocked into Afghanistan or Afghanistan has knocked into Iraq and both are now knocking into Pakistan which is knocking back. You cannot simply look at Afghanistan as a single element or a single point in this arc of crisis. Each one contributed to the other and unfortunately at the moment the crisis in Iraq contributes to the deepening of the crisis in Afghanistan which contributes to the deepening of the crisis in Pakistan. As you may have gathered from my comments, I am rather gloomy about the future.
Dr Eyal: Nothing that I say would be in contradiction to Professor Cox on this point, I am afraid. I am pessimistic as well. I am not so pessimistic about the links between Pakistan, Afghanistan and what we may do in Iraq although there is clearly a connection there. The biggest danger at the moment is the cascading effect of national decisions to withdraw or to stop contributions based on the dynamics in each individual contributing nation. The figures are astounding. Something like 70 per cent of Germans are opposed to the continued contribution there. There is a possibility of a vote of no confidence in the Canadian House of Commons, bringing down the government there. The latest figures published yesterday, done by the Dutch, of their public opinion indicate really some amazing figures like five per cent of those under 25 supporting the operation and at no point more than 50 per cent of the nation, since the operation began, supporting this project. Once the cascade begins, it will become unstoppable and it will prevent NATO from even withdrawing with a bit of honour, which must be a fallback position. It does not need to end up in that grave situation but it could.
Chairman: What a profoundly depressing thing to say.
Q117 Mr Holloway: How do you think that will play out in terms of a possible disintegration of the NATO allies in Afghanistan?
Dr Eyal: Of course we are guessing here. My guess is that probably not as much as opinion leaders in newspapers will write. People have written obituaries before of NATO. What will happen is that people will try to suggest that the decision to stake all of NATO's credibility on Afghanistan was taken rashly, that it was taken within a particular historic context, with countries trying to get away from the dispute with the US over Iraq and therefore we went into it too rashly; that we must pick up the pieces and there must be serious discussion, but that ultimately this will not be the end of the credibility. As always with credibility, you do not know. It depends what the ----
Q118 Mr Holloway: How will it play out, if Canada goes for example, in terms of who fills in? What happens?
Dr Eyal: In practical terms, I do not believe that there is any chance of anyone stepping into the breach now. We are lucky to keep the Germans in the position that they are in with the caveats that there are. I do not think Dr Merkel can deliver on anything more within her government but the status quo in terms of deployment. We may be lucky and get more active French involvement and perhaps France fanning out of Kabul if Mr Sarkozy is true to what he has hinted, but I do not think we are talking large numbers. Any one of these pieces of the jigsaw, if it drops out suddenly, I am afraid the entire picture starts disintegrating.
Dr Allin: On the larger question of the impact on NATO of failure, I agree with Jonathan Eyal very much. NATO has an institutional staying power. Its credibility in future crises will depend on the perceived stakes of the various antagonists in those future crises, not what it did in Afghanistan. The threat is in a sense because the greatest existential threat to NATO is the United States, the relative disinterest it may or may not have in the future. Obviously that would be increased by failure in Afghanistan so it would damage NATO. If I listen to what Jonathan Eyal has said about the polling results, I think he is absolutely right about countries like Germany and the Netherlands. If I consider what little I know about the difficulties of the mission, even not being entirely clear how the mission is defined, what do you do about a sanctuary in Pakistan? Some historical theories of counter-insurgency would say that you cannot defeat an insurgency that has this sanctuary; and yet some people are defining NATO's very future viability on the basis of what can almost be defined as an impossibility. Not knowing enough about the situation, I would nonetheless say that there does need to be greater NATO-wide consultation and discussion of what the really achievable, strategic goals are in Afghanistan. They may not be the maximal ones.
Q119 Willie Rennie: Can NATO survive in the longer term when there is such a disparity in percentage of GDP funding levels from the variety of people in the partnership?
Dr Niblett: The kind of NATO we have been talking about today can survive. It is not the NATO as we knew it but it is the NATO, at least as I have been talking about it, that is more flexible to take a positive adjective and maybe a little less united, one that picks and chooses the way it constructs its operations, particularly abroad. I think that type of NATO can survive with the disparity. The disparity within the EU on defence spending is as dramatic as the disparity between some of the top spenders within the EU and the United States. It is clearly a problem. I am as much concerned by the problem at a practical level that the US military is spending - and has been now for over a decade - high amounts of money on very sophisticated technologies and the ability to operate and fight in ways that are fundamentally different to the way that EU nations can fight. It is not just the amount of money; it is how the money is being spent, what it is being spent on, the way that doctrines and methods of fighting are evolving that are different, that will make the separation of action that we saw in the 1991 Gulf War constantly be widened and exacerbated even further into the future.
Dr Webber: I am not a defence economist but the issue of disparity of defence expenditure may be perhaps exaggerated by the way the figures are calculated. NATO is now not just about defence; it is about security. The disparity is quite obvious if you look at defence budgets but if you look at overall spend on security issues, the United States is still way, way out in front but, if you look at what the EU NATO members spend on things like humanitarian aid, that is technically not defence expenditure but it clearly feeds into issues of security in some sense. That disparity, if you like, is less clear. Here I have a link back to Afghanistan. It depends on what you choose to spend your money on. In the case of Afghanistan, the US Department of Defence spend $US116 billion on Afghanistan between 2001 and 2007. Money on diplomacy and aid during that same period was 9.7 billion, so there is a huge disparity in terms of the manner in which money is spent for the same end which, in some senses, is security. It is an age old question about the disparity of defence expenditure within NATO but I think in some ways it misses the point, the point being that there are different ways to spend money other than simply headlining them under defence.
Q120 Willie Rennie: I take it you would not agree on binding defence expenditure?
Dr Webber: There are no formal targets. The two per cent GDP limit is an informal one. There is no binding limit and attempts to use guidelines within NATO generally have failed throughout the Cold War and the post-Cold War period and they only generate resentment. With an alliance of 26 Member States with hugely divergent economies, histories and military capabilities, you can impose matters of that sort and you must allow allies within NATO, if they share membership with the EU, to contribute to defence and security in more creative ways than assuming that what matters is that headline spend in a defence budget is narrowly understood.
Dr Eyal: Just a codicil on this, if I may. Of course one can bandy a great amount of the spending and claim that it is part of security, but I am mainly talking here about the hardware which does have an impact on NATO. NATO as it currently is can continue functioning, as Robin has suggested, but it is increasingly going to be hampered by these distinctions. I can supply the Committee with a very simple graph which I do not have with me now about not merely the disparities in current spending but the disparities in defence research to which Robin referred. It is a riddle within a riddle. If you look at European defence research expenditure, which of course is dwarfed by the Americans, within that research budget about 80 per cent is dominated by spending by Britain and France. The rest is almost no activity at all. The result of it is not simply that we have less equipment but very often that our equipment becomes incompatible and not interoperable with that of the Americans. Even if we talk about coalitions of the willing, it becomes very difficult with a few exceptions to talk about countries which could be strapped on to even an American led operation, because very often they simply are incapable of digesting or deploying the kind of technology which the Americans have. It is not merely volume; it is also how it is spent.
Dr Allin: In one sense the disparities are so great that one wonders what European countries can practically get with marginal increases in defence spending. It is not going to impress the Americans enough to solve this resentment but on the other hand - this is a point that goes outside of NATO - but it is not as though the European contribution to various joint endeavours or purposes is a token one. A few years ago, before we got sucked into Iraq, one could talk about the United States being able to do almost anything it wanted to on its own and European contributions were sort of symbolic. That is clearly not the case. What would the United States have done if the European forces were not able and ready to go into Lebanon the summer before last? That was a very serious crisis. The United States was not in a position to do that. What would we do? As much as there are valid, legitimate complaints about Europe's performance and caveats in certain European countries in Afghanistan, what would the United States do without them? The idea that the United States can get disgusted and walk away from this is not exactly the case.
Q121 Willie Rennie: What do you think the chances are of binding targets?
Professor Cox: I think that question has already been answered. I do not think there is any chance at all.
Dr Eyal: Just as high as the stability pact in the euro. If countries committed themselves to the stability pact in the euro, it is about as high as that, probably less.
Professor Cox: For those of us who go back long enough, there were huge debates in the 1970s about burden sharing. As far as I can remember, they did not go anywhere. This is not a new discussion and NATO still managed to survive the end of the Cold War. It still managed to survive and endure the 1990s. To go back to your original question, I still think it will endure this. Without sounding conspiratorial, I just wonder if there is not a little bit of a verbal game being played here on this issue because ultimately, if the United States is the one putting most money into this Alliance and most lives on the line into this Alliance when it comes to it, does that not also give it legitimate leadership of this Alliance? I just wonder if there is not also a little bit of verbal posturing on this issue.
Chairman: I think we have covered a huge amount of ground. To our witnesses, I will say thank you very much indeed. It was absolutely fascinating. I know you had a great deal more that you would have said but one consolation is that we had a great many more questions we could have asked as well, so thank you very much indeed.