Center for Strategic Decision Research


Keynote Address To the Twenty-first International Workshop on Global Security

His Excellency Dr. Peter Struck, MdB
Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany


Defense Minister Peter Struck
"Whenever religious hatred, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorist-related fanaticism blend with poverty, ethnic antagonisms and faults in social structures, we are faced with a new kind of strategic threat."


The topic of this year’s workshop, “A Broader Concept of Security for the Twenty-first Century,” could not have been more aptly chosen. No matter in which direction we look, be it at the Balkans, the Greater Middle East, or crisis-stricken Africa, one thing is for certain: security and stability at the beginning of the twenty-first century require more than deterrence, defense, and securing national borders. We can no longer define twenty-first century security in the traditional categories of the twentieth century.


Contrary to what many of us expected, the political world that followed the end of confrontation between the major blocs is now going through a phase of disorder, risks, crises, and new dangers. The terrorist attacks in Madrid underscored a new societal vulnerability previously unheard of in Europe. And while no one questions that sweeping changes and substantial increases in security have been achieved in the European stability area through the enlargement of NATO and the European Union, nevertheless terrorism is part of the new security situation that is characterized by increasing risk in the closer and farther proximities of Europe—in the Caucasus, the Middle East, and North Africa.

At a global level, the situation is marked by further flashpoints and new types of threats. These range from the professionalization of international terrorism and asymmetric warfare to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to regional crises and the consequences of states decaying or failing. It is particularly non-governmental actors who are playing important parts in current conflicts.

Whenever religious hatred, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorist-related fanaticism blend with poverty, ethnic antagonisms and faults in social structures, we are faced with a new kind of strategic threat. As a result of these developments and threat options, security and defense have been stretched both in their geographic applicability and their content.


A modern approach to security must not be limited to powerful military forces. It must also have political, social, economic, ecological, and cultural dimensions that must be conceptually and practically combined. A more complex security environment requires these responses to counter the various, frequently non-military causes for violence and instability. Furthermore, it requires effective responses to match the new spectrum of risks and to help ward off imminent dangers and defuse threats to our security on a long-term basis.

In this context it seems obvious to me that:

  • This will never be achieved unless we are aware of global connections, international developments, and structures of regional conflicts.
  • As long as there is no appreciation of foreign cultures and religions, the effects of one’s security commitment will at best be limited.
  • As long as human rights, democratic values, and social participation are not globalized, it will be impossible to prevent totalitarian excesses such as those of Jihad terrorism.

Security based on cooperation and integration and on progress and participation will be as important in the twenty-first century as security based on deterrence, defense, and powerful military forces. Peace and stability are prerequisites for development and prosperity. Conversely, the fight against poverty and for a lasting improvement in living conditions constitutes a substantial contribution toward avoiding violence, conflicts, and wars.

Such understanding has an impact on how we shape our security policy. We must recognize the profound reasons and outward forms of crises and conflicts and employ a comprehensive spectrum of instruments to counter them. Enabling as many as possible to participate in political and social activities, social reforms, and economic prosperity is key to depriving instability and violence of their breeding ground.

While Al-Qaeda masterminds may come from the affluent upper class of society, large-scale Islamic extremism and intricate terrorist networks would be unthinkable were it not for the susceptibility of the poor classes, deprived of their rights in the Muslim and Arab world, to the totalitarian Jihad ideology. Therefore we must avoid terrorist activities and, even better, counter the recruitment of new terrorists.

But controlling the threat can only be achieved through a comprehensive approach. The Western world will not be able to control this threat by going it alone. Serious cooperation will be needed among the states and societies in the affected regions, and we will need to accept some certainties:

  • There are no islands of stability in today’s world.
  • Security can be ensured less than ever before through the sole nation-state approach.
  • Security and stability are a common challenge; joint risks require joint responses.

We therefore need alliances, partners, and effective international cooperation, particularly between European and American democracies. And I have no doubt that because of the global dimension of security and the complexity of our challenges, transatlantic partners will remain mutually dependent in their wish to achieve a stable international environment.

The great security tasks facing this world will be easier to solve if Europe and America stand together. But international cooperation will have to reach farther than that. The events in world crisis regions show us every day that, from both a military and a political point of view, it takes the contribution of many states to make progress towards stabilization. Well over 30 nations have made a commitment in Southeast Europe, and just as many have made a commitment in Afghanistan; approximately 30 are in Iraq as well.

Establishing a safe and secure environment and engaging in nation building call for varied civil-military activities as well as political and material sustainability, which may substantially overstretch the potential of individual states. Joint action must be built on a politically legitimate foundation. Therefore we need more than strong operational democracies; we also need the solid multilateral framework of the United Nations to enforce and maintain peace and security based on international law. While the UN may still be hamstrung in its ability to take action, as a resource of global legitimacy it remains indispensable. This situation is visible in Iraq, where the reconstruction process, which is supported by the population, seems increasingly jeopardized without the UN taking a leading role.

Prevention must be the focus of our peacekeeping policy. Our task must be to tackle violence at its roots and to counter crises and risks where they originate—in the Hindukush and elsewhere—before they develop a momentum of their own and threaten our citizens even from afar. Prevention must include avoiding crises on the ground through coherent, coordinated actions by all governmental and non-governmental players involved. One example of a successful preventive policy is our work in Macedonia, where the bundling of efforts of all international players thwarted an armed conflict. And while crisis-prevention measures ought to be mainly of a civilian nature, our experiences in Bosnia, East Timor, Afghanistan, and Macedonia have taught us that military means are indispensable tools that have gained enormous importance as part of an overall political approach.


I would now like to address three fields of action within a comprehensive security outline. While they are by no means a complete catalogue of what needs to be done, they seem particularly important to me.

1. Stability and Democracy Must Be Supported to Give Peace in Crisis-stricken Regions a Lasting Chance

Enhancing regional stability and defusing and managing regional crises and conflicts constitute a first-class strategic challenge. The rise of the Taliban and the generation of globally active terrorists from a disintegrating state such as Afghanistan are perfect examples of how things are not supposed to be. If we fail to invest today in development and stability outside NATO and the European Union, in the Near and Middle East, the Caspian region, southern Asia, and parts of Africa, it will bounce back on us as a security problem in Europe and the U.S. That is why we must do whatever is necessary to help resolve political conflicts, establish cooperative structures, and support politically legitimate governments, social reforms, and economic prosperity. These are the core elements of any long-term strategy designed to weaken the terrorist recruitment base and bring stability to regions in crisis.

This approach is not new; with the developments in the Middle East and the stalemate in the peace process, however, it has gained fresh political momentum, and justifiably so. Many of the elements I just mentioned have already been successfully employed by the international community in the Balkans and in Afghanistan:

  • Pursuing an overall political concept
  • Providing support along the rocky road to democracy and social equilibrium
  • Furnishing a large-scale international security presence
  • Providing well-trained police forces to oversee the establishment of a national police service
  • Helping to organize a functioning administration
  • Helping to develop perspectives for economic reconstruction and improve the individual’s situation

The success story is unquestionable even though in Southeast Europe the commitment of more than 30 nations over a stretch of eight years makes it abundantly clear that stamina is a must. Today, the Balkans are on the road to Europe again, and NATO can at least partially reduce its military presence. Even in the new Afghanistan the comprehensive approach of stabilization and democratization is bearing fruit. The adoption of the constitution has paved the way for presidential elections and the first free and general elections in September of 2004. Extending the ISAF mission by taking over existing Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) and establishing additional PRTs is now essential for enhancing the influence of the central government and how elections are conducted. The civil-military approach pursued by the German contingent in Kunduz has proved to be a particularly expedient move. In April 2004 the Berlin Conference initiated the political process of establishing sovereignty for Afghanistan.

The situation in the Middle East is somewhat less encouraging; the so-called peace process has practically ground to a halt. One-sided steps may be helpful at times but they can by no means replace sound agreements between parties to the conflict. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be solved only by a settlement between the two states. On the way there, however, the road map must be implemented. It is a model for joint Euro-American efforts to solve this complicated conflict, and there is no promising alternative.

The unresolved Middle East conflict is hampering any attempt to bring stability to the region. It is an illusion to think that genuine progress is possible anywhere in the region without solving this core problem. In Iraq it seems very difficult for a quasi-occupant to bring peace to the country and to conduct nation building successfully.

With the deteriorating situation, a fresh, comprehensive approach is inevitable. It is in no one’s interest for the post-war process in Iraq to fail, or for radical elements to gain strength, or for the difficult nation-building process to be increasingly undermined. But whether or not the situation will improve in Iraq depends on the uninterrupted political transfer of sovereignty and a prominent role for the UN in the reconstruction process and the security environment. UN envoy Brahimi’s suggestions point in the right direction.

Strengthening the role of NATO does not seem imperative to me. What could NATO do better than the coalition forces are doing? But is there a foreseeable time when a democratically legitimized Iraqi government, supported by the United Nations, will submit a request to that effect to NATO?

Both the unsatisfactory situation in Iraq and the stalemate in the Middle East peace process should be enough reason to seriously consider fundamentally new avenues for the Greater Middle East region, i.e., the area from northern Africa to the Middle East to Afghanistan. Our actions ought to be based on the fact that stabilization, modernization, and democratization of that region are the keys to global security in the twenty-first century. Because there are many causes for crises—decades of political conflict, risks of weapons proliferation, anti-Western resentment, terrorism, organized crime, and drug trafficking—the need for stability in this part of the world is a strategic imperative.

Forcing Western models upon other states is not what is needed. It just won’t work. It is right, however, to think about a long-term transformation process during the course of which America, Europe, and the relevant Greater Middle East states develop new perspectives for enhanced cooperation and close partnership in security-related, political, economic, and cultural matters.

It goes without saying that such a political approach can be realized only step by step. One step could be the NATO cooperative initiative for the region that was discussed at the Istanbul Summit. With its Mediterranean Dialogue and the Partnership for Peace concept, NATO has already developed excellent instruments and gained experience likely to stand it in good stead in this respect. The Alliance can make an essential contribution.

Russia has a role to play, too. Its political resources, geographic position, and historic ties with numerous states make the new Russia an important partner for the European community of states in consolidating global stability.

2. The Risks of Global Security Require New Efforts to Contain the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

In view of the security situation that is in place at the beginning of the twenty-first century, we definitely must use an international cooperative approach to try to prevent, or at least limit, the proliferation of WMDs and their components. Regarding nuclear risks I would like to emphasize two points:

First, there is a persistent risk of additional states developing or acquiring nuclear weapons. An increase in the number of states owning nuclear weapons will have a destabilizing effect and will not help international security. I am positive that the states in question will also harm themselves since their stance only causes distrust, encourages arms activities among their neighbors, and thus weakens their own security.

Second, it has become easier in the twenty-first century to acquire nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons components, much of which is due to the irresponsible and criminal behavior of people like the father of the Pakistani nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, whose activities were detected by the American and British secret services. Over several years Khan obviously spent a lot of criminal energy building up a global network for the sale of nuclear technology to states such as Iran, Libya, and North Korea. Khan’s example provides an inkling of how criminal or ideological motivation can make WMDs available not only to states but to terrorist elements, which of course constitutes a whole new quality of threat.

In consideration of this very danger, existing instruments must be strengthened and new avenues followed to counter proliferation. And while there are no magic formulas, we have seen encouraging beginnings. It remains essential that NATO and the EU attribute special significance to the fight against proliferation. In this context the prime choice is not so much the use of military means, though the EU’s proliferation strategy, as of December 2003, relies on enforcement action as a last resort under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

The U.S. and Europe will have to find a common line and put it into practice together, both for assessing the threat potential and for dealing with states such as Iran. Ultimately, success will be achievable only by using a comprehensive approach comprised of political and security-specific measures as well as economic sanctions and incentives, individually imposed upon the nation concerned.

One crucial way to fight proliferation is to remove the deficits of existing instruments. There is great need for action in connection with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is and will continue to be the international community’s first choice for preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. But the treaty needs adapting. President Bush’s remarkable speech to the National Defense University on February 11, 2004, contained some important points.

I would now like to touch upon some crucial aspects of this topic:

  • Export control regulations for nuclear technology and material must become more stringent, and the entire export control system needs to be standardized. Many countries have not yet been included and gaps need to be closed.
  • Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) must be granted far more powerful inspection rights. To date only 20 percent of the 191 UN members have signed a supplementary protocol with the organization to that effect.
  • It is essential that we amend the Non-Proliferation Treaty in a way that prevents states that are suspected of illegal activities from simply withdrawing from the treaty. Any such withdrawal ought to trigger scrutiny by the UN Security Council, since any cancellation would undoubtedly constitute a risk to peace and security in the world.
  • Everyone intent on fighting the proliferation of nuclear weapons must do whatever they can to put into effect the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. They must also work to reach a universal ban on the production of fissionable material for weaponization, which the Geneva Conference on Disarmament has tried in vain to do for eight years. I fail to see how the development of new nuclear weapons on the part of nuclear weapons states could possibly dampen the desire of critical states to acquire them.
  • New avenues must be found that go beyond the reach of agreements and treaties. One example of such means is the U.S. Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which Germany has subscribed to. This initiative deserves to be supported because preventing the shipping of WMDs and components for their production is a vital addition to existing export controls.

3. Our Security Institutions Need to Be Further Adapted to Match the Different Types of Challenges

The changed security environment and the new demands on how we will handle it politically in the twenty-first century are the stimulants for optimizing the multilateral instruments of security-related efforts.

First and foremost, this third point concerns NATO. Its firm global orientation is correct, reflecting the new, changed conditions. The Alliance must be able to defend its 26 members’ security interests wherever they are endangered. The Euro-Atlantic states have recognized that today’s central security challenges— fighting international terrorism, making extensive military contributions to stabilizing crisis areas such as Afghanistan, and providing protection from weapons of mass destruction—can be tackled only by consolidated transatlantic cooperation and by the Alliance playing a pivotal role.

This orientation is not a question of nostalgia, but of what the NATO Secretary General recently called the “reversion to NATO.” This reversion, however, has started a far-reaching transformation process, ensuring that, in the future, NATO’s capability to act and its multilateralism will not rule each other out.

Devising relevant military capabilities for out-of-area missions must also be a priority. The number of rapidly deployable forces will have to rise. Therefore, the transformation of the Alliance regarding its planning, decision-making, command and control structures, and military capacities must be pushed further ahead.

In this context, the realization of the NATO Response Force (NRF) concept will be both the core element and the catalyst for this transformation of allied forces, a step that will be needed to prevent the number of demands and the reality of the Alliance from damaging the organization. This is one of the reasons we are currently aligning the Bundeswehr and its tasks and capabilities exactly to twenty-first century requirements. From my point of view, this includes universal conscription, which I believe in, as does the head of my policy planning and advisory staff, in contrast to the badly distorted press reports on the subject. I can affirm that it was this very staff and the man in charge of it who encouraged me to continue my campaign for conscription. The transformation of the Alliance and that of the Bundeswehr will go hand in hand.

I would like to emphasize again that to me it is only logical to give the Alliance’s military transformation, which is already in progress, an even stronger political framework. Boosting the efficiency of the armed forces is one thing, but agreeing on where, for what, and under what circumstances to use the military is quite another. If NATO is to shoulder more responsibility for our security on a global scale—and I advocate this idea—the allies ought to provide a more accurate, basic understanding of strategic tasks and the objectives of joint NATO action in the twenty-first century.

With its new European Security Strategy, the European Union has already set a politico-strategic landmark for providing a European security commitment framework. The EU is standing up to its responsibility both in Europe and throughout the world. In shaping and realizing its security and defense policy, it is helping itself to a unique range of military as well as civilian tools that, as a rule, must be employed in complex crisis management operations.

EU missions in Bosnia, Macedonia, and the Congo are illustrating its new self-image as well as its changed awareness—the organization realizes that it must use whatever security instruments are available to help resolve conflicts in Europe, along its periphery and anywhere they impact Europe. That is why the EU’s security-related capabilities need to be enhanced even further—not to duplicate NATO’s capacities but in order for the organization to make its own contribution if so required. With its political clout, resources, and interests, Europe can no longer confine its status to that of a “civilian power.”

However, Europe is not yet a political player in matters of worldwide security, though it still ought to increasingly consider itself one, both in its own interests and in view of the fact that the U.S., despite its unparalleled position of power, cannot shoulder the burden of global security tasks alone. To do so, the European Force Goal (the Headline Goal 2010) should be further developed. It should take into account actual crisis management requirements, expediently shape the “Battlegroup Concept” to attain quick reaction capability, and establish the European Agency for Armaments, Research, and Military Capabilities. In this way, the EU will gradually become a genuine strategic partner for the U.S. and NATO and help to consolidate global security.

Cooperative agreements between the EU and NATO have already proved successful in the Balkans, where, at the end of 2004, the EU will start a follow-on operation to the NATO-led SFOR mission. In addition, the UN will undoubtedly continue to play its pivotal role in reinforcing security on a global scale. The ISAF’s experiences in Afghanistan and developments in Iraq show that the UN’s legitimate base and the Security Council’s monopoly of power are indispensable for a peacable and security-oriented world order

Both NATO and the EU must therefore continue to cooperate closely with the UN, work to strengthen the latter’s position, and be prepared to employ their forces under a UN mandate as well as on their own behalf—key goals of the previously mentioned German-Franco-British Battlegroup Concept. For its own part, the UN must also be prepared to carry out whatever reforms are necessary and to pursue new avenues that will enable it to perform the changed tasks inherent in the new global security policy. This would include giving the UN Security Council a more representative character, making UN structures involved in peacekeeping operations more efficient, strengthening UN crisis prevention capacities, and improving UN support for regional peacekeeping approaches (as in Africa, for example).


Time and again we hear that this world is a world in transition, still waiting for a new world order to follow the end of the East-West confrontation. I am afraid that this new world order—whatever each of us expects it to be—is keeping us waiting. It may therefore be necessary to direct our security policy toward opposing lines of development.

The accession of seven more states to NATO and 10 new states to the European Union are good examples of the opportunities for integration and cooperation that have developed within the new security system of the twenty-first century. Such opportunities also manifest themselves, though in a somewhat different context, in the entirely new kind of global cooperation we have seen in the fight against international terrorism. However, there remains a multitude of destabilizing tendencies and risks that call for extensive and sometimes totally new security responses. This workshop should make a contribution toward answering that call.


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