Center for Strategic Decision Research


The Security Threat and its Political, Military, Technological and Industrial Responses

Mr. Jean-Louis Gergorin
Executive Vice President, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS)

Let me start by saying that, as a first-time participant in this Workshop, I am impressed by its quality and free spirit. In my speech, I would like to concentrate on three issues: the current security threat, the political-military response, and the technology and industry response. The points will be discussed below.


For most decision makers in Europe, and despite what leading journalists put forward as public opinion, I see no major difference with the U.S. assessment of the threat. We are indeed in a situation very comparable to that at the beginning of the Cold War. We are facing a major enemy—a loose coalition of Islamic radical terrorists with the potential to use weapons of mass destruction in the long term—and a war that will probably last for years if not decades. Exactly as in the Cold War, we must face this threat with a global response. 

However, there is one major difference between Europeans and Americans that has not been emphasized. It is the fact that there are two ways to fight an enemy: one is to neutralize him by killing him or arresting him, the other is to neutralize him by converting him or reducing his constituency. If we look at the first three years of the Cold War, between 1947 and 1950, when the United States and President Truman decided to respond to the Soviet challenge against Turkey and Greece and to the Communist challenge in Western Europe and Asia, we see that the reactions of the “founding fathers” of the Western Alliance, President Truman, General Marshall, and Secretary Acheson, were both military and political. NATO was created, the rearmament of U.S. forces was begun, and the military build-up was restarted. At the same time, there was the Marshall Plan and a number of activities that were undertaken, sometimes covertly, by U.S. intelligence agencies to support democratic movements in Western Europe—social democratic movements and social-democratic non-communist trade unions. 

The net result of this activity was that, from 1947 to 1950, the number of what I would call Communist sympathizers in the major political battlefield of Western Europe significantly decreased and the strength of Communism was sharply reduced. This was a major achievement and it was further developed by the economic rebuilding of Europe and European integration, with the full support of the United States. 

If we now look at the first approximately three years of the new world war against Islamic terrorism—from September 11, 2001, to May 2004—we see that the exact reverse has happened. After an initial military success, we are not doing extremely well militarily, and find ourselves in a stalemate; even though we are prevailing somewhat in Afghanistan, we are in a bad situation in Iraq. Politically, things are far worse. According to polls the Pew Research Center has taken, as well as to analyses that have been conducted in France, the U.K., and Turkey, not to mention in the Arab, Islamic, and Asian worlds, the number of those sympathetic to radical Islam in the Muslim world has dramatically increased. For reasons that we all know, the situation further deteriorated in May and June of 2004. We are facing a major challenge that we must absolutely respond to. Things will only get worse if we do not.


I believe that there is no better organization than NATO to face these threats because NATO is an alliance that is both political and military. Its success is well established and it is enjoying even greater legitimacy since it integrated the new Eastern European democracies that were freed from Communism. This integration, by the way, is a perfect example of why NATO is successful. It is successful because it is based on multilateral consensus, something that is very important in terms of legitimacy although it is sometimes hated in Washington. It is a consensus that does not prevent NATO from being effective, as was demonstrated in Kosovo. So NATO is the best solution, especially since the concept of the “coalition of the willing,” which was so fashionable in Washington two years ago, has been found to quickly turn into the “coalition of the unwilling” when things go wrong. What is happening now with the coalition of the willing in Iraq clearly demonstrates that this is not the right way to proceed. 


It is fairly clear that we are facing a major transformation in the art of war. I am especially grateful to Dr. Wells for giving one of the greatest exposes on network-centric capabilities and what they mean. However, with due respect, I must disagree with Dr. Wells on one point that is often mentioned by U.S. presenters: it is the notion that what is happening will further reinforce the technology dominance of the U.S. I do not believe that this is entirely true. We are building toward network-centric warfare but we should not forget about network-centric terrorism (NCT). In fact, September 11 was an example of network-centric terrorism using crude but effective network-centric capabilities, including the Internet and mobile phones. NCT will get worse with the development of very advanced commercial technologies. 

Second, I think that Europeans are absolutely able to innovate in the network fields, as demonstrated by their success in a variety of commercial network-oriented technologies or software technologies. We can see the success in Europe of Nokia, of SAP, of various telecom companies, of Dassault Systems in CATCAM, clearly demonstrating that we are not lagging. We have only one technology that goes back and forth between Asia, Europe, and America. In platforms, Europeans have also demonstrated that they are not lagging at all in their work on satellites, helicopters or aircraft, both commercial and military. 

Yet there clearly is a funding gap, and we must do better and harmonize better. This is why I am personally in favor of a far more powerful European defense agency than the one that is currently being planned, though it is a first step. 

There is also another point: Just as Americans must accept that they cannot win wars if they do not win the battle of the minds in the Islamic world, they must understand that they will not convince Europeans to fully accept a totally integrated defense market if there is not a two-way street, if the technology limitations that currently exist are not lifted. These limitations paralyze effective transatlantic cooperation. However, when we do succeed in overcoming these limitations, as was the case recently with the Airborne Ground Surveillance System—an important project for NATO in this new era—we see many good prospects. So I believe that Washington must make efforts to keep a more open mind toward Europe regarding technology transfer and technology cooperation. At the same time, European nations need to accept, rationalize, and eliminate waste and, as soon as they can, increase their budgets. 








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