Montrose Journal Summer 04
THE SEARCH FOR INTERNATIONAL ORDER - AND SECOND GUESSING SECURITY -
CARL BILDT, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF SWEDEN
I was born and brought up in
the shadow of the evil Empire. The westernmost position of Soviet
forces on the southern shores of the Baltic Sea was well to the West of
all of my country. We were neighbours to a nervous, decaying but
enormously over armed empire basing its geo-strategic policies on the
outright occupation of other nations. History taught us that empires
seldom disappear in a gentle way. In one way or another, every previous
empire that we have as a comparison has come down in flames.
this case, however, we suddenly lived through a historical miracle.
Never before in human history has such a powerful empire collapsed with
so little loss of human life and so little conflict. It was certainly
dangerous at times. An explosion of violence was often just below the
surface. But statesmanship in key capitals made it possible to
manoeuvre the peaceful collapse of the decaying giant - first and
foremost in Washington with President Bush and in Bonn with Helmut
Kohl. Moscow is a somewhat different story.
is an important part of the explanation for the historical miracle in
Europe in the years immediately after 1989. The sudden peaceful
collapse of the evil empire had hardly been predicted by intelligence
agencies. Neither could it be derived from the historical lessons that
otherwise are often so useful. Nor was it a product of a conscious
policy pursued by anyone. But if you went to the private markets in the
outskirts of Moscow, the discotheques of Prague, the bars of Gdansk or
the Bierstuben in Dresden you might still have had a feeling that
something was on its way.
These were indeed miraculous years.
The peaceful reunification of Germany - grudgingly accepted in Moscow,
London and Paris; the withdrawal of huge military arsenals from the
outer empire. And - perhaps particularly close to me - the
reestablishment of the three Baltic nations and the withdrawal of
Russian power from them, in spite of the presence of very substantial
Russian populations. But soon there were new surprises. Hardly had we
celebrated a new peace in Europe than we saw the new evil of aggressive
nationalism throwing the Balkans into war. Much like the first decade
of the 20th century in Europe, the last decade was dominated by a
series of wars in the ethnic, religious and cultural mosaic of this
part of the post-Ottoman world.
I personally went from Prime
Minister of Sweden - having brought my own country into the European
Union as well as having tried to assist in all the complex issues of
the transition in the Baltic region - to working for the first European
Union, then for the vaguely defined international community and then
for the Secretary General of the United Nations in this delicate
region, over a number of years. They were demanding times. I lived for
more than two years next to a small mosque and its graveyard in
Sarajevo. Sometimes, I sat down and tried to discuss why we didn't
know, why we did not prevent and why we did not understand. Yugoslavia
was not an unknown place. Belgrade had swarmed with diplomats, spies
and businessmen for decades.
But as the politics of ideology
had gradually been replaced by the politics of identity, our old mental
models of looking at the world did not apply. Yes, people had wanted
freedom from oppression by ideology. But people also wanted freedom for
their identity. And as the political uncertainties mounted, they
increasingly tended to define their identities in contrast to each
other. Soon, history took us on a conveyor-belt to war, massive ethnic
cleansing and mass murder.
Again, we had failed to listen to
the gossip at the bar down by the river in Visegrad, to read the
obscure emigre publications in Stockholm or follow the details of the
seemingly irrelevant political trials during the waning years of the
Tito regime. We might have read their history books - but we had not
listened to how history was told by mother to daughter and father to
son. And in the end, that's what really counts.
We had come to
believe that history had come to an end - when in fact it was about to
make a ferocious comeback. And we struggled to deal with the
consequences. We still do. But this is not only the age of the politics
of identity: it is also the age of the revolution of science and
technology. And I went directly from working for the United Nations in
the Balkans to trying to help with the issues of the governance of the
global Internet within a body called the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
It was certainly a leap
from standing at the open mass graves of Srebrenica - to dealing with
the security and governance of the thirteen root servers that make the
global Internet function. Disconnect them, and it is the end of more
things than we can even imagine: a world of both ancient hatreds and
modern technology. And a world in which the greatest of dangers - as we
saw on September 11 - lies in the marriage of the two.
is no doubt that we are living in a period in which the international
system is going through massive change. Increasingly, we talk about the
end of the Westphalian system of an international order of orderly
states that has been more or less dominant during recent centuries. The
stability of the half-century of the Cold War was not always that
stable - but it certainly was in relation to the world of today. In
that world, the Atlantic Alliance was the cornerstone of deterrence and
stability. We were united by the common threat.
But in this
new world, that threat is gone, and the dominating agendas on the
different sides of the Atlantic differ. In Europe, the dominating
agenda for a long time to come will remain the one set in 1989. Step by
step, we are trying to secure the peace and increase the prosperity of
a larger and larger part of our continent through the sharing of
sovereignty in an evolving federation of nation states. It is by no
means an easy or straightforward process. We build not by conquering
and coercing, but by convincing and co-opting. We build on proud
nations with proud histories. The politics of integration has to go
hand in hand with the politics of identity.
There is no
alternative. During the last century, Europe gave the world two
totalitarian ideologies and two wars that swept across the globe. Can
we prevent that for the future, and in addition perhaps give an
inspiration to other efforts to bridge the gaps of identity with the
structures of integration, thus promoting both peace and prosperity? It
might not be that insignificant an achievement and - although it
probably will not be reported on Fox News - I am confident it will be
recorded in the history books.
On the opposite side of the
Atlantic in the United States, it's only natural that the dominating
agenda is and will remain the one that was set by the attacks in 2001.
Where we seek to build peace by the sharing of sovereignty, America
seeks to create security by asserting its sovereign rights, also on a
global scale. I genuinely believe that there is a basic understanding
of this American agenda not only in Europe but also in many other parts
of the world - but on the critically important condition that it is not
perceived as aimed at undermining the agendas that could be important
for other regions, other peoples and other cultures.
obviously, there is room for improvement. The task of statesmanship is
to bring together the different dominating agendas of the different
regions, peoples and cultures of the world: to recognise that they are
different, but to make them supportive of each other, rather than
pitting them against each other in destructive contradiction. It is
obvious that, in one way or another, the European agenda of 1989 and
the US agenda of 2001 will have to come together in the area I prefer
to refer to as the post-Ottoman region - between Bihac in Bosnia in the
northwest and Basra by the Gulf in the southeast. Others like to call
this the Greater Middle East; Zbigniew Brzezinski has called it Grand
The United States agenda is to fight immediate
terrorist threats and control the spread of technologies of mass
destruction. Our agenda in Europe is one of structures of good
governance and representative institutions that can bridge the
different identities that otherwise are almost certain to tear
everything apart. What happens in the area my schoolbook used to call
the Fertile Crescent will dictate much of the future.
Palestine and Iraq, we have committed ourselves to two state-building
projects of immense complexity and importance. And they go together.
The liberation of Iraq from its past will not succeed without the
liberation of Palestine from its present. If we do not succeed with
both, a tactical victory in Mesopotamia will soon be transformed into a
strategic defeat throughout the Muslim world. The signs so far are not
altogether encouraging. There is an increasing air of desperation in
the discussions on the future of coalition efforts in Iraq, much of
which is understandable. Prewar dreams of easily setting up a
representative regime in Iraq have turned out to be little more than
dreams. This should not come as a surprise. All experience shows that
regime reconstruction after regime destruction is a long, complicated
process. And now we have a situation where, at the same time as the
United Nations is struggling to put a credible political process for
regime construction in place in Iraq, desperation in other quarters is
driving a debate about an alternative strategy: letting Iraq be divided
into three independent or semi-independent states. Iraq would be even
more difficult to break up in an orderly way than was Yugoslavia - and
that process involved an extremely brutal, decade-long conflict.
there is one lesson above all to be learnt from the past year in Iraq,
it is the necessity of building as broad a coalition - and establishing
as fruitful a co-operation - as is possible. Each day that passes, that
lesson becomes more obvious. A coalition to build a peace always needs
to be much broader than a coalition to win a war. It is imperative that
we do not let despair over the difficulties today drive us into what
would be a disaster tomorrow. The voices of the United States and
Israel raising the idea of a Balkanisation are truly playing with fire.
There is no underestimating the difficulties that lie ahead in Iraq and
I know well all the deficiencies of the machinery of the United Nations
- although I blame these far more on the member states than on the
dedicated individuals to be found within its ranks. But the United
Nations commands one asset that might be more powerful in the years
ahead than many others. We have seen a succession of so called Bremer
plans for political transition in Iraq, ultimately resting on the
powers of the United States.
|Source: GlobeScan Incorporated (formerly
Enironics International) is a global public opinion and stakeholder
research firm with offices in Toronto, London and Washington,
conducting customer research and annual tracking studies on global and
corporate issues. The findings presented here are from polls conducted
November 2003 through February 2004 with representative samples of
1,000 average citizens in each of Argentina, Brazil, Canada,Chile,
China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico,
Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Uruguay and the United
alone is very seldom enough. Power needs to be combined with
legitimacy. And building bridges of friendship and trust and common
goals across the divides of geography, cultures and political
affiliations can only create legitimacy. The United Nations is not the
only way, but so far it is one of the best we have invented. It was,
after all, a product of primarily US diplomacy.
But it is not
only because of legitimacy that coalitions for peace always need to be
much broader than coalitions for war. I have seen in the small patches
of land in the Balkans how efforts at true state-building need
resources in the form of both men and money that require the pooling of
resources. And it is obvious that if men and money are not forthcoming,
and the patience to stay the course is not there, then we are not
building functioning states, but instead rather fragile ones that are
almost bound to fail the second we choose to leave. One need only look
at Kosovo to see that that danger must not be ignored.
look across the globe, we see the creative destruction of economic
globalisation becoming stronger and stronger, the marriage of ancient
hatreds and modern technology becoming more dangerous, the rise of the
politics of identity also inside our own societies becoming more
challenging and the rapid growth of the urban jungles with their
unemployed and despairing millions becoming more and more prominent.
And this, of course, goes hand in hand with the enormous advance of
science and technology. It is not a world that invites easy predictions
about the future. Linear development there will certainly be, but the
tremors we feel under our feet point more to the need to watch out for
the unexpected, to widen the scope of our observations and to develop
the structures of cooperation that can cope with the unexpected.
did not see the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union coming, and we
did not anticipate the ferocity of the Balkan wars - just to mention
two examples close to me. And it does not seem likely that we will be
sensationally more successful in the years to come. Will we see the
small fissures in the financial system and emerging strains in the
political structures of China before there is a financial meltdown, a
political fragmentation and a social upheaval of truly massive
proportions - or are we certain that this will not happen?
we better at predicting the evolution of the tension between reform and
reaction within Islam in the decades to come than we were half a
millennium ago in predicting the devastating effects of the successive
waves of the religious reformation on the political structures and the
peace of Europe? Do we think we can predict the strategic patience of
our own democratic electorates when it comes to sustaining not over
months, not even years, but more likely decades and sometimes
generations the also international efforts that are needed to make
state building truly succeed? And can we predict the consequences if
that patience is not there?
Can we predict the destructive
powers of the creative young teenager who sits in a cellar in Nanjing,
Novosibirsk or Nablus and unleashes a new Trojan Horse that sweeps not
only the computers, but also phones and embedded chips in our
increasingly inter-connected on-line world into its arch of destruction
- or are we certain this will never happen? The answer to all these
questions is most probably no. No eavesdropping satellites will ever be
able to give us more than fragments of facts, the evolving fractals of
which will, in a way difficult to predict, make up history in the years
to come. We can see the tensions rising, the logic of the linear
developments, the demands that are likely to come, but seldom very much
more than that.
Once upon a time, the politics of intelligence was
a much simpler affair. In my country, we had clearly defined
intelligence objectives, firmly geared to the threat that at the time
was the only one, and clear structures also for international
cooperation so that we got what we needed but could not get ourselves
in exchange for what we could get but no one else really could. It was
all very secret. It was often useful in giving us a degree of
reassurance we otherwise would not have had. Whether it would have
stood the ultimate test we will never know. But now, the challenges we
face are to a very large extent very different. In Bosnia and the
Balkans, it was certainly of importance to keep track of the tanks. But
ethnic murder can just as well be done with an axe, houses can be blown
up with old mines and families can be forced to flee just by having the
media installing fear in them.
As we grapple with the
challenges of fragile, failing or failed states - the Yugoslavia and
Afghanistan of yesterday, the Haiti of today, perhaps the Bolivia,
Pakistan or Indonesia tomorrow - intelligence is far more about what is
open than about what is secret. To have a view of whether a state is
about to descend into chaos and anarchy, or whether extremism and
fundamentalism is also brewing in the student dormitories of our own
countries, is not primarily a question of prying hard secrets, but
about trying to analyse numerous soft developments.
of Gdansk; the gossip by the bridge in Visegrad; the emigre
publications; the chat rooms on the Internet; subtle shifts in the
financial markets; graffiti on the walls; sometimes even songs that are
sung in the bars - these are the overt signs that need to be detected.
And this requires collaboration beyond boundaries that many
intelligence agencies have been reluctant to cross in the past.
Increasingly, the world of intelligence must be the world of truly
intelligent analysis of the information that is there in our
increasingly open and diverse world.
And to be that, it must
reach out to society as a whole far more than has been the tradition in
most countries in the past, engage with all the networks that make up
our increasingly interconnected world, understand that the evolution of
culture and the disputes of religions can be just as important as
military doctrine and tactics and be seen as a friend of both academia
and NGO's. Only then can it provide policymakers with the analysis of
options, trends, dangers and possibilities that will lead them to the
shaping of the policies of global cooperation that will decrease the
dangers of the bad and threatening scenarios, and hopefully increase
the possibilities for the good and benevolent ones.
Bildt is a former Prime Minister of Sweden who went on to be European
Representative in the Balkans and High Representative in Bosnia. He now
holds a number of senior corporate positions, and is the only European
on the Board of Trustees of the Rand Corporation.