Toward a grand strategy in an uncertain world: Renewing transatlantic partnership
On January 16, GMF Brussels hosted a debate entitled "Toward a grand strategy in an uncertain world: Renewing transatlantic partnership," based on a paper written by five distinguished military personnel: General Henk van den Breemen (ret.); Field Marshal Lord Peter Inge, KG, GCB, PC, DL; Admiral Jacques Lanxade (ret.); General Klaus Naumann, KBE (ret.); and General John Shalikashvili (ret.). Four of the five authors (excluding General Shalikashvili) attended the debate in an attempt to explain and expand on their plan for creating a safer world, hopefully creating an alliance of democracies stretching from Finland to Alaska. Robert Cooper, the director general for External and Politico-Military Affairs for the Council of the European Union, also participated as a panelist and Dr. Ronald D. Asmus, the executive director of GMF's Transatlantic Center, moderated the debate.
General van den Breemen began by presenting the grand strategy and its underlying rationale. "Trends, risks, and dangers can no longer be seen in isolation," van den Breemen said. He continued, "we need integration of resources, not just those of the military, and [integration] of nations." He noted the United Nations (UN), EU, and NATO demonstrate "major shortfalls in focus, scope and cooperation," and globally there is a "considerable mismatch between threats and national response." To deal with this changing face of the globe and the new nebulous issues it faces, the authors believe a fully integrated grand strategy is needed.
The authors proposed the use of existing institutions under the premise that "what has worked well should be strengthened." They also reiterated that a renewed transatlantic relationship is a must since the U.S. is indispensable to Europe, but Europe also needs to become "truly indispensable" to the U.S. Finally, they called for the appointment of a steering directorate tasked to "coordinate common responses in crises where common interests are in danger."
Included in their plan is a major overhaul of NATO, one facet of which drew much commentary from the audience. They called for a restructuring of NATO's decision-making process by having decisions at the council level made via consensus, and committee decisions by majority vote. Many attendees questioned and required a further explanation of this point. General Naumann gave a three-fold reason behind introducing majority voting: first, it would make the process more efficient; second, it would help prevent the "masquerade" and "behind-the-back" politics that have plagued NATO for years; and third, it would "refocus" political issues back to the council level.
Robert Cooper's called the paper "fantastically wide-ranging and controversial." The four authors agreed with his reaction, saying they made their paper provocative and radical on purpose to direct the attention to the fact that there is no plan to deal with growing global concerns.