Oxford - "NATO is a necessary but not sufficient means for building long-term security in Europe," Ambassador Alexander Vershbow told Oxford's Konigswinter Conference March 23.
"NATO cannot do the full job alone," said Vershbow, the U.S. Permanent Representative on the North Atlantic Council. "The international community cannot be fully successful without sufficiently funded civilian follow-through once the military conflict ends."
Vershbow pointed to the soon-to-be-formed Rapid Expert Assistance and Cooperation Teams of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as the kind of civilian peacebuilding program that must complement military peacekeeping.
He also urged more emphasis be placed on such conflict-prevention programs as NATO's Partnership for Peace (PFP).
While NATO's air campaign in Kosovo must be rated a success, Vershbow said, "it's clear that NATO troops will be needed in Kosovo to provide much-needed stability for some time to come."
But troops alone can't restore Kosovo "or enable us to deal effectively with the range of security challenges in post-Cold War Europe," he said.
"In a nutshell, the international community has done a good job of deploying military peacekeepers to Kosovo, but has done far less well in deploying and getting the most effective results from civilian 'peacebuilders.' We aren't at risk of losing the peace (at least not yet); but the situation is serious," Vershbow said.
"Nations simply have been too slow in providing the personnel and funding needed for the UN Mission to do its job, or in financing vital initiatives such as the Kosovo Protection Corps -- a critical tool for getting ex-KLA [Kosovo Liberation Army] fighters off the streets and into civilian work," he said.
Conflict-prevention programs such as the PFP work "in countries with weak democratic institutions by taking what is often one of the strongest, most cohesive and best-resourced bodies -- the military -- and promoting professionalism under civilian control," Vershbow said. "It works by giving full-fledged democratic partners a chance to contribute their expertise. And, consequently, it works to spread security, prosperity and common values -- perhaps the best guarantee against future Bosnias and Kosovos."
PFP, a coalition of 45 democracies, also works by bringing the countries together in cooperative missions and joint exercises, and by encouraging transparency in defense planning, thereby enhancing trust.
Vershbow made a point, however, of cautioning that conflict prevention is not enough, and that deterrence remains as relevant as during the Cold War era. "Indeed, deterrence may need to be combined with new forms of protection, including defenses against ballistic missiles, against lawless states and unofficial groups that do not accept the international norms of civilized behavior," he said.
Following is the text of his remarks:
Remarks by Ambassador Alexander Vershbow
U.S. Permanent Representative on the North Atlantic Council
Oxford, March 23, 2000
EUROPEAN SECURITY POST-KOSOVO
(As prepared for delivery)
Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the start of the Kosovo air campaign, so it's an appropriate time to assess how NATO -- and the rest of the international community -- is doing in managing European security. Despite what you are hearing from some whining pundits and armchair strategists, the bottom line is that NATO's air campaign was a success. We conducted and completed a successful military operation in only 78 days, with unprecedented care -- and success -- in minimizing both civilian and combat casualties. And in Kosovo itself, the differences, one year on, are striking:
On March 23, 1999 -- one short year ago:
-- Hundreds of thousands of refugees had been driven from their homes.
-- Dozens of Kosovar Albanians were lying dead on the frozen ground of Racak.
-- The Serbs had rejected a viable -- and enforceable -- political settlement to restore autonomy to Kosovo, at Rambouillet.
-- Milosevic, ever defiant, had massed tens of thousands of military, police and paramilitary forces to Kosovo in violation of UN resolutions, poised to intensify the violence.
-- Milosevic was determined to call NATO's bluff and test its solidarity by going for broke.
A year later, things look a lot different:
-- More than 1.3 million refugees and displaced persons have returned to Kosovo, and have actively begun to rebuild their homes and their lives.
-- All FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] troops, police and paramilitary forces have left.
-- Milosevic, while still holding on to power, is increasingly isolated internationally and taking desperate measures to stamp out opposition at home.
-- Peacekeepers from throughout Europe, North America, and elsewhere -- including over 3000 Russian troops -- are providing the security needed to transform Kosovo into a stable, autonomous, prosperous -- and multi-ethnic -- entity.
-- A cohesive NATO Alliance remains united in its resolve to secure the peace -- convinced that it did the right thing, and determined to meet the next challenge that may come along, from whatever quarter.
So NATO's military action in Kosovo was a success. But are we, as the title of this panel suggests, "post-Kosovo?" Obviously, not yet. It's clear that NATO troops will be needed in Kosovo to provide much-needed stability for some time to come. But how do we get to "post-Kosovo?"
Troops alone can't bring us "post-Kosovo" or enable us to deal effectively with the range of security challenges in post-Cold War Europe. We are not and cannot be "post-Kosovo" until we develop a comprehensive spectrum of tools not only for managing conflicts when we must, but for preventing conflicts whenever possible, and, equally important, for rebuilding war-torn societies when the crisis is over. This is a challenge not just for the "new NATO," but for other multilateral institutions and the individual members of the international community.
A lot has been said about improving our collective capacity for crisis management, including by the Secretary General a few moments ago. Let me add that it is critical that all Allies do their part in implementing NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI). European Allies, in particular, need to confront the reality that the capabilities needed for NATO missions and to fulfill the EU's "headline goal" can only be achieved by halting -- if not reversing -- the decline in defense spending of the last ten years.
But rather than diving any deeper into the waters of ESDI [European Security and Defense Identity] and DCI, I'd like to focus on the "before" and "after" aspects of crisis management -- prevention and post-conflict reconstruction. Here too, we need to improve and strengthen the international community's toolbox. Let me start with the "after" -- since it relates directly to the problems that still confront us in Kosovo. In a nutshell, the international community has done a good job of deploying military peacekeepers to Kosovo, but has done far less well in deploying and getting the most effective results from civilian "peacebuilders." We aren't at risk of losing the peace (at least not yet); but the situation is serious. The UN Secretary General's Special Representative, Bernard Kouchner, has made a valiant effort in the past nine months and has scored some important successes. But the UN Mission [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] has made only limited headway in creating the institutions of law and order, public administration and economic reconstruction needed to give the people of Kosovo a stake in peace. Nations simply have been too slow in providing the personnel and funding needed for the UN Mission to do its job, or in financing vital initiatives such as the Kosovo Protection Corps -- a critical tool for getting ex-KLA fighters off the streets and into civilian work.
To give you one example, in most areas, KFOR [Kosovo peace implementation force] and UN civilian police have been detaining criminals and troublemakers. But hours later, the thugs are back on the street, Why? Because there are too few prosecutors to indict them, too few judges to try them, and too few jails to hold them. So clearly our crisis intervention program is missing an essential piece -- a piece that NATO and partner military forces alone cannot supply.
In recognition of this need, President Clinton has signed a Presidential Decision Directive (PDD 71) aimed at improving the operational competence of international civilian police missions. The European Union is working to strengthen its capacities in this area as well. In fact, what the international community needs is a standing reserve corps of civilian peace builders who can be deployed rapidly into post-conflict situations like Kosovo or Bosnia. In Kosovo, the UN has been behind the curve from the very start, hamstrung by the lack of resources and commitments from member nations and other organizations, as well as the unprecedented enormity of its task. The major powers, to be candid, failed to agree that the UN would be in charge until after Milosevic capitulated last June. The UN then scrambled to get organized, but nine months later it is stretched almost to the breaking point -- leaving NATO to perform civilian functions for which it is not really equipped. Looking to the next crisis, we should look more to regional institutions to run civilian peace building efforts. For Europe, the two main choices are the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Since it would be presumptuous of me to speak for the EU, lot me focus on the OSCE -- although both have tremendous potential that has not been fully realized.
Over the past ten years, the OSCE has acquired new capacities equipping it to take the lead role in post-conflict rehabilitation. One of the most innovative initiatives is still in its infancy, but holds great promise for anchoring post-conflict communities in civil society. The REACT program -- the Rapid Expert Assistance and Cooperation Teams -- was adopted at last year's Istanbul Summit at U.S. and EU initiative, and is scheduled to be operational some time this summer. Under OSCE auspices, REACT would create an electronic rolodex of rapidly deployable experts -- police, judges, attorneys, doctors, and public administrators. These individuals, ready to go at short notice, would serve as an OSCE surge capacity, and allow it to address problems before they became crises. REACT would help the practical expressions of democracy and institution-building to take root. This, in turn, could help reduce the burdens on military peacekeepers. It could provide the transitional assistance needed for the people of post-conflict societies to take responsibility for their own destinies. This program should be part of the developing crisis-response template for Europe.
So, as long as the international civilian community is still struggling to get a grip on its responsibilities in Kosovo, we simply aren't yet "post-Kosovo." The international community must formulate an organized, multilateral approach of a scope and depth on par with NATO's military planning and preparedness.
Turning from the "after" to the "before" of crisis management, let me offer a few thoughts on conflict prevention. The past decade has seen a considerable strengthening of the diplomatic means needed to help prevent and mediate solutions to conflicts before they spin out of control. In changing the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) into an Organization, its members gave it standing structures and a range of flexible instruments for conflict prevention. OSCE has been active in places like Nagorno-Karabakh, Moldova, the Balkans and the Baltics, tamping down ethnic tensions, promoting peaceful resolution of disputes, and helping to build the institutions of civil society.
OSCE's most ambitious charge was the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM), Which succeeded -- at least for several months -- in calming the situation in Kosovo. The KVM saved the lives thousands of displaced persons who risked death from winter exposure in the hills of Kosovo. The KVM's efforts proved insufficient because they were not tied, from the outset, to a diplomatic strategy backed by the threat of force. This is a lesson that Europeans seem to have taken on board as they seek to give the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy greater credibility through addition of military capabilities.
Over the past decade, NATO, too, has played a role in conflict prevention that is not widely appreciated. I have in mind the Partnership for Peace. PFP is radical, innovative and elegant in its simplicity. Through PFP, NATO offered practical cooperation on civil defense and security issues to any European democracy willing and able to engage with the Alliance. The response to the 1994 Partnership launch was overwhelming and immediate, Within months, PFP had drawn together virtually all nations in the Euro-Atlantic area.
Why do I call PFP radical? Alliances have come and gone for millennia. But only NATO has gone beyond collective defense to engage former adversaries and traditional neutrals in order to shape its own future security environment, The idea is to create an ever-widening zone in which historic enmities and competitive security policies give way to cooperation and joint action. PFP, in short, is both a means and an end: a vehicle for exporting the security and prosperity the West enjoyed for half a century to the entire Euro-Atlantic community. The U.S. is proud to be the godparent of this remarkable organization.
How do NATO and our PFP partners shape our security environment? I like to think of PFP as demonstrating the primacy of the practical, of substance over style. Forty-five nations, a coalition of democracies, together:
-- engage in cooperative missions in peacekeeping, search and rescue, and humanitarian operations;
-- conduct joint planning, training, and exercises; and
-- promote transparency in national defense planning and budgeting.
And they gain practical, real world experience along the way.
PFP's appeal has been remarkable. Nations like Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, fiercely protective of their neutrality, were early entrants in this link-up with the world's moot powerful military alliance. I wouldn't want to say PFP has something for everyone, but when states as far-flung as Argentina and Mongolia express an interest in partnership with NATO, you have to concede the allure is pretty powerful.
Why this extensive appeal? Because it works. It works by giving partners looking to reform the opportunity to participate with and learn from functioning democracies. It works in countries with weak democratic institutions by taking what is often one of the strongest, most cohesive and best-resourced bodies -- the military -- and promoting professionalism under civilian control. It works by giving full-fledged democratic partners a chance to contribute their expertise. And, consequently, it works to spread security, prosperity and common values -- perhaps the best guarantee against future Bosnias and Kosovos.
Why else does PFP work? It starts with a common agenda, and builds from there. When nations become part of an organization that encourages transparency in defense planning, planning that can be challenged by NATO Allies and partners, it can erode suspicions and enhance trust. When former enemies train together, and form joint peacekeeping battalions, the likelihood of future conflict is all but eliminated.
PFP has spawned all kinds of strange bedfellows. Ten years ago, who would have predicted -- at least on the record -- that the U.S., Turkey and Russia would all cooperate in CENTRASBATT, a training program for four Central Asian nations designed to encourage peacekeeping doctrine and ability?
This type of cooperation can become contagious when adversity strikes. When massive flooding threatened PFP-member Ukraine in 1999, the Poles mobilized other partners to help its neighbor. The Dutch volunteered huge transportable pumps to help contain the damage. The U.S. got the pumps to Ukraine, and other Allies and partners provided the personnel and expertise to use them. I think this shows PFP as a graceful and successful corollary to military might.
PFP does not require that its partners move toward NATO membership. For some, participation in PFP to build a cooperative European security network is enough For others, however, PFP is a means to prepare for NATO membership, and in many respects, NATO enlargement is just another dimension of the peace-building enterprise that PFP represents. The admission of new members who share our values and have demonstrated a readiness to contribute to the common security is another means of making Europe a zone in which war becomes unthinkable.
Clearly, the magnetic power of PFP and NATO membership has had a powerful influence on reform efforts. In some respects, reform efforts are the culmination of already-made commitments to democracy and freedom. By the same token, those nations that genuinely transform themselves are welcome in PFP. This includes countries like Croatia.
Six years -- or even six months -- ago, few would argue that Croatia was committed to democratic reform. But its new government has denounced the Tudjman legacy, and is actively pursuing PFP membership, as well as membership in the EU. The U.S. welcomes Croatia back from the periphery, and hopes a demonstrated commitment to freedom will lead to early PFP membership.
I have focused on political and diplomatic means of preventing conflict, In doing so, I do not mean to suggest that NATO's traditional approach to this task -- deterrence -- is any less relevant in the post-Cold War era. Indeed, with new types of threats -- weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles, international terrorism -- NATO must modernize and adapt its military capabilities for deterring threats to our common interests. Indeed, deterrence may need to be combined with new forms of protection, including defenses against ballistic missiles, against lawless states and unofficial groups that do not accept the international norms of civilized behavior. These concerns are at the heart of NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative and Weapons of Mass Destruction Initiative, and I would be happy to address these subjects during the discussion.
To sum up, NATO and its partners are very successful when applying military means to the management of crises. But NATO is a necessary but not sufficient means for building long-term security in Europe. NATO cannot do the full job alone. The international community cannot be fully successful without sufficiently funded civilian follow-through once the military conflict ends. To truly get "post-Kosovo," we should support efforts like the OSCE's REACT program that help democracy and stability take root in a post-conflict state, complementing military peacekeeping with civilian peace building. And we must nurture mechanisms for preventing conflicts from happening in the first place, such as NATO's Partnership for Peace. We should continue to encourage its successes, while keeping the NATO membership door open.
I realize that PFP or cooperative coordination with other international organizations may not be the first things that come to mind when people think about the "new NATO." Perhaps they should. Maybe NATO's image hasn't kept up with its volution, or maybe NATO-centrics like me have sometimes exaggerated NATO's centrality to the detriment of other crucial institutions like the OSCE. The past has conditioned public perceptions of NATO. Innovations like PFP, and complementary interaction with the OSCE, the EU, the Southeast European Stability Pact, and others, will ensure that the past will not confine them.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: usinfo.state.gov)