Morning Reading: The Munich Security Conference Special Supplement

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Across my desk just came an interesting newspaper supplement packed with some thoughtful national security related interviews and commentary from the Munich Security Conference. The publication was jointly published by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the American Academy in Berlin.
There’s a lot in this I wish I could link to but none of it seems to be on the web. So, I will highlight three quick pieces — dealing with John McCain, Samantha Power, and outgoing Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns.


In John McCain‘s oped titled “Transatlantic Duties” on the front page of the paper — though below the fold — he writes:

To help manage the challenges of the 21st century, I support the creation of a worldwide League of Democracies. It would not supplant the UN or other international organizations, but complement them by harnessing the political and moral advantages offered by united democratic action. . .

I miss the John McCain who had more Nixonian DNA in his speeches and thinking. What exactly Senator McCain blocks “united democratic action” today? Nothing. The notion that a new international network of democracies moves the world forward on any of its key, fundamental challenges seems out of line with reality to me. We need non-democracies to work hard with us in the process of solving problems — and this notion of a Concert of Democracies provides not just a demarcation between them and us that already exists but erects a giant wall.
In another oped, “The Lady of Change,” by Suddeutsche Zeitung foreign editor, the pre-resigned Samantha Power is highlighted and to a certain degree celebrated for her “unconventional” thinking on national security issues.
I particularly liked the following paragraph:

Barack Obama has generated the greatest amount of resistance by indicating that hew sould negotiate, without any preconditions, with authoritarian regimes like Iran and Syria. “Absolutely” she says, “that’s what negotiations are for. You don’t negotiate with your friends; you negotiate with your enemies.” Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Assad: “Obama believes it’s actually tougher to be in a room with them rather than throw verbal grenades at rogue regimes five thousand miles away.” The establishment has declared this position to be blasphemy, but Powers replies by saying: “Take Cuba. Last time I checked this embargo policy wasn’t working. How many decades does it have to be in place for us to realize it’s not working?”

Absolutely right Samantha Power — but why can’t we get Obama to embrace even the Bush administration status quo in US-Cuba relations before George W. Bush tightened famility travel and curtailed non-tourist people to people travel in 2004???
Lastly, in a piece titled “Thinking About Europe as a Global Power,” R. Nicholas Burns is interviewed by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. (I just found a transcript of a much longer interview from which the one I was reading was excerpted.)

QUESTION: What could be done to actually build on that strategic common view within the next administration? . . .The frameworks are there, the issues are there, but there seems to be a lot of things out of sync still.
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think it’s quite understandable why Europeans would be preoccupied with the construction and evolution of the EU, the European Union. It’s a historic enterprise. It’s positive for Europeans and the world. So I quite understand that.
At the same time I have a strong sense that Europe needs to develop a stronger role in the world and a more ambitious sense of Europe’s contributions beyond Europe. In other words, a better defined global strategy.
The EU and NATO are both institutions that are operating well beyond Europe. Sometimes I think that Europe is so preoccupied by the internal construction of the EU and of European problems that it isn’t sufficiently ambitious and articulate in engineering an aggressive, ambitious global strategy. We, the United States, want Europe to play that role. We want Europe to be active in the Middle East where our vital interests are engaged. We want Europe to be more active in Afghanistan and more willing to contribute a greater number of troops, for example, in Afghanistan.
We need Europe to be a factor in the strategic situation in East Asia for the next generation, and to be present in trying to bring growth and prosperity as well as security.
So I think a more ambitious global role for Europe is in order. The United States certainly sees itself as a global power, and Europeans might begin to think of themselves as a global power as well, in a way that would parallel the interests that the U.S. and Europe have in common.

Burns is very pragmatic and sensible when thinking about national security dilemmas — and in this comment you see to some degree an appropriate assessment that American power in the world is limited — and that Europe could and will be a significant force in global affairs. I think Europe is there more robustly than Burns may concede — but it is important.
And that takes me to a final link from the Washington Post today that in a review by Charles Gati offers a glowing review of my colleague Parag Khanna‘s new book, The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order.
Essentially, Khanna would counter Nick Burns and say that Europe is already out there on relative par with the US in many ways — and China too — and the three power centers are competing to influence “the second world” of nations that are not third world powers, nor superpower wannabes.
For more from Khanna on video this is a short three minute clip on the subject.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

12 comments on “Morning Reading: The Munich Security Conference Special Supplement

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    My prior post was along the lines of establishing infrastructure in the far east to help address development, and with it attach some security and transparency guidelines.
    These reforms should help shape government models enough on their own to encourage democracy. The idea of making it an immediate result is ignorant of our Articles of Confederation era.
    Let’s establish trade and engagement and these other items will develop in time. Human rights and similar things can be emphasized with an understanding they’ll help key market access.
    That went on with a comparison of currency evaluations and how we could help developing nations through the second world institutions. This could pool risk, weave shared interests, and protect major institutional solvency while addressing aid. This could do so in terms of currency baskets based upon shared interests as a way to counter exactly what China has undertaken in its effort to underbid and outproduce much of the world’s business fabric. To some extent this could help address the correction curve of the recent lending bubble.
    A combination of EU and USA currency to fuel the growth and provide more stable basis for growth, trading varied regional currencies which are then strategically traded in aid and transactions within the same business networks of the region.
    This should mitigate some inflationary factors on our behalf, and still help us maintain influence and access, paired with improved security.
    Make our partners into part of the currency basket solution, from the low and high ends, increasing value and prestige for each.
    Countries often buy up our notes, it’s time to pool this market with their neighbors in ways that help solidify interests. On a grand enough scale this could address some of competition’s efforts to peg currency abnormally low.

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  2. Mr.Murder says:

    “Similarly, I think the U.S.-European relationship is in much better shape in 2008 than it was in 2004 because we are partners again in Afghanistan. We are working together in Iraq. Not so much militarily, but in the political and economic support for the Iraqi government.”
    The EU’s own Iraq plans should become pattern for establishing hopeful benchmarks paired with sovereignty guidelines for deeper engagement.
    Likewise Afghanistan.
    These talks aren’t about military solutions.
    “And we see on the horizon these great global challenges like climate change, terrorism, drug cartels, crime cartels, trafficking, where we must work together, we must combine forces to be successful.”
    On the horizon? The past two decades would be more accurate a reference. Part of trying to say this in terms our media, politicians, and most voters can agree on at this time, no?

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  3. Mr.Murder says:

    “The Middle East is now a place, South Asia is another place, where America’s vital national interests are in peril, in danger. So Europe remains vitally important to the United States in a different way. It is our natural partner. The greatest collection of American allies in the world are in Europe, the members of the NATO alliance.”
    Perhaps the European Affairs subcommittee could have its chair host some heari- oops.
    The complicity of the State and Congress to ignore EU matters is puzzling. Why do senior positions on both sides seem to adhere neglect?
    “We count on Europe to be with us in confronting the challenges, positive and negative, that we face inside the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia. I think that’s what’s changed, and that’s a fundamental change in American foreign policy and it ought to be seen as a fundamental challenge and change for Europe’s foreign policy as well.”
    Madrid and london agree with the United States, though maybe not in how to apply policy forward.

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  4. Mr.Murder says:

    “At the same time I have a strong sense that Europe needs to develop a stronger role in the world and a more ambitious sense of Europe’s contributions beyond Europe. In other words, a better defined global strategy.”
    Who does Europe need to align these goals with? Whose water should they carry? Ours.
    “The EU and NATO are both institutions that are operating well beyond Europe. Sometimes I think that Europe is so preoccupied by the internal construction of the EU and of European problems that it isn’t sufficiently ambitious and articulate in engineering an aggressive, ambitious global strategy. We, the United States, want Europe to play that role. We want Europe to be active in the Middle East where our vital interests are engaged. We want Europe to be more active in Afghanistan and more willing to contribute a greater number of troops, for example, in Afghanistan.”
    Yes, more war. They’re so preoccupied with governance, why can’t they focus instead upon war? Well, aggression as it relates to strategy, as it were.
    “We need Europe to be a factor in the strategic situation in East Asia for the next generation, and to be present in trying to bring growth and prosperity as well as security.”
    This is about finance and trade, not about force. So we basically expect them to help provide the meat of battle and still engage in trade elsewhere. Never mind the constraints that alliance may apply to the strategic sides we assume will be part of coming challenges.

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  5. Mr.Murder says:

    “UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: It happened. It doesn’t serve much good for someone like me to go back and say who was responsible and who was not. We were both responsible.”
    Spoken diplomatically, the need to address our lack of candor to the full extent of accountability at this or coming years.
    “When I look at all the issues in front of us, and [in front of] Europe — the status of Kosovo which needs to be decided in the next month or two; relations with a difficult and more aggressive Russia; missile defense and CFE; and then the global challenges beyond Europe, in the Middle East, in South Asia and East Asia — I think Europe and America are beginning to develop a common strategic view on most of these problems, which is essential if we’re going to be effective transatlantic partners.”
    There’s the McCain talking point this week, a crucial part of his recent fundraising overseas, which is facilitated by his own lack of transparency and respect for procedure regarding campaign fundraising and its low threshold for competence. That’s aside from what Burns has to say though…
    “I think it’s quite understandable why Europeans would be preoccupied with the construction and evolution of the EU, the European Union. It’s a historic enterprise. It’s positive for Europeans and the world. So I quite understand that.”
    Spending money upon infrastructure instead of internecine actions. Who could have imagined?

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  6. Mr.Murder says:

    “Similarly, I think the U.S.-European relationship is in much better shape in 2008 than it was in 2004 because we are partners again in Afghanistan. We are working together in Iraq. Not so much militarily, but in the political and economic support for the Iraqi government.”
    Could it be there is reason to follow the Eu model in Iraq, and take a hint?
    “So I am rather optimistic about the political and strategic relations between Europe and the United States. I think we’ve overcome arguably the most significant crisis since the Second World War in transatlantic relationships, the Iraq War, in 2002 and 2003. We’ve overcome that and there’s a sense of trust and of good working relations that the next administration can build on.”
    Sunny optimism or Sunni optimism?
    Then he does what diplomats must do in addressing underlying political frames past this introduction.

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  7. Mr.Murder says:

    Finally the third piece, which deserves fullest discussion. My opriginal post re:Burns was eaten by the spam filter goblin.
    I’ll try and power nap to the Washington Journal and get something on that after a power breakfast.
    Burns is quite a diplomatic asset, he’s worth his weight in Euros.

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  8. Mr.Murder says:

    Steve, the reason he has yet to agree with any items on the Cuba policy is because that would be a mark of political comity to agree with Bush.
    He’s opposed to running a primary in Florida for a reason also, despite having aired commercials there against DNC rulings.
    He wants to ‘play by the rules’ and avoid a race there after having skirted the rules in his campaign presentation formats there.

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  9. Mr.Murder says:

    “…by indicating that hew sould negotiate,”
    change “hew sould” to ‘he should’
    (offered in friendship, my typos or many here and at other blogs)
    The extent to which we describe these items she agrees with the author’s usage of “authoritarian” as you can best determine?
    Iran is a Republic, fascinating to learn that system of government is authoritarian.
    She used the “rogue regime” motif as well. This was to counter its understood framing, but the comment could be used here and there to prevent such talks or make them difficult. Falling back on truisms seems to be done for the purpose of political aims separate from the topic. That’s campaign season, in a nutshell.
    One would expect her to insist the closing statement be one of cooler more diplomatic terms.
    Approaching a topic expecting different results to ease tensions, with the same language used to insulate static models, does evidence a lack of experience to good extent. Granted every candidate and politician has to resort these items as a way of helping inform the uninformed.
    In this case the last item mentioned is most likely myself. The above link was aside from the comment. The story most important from the translation of the front page is this:
    “Defence politicians calling for timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan”
    – “Coalition politicians discuss the future of the NATO operation in Afghanistan. SPD-Mann Arnold will dem Land mehr Eigenverantwortung übertragen und Staatssekretär Schmid von der CSU wünscht sich einen genauen Zeitplan. SPD-man Arnold wants the country more self-responsibility, and Secretary of State Schmid of the CSU wants a detailed timetable. Tausende Teilnehmer der Ostermärsche fordern einen sofortigen Abzug. Thousands of participants in the Easter marches demanding an immediate withdrawal.”
    This paired with Power’s glib take damns her idea with faint praise.
    The idea of talking to our enemies is important.
    The idea of working with direct allied in hostile situations obviously is not.
    Where are the European Affairs Subcommittee meetings chaired by Power’s favorite candidate? That’s a vote of confidence moment.

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  10. Mr.Murder says:

    First items:
    McCain doesn’t want to work with many EU players. He’s trying to put a new face on Cheney policy, whose daughter is a campaign policy advisor.
    This “new democracy” item is simply a way to end run working with the EU, and run thins unilaterally, with Ledeen-type rubber stamp endorsements.
    Most likely McCain was aiming at making Tony Blair that man since he just did a large UK fundraiser necessitated by John’s own poor work with oversight and transparency of campaign finance regulations compliance. Policy wonks would really have to look critically at his UK trip for that reason alone.
    No doubt some offshored Keating graft could well have returned his way there also. Money has a long memory.

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