Dr. Werner Fasslabend
Member of the Austrian Parliament
Former Minister of Defense of Austria
I would like to talk about a few of the points that struck me during this conference. The first one concerns the new global role of the new NATO. In this new role I believe the relationship between Europe and the States—the transatlantic defense partnership—will continue. General Schuwirth remarked unofficially that this is not a procedural problem, just a question of will. When I think about how things were 10, 20, or even 30 years ago, I am not sure whether the two sides of the Atlantic have come closer together or moved a little bit apart, but we need to think about how we can strengthen the relationship, especially as NATO gets bigger and confronts increasing global problems.
What can we do to strengthen the transatlantic partnership? It is not so easy to decide as we sit here now. But I believe we should think it over and try to come up with several programs that will tighten the connections and preserve the valuable transatlantic programs. Doing so should help us resolve problems in the future.
Another point that struck me during the workshop concerns mission problems. For example, General Back said that we do not have enough helicopters in Afghanistan. The question for me is, if we realize we have such problems, what can we do on the political stage to find solutions? I think it is not enough just to talk about such problems here, among specialists. We need to answer them on the political stage.
THE AFRICA STRATEGY
Another point that struck me concerns our Africa strategy: What is our Africa strategy? When I look at a map I see the current hot spots in Africa, but if I look into the future I see more and more striking hot spots. So I believe it is not enough just to pay a small amount of attention there. Africa appears to be a major problem, not simply several little ones.
Another thing that struck me is the issue of how the military should articulate itself to the rest of society. I believe as we move from the Industrial Age to the Information Age that we need not only more technology but also more communication. We need to invest not only in military equipment to become stronger but also invest in all those structures that are helping us to make the change to this new age.
Of course, the Iranian issue struck me most. The discussion of that issue was probably the most interesting panel discussion here, and several of its many facets were truly fascinating. What the panel said is that we have two current problems regarding this issue: 1) the Middle East power question and 2) the fact that the non-proliferation treaty is at a crossroads. If we lose the treaty, we will have a very different situation in the future. So I believe we should consider not only the goals but also the consequences and the risks of that from both sides.
I think that at the moment, for the first time, both sides of the Atlantic are trying to find common solutions. This is very important, as is the fact that the five permanent members of the Security Council are also heading in the same direction. We must concentrate on working out solutions but prevent further polarization—polarization is already happening because Ahmadinejad has not only the entire Iranian population but the entire Islamic public behind him. I believe we must go to a strategy that can bring Iran back home to the West, and that should be a real goal.