Paris '07 Workshop
THE WAY AHEAD
Ambassador Zoltan Martinusz
"...if we cannot win in the information/media environment, all our victories
in the other environments...may
be in vain...Strategic communications are of extreme importance and we cannot have
value-based wars in a value-neutral information environment."
The statement that Mr. John Grimes made, “Global security can mean a lot of things to a lot of people—it is all about perception,” is definitely true, and reflects the fact that security is subjective: it is in the eye of the beholder. But without a shared vision of security, how can we approach it?
THE APPROACH TO AND THE MEANING OF SECURITY
The term “comprehensive approach” is certainly the buzz-phrase of the day at NATO, but all of us need to apply limits to the meaning of security at a certain point. Otherwise, everything in our global society will be a security issue, which could be interesting from a theoretical point of view but impractical in the real world. If security policy became an all-encompassing superpolicy, there would be doubtful consequences and ultimately the notion of security would be diluted.
Right at this workshop, where security policy and defense-industry professionals sit together, a gap exists in the meaning of security. Non-NATO ambassadors may be wondering why NATO ambassadors are preoccupied with the issues they are focused on, and the same may be true for MD/South representatives. Perception is important, but incompatible and incomparable terms make it all the more difficult. The gap in global perception is a challenge in and of itself.
Lawrence Freedman talked about the transformation of strategic affairs. We are also witnessing a transformation of the notion of security. But while certain tendencies and directions are clear, the overall picture is not clear yet. For example, new tendencies are often described in mutually exclusive terms, but in reality new tendencies co-exist both with each other and with old tendencies as well. In addition, the newfound power and self-confidence that often are closely related to some of the new types of tendencies can lead to old, familiar-sounding threats and rhetoric.
Although we have tried to identify some of the most characteristic tendencies based on presentations from different panels, we are still desperately looking for a single, simple description. Descriptions are often presented in mutually exclusive terms: new versus old challenges, expeditionary warfare versus territorial defense, Westphalian versus post-Westphalian, stabilization versus counterinsurgency. However, these are not truly mutually exclusive concepts, but rather exist in parallel and are closely interlinked.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE INFORMATION ENVIRONMENT
Robert Lentz talked about moving from guns to blankets to information. These three concepts can co-exist in the same time and space, for example, they do so in Afghanistan. But if we cannot win in the information/media environment, all our victories in the other environments—the guns and blankets environments—may be in vain. The information environment exists 24x7. Therefore we must deal with it 24x7, just as we do the physical and operational environments, and we must win it. Strategic communications are of extreme importance and we cannot have value-based wars in a value-neutral information environment.
Currently there is uncertainty in the institutional approach. Specialized security alliances can create biases and jealousy, with bilateral and national political issues manifesting themselves as institutional problems. But out of the wish to be politically correct, we often do not call a spade a spade.
Minister Aaviksoo told us that one of the problems of cyber-defense is identification. Traditional security issues had a rather firm, clear identity, but this is not the case for the new security challenges—even hardcore security challenges such as terrorism and IED attacks are often faceless, and organized crime can be hidden. Cyber-attackers often use stolen identities and illegal mass migration is the migration of millions of faceless people. Global warning, an existential threat to many countries and the security threat for them, has no face at all.
But the rise of new challenges does not mean that the old challenges are fading away. Their continuous evolution requires continuous adaptation. Therefore we must not give up the old instruments and approaches, especially before the new ones have been proven. Old tools may still come in handy in the new environment because arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation will continue to be important.