Paris '07 Workshop
Why the Alliance Needs a New Strategic Concept and a
New Shared trans-Atlantic Vision to
Address the Challenges of the Future
Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola
Italian Chief of General Staff
Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola (right), Chief of Defense of Italy, with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Hon. John Grimes.
"What is the mission of NATO? If we don’t have a new mission, if we don’t have a new covenant between Europe
and the United States, we will not have a shared future."
The point I want to make is that nothing remarkable has come from the Riga summit, just as nothing remarkable has come from the Prague and Istanbul summits. Somehow we are floating over the water but with no clear sense of direction. The communiqués that transmit to people what the summits are for are very nicely crafted, but nothing gives you a sense of what really has come out of them, nothing captures your heart. We are actually just like businessmen, very properly dressed, carrying a briefcase, and very confident, but we’re just strolling around, not really knowing where we are going.
THE NEED FOR A NEW SHARED VISION
We use the word “comprehensive” a lot. We have comprehensive guidance, a comprehensive approach, we are comprehensive, but what are we actually comprehensive about? What are we guiding? And what is our approach for? Are we using a nice frame because we don’t have a Caravaggio to put into the frame? Sometimes I get the impression that this is what we are doing. I believe Ambassador Eldon described the situation properly: we no longer have, and need to craft, a new shared vision of what to do in the future.
We have new challenges. General James Jones talked about some of them, including energy problems, the challenges of terrorism, the challenges of a flattening world, the challenge of globalization, the challenge of the information technology revolution, the challenge of the scarcity of resources, the challenge of the relationship between Western heritage or culture and the emerging Muslim world, the challenge of relations with emerging powers such as China, India, east Asia, Mexico, and Brazil. I don’t believe we have the shared vision of how to meet these challenges.
At the core of the issue is the relationship between the U.S. and Europe. If we are not able to define more properly our common vision for the future, we will certainly have a problem, because the words “transformation” and “expeditionary” are very nice mantra words but nothing more. It is nice for the military to be expeditionary, and it is nice for it to be transformational. But then what? Transformations are not missions, expeditions are not missions. They are only tools for missions that we must define.
Now is the time to start thinking about the way to acquire a new covenant, a new strategic concept, between Europe and the United States, but not because we want to have a nice piece of paper. When you sit down to write a new strategic concept, you are forced to think, to reflect, to debate, to discuss, and, eventually, to share. Sharing is critical, because if we don’t share, then we will have no shared vision and therefore no shared future. Developing a new strategic concept is really a way to forge a common understanding of how to tackle the future.
Are Europe and the United States, as Kagan defined, Mars and Venus? I don’t know, but if we don’t tackle the issues I’ve just mentioned, then we will go nowhere. During the Cold War, we had a clear vision for confronting and containing the Warsaw Pact countries. I don’t believe we have that clear vision now, and it is time to try to find it. Ambassador Jean Ponton d’Amecourt said there are some great leaders who are able to change the flow of events, and we need their strong ideas to bring us together. What is the mission of NATO? If we don’t have a new mission, we don’t have a new covenant between Europe and the United States, and we will not have a shared future.