Center for Strategic Decision Research

Paris '07 Workshop

Opening Dinner Debate of the 24th International Workshop on Global Security

General George Jouwan, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe

General George Joulwan
Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander-in-Chief U.S. European Command

General George Jouwan, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, opens the dinner debate with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

"What can we do to find the right way ahead? What can we do to get a better understanding of people
from different cultures, who practice different religions, and who live in different parts of the world?"


General George Jouwan, former SACEUR:  Tonight I am not going to give formal remarks—Roger has asked me to do something a little bit different this year. We are going to have a dinner debate to start the workshop off, something like we did last year after dinner with General Jones, a kind of question and answer period in which we talked very informally with him about the General George Joulwan, former SACEURissues we are facing. That discussion turned out to be quite lively and very important and allowed us to discuss some of the issues that we had not had time to get into.

††††††††† Before we begin, however, I want to recognize the wonderful setting we are in. Paris has always meant a great deal to me, just as Berlin has, and I could not help recalling today the experiences I had in Paris when I was the Supreme Allied Commander and came to Paris for two very important meetings.† One meeting had to do with Bosnia. The heads of state of NATO, all 16 presidents and prime ministers, came to Paris in December of 1995 and authorized NATO forces to conduct operations to stop the killing and the atrocities in Bosnia. I was able to speak to those heads of state in a way that enabled us to clarify the mission and rules of engagement. I do not want to criticize the U.N. effort, which was valiant but clearly a bankrupt strategy. NATO along with its partners were able to stop the killing, and because of the political support of 16 democratic nations working togetherówith France a very key member of that teamówe ended up engaging 37 nations in a strong, humanitarian, peace-enforcement effort that ended the violence between three vicious, warring factions in the Balkans. We have not suffered one hostile death there since that time. That is doing it right, and it all began here in Paris in 1995.

††††††††† The second occasion that took place in Paris that I think is important to remember happened in May 1997. Heads of state once again came to Paris to sign the very important NATO Russia Founding Act, which established the relationship between Russia and NATO as well as a partnership with Ukraine. That occasion set the foundation for an engagement with both those countries that had been missing for hundreds of years and attempted to shape a future in which we would be able to prevent wars rather than have to fight them. And this workshop played an important role in providing a forum to discuss the need for cooperation and solidarity between Russia and NATO and the need to act in the Balkans.


††††††††† Hard as it was to imagine, in 1997 I had a three-star Russian deputy working with me at SHAPE Headquarters in Mons for 20 months. When I left Paris in the spring of 1997, and later on when I turned over my command, very optimistic about the future, both Russia and NATO were working together as a team. But now, 10 years later, I am not very optimistic, and that concerns me. I do not want to be negative but I have to be realistic as a soldier who has spent most of his life trying to deter or prevent war. So I am very delighted to be here and to have such a diverse group to discuss not only the past but the future.†

††††††††† Where are we now? What can we do to set the ship in the right direction? And what can we do to bring about the conditions that we need to provide a better world for our children and our grandchildren? I do not care if you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or any other religion. In my view, we are all striving to create a better world, one in which we can live in peace and harmony and friendship. I think the conditions right now are causing great concern about what we are doing. But there is no better place in my view to talk about these things than at this workshop here in Paris. Let us ask ourselves, What can we do to find the right way ahead? What can we do to get a better understanding of people from different cultures and who practice different religions and live in different parts of the world?


General Joulwan: Let’s start with the issue of Russia. Ten years ago I talked about a very positive relationship with Russia but since then we have seen a lessening of that relationship. Since the Russians joined us in Bosnia, which I thought was very positive, our relationship has gone downhill. How can we revive it? How can we restore the relationship, or will it always be adversarial? I don’t think it needs to be. But let’s talk about issues—for example the missile defense shield that is being proposed for Europe, the Russian concern for NATO enlargement, and even the issue of cyber-attacks against NATO systems. How do we feel about the issues with Russia? Where do we think it is going and what do we think can be done?

Czech Ambassador to Japan, Jaromir Novotny: You mentioned the missile shield, which Czechs are deeply involved in because the radar has to beCzech Amb to Japan Jaromir Novotny on Czech territory. The issue is difficult for me as ambassador, but I am speaking now as a private person, and my comments do not reflect the position of my government. I think that Russia is trying to be a power again. Oil prices are the highest they have been in history, Russia has paid all its debts, and the country is getting back its pride. Now it is trying to be the way it always was in history, whether during the time of the tsars or the time of the communists—it is trying to be a power. The Baltic States are feeling this greatly, with Estonia the latest to feel the pressure. Russia is trying to tell Estonia whether its government will or will not be. It is also trying to build a “near abroad,” for example, in Ukraine, where the Orange Revolution was lost. Russia is also trying to put pressure on Georgia again, as well as vetoing the decision about Kosovo, so we are right back to where we were with Russia previously.

General Joulwan: But how can we engage with Russia? Are we in an adversarial relationship again? What are our common interests? Do we have common interests with Russia and how we can work them?

Ambassador Novotny: I think that we are not back in the Cold War period but we are starting a Cold Peace. Because the Russians are strong enough, they are using energy as a weapon. Last winter they turned off the gas, and you can imagine what could happen to Western Europe, which is dependent on Russian gas and Russian oil. The Russians are trying to build a new pipeline from the Baltic Sea to avoid the Baltic countries, although I believe that will not be possible because the Estonian government will not allow the pipeline on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. I think we are in a game with Russia—you know the West is no danger to Russia. The danger may be somewhere in the south but the Russians are trying to keep their part of the pie.

General Joulwan: Let me hear some other voices here. Do we have to have a Cold Peace? I do not think Russia wants to see a failed state, for example, in Iraq or Afghanistan. I do not think Iran being a nuclear power is in their interest. Some comments?

French Dep Dir for Strategic Affairs, Ing. General Robert Ranquet: The reaction to the U.S. missile project is overstated, of course. It may be useful to try to, as we say in France, prendre la place de l’autre, or French Dep Dir of Strategic Affairs, Gen Robert Ranquet be in the shoes of your opponent for a bit. Just think what the French people would think if Russia were going to have a missile base in,let’s say, Luxemburg. How would we feel? It would be trouble for us, beside any objective analysis. How would the U.S. react if Russia were going to have a missile base closer to the U.S., in Cuba, for instance? A lot of psychology is involved in this issue, so how can we deal with Russian psychology today?

General Joulwan: I think we have heard two very interesting responses. General Kujat would like to make a few remarks now.

General Harald Kujat, Former NATO Military Committee Chairman and German Armed Forces Chief of General Staff: Here is a third view. I was in Munich when I listened to President Putin and it was not just the missile issue that he mentioned. He mentioned a whole bunch of problems: the CFE Treaty, the missile issue, NATO enlargement. The net result from my perspective was frustration on the General Harald Kujat, former Chairman of the NATO Military CommitteeRussian side regarding cooperation with NATO, frustration with the relationship with the United States, frustration over the entire spectrum. The fact that the missile issue popped up as the primary focus is because of inner European acceptance. The concern was echoed in Europe, which made it very attractive for Russia to continue with it. But the frustration is understandable, because the military has warned for some time: We are going too far with NATO, we are making too many compromises, we are not getting anything out of this. But that is the kind of difficulty that can arise when one nation has a strategic partnership with a 26 nations alliance. As far as the missile issue is concerned, there was a little sensitivity on the U.S. side regarding the Russian position. No threat exists from the 10 missiles, which the Russian military and politicians know. They know, of course, that these missiles are not aiming at Russia, and they know the missilesí exact purpose. The problem is that the U.S. ignored the status of the other nuclear strategic superpower. Russia is no longer a world power. It does not have worldwide power projection capability but it is a nuclear strategic superpower. And when you deploy missiles at the front door of the other nuclear strategic superpower, you ignore the status of that power.

So it is a matter of principle ≠ it is not a question of informing or not informing the other side. Their status has been ignored. Russia is recovering in the conventional field, it has more self-confidence, and it has more money. The country is also improving its nuclear strategic capability and its conventional-force military capability. They always fear that they are encircled by enemies. So we need to find an answer to that problem, which is a Russian problem, not a bilateral problem. The first part of the answer will be given when NATO offers some concessions concerning the CFE Treaty, and we should continue negotiating along this line.

General Joulwan: Thank you, that was very interesting. Many of us predicted what would happen to Russia, that Russia would bottom out and then come back up. Now they are coming back up. Ten years ago I thought that the relationship would be based on what we call in the West mutual trust and confidence and that we could build on that. Now I think we have to go back to those principles. When Foreign Minister Primakov asked me in London about NATO enlargement, I told him very clearly that he had nothing to fear from it. In fact, I said that NATO enlargement would secure Russia’s Western flank, and that his problems were to his south and east. He smiled and said, “When did a NATO general get to be strategic in his thinking?”  <

††††††††† So, we do have common interests. When Jim Jones had a 10-year reunion with the Russians I had worked with at SHAPE, they said the same thing that General Kujat just mentioned, that they felt they were not being respected as a nation. But they also said, “We have common interests in Afghanistan and we have common interests in Iraq.” So I do believe we need to reach out to the Russians and work together.

††††††††† Let me shift to another topic now—where we are in France. The French just had an election and there is a lot of speculation about where things are going. How do we see France’s engagement over the next four to six years both with the EU and with NATO? Do we see a change? Where do we see France going? 

Admiral Jean Betermier, Advisor to EADS CEO: I would first like to follow up on General Kujat’s words on Russia. This is an important topic that we do not Adm Jean Betermier, Senior EADS Advisor pay enough attention to.  With the Russians admitting that a reunified Germany could be in NATO, though one of the conditions of reunification was that there would be no permanent stationing of NATO forces beyond the old borders, deployment in Central Europe without shared understanding with Russia could be provocative. On the Western side, we say the Four plus Two agreement only concerned the reunification of Germany. Nobody thought at the time that the Warsaw Pact would disappear, but the Russians believe that the spirit of the agreement was that there would be no permanent deployment in their garden. So I concur with General Kujat.  As a retired admiral, I have no personal connection with the president of France, and even though I am still a member of the defense scientific board, the minister has changed. So I am not an expert. However, I believe that, globally, France’s foreign policy commitment will remain the same. The president said several times that he would like to act in closer cooperation with the United States.   When I was in the Middle East recently, that wish upset a lot of people there. Europeans and Americans must be very careful and sensitive when we play the transatlantic game, and not give the impression that a big bloc is arriving together. I believe that defense expenditures will remain at the same level but it is not clear how they will be shared among the people, those who provide the manpower, and investments. The president will probably try to impose his own mark on the next programming law—we are going to work on a new defense white paper and exchange views with close friends from the Pentagon and the National Defense University. Without influencing the French view, it may, at the end of the day, concur with that of our European friends and our U.S. partners.

General Joulwan: Perhaps you or someone else would like to comment on how the EU, NATO, and France can come closer together in the future under this administration.

Admiral Betermier: I was very impressed when I participated in several different meetings in Washington, Brussels, and Paris. There has been a sea change on the U.S. side. Correct me if I am wrong, but the European Security and Defense Policy was for too long seen as some kind of cheval de Troie, an engine that would destroy NATO from the inside. It is no longer seen that way; in fact, in Brussels recently the discussions we had with people from NATO concluded that a strong ESDP will be the best thing for strengthening the Atlantic partnership. I am rather sure that our German friends hold the same view, and it is also the view of the new French political team as I understand it.

General Joulwan: Many of us know that there has been tension between the EU and NATO and between the U.S. and France, and now there is a great opportunity to work together. Does anyone else have a comment on this very interesting issue?

General Richard Wolsztynski, former French Air Force Chief of Staff: I have two or three things I would like to say. The first thing is that when you talk about NATO and the EU, you always hear about Gen Richard Wolsztynski, Chief of Staff of French Armed Forcesconfrontation and comparison and it looks like there is a fight. To me, that is just nonsense. Why? I will give you a simple example. When you are in a given country—France for us and the U.S. for many of you here—there is only one way for our fellow citizens to put money in the budget. Although  I do not belong to the leadership of my country,  I do try to help them. If you have a certain amount of money to put into, let’s say, a defense budget, you do not have three ways to use or to suggest this money be used. For you or a member of NATO or a member of the EU, whatever body you belong to, there is only one way to do it. So every time I am asked this question, I say we have to stop this ridiculous competition between NATO and the EU or whatever body is being talked about. We know that there are good contributors to some bodies and that also there are bad ones. Some hold nice talks but they do not put the money on the table and some do not say a damn word but they do give the money.

The second point I would like to make regards a possible change in France. During the election campaign our newly elected president said that we may have to look at things a little differently when we look at our relationship with the U.S. He said very frankly that the French people and the U.S. people know what they went through in the past.  The French people know what we owe to the U.S. and U.S. soldiers. I was born four kilometers from Saint Avold, the cemetery in which the biggest number of soldiers were buried in Europe. So that is one thing. But how the politicians talk to each other is another thing. 

††††††††† One or several new paths may be looked at by our president. That is what he said in his campaign and now everyone is waiting to see how he will implement it. One path may lead toward the EU, which is the direction he was taking when he went to see German Chancellor Angela Merkel and when he went to Poland. Another path may lead toward Africa, because we have to take a position to deal with African countries. Things are changing.  The African continent is in a very tough position today. The whole world should be interested in that, and certainly Europe should, because it is just north of the African continent. 

††††††††† But the real thing I think we should be concerned about today is the real world. There is chaos in Iraq, there is chaos in the Gaza strip. I also see growing chaos in Lebanon. All of these places are located in the same part of the world, which I discovered 26 years ago at the very nice Air War College in Maxwell called Central Command. The question I asked 26 years ago of my American friends was, “What is the perimeter of what you call Central Command?” I got no answer. Today I ask again, “What is the perimeter of Central Command?” because that is another way of asking, “What is the perimeter of what we call the Middle East theater?”

††††††††† Who is involved today in the Middle East theater? It no longer includes only Israel-Palestine or Israel-Arab tension or conflict. Does Turkey belong to this theater? What about Iran? Where does the theater stop? Where does it start? How far does it extend when you look north, east, west, and south? I think these are the real-world issues we must deal with today. When I go to buy bread every morning or buy my newspaper, I hear what people are talking about, and they are talking about chaos in Iraq, chaos in the Gaza strip, chaos in Lebanon. They are very much concerned.

General Joulwan: Thank you for bringing up a concern I think we all share.  Another issue that ties into this concern is what we see in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, and northern and southern Lebanon and that is the issue of Islam, several of whose representatives are joining us at the workshop. How do we react? How do we interact? What interests do we have in common? We sometimes paint a picture that we have no common interests, that it is strictly us against them, but I do not believe that. I truly think we need a better understanding of the extreme fundamentalist Islamic issue that is affecting many countries, not just Iraq and Afghanistan. How do we go about developing the kinds of common interests that we find in democracies? Is there common ground that we can explore together, or will it always be adversarial? If it is the latter, I think we are in for a rough ride, but what do you think? What are some of your views?

Dr. Roger Weissinger-Baylon, Workshop Chairman: I am certainly not on the side of Islamic extremists, but, from reading the national and international press, from talking to friends where I live in a San Francisco suburb near Stanford University, and from what I have Dr. Roger Weissinger-Baylon, Workshop Chairmanheard at this workshop, I get the impression that the U.S. seems to motivated--at least in part--by a desire for access to Iraq's oil resources. If so, it will take about 30 years to get that oil out. And that will mean keeping our troops there for 30 years. These troops will be increasingly perceived as an occupying force. And that will lead to growing chaos, as the General mentioned, increasing animosity toward the U.S., and a really horrible situation for decades to come. 

Regarding your concern about Islamic views, perhaps there should also be concerns about Christian and Jewish views, too. From talking to conservative Christian friends--which are not an insignificant part of the U.S. population--I understand that they want the Jews to regain their Biblical territories. They see this as a necessary condition for Christ's return. So there seems to be a very strong desire to get more land for the Israelis and oil for the U.S.

General Joulwan: So, do we really feel that the motivation behind all of this is oil?

Ambassador Mahmoud Karem, Egyptian Ambassador to EU: General, you pose a very important question, and I will be direct with my answer. First of all, let us not fall into sweeping generalizations. Amb Mahmoud Karem, Egyptian Amb to EULet us not judge, nor be swayed by the acts of a misguided few and attribute them to the nature or core of Islam. Islam is a holy religion as is Christianity, Judaism, and many other faiths we all respect and believe in. In its literature the holy book or Quran, Islam has an entire chapter devoted to the Virgin Mary.  No other religion has given this privilege to the mother of Christ. Yes, terror has been done in the name of Islam, but, believe me, these acts are not what Islam preaches. These acts do not reflect the Islam we have been taught to follow, or the Islam we practice.  If we go back to the history of Salah Eldin Al Ayyubi(1187), we discover that even during special moments Islam gave refuge to the resident Jews in Jerusalem by respecting their homes, their synagogues, never to enter their places of worship, and never to ask them to fight our wars. A noted scholar expressed: “Salah El Deen expressed in the most practical way the kindness and mercy of Islam when, at the peak of his victory and power he gave freedom for all inhabitants of Jerusalem to leave the City unharmed.” The origin of these instructions could be traced earlier to Umar Ibn Elkhattab in 636 in a famous letter addressed to the citizens of Jerusalem that same year and later in  the conquest of Egypt when the same Caliph, instructed his General Amr Ibn Elass to treat the Christian Copts of Egypt with dignity and respect .   
          The second point I want to make is that we should not hold any discussions based on the assumption that because we are all part and parcel of global united action against terrorism, we should face Muslims or Islam as the primary source of threat. I want to draw a very clear distinction between our common endeavors against international terrorism and linking those endeavors to a particular region or faith.  We should not forget Egypt’s campaign against terrorism and the losses we endured in our fight against terror, human losses incurred as well as losses inflicted on our economy, the attempts to destabilize Egypt as a result of its steadfast position against international terrorism. Egypt’s bill in this regard and its sacrifices are noteworthy.
          My third and last point is that we have an unresolved Arab Israeli conflict in the region that has been stagnant for a very long time. Prolonging the conflict as well as delaying a solution levies heavily even on unexpected sectors of the Egyptian society.  In a recent poll in Egypt targeting new graduates of Egyptian universities and performed by a reputable European/Egyptian institution, the poll question: "What is your major worry as a young graduate?" produced unexpected results.  The expected answers were finding a job—especially that Egypt is faced with 650,000 new graduates each year—finding an apartment, finding a wife, obtaining a good salary, and so on.
          Astonishingly, most graduates answered, "The Arab-Israeli conflict." This is what is alive and well in the minds of young Egyptians who have been torn by this conflict and who continue to see killings on live TV broadcast and networks. Where then, I ask is the culture of peace that we all need.  So I argue tonight and I shall argue tomorrow that we must all work together, Europe, the United States, and especially Russia to nurture a common culture of peace and common understanding in our region. Let us not forget that Russia co-chaired the Madrid International Peace Conference with the US and that Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, and that much is expected from Russia as is expected from Europe and the United States. ††

General Joulwan: Thank you very much. Those points tie in with the issue of common interests, with Russia, Europe, the United States, and even most of the Arab countries. And I agree with you that we cannot allow this to go on—whenever we get close to reconciliation something always happens to make us separate again. It seems to me that now, particularly in southern Lebanon and northern Lebanon, things are much more dangerous than they are in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are not seeing the world peace that we all are looking for. 

Dr. Werner Fasslabend, former Austrian Defense Minister: The Middle East is the region that links Europe, Asia, and Africa, and its importance will increase because of its oil and gas. By 2010 more than 50% of China's oil will come from the Middle East and of Dr. Werner Fasslabend, former Austrian Defense Ministercourse the same thing will happen in Europe, the U.S., and other regions such as India. The Middle East is one of the big civilizations of the world and its population has a tremendous dynamic for growth. The region now has a population of about 275 million people and by 2030 that number should be 450 million. By 2020 about 100 million more jobs will be needed for young people because the population will be so young.  When you look at all these facts, you realize that the question of the Middle East is not a question you can solve unilaterally by force. I think it will be necessary to make an arrangement between the big forces in the region—the United States and Iran. However, it will also be necessary for Americans and Europeans to work together, because it would be a tremendous mistake for Europeans to think that Iraq is a question only the U.S. should solve. This is not possible, and chaos could ensue, because only 60% of the Iraqi armed forces have reached Level 1 of the training standard, with Level 5 the highest.  I believe that in the next few years we need to develop a new joint concept for Americans, Europeans, and partners in the region. There must also be an arrangement between two big players in the Middle East, Israel and Iran, who I think can find a way to at least live alongside each other. Then, I think, we can be successful. But it is certainly not just a question of one power, one concept, and just a few steps.

General Joulwan: I think, at least within my country, that we have gotten off the track we used during the Cold War and even in the post-Cold War period, the track on which the United States consulted with our allies and partners and did not just inform them of the action we were going to take. I believe by consulting you develop a common bond and give everyone a chance to agree or disagree, and eventually find consensus, a word that has dropped out of our vocabulary. Sometimes you have to act unilaterally, but it is better when you can act in a multinational way.

††††††††† But how do you work with other nations? We did this very successfully during the 40 years of the Cold War, and now we have another chance to meet a challenge to civilization. I completely agree that people do want jobs, do want a better life, whether they are Muslim, Christian, or Jew.  So how do we make that possible? It cannot be done only with ships and tanks and planes. It requires a new conception of the secure environment but the relationships between nations and peoples are going to decide that.

General Rainer Schuwirth, Chief of Staff, SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe): There is a big difference between the period of the Cold War and today. During the Cold War, former Austrian Defense Minister Werner Fasslabendwe could do it with—how many were we, 13, 14, 15, finally 16?—and now we also have to consult with our so-called host nations, with the Afghan government, with the Iraqi government, with the Israeli government. We cannot impose on their countries what we think is useful—we have to talk with them to identify mutually acceptable solutions that are, first and foremost, to the benefit of the nations concerned and not, in the tradition of Western countries, the solutions we think are useful. Without pulling the boat too far backward, this is also one of the reasons that we have problems in NATO-Russia relations. `

General Joulwan: Rainer seemed to be getting energized there, which is the sort of dialogue that I think this workshop has prided itself on for the 15 years I have been involved with it. It was at a workshop that we really debated Partnership for Peace. It was at a workshop that we talked about enlargement. It was here that we talked about engagement and here that we talked a great deal about Russian involvement, in fact, with General Shetsov sitting with me arguing with the ambassador from Russia about where Russia ought to be going with regard to NATO. I think we have created a situation in which these workshops can really get into issues, and I ask those who will be presenting here to allow time for this sort of dialogue during your presentations. This kind of exchange will get to some of the clarity we need to find the way ahead.

††††††††† It is a daunting task. The world we live in is a very dangerous one, and we all bring to it different ethnic, religious, and other backgrounds. In the end, though, we all want a better world for our children and grand-children to grow up in, and I think that is something we can fight for and look forward to.

††††††††† I hope this has been a good start to the 2007 international workshop in Paris. I look forward to seeing many of you and listening to many of the presentations over the next few days. I think this is an exciting time to be in Paris and I am looking forward to our time together. Thank you all for coming.

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