On June 12, 2017, key security experts discussed the implications of a changing world order for the European Security Structure and for Germany’s role in particular. Dr. Ulrich Schlie, who holds the chair in Diplomacy at Andrassy University in Budapest, emphasized the timeliness of the event in his welcoming remarks. With regard to recent events in France, the UK and the United States, Germany, at this point in time and with its new level of ambition, has to take action and show initiative.
Dr. Karl-Heinz Kamp, President of the Federal Academy for Security Policy, formulated two main questions in his speech that would also serve as the basis for the later discussion: What are current threats to Germany security? And what can Germany do to tackle those threats as an individual actor or as a member of multilateral institutions?
Kamp identified and elaborated on six major problems of unprecedented scale that Germany currently has to tackle: 1.) A resurgent Russia that shows aggression and annexed Crimea 2.) Chaos in the Middle East and the MENA region, in particular state erosion 3.) Islamic Terrorism 4.) Ongoing tensions and potential conflict in the Asia-Pacific region 5.) Crisis of the European Union 6.) The future unpredictable course of the United States.
According to Kamp, Russia’s recent actions constitute “a game changer”: It broke international law by annexing Crimea and changed borders by force. “We are back in the Article 5 world”, Kamp said.
In the Middle East, Kamp identified the lasting erosion of statehood as the main challenge to stability. Intervention, according to Kamp, does not work, not least because there is an intervention fatigue in all Western countries. The possibilities to influence or stabilize the region from abroad are thus extremely limited.
Terrorism, on the other hand, as a consequence of the inability to pacify the MENA region, can only be tackled by increasing resilience of our societies. “In an open society, you cannot protect every concert, sports event or Christmas market”, Kamp said.
He also emphasized the importance of the ongoing tensions and potential conflict in the Asia-Pacific region, which are often neglected by European countries. For Western economies, indispensable shipping routes are located in that region and a blockade could cripple international trade. In addition, five nuclear powers (plus one – the US) fight over influence in the region and a potential conflict could trigger Article 5: North Korea attacks Alaska or Guam.
All of these challenges confront a disunited European Union in which some countries do not share consensus on key issues and blame the EU for their own unwillingness to reform, according to Kamp. On top of that, populist movements further erode the foundations of the Union.
Finally, it is completely unclear which international role the US will play. According to Kamp, regardless of what the US does, there will be less international engagement by the United States because the country is divided and will deal mostly with itself, leading to less US leadership.
What should Germany do? According to Kamp, Germany should take on more international responsibility. It should contribute more to NATO and meet the 2%-goal of defense spending, “not because of Trump says so but because our armed forces are worn out”, Kamp said. Within the EU, Germany should further develop military capacity building, common procurement and common development. In the Asian Pacific, the country should show interest and think about ways how to disburden the US via NATO in that region. Lastly, Kamp emphasized the importance of US engagement not only in NATO but also in Europe. Europe and Germany have to explain time and again that alliances are not a burden but a benefit.
During the discussion moderated by Dr. Enrico Fels, Research Fellow at the Center for Global Studies at Bonn University, Professor Gale Mattox, Professor of Political Science in the U.S. Naval Academy, fully agreed with Kamp’s “hitlist” of challenges and added the economic factor as an essential part of future security policy. Professor Karl Kaiser, Senior Associate, Program on Transatlantic Relations, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs – Harvard Kennedy School, made clear that none of these challenges can truly be tackled without the support of the United States. According to Kaiser, it is the first time that the US administration is “totally divided”. This consolidates a completely “new game”, to which the European Union has to contribute its weight. He also added that development aid for the stabilizationof eroding countries would also be an important part of future security policy.
The CISG thanks all guests who joined the panel that night and warmly welcomes you to be part of our next discussion on July 11, 2017.