First of all, I must apologize. It was impossible for me to send my text in advance so that it could be translated and distributed. But I have given copies to the clerk in order to facilitate the simultaneous interpretation.
I know it's not optimal, and I apologize, but I hope the interpreters will be able to follow my text. The text will be available after, but I don't have a translated text, and it cannot be circulated at this point.
Thank you very much. I'm very pleased to be here.
My text is entitled, “Is it time to take a hard look at NATO's second pillar: crisis management?” That's a pillar in terms of the strategic concept of core tasks.
In a nutshell, my thesis today is that NATO is not the UN and should not be wasting valuable time, effort, and resources trying to duplicate the UN role in crisis management. Instead, NATO members should be looking hard at how they can best support the hard end, the military role of the UN in crisis management, through re-engaging with boots on the ground, making advanced operational capabilities more consistently available to the UN, and of course leading stabilization efforts mandated by the UN where appropriate.
My second point is that had Canada and other NATO countries stayed more fully engaged in UN blue helmet peacekeeping—some NATO countries did, but not most—the international approach to stabilizing Afghanistan, for example, might have been quite different.
Let us briefly recall the wording in Strategic Concept 2010 and in the Chicago Summit declaration on NATO's crisis management role.
Basically what NATO is saying is that to manage conflicts, and certainly to prevent them or to deal with the aftermath, the military role is not enough. This is what led NATO to adopt the comprehensive approach and bring the full range of political, diplomatic, police, development, and other tools to bear in resolving conflicts. But for NATO to do this, in my humble submission, and I'm talking as someone who has spent the better part of the last 10 years working with NATO, is to have the tail wagging the dog. That's because NATO is, first and foremost, a military organization, although of course it has an important political oversight structure. There will be lots of arguments about whether it's primarily military or primarily political. I would say that the value added to peace support operations and stabilization operations is very much the military component. I would argue, then, that the lead cannot be military when the solutions are pre-eminently political, albeit often with an extremely important military support component.
To be blunt, 28 nations are not 193 nations. The North Atlantic Council is not the UN Security Council, even if some members overlap. The NATO International Military Staff is not the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The NATO political advisers are not the UN Department of Political Affairs.
NATO's value added is its military capability, as so many witnesses before me have pointed out.
Any effort, however well intentioned, to duplicate the UN's pre-eminent role in international peace and security writ large, including in particular crisis prevention, crisis management, and post-conflict peace building, is highly problematic, especially when it drains the most professional military resources away from UN-led operations.
Perhaps this is why previous speakers, such as Paul Chapin, and in the paper that he co-authored with David Bercuson, have talked about how this enhanced crisis management role for NATO was at the edge of the comfort zone—these are Paul Chapin's words—for many in Europe, even before the financial crisis hit.
The very difficult saga of NATO in Afghanistan, I would suggest, has not quieted their fears.
To go back for a moment, I might note that when Jill Sinclair, the assistant deputy minister, policy, from the Department of National Defence was here testifying, she summarized NATO's crisis management operations and missions as Afghanistan, Libya, Kosovo, counterterrorism in the Mediterranean, the NATO training mission in Iraq, and then she also talked about civilian emergency planning, so that's where NATO has done this, and now of course, with the new strategic concept, or the summit declaration out of Chicago, there is an even further emphasis on the aspect of preventing conflict.
As I said, some speakers before me have talked about how this role is at the edge of the comfort zone for many in Europe.
I want to talk a little about UN-led peace operations. The great tragedy for Canada is that having been such a pre-eminent UN peacekeeper for so long, our disengagement from UN blue helmet operations post-UNPROFOR, the protection force in the former Yugoslavia in the early nineties, has left us institutionally almost completely unaware of the transformation in planning, conduct, and management of UN-led operations since then. Fundamental review has been carried out, and key lessons identified or re-identified.
New command and control structures and sophisticated integrated planning mechanisms and field support structures for missions have been put in place. Sadly, the message has not got through to the military structures of many NATO members, removed as they are from this UN activity. That, of course, means all that hard military expertise is removed from this UN activity.
I would like to recall the words of James Appathurai speaking from NATO about NATO's—he called it NATO's pre-eminent role regarding UN peace operations. He said, and I'm quoting from his testimony to you:
NATO is uniquely capable as an organization to generate, deploy, command, and sustain large numbers of forces in multinational operations. No other organization can do this....
Today NATO has over 150,000 troops...in a variety of operations.
Compare this to the fact that the UN currently has over 82,000 military forces engaged in some 16 peace operations, as well as 3,000 military observers, 14,000 police, and 13,000 civilians.
The point I want to make is that the majority of these blue helmet missions are not light operations. They are mandated under chapter 7 of the UN charter, the same as the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. To be blunt again, if the UN were relying mainly on NATO-led missions, huge swaths of the globe would be abandoned.
The political dimensions of peace operations are what I want to focus on. The central lesson of the Brahimi report, which was this big report reviewing hard lessons on failed UN peacekeeping in particular—and I would argue that this applies also when we're talking about what NATO calls crisis response operations, or conflict management operations—is that peacekeeping cannot substitute for an effective political process. If we are to match politics to peacekeeping, the peacekeeping operation must be in support of a credible peace process, if not ideally a peace agreement to be implemented.
Credibility implies both internal support and legitimacy with respect to the parties to the conflict. It also implies broad external backing in the form of a common political or strategic framework. I would suggest that the problems inherent in many of the current UN-led blue helmet operations, but also, and this is what is so relevant for us here today, for UN-mandated, but not UN-led...in other words, NATO-led peace operations. The problems with those missions reflect the failure of the international community, certainly the UN Security Council, to heed the lesson that military activity has to be in support of a credible political framework and peace process.
I would suggest, for example, that Haiti exemplifies an incomplete peace process—elections do not include its largest political party. A range of rebel groups remain outside the agreements negotiated in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Afghanistan, where NATO has been leading the stabilization force, the Security Assistance Force, the international community developed a common framework for its engagement there with selected internal actors, without due attention to a process that might ensure broad political inclusion. Increasingly, UN peace operations have, as one of their core functions, extension of state authority, which is essentially what it ended up being in ISAF in Afghanistan.
How can the UN peacekeeping mission operate in the context of a variety of non-state actors opposing it, especially where some or all of them have external backing, as MONUC faces in the Democratic Republic of Congo? I would say that's a question that NATO could ask itself in Afghanistan. How far can the UN mission operate contrary to the will of the host government, as UNAMID must in Darfur? How successful could ISAF be in Afghanistan within a political framework where the international community, intentionally or not, in effect, took sides in a civil war?
Of course, there will always be spoilers who will remain outside the agreement, but the starting point must be to develop as inclusive a political framework as possible so that spoilers can be effectively isolated.
I do apologize. I slowed down my reading for the interpreters and I'm well behind.
The next point I want to talk about, and I invite questions on this, is that one of the biggest misunderstandings of current UN peace operations relates to the use of force. I go back to Paul Chapin talking about the UN doing the easy peacekeeping. In fact, they're operating in very dangerous environments, with very robust rules of engagement. My point here, really, is that this leads to the question, what are the limits of the use of force when you're not in a war, when you're trying to stabilize the situation? My argument would be that a dialogue on the limits of the use of force in the context of a broader discussion on the fundamental requirement for a credible peace process might help demonstrate that robust force, no matter how essential, still does not obviate the necessity for political solutions to political problems.
Essentially, what I'm saying is that, ironically, had NATO countries stayed more engaged in UN peace operations, they would have perhaps had a better understanding that it's not just robust military force that will see you through if it's not in support of a credible political framework. Afghanistan demonstrates that over and over again. I think there needs to be a very robust dialogue between NATO members and the UN on this issue. The UN can study UN-led missions, but they can't study NATO-led missions without being sponsored by a NATO country. I think this would be a very important thing to do.
The next point I have—and perhaps you'll ask me some questions on this. The other big misperception about UN-led missions—and this is the area I'm working in with NATO—is the view that somehow there's a big problem about command and control in UN missions. In fact, in UN missions, unlike in NATO missions, there isn't a division between political control and military control. UN command and control is decentralized to the operational level under civilian command, the civilian head of the UN mission. That, in my view, is an essential element of a successful crisis management or peacekeeping operation. Having a divided command between a UN mission doing the political stuff on the one hand, as in Afghanistan, and a military mission answering to other authorities on the other is a recipe for ineffective command.
Mr. Chair, members of the committee, good afternoon.
First, may I thank you for giving me this opportunity to attend your meeting to discuss this important matter as part of your study.
Many years ago I served with the Canadian delegation at NATO during the end of the Cold War, and I have a deep appreciation for the capacity of the alliance to adapt to new circumstances while maintaining a crucial traditional solidarity among its members.
At the same time, it is incumbent on alliance members, including Canada, to regularly review NATO activity and determine if it still offers the best value for money. The strategic concept set out some broad directions in specifying collective defence crisis management and cooperative security as the core tasks of the alliance.
While I agree with all these, I would like to see greater emphasis placed on the alliance's consultative role and its potential for conflict prevention. Collective defence remains the foundation of NATO, but in recent years this no longer entails defending ally territory from attack, as much as it does collaboration in defending alliance interests wherever they are threatened.
NATO's unique strength is its integrated civilian-military structures and associated ability to conduct complex major joint operations. This unrivalled capacity to project and sustain forces and to manage effectively a multinational mission is what has made NATO the go-to organization for conducting combat operations on behalf of the United Nations and other groupings of states. This has been the case in situations from the Balkans to Afghanistan, and most recently in Libya. Frankly, the alliance should expect similar requirements and requests in the future.
Canada, for its part, should continue to contribute to maintaining this collective capability and to ensuring that member states contribute appropriately. A smart defence approach should entail some pooling of resources and a development of niche capabilities, rather than trying to have each member possess a full-spectrum capacity.
That is why Canada's decision to withdraw from the AWACS program of NATO sends, I believe, an unfortunate signal, as this was an example of a common NATO program providing a very specialized capability that would have been prohibitively expensive for most of its members to acquire on a purely national basis. The ongoing presence of Canadian Air Force personnel on European soil as part of the integrated aircrews that man the NATO AWACS planes I think also served an important symbolic and political role as a tangible presence of Canadian personnel on European soil, working side by side, literally, with comrades-in-arms from other NATO states.
Building expeditionary capabilities for the Canadian Forces is one way to contribute to NATO's ability to project force, but so is supporting common programs or assisting with specialized capabilities that may be beyond the reach of other allies or partners.
I mentioned earlier that I believe NATO should spend as much time on conflict prevention as it does on crisis management. I think this relates to the consultative role of the alliance—a function that was at the core of Canada's championing of article 2 of the Washington Treaty at its inauguration—and the importance of maintaining NATO as a focus for political-military consultations on the security challenges of the day.
Canada, alongside other non-EU allies such as Norway and Turkey, has to be especially assertive to sustain this crucial role for the alliance because the current tendency is for the EU, on one hand, and the United States, on the other, as the big boys, to go off and do their own internal consultations at our expense. If Canada's wish to see NATO as a political alliance as much as a military one is to be more than just a rhetorical goal, it will require re-energizing the alliance's consultative mechanisms and developing headquarters and delegation efforts to this end.
When I was serving at NATO, the alliance's political committee, for example, had regular consultations on arms control and disarmament issues and regional security concerns. My impression is that there has been a steady decline in this type of collective assessment and strategizing, which is vital if the alliance is to stay ahead of the curve and engage in conflict prevention programs and not only in crisis management sessions. These political consultations should be essential if the alliance is to be an active contributor to international security through diplomacy and disarmament, and not just via the use of force.
Despite the strategic concept and the deterrence and defence study it mandated, the alliance still clings to a retrograde and obsolete policy on nuclear weapons. There's an absurd element in its conclusion that as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. Clearly, as long as NATO retains such weapons, they will continue to exist. While the alliance claims in the same breath that it is committed to creating the conditions for a nuclear weapons free world, it has apparently done little to identify and realize these conditions. Canada should be making common cause with Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, and other like-minded allies to ensure that the alliance actually has a nuclear policy that is credible and compatible with the NPT obligations of its members. A revitalization of NATO consultations would also address conventional arms control and the need to salvage the currently threatened achievements of the past, such as the CFE Treaty, and to reinforce others, such as the Vienna Document on confidence-building measures and the Open Skies Treaty, in which Canada had a major hand to play.
The last mission expressed in the strategic concept is cooperative security. This task also demands sustained consultation amongst allies and between NATO members and their partners. The dedicated councils with Russia and the Ukraine certainly require attention and a renewed effort to overcome the adversarial attitude that still characterizes many of their sessions. As part of a forward-looking conflict prevention strategy, we should also encourage a creative approach to devising norms for responsible state behaviour in cyber security and seek ways to forestall turning cyberspace into a new east-west battleground.
Canada has to be prepared to invest in the alliance if it still wants to benefit from the substantial security dividends it derives from the alliance. At a time when both DND and DFAIT are experiencing budgetary contractions, it's going to require creative and well-coordinated Canadian political and military actions to ensure that we are, in the end, a NATO policy shaper and not just a policy taker.
I thank you for your attention.
If I may, I will answer in English. I hope I have fully understood the question.
In a nutshell, the fundamental difference between a NATO-led mission and a UN-led mission is that there is a divided command. In a UN-led mission, in the same mission there is a political authority—the head of the UN mission, the special representative of the Secretary General—with authority over the conduct of the mission, including the military element. In a NATO-led mission authorized by the UN....
If we take Afghanistan, we have a UN political mission, UNAMA, dealing sometimes with narrow elements, sometimes with broader elements. Part of the problem in Afghanistan was that the UNAMA mission initially was very narrow—it did not have a broad diplomatic peacemaking process. Then you have the NATO military mission. All of the language that NATO would use, for example, is that the military must always be in support of a political process, but the political mission, if NATO is involved, currently is separate. It's in a separate league. So you constantly have to work very hard to make sure that the NATO-led military mission reporting up to a separate political, NATO political, body, the North Atlantic Council, is in line with, you hope, the framework set out by the international community and represented by the UN political mission.
So you're dividing the political and the military roles in a situation where coherence between the two is absolutely fundamental. That's the essential difference. In a UN mission there isn't that division, and the buck stops at the political head of the mission; therefore you can ensure that all the military actions that are taken are in support of the broader political goals.
I don't know if that helps.
The historical reason we ended up with these divided missions was that a particular country, the United States, did not want to put its forces under UN command. So if the tremendous capacities of the U.S. were going to be available, it had to be in another form. So that was the origin. Initially, countries like Canada were in both. But there's a limit to how much smaller forces can do. We felt we had to choose, and Canada chose to be in the NATO-led missions.
The problem is, you have the best forces, in terms of professional capacity, separated from a framework where those forces can be most effectively used to ensure that the military action is completely in support of a broader political framework. Separating them also leads to inattention as to whether the political framework is sufficient to allow for a successful military action.
Afghanistan is the preeminent example of where the political framework was insufficient to allow for effective military action. No matter how good the military is, they aren't a substitute for an effective political framework, and if you have them together in one mission, then you better recalibrate.
Sorry I've gone on so long, but it really is—
Thank you very much for that question.
I'd like to go back for a second to the hard lesson, the frustration of the Canadian experience, particularly in the UN Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia, and then compare that to the feeling of satisfaction over the NATO-led missions, IFOR and SFOR, which kind of reinforced the view that we don't want to be in the UN stuff, we want to be in the NATO-led stuff.
I alluded to one change that's happened, one big change, in terms of the UN organizing itself to better engage in these very complex peace operations. But the other aspect I'd like to highlight, which really must not be forgotten, is that the UN Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia was destroyed essentially when there was no peace to keep in the middle of a war. The very robust international stabilization force, the NATO stabilization force, that deployed after the Dayton agreement deployed in the context of an agreement to implement.
So the lesson, I would argue, is not just that you need a capable military force, but you need a peace agreement to implement. That's the part of the equation that got lost when we moved into the NATO side of things and focused our efforts very much on the military capability, and we lost sight of the fact that the two elements really are incredibly important. Then when you're talking about that peacemaking framework, the UN is pre-eminently the lead on that.
In terms of what I'm recommending as a first step—because obviously, this is a change in thinking, a big change—I'm proposing that countries like Canada, with the experience that we've had, engage in a dialogue, take the lead in the NATO and UN context to sponsor a dialogue with the UN on lessons from the use of force in these complex operations.
There's been quite a vigorous ongoing process on the UN side examining lessons learned from UN-led missions, so blue helmet missions. There's a lot of good work going on there. But the UN, as an organization, cannot be seen to be standing in judgment over NATO-led operations, so there isn't the same kind of broad examination. Individual NATO countries are looking at their experience in Afghanistan, for example, but there isn't that rigorous looking at some of the key issues that have arisen, which has been very problematic in the UN context.
In particular, it's this issue of the limits of the use of force. No matter how robust your military capability is, the aim of a stabilization mission, whether UN or NATO, is not to end up going to war with the parties; it's to stabilize the situation. What are the limits of the use of force? How many have to be inside the tent to make it work versus isolating the spoilers? The UN has gone quite a long way in that discussion with respect to its mission, but I think it's fundamental that we bring in all of the hard-fought NATO experience on this. That requires Canada to sponsor it.
Now there are other elements, too. The second element to look at would be the challenges of divided missions, where the political and military leadership is separate, as in a NATO-led mission and a UN mission, versus an integrated mission, which is the UN model. Look at that, and if it is a bridge too far to get many NATO countries to re-engage under UN leadership, can we look at ways that we can minimize the problems of the divided leadership?
Canada, talking to other NATO countries, and then sponsoring this dialogue in the UN.... The UN would have to be involved, and there are mechanisms to do this.
Thank you so much for the question.
In fact, of course, hindsight is always a wonderful thing; everything is so much clearer in hindsight, and I'm very conscious of that.
First of all, we have to distinguish between a military action and a stabilization action or a crisis management action. So the very first actions that were taken in Afghanistan, which were clearly to rout out the Taliban, are not what we're talking about in terms of post that activity, the stabilization effort, which NATO ultimately came to lead.
In fact, in that context, the international community did try to put in place a political framework. It started with the Bonn agreement and it became the London agreement. There was a very wide framework. The problem was it left out a key actor, the Taliban, and the Pashtuns, to a large extent, who were the single biggest ethnic group in Afghanistan. In hindsight, many have said, and in fact Brahimi said it at the time, that the best time to negotiate that agreement was when the Taliban were incredibly weak and almost decimated.
If there had been an inclusive political framework then, things might be very different now, but because there wasn't one, ultimately the military action was not sufficient to stabilize the situation. And everyone knows the situation we're in with Afghanistan now.