Germany, especially through his Minister for Foreign Affairs Steinmeier, has long been saying to the Atlantic Alliance that a change of strategy towards the Russian Federation is needed.
On June 18 last, The German Minister for Foreign Affairs warned NATO not to “inflame” the relations with Russia so as to avoid tensions which would also lead to open warfare. Vladimir Bokovsky, the dissident who was exchanged for the leader of the Communist Party of Chile, Luis Corvalan, in Zurich in 1976, said that “the Russians’ great power of endurance is their true secret weapon.”
Better not to corner Russia which, on the contrary, would be an ideal partner in the Mediterranean, in Central Asia and in the Middle East. Our truly global danger is the sword jihad, not the Russian desire to regain a global role.
Furthermore, the German military decision-makers are now considering a stand-alone doctrine towards Europe and, above all, towards the Eurasian project typical of the China-Russia pair.
Last August Minister Steinmeier stated he perceived a new version – although in new ways and with new tools – of the Cold War between the West and the Russian Federation, a project which would see Germany as first war victim and main war theatre, as in the old Cold War model.
It is also worth recalling that Minister Frank-Walther Steinmeier is the OSCE current Chairman-in-office.
The new “Cold War” would mark the end of the recent German reunification, as well as the end of Germany’s wellbeing and stability – a country which lives also on exports, especially to the East, and therefore intends to expand its own presence in Eurasia.
Even though on July 18 last Russia arrested the Ukrainian OSCE observer who monitored the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine, on charges of espionage, the current OSCE Presidency invited also the Russian experts to monitor the forthcoming presidential elections in the United States.
Moreover Russia officially invited OSCE to monitor the next Russian parliamentary elections scheduled for September 18 next.
Hence, while NATO is focusing on the project of a new “Cold War” to curb the Russian Federation’s expansion and relegate it to the role of a “medium power”, the European States are experiencing the gap between their strategic interests and the Atlantic Alliance’s. Hence a new forum for taking international decisions shall be envisaged, such as OSCE, which can temporarily put aside the North Atlantic Treaty and resume the thread of a Eurasian project from which Western Europe cannot remain alien.
Moreover, the NATO idea of compressing and relegating Russia in what Raymond Aron called “the great European plain” and of remotely controlling the People’s Republic of China in Central Asia is being accomplished in a phase in which the United States are de facto leaving the European Union to its fate, especially after Brexit.
The United States have decided to quadruple their military budget in Eastern Europe as early as March 2016 – and this has taken place out of the Atlantic Alliance’s framework and with a clear anti-Russian intention, even though masked by military projection onto the Persian Gulf and Iran, in particular.
The new Atlantic Alliance will be more asymmetrical than usual: there will be important countries, such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania, as well as less important countries, such as Italy, France, Spain and Germany itself, which will witness a reduction of NATO strategic commitment and shall necessarily think to defend themselves on their own.
As the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, explicitly stated, if he wins the US presidential elections, the United States will not accept the automatic mechanism of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty on the Alliance’s integrated defence.
Conversely, if Hillary Clinton becomes the new US President, she will increase the unfortunate and often irrational operations against the “tyrants” in the Middle East, by trying to involve the EU allies, although with mixed results.
And with long and dangerous destabilization in key areas, which would be detrimental especially for the EU Member States and the NATO European Pillar.
It is also worth adding that the very recent Italian project of a Unified Military Force between Italy, Germany and France – initially proposed by General Camporini – results from the rational assessment of a post-Brexit British indifference towards the European Continent and the awareness of a NATO ever more distant from the European interests and closer – more than usual – to the US projects.
Furthermore, in all likelihood, the new Tripartite Force will have a more rational posture towards the Russian Federation and the Mediterranean.
A project that is bound to be interesting also for Israel, which will be in a position to redesign its foreign and defence policy, thus becoming a Mediterranean player.
Hence Israel will later discover, in the Mare Nostrum, the security bulwark which can defend its territorial position, in the context of the new tensions generated by the Caliphate’s jihad and its upcoming end.
It is worth recalling that OSCE was created with another name by the Helsinki Final Act of 1975.
The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was held in the Finnish capital, was a success of the USSR – which saw the inviolability of national borders accepted – but also a success of the United States and the other Atlantic Alliance’s Member States, which saw the inviolability of human rights and democratic freedoms recognized in the Final Act.
Currently OSCE deals mainly with the monitoring of the election regularity and is mostly known for this activity.
However it must also check many other functions relating to the international balance of power, such as control over the spreading of tactical and strategic weapons, by maintaining ten missions in “hot spots” (Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova, Serbia, Skopje, Tajikistan, Ashgabat, Ukraine and Uzbekistan).
The OSCE additional functions include the fight against terrorism and the trafficking in human beings; the prevention and resolution of conflicts; the economic activities; the activities for environmental protection, for the protection of human rights and for guaranteeing the freedom of the press and of the other media; cooperation in the security sector and the rules against discrimination.
A sequence of tasks and functions mostly comparable to those carried out by NATO, which is also an organization coordinating military structures that are and will remain national.
Hence if we want to draw a comparison with the Atlantic Alliance, we can see that OSCE is present in ten hotbeds of crisis, namely those previously mentioned, while NATO is currently active in six strategic regions and particularly in Afghanistan, where it led the International Security Assistance Force (ASAF) from 2003 to 2014 joining as many as 51 NATO and non-NATO members – the longest operation ever conducted by the Atlantic Alliance.
Furthermore the Atlantic Alliance is also operating in Afghanistan with Resolute Support, active since January 1, 2015.
The effects of these two Atlantic Alliance’s operations are there for all to see: the Taliban, the “students” politically born in the Pakistani madrasahs, are still masters of the Afghan soil, while the “new Qaedists” keep on infiltrating from Syria, Tajikistan and even from the Chinese Islamist Xinjiang.
Currently the training of the Afghan security forces is certainly not an effective and rational military goal: the Kabul government is strongly linked to drug trafficking, as indeed many of the Taliban factions.
In Kosovo, the pseudo-State recognized by the United States one day after the declaration of independence of the Albanian statelet from Serbia, on February 17, 2009, things are no better.
Today, it is mainly a hub for the Daesh-Isis foreign fighters.
Kosovo has provided to Isis as many as 125 foreign fighters for every million inhabitants; hence it is the State most “rich” – so to speak – in Caliphate’s foreign fighters in the world.
A further Atlantic Alliance’s operation is Active Endeavour, which controls and protects the Mediterranean against terrorism.
Said NATO action will soon be transformed into the wider Operation Sea Guardian, which will see the contribution of countries not belonging to the Alliance.
In 2015 terrorism hit in over 100 countries, as compared to 59 in 2013. As stated by NATO itself, it is not particularly present in the Mediterranean region but, as is well-known, it operates in some Middle East countries and, with Isis, in continental Europe with the terrible attacks we all know.
The latest statistics indicate a toll in the West of 229 deaths for acts of terrorism, especially jihadist terrorism, including 49 in the United States, 44 in Turkey and even 292 in Iraq.
Indeed, if we want to be clear, “terrorism” does not exist. There rather exists the sword jihad, which is governed and evolves according to its own specific strategic doctrine, which is alien to the Clausewitzian Western universe.
The acts of terror are parts of this sequence of Islamist military operations; they are neither the jihad goal nor its primary combat technique.
Not surprisingly, so far the best fight against jihadism has been China’s, which has a military doctrine still ranging from Sun Tzu to the “36 Stratagems”. The same holds true for Russia, which has used a mix of traditional warfare and new “hybrid warfare” strategies to fight against its Chechen territorial jihad, and for Israel, which has always pursued an original mix of intelligence, preventive war and outright military action.
Therefore, according to NATO analysts, the Mediterranean is a means of terrorism, not a region marked by the presence of a homogeneous jihad based on coast-to-coast maritime operations.
Another NATO mission is active in Kosovo where there is the Atlantic Alliance’s operation which, in 1999, was initially called KFOR, until the Normalization Agreement between Serbia, Kosovo and the EU was signed in 2003.
An additional important operation is the anti-piracy one known as Ocean Shield, organized by the Atlantic Alliance in the Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean – an activity which was officially started in 2008.
As scheduled, it will end in December 2016, although maintaining some early warning mechanisms in that region.
With a view to supporting the African Union (AU), since 2005 NATO has been operating with this organization, which has 54 members all belonging to the Black Continent.
Nevertheless the Atlantic Alliance’s primary goal is to support AMISOM (the AU Mission in Somalia) which heads the African Standby Force, always with the support of non-NATO countries.
Basically, the dangerous mix of “peace missions”, “interposition missions” and peace enforcement ones enables NATO to freeze problems, but not to solve them.
When the Atlantic Alliance mission goes away, the conflict starts again as before or, as happened in Kosovo, the local Albanians’ ethnicist nationalism is replaced by the jihad.
Something else would be needed, but the higher the number of countries from Africa or other crisis areas which participate in the Atlantic Alliance’s operations, the less likely a political solution is – as well as a real stabilization of the strategic areas in which each regional player continues to exert its hegemonic role.
These are the NATO operations currently in place.
And what about OSCE’s? In addition to the OSCE actions already mentioned, there is for example the Forum on Security Cooperation, which regulates the exchange of military intelligence between the Member States and tries to keep the proliferation of “small weapons” under control. It also monitors the spreading of weapon of mass destruction and checks the implementation of multilateral reports and decisions among the 57 OSCE Member States.
Therefore the real problem is that also the Russian Federation – which had resumed its post-Soviet foreign policy with the NATO-Russia Council created in 2002 – is an OSCE member.
In the aftermath of the Soviet regime’s collapse, Russia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in 1999 after having joined the Partnership for Peace program a few years earlier, in 1994.
Today, the Georgian issue of August 2008 (which is considered by NATO a “disproportionate reaction”) and, above all, the Russian action in Ukraine of April 2014 have blocked any kind of relationship between the Atlantic Alliance and Russia.
A serious mistake: Russia has always considered both Georgia, where Stalin was born, and Ukraine (where Khrushchev was born) autonomous areas, although still subject to the Russian strategic design.
What would happen if an alliance close to NATO conquered Iran, a Russian traditional ally? Or if Moscow sent troops to Sicily?
Hence the Russian Federation operated against the US-led “orange revolutions” in the two Caucasian countries particularly with a view to protecting its own sovereignty and the autonomy of the oil and gas pipelines.
Georgia finally signed the Association Agreement with the EU on July 1, 2016, but Russia promptly diversified its oil and gas supply lines to the EU with the creation of the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) in mid-March this year – a transfer line which will bring also the Azerbaijani gas to European markets.
The TANAP gas will arrive in Turkey in 2018 and will be then distributed to Europe, while the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) starts from Kipoi, on the border between Greece and Turkey, transits through Greece and Albania and will connect to TANAP in Turkey.
For TANAP, Azerbaijan and Turkey will also open to Turkmenistan.
Hence, reacting to this geoeconomic project only with the “orange revolutions” seems, in principle, tantamount to taking a mallet to crack a peanut.
In fact, there is no possible counteraction of the Atlantic Alliance to this project of pro-Russian natural gas transfer lines – a project which can be controlled only by indirect strategic activities, particularly with the “hybrid warfare” techniques put in its place precisely by the Russian Federation.
It is worth recalling that, as early as 2011, Vladimir Putin has repeatedly expressed his intention of getting out of the dollar area used for energy transactions and creating a “parallel market” based on the rouble only.
Moreover OSCE is the only international forum in which all Member States are treated equally – hence it is the ideal organization to reopen the strategic dialogue with the Russian Federation,
Considering that the OSCE strength is also to monitor and manage regional conflicts, its already active 57 members should cooperate also with Israel, where the tension with the Palestinian Authority – which is bound to be a failed State – can be kept under control and limited precisely by using the full panoply of techniques, skilled staff and political authority the Organization has shown so far.
Hence reducing the OSCE role only to the monitoring of the election regularity is extremely simplistic, even though objectively necessary.
The German Foreign Minister and current OSCE Chairman-in-office suggested that OSCE must also deal with the monitoring and verification of conventional weapons, which are and will be the weapons actually used in future wars.
The nuclear balance is eminently political and strategic. Those “weapons are made for being never used”, as said many years ago by a NATO Secretary General, the British Lord Ismay.
In addition, OSCE could combine its environmental protection efforts with economic and “development” cooperation – a new function which could operate in a decisive context for the world’s future, namely the one uniting the Partnership for the Mediterranean with the wide Asian and Eurasian region.
While NATO is closing eastwards, thus repeating the conditioned reflex for which it was created, we now need effective and inclusive organizations, which open to the strategic, economic and military “new world” Asia will be, where the EU will regain its true geopolitical mission and the Mediterranean, but especially Israel, will be in a position to ensure their multilateral security.
It is worth recalling that Italy will chair the OSCE Mediterranean Dialogue throughout 2017 and it will be good not to reduce this opportunity to a sort of “European Semester”, full of conferences but which we hope will be soon over.
Italy as a means and instrument of the new OSCE life but, more importantly, as the country enlarging the Organization to Eurasia and, simultaneously, to the Mediterranean.
GIANCARLO ELIA VALORI
Honorable de l’Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France