On October 14, 2016, the Center for International Security and Governance (CISG) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) had the honor of hosting
Dr. Joerg Forbrig (GMF),
Botschafter Prof. Dr. h. c. Wolfgang Ischinger (Munich Security Conference),
and Dr. Karl-Heinz Kamp (Federal Academy for Security Policy),
for a discussion on Germany’s international responsibility in a changing international security environment.
The recently published book “International Security in the 21st Century: Germanys International Responsibility” by the CISG served as a guideline for the discussion, to which each of the speakers also contributed an article.
The Director of the CISG, Prof. James D. Bindenagel moderated the event while focusing on key issues such as the changing European and International Order, a resurgent Russia, the Syrian Civil War and the Ukraine Crisis.
It was made clear that current changes of the European and International Order are not to be underestimated. They are fundamental, if not revolutionary – especially with regard to the erosion of statehood.
One of the driving factors of change is Russia’s current foreign policy, which was categorized as a major threat to international security. Reasons for this aggression are primarily domestic, according to one of the speakers.
When Putin took office he forged a social contract for domestic political support in return for raising Russian living standards. In 2007, the consequences of the financial crisis forced Putin to replace prosperity with a revive of national greatness and pride. Consequently, in order to keep elite support and mobilize the public Putin constantly has to challenge the status quo of the International and European order.
It was also noted that a Cold War analogy is unsuitable to explain the current situation, since it is significantly more dangerous due to the lack of the bipolar international system of the 20th Century. In addition, Putin seems to have interpreted Western minimal reaction as weakness building his confidence for bold action.
To counter Russian aggression and deal with changes to European and International Order a clear security strategy is needed, according to the participants. This includes tackling the intervention fatigue, which was identified as one of the most urgent strategic problems of NATO.
However, reaching the 2 percent NATO-goal for military spending was not seen as a constructive way to improve security policy. It was proposed to consider a 3 percent goal of state spending in the framework of a global engagement policy, including – next to the military – investments in development, climate and human rights promotion.
In addition, as Putin defines himself as explicitly anti-Western, the preservation of Western values becomes even more important.
It was stated that the OSCE can be seen as the only institution able to solve the Ukrainian crisis with Russia. Its importance for Ukraine has increased, while it also showed that in general its focus has to lie on election monitoring. As Russia has made perfectly clear, it has no interest in arms control.
The Chinese aggression in the South China Sea was identified as another essential element changing the global security structure. It was argued that Germany has to take responsibility, as the conflict effects important German economic interests.
Since the way to end the refugee crisis lies in ending the Syrian war, it was proposed that the European Governments take corresponding actions.
As the United States retreat more and more to domestic policies, it was noted that Europe and Germany have to take more international responsibility in various areas of the international security structure.