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Analysis: Are We Living in the Same World? The Dominant Analysis in Europe and France A major difference between Europe and the United States is that the latter is keen to explicitly state its view of the world and its geostrategic and geopolitical goals, whereas the former seems unable to do so.1 The 2003 European Security Strategy White Paper that was partially reconsidered in 2008. For the rest, the only official statements are provided by half a dozen national strategic reviews. In France, the last official document on strategic issues was released as “The international and strategic evolutions faced by France.”2 It states that globalization will remain the determining process to define the structure of the international strategic environment but that, since 2008, North Africa and the Middle-East have faced strategic ruptures, the reconfiguration of the balance of power is speedingup under the economic and financial crisis, and a new U.S. strategic orientation is emerging. The new White Book on defense (spring 2013) takes
1 No new security strategy paper is under consideration at European External Action Service in Brussels. France is open to an initiative in the context of the Dec. 2013 European Council dedicated to defense issues. 2 Preparatory document for the updating of the French White paper on defense and national security, Feb. 2012
Summary: There are still many gaps to be bridged between the United States and Europe in terms of strategic thinking and national versus global outlook, which leave the transatlantic partners poorly equipped to adapt to new economic realities and their strategic consequences. This means that the United States and Europe now face the challenges of reconciling their strategic priorities in a context where the combination on the powers on both sides could prove instrumental in finding answers to the current geopolitical and economic challenges.
For a New Transatlantic Strategic Sequence: In, Near, and Beyond Europe
by Michel Foucher
Europeans and Americans have reconnected since 2009. The image of the United States has improved in European public opinion, which approved of the end of military expeditions in Iraq and Afghanistan of the previous administration and the ambitions of regime change. France was brought back into the fold by reintegrating NATO’s military command, a choice that is now not subject to change. Joint military interventions between Paris, London, and Washington were carried out successfully in Libya, and diplomatic positions are coordinated for the management of the current crises in Iran, Syria, and the Sahara-Sahel. U.S. authorities are also pressing European capitals to act on an economic revival, which stresses the importance of the transatlantic market and improves its co-operation (G20). Is this favorable bilateral context since 2009 sufficient to agree upon a common analysis of the long-term challenges, to draw a shared hierarchy of priorities, and to sketch a strategy to address them?
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stock of the fact that “the U.S. will be more selective in their geographic priorities since the European continent is not at the heart of the world strategic confrontation anymore.” Beyond official analysis, one can assume that the world today is more interdependent, more discordant, and less cooperative than ever. New state actors are asking for their “place in the sun,” to quote Bernhard von Bulow’s famous speech in 1897 in Berlin, and not only in the economic sphere. We are facing a great emancipation, a great transformation, in which some emerging countries are eager to transform their economic and financial assets into geopolitical capacities and strategic might in order to become recognized centers of power, at least on the long term.3The West is a decisive actor in that major change given its huge investments in emerging countries, which benefit extensively from more open markets than their own. Economy seems to have taken the lead part in strategy. For example, in April 2012, 2,500 U.S. marines landed in Darwin, Australia, and, unrelated, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, for the first time visited the Foxconn Zhengzhou Technology Park, which has more than 120,000 workers manufacturing iPhones. This bi-national product is designed in Cupertino, California, and manufactured in China, with global reach. Top Chinese leaders received Tim Cook. So, which is the main line of present U.S. interests: economic alliance or strategic containment? Both at the same time certainly. This is similar to the phenomena pointed out by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard when she remarked that perhaps China should be contained in the South China Sea, but also that China’s high speed trains were made up of Australian iron ore. This contradictory interdependence was also illustrated recently when former Prime Minister Wen Jintao visited the Hannover Messe along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is losing many jobs in that advanced sector because of the Chinese competition. How should the West engage China? And if we seriously consider the forecast that China will overtake France in the next years to become Germany’s main trading partner, what will be the long-term political impact of this single fact on a relationship that remains central to Europe. China lies at every corner of the world stage. Why do we not talk more about that in transatlantic meetings?
We are facing a crisis of adaptation to new economic realities.
We are facing a crisis of adaptation to new economic realities. A common perception in Europe is that the Western monopole on world affairs is over and that leadership is becoming relative. But should Europeans continue to overestimate the geopolitical impact of growth rates in developing countries and therefore underestimate their own assets? Is “Asia” a mature geopolitical concept or a fuzzy one, since there is no political will to reach “unity” in this part of the world? The U.S. Analysis President Obama’s introduction to the National Security Strategy document (May 27, 2010) asserts an objective of “national security and global leadership” so that “when we use it appropriately, our security and leadership is reinforced.” It also contains an observation that gives rise to a method: “The burdens of a young century cannot fall on U.S. shoulders alone — indeed our adversaries would like to see America sap our strength by overextending our power.” This means “mobilizing collective action” despite “the shortfalls of our international system,” for “America has not succeeded by stepping outside the currents of international cooperation.” The final sentence is clear: “And in a young century whose trajectory is uncertain, America is ready to lead once more.” The terms in which Washington analyses this global leadership are, on the face of it, very similar to those used by the major banks and financial institutions, but the administration takes broader criteria into account, including a geostrategic dimension. The notion of other “centers of influence” is stressed to describe the dynamic international environment of which the United States is part. There is mention of China (which is encouraged to show responsible leadership on global issues and to agree to a dialogue on military matters), India (with whom the United States is forging a strategic partnership), and Russia, whose cooperation the United States seeks in the areas of non-proliferation and Afghanistan. However, the U.S. approach is not simply bilateral; it is accompanied by the promotion of multilateral regional structures — ASEAN, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation,
3 Michel Foucher, A battle of maps, Critical analysis of the visions of the world, François Bourin, 2nd edition, Paris, 2011; 3rd edition, bilingual (English/French), electronic and interactive, Oct. 2012, Itunes/Ipad
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Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership, and East Asia Summit — to manage the emerging powers. A second category of states — the “emerging centers of influence” — includes other G20 members. There is an emphasis on Indonesia, which is facing a series of challenges including climate, counter-terrorism, maritime piracy, natural disasters, and crisis management, and is familiar to the U.S. president. Brazil is mentioned in terms of its leadership and its desire to overcome divisions between North and South in order to improve bilateral, hemispheric, and global relations. In the Middle East, the United States is tied to Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf States by security concerns. Lastly, there is a need to support the African continent’s economic and social development including infrastructure and energy, while at the same time keeping a close eye on stability in Kenya and Nigeria particularly due to their regional importance. South Africa’s inclusion in the G20 will be followed by that of other emerging nations. “More actors exert power and influence. Europe is now more united, free and at peace than ever before.”4 Relations with its European allies are presented as the cornerstone of U.S. engagement with the world and a “catalyst for international action” on security (such as the partial reform of NATO at the Lisbon summit in November 2010) and economic issues. A stronger, more integrated Europe must serve common interests such as the promotion of democracy and prosperity in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Cyprus. The bilateral relationship with Turkey is intended to underpin regional stability. Lastly, Washington means to support the strengthening of European institutions to make them more inclusive. The Washington elite does not accept any representation of a multipolar system in which Russia would be on the same level with the United States, with the exception of strategic nuclear weapons because Russia’s GDP is 20 times smaller than that of the United States. The United States also harbors persistent doubts about the stability of the single European currency and is extremely watchful of Chinese military efforts that might curtail its room for maneuver at sea and in cyberspace. There is no question of being on an equal footing with other centers of influence. Why would the United States accept a reconfiguration of the international system when it is pre-eminent in the
4 National Security Strategy, May 2010.
Why would the United States accept a reconfiguration of the international system when it is pre-eminent in the three fields that form the basis of power?
three fields that form the basis of power: material prosperity (a lack of wealth brought down the Soviet Russian strategy); its strategic reach abroad; and the geopolitical ambition to shape international affairs through the appeal of its socio-cultural model, its example, and its dominance of innovation and ideas? Avoiding any reference to multipolarity, the secretary of state would rather talk about a “multi-partner world” that reflects the reality of the world today (Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, July 15, 2009): “We cannot go back to Cold War containment or to unilateralism. We will lead by inducing greater cooperation among a greater number of actors and reducing competition, tilting the balance away from a multi-polar world and toward a multi-partner world.” Hillary Clinton dismissed ideas of a concert of powers (19th century) and the balance of power (characteristic of the 20th century). Her method was to encourage greater cooperation between a greater number of actors, both “major and emerging,” citing China, India, Russia, and Brazil as well as Turkey, Indonesia, and South Africa. In the final analysis, the United States reserves the role of arbiter of the most important international issues for itself. Final point, the reality of growing interdependence of the United States seems either underestimated or hard to accept. The United States is often thought as a relatively closed economy, sufficient unto itself, but that is less the case than it used to be. The standard measure of openness, trade in goods and services as a share of gross national product, has risen from 21 percent in 1981 to 32 percent today. For U.S. banks’ foreign exposure, the figures are 11 percent of the GDP in 1991 and 30 percent in 2011. The globalization of the United States, which has brought
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benefits and risks as the country becomes more integrated with the wider world, has emerged as an election issue.5 Hierarchy of Interests and Priorities U.S. Outlook: Choice More than Necessity Sustaining global leadership is the stated U.S. objective. And a convincing U.S. answer to the global challenges was provided on January 5, 2012 in a remarkable and synthetic document, crystal-clear, well written, and very Cartesian.6 For Europeans, this paper was a wake-up call. Everything is expressed in one short sentence. Europe is described as a “producer of security more than consumer,” which is most welcomed even if it was possibly not understood when it comes to defense budgets and strategic commitments. The concept of a “pivot,” the strategic shift to Asia, is also very challenging for Europeans and has drawn a lot of comments in Europe. The U.S. answer is a national one more than a collective one. It seems the fact that Europeans have also global interests is not really taken into consideration in the United States’ strategy. A crisis in the South China Sea and Straits of Hormuz would affect European interests maybe more than U.S. ones. Europe has no aircraft carriers available for that region. But there are ways to enhance strategic dialogue on such an important issue. The Balance of Power of European Security: Imposed Challenges During the last two decades, Europeans did rather well, in geopolitical terms, at promoting, along with strong U.S. support, a democratic reorganization on the continent. On the security side, in Europe again, the European balance of power is the closest to the Euro-Atlantic environment of the Cold War, to which we have to add the countries of Central and Eastern Europe joining the Euro-Atlantic structures after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The security challenges here remain linked to the territorial defense described in the North Atlantic Treaty’s Article V. The future will show if NATO will remain the pre-eminent forum or if the EU (which has expanded to such an extent that it now includes 57 percent of the states and 62.5 percent of the population of the member states of the Council of Europe) will be able, through Common Security and Defense Policy and the development of its own capabilities, to also become a structure for collective security and collective defense. A possible expansion of NATO and the EU (which still exert a strong pull over their margins) may change the borders of the European balance of power. As for nearby Europe, a glance at any geostrategic map shows that more than half of the major crises are located in the periphery within a six-hour flight from Brussels. The majority of EU military missions are there. So are the diplomatic commitments (Syria, Southern Caucasus, Sudan, and the Sahel). And the risk is that budgetary constraints could jeopardize Europe’s range of intervention in what the 2008 French White Paper on defense and security named an “arc of crises.” For nearby Europe, the challenges of the “arc of crises”7 are evolving. The European Union seems less well equipped to influence these crises than when it comes to reforms in Europe itself; European countries are reluctant to equip themselves with the tools of power and to use them.8 The European states therefore have the least purchase
7 These countries are situated within three to six hours’ travelling time from Brussels and their history has been closely linked to that of Europe. They include the countries of the African Sahel and the Near and Middle East. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Arabo-Persian Gulf are part of this circle of states, the site of high stakes (energy, straits) and crises that directly affect Europeans, since they have often intervened both militarily and diplomatically. 8 Over the last 20 years, NATO has been building a network of defense and security partnerships (Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative). The European Union uses more diverse instruments, both military and civilian (among others, its ability to intervene financially, its normative influence, and the size of its market) in order to act as a hub around which these states can be organized. The position of Russia (which is undertaking a rapprochement with Western Europe - a historical trend) is of crucial importance for the future.
It seems the fact that Europeans have also global interests is not really taken into consideration in the United States’ strategy.
Moreover, this “pivot” was understood in Europe (notably among the recent members of the European Union) as a signal of lack of interest for European affairs. Europe is neither a problem, nor a support (except in Libya).
5 Financial Times, “As Europe sinks deeper into crisis and fears of a slowing China grow, U.S. global links are looking like restraints,” June 26, 2012 6 Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership,” www.defense.gov/news/defense_strategic_guidance.pdf
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over precisely the critical spaces where the security challenges are keenest. However, the example of the Operation Atalanta shows that, beyond NATO, the EU has also a role to play. A maritime interdiction zone could have been implemented off the coast of Libya at the EU level, but EU member states disagreed. Other interventions like that in Côte d’Ivoire could take place again, under UN and regional organizations’ mandates. Some experts argue the Sahel and the Sahara are France’s next and close “Afghanistan.” The importance of “Africa” and the Mediterranean Rim is reaffirmed in the 2013 French White Paper on defense. More than the United States, Europe is facing more necessity than choice in its strategic commitment.9 To sum-up, Europeans did their historical job in the last two decades, with US support, but, by doing so, they became rather inward looking and not aware enough of the following: that other countries had drawn the same lessons from the collapse of the Soviet system. The Central Committee of the CCP decided to adopt the “socialist market economy” in 1992 and India began its opening by the same token. 1991 was a global turning point, not a mere regional one. Collaborative Approach Europe and the United States should work together to create a strategic vision, a concept, and a common global strategy to cope with the issues of the emergence of new centers of power, beyond rather different evaluations of the new strategic and geopolitical landscape. The two powers have a different view on the issue of leadership, of course. Leadership is becoming more relative. There is at least one reason to describe our vision: new actors have a clear view of what they want to achieve and they think in strategic long-range terms. They have drawn up their own geopolitical projects.10 As is stated rather cautiously in the “Preparatory document for the updating of the French White Paper,” we observe “changes” in the transatlantic relationship. “More generally, though the 2008 White Paper only considers the transatlantic relationship from the viewpoint of collective security and international crisis management with military means, the consequences
9 European Strategic interests: choice or necessity? Michel Foucher, The State of the Union, Schuman report, spring 2013 (Lignes de repère / Springer), Paris and Berlin. 10 I have tried to figure it out in my last book (La bataille des cartes. Analyse critique des visions du monde, 2011).
Europe and the United States should work together to create a strategic vision, a concept, and a common global strategy to cope with the issues of the emergence of new centers of power.
of the economic crisis and the change in the U.S. standpoint could contribute to a shifting of the focus of discussions between Europe and the United States toward issues outside the political-military field. The transatlantic relationship is now being tested in global issues (economy, international monetary system, climate, energy, trade) even though the Alliance continues to form an essential tie.”11 One could argue that beyond global non-military issues and more familiar political-military necessities, both Europe and the United States should engage deeper exchanges on long-term strategic affairs, worldwide. It is striking to note that in the January 5 Department of Defense (DoD) document, Europe is not considered as having global interests. There is a kind of division of labor between Europe, at best, as a regional actor (balance of powers I and II) and the United States with global outreach and responsibility. This imbalance should be at the center of the GMF task force’s work. But doing so would have some serious effects since it implies rethinking the institutional framework of the Euro-U.S. relationship. First, this will challenge the role of NATO as a unique forum of discussion in a more complex security environment.12 NATO used to be an alliance of strategic necessity. It is now an alliance of political choice. Since the major
11 Ibid., page 48. 12 The strategic environment can be understood both in a qualitative way (what are the main characteristics of our security?) and in a spatial dimension (what are the areas that are important for our security). The adjective “transatlantic” is not new. It has appeared after WWII and it created a perfect geographical dimension to the security challenges of the Cold War; the main security challenge was the territorial defense of a wide but well-defined area having the Atlantic Ocean as a geographical center and going from North America to Western Europe. In the last two decades, the definition of our security environment has become more complicated. New threats were envisaged in the NATO strategic concept, and the security environment enlarged.
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issues are not limited to the military dimension, NATO can only be one vector, among others, of the bilateral partnership. It means that the United States is ready to accept a European responsibility on its own, beyond a benevolent leadership. It means also that Europeans are ready to act in a more independent way. Second, Europe is less united now when confronting globalization than it was when reorganizing the continent and its standards after 1991. Worldwide challenges are producing divisive answers. A clearly agreed definition of a short list of common European interests is still undecided. And there is a need to rethink the EU process on the world balance of power, not only the continental one (or the “Eurasian one” as assumed by some authors).13 I am convinced that a new kind of Euro-U.S. dialogue should first aim at reaching that step. In the short term, the bad news is that the positive message sent from Washington crosses the Atlantic in a time of budgetary constraints and a deep trend towards pacifism. How should we refrain from looking at defense budgets as variables of adjustment, convince political leaders that investment in defense may play a role in the more general growth, keep Lancaster house commitments on track, enhance Weimar triangle co-operation (and Weimar plus) in its strategic component, and reshuffle European policy for Turkey? Europe has also Global Interests beyond Europe Both for Europe and the United States, the security environment is closely linked to the global interests affected by the emergence of new powers and the growing interdependence observed on a global scale. Given that, the Euro-Atlantic dialogue starts almost ex nihilo, since neither NATO nor the European Union is part of the region. Besides that, facing the security challenges at the global scale is not a matter of military power, but much more the combination of many instruments with which each member of the Euro-Atlantic partnership can bring its added value. We have to imagine new structures of dialogue. That said, an answer to the question about the EuroAtlantic strategic and security culture lays in a certain flexibility in our thinking, which means being able to consider our interests in a multi-balance of power approach and to imagine what security means for each one of these balances
13 Zbigniew Brzezinski, Strategic vision: America and the crisis of global power, 2012
An answer to the question about the Euro-Atlantic strategic and security culture lays in a certain flexibility in our thinking.
of power. Our future security environment can only be a combination of these balances of power — and so should also be the instruments that we hold or invent in order to face the common challenges. At the global level, the EU has specific and efficient tools (assistance for development, trade agreements, and soft power), and contributes to operations of stabilization. Europe may also offer some interesting ideas on global governance (provided Europe is not the variable of adjustment of a more balanced representation in world institutions). The continuing importance of what is often termed the Indo-Pacific region was highlighted by a number of speakers at the 2012 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. One particularly interesting contribution was that of French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who confirmed that France intends to remain an engaged partner in the region.14 For the British minister for Europe,15 the Asia-Pacific is first an area of economic interests for Europe, which should work more with ASEAN and Japan as a junior partner since it is close to its limits of capacity. It should also rely on the tools provided by the EEAS. Is Europe condemned to be an observer without strategic say in this major half of the globe? And short of classical military means, which could be the ways of innovative strategic presence and influence to best deserve its own interests? Are Europeans ready to accept a kind of
14 Shangri-La Dialogue, June 3, 2012. France aims to include the Asia-Pacific as an “integral part of our security environment.” “Anything that enhances the security of the Asia-Pacific region contributes to a more stable world, as this region is influential in world affairs and will be more critical in the future. In this situation, South-East Asia plays a key role: its vital sea lanes are a bridge connecting Asian nations and are a powerful link with the rest of the world” he pointed out. He added, “Prosperity of the Pacific region depends partly on the stability of the Indian Ocean. Most conflicts in Asia are now interconnected.” Then he spoke more specifically on the implication of France’s involvement in this region, the “major area of interest,” as well as “definite strategic partnerships” that it has developed, specifying that the future White Paper on security and national defense will not fail “to develop this dimension of our defense strategy.” 15 Rt Hon. David Lidington, Minister for Europe, Paris, June 27, 2012, speech at the British Embassy
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Sino-U.S. duopoly on Asia-Pacific affairs? If not, what to do and how? But beyond a too-focused regional approach, it remains crystal-clear that Europeans and Americans have to face the same challenge of addressing the strategic and geopolitical consequences of an economic interdependence that their firms built and that sometimes runs faster than governments. Both sides share the challenge of a geopolitical transition and adaptation to new realities that they cannot master alone, whatever they may think. One major geopolitical aspect of this challenge was clearly expressed by Hillary Clinton in her last speech as Secretary of State:16 “Then there’s China. Navigating this relationship is uniquely consequential because how we deal with one another will define so much of our common future. It is also uniquely complex because, as I have said on many occasions, and as I have had very high-level Chinese leaders quote back to me, we are trying to write a new answer to the age-old question of what happens when an established power and a rising power meet.” Zbigniew Brzezinski offers a different view point by stating that “there is no need for conflict between America and China now that global dominance is no longer achievable.” But he points out that “a revitalized Asia may slide into the kind of nationalistic fervor that precipitated conflicts in 20th-century Europe over resources, territory or power.”17 He continues, “America’s current role in Asia should be analogous to Britain’s role in the 19th-century Europe as an ‘off-shore’ balancing in influence with no entanglements in the region’s rivalries and no attempt to attain domination over the region.” Perhaps. Let us hope for this kind of wisdom and restraint. But we should not forget that when Guillaume II claimed a “place in the sun” for the rising Reich in a world dominated by established powers, the United Kingdom and France, the outcome was a tragic confrontation. Britain’s style of “off-shore” balancing was perceived as an obstacle to a rising desire of world power. Now, Americans and Europeans should discuss the draft of an innovative answer to a serious pressing question.
About the Author
Michel Foucher is director of studies and research at the Institute of Higher National Defense Studies (IHEDN). A geographer and diplomat, Dr. Foucher served as the French ambassador to Latvia (2002-2006), advisor to the French foreign minister (1997-2002), head of the Policy Planning Staff (1999-2002) and special envoy to the Balkans and the Caucasus (1999).
The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) strengthens transatlantic cooperation on regional, national, and global challenges and opportunities in the spirit of the Marshall Plan. GMF does this by supporting individuals and institutions working in the transatlantic sphere, by convening leaders and members of the policy and business communities, by contributing research and analysis on transatlantic topics, and by providing exchange opportunities to foster renewed commitment to the transatlantic relationship. In addition, GMF supports a number of initiatives to strengthen democracies. Founded in 1972 as a non-partisan, non-profit organization through a gift from Germany as a permanent memorial to Marshall Plan assistance, GMF maintains a strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to its headquarters in Washington, DC, GMF has offices in Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Belgrade, Ankara, Bucharest, Warsaw, and Tunis. GMF also has smaller representations in Bratislava, Turin, and Stockholm.
Dr. Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer Director, Paris Office German Marshall Fund of the United States Tel: +33 1 47 23 47 18 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
16 “Remarks on American Leadership,” Hillary Rodham Clinton, Council of Foreign Relations, New York, January 30, 2013 17 “Giants, but no hegemons,” Zbigniew Brzezinski, The International Herald Tribune, February 14, 2103
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