Future security challenges for Europe

In a recent luncheon talk in Bonn given by former Inspector General of the German Armed Forces (1991-96, Generalinspekteur der Bundeswehr) and former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee (1996 to 1999) General (ret) Klaus Naumann - a broad panorama of future security challenges for Europe was outlined. He provided a complex analysis regarding the multiple strategic crises that Europe is currently facing.

Foto: General (Ret.) Klaus Naumann

General (Ret.) Klaus Naumann

The talk was a reflection of the kind of strategic thinking among many committed Atlanticists in Germany who in the last two weeks have again been shocked by the news that the US Secret Services uninterruptedly have been recruiting German spies.


According to some leading media in Germany, US secret services were systematically and continuously recruiting agents from the German Security Service (BND) to spy for the United States

As consequence of the recent spy scandal, in recent days the highest representative of the American secret services in Germany was expelled. Right now relations between Germany and the US are significantly damaged. This is the result of the enormous loss of trust and Germany’s disappointment about the incredible “arrogance” of the US government. According to some leading media in Germany, US secret services were systematically and continuously recruiting agents from the German Security Service (BND) to spy for the United States. This news came a year after an earthquake had rocked Germany caused by Edward Snowden’s revelations that the German government (including the personal mobile phone of the Chancellor) was systematically spied upon by the NSA.

German government efforts to get an official clarification from the US government as well as its effort to bring about a “no spy agreement” with the U.S. have been systematically frustrated. The US government has not moved one inch and is instead arrogantly demonstrating an attitude of “We don’t give a damn” towards German security concerns. In a commentary published in the leading daily FAS (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung am Sonntag, 12.07.14) a psychologically revealing metaphor was used to characterize relations between Germany and the US, qualifying them as a relation “between master and dog”.

Naumann's speech at MAC

Naumann analysed the security challenges which Europe is actually facing, including an accurate description of the various new security challenges around the globe. He was quite harsh with regard to Russia by insisting that the West must teach Russia a lesson. Russia, he said, was ignoring its “partnership” with the EU and with the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula it was arrogantly trampling on former strategic agreements with the West. It “erroneously” thinks that it is the “number two power” in the world, Naumann said. He underlined that Moscow was  even ready to swallow the loss of more than 100 Billion Dollar financial losses as result of sanctions and it prefers “to have the West rather as enemy than as partner” since this props up the domestic Russian situation. At the same time he pointed out that Russia is “reorienting itself toward Asia” and changes its dependence by diversification, while it plays at the same time on existing differences in Europe and intends to increase Germany’s dependence on Russia. Russia would like to create a “buffer zone” which spans from Odessa, to the Caspian Sea, Moldavia and White Russia. Hence the importance of the South stream oil and gas pipeline from a Russian point of view.

As the US is tires of war and orients itself more toward Asia, Europa needs a “wake up call” and must adopt a culture of being a protector of human rights on a global scale. Only by pressuring Russia, so the thesis of Naumann, can we hope that one day Russia returns to partnership with the EU.


The global arc of crisis

Naumanns evaluation of other global crisis spots was quite sobering. The General spoke of a southern “Arc of Crisis” ranging from Morocco to the Mideast- an arc of crisis “which is today in flames” and which will last for decades.

What the world is facing today in this region and elsewhere, Naumann emphasized is “an epochal change” the characteristic of it being, that once flourishing states in the Middle East are today totally disintegrating. The General qualified the so called “Arabellion” as an utter failure – having led to a situation where the entire region is in shambles. Tunisia, once hailed for its modern state and citizenry, today faces 40% unemployment--mostly of young people--while Iraq as well as Syria are falling apart.


Due to the systematic interference into the Syrian conflict by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to Naumann, today the Jihad has become the strongest power in the region

160.000 people have died during the last two years’ war in Syria – 1 Million people are refugees and 4 Million Syrians have lost their homes. Due to the systematic interference into the Syrian conflict by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to Naumann, today the Jihad has become the strongest power in the region. Syria is splitting into pieces, an Alawite, Kurdish and ISIS dominated Syria and this crisis is going to spread further to Lebanon and Jordania, followed by “proxy wars” between on the one side Saudi Arabia/ Qatar and on the other side Iran on the other.

If need be, we must cooperate with the Assad regime and Iran, General Naumann said, as well as with Russia which has demonstrated its influence in respect to the Syrian chemical weapons. The General pointed to the enormous “loss of credibility” of the US in the Syrian crisis warning as well that if the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna failed it would be difficult to contain Israel and Pakistan - which is in turn is not in the security interest of Europe. Hence Europe needs Iran as a factor of stabilization in the Arab world.

With respect to Afghanistan, General Naumann did not exclude a renewed revival of the Great Game caused by what he qualified as a premature Afghanistan troop withdrawal by the US which is leading to a situation where the “Great Game” will restart in the region, including players such as India and Pakistan as well as the Muslims of Southern Russia.

Another major crisis spot is the Far East Asia. The General did not exclude the possibility of the repeat of a World War I (1914) scenario in the Chinese Sea: here, as the speaker underlined, many different interests are colliding, involving among others China, Malaysia and Japan. China is being viewed with envy by many powers and is surrounded by resentment, while the regional powers are looking for protection under the US umbrella.

At the same time the General emphasized the need for Europe not to leave Asia to the USA - which basically means that Europe must self-consciously defend its own economic and commercial interests in regard to China and the entire region.

Another future challenge identified by Naumann was what he described as “future migration waves” (as result of the numerous regional wars) and lack of water resources followed by another major detonator: the demographic decline in Europe, including Russia. This could lead to a migration wave in the dimension of up to 200 million people. Naumann spoke of the possibility that Russia may one day have to face an added population of 100 million Muslims.

The only solution which the General offered in response to this dark scenario was to underline that Europe must stick to the US since it’s the only global power on earth while Europe must become conscious of the culture of the “responsibility to protect”.

Neueste Ankündigungen