Positioning Europe as a credible actor in the "Ballistic Missile Defense Game" : concepts and recommendations

Kubbig, Bernd W.

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URL http://edoc.vifapol.de/opus/volltexte/2008/276/
Dokumentart: Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung
Institut: HSFK-Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
Schriftenreihe: PRIF reports
Bandnummer: 56
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 2000
Publikationsdatum: 29.01.2008
DDC-Sachgruppe: Politik
BK - Basisklassifikation: 89.89 (Militärwesen: Sonstiges)
Sondersammelgebiete: 3.6 Politik und Friedensforschung

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

„Is arms control dead?“ This old question is being asked again in the current debate triggered by the highly likely deployment of an American National Missile Defense (NMD) system as part of the United States’ overall Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) policy. In addition to the NMD elements, BMD consists of the development and deployment of regional missile defense systems (Theater Missile Defense, TMD). This study argues with Mark Twain that reports of the death of arms control have been greatly exaggerated – provided the traditional approach is modernized in an adequate way. My Modernized, Mutually Minimizing Missile Threat Concept („Quadruple M–TC“) is an attempt to present such an approach. President Clinton’s announcement that he will leave the historical decision on deploying a National Missile Defense System to his successor gives „NATO/EU Europe” a chance to position itself as a credible actor in the global Ballistic Missile Defense game. His announcement comes on the eve of the hot phase of the double U.S. election campaign for both the Presidency and (something that is often overlooked) for the powerful Congress. More importantly, the decision to delay comes at a time in European politics when France, the present incumbent of the EU presidency, has presented an ambitious charter for a politically stronger Europe. A diplomacy-driven concept means using the current lame duck period in American foreign policy (caused by the election campaign) in a constructive way and taking advantage of the current pro-Europe impulses in order to produce concrete results at the Nice Conference in December 2000. Both President Jacques Chirac and Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine are committed to pushing the institutional reforms towards more unity, and they have stressed the role of joint projects and the importance of common security and defense policy. Echoing German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer’s proposal to revive Franco-German cooperation as a driving force toward more integration, both Chirac and Védrine have underscored the role of France and Germany as the „pioneer group“ in this process, while explicitly leaving open the possibility that additional allies could participate in implementing specific common projects. But one vital element is missing: a viable theme around which all interested Europeans can unite. The conditions for a political alternative are exceptionally good, as Europe’s repeatedly expressed concern about the negative impact of a National Missile Defense system on global and regional arms races (chapter 2) reflects an unusual common denominator on security issues. Important as they are, Europe’s warnings neither constitute a sufficient policy nor do they initiate the necessary change of role. In order to be a serious player on the global BMD scene who is taken seriously in Washington, Beijing, and Moscow, Europe has to give up its traditional role as a reactive bystander. If the Old Continent is to become a credible and efficient political architect, the distinct European initiative has to address major U.S. rationales for deploying a comprehensive defense system while at the II same time coping with European security concerns and providing a basis for Europe’s common security and defense policy. In order to fulfill these objectives, a conceptually adequate and politically convincing arms control concept has to meet clearly defined objectives and criteria, and it has to be based on transparent premises. Moreover, the objectives to be tackled have to be vital, the criteria must be both policy-relevant and feasible, and the premises have to be plausible (chapter 3). The major objective of „Quadruple M–TC” is to enhance security by mutually minimizing missile threats – defined not only in terms of the possibility of igniting global and regional arms races and regional instabilities (as the consequences of BMD deployment). Threats can also stem from the capabilities and intentions of countries with an existing or evolving Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) posture or from the technical deficiencies of already existing nuclear arsenals (especially in Russia). As to the criteria, any successful concept initiated and implemented by Europe has to be both assertive and alliance compatible. Firstly, the initiative should by design be arms control-supportive in terms of favoring and facilitating reductions on the way to a nuclear free world. Secondly, „Quadruple M–TC” has to be affordable – a policy of uncovered checks is doomed to fail. Thirdly, any arms control-driven European initiative has to be feasible in political terms. Europe is not a global player, but it should act more forcefully and convincingly as a regional actor. Fourthly, the concept has to be based on mutual intra-alliance respect for different political cultures as probably the major factor influencing different threat assessments and ways of responding to them. Different ways of designing one’s security strategies are at stake here. The premises are related to the nature of the threats, the role of nuclear deterrence, and (current) experiences and learning in dealing with problematic countries by primarily diplomatic means. Despite the often cited „New Threat Paradigm“ which assumes that current and future dangers are diffuse and virtually uncontrollable, this concept starts from a different assumption with respect to threats from ballistic missiles. Based primarily on the most recent assessments by the U.S. and the German intelligence services, it concludes that the menaces for Europe can be focused (the official intelligence reports name a handful of „states of concern“). When it comes to the role of nuclear deterrence, the concept assumes that there are no nondeterrable state actors – provided that a policy of nuclear or large scale conventional deterrence is communicated to all problematic states. It is hard to see which state (even the most shrewd leadership except if it is suicidal) would dare to attack the United States and its allies with Weapons of Mass Destruction. III As to policy-related assumptions, „Quadruple M–TC” appraises the Clinton administration’s „carrots and sticks“ policy towards North Korea as the most promising and encouraging model. It shows the comparative advantages of a „Diplomacy First!“ approach. Both Washington and Pyongyang went through a remarkable process of learning nobody would have considered possible prior to their intensive interactions. I apply the elements of „Quadruple M–TC“ in one of the two nuclear deterrence-related contexts (Russia) and in the context of Weapons of Mass Destruction (the example of Iran). I have chosen Russia instead of China, because in view of the long arms control history one can make clear which of the traditional elements are still valid and which components have to be added to my modernized framework. Surprising (and outdated) as it may seem – in the current U.S.-Russian context the old world of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) is still a fact of life in strategic and operational terms. Nuclear deterrence is not dead, although its role has changed and decreased. This is emphasized in the „Talking Points”, presented presumably by U.S. delegation leader John Holum to the Russians in January 2000. They give enormous direct insights into the American negotiation position regarding the ongoing talks to modify the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Therefore, the major goals and means of traditional arms control are still relevant, especially the primary objective of preventing nuclear war by strategic stability. In order to live up to its claim to be a „minimized” and „mutually” implemented approach, the modernized arms control concept must contain some new elements by definition. Given the broad array of threats, the traditional elements are not enough to deal with either the deficiencies of existing nuclear arsenals or the insufficient fissile materials and warhead controls. Moreover, successful arms control instruments can under today’s circumstances only signify drastic reductions in current nuclear arsenals. In accordance with the overall „Policy First!” approach, one caveat is important when using the term mutuality (i.e. cooperation). Cooperation is not a value per se. Rather, cooperation in nonmilitary sectors should be given priority in western policy towards Russia. European efforts to establish a dialogue infrastructure towards a problematic country such as Iran can build on a fundamental achievement of East-West relations during the Cold War: the recognition that an institutionalized arms control/reduction process in bi- or multilateral settings is vital to clarify or even solve the security concerns of the countries involved. Dialogue gives Tehran the chance to put forward its position, while the Europeans (to the extent that they are bothered at all) can express their concern about Iranian WMD activities. The „critical dialogue” which has already been started by countries like France and Germany could lead to a verifiable limitation of the Iranian Shahab missile program in a way that meets their security concerns. As part of a broader package deal, the Iranians could be offered economic assistance which in turn could be an element of a broader European policy towards the Gulf region. Thus, the „Diplomacy First!” approach can be conceptualized and implemented in a mutual arms control/threat minimizing approach in the Iranian/WMD-related context as well. IV Therefore, the Europeans are urged and encouraged to intensify and institutionalize their „Policy First!” efforts towards Russia, China, and problematic states such as Iran in order to present themselves as a distinct and credible player in the „BMD game” (chapter 4). There are additional reasons why Europe cannot stay out of the BMD area. The next U.S. administration is likely to invite the allies on the Old Continent to participate in the NMD program, and President Putin has directly called upon the Europeans to embark on a cooperative anti-missile shield that could include the Americans as well. These offers require immediate, well-considered Europeans answers (chapter 2). Of immediate concern is the question concerning the required national consent by Denmark and Great Britain to the modification of the radars in Thule (Greenland) and in Fylingdales. From an arms control point of view this issue could be seen as a litmus test of how serious the Europeans are about the ABM Treaty. Here, they can prove that they are not only bystanders in the „ABM Treaty game” between Washington and Moscow. By „Europeanizing” the required national consent, they should consider the radar question as a way of asking the U.S. to rethink its dubious plans.


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