Interview with former NATO-General Naumann: Biden- „Above all, he will try to use NATO as the core of his idea of an“ Alliance of Democracies „
Global Review had the honor and the pleasure to have an interview with former NATO General Klaus Naumann.Klaus Naumann (born 25 May 1939 in Munich) is a retired German General, who served as Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, from 1991 to 1996, and as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 1996 to 1999, succeeding the British general Richard Frederick Vincent, Baron Vincent of Coleshill. He testified against Slobodan Milošević in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He attended as a course member the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.Above all, General Naumann, together with other NATO generals, wrote a very memorable and pioneering visionary document “Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World-Renewing Transatlantic Partnership”, which however did not become reality. Probably even less under Trump, but under Biden, a number of elements could gain importance again, including the „Alliance of Democracies“ propagated by John Mc Cain at the time as the core of a new NATO.
Global Review: General Naumann: After the imperial overstretch of the USA in the Iraq war in 2003 and in Afghanistan and at the time of the financial crisis, the study “Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World – Renewing Transatlantic Partnership) between you and the ex-NATO. Generals John Shalikashvili (USA). Field Marshal The Lord Inge (GB). Admiral Jacques Lanxade (F) and General Henk van den Breemen (NL) Released in 2008. The study revealed the range of regional and global threats that are exacerbated by international trends. These could no longer be dealt with by the nation-states alone in terms of their scope and complexity, but could only be counter them in a holistic, common approach that included non-military and military means. Not only are nation states overwhelmed by the new threats and problems, Europe and the EU cannot cope with them alone without the USA and NATO, especially since the weight of the EU in the world of tomorrow will decrease and the threats will not only be of a military nature, but also also of a non-military nature are for example, climate change, refugee flows, Islamism, use of energy dependencies, financial dependencies, computer warfare (cyber war). On this basis, you drafted an overall strategy that should be adopted by other nations as well as organizations in the future and that applied to existing institutions, above all NATO, the EU and the UN. If NATO was radically reforming itself, NATO was the most suitable institution to become a central element of a future security architecture. NATO would need more non-military capacities, which it should receive from the EU through close cooperation.
• The EU and the US should set up a joint intelligence center.
• The EU, USA and NATO should set up a board of directors, which in the long term should serve as a preliminary stage of a global alliance of democracies. The West, strengthened in this way, should throw its weight into the UN and into the scales alongside the UN, i.e. legitimate NATO missions outside the UN, i.e. regardless of the veto of Russia and China
• The study called for the following major reforms of NATO:
• • NATO law should be placed before UN law; i.e. NATO mission even without a UN mandate.
• In this way, the instrument of the so-called “Responsibility To Protect” should be used forcibly.
• Transferring the Bush Doctrine of Preventive Warfare/Preemptive Strike from the US to NATO;
• • NATO claims escalation dominance in every phase of the conflict, including nuclear strikes with the option of first use. Quatation::
• „In the arsenal of escalation, the initial use of nuclear weapons must remain the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction“
• In the future, participation should only be possible for a country that also fights:
• “Countries that do not contribute troops should not be given a say in military operations”;
• • Operation costs should be fianced by all NATO countries, including those that do not engage.participate;
• • Since rapid and consistent warfare is hindered by the consensus principle within NATO, the study “propose that NATO abandon the principle of consensus at all levels below the NATO Council and
• Introduce majority decisions at committee and working group level
• Civil-military cooperation should be strengthened by including civil organizations in NATO maneuvers at an early stage
Even under Bush Jr., NATO was seen more as a tool box than as a central element in US strategy or in the Iraq war or the Afghan war. Critics spoke of a “Neocon-ization of NATO” and “NATO-ization of the West”. Was it realistic that this strategy could have been implemented, for example under a US President Mc Cain? Why did the implementation fail? Were there any known supporters and who were the opponents and what were their arguments?
General Naumann: Inspired by the question, I reread our brochure. When I think about the fact that we wrote it in 2008, I can say with a certain satisfaction that some things sound almost contemporary and that we have assessed some of the things that came to light in the following years with some accuracy.
I still adhere to the central statement that NATO should, so to speak, be the core element of a future Western security architecture. I justify this mainly with the fact that, on the one hand, NATO still essentially connects states that share a common set of values. Certainly there have been developments in some NATO states since 2008 that raise question marks. This was true even before Trump himself for the unchanged indispensable alliance member USA. The USA has lost credibility in many ways over the past decade; it is no longer the „Shining City on the Hill“. This development was intensified during Trump’s presidency because the United States gambled away trust. Nevertheless, as the only power in this world that is globally capable of acting in all five dimensions of modern warfare – land, air, sea, space and cyberspace – they remain an irreplaceable partner at a time when almost every conflict can take on global dimensions in a very short space of time . In addition, a defense of Europe is geostrategically impossible without control of the Atlantic and a nuclear balance with Russia is only possible with the USA. That is why Europe must hold on to the alliance membership of the North American democracies.
In saying that we have adopted a Bush doctrine of preventive warfare, all I can say is that Global Review is mistaken. Our statements on prevention are based, on the one hand, on the valid international legal basis that preventive action is permissible if an attack is imminent („imminent“) and can no longer be prevented and repelled by anything other than your own action. On the other hand, as a former member of the ICISS, which coined the term “Responsibility to Protect” and brought it to the UN General Assembly’s approval, I put prevention in the sense of the approach called for there, i.e. the attempt to prevent undesirable developments our group.
Other proposals that remain meaningful, such as the abandonment of the unanimity principle, have in the meantime been called for by some knowledgeable strategic thinkers even for the EU.
At the time, our proposal found a number of well-known experts. We have attached statements by the former Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson, the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the IISS London, Francois Heissbourg, and the former American security advisor Brent Scowcroft, who unfortunately passed away recently. We never tried to get our proposal through anywhere. We saw it as food for thought in times when NATO had convened an international working group to develop a new strategic concept. I think our paper has been incorporated into the work of this group of experts.
Global Review: Ivo Daalder then tried to promote the idea of a Global NATO under US President Obama? NATO had to be globalized beyond the transatlantic pillar through an African and Asian pillar, as well as other new members, who not only should strive for a Partnership for Peace, but also for membership and interoperationality. Was Daalder backed by Obama and why did this idea also fail?
General Naumann: I think the time was simply not ripe for such a far-reaching idea. I can imagine that similar ideas at a time when there is agreement that the dangers of the future will be global in nature has created the basis for thinking about a role for NATO that extends beyond the NATO treaty area. I do not think, however, that NATO should extend the assistance obligation under Article 5 of the NATO treaty indefinitely, but joint crisis management in a global context should definitely be a future task of NATO. The fact that Ivo Daalder’s proposal failed at the time was not least due to the narrow-mindedness and disagreement of the Europeans, especially Germany, there for fear of further responsibility, and also France, there because of NATO’s stubborn refusal to admit a role going beyond the defense of Europe. Let’s wait for the American elections, because the proposal by former Vice President Biden to want to form an “Alliance of Democracies” is ultimately on Daalder’s line.
Global Review: After these more globalist approaches, Trump now emerged as an opponent of globalism and advocate of an America first, which declared NATO „obsolete“ and also questioned the defense guarantee of Article 5. Trump draws 10,000 soldiers from Germany back and wants to use them in Poland, while Poland is happy to have US troops in Poland and possibly US nuclear weapons in the future, even if this undermines the NATO-Russia Foundation Act.. Poland, on the other hand, said it was not happy with the weakening of Germany and the NATO hinterland, as it appeared that an exclusively Eastern European Intermarum and entente could invite Russian expansionism. And maybe Poland also has doubts that Trump would defend or not just betray Poland in a war against Russia. What is your opinion on the US withdrawal from Germany?
General Naumann: President Donald Trump has decided to withdraw up to 12,000 American soldiers from Germany and to limit the number of American troops in Germany to 25,000 without prior information to the German government and NATO.
The national security advisor in the White House, Robert C. O’Brien, is of the opinion that the American armed forces would have to be deployed flexibly and flexibly around the world in order to be able to effectively counter the two great power competitors Russia and China. Modern warfare requires expeditionary forces deployed around the world. Therefore several thousand American soldiers would have to be relocated from Germany to other European countries as well as to US bases in the Indo-Pacific region, and the remainder would have to return to the United States.
O’Brien misjudges the strategic reality in and around Europe. He underestimates the political, strategic and military importance that the US armed forces and their military capabilities have in Germany – both for the security of Europe and, above all, for America itself.
The American armed forces in Germany and Europe, their command commands and logistical capacities have two essential functions: First, they make a decisive contribution to NATO’s deterrent and defense capabilities. They play a key role in strengthening allies on the edge of the alliance’s territory during a crisis or in the collective defense of NATO in the event of an attack. They cannot be stationed better than on the hub of Germany, which is one of the reasons why the headquarters of the US Air Forces in Europe in Ramstein is the backbone of the High Command of NATO Air Forces and Air Defense throughout Europe.
You deter and keep the peace, no European ally can replace the extended deterrence of the USA.
But more importantly, the American troops and facilities in Germany are, secondly, the basis for supporting US national deployments in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It also secures the United States‘ sizeable economic and industrial investments in Europe. After all, the American soldiers in Germany and their families form a living bridge across the Atlantic. It prevents the Atlantic from getting wider, even in politically difficult times. This is in the common German-American interest and therefore Germany continues to support the presence of American troops financially.
After the drastic deterioration in the security situation since 2014, triggered by Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, America and its European allies have increased their military presence in Eastern Europe. Russia continues its aggressive policy unchanged, continues to wage war in Ukraine and continues to arm its conventional and nuclear forces. Around 60,000 Russian ground and airborne troops are on standby near NATO’s eastern border and could threaten the Baltic states and Poland within a few days. Russia’s nuclear capable short- and medium-range missiles in Kaliningrad and in the western part of the country can reach almost every European city, but not the USA, with little advance warning.
Strengthening the American armed forces in Poland makes perfect sense, but the NATO Russia agreement, not a treaty, should be observed. Violation would give Russia additional freedom of action by arguing that NATO is violating agreements.
A unilateral reduction in the American armed forces in Europe and Germany without anything in return by Russia weakens NATO and plays into the hands of Moscow. In addition, America’s strategic flexibility and ability to act in the Near and Middle East will be severely impaired. It weakens America and endangers Europe.
North America and Europe are a community under attack by Russia, China and other autocrats. The United States and the Europeans must therefore stand together more than ever, not just militarily. America must remain a European power because it needs Europe to remain the global superpower it is today. Whoever does not understand this, as obviously O’Brien, does not make America bigger, but weaker.
Global Review: While Trump called NATO „obsolete“, Macron called NATO „brain dead“. We are seeing fundamental changes in NATO. Prof. Rahr, member of the Valdai Club and Gazprom advisor for the EU, thinkls that Trump wants to dissolve NATO and replace it with a bilateral security network of core states such as the UK, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. Joschka Fischer says in his new book “Welcome to the 21st Century” that Europe should not wait until the next Trump tweet dissolves NATO, but rather act like NATO has already been dissolved and realize European sovereignty and a Gaullist turn of Europe as Macron proposed to build up. Therefore a separate European defense would be a necessity. However, this discussion has a long tradition, but nothing really happened- expect PESCO, the ad hoc alliances with the UK for foreign intervention that has not yet materialized, or closer cooperation in the defense industry. To what extent could a European initiative create a reliable European defense without NATO and the US nuclear umbrella? How could such a European defense be structured? If the UK leaves the EU and France wants the Force de Frappe for European deterrence, but not under an EU command, there could be a trilateral security alliance with a nuclear umbrella between the UK and France and some kind of Article 5 for the EU defense of the former NATO territory be an alternative to NATO outside an EU framework? Could this deter Russia, which is armed with nuclear weapons, and is Russia able to occupy or attack Europe on a lasting basis?
General Naumann: Listening to Putin advisers like Professor Rahr is certainly poison for Europe and for Germany’s security. Fischer’s idea of creating a European defense capability is undoubtedly correct. The prerequisite for this, however, is the will of the Europeans to really create something that goes beyond piecemeal like PESCO and enables Europe to act globally in the military area. Proof of such will and a sensible first step would, in my opinion, be consistent and timely pursuit of Macron’s idea of a European intervention force. Germany should sustainably support and promote this proposal and also urge that this force, if necessary, also be made available for NATO missions. However, it only makes sense if you create the political framework for it. A key element of such a framework would be to overcome the unanimity principle in the European Union. Only then would Europe be able to act in crises.
With regard to the question of nuclear protection for Europe against Russia, which is overly arming in the nuclear field, I think a solution without the USA is hardly feasible. The French President has made it clear on several occasions that nuclear weapons must always remain subject to France’s decision. The close cooperation between France and Great Britain in the nuclear field does not mean that this reservation on the use of both countries‘ nuclear weapons will be lifted. Even if that were the case, the potential of the two would hardly be sufficient to effectively deter a Russia determined to war As one might deduce from statements by the Russian Chief of Staff Gerasimov, consider nuclear weapons and their use as a means of de-escalation. Whether Russia would currently be able to attack Europe and occupy it permanently is doubtful for me, but my assessment is based only on the open sources available to me. If I look to the potential of Europe, then I remain confident, provided that the states of Europe finally develop the will and the determination to defend Europe together.
The second essential requirement is to maintain the transatlantic network. Geo-strategy cannot be changed and a defense of Europe without mastering the Atlantic sea routes makes no strategic sense. If you then add the possibility of an ice-free Arctic Ocean, it becomes very clear that maintaining the North America-Europe strategic alliance is an essential prerequisite for successfully protecting Europe. Only when these prerequisites have been clarified can one start thinking about the form and contributions to European armed forces. Everything else, like the often-voiced idea of a European army, is nothing more than harnessing the horse from the tail.
Global Review: At the 70-year NATO meeting in 2019, the transatlantic alliance declared for the first time that China was a „potential threat“ due to Trump’s pressure. Now, in June 2020, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has asked the defense alliance to prepare more effectively for threats from China. The country is investing heavily in nuclear weapons and long-range missiles that could reach Europe, Stoltenberg told Welt am Sonntag. „One thing is clear: China is moving ever closer to Europe’s front door,“ said Stoltenberg. The People’s Republic is present in the Arctic, Africa and the Mediterranean and invests heavily in critical infrastructures in Europe. China is a „constant“ in cyberspace. NATO has to react to this development “because it represents a fundamental change in the global balance of power”.
How should the West, the USA, the EU and Germany react to the perceived Yellow Peril, which is not an enemy, but also defined as a competitor and challenge which not only is a threat but also a chance? Engagement, containment, congagement- what could be the minimum consensus for NATO and between the USA and the EU?
General Naumann: It is high time that NATO, and also the EU, addressed the issue of China. China has without a doubt become the strategic challenger to the Pacific nation USA. If we want to maintain the ties between the USA and Europe, NATO and Europe must become a bit more Asian / Pacific. That will also be the demand of a new American president, be it Trump or Biden. That doesn’t mean that NATO should become an alliance against China. But NATO must ensure that the US’s opposite European coast is not subject to Chinese reservations. This requires comprehensive and thorough thinking about the extent to which China is already controlling critical infrastructure and key technological capacities in Europe through the concept of the new side street. This also requires creating opportunities to effectively prevent Chinese actions against European communication and in cyberspace. Another factor that must be clear despite all willingness to cooperate economically with China is the insistence of Europeans on the freedom of the high seas. This right to free seafaring is a question of survival for the EU as a global trading power. It should therefore also be demonstrated occasionally, but clearly, by the Europeans, including the export nation Germany, also in the Pacific. A NATO fleet in the sense of the earlier STANAVFORLANT, which occasionally shows a presence in the Pacific, the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, is not an escalation, but a signal of the determination to protect Europe’s interests and an expression of the union of Europe with the United States.
Global Review: The first more serious proposal on how NATO should react comes from Ian Brzezinski, son of the former National Security Advisor to US President Carter, Zbig Brzezinski, US geostrategist and author of the programmatic book „Chessboard“, who in 1979 was the architect of the Sino-American normalization In the 2000 he proposed Sino-American G2 which should dominate the world, but which never materialized.His son Ian Brzezinskli proposes the establishment of a NATO-China Council based on the model of the NATO-Russia Council, and NATO should deepen its engagement with its Pacific partners Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Mongolia. The advisory dimension of these relationships should be complemented by more regular and robust military exercises. Third, the alliance should set up a competence center (COE) in the Indo-Pacific, possibly in one of the partner countries in the region, and integrate officers and non-commissioned officers from selected partners into the alliance’s command structure. The alliance should also establish a small military headquarters in the Indo-Pacific region, possibly embedded in the COE or United States Pacific Command, to facilitate and coordinate NATO exercises and operations. This, too, could help to raise the alliance’s awareness of developments in the region and, if the opportunity arises, the alliance’s cooperation with China. Do you consider these proposals appropriate and how do you assess their chances of realpolitik implementation under Trump China or under another US president and with the Europeans?
General Naumann: The suggestions they made are all interesting and worth considering. However, the prerequisite for any implementation is first of all to bring about a fundamental political decision that the USA, Canada and Europe should work together to develop a global concept such as how the conflict between two hegemonic powers, the USA and the People’s Republic of China, can still cooperate to prevent a new Cold War . Finding ways to do this should be the first step before tackling the technical questions you have raised. I think it is possible to reach agreement on this among the Europeans and then with the United States. Without such an agreement, the willingness of the USA to continue to be Europe’s protective power will hardly be achievable.
Such an agreement of the Europeans would have to start from the prerequisite that NATO transforms into an alliance that is capable of acting in all five dimensions of modern warfare, that accepts the challenges of climate change, digitization and artificial intelligence and shapes it in its organizations and their capabilities accordingly. This requires the Europeans to make contributions to all these components, which would have to be designed in such a way that they could be made available to the Europeans by NATO even in the case of independent operations of the European Union. The first expression of such a European ability to act would be the formation of the European intervention force already mentioned and, as a second, I would like to set up a European disaster relief component so that we as Europeans could act and help in future and probably more frequent natural disasters worldwide.
Global Review: General Wittmann has proposed a NATO reform that upgrades NATO’s consultative and resilience function. General Kujat proposes a new Harmel report. The original Harmel report was the change of NATO strategy from the MAD to flexible response and the opening of a dialogue with the Eastern bloc . Would this mean changing the NATO strategy from flexible response to a new strategy of deterrence and a New East Policy (Neue Ostpolitik) or how could this be understood?
General Naumann: Today, NATO is a regional alliance whose scope and range is the European-Atlantic area. In the world of the future, however, NATO must be able to think and act globally. The theoretical possibility for this is in the NATO treaty, especially in Article 4, by all means. It is now a matter of shaping it and developing a concept from it as to how security can be guaranteed for the European-Atlantic area also in the world of the future and how for the Atlantic-Pacific allies USA and Canada, through the contribution of the Europeans, security in Asia / Pacific area can be made possible. Such a thing must certainly be anchored in a new NATO policy document and then, if necessary, submitted to the parliaments of the NATO states for ratification. I do not consider a restriction to consultative and resilience tasks to be sensible, because they are suitable for promoting a concentration on soft power in Europe, in all situations that require hard power to become even more dependent on the USA and thus the split between Europe and the US to deepen.
Global Review: Isn’t the current deterrence strategy obsolete? Micheal O Hannon, in his book “The Senkaku Paradox”, examines how a local crisis could escalate into a broader and much more dangerous threat to peace. What if, for example, Russia’s “little green men” took control of a community like Narva or an even smaller town in Estonia that is now a NATO ally? Or what if China confiscated one of the uninhabited Senkaku Islands now claimed and administered by Japan, or imposed a partial blockade on Taiwan? Such threats are not necessarily imminent, but they are by no means unimaginable. Washington may be forced, in these and similar cases, to choose between risking a major war to reverse aggression or appeasing China or Russia in ways that could jeopardize the general world order.
O’Hanlon argues that the United States needs a better variety of options for dealing with such peace risks. He advocates “integrated deterrence” that combines military elements with economic warfare. The military components would have increased forward defense as well as possibly limited military options against Russian or Chinese assets in other theaters. Economic warfare would include offensive elements, particularly sanctions, as well as measures to ensure the resilience of the United States and its allies against possible reprisals by the enemy.
General Naumann: The essence of any deterrent strategy is to make it impossible for the adversary to expect a sure victory in a conflict with acceptable risk and losses. That is still valid. The means of how to achieve this are constantly rethinking. The first step is always to get into the thinking of the opponent, to consider what options he has and how best to prevent his success. At a time when any conflict can turn into a global one, it is certainly inexpedient to restrict it to military means. This was also the case in the times of the Cold War, the end of which, for NATO, was not achieved by military means alone.
Deterrence only becomes credible if, first and foremost, it is made clear to the opponent through unity and determination that he simply cannot and will not win a conflict because his own abilities will cause him immeasurable damage in every dimension of the conflict, but he can never calculate when which means is used. So deterrence must continue to be an integrated deterrent.
Western thinking is likely to continue to be based on the assumption that conflicts arise from attacks by opponents. Therefore one’s own strategy must show the ability to overcome the initial reaction and to end the conflict through action. Escalation dominance remains a means of the defender.
In a situation in which, for example, the People’s Republic of China controls about a third of the US debt, I do not think that it is very promising to focus primarily on the extremely risky idea of an economic war. I consider it almost impossible to achieve consensus in alliances.
Global Review: The old deterrence strategy primarily envisaged a bipolar enemy structure and a fairly linear escalation ladder from conventional weapons to limited and then comprehensive nuclear strikes. The study „Rethinking Armageddon“ of the CSBA speaks of a Second Nuclear Age of multipolarity and a much broader spectrum of weapons, be it hypersonic missiles, haystack weapons, cyber and space weapons, drones, etc., which is why an escalation ladder was much more complex and multi-dimensional. Has NATO or other military strategists already developed the appropriate strategy for this? Are disarmament treaties or arms control treaties still verifiable and enforceable today? Especially since, on the one hand, the number of weapons and the number of great powers owning them has increased, and one would have to engage at least the USA, Russia and China?
General Naumann: The simple world of bipolar confrontation and also bipolar regional deterrence is over. There will be no return.
We are moving into a multilateral, non-multipolar world in which there will be a number of declared and undeclared nuclear powers, some of which will no doubt develop nuclear warfare strategies. It is an illusion to hope that the ban on nuclear weapons will have an limiting effect. The aim must therefore be to prevent any use of nuclear weapons through appropriate deterrence and accompanying arms control, also because every use of nuclear weapons almost automatically turns a very regional conflict into a global one. For Germany, the only industrial nation that has unilaterally and legally bindingly renounced the production and possession of nuclear weapons, this is an existential goal. Arms control is unusually difficult under these conditions because it basically requires multilateral agreements and verification with many contracting parties poses major, as yet unsolved problems. In addition, there is the world of new weapon technologies, which is even more diverse than you suggest in your question, which also raises numerous legal and, above all, unresolved ethical questions. The extent to which NATO is working to face this world and to develop appropriate concepts is beyond my knowledge. Please do not forget, I am a simple pensioner who depends on public information. I think one will try to develop concepts with which one can eliminate an opponent as early as possible and as unnoticed as possible, maybe even paralyze it. The dimensions of cyberspace and space offer undreamt-of technical possibilities for this and the concept of hybrid warfare allows some things that SunTsu could do: knock out opponents and paralyze them before they even notice that an attack has begun. All of this is another reason to rethink how deterrence can be achieved under these conditions and, more importantly, how to find something like stability back through complementary negotiations on weapons limitation and the development of weapon systems. However, making specific suggestions must be reserved for those who know exactly what is available and what is in development. I am not one of them.
Global Review: How should NATO deal with NATO member Turkey? Should one hope that Erdogan will one day be toppled or will his neo-Ottoman Empire, which he wants to establish with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood in North Africa to Syria and Jordan possibly accepted as a partner maybe in future also with nuclear weapons?
General Naumann: I have always advocated that Turkey is and remains a member of NATO, not only for geostrategic, obvious reasons, but also because this large and in many parts well-developed country is an important bridge to the Central Asia region, which is important for Europe’s security, and the enlarged region Middle East may form. In addition, Turkey has developed an impressive technical potential for modern weapons systems that we should not make available to opponents. Perhaps one or the other will think about it sometime, who still believes that Turkey can be sanctioned by refusing arms exports, even though some of it has weapons that are more modern than the products of our industry. I do not want to join in speculation about the current president’s political intentions. I know that the former President Özal once dreamed of establishing a large empire of the Turkic peoples after the end of the Cold War. Turkey would have overwhelmed itself economically and the economy should still determine what is feasible today. It is also the economy that connects Turkey with Europe and for which it needs Europe. I think we should use that and try to prevent Turkey from becoming an independent nuclear power. That presupposes that we keep them in NATO and maintain NATO’s guarantee of protection for Turkey. Turkey has always been a difficult partner, it will remain so, but it has also always been an important partner, without whom neither NATO nor the EU can achieve security in the key region of the Middle East in the future.
Global Review: The War on Terror, which now seems to be over and which should have been better conceived as a War against Islamism and should not have toppled mainly secular Pan-Arab despots like Saddam Hussein, Ghaddafi or Assad, is now being replaced by conflicts over great power . While everyone is now looking to Russia and China, the Islamists are growing again, including the idea of the neo-Ottoman Empire by Erdogan-Turkey with the Muslim Brotherhood of all countries, as well as the overthrow of Assad, which then would lead to an Islamist dictatorship in Syria. But if Assad and the Russians and their military bases in Syria and the Mediterranean are taken away, the West may face an even bigger problem. We could probably have two Islamist belts. one from the Sahel zone to Nigeria to Somalia with the Islamic State, Bolko Haram and Al Shabab and a second belt from North Africa and the Horn of Africa (Somalia / Sudan) to Syria with Muslim brothers supported by Erdogan and the FIS in Algeria. It would be best if they would fight each other. It remains to be seen whether Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan would remain stable. The whole thing is also fueled by Palestine and Jerusalem. And there is also the US-Iranian conflict at the top, and it remains to be seen whether the PLO can still retain power and not be taken over by Hamas or even more radical forces. In South Asia, the Taliban will be strengthened after the NATO withdrawal, the Islamists in Pakistan, the country with the first Muslim atomic bomb, are on the rise and India is also facing a problem with its Muslim population and their partial radicalization and Islamization, the Kashmir conflict is by no means resolved, Islamists in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia are a growing power, just as the Rohingya conflict in Burma, exploited by Islamists, could destabilize the governments in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh through alleged Islamic solidarity. In Central Asia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by China and Russia, has so far ensured stability, as has the increasingly Islamic Kadyrov in Chechnya, who is also becoming less reliable and is a butcher. What strategy would you propose against the growing Islamism and can NATO still play a role in this or are alliances like the anti-IS coalition more advanced, feasible and successful?
General Naumann: Militant Islamism will remain an existential threat to our free societies. The manifestation will be terrorism in all shades that could be carried into our societies. You described the centers of this Islamism accurately and correctly in your question. It is indeed arcs of crisis that plague Europe from the south, south-east and east. Terrorist attacks arise from them and, in addition, they are the starting points for migration, which for the aging societies Europe is no longer just a burden, but a danger.
Europe must take responsibility for its own security throughout the zone from the Maghreb to Pakistan. The Americans will increasingly rely on Europe to secure this region because they will concentrate their efforts on dealing with China in the Pacific. For Europe, Russia on the one hand and Turkey on the other hand play the lock keepers on the refugee stream in this region. Depending on your interests, you can bind Europe more or less by directing the flow of refugees.
When it comes to dealing with this risk, NATO is not the first port of call. A coordinated and well-financed development policy of the European Union is required here which creates jobs in North Africa and also in the Central Asian states in order to keep the people in their home countries. The second element of a European defense strategy will be NATO again, albeit with predominantly European forces. Perhaps one day a European Union that is also capable of acting in the military field can also take on this task. On the one hand, it is about safeguarding the investments made in the economic development of the region and, on the other hand, about eliminating terrorist centers through military intervention. For the time being, the Europeans will have to rely on the support of the NATO state USA for this, be it for reconnaissance, command, air transport and air raid means. Such support would make more sense through NATO than through an ad hoc coalition, because NATO has well-established management procedures and can thus operate more cheaply
Global Review: The conflict between the US and China continues to escalate and even a Sino-American war is no longer considered impossible. So far, military think tanks and military strategists such as Rand (“War with China”), TX Hammes (Offshore Control), and CSBA (Airsea Battle / ASB) first focused on it. Graham Allison’s book “Are the US destined for war with China-Avoiding the Thuidycides trap” now has started this discussion among the political and economic US elite. How should NATO, the EU and Germany position themselves in this conflict or even possibly in a war? Wouldn’t it make sense, perhaps, to try to detach Russia from China through a New East Policy( Neue Ostpolitik), or at least to keep Russia neutral, to prevent it from using the US focus on the Asian Pivot and the Indo-Pacific for a military adventure against Europe and perhaps include Russia in an anti-Islamism coalition?
General Naumann: Your question implies that Europe might have a chance to influence Russia strategically and politically. I have great doubts whether the Europe we are currently experiencing, divided, weakened by Brexit and with a leading power Germany that refuses to lead, is a power factor that impresses the gentleman in the Kremlin. I think that we Europeans currently only have a chance to influence Russia if we can count on the support of the USA. I therefore think that the idea of using Russia to influence American action against China is a daring proposal. Russia knows that Beijing sees it at best as a junior partner and is therefore unlikely to be willing to be involved in the conflict between the two hegemonic powers as a supporter of European interests. I am of the opinion that the more sensible way to prevent a war between China and the USA is close cooperation between a united Europe that is able to act militarily globally, also to act jointly with the USA if necessary, but in any case to give them the assurance can give that the European opposite coast of the USA to the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian Ocean is secured by Europe, so that the USA can keep a free hand in the Asia / Pacific region.
Global Review: Do you see any prospects for NATO at all if Trump or similar presidents rule the USA in the future? Would there be a simple reset of US foreign policy and alliance policy under Biden or will the West no longer return to the status ante? Is Trumpism a personal issue or is it not a structural problem that is also due to the previous globalization policy of the USA, the Washington Consensus and the wars of intervention including the financial crisis of neoliberalism and actually already under Bush Jr. started?
General Naumann: Regardless of the outcome of the US election, I will begin with the hope that we will survive an orderly transition from the 45th to the 46th President of the United States, whether his name is Trump or Biden. The worst that could happen in this world would be an America torn apart in power struggles to fight its own disintegration.
Regardless, I do not think there will be a return to the status quo ante. America, which we liked so much because it made some things easy for us, is a thing of the past. No American president will want to play the role that the US has played in European security for the past 70 years. If Trump is confirmed, I assume that he will continue his previous policy of destroying multilateral ties. Then NATO could run into existential danger and it would pave the way for China’s rise to supremacy.
Even a President Biden will have to comply with the wishes of his fellow Americans not to pull potatoes out of the fire for others. The world policeman is retiring from him too. In my opinion, however, he will use NATO as a benchmark to secure the American opposite coast in Europe and will certainly strengthen it as far as possible. Above all, however, he becomes NATO as the core of his idea seeking to use the Alliance of Democracies. In this way, NATO would be incorporated into a global alliance system with which the USA could try to pursue a cooperative approach in the conflict with China in order to avoid a hot conflict.